As any student who has ever come within fifty feet of me knows, I am an enthusiastic supporter of the opportunities we provide our students to study abroad. The crown jewel of these opportunities is our fall term at the University of Warwick’s school in Venice, in which five places are reserved each year for Carleton students.
Here are the top ten reasons why HTA students should apply for one of those coveted five places:
John Ruskin’s The Stones of Venice is one of the most important and influential books of architectural theory ever published, and it was inspired by the time he spent and things he saw in this city. Don’t you think it might give you an idea or two as well?
9 The Steps
You don’t cross streets in Venice, you cross canals – which means that you’re always trotting up little flights of steps and back down the other side. Here at home, the leading edge of a step is often covered with a metal plate, because it’s a high-wear surface. But in Venice, that edge isn’t metal – it’s solid marble. It boggles the mind that there’s a place that is so committed to beauty.
8 The Neighbours
Murano. Torcello. Further afield, Vicenza and Ravenna. Glass, mosaic and marble shimmer from every horizon. There’s even more to the Veneto than Venice.
The streets of Venice are paved not with gold, but water. This is not only beautiful (and quiet), but is one of the wonderful ways that Venice thumbs its nose at the world. Every old European city started out carless, but the rest all capitulated. Venice, as always, is the exception. They say to the world, “this is how we do it here. We have always done it this way, and we like it. If you dislike it, you can stay away.” But you don’t, do you?
6 Food & Drink
Forget about orange juice – in Venice, breakfast without cappuccino is like a day without oxygen. Then there are the pastries…. But don’t just eat prepared foods. Most students live in flats with kitchens, so go to the Rialto, get yourself a raw fish, some veggies and herbs, and savour the delights of simple, fresh, quality ingredients.
I’m told that the sun that shines in Venice is the same one that shines everywhere else, but I don’t believe it. There’s something about the way the light penetrates the canals and campi, bouncing off the water and the marble, that makes Venice glow like no other place.
4 Architecture in 3-D
I try – believe me, I try – to give as full a sense as possible of the buildings we study in class with the photographs I show. But architecture is fundamentally sculptural from the outside, and spatial from the inside. You have to walk around it and within it to understand it properly. It is a profoundly physical experience, and there’s no substitute for the real deal.
3 It will change your life
I know this sounds a bit hyperbolic. But I’m deadly serious. An experience like this makes your world a bigger place. It expands your sense of what is possible. Long after you’ve forgotten every word of every lecture you heard back home, you will remember the term you spent in Venice. It becomes part of who you are.
2 Life is short
I don’t know of anyone who has declared on their deathbeds that they wish they had spent less time in Venice. Do you?
1 Because it’s Venice