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With Local Natives!

Explore and Get Lost

I have been in Belgium for over 2 months now, and now that the initial craziness has passed and I’ve comfortable settled into my new home I’ve been able to calm down and explore.

I’ve been taking a French class and have made a few local friends which have really helped with the language, and which has given me the confidence to travel to other cities on my own since communication is no longer such a big issue.

Antwerp Part 1

This trip was basically to Street Art Belgium, an outdoor /indoor graffiti art expo. Artists showed more traditional work on canvas in a little gallery space, while several others painted huge murals in Luchtbal, a suburb of Antwerp. Free and super, super awesome!

Lier/Antwerp Part 2

This second trip was a visit to two family friends who live in Lier, a really tiny town really close to Antwerp. I spend the evening with them in Lier, and then they took me to see “the sights” in Antwerp, which were fantastic.

Brussels

A trip with two main objectives: the Local Natives concert at the AB Club, and a visit to the Magritte Museum for a 20th Century Art assignment.

The MOST IMPORTANT thing that I learned there, and probably so far in this trip, is to LET YOURSELF GET LOST. I had an hour to kill pre-concert and got lost the way back to the venue, which resulted in me running into 3 members from Local Natives on the street and getting to chat and take a picture.

The following day I did a hop on/hop off bus tour of the city (which is worth it!), and met a girl on the bus which I ended up exploring the whole town with.

It’s all a matter of giving out good vibes.

Namur

Unfortunately it poured all day so I wasn’t able to shoot much, but I went to the KIKK Festival here, which was basically a really awesome design convention. I sat in a theatre and listened to designers give talks from 10-6pm, and it was wonderful.

Also, if you’re here, go to Okawa if you like sushi, but don’t get the sushi lunch box. Get a simple roll or Sashimi/Nigiri, and tempura. They seem to do that best.

Tips

  1. CityMaps2Go iPhone app- Get it! It’s awesome and it will save you! It works on GPS so you don’t even need WiFi and shows you exactly where you’re at. It also lets you bookmark places and look for places by name and address just by downloading the map of the city.
  2. At least in Belgium, a GoPass 10 train ticket (available if you’re under 25)- 50 euros gets you 10 train rides, which can be used during an unlimited time span. Perfect if you’ll be staying in a place for a while and are planning to travel a lot.
  3. Make friends with the locals! Don’t stick to hanging out with people who came with you from your school, and try to be in different classes since it will force you to speak to people you otherwise might be too shy to interact with. You will get to not only practice the language, but also get to go to awesome things you might otherwise not have run into.
  4. Look for festivals and events! If you’re a student or under 25 you get insane discounts to things that are absolutely worth it! For example, the KIKK Festival in Namur was free (!), and a ticket to go to the opera will cost you 15 EU for a good seat vs. 80 EU if you didn’t meet the criteria.
  5. Don’t get an ombre dye here. DO. NOT. DO. IT. Or a haircut, honestly.
Sunken Gardens

Study, Work and Play in Downtown St. Petersburg.

Attending college is an important step in most teenagers and young adults lives. There are a few important factors in deciding where to spend the next few years of your life.

As an undergrad I made my choice based on a few factors: The academic programs being offered, distance from my immediate family, the school that would give me the best opportunities academically and athletically.

My years as an undergrad ended in 2008 and 4 years later I made the very important decision to return to school and receive my M.A. in Journalism and Media Studies. As an undergrad I attended a very large school in the South that boasted a top 10 football program and that gave me the opportunity to play the sport that I loved, basketball, at the highest level collegiality. I did not take into account the environment of the city that my University was a part of.

As a graduate student I made it a point to chose a vibrant, relaxing city with a beach and so much more. St. Petersburg, Florida houses my current University, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. The University is academically top notch and it doesn’t hurt that I’m surrounded by culture and adventure!

A Look at What Downtown St. Petersburg has to offer

The Dali Museum

The Salvador Dali Museum

The Dali Museum is a striking building is a concrete trapezoid wrapped in an undulating wave of glass and steel. And its design is an homage to the Dalí Teatro-Museo in Figueres, Spain. The Dali houses beautiful works of art from around the world. The museum’s collection includes 96 oil paintings, over 100 watercolors and drawings, 1,300 graphics, photographs, sculptures and objets d’art, and an extensive archival library, and displays are periodically rotated. The museum was recently rebuilt in 2011.

Sunken Gardens

sunken-gardens

The Sunken Gardens currently contain over 500 species of tropical and subtropical plants amidst pools and cascading waterfalls, lushly planted in a collection of more than 50,000 tropical plants and flowers. They include a Japanese garden, cactus garden, and butterfly garden, and Chilean flamingos. Plants include bougainvilleas, royal palms,water lilies, shrimp plants, and fruit trees. The garden atmosphere is peaceful and many of the plants are quite large (compared to typical specimens) due to their long history of protection and cultivation.  Sunken Gardens is the oldest commercial tourist attraction on Florida’s west coast.

The NEW St. Pete Pier

New Pier sketch, Picture courtsey of: Michael Malt

New Pier sketch, Picture courtsey of: Michael Malt

The Pier is a landmark and major tourist destination in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. Some of the activities and sights it encompasses include fishing, boat rentals, weekly festivals, and the Pier Aquarium. Shopping, dining and nightlife are other amenities. The pier is probably undergoing a complete renovation and may close for renovation on May 31, 2013 and reopen with a new refreshed look and feel!

With all of the wonderful options available in Downtown St. Petersburg, it’s easy to see why I chose this wonderful University and city to study, work and play.

Welcome to USF St. Petersburg!

A look at art in our backyard

Take a walk off University of South Florida St. Petersburg’s campus and you are in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg.

Surrounded by the beautiful waters of the Gulf, the city houses some amazing galleries and museums and the best part is that they are all a quick bike ride off campus.

The Dali Museum

Photo credit: The Dali museum

Photo credit: The Dali museum

The building itself is a work of art. Overlooking sailboats and right next to the Mahaffey Theatre, steel beams bend in a way that doesn’t seem natural, supporting glass shaped rectangles forming the “enigma.” According to the Dali Museum website, the “enigma,” which is made up of 1062 triangular pieces of glass, stands 75 feet at its tallest point, a twenty-first century homage to the dome that adorns Dali’s museum in Spain.

And that’s just the outside! Inside, a helical staircase leads up the second and third floors of the expansive museum.

The second floor offers a library for scholars to research Dali and the Avant-garde.

Museum Fine Arts

Photo credit: Museum of Fine Arts

Photo credit: Museum of Fine Arts

I was lucky enough to visit this museum last year when they were showcasing the works of Mr. Andy Warhol! It was AMAZING!

The museum is great about offering new exhibitions and you are bound to find something that will tickle your fancy.

Kapok Tree

Kapok Tree. Photo credit: Bob Horn

Even if you do not go into the museum you can enjoy one of the iconic staples in Downtown St. Pete- The HUGE Kapok tree.

You are officially a “St. Peteian” (don’t know if that’s a word) once you have made an attempt at climbing its branches.

The Morean Arts Center- Chihuly Collection

Glass art- Chihuly

Glass Art by Chihuly. Photo credit: Morean Arts Center

If you do not know who Chihuly is, stop reading this and google his name.

The guy is the glass blower of glass blowing. Some of his pieces remind me of the hard rock candy on a stick that I would eat as a child.

Chihuly is well known around the world and we get to have his work on display right in our backyard!

St. Pete Clay Company

St. Pete Clay Company. Photo Credit: Bob Horn

For those of us who get inspired when we are surrounded by so much beautiful art, we can go over and visit the St. Pete Clay Company.

They have kilns and clay and pottery GALORE! Pay a small fee and you can throw clay all day. There is nothing like getting your hands in the mud and creating a beautiful piece of art work, even if your mom is the only one who can appreciate your lack of artistic skills but will proudly display your crooked pottery piece in the middle of her coffee table.

Thanks Mom!

If you need more convincing that USFSP’s backyard is awesome, check out Art Walk on the 2nd Saturday of every month. Galleries stay open late and offer free admission so you can peruse the art scene while drinking wine and feeling educated!

Stencils of letters N E V R taped to paper

Finals Week Is NOW

It usually seems that by the end of the semester most everyone is feeling burnt out and ready to go home for a while.  Or at least just tired of current classes.  Some people (myself included) prefer to cram everything they can into their noggins just before their exams, while others (perhaps smarter individuals) study gradually – building up their knowledge in advance and doing a sort of refresher prior to finals.  And then there are a number of students who appear not to study in the slightest.

Two E's of different size and color on paper

A preliminary design for one of the parts to my Drawing Final

In any case, the past month or so has been fairly hectic and I’ll be relieved once I’ve finished everything I need to.  I only have about 3/5ths of my Drawing project done and I need to do a massive amount of studying for my 20th Century Art class, as well as finish my Honors paper and study for that test…

An accurate assessment of my current emotional/mental state is definitely overwhelmed.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, here are some photos from my Thanksgiving Break – Sand Sculptures at Saint Pete Beach!