Alex Foo, GS'21

Padova Sant'Antonio Basilica

How Study Abroad Reaffirmed My Academic Interests

Alex Foo GS'21

"Crucially, my time in Venice reaffirmed that art history was what I wanted to pursue as a major."

I knew very little about Venice, much less Venetian art, before I arrived on June 7, 2018. Sure, I had seen Casino Royale and had a vague appreciation for Titian and Canaletto. But later that day, as everyone gathered in Saint Mark’s square for gelato in full view of the Basilica, the Ducal Palace, and the Lagoon, I knew that I was in for something special, and that the six weeks would fly by in no time. Crucially, my time in Venice reaffirmed that art history was what I wanted to pursue as a major. It was also a period where I could, and was encouraged to, indulge in the sheer pleasures of looking, especially in a city the water, light, and the combination of the two could produce such a myriad of textures and luminosities. As Henry James wrote, “the mere use of one’s eyes in Venice is happiness enough, and generous observers find it hard to keep an account of their profits in this line.” Since the appearance of Venice has changed so little over time in comparison to places like Paris, it was easy for us to immerse ourselves in the visual culture of sixteenth century Venice and to see what painters like Tintoretto and Veronese saw and included in their art. I gained a sharper eye, a wider artistic and architectural vocabulary, and an enhanced appreciation for the interactions between art and architecture. I cannot imagine a more supportive and inspiring environment for study abroad, with the city of Venice as a boundless resource and incredibly knowledgeable professors and program staff who care about your academic development and personal wellbeing. I left Venice on July 21, but I know that I will return.