Friday, July 10, 2015

Living in the Moment

Italy has officially left me absolutely speechless!  Everything from seeing the Sistine Chapel, going inside the Colosseum, going up Mount Etna, visiting Pompeii, and so much more was breathtaking and an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.  But, before I get caught up reminiscing about my experience in Italy, I will tell you a little bit about myself.  My name is Abbie O’Brien and I will be starting my junior year at Columbia College this fall.  I have always seen study abroad as an amazing opportunity and visiting Europe has always been a dream of mine!  However, since I had never been out of the country I was nervous to spend an extended period of time away from home.  I thought that study abroad wasn’t an option for me because of this fear and also financially until I heard about the short term study tours that Columbia College offers!  This study tour was affordable, roughly ten days long, and still included a trip packed with the rich history, culture, art, and so much more of the place(s) you visit.  I was so excited about this perfect option for a student like myself and signed up for the Rome and Sicily study tour!  I couldn’t have asked for a better fit regarding finances, duration, and location of this tour!

Now, enough about myself, let’s talk about Italy!  If I shared all the things I learned about the places we visited this blog would turn into a novel, but I’ll do my best to share about my favorite stop, the Sistine Chapel.  Walking into the Sistine Chapel was incredible.  Being able to see Michelangelo’s amazing works was an absolute privilege.  The Last Judgment painted across an entire wall was not just beautiful and a masterpiece but it evoked emotion as everyone stood in the quiet packed chapel.  As I looked around the room I noticed that over half of the people had their necks craned back, taking in arguably Michelangelo’s most impressive and difficult work covering the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  Michelangelo captured the book of Genesis in incredible detail and beauty on this ceiling.   I was immediately in awe of the amazing art before me. 

I think a big reason I was able to really appreciate this amazing place was because the rules took away the distraction that cameras and talking can cause.  Since pictures were strongly prohibited and talking discouraged, we were all forced to be in the moment.  So instead of experiencing the Sistine Chapel from behind the lens of my camera I was able to experience it to its fullest by giving it my entire attention.  Simply standing in the chapel was almost an emotional experience in itself.  I think stepping back to enjoy each place you visit is an important thing to do during travel or any study abroad program in general.  It is not always easy to set aside your camera but in the end it is more important to focus on experiencing the place at hand.  That would be one piece of advice I have for anyone in or considering any study abroad program; don’t be afraid to set your camera down for a moment to take in your surroundings. 

I hope one day you take some time to visit Italy and see the wonderful and beautiful art, architecture, history, culture, and views it has to offer!

P.S. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing the pizza and gelato is, so you will absolutely have to try that for yourself when you visit Italy!! 
-Abbie O’Brien

The Colosseum
Vatican City


Gelato with Lauren
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