“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” -Pat Conroy
I can’t help but shake this peculiar feeling surrounding my experience abroad. I’d like to put my finger on it and have the glorious “aha!” moment, but after three months it hasn’t come to me. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that it went from being an all consuming other wordly nearly out of body experience, summarized to good. “How was abroad?” Good, I had a fantastic time, “You were in Florence, right?” Yep. Cue an abrupt subject change and restoration to conversation with pre-abroad Rachael. To be entirely clear, I am not upset about this, nor do I expect anyone to want to hear about my experiences for hours on end. Even if anyone did, I’m not sure I would be capable of articulating it. I’ve spoken to friends that also studied abroad, and sensed that I’m not alone in this period of post-abroad desolation. Which I guess renders the usage of the word desolation useless. I digress, but to be honest, I don’t think there is a solution to this awkward feeling of, “I just traveled Europe and now I go days without talking about it, or sadly, even thinking about it.” As my life progresses I will do my best to carry the perspective and knowledge from life abroad with me, but for now, I will try to explain in a way that makes sense to me and a way that had such an impact on my experience. Photography.
I took a photography course in my time studying abroad, and it was one of the greatest take-aways from my entire experience. My Italian professor, Massimo, was an immensely talented and seasoned photographer, that had ample knowledge to share with my small class of six students. I learned more than I could’ve hoped for, maybe even a little too much. I considered myself a “photo-snob” for the rest of the trip, constantly analyzing each angle, composition, lighting, etc. for every picture. Safe to say my roommates and travel companions were a little sick of me by the end of our journey there.
In the class we were assigned different photo series projects, with a specific focal point for each one. These projects ranged from street photography, capturing a specific emotion, food photography, photo diaries, and more. Our last assignment was completely free reign to do with as we pleased, and that’s what I’m choosing to share with you here! The idea behind this photo series was to encapsulate my life in Florence through the use of memorable locations and the shoes I would typically wear in those spots. I wanted to remember “a day in the life” of Rachael in Florence. Tbh it involved a lot of lugging shoes around various streets of Florence and receiving volumes of weird looks. But regardless, each photo has a story (or many) behind it, and I’m pleased with the way my mental vision turned into a captured reality.
My life in Florence: A photo series