Opportunity Knocks

Elisabeth Hawthorne
December 3, 2014

Remember that plan I had to write once a day last week?  Yeah, neither do I.

I suppose this is due to numerous factors – putting up an exhibition at the American Academy in Rome, planning for winter break, next semester, and submitting applications for (ugh) summer internships.  What I’m trying to say is that I am sorry for not following through.  Let’s get back to work:

- – -

I have had opportunities abroad that I could never have had at my home institution.  This can be reduced to two factors: 1) exposure, and 2) motivation.

Yes, there is plenty of opportunity in and around my college in the States, but exposure is limited in contrast to the easily accessibly (practically touted) culture of Rome.  Every few feet there is a museum, an archaeological site, a priceless work of art.  This past weekend I stepped into Chiesa di Santa Maria del Popolo to shelter from the rain and incidentally saw two Caravaggio masterpieces, Conversion of St. Paul on the Road to Damascus and Crucifixion of St. Peter, for the price of the one euro coin it took to light the chapel they are housed in.  It’s easy to stay in a bubble on a college campus.  Study abroad forces greater exposure to a culture, a city, and all its opportunities.

Likewise, it’s not that I am void of motivation while at home.  However, in order to successfully engage in the host culture abroad you must actively seek out opportunities.  They make it easy for us here at IES Abroad with planned excursions, aperitivo, conferences and extracurriculars, but few of the students are content to passively sit back and let others designate their time abroad.  For some reason it is easier to be more adventurous, more motivated.  Perhaps it is the vacuum created by lack of a defined campus and prescribed social interaction – a lack of boundaries in a way – which enables individuals to motivate their own search for opportunity.

So, yes, my time abroad has yielded experiences I am not likely to forget or repeat.  Think behind-the-scenes tour of the Vatican Conservation Labs, visit to the closed archaeological site of the Imperial Fori, a lesson in carving marble taught by Peter Rockwell, artist and son of Norman Rockwell, climbing the scaffolding of the live conservation site at the Church of Trinità dei Monti above the Spanish Steps…

I have actually seen and wondered at so many works of art and architecture in the flesh that slides or textbook images seem but pale imitations in comparison.

So now I will give you some images of an academic daytrip we took to Florence a few weeks ago.  Talk about opportunity.


I could wax eloquent on each of these photographs because I am an art history nerd and would be happy to tell you their significance, but maybe I will give you the opportunity for some autodidacticism.  You take the reins.  Guide your own learning.

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Grazie, Roma! Bella cosa tosto è rapita.

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Elisabeth Hawthorne

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I&rsquo;m your standard artistic mutt, head on the ground, feet in the clouds, brought to you by a serious case of wanderlust. Small-town Minnesota girl, ex-expat of Singapore, international traveler, art history major, varsity fencer, opera singer, aesthetics junkie, curious soul, gelato votary, far from home at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, making distance and immersion my teachers during a year abroad in Rome, Italy. You can follow along as I happily consume art and carbs in la bella città, but be warned I might not stay in one place for long!</span></p>

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