Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Dispatches From Abroad

By Ellis Ross

student

A group of 52 students from the School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi recently traveled to Italy for an immersive learning experience that provided rich exposure to Italian culture and cuisine, while affording myriad opportunities to capture their experiences in written and visual formats.

The group explored Italy from May 11 to June 6.

The majority of the trip was centered in Florence, with excursions to Sorrento and Rome, the last leg of the journey. Leading the tour were professors Jason Cain, Mark Dolan, Ronnie Morgan, and Chris Sparks – all of whom teach courses in integrated marketing communications and journalism. 

The students enjoyed many cultural experiences, while writing in-depth features, gathering documentary photos, exploring international brands and exploring relevant topics in media studies. 

With Florence being the birthplace of the Renaissance, there was history to be found everywhere, from town piazzas adorned with statues, to buildings and cobblestone streets that have remained in place for centuries. 

Shared here are some student observations. We hope you enjoy.

Photographers and writers sharing their work with HottyToddy.com are Sally Anderson, Ellie Boos, Tatum Chenen, Jack Clements, Catherine Cline, Cameron Cooley, Ellie Ducharme, Ava Ferree, Addie Flasck, Olivia Flax, Claire Hendry, Kenzi Howton, Will Johnson, Hillary Kaniecki, Bella Kraft, Lexie Kratky, Lauren Lucas, Ali Mattox, Grace Mitchell, Sarah Moore, Olivia Morgan, Kaylee Plowman, Olivia Ray, Emily Reib, Ellis Ross, Laurie Sanford, Rhiannon Schaeffer, Hannah Skinner, Maggie Sligh, Ryan Strickland, and Emily Sutermeister. To see the gallery click here.


By Sally Anderson

I.

“Ma’am, you were supposed to pick up your gate-checked bag when your flight landed in Chicago. You need to file a lost baggage report.”

Well $#*!

I’m standing in the Atlanta airport and have to get to the international terminal to make it to my flight for my month studying abroad and one of my suitcases is in Chicago. I can’t even be mad at the airline because this is all kind of my fault. 

In preparation for studying abroad, I brought two suitcases with me. A checked bag and carry-on. As I’m boarding my flight to Chicago from my hometown of South Bend, Indiana I get halted at the gate and am told that my carry-on suitcase is actually going to have to be gate-checked. No biggie, right? 

It has to be checked because the flight from South Bend to Chicago is about 45 minutes with about only 30 passengers. It’s a small plane. It’s such a small plane that while it does gate-check bags it deems too large for no fee, it does not check them to your final destination. 

I was oblivious to the second part. 

Being oblivious as I am, after landing in Chicago I leave my suitcase behind and go to my flight to Atlanta. It wasn’t until I went to baggage claim I realized my other suitcase was never going to be on the conveyor belt. This is when the United lost-and-found worker broke the bad news to me. 

After calling my parents to inform them of my idiocy, during which both of them remarked at how surprisingly well I seemed to be handling this. I promptly went to the bathroom and burst into tears. 

It wasn’t just the fact that I’d lost a suitcase that made me cry. It was the doubt I already had about my capability of surviving in a foreign country on my own. Losing my suitcase confirmed my doubts about myself. It was the simplest thing I could have screwed up. In fact, the ticket I was given to claim my luggage at the gate in Chicago said: “Pick-Up at Gate.” If only I’d bothered to turn it around. 

I couldn’t stay in the Atlanta airport bathroom. I had to get to my flight to study abroad whether I felt good about it or not. After a long journey to Florence, it was time to call my airline every chance I got to ask them how to get my bag back. Luckily for me, 97 percent of lost luggage gets returned to its owner.

After speaking with multiple workers on the United lost luggage helpline, I was finally able to get my suitcase shipped from Chicago to Florence. 

There was one catch, I would have to go myself to the Florence airport to retrieve it. 

I had my doubts about whether or not I was cut out for study abroad. Now I was being put to the test. I had a friend, my phone with little to no service, and no knowledge of the Italian language.

Let’s go get my luggage. 

When we reached the Florence airport lost and found desk, I saw through the window they had my suitcase! Because the arrivals side of the lost and found desk didn’t have a door, I got what felt like an exclusive VIP employees-only security entrance and walked across the runway to return to baggage claim. Finally reunited with my suitcase I was also given a new perspective on travel. 

Yes, I would make mistakes, but through them, I could learn and grow, leading me to make smarter decisions in the future. From here on out, I will always make sure if I gate-check a bag that I know where I’m supposed to pick it up. 

II. 

When walking through the Galleria dell’ Accademia you see incredibly captivating and historically rich artworks. Then when you turn a corner, you forget all about those other pieces because all you see is HIM. 

Michelangelo’s David has been internationally celebrated for centuries. But even though David is a one of the world’s most renowned pieces of art, I didn’t know much about it before coming to Florence. I had no idea where it was housed, who created it, or even what it was called. 

The reason for this is sad, but I’ve always felt the need to shrug off incredible pieces of art owing to my resentment over my own lack of artistic ability. 

My mom was an art and art history major in college she would even come in to help with my art classes when I was in grade school. My three siblings all got incredible artistic abilities passed down to them from my mom, winning awards in school and even making side hustles out of creating art. Meanwhile, I got my dad’s (lack of) artistic talent. Even though my dad is incredibly talented and intelligent, (he majored in economics and philosophy, graduated law school, and passed the bar in all three states he took the exam), bless his heart, the poor man simply can’t draw. 

This family dynamic created an environment for some lively debates on what actually makes something art. My dad and I would argue that anything we had the capability of making could never be considered art. My mom and siblings said that we just didn’t understand art in the same way they did and that it could be argued a black dot on a white canvas can be art. 

Despite my general lack of appreciation for art, I have seen some famous art pieces. I’ve been to the Louvre and the Met. Seeing famous works of art at those museums was always so underwhelming. I felt like I’d seen it a million times already in pictures and I was bored looking at them. 

With this in mind, I wasn’t eager to see David. A part of me didn’t want to like him, so I could only further prove to myself that art is boring because it’s not something I am personally talented at. I figured it would be just like all the other famous pieces I’d seen before.

Boy was I wrong. 

David is different.

Not only does the sheer size of this piece leave your jaw dropped, but the detail and the ever-changing perspective when you move around him create a hypnotic gaze that makes you unable to look away from him. 

When on the phone with my parents after visiting the museum, I was shocked when my dad told me David was actually his favorite piece of art. I thought he hated art too. Turns out David brings out something even in those resentful against art. 

The undeniable artistic talent of Michelangelo when making David as well as the meaning behind it struck a chord with my dad and me. 

While it’s up for debate whether or not David is depicted before or after his battle with Goliath, one sure thing is that the grace of his pose and the innocence on his face presents the idea that it was his intelligence and faith in God, rather than sheer brute strength that helped him win against Goliath. 

The Florentines have claimed David as their symbol of liberty and civic pride. I don’t blame them. David has the right to be in any and every museum across the world, but he belongs to Florence. As the birthplace of the Renaissance, this sculpture of graceful independence encapsulates the city’s ties to the movement of free thinking after spending years in the dark ages.

David takes command of a room and somehow manages to make everyone watching him feel like they’re the only two people present. Basically, David is the really popular kid in school everyone likes. He’s the one I kind of want to hate just because he seems too good to be true, but can’t because he really is that cool. 


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