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Art history major gets up-close to history in Florence

For any student of history, a chance to see first-hand the people and places of historical significance can add tremendous impact to the learning process. For a student of art history the chance to be immersed in the historical heart of the Renaissance can be life-changing. 

For Blugold art history major Emma Huston of Eau Claire,  that chance of a lifetime came in a study abroad semester in Florence, Italy. The senior spent her spring 2017 semester at the Florence campus of Lorenzo de' Medici, the place where Dante, Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Machiavelli and Galileo changed forever the way we see the world.

Huston has long had her heart set on both studying art history, and Florence was the place to take those pursuits.

"I chose this location because when I was fourteen years old I decided I wanted to pursue a career in art history, and that Florence would be the perfect location for studying Renaissance works. The topics of my studies there included symbolism in Renaissance works,  the life of Leonardo da Vinci, and history of the Etruscans, which dealt with artistic artifacts," Huston stated. "Over the summer, I will be beginning to write my research paper for graduate school applications, and the courses I took in Italy have significantly helped me prepare for this independent writing sample." 

In addition to the coursework, simply living in a city like Florence provides learning opportunities in the area of architectural design history as well as art.

"Florence is a city that represents all the ideals of the Renaissance. I was constantly confronted by the paintings, frescoes, sculpture and architecture of masters like Vasari, Giotto, and Michelangelo. IN this way I learned quite about about art history, as well as Gothic and Mannerist styles," Huston said.

When asked what advice she would give to current of future Blugolds considering study abroad, Huston quickly pointed out academic and personal rewards of her experience, but cautioned against taking the idea too lightly. She correctly sees it as not only rigorous study, but a chance for young adults to represent the United States in a positive way.

"If you feel you will be able to work hard, be respectful, and are ready to be challenged, then study abroad may be a good option for you."