Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy

The University of Mississippi

Olivia Venice

Sophomore Scholar, Olivia Morgan, travelled to Venice during Winter Intersession with the Ole Miss Study Abroad Program

It’s quite easy to lose yourself in the city of Venice. With its winding back alleyways and countless bridges it’s easy to spend all day and night wandering around, looking for great little places not to be found on any plain man’s guidebook. It traps you like a good book that begs you to turn one more page, to round one another dark corner.

As deceiving as the maze of alleys and canals can be, it’s easier to get lost in the idea of Venice. It’s easy to become intoxicated with the decadent history and literature studied on this trip, and it’s enthralling to hunt down the magic that authors have sought in its streets for centuries.

For the two week English 393 course I enrolled in, I was required to read two short novels (Death in Venice, The Comfort of Strangers), Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and a collection of short stories and poems hand-picked for the class ranging from Dickens to Byron. While in Venice we also viewed films such as Dangerous Beauty and the adaptation of Henry James’ The Wings of the Dove. Learning these texts on location was a wonderful experience because being able to grasp the setting and context of a place in real life lets students jump into the works studied and fulfill any reader’s dream to walk around in the books they’re reading.

The trip was helmed by University of Mississippi professors, Dr. Ron and Dr. Natalie Schroeder who carefully planned a series of tours, excursions and class discussions that let us to interact with the texts, as well as appreciate the background of the city itself. Our free evenings also allowed us to explore the city for ourselves, and discover all it had to offer from fantastic restaurants, to quiet local hangouts or pubs.

I was able to meet with students on this trip that I wouldn’t have normally run into on campus, and really get to know them by sharing adventures and unique experiences. From gondola rides, to tours of art museums and churches, I was able to embrace a new environment for learning, and step out of my own comfort zone. I was able to remove myself from America and participate in other cultures and exercise broader thinking, beyond the place where I was raised. To be able to get myself rut of everyday life and function on my own in an unfamiliar setting allowed me to gain a new perspective on my life, and filter out my personality from my surroundings.

The result of all this is simply that I fell in love. With the quaint little pizza restaurants, or local-favorite chichetti (tapas) bars. With the baritones of gondoliers sweeping through a canal before their sleek black ships are even visible. With the fog that begs to envelope you with secrets. With the idea of who I am away from everyone I know. With the sense of adventure that pumped through my veins with every step I laid on the cobblestone streets.  I became entranced by the city.

I am blessed by having options to travel and become a more knowledgeable citizen in a global world. I’m so thankful for my scholarship through the Ole Miss Women’s council that has allowed me to afford school at Ole Miss, as well as opportunities like this that are truly priceless. Because of this I’ve been able to learn about and experience things I could have never imagined.