Being an Art Major Abroad

As an art major, finding art, art museums, and historical art sites abroad is great. Especially after taking three quarters of art history, I recognize a number of famous paintings and styles. At DU, I am majoring in Electronic Media Arts Design, which has required me to take four studio art classes, as well as two general art history classes and one history of Asian Art class in addition to all of my graphic arts classes. Although I did not study in Italy or Greece, I still saw quite a range of art—historical and modern—when I was in Denmark and travelling around.

Photo: Rosa Calabrese
Photo: Rosa Calabrese

On a rather accidental trip that I took with two students from my folk high school to the art museum in Copenhagen, I got the amazing opportunity to see Jane Avril by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. I remembered studying this painting during my sophomore year art history class, and I furthermore remembered how much I liked learning about the period in which it was created and this painting in particular. Additionally, during some brief travel outside of my Danish home away from home, I went to the Picasso museum in Barcelona where I was able to explore many of Picasso’s less famous works that I did not know about even from my art history courses.

Photo: Rosa Calabrese
Photo: Rosa Calabrese

Though perhaps equally rewarding was the ability to see sight-specific works of art even without prior knowledge to the artists or reason that they were created. For example, while on the Danish island of Bornholm, I went to an art museum and was able to see many different paintings and sculptures. However, since I was there towards the beginning of my stay when I did not know much about Danish culture and had little to no knowledge of the Danish language, I had to independently try to understand the meaning of the artworks. I had a similar experience when I went to the art museum inside the Round Tower in downtown Copenhagen, which had a number of contemporary art pieces on display.

Photo: Rosa Calabrese
Photo: Rosa Calabrese

Although I still envy my friends who have been to the Louvre in Paris, to ancient ruins in Greece and Italy, who have seen the Terracotta Army in China, as well as many other historical sites that I remember from my art history courses, I still loved the art that I got to see in Denmark. I am lucky of course that my major is so relevant to anywhere in the world since art is everywhere. Of course Denmark itself is famous for its architecture and for its modern art, so it was not at all difficult to find art related sites to visit, but it is wonderful to know that I can go anywhere in the world where people have ever lived and I will be able to find art.

-Rosa Calabrese, DU Study Abroad Peer Advisor


Valuable lessons I am grateful to have learned from studying abroad.

Not having an unlimited amount of money has made for some of the best stories.

While traveling abroad, I was already loads of money in debt from college. I definitely had a budget, but still wanted to do and see everything. But some of the fondest memories I have are being an in-debt college student travelling for as cheap as possible. The memories of trekking to a farther airport for the cheapest flight, and meeting the men’s professional volleyball team in Croatia.  The nights hanging out with random people that shared rooms with me in hostels. I could go on forever.

I am much more independent than I give myself credit for.

There are times that I get lost travelling downtown Denver. When lost, I can easily use the GPS on my iPhone and find my way home. This requires no contact with anyone else, or public transportation because I own a car. Yet, I traveled all around Europe by foot, bike, train, bus, and plane with no GPS. When I was lost I would interact with people and ask questions. Because of these interactions, I found more useful ways to find the places I was searching for and received tips for great local spots on the way. I did all this without any technology, without any friends or family on speed dial… I did this by myself.


I have been neglecting my own backyard.

Studying abroad has shown me that the world has so much to offer. I learned that Europe is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I was able to gain an appreciation for art and history. I made sure to get to know my city (Maastricht, Netherlands) as best as I could. When I returned to the U.S., I realized that I do not know my OWN city that well. I have lived in Colorado my entire life and I have never put as much effort into exploring and learning about my own home. Luckily, this is something that can be fixed.

And of course, there are fascinating people all over the world. Some of them may even become lifelong friends.

-Dylan, DU Abroad Peer Advisor