The Grand Canal, with gondola in the foreground and medieval palazzi on the side.

Dear Mom and Dad,

This is such an amazing place: the streets are canals, the buses are boats, and everything – every building, every bridge, every view – is so beautiful. My apartment’s just a short walk from the Doge’s Palace and the Accademia Art Museum. Our first dinner was fresh fish and produce from the market, washed down with a little prosecco to celebrate the start of the term. After dinner, I walked along the Grand Canal with a group of my new friends, and we listened to minstrels serenading passengers in gondolas. We have the weekend off, so I’m thinking of taking the bus down to Ravenna to check out San Vitale and its famous mosaics. Or maybe it’ll be the train to Vicenza to see some of Palladio’s villas. Gotta run – our lecture on the Church of San Marco starts in 15 minutes – inside the Church of San Marco!

Okay, that ‘postcard’ is completely fictional. But for five students in Art & Architectural History at Carleton, it can come true next fall.

For several years before COVID, we enjoyed the great privilege of sending a few of our students to Venice for the fall term as part of the University of Warwick’s Art History in Venice program. In 2020, it was canceled due to the pandemic. And again in 2021. But we’ve just received word: we’re back on for 2022!

Romantic view of gondolas in the Venetian Laguna, with San Giorgio Magiore in the background.

I am a huge fan of this program, and of study abroad in general. It can be a transformational, genuinely life-changing experience. The magnificent art and architecture you experience firsthand, the beauty that surrounds you, the people you meet, the friendships you forge, the cultures you encounter, the stories and experiences you bring home – all of these become part of who you are, and make your world a bigger place.

Don’t just take my word for it. Have a look at the blogs written by one of our students, Linda Steele, who went to Venice as part of this program in 2018. And check out this blog that I wrote about study in Venice a few years ago.

Elegant Gothic and renaissance Palazzi along the Grand Canal.

I’ve experienced firsthand how travel abroad can change one’s life. I’ll never forget my first trip overseas to England, and the moment I glimpsed Canterbury Cathedral from the train window. How could something so beautiful exist in this world? That was it, I was doomed – I would (eventually) have to become an architectural historian. And just once – so far – I’ve had the opportunity to take some of my own students abroad for an onsite course. I’ve been in this business for a while, but I’ve never, before or since, experienced anything more exhilarating than that course. And I think my students would say the same. Want to gain a lifetime of experience in one term? Study abroad.

So if you’re a Carleton student majoring in ARTH or HTA who will have 3rd– or 4th-year status by the fall term – and who loves beauty, seeks adventure, longs to travel and just might be ready for the opportunity of a lifetime, drop me a line and we’ll see if this might work for you.

Quiet, picturesque piazza in Venice.

Peter Coffman

Supervisor, History & Theory of Architecture program