mercoledì 30 maggio 2012

Istituto Europeo Study Abroad Art Program, Florence – Interview with Ashkon Farhangi

Sculpture by Ashkon                                                              Self portrait by Ashkon

Nationality: USA
In Florence for 4 weeks to study painting, sculpture and Italian with Istituto Europeo
Speaks English, Spanish, Farsi, (and a little bit of Italian)
Loves cereal
Hates getting up early

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m 18 years old and I’m from San Francisco, California. I have a younger brother who is 15. I have just finished high school so I don’t have an occupation yet. Painting and sculpture are my hobbies (I like art in general). I also play tennis and soccer. I’m Persian but I’ve lived in the USA for my whole life.

  1. What made you want to come to Florence to study art?
Specifically Florence because it’s a beautiful city (I hadn’t been before, but it’s what I’d heard). Two of my cousins did their study abroad semesters over here and they recommended it. Before coming here, I spent three months in China studying kung fu.

  1. How does Florence compare to China?
Florence as a place is definitely very different to China. China was dirty, the air was hard to breathe; very modern, a lot of skyscrapers. Sometimes monotonous because it all looks the same (you can be anywhere in the city and not know where you are).  Obviously in China they speak Chinese. I found people in China somewhat nicer than here in Florence. Maybe because there weren’t many foreigners, so they were eager to talk to me and the people I was with.

  1. How has your experience in Florence met your expectations?
I guess it has actually; but the one thing I wish was different about Florence was if there were more trees – it seems very dry here. I also thought it would be more expensive to eat and go out here; but I’ve found it quite cheap. And a lot of places have student discounts, which I’ve used extensively.

  1. Tell us about the art work you have made while you’ve been here (the materials, the process, difficulty, the teacher, etc.)
I built terracotta sculptures; I moulded them. One of them took two weeks, and the self-portrait took one week. I used classic sculpting tools; wooden knives and metal sculpting tools. I didn’t like my self portrait at all, so I feel like it’s still not finished. It’s hard to sculpt yourself (I was looking in a mirror). I hadn’t realised how inaccurate my image of myself was until I started sculpting. My teacher was a really nice guy; he was very straight and honest; he told me when my work was good or bad – he didn’t embellish or worry about my feelings. I liked that though – it made my work a lot better. This was my first time really sculpting. I think I have gotten better at it since the beginning.

  1. What is your favourite thing about Florence?
The architecture is so pretty. I’ve studied a lot of architecture, so whenever I go someplace new, I am very aware of the buildings around me. The style here is very different than the style in the USA. I like the way they use colours more extensively and in a different way than in the USA.

  1. What is your least favourite thing about Florence?
I don’t really have any complaints although the internet isn’t great here. Something that surprised me also was when you walk into a store, the sales people don’t respond to you the way they do in the USA. In the USA sales people fall over themselves to sell you stuff, but here it’s sort of like it’s not worth it to them to act differently than they normally would to sell something. It’s nice in some ways but also frustrating in other ways.

  1. What do you miss most from home?
I guess I miss my family and friends. But I told everyone from home I’d be away for a month and that I’d try not to contact them during that time. Because I was going away for such a short time, I wanted to be present here in Florence; knowing full well I’d see everybody soon enough.

  1. What are your plans after Florence?
I have an internship in San Fransisco at a small company that is developing an iPhone/iPad app. I’ll be there for two months before starting university. I haven’t decided what I’m studying yet, but I’m interested in math and economics.

  1. What advice would you give to other young people thinking about studying abroad/in Florence?
Definitely do it. As far as having places to study abroad go, I think Florence would be the best because it’s full of college students. The whole city is student-friendly with the discounts and stuff. It’s small enough that you don’t need a car, and it’s super pretty here too. But I heard it sucks in winter. I definitely met a lot of people at Istituto Europeo and made some friends. Istituto Europeo was a very supportive place, like they set up my apartment and made it easy for me to move here, and any time I needed directions or anything I was able to get help from the staff at Istituto Europeo.

  1. If someone was visiting Florence for just one day, what would you recommend they do/see?
I’m not really the kind of person who likes to see the big touristy things, and since I was only here for four weeks I didn’t get to see any of the museums – I’m going to try to see some in the next few days before I leave though. So there’s not any one place in the city that I’d say was my favourite. That said though, the Ponte Vecchio is pretty cool.

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