I have been looking forward to this term since my application to Proctor. Finally being here closes my time of being a student at Proctor. I sit with my peers on this final night I am truly happy with what this term has given me. Dave always lectures us about living in the moment, and I think those are words that everyone should live by. European Art Classroom has been everything I hoped it would be and more.
Last week the group departed for Prague, the flight was short and we enjoyed our layover in Brussels. When we arrived we all took the metro into the city. As I walked up the subway stairs the beauty of Prague hit me with its cobblestone streets and towering buildings. Later that night we all went out for a traditional Czech meal, Dave encouraged us all to try the pork knee, but I think we were all too weary.
For our week in Prague we traveled to see the beautiful sights of the city. As it was our last trip it seemed everyone was extra careful to take in every last moment this program would give us.
We were overwhelmed when our group approached the bridge that would lead us to the Prague Castle. The bridge was lined with merchants, and I was delighted by the beautiful music that was leading me to the end of the bridge. We passed the street performers and made our way up to the castle. I cannot describe in words how beautiful the city looked from above. The terracotta roofs with bridges running across the river were beautiful. There is truly nothing like it.
After our castle tour our day took a more somber turn. We visited a synagogue in Old Town Square, and followed it with our visit to the Jewish museum, which included a tour of the Old Jewish Cemetery. I think I can say this was a moment where we all had to step back and look at how grateful we should all be with the lives we have. Standing in front of these gravestones that were stacked on top of each other really taught us that we take our lives for granted.
Yet, we all knew what was coming. This whole term we have been studying Europe in conflict. So our third day we visited Terezín; a labor camp in the countryside. For me this was the most moving yet difficult part of our journey so far.
Being in a place where so many good people died was so grounding. I got to walk into a mass bunkhouse and thought of having to live like that was terrifying.
We are so lucky to have a place like Proctor that provides us with a loving community, and our parents for letting us be there. I will never forget that day, no one on this trip will…
As we closed our trip in Prague we visited the City Gallery in Prague. After such a somber and cold week Dave and Jen wanted us to see the art of Prague. In the morning we were graced with the beauty of Mucha’s Slavic Epic.
A series of 20 ginormous paintings that hang for the public to see. These were a treat for the group, because all term worked up to this moment. Standing in front of his paintings I can say that there is a certain talent that only a few possess and Mucha had it.
Later that night we all went out for another traditional Czech meal, yet this time we were on a mission. Courtney, Dave, and I decided to dive right into our own Pork Knee. Let me tell you, that was one of the best meals I have ever had in my life.
That night was so much fun, but we all knew it marked the end of an adventure.
I don’t want to tear up too much, but these weeks have been the best of my life. Traveling with this group has taught me so many things about myself, and has given me such an appreciation for what Proctor does for us. I will miss everything about this trip: the fresh air of Aix, the food, the people, Jen and Dave, our group, the art, and the travel. It has all been so good to us. It’s hard for me, I have looked forward to this term since freshman year… Yet, this term has gone by so fast. I really don’t want to ever leave, I could live like this for the rest of my life.
I have to thank so many people for giving me this opportunity. I want to thank my parents who have supported me in everything I do at Proctor. I want to thank Proctor for allowing students to go on a program as great as this one.
I want to thank my advisor Terry for pushing me in everything I do. And finally, I want to thank Jen and Dave. This program would not be the same without them. They really become your parents away from home. I know that they will be there for me and the rest of the group as we continue our lives away from France.
Putting this trip into words does not do it justice. Euro has really developed my passion for living in the moment, expressing myself, and learning to push myself out of my comfort zone. This experience has been priceless, and all I really have to say is thank you.
Below, enjoy some final thoughts from the group.
Our lives have completely changed. As a group we feel a sense of pride because of where we have been and what we have accomplished. We have made Provence our second home, and its crazy how fast the time has gone by. In that time we have discovered cities, fallen in love with art, and learned so much about the world around us. Even though we have had fun days in town with Jen and going on excursions with Dave, we have also challenged ourselves with our academics. Our biggest long-term assignment was making art history books. This gave us a creative opportunity to write about all the western art movements we have learned since being here. Not only did we have to write about what we learned, we had to physically make every part of the book. From making the pages, to the binding and the cover. When we all finished our projects we celebrated the night with some great pizza from our pizza truck down our street. When I go home I know I will look back on nights like those and miss my life here. I will miss drinking hot chocolate in the café La Festival every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for English class. I will miss Dave waking us up on Sunday mornings with his guitar in our room if we slept in too long. I will miss standing in awe in front of some of the most famous paintings in the world. I will miss the group going to our favorite food stand and eating these outrageously good sandwiches. I will miss sitting in the art studio on Sundays and painting for hours. Finally, I will miss my new family I have created here.
I came to Aix-en-Provence not knowing what I was getting into. I didn't know if I was ready for the disconnect I would have with my friends and family. I am leaving and wishing I could stay disconnected for longer, wishing I could visit a few more places and make a few more memories. When I go home I won't have the opportunity to struggle ordering food in French, I can't open my window and have a magnificent view of Mt. Saint Victoire, but I will be able to look back and be grateful for the experience that I have been so fortunate to have. Coming on European Art Classroom has not only enriched my life and given me knowledge and experiences that I will never forget but it has opened up a door into so many more opportunities that I am now ready to take. I am leaving with the desire to see new places and experience new things, to disconnect from the world I am so used to and see new things.
How can I put into words what this experience was for me? Through years of being at Proctor, I have only heard about this program through its rave reviews. This program was something that brought me to Proctor. I know this experience is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I know I could come back, but as Dave reminds us, it won't be the same. As I pondered these words of wisdom, I realized he's right, we won’t have the pull to do the thing that we did. I am forever grateful for Jen and Dave, challenging us to find our cafés and to work in our carnet de voyage, of course. We won’t have Lit class in our café, our picnics on promenade days, nor our bus rides to and from town. As we end this term, I am leaving with so much; not only a love of art which I came here with, but a love of art history and knowledge to back it up. I am still processing the fact that I got to stand in front of so many iconic paintings. This trip has truly changed my way of thinking and well, to be frank, it has changed myself. If I could do it again, I would in a heartbeat. I would want to put it on “replay” though so that I could just experience these two months over and over again, like my favorite song but in life. As we're packing up we leave with what memoirs we have from this beautiful house on the hill under our mountain. I say my final goodbyes, European Art Classroom, but I soon am saying my final goodbye to Proctor as a whole.
At the beginning I knew I had been given a gift getting on at the last minute. I was nervous because I had never traveled without my family before, but I was also excited for a new kind of adventure. Through the many weeks we have spent in Aix, Normandy, London, and Prague, we have had good moments and some bad ones. Looking back on the term I can see how different events and days here have helped me grow as an individual and a person. I have felt so grateful for my family and the life I have grown up with. I am grateful for all of the art that we learned about and created ourselves. I am grateful for the people we met, and the life stories we were told. Learning about other people has always helped me figure out what I want and don’t want in life, and this term I learned a lot about myself. I will never forget my life here in France, and how it has changed me as a person.
I had a really great time on Euro. I never thought I could come to know another part of the world as well as I know my own home. Aix turned into another home for me I guess and I am so thankful for that. Our group had our issues like any other small group that is living on top of each other for two months, but we were always able to work our issues out and because of that we grew closer and closer as the term went on. Before this trip I was no artist, and I still don’t see myself really as an artist. I definitely became better at certain aspects like sketching for example. I really loved doing little five to ten minute sketches to capture part of my day or a trip we were on. For me the big reason I came onto this trip was for the travel. I love international travel and we did that, I had a great time in London and found Prague to be very interesting. But my favorite trip we took was to Normandy. Visiting the beaches and the American Cemetery was something I have always wanted to do, and walking into the sites, for me at least, I felt this strange feeling that I know what had happened there, but now so beautiful, it is impossible to understand what this place was once like during WWII. Going home tomorrow is weird to think, I am excited yet sad. I know one day I will come back, but until then, au revoir.
As we enter into the final day of Euro, I am overwhelmed with such mixed feelings of excitement to return home and sadness at the ending of this great experience. It has been such a great journey, I was able to explore new places and make new friends. I have such fond memories of this experience and hope to cherish them for years to come. This experience has opened my eyes to the world of travel and this is the most important thing I will take away from my time in France. I am so grateful for Jen and Dave who provided us with this experience, always pushed us forward onto the new experience and who taught me how to have a deeper appreciation for art and the little things.
So I don't have the words to express the power of European Art Classroom. It has changed my life. Dave represents all that I believe makes a real man and Jen mirrors everything that is fun and noble. If you want to change your life, travel and gain perspective, go on Euro. Period. Provence has become my second home.