So this is my last post on the SPQR blog. I wanted to end with some reflections and some thanks. As I mentioned in my last entry, I have arrived back in Minnesota. Right now I’m catching up with family and trying to work off the obscene amount of pasta and cornettos I ate this past semester (thanks Rome).
Surely it will take me a while to process the change and realize how magnificent my time abroad really was, how many beautiful structures I experienced, and how much I learned because of it. It’s hard to explain exactly how or why, but seeing more of the world has helped my class and I feel just a bit smarter, more self assured, and more passionate about pursuing futures that excite us. It’s safe to say we all realized that the world has a lot to offer through this trip. There really was something for every interest…especially if that interest was gelato.
To the SPQR donors and everyone whom followed my blog I would like to say thank you for your caring. I am touched to know there is a group of people who believe in young architects, in our education, and in helping midwesterners like myself travel to further our passions. I know memories of my trip (and of Rome particularly) will surface time and again. They’ll serve as wonderful examples and reference points as I continue to think, sketch, and problem solve as a designer.
I’ve included three reflective pieces that I wrote at the end of my time in 1) Rome 2) Istanbul and 3) Madrid. I hope you enjoy reading them. I’ve also Included photos of our final project- A redesign of the Reina Sofia Museum plaza in Madrid. My partners and I hand drew all the documents thanks to the sketch skills we built in Rome. There are also photos of a booklet version that I formatted after the fact.
Again, THANK YOU.
My time in Rome was a combination of fantastical and everyday activities proportioned so that felt I really lived in Rome for the last five weeks. For this I am truly thankful. Of course I will remember the monuments: the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, and St. Peter’s Basilica, to name a few. I will also remember, however, the weather, the walks, the people, the busses, trams, and trains; things that a person can find variations of in most cities. I’ll remember being elated standing atop the Castel Sant Angelo, watching the city illuminated by that legendary Roman light, and I’ll also remember watching Netflix in my apartment while bonding with my trip mates. How wonderful that I, as Romans do, lived a modern life in a city with an ancient past!
Another notable highlight of the trip was our lecture series from Antonella and Paolo, in which my class and I leaned the details that make Rome so sacred and unique. Certainly each of us can say that we appreciate the city, with its successes and failures alike, much more because of these lessons. Antonella and Paolo showed me Rome as a city that prizes history before convenience and wears this badge proudly. This city and its citizens value history so much that instead of separating themselves from it, they insist on adapting their lifestyle so they may continue to live within the history. This Roman approach to history and preservation will be a consistent reference point for me in the future as I consider how cities with varied histories respond to their past architecturally.
My time in Istanbul was absolutely remarkable. As a study abroad student, I could not have asked for a better city to explore or for better company in doing so. I will remember Istanbul as a massive and complex city that, amazingly, managed to feel warm and welcoming to my classmates and I. I am grateful for the new sights, sounds, and smells, and tastes that Istanbul showed me. More specifically, I’ll remember fondly ferry rides to Asia, endless cups of cay, calls to prayer, cats and dogs on the streets, plushy carpet in mosques, a sea of houses spread across hillsides, climbing tiny spiral staircases, the smell of durum wafting from crowded streets, seagulls flying above the Bosphorus, steep and narrow streets, and Istanbul’s lovable disinterest in sequence and order. As I Mentioned, so many things about this city were new to me, and I am grateful to have been introduced to this great volume of “newness” by truly kind and generous Turks. I’ll remember with gratitude the instructors and students who whispered translations to me in English when I took yoga classes, and those staff at our favorite restaurant whom took the time to learn the names of my classmates and I. These moments are so valuable to me, and will shape my definition of Turkey for the rest of my life. While I’m on the topic of people, it’s only fair to mention that my experience of this city was constantly brightened by the positivity and sense of adventure expressed by each of my classmates. Without them I cannot say that this experience would have been half as rewarding. I can’t wait to return to this city and build upon my amazing experience, because while I feel I have learned lots about Istanbul, I am certain that my Turkish education will continue in the future!
It’s pretty impossible to believe that our time abroad is ending. What an inspiring, surprising, and transformative three months we have had! Truth be told, I do miss Minneapolis and am excited to transition back into the familiarity of home. However, my memories and the skills I learned on study abroad are an important part of my story as a student from now on. I know my time traveling has helped me understand pieces of myself and the world around me in a new light, and for this I am so thankful. The list of lessons learned could take me another three months to retell considering absolutely everything I did abroad I did for the first time (strange thought). For now I’ll close with a list of 10 useful things I could have told myself in January that I learned throughout the duration of my wonderful, wonderful, trip.
10. When you get off public transit, double check to make sure you have all your belongings with you (lest you lose your passport or something ridiculous like that)
9. If you have the time presently, don’t put off seeing the things you want to see until “later”.
8. Generous and thankful people are charming, be they friends or strangers. What a rewarding attitude to adopt!
7. Trying new things is almost ALWAYS worth it, and being initially uncomfortable enriches the experience.
6. Being with friends is great. Being alone is great. Make time for both because the two experiences inspire different realizations.
5. The more maps you bring the more places you can go. Bring maps.
4. Try hard. Why not?
3. Have fun, too. Why not?
2. Be flexible and forgiving. Remember that sometimes “shit happens” is a valid explanation of events
1. Remember that you are abroad as often as possible.