Study Hal: Week 28 – Cabin Camping

To start the break off right, Hal took a trip to northern Michigan this weekend. He stayed in a cabin with Sparky. Of course, he followed public health procedures in any remotely public spaces, but in the off-season, the campground was practically abandoned. The unseasonably warm weather, though, meant that Hal could be outside all he wanted. Isn’t it neat to watch the sunrise over a lake?

Hal hasn’t slept outside of his childhood bed since January. It’s weird for a college student to stay in the same place for so long, isn’t it? Hal and I agree, though, that we’d rather be feeling weird staying put than putting others at risk by moving around.

Hal, Sparky, and I would like to wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving! Remember to take care of your mind and body over the break, even if that means eating some comfort food and catching up on homework. 🙂

If you’re new here, Hal is a U-M student who’s been studying remotely since January, and who will be remote next semester, too! If you’d like to see more, come back next Tuesday, or search the “Study Hal” tag for more.

The Footsteps That Came Before Me

So this summer I had the amazing pleasure of leaving the country for the first time and going to England, where I got to study for five weeks at Oxford University, one of the oldest universities in the world. I haven’t gotten to talk much about my experiences there, since I made a blog but never kept up with it (oops), but I’d like to share something that I started thinking about when I came back to the University of Michigan.

It’s weird, because when I got to Oxford, I knew the history behind it, that there were thousands upon thousands of people that had walked the exact same pathways I did, that lived and breathed Oxford. It seemed like every day I learned something new; President Clinton once smoked weed at the Turf, Lewis Carroll taught here. There’s obviously something magical about walking in the footsteps of those who came before you (although, no, I didn’t smoke weed at the Turf – I just got a pint of cider, as per usual).

I’ve thought about this more, too, as the semester has gone on and I’ve been studying the works of James Joyce, who will forever be imprinted in Irish literary history. I had the chance to go to Dublin – there were some other people that wanted to go too – but I instead chose Paris. And even there, I found the quintessential tourist stop for an English major: Shakespeare and Company, the amazing bookstore that you just have to see to believe.

I found out in my Joyce class that Ulysses, his famous epic, was actually first published through Shakespeare and Company, and I had walked those halls, and I had taken a picture of the mural they have on the wall with James Joyce, proud on the wall. Joyce had gone to Paris and written in Paris a number of times – you could say I made that same pilgrimage.

But as I think about these things, about how these great writers have come before me, how I merely spent not even half my summer at this famed university whereas they devoted themselves to it – I don’t necessarily feel special. Sure, I loved it beyond all measure; this year marks the 100 year anniversary of the publishing of Alice in Wonderland. And it’s astounding that I even got accepted, much less had the money to go over there and spend five weeks essentially frolicking across Europe.

But I didn’t feel particularly magical. I know there are people who spend their time trekking across Dublin to find the spots Joyce mentions in Ulysses, or they go overseas to write because that’s what T.S. Eliot did. But nothing’s going to change if I write my novel here or if I write my novel in Paris, emulating some famous author. He’s not going to come back to life and help me revise those 300 pages, or give me inspiration for my next book.

I don’t mean to be too didactic, but I realized that following art isn’t what makes you any better – it’s doing your own art. By having my own experiences in Europe, I define who I am as me, not as someone else. Of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t go back to Paris and perhaps write there (because I loved Paris. I loved it). But I’ll do it because it’s what I want to do – not because Joyce did it a century earlier.

And if there’s any true moral of the story it’s this: travel, get outside your box, go somewhere. It’s totally worth it.

A Wolverine Abroad – the Art Lover’s Travel Blog “Old and New”

Hello again everyone! I hope your holidays were fabulous! That’s right, it’s me Danny Fob, switching over to the arts, inc. page this semester. I hope they don’t miss me too much over at [art]seen, but for the next 7 months I am here in Italy! The most beautiful and flavorful country in the world. It’s weird already to be typing this in English after speaking only Italian for nearly two weeks, but I will do my best for you throughout the semester. Because of my travels this semester and my ongoing desire to write for Arts at Michigan, the wonderful people in the department have allowed me to switch over to this blog and continue talking about art (note the shameless brown-nosing). And so, throughout this semester I will write about the different arts I see around the places I visit. I hope you enjoy it! I’ll be posting every Sunday, so put it in your calendars!

In my first post, since I am both an old writer for the site and new to arts, inc. I want to talk about this idea within the city of Florence. We have all heard of this glorious city, its position as the womb from which the Renaissance was born, its riches and artworks, its museums and styles. And it is all true. Walking through Florence is like going back in time. Its buildings are all made of stone and long forgotten masonry styles. There are statues to heroes of the Renaissance, rich merchants and bankers, scientists and artists, and the first King of a united Italy, Vittorio Emanuelle II. The museums hold works by Bellini, Raphael, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio, which used to decorate the halls of patrons and churches but now sit behind glass as artifacts of a different time. Yes, these works are old, they are masterpieces from a different era, but something that I learned about Florence is that it still thrives. Its culture is still rich in artists and art. People still use century old churches blanketed in marble and sculpture for prayer and worship. A friend of mine, that housed me for a week, is what I would like to call a Renaissance man.  Apparently it is still common, at least in Florence, to be a patron of a certain artist. My friend has an artist that paints what people ask him to paint. I would put up a picture, but I forgot to ask him if I could and his phone is out of money right now. The picture is personal for him, which I think only adds to its value. It is a beautiful tradition of the city and is continuously influenced by new culture, from films and music to the food and lifestyles of other cultures. The city is at the same time ever-changing and always the same. This is one of the reasons it is my favorite city in Italy. It’s like a living, moving work of art.

I think travel is an incredibly important part of life. I know it can be difficult and expensive, but it is sooo worth the work and the stress. Today I travel to Bologna and continue my search for an apartment there, since I will be studying at the oldest university in the World, the University of Bologna. I am very excited and a little terrified, but that is to be expected. I hope the weather isn’t too bad for all of you in Michigan. It’s mildly cold here, but I havn’t seen an Italian snow yet L Fingers Crossed!

Tanti Auguri!

Danny Fob

Your Wolverine Abroad Blogger