Saturday, May 7, 2011

The dream lives on
This is the last post of this blog.  There's been a lot of lasts for me in the past few days.  Last jury.  Last gelato.  Last group dinner.  Last walk to studio.  Last glimpse of the Pantheon.  I have left Rome.  I'm sitting in my room in Saint Paul as I write this.  It's been a very hard and strange experience.  It's given me a new outlook on life.  Re-entry into the U.S. wasn't what I thought it was going to be.  But nothing is.  I think it's pointless to try to describe reverse culture shock, so I'll just say what everyone says: it's weird coming back.

Now, I'd like to direct attention to people reading this blog who are interested in or are considering going to Rome with CUArch.  I know I read past blogs before I made my decision.  And I know what most of you will do.  You'll scroll down through the posts looking for pictures and completely skip the text.  That's fine, but if you do read anything, PLEASE, READ THIS:

DO YOUR RESEARCH.  Know what Rome is about.  Where it is, how it is, what sights to see, etc.  This is very important because you'll be living there for 4 months.

TAKE MONEY INTO CONSIDERATION.  Find out the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the euro.  The biggest blow that hit me was the expense of Italy.  Everything is at least twice as expensive in Italy, and the declining value of the dollar to the euro didn't help.  There is no meal plan, so plan to cook often.  Going out to eat, especially in Northern Italy, gets expensive.  I spent a little under $4000 in four months.  Although I traveled quite a lot, I was still on a budget.

TRAVEL.  A LOT.  They told us to stay in Rome during the meetings.  "There's no need to travel too much.  There's a lot to see in Rome."  While I agree that there is a lot to see in Rome, I couldn't emphasize more for you to travel and get out of Rome.  Because it was through visiting other cities that I came to see the true glory of Rome.  Every time I left, I missed it.  It made me love Rome that much more.

DON'T GO FOR THE PEOPLE.  Don't consider the other people going to Rome.  If you want to go to Rome, go to Rome.  Don't let who's on the list dictate where you go.  I would've made a grave mistake if I had done this.

DON'T EXPECT A VACATION.  You're not going on an extended holiday.  You'll be with the same 20 people every day for a long time.  People will start to go crazy.  Studio will become more intense.  You'll have a lot of work.  Expect to deal with stress and anger just like any other semester.

DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME.  When you're there, please do as much as you possibly can.  If' you're in a relationship with someone back home, work it out so that you're not always on the computer or the phone.  If you're feeling lazy and want to watch TV, get up and go do something.  I saw so many people wasting precious time abroad (including myself).  Experience the city while you can!

It was a great semester.  It was more amazing than I can describe.  All I can say is that I miss it already.  Some aspects of the program could have been better.  First, coordination between our courses would have been much appreciated.  There were several occasions where we visited a site (like Teatro Marcello) for both sketching/studio and history class.  Second, there were many times (especially in Northern Italy and Istanbul) where we would be let off at a random location and told we had free time.  This sounds like a good thing, but in reality, it wasn't.  None of us knew where we were most of the time and usually ended making our way back to the hotel.  Third, the trip's budget seemed very tight.  I always had the feeling that we couldn't get all that we wanted when we were provided with lunches or dinners.  These minor problems caused little trouble along the way.

Now I come to the conclusion.  They say all good things come to an end.  I would disagree.  The idea, the dream, that is Rome (at least for me) will never die.  I can see the cobblestone streets of Trastevere with my eyes closed.  I'll always have that.  It's become a part of me.  I'll carry the memories with me for the rest of my life.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The first day of sketching, at Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza

Kelly and CFT being vicious (one of a series)

On top of the heart of Rome, the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II

Billy and Foz having fun park-finding

What I saw from my bed almost every day of this trip

Dr. McGonagall I mean Higgins during a typical history class

Yours truly with the she-wolf

Billy and Justin enjoying the Forum from the Capitoline Museum

Parco della Musica

On Bernini's staircase at the Vatican Museum (Corin looks excited!)

Emily and Campo de' Fiori from our studio window

Relaxing at the Olympic swimming complex

Senatus PoplusQue Romanus

Kelly can't believe she's walking up the Spanish Steps
The Lateran Library
The Boss, Sweaty Steve, and Marisa at the MACRO museum

Lisa asking if we can rent a boat in Villa Borghese

Reeking havoc on a 4 person bike


AS Roma soccer game

Steve was extra excited

Sketching at Trajan's Market

The Museum of the Roman Civilization
The struggle of Sweaty Steve for the final project

Cervantamama in Rome's most underrated park, Villa Ada

I took many pictures over the course of the semester.  Unlike most people, I try not to take pictures without anyone in them.  My reasoning is this: you can take as many pictures of St. Peter's as you want, but it will never change.  I understand that there are different lighting situations and things like that, but disregarding the artistic beauty of the picture, I find pictures without people in them very boring.  If you have to take a picture of every building you go in, you're missing something.  Because it's not about the buildings, it's about the experience.  The buildings people photograph will always be there.  The people themselves won't.  So this is what I documented.  Our time in Rome.  We were only 20 and 21 and in Rome once in our lives.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Requiem for a Dream

We were treated to a concert at Parco della Musica last night.  It was Mozart's Requiem in D Minor.  The night was one of the best I've had here.  To go to a concert at Renzo Piano's masterpiece of an auditorium was unreal.  But as I sat listening to the smooth and harmonious sound of the violins and cellos I could only think that this requiem was for my time here in Rome.  A requiem for a dream.  I have less than a week left here.  It's a fact that has excited and depressed me.  And as the choir burst in melodious discord, I couldn't help but think of it.  Of the little time I have left.  The things I'll do when I get home.  Leaving.  Seeing everyone.  The gigantic change that awaits me.  How much I'll miss this all.

I looked up what the word "requiem" means.  It refers to a "Requiem Mass" or a Mass for the dead, celebrated for the repose of a deceased soul.  I decided that it's fitting to call the Requiem one for my experience.  I think back to all of my memories here and I can't believe I did and saw so much.  I wondered earlier in the semester about my decision to come here.  I was searching for the reason.  Looking back, I can't believe I ever doubted myself.  I couldn't determine the reason because it isn't just one reason.  It's a million reasons.  It's the fact that I can see the Tiber from my apartment window.  It's catching a glimpse of the domes from Villa Borghese.  It's eating the best ice cream in the world.  It's people watching on Via del Corso.  It's walking to the Basilica of Saint Paul.  It's looking at Saint Peter's every day on the way to studio.  It's feeling the feeling of kinship that only Romans have.  It's sitting in a seat on the main floor looking at an undulating wooden ceiling listening to beautiful music.

The dream is over.  Time to wake up.  

Friday, April 15, 2011

"I have loved, because the Lord will hear the voice of my prayer.
Because he hath inclined his ear unto me: and in my days I will call upon him.
The sorrows of death have encompassed me: and the perils of hell have found me. I met with trouble and sorrow:
and I called upon the name of the Lord. O Lord, deliver my soul."

Psalm 115: 1-4

Sunday, April 10, 2011

There's something that's come up that I'd like to address.  Reading this blog, you could notice an apparent lack of content that has anything to do with architecture.  You might wonder what I've been doing writing about things like my feelings and my religion.  I'll tell you.  At first, it was because I didn't really know what else to write.  I was told I had to blog, to document my experience here, so I did.  I didn't plan for it to come out the way it did, at least at first.  And when you notice that these posts don't have anything to do with architecture, I'll tell you to take a closer look.  If there's one thing I've learned in school and especially here, it's that architecture is everything.  Meaning, it has a hand in every aspect of life.  From the time the cavemen marked a piece of ground with significance by lighting a fire, architecture has been an integral part of humanity.  Architecture is derived directly from society and its needs, fears, hopes, and dreams.  I've been struggling with my faith here in Rome.  This struggle affects my designs.  Maybe not directly, but surely indirectly.  If something in my life isn't going right, that emotion seeps into what I do in studio.  Maybe I need to come to terms with God to move on with my architectural career.  All of this factors back into architecture.  I document my experiences as I experience them.  So if I feel homesick or frustrated I will try to document it accordingly.  I think this way is the most relevant form of documenting architecture that exists.  Rome is not a vacation.  It is a learning experience.  

I'm not trying to ignore or mock the grading requirements set down for this blog.  I realize that according to my definition, this blog could have anything on it and still be about architecture.  I don't believe that I have posted "just anything."  I'm merely stating my opinion.  But I suppose no one will believe that.