Tag Archive | Europe


img_9140-2It’s today it’s today it’s today!!!

I have no idea what that quote is from, but it’s from some movie. A kid is running somewhere really excitedly, saying that that in a high pitched voice over and over. I’m imagining that he is waving something in the air, shrieking and completely filled with energy and joy. I’m not sure if that’s what the kid in the movie was doing , but that’s what I feel like.

Today I’m flying to Europe. Paris, specifically. I got to the airport around 11:30 am this morning after a mild navigational misadventure. (Getting to the actual airport is wild.) It was the first time that I’ve ever gone through check in and airport security by myself too. My suitcase img_9145was exactly forty-nine pounds, out of the allotted fifty, so that was exciting. Also, full-on security pat-down? Maybe it was my bracelet. The lady couldn’t believe that I was nineteen; she said she thought I was younger. I was taken aback, but I’ll take it. I made it through unscathed.

There were few people coming and going yet, and I got lunch and have been sitting at our boarding gate since. People have come and gone, all going about their lives and travels and day. Slowly the other people from my group have collected together. We’ve talked and joked and eaten and shared in our excitement. I can’t wait to get to know them better over the next few hours and weeks and months. I can’t wait to drink coffee and wander around the streets of Paris and eat crepes. I can’t wait to see the beautiful city and art and rivers and sky. It’s today it’s today it’s today!!!

Summer Plans

FullSizeRender (1)This summer I am…drumroll please…STUDYING ABROAD! I’m taking part in Georgia Tech’s Summer Oxford Program. For the first six weeks, we will be traveling all around Europe studying Art History and European Composers. We’re going to visit Paris, Venice, Rome, Florence, Munich, Vienna, Prague, and Bruges, each for about three or four days. We’ll be traveling by plane, train, and…yeah, automobile, I had to say it. There are fifty-five people in my travel group, and we’re all packing into a bus, so we’ll be great friends by the end of the thing. There are three travel groups, and we all travel to different countries for six weeks before meeting back up in Oxford for our second set of classes.

It will be fast, but we are going to be able to see all sorts of museums, culture, shops, foods, landscapes, art, architecture, concerts… It will be an exciting whirlwind of art and audreymusic and history, which I absolutely adore.

For the second six weeks of the twelve week program, we will be taking classes on Oxford University’s campus in Oxford, England. Oxford. (Repeating Oxford like a million times because I still can’t believe it.) We will have Georgia Tech professors teaching us in Westminster College (one of the dozens of colleges). I’m going to be taking Computational Media (CS 1315) and History of Medieval England. Every Georgia Tech student has to take some sort of Computer Science elective, so I get to learn how to code, which is kind of cool! It should be better than calculus, anyway. And I’m really looking forward to learning even more European history in the place that it, ya know, actually happened.

So far, we have had a week of sort-of preparatory classes for Art History and Music, complete with midterms and an impromptu jazz concert by music professors from across Atlanta. We’ve studied the Renaissance, learned about Michelangelo and FullSizeRenderBramante and how much they hated and loved the Pope. We’ve discussed the symbolism is Bosch’s crazy triptych and what exactly is so “off” about the Van Eyck altarpiece.

In Music, we’ve learned how symphonies are set up, how instruments interact to create both pleasant and unpleasant music. We have learned how to compare different compositions, how to identify genres, and how to hear and feel musical tension. I’m obviously way more into art, and am skeptical of Music classes due to years of forced elementary school classes. But as long as I don’t have to listen to the same classical piece seven times in a row, I’m learning to appreciate the technical and compositional aspects of music a little more too.

I’m leaving for Paris on Tuesday, and I can’t believe that either! People have asked repeatedly if I’m nervous, but I’m not. (Should I be? Yikes.) I’ve been to some of these cities before, and I’m excited about getting to know them better. Other places I will see for the first time, and I tumblr_olldx89SLW1uzjdm6o3_500can’t wait to get to know them, the people, the sights, and the food there better as well. I know it’s also a long trip, and I’m going to miss my family and friends so, so much. But I’m not going to be completely disconnected or anything! My goal is to blog every single day, and share the photos that I take in each place. I’ll have free texting even when I don’t have data, too. So, sketchy wifi aside, I’m leaving, but I’ll definitely still be around ~

Hidden Gems

The Louvre's Courtyard of StatuesThey always warn tourists about getting lost while exploring the Louvre, but I didn’t think they were serious.

That is, until I visited Paris two summers ago. I was traveling across Europe with a tour group from my school, the kind that does group activities but prides itself on giving students freedom to pursue their interests. These tours are always limiting, no matter what they claim, but I had had a blast thus far. We had seen the London Eye, shopped in Piccadilly Circus, visited the Eiffel Tower, and ridden a boat on the Seine. Everything was exciting and overwhelming and new.

I was ecstatic when I learned that we had three hours to explore the Louvre. I have always adored art, so visiting this museum was a dream come true. After receiving tickets, I dragged my friend through the line and up the stairs. We probably looked comical, like something out of a cartoon.

We either couldn’t find maps, or didn’t really try. Instead, we allowed ourselves to be swept towards the artwork upstairs with a tidal wave of strangers. This wave deposited us at the museum’s pride and joy, its proverbial diamond: The Mona Lisa.

I knew that the painting was small, so I did not find its size disappointing. What was disappointing were the hundreds of tourists crowded before it, taking pictures without really looking. They were loud, rude, and in the way of those who wanted to do more than just take snapshots to brag about to their friends.

After briefly paying homage to the familiar handiwork of Leonardo, my friend and I left the gallery, disgusted. We had seen the prominent attraction; still mapless, we were now free, instead, to wander.

We traded the densely populated corridors for quieter ones and found ourselves at a wing labeled “Statues” in French. We opened a door, stumbled across the marble floor, and arrived upon one of the loveliest courtyards I have ever seen.

Napoleon III's ApartmentMarble statues were placed in an effortlessly strategic way throughout the terraced space. The sunlight illuminated them, made them glow white against monochromatic tan.

The area was a stark contrast to the hallways we had just left behind. Intrigued, we climbed the set of stairs to the balcony and discovered a half-hidden wooden door. It was ancient and heavy – but open.

We had accidentally found the apartment of Napoleon III.

Inside was eerily quiet; my friend and I and the ghosts of monarchies past were the only ones present. The furniture whispered to us as we passed our enchanted faces in mirrors. The chandeliers were unlit, but they were unneeded, for every heavily draped window was uncovered. Darkness could have eaten the space, but Light reigned.

We spent about an hour exploring these hidden places, these paths less traveled, before reluctantly descending the stairs and returning, breathless, to the uniformly tacky tour bus waiting for us in the bunker-like parking deck beneath the museum.

When I think back to my time spent in the world’s largest museum, the Mona Lisa is never the first thing that comes to mind. There were so many other things to see, things like rooms and statues, that seem simple in retrospect. Visiting the Louvre taught me that sometimes it pays to diverge from the crowd, to look elsewhere, and to find one’s own path. Even if this path is aimless and meandering, it may lead to a special and unexpected joy.

Sometimes, just because you see a diamond, like The Mona Lisa, doesn’t mean you should overlook the gems.