“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” -Albert Einstein

19 Apr

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” -Albert Einstein

This quote couldn’t be more true! Except for that in Europe, it seems like everything IS happening at once! And before you know it, your program is over! This is what I’ve been experiencing this past week. I still have a little over a month left of my program, but it keeps hitting me (thanks, IES emails) that the program is going to come to an end. And I don’t particularly like that!

Last weekend, IES took 30 of us on a trip to Wachau (http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/destinations/austria/wachauvalley.htm), officially one of the most beautiful places in the world, according to an Austrian newspaper! And I agree. We first went to Melk, an abbey about an hour outside of Vienna, and in the middle of nowhere. Simply wonderful. It used to be a palace, so it doesn’t look like a place where monks are supposed to live, nor a school, both of which it is. After Melk, we headed to Krems to hike up to some ruins of a castle. The hike wasn’t what any of us were expecting, nor dressed for, but everyone made it to the very top! It was probably about a mile straight up in the woods, and then when you reach the top, there are some ruins on a cliff, and you get one of the prettiest views in the world. It was amazing. We took our lunch (wiener schnitzel, natrülich!) to the top, ate there, and stayed there for about an hour, and it was amazing. We walked back down, ate some Topfenstrudel at a cute little cafe, then made our way to the Huber house to drink some wine! The Hubers were a family that owns a winery in the Wachau Valley, and so we went there and learned to make wine and then had a little wine tasting! It was really interesting, and such good wine! They fed us dinner at the end, and it was an end to an amazing day.

The next week was interesting, class wise. I had two presentations on Thursday, and was NOT looking forward to it! My first presentation was in my art class that, to say the least, I am not fond of! Well, no one in the class is fond of her, but it is agreed upon that she thinks I am the worst student in her class. I’ve tried to explain to her that I’ve never taken an art class before and so I’m trying my hardest, but it doesn’t matter. Apparently knowing art history is supposed to come naturally! My roommate, who is also in that class, wrote an amusing summery that I would love to share with everyone!

“Art Analysis, Current Exhibitions: The Real Class Notes
Class began today as Dr. B appeared out of nowhere from the corner of the class in time to enthusiastically inform her victims that they were six minutes late. (Time moves at a different pace in that classroom, No Big Deal.) Lesson number one: never come late to your own funeral.

Meeting in session. She also laughed in the face of page numbers: who needs ’em? Not Dr. B. This was met by silence. During the individual class presentations, certain students lost their temper as the rest of the class was lulled into a false sense of security by the humanist qualities of Dr. B’s wild-eyed enthusiasm. The high point of class was without a doubt the overwhelming zeal devoted to the Funeral Museum. (I’m dying to go.) It was all downhill from there.

Terror ricocheted off the walls of the classroom as the captives flinched with every click of the projector, desperate in their attempts to date the paintings. Somehow, I thought dating would be more fun that this. Doesn’t it usually involve dinner and a movie?

First: Vermeer. (Although if you already knew this was Vermeer, you are cheating. Shame on you, Catherine.) After a full-fledged argument about the “yellow” being the first thing one sees, Dr. B told the students exactly the same thing in a different order, which clearly made it correct.

Then: the nude with the dude and the potto and toto, her little dog, too. Please note that within the four walls of this classroom, a kid with wings isn’t an angel. He’s a potto. (Potto, I don’t think we’re on canvas anymore.) It’s kind of like an angel that doesn’t go to church. And when he’s chilling with other winged freaks, they’re called potti. If you think you know what a torso is, you’re probably wrong. Nudes don’t have torsos; they have upper bodies (freaks). Mimi excused herself to laugh or cry in the bathroom.

The third painting was clearly a Cezanne, but the terror-stricken class refrained from mentioning this name above a whisper. When asked what created space, Mimi suggested color, to a deadpan look from Dr. B. However, with different inflection it’s easy to understand how Chesnut’s lucid response of, “C-C-Color?” was more correct than Mimi’s. Lesson learned.

When asked what the students saw in the fourth painting, Chesnut quickly retracted her initial “Still Life!” response with a terrified: “I MEAN– FLOWERS!” while an eruption into giggles (I have heard quieter stampeding elephants) distracted the professor from such a foolish mistake. Incidentally, florists tend to be the best laymen at dating still lifes, as the only difference between death representations and happy rose arrangements seems to be the uniformity of the flowers. Eliza Doolittle would do better in this class than I.

The painting for which Picasso claimed credit (his name was in the right-hand corner, but some students were too terrified of death-by-deadly-glare to venture a guess as to the artist) was never successfully dated in class, although Dr. B. evasively accepted 1910 as an answer, after laughing at it and ridiculing such a date for a full five minutes.

Thanks, Tia, for whatever you did to inspire this class session.

Join us next week, but don’t be late.”

*Thanks to Elizabeth Chesnut for being an amazing writer and capturing the essence of the class*
So, that was the class. It was awful. My presentation went surprisingly fine, but then at the end of the class when she told me her going over some slides was all for me (Basically saying I have no idea what is going on), and the fact that she was berating our class the entire time for not knowing the exact dates of paintings we had never seen…well, those parts weren’t so hot. But, my next presentation that went perfectly made *almost* everything better.
Now, after Thursday, all I wanted to do was go to Brussels. I had had this planned for a long time, and was going with people that I actually enjoyed a lot. Well, if ya didn’t hear, there was a volcano. Pretty much all planes in Europe are shut down. So? No Brussels for Tia. We switched our flights and headed to Graz (hometown of Arnold Schwarzenegger!) and had a lovely time!
And that’s what’s been happening! Alllllll at once!
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