Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ciao from Florence!


Greetings from Florence, Italy! Today marks my 9th day in Italy and it has certainly been a wonderful nine days! To start things off, I am Hailey and I chose to study in Florence primarily because of my interest in art. Florence is considered to be the birthplace of the Renaissance and is noted for its Renaissance art and architecture. Although I haven’t been here for very long, it does not take long to know that Florence is an old city that flourished during the Renaissance, and is a city that is still flourishing today!

To give you a visual, the streets of Florence are narrow, made of cobblestone, and are shadowed by phenomenal cathedrals, towers, and a variety of homes occupied by Florentines and other study abroad students. On nearly every street you can find artists creating and selling their work, whether it be paintings, etchings, hand-crafted bags, or jewelry. The level of creativity and artistic talent in Florence is quite spectacular. The city of Florence is busy, however catching a break from the city is rather simple. With a short bus ride, we have been able to explore the Chianti valley, famous for Chianti wines. And, here in a few days, we will take the train to Cinque Terre to enjoy the beach!

While I write to you, I just want to share a few of my favorite experiences here in Florence. The first would be getting to see Michelangelo’s “David.” The sculpture is breathtaking to say the least, and I honestly can’t even begin to describe how magnificent viewing the sculpture is. “David” is 7 feet tall and was carved from a solid piece of marble. In addition to Michelangelo’s “David,” I also got to see Donatello’s “David,” which is made of bronze. The Renaissance art that decorates Florence is fantastic. I definitely plan to share more when I visit the Uffizi Gallery, where I will see many works by famous artists, such as Da Vinci!

I’m going to head out to sketch for a while, but I plan to update you soon! P.S. today is my 22nd Birthday, and I must say I can’t imagine a more beautiful city to spend my birthday in! Have a splendid day!


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Look out Oxford, I'm headed your way!

Oh my goodness! Time flies so fast when you are preparing for an adventure. I guess I kind of know how Bilbo and Frodo Baggins felt before they went on their adventures.  I find it hard to believe that in a little over a week I will be in a completely different country.
I should probably start with a brief introduction. I’m Crystal, as the profile name states. I am currently a graduate student at Columbia College pursuing my MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching) and my certification in special education.  I am a married woman with 1.5 children, work two jobs and attend in-seat classes through Columbia College. My son is 9 and the .5 is about 5 months old in utero. I’ve been married for two years to a great guy who supports my dreams and does his best to show me his support, such as prompting me to take this trip.  Speaking of this trip, I am going to be attending Oxford University in Oxford, England in July through the MOSAIC program.  I am very excited for the opportunity to participate in a course on educational policy, considering I eventually want to get into advocacy in education.  I am looking forward to entering the hallowed halls of Oxford, and also the halls of area British schools to compare the differences in educational culture and policy.  I won’t lie, I’m also looking forward to the accents too! I even warned my husband that if I heard enough Scottish accents, I might not return home!
Preparing for the trip has been quite interesting, as I am pregnant. I am not quite in maternity clothes yet, but I fear packing anything besides maternity clothes due to my expanding waistline. Most of what has been packed is business casual clothes for the school visits and some activities in which MOSAIC students will participating.  One piece of advice that I have taken to heart came from Jim Harf, the MOSAIC coordinator; “Lay out all the clothes you want to take with you on the trip. Now, put half of them back in the closet because you won’t need them.”  As a serial overpacker, this has been very hard to do.  I try to always be prepared for an emergency, but I think I just have to let that part of my brain shut off for a while. I can’t afford two check bags!
Also, in preparation for this trip, I have to write a brief essay based on an interview with a school administrator along with reading three articles.  I have conducted the interview and the paper is almost complete.  I will be reading the articles this week so they are fresh in my mind when I land in London.  I have taken a class with Dr. Mason before and he is quite the easy-going teacher.  He does not get overly excited over things and seems to be as “cool as a cucumber” when it comes to teaching.  I think he will make this course very pleasant and I look forward to working with him again.

With time drawing near for the trip to begin, I have gotten very nervous about leaving my family and loved ones behind.  For a 19 year old student, this has to be so very liberating.  For a 34 year old student, it is quite shocking! As most mothers and wives know, much of the house runs on my schedule and I tend to be the one to get things done.  It’s just the nature of the beast.  I fear that things will crumble without me at home to take care of it, but thankfully my husband is a bit pushy when it comes to me pursuing this dream.  We have talked about when we will be able to Skype with one another, due to his job and the time difference, it is a little difficult to pencil in that needed contact.  I have seen friends and family that mean the most to me this month, and I’ve brushed up on some British vocabulary, so I think I’m almost ready to go.  Now, I should probably finish packing my bags and double checking my lists to ensure I’ve got all I need to make this one of the best experiences of my life!
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