Unexpected Encounters During Class

I remember the best day in grade school was field trip day. No matter where we were going, I knew that it was going to be an amazing day. It was a chance to get out of the classroom and learn something new, something real. It was a real change of place.

In Rome, I feel like I’m reliving this piece of my childhood.

My professors are enthusiastic about incorporating the history of the Eternal City into our lessons, discussing and analyzing the history, art, and culture of Rome. On top of all of that, our professors like to include site visits as a part of their curriculum…

For my Philosophy of Art course, our trips include Palazzo Altemps, Palazzo Barberini, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, and the Museum of Art of the Twenty-first Century (MAXXI).

For my Art and Architecture of Ancient Rome course, we are visiting the Ara Pacis, the Palazzo Massimo Museum, and the Capitoline Museum.

Brueghel

One of my favorite site visits was to the Galleria Doria Pamphilj with my philosophy class. We discussed Immanuel Kant’s philosophy of art in conjunction with the Galleria’s collection of sculptures and painting. I was excited to be in an actual museum discussing artwork instead of talking vaguely about art. Two of my peers led the discussion, and I felt like I understood Kant’s philosophy of art better, having used it to make my own judgments about art.

Moreover, the Galleria had some amazing pieces…

There were paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael, Breughel, and other amazing artists. One of my favorite paintings was a maritime scene by Pieter Breughel. The colors and the composition enchanted me and it was hard to walk away, but, alas, my class was moving on.

I also liked another piece that I saw once our class was over. I saw a statue of a sheep out of the corner of my eye and had to investigate.

At fifty feet away, I realized that there was a person under the sheep, clinging to its wool. At twenty feet away, I realized that the person was Odysseus.

Odysseus and the Ram

This statue depicts the scene in the Odyssey when Odysseus and his men have to hide under sheep in order to escape the Cyclops, Polyphemus. It was such a bizarre scene to depict, so I got a chuckle out of it.

The unexpected experiences make site visits so enjoyable. You never know exactly what to expect, so there’s a sense of suspense hanging over the entire outing. It’s like I’m back in grade school. I never know the exact details, but I know it’s going to be fun.

Studying abroad is a change of pace. It’s a chance to explore. And it enriches my education.

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