Author Archives: Adam Rossi

About Adam Rossi

I fold my own clothes pretty well now.

Let the Wild Rumpus Begin

As our motley crew starts to dwindle (John, Alanna, Nichelle, Laura F., and Katy W. left this morning) it’s impossible not to look back at the last five weeks with an overpowering sense of nostalgia.  The truth is still sinking in – our great adventure is really coming to a close.  Sure, some of us have a few days left with each other (Catherine leaves tomorrow, and Abbey and Laura E. on Monday) but it’s just not the same without the whole gang.  This has been one of the greatest summers of my life, and even as the memories of the Dali museum or the aqueduct in Segovia start to fade, I know I will never forget these people and the (far too short) amount of time we spent together.  We’ve all learned so much from Karl, Cheryl, and our rotating crew of guest speakers and Spanish friends; but even beyond the limits of design and journalism, we’ve learned how to live our lives to the fullest, to relax and practice tranquillo, to appreciate the world around us, and most importantly, to never use a ruler when sketching.

It’s easy to forget that all of us go to the same school and live within two miles of each other (some only a few streets or houses) and that many of our memories together have yet to be made. I’m looking forward to our many reunions, which, if all goes as planned, will quickly surpass the amount of time we were actually here in Spain. I can barely believe how lucky we’ve been to have such a great group of people here – for those of you who remember the good old days back in Barcelona, we’re still walking on a dream here three weeks later!  I don’t think any of us ever want to wake up from it.

As this is quite possibly the longest blog entry of all-time, you can take an intermission from reading and watch a brand new Jersey Boys Production – and don’t worry, I spent ten times longer on this one so it’s even better than the last! Watch it in full screen for full effect.

Anyway, as our blog sadly comes to a close, I’d like to give a shout-out to each of my fellow travelers, without whom this journey would not have been anywhere near as epic.  You guys are the best!

Abbey: You’ve been the ultimate contrast, playing the role of group mom while still embodying the spirit of Max from Where the Wild Things Are. I still think it’s hilarious every time you say ‘I died’ to convey the fact that you laughed really hard at something, and I will always remember the night you toppled over in mid-headstand to destroy everything on Katy’s nightstand. This trip just wouldn’t have been the same without you and your countless youtube videos (smells like meat! rotten meat!) and I hope you enjoy your new salt and pepper shakers, Adam and John!

Katy W.: Haha, just thinking about what to write here brings a smile to my face! You are so much fun to be around, and I’m so glad we could be neighbors for the last three weeks. Whether it’s being able to hear you Skype from half a mile away or (in Katie’s case) witnessing your strange sleeptalking ways, you’ve brought so much life and energy to this group.  And, of course, the boda bag you gave me is something I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Laura E.: While our relationship has been rocky at times, and may have started a bit awkwardly in ENG 265 (still your fault, sorry I’m not sorry), I’m glad we were able to work through it all and become BFF’s. It’s been great to have a fellow Spaniard on the trip, as well as someone else who isn’t afraid to be sarcastic and snarky all of the time. You are absolutely hilarious and I look forward to making teddy bears with you next year at Biggby!

Alanna: Words simply cannot express how ashamed I am that we never even spoke to each other in Karl’s class last year. The pure volume of sass that I missed out on will haunt me for the rest of my days. That being said, I hope I redeemed myself slightly over the last five weeks, because I’ve enjoyed every minute of our time together (yes, even the times you banged on our door at 7:30 AM to make us wake up). I’m looking forward to celebrating y0ur birthday with the gang at Karl’s pool party, and if we ever have another class together I swear I’ll talk to you at least once!

Laura F.: My favorite memory of you will always be the night when we split off and went to the ‘jazz club’ which turned out to be the Spanish equivalent on a rock and roll venue. I’ll never forget the look on your face when the guitarist swung around and almost chopped off your head with his guitar neck. You’ve probably come closer than anyone else to becoming a local here, and I’m sure that you are destined to return someday (regardless of whether we ever actually found the magic fountain in Barcelona).

Lauryn: The fact that we share a favorite movie (Almost Famous) and a favorite Nate (Mooty) would be enough in my book to make us lifelong friends, but when you add in your carefree and fun-loving attitude and your ability to draw McDonalds food when everyone is already starving, I think I could be friends with you even longer than that. From standing like bobbleheads in Barcelona to making faces in a Belfast pub to recreating the famous Da Vinci sketch in Segovia, many of my favorite photographs from this trip feature you and your crazy ways. Sorry for beating you and your sorority in battle of the bands a few years ago.  Sorry i’m not sorry.

Catherine: Cathcath, C Mills, the first half of Cathalanna – no matter what you choose to call yourself, you bring all of the intensity that one would expect from someone with fire for hair and it’s been such an integral part of our group. I have so many favorite memories of you, bursting into our room at 3 AM looking for food or talking for twenty five minutes about why you love the New England Patriots or destroying John’s beloved cereal bowl that I simply cannot put them all into words.  Instead, I wrote this little haiku.

You just live to hug

And make me smile always

C Mills, you’re my fav.

Nichelle: Possibly the only person here who made as many weird faces as John and I, I have two favorite memories that pretty much summarize you the best. Firstly, in Barcelona before I really knew you, when we went to a club and you befriended a pair of Germans (you told me their names were Hans and Franz) as well as a nice man with an Aladdin tie (you told me his name was something that I could not decipher for the life of me). The second was the other night, at a club here in Madrid, when you accidentally stole a purse for half an hour and managed to find a large starfruit to put inside of it, before trying on a big pink motorcycle helmet that you found sitting on a seat. You are a constant source of entertainment, and I’m so glad you invited yourself to come to Ireland with us. You and John and I (and later Lauryn and Elena) made for a great group and I wouldn’t trade those five days for anything in the world.

Katie D.: Where to even begin? You and Katy, our lovely neighbors, are as different as can be, but you have one thing in common: just being around you makes the world infinitely more fun and happy. I can’t even imagine this trip without your energy and laughter and willingness to be a kid on playgrounds and teeter totters with me. I think the highlight of the trip was when you decided to travel on to Rome for an extra week with me, because I already know it’s going to be one of the most fun adventures of my life. I look forward to returning to East Lansing and finally meeting the legendary Amy and Aunt Marcy, and introduce them to Captain Punky and Princess Beluga Sparkles!

John: When I went to the first study abroad meeting and saw that there was indeed a second boy going on the trip, I was so relieved that I almost skipped home. At the time I said to myself that I didn’t care if you turned out to be the weirdest and creepiest kid on the face of the earth, as long as I was not alone in yet another design class filled with girls (ew gross). Little did I know that I would be lucky enough to have the greatest roommate and friend that I could have possibly asked for – the last five weeks have been my greatest adventure and I owe so much of that to you. There is no way that I could ever mention one-thousandth of the memories I’ll take away from this, but I can mention ten:

  1. Discovering our shared affinity for Taylor Swift and spending countless hours doing homework to the album Fearless in the hostel.
  2. Our first conversation, which consisted of “Hey have you seen my towel?” “Yeah, it’s on the right.” “Wait are you sure?” “Wait, no, my right, your left.” “Okay cool.”
  3. Our last conversation, which consisted of “Be strong.” “I’ll try.” “I might cry.” “Just go, don’t look back.” “Bye.” “Bye.”
  4. Bartering for our Lionel Messi jerseys in a shop outside of Parc Guell and our David Villa jerseys in Platha Mayor.
  5. Wearing them most days after that.
  6. Staying up until 3 AM on our last night in Barcelona to make the first Jersey Boys video, and then watching in class to close out our time there.
  7. Splitting off from the group at Parc Guell and climbing almost to the top, and then returning that weekend to finish the job.
  8. Speaking in Castillian lisps and Irish accents.
  9. Sketching Megan Fox and a kitten in a bonnet during Karl’s first drawing class.
  10. Everything else.

I’m glad that, unlike the places and things we’ve seen here, our friendship can return to East Lansing and hopefully continue to thrive. I cannot even wait for our first day wearing our jerseys to school and blowing everyone’s minds with how cool we are. I love you, man – latis on the menjay.

~Adam

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The Devil Wears Prado

Today we saw our first precipitation since arriving in Spain! Yahoo!

You cannot tell, but this man is doing a Gene Kelly impression.

Everyone broke out the hoodies and umbrellas as we made our way to El Prado (see the graphic, below) for a day of art history and lessons on perspective.  Afterwards we all made our way back home, where we capped off the day by ordering Domino’s pizza (it took 11 of us to figure out how to order, and we ended up having our wonderful guide Nancy do it for us anyway).  Needless to say, it was delicious and well worth the trouble that Abbey and Katie D. went to to pick it up for us, in my opinion.  For a more detailed overview of the day, please see John’s blog (also below). Please enjoy our infographics as we continue to take this blog to new levels never thought possible by mankind!  Adios americanos!

~adam

El Prado

Click here for John’s blog.

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The Final Chapter

When I signed up for this program, one of the first questions my parents asked me was “Why does it have to be in Spain?  What are you doing there that you can’t do at Michigan State?”  It seemed like a valid question at the time — both of our professors are from MSU, and we can learn to draw anywhere, right?  I figured that it was basically an excuse to travel abroad and see some amazing things, and I was right — but in the last two days I’ve realized that there is one great reason for a group of budding designers to study in Spain — the newspapers here are on an entirely different level than the ones back home.

Today in class we heard from a former MSU student, Nick Mrozowski, now creative director for the Portuguese newspaper “i.”  His presentation was informative and fascinating — several students said that this was by far their favorite day in the classroom here — and seeing his work made me wish I spoke Portuguese well enough to get a job there as well.  “i” is published in full color and designed to look like a magazine even though there is a new issue every day.  Vibrant, interesting, and full of illustrations and graphics, a publication like “i” is a dream job for up-and-coming designers like us. In fact, Nick said that they use more illustrations than any other current newspapers except the New York Times.

We also heard from Krissi Xenakis, another MSU alumni who talked to us about how to find inspiration and get out of creative blocks. She presented some really cool typography she had created using tweets by people like Britney Spears. As someone who is very interested in typography in design, I soaked up everything both Krissy and Nick had to say, and I could tell my classmates did too.  Thanks again to both of them for making the trip. We appreciate it!

After class, everyone split off into groups and went their own ways — some to the beach, some to the market, some to the hostel, and some the the Olympic Museum.  My colleague John had this to say about the museum:

The real selling points were the poor Spanish to English translations that resulted in hilarious picture captions and the fact that we could touch the objects in just about all of the exhibits.

I’ll let him fill you in on the rest of the Olympic complex experience.

Last, but certainly not least, I just want to say that everyone has been doing a great job with putting great photos and videos on the blog!  You’ve all inspired John and me to put together a short video of our own – we hope you enjoy it!
~ Adam

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Everything Reverberates

In one of our rare mornings spent in the actual classroom, we were fortunate enough to have a guest speaker (Lynn Strause, yearbook extraordinaire) speak to us about finding our voice and making an impression.  While we spent most of our time talking about yearbook and magazine designs, the presentation got me thinking about the city itself — what sort of voice does Barcelona have?  What impressions has it made on us so far?

As we pass the halfway point of our short stay in this amazing city, I think it’s time to provide a small taste of what we’ve experienced so far.

TEN IMPRESSIONS THAT BARCELONA HAS MADE ON ME

1. La Rambla

A stately man going for a stroll on La Rambla

La Rambla, a massive street in central Barcelona that we walk through multiple times each day, is the most lively, bustling hub of activity I have ever experienced.  Walking up and down it, one might see some street performers, a historic church or two, or the widest selection of hamster cages in the entire hemisphere spread out at their feet.  Night or day, rain or shine, there is always heavy foot traffic on La Rambla, and though it is primarily a tourist location, it provides an excellent cultural experience that no one should leave Spain without.

2. Siestas

Siesta on the beach with an umbrella

The very idea of closing up shop in the middle of the day and taking a nap is so mind-boggling to us Americans that we simply cannot comprehend it at first.  In Spain, however, it’s normal practice, and it’s part of a laid-back lifestyle that I think we could stand to learn something from.  Some stores open later or close earlier, people are more relaxed, and you can sit at a restaurant as long as you want after you finish eating without getting thrown out.  And yet, somehow, everything continues to function just fine — it’s a great atmosphere to be in, and one of the things I’ll miss most about this place.

3. The History

This is a castle. (photo by Katie Dalebout)

You can’t walk for two minutes here without seeing some kind of historical building or massive structure (i.e., La Sagrada Familia) towering over you.  Everything from the tiles at your feet to the sculptures and fountains that rise from the ground are steeped in history, and it’s part of what makes this city seem so unreal.  We heard a story about a fountain somewhere in the city where, if you drink the water, you will someday return to Barcelona — so far we’ve found something like ten fountains, and had water from each, so hopefully one of them was the right one and none of them were from the sewer or something.

4. Patatas Bravas

OH MY GOD THEY ARE SO GOOD

Words cannot describe patatas bravas (potatoes with a uniquely spicy dressing).  I will simply include a picture and hope our readers can grasp what a culinary miracle it is that such an exquisitely delicious dish was ever created.

5. Street Art

"All You Knit Is Love" storefront window

I’ve never seen a city with more graffiti, murals and other forms of art on the streets. It adds so much color and life to an already vibrant place, and it seems to be much more accepted here than it would be back in the states. Entire buildings or shop doors will just be covered in extravagantly painted trees or landscapes or people. I think it’s amazing.

6. Adam and John’s Blue and Red Authentic Professional Lionel Messi Number 10 Barcelona Futbol Jerseys

Dancing in the moonlight

I think they speak for themselves.

7. The Dream Worlds of Dali and Gaudi

Parc Guell - A Real-Life Wonderland

Visiting Dali’s museum in Figueres and Gaudi’s creations in Barcelona, such as La Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell, was like being in a real-life Wonderland. Walking up the steps at Parc Guell was the moment when I truly realized that I was in a completely different culture — it was like nothing I have ever seen before, and I’ll probably never see anything like it again. These are experiences I would never trade for anything and I think they’ll have a great impact on me as a designer too!

8. The Language Barrier

The street signs are all on the sides of buildings!

I took Spanish for multiple years back in high school, but I can honestly say that I’ve learned more since I’ve been here than I ever did back then. It’s incredibly gratifying to be able to order food or chat to a store owner entirely in another language (or so I’ve heard — that’s my ultimate goal). I also enjoy the overall shift in our group from exclusively English to a sort of English-Spanish hybrid language (Hola, lo sienta, I’m late, I was eating my jamon boccodilla in my room) and I look forward to us all becoming fluent in the next few days.

9. The Metro System

An inside look at the Metro

Any account of Barcelona would be incomplete without the Metro.  We take it everywhere — it’s the easiest transportation in the world.  We wish they had something like this back in East Lansing!  Also, there are escalators everywhere, and no one can not have at least a little fun every time they ride one of those.

10. Cheryl Pell

Cheryl and Abbey on the bus tour

Okay, so Cheryl isn’t technically a part of Barcelona, but I think I speak for everyone when I say that a trip like this simply would not be the same without her.  I know that many of us would not even be here if we hadn’t taken her class at MSU and promptly changed our majors/lives to follow the design path. Even though it took her awhile to accept my Facebook friend request, I am glad that Cheryl is here and I can’t think of anyone else I would want to lead this expedition!

Well, that just about puts Barcelona in a nutshell*.  I hope it’s given you a taste of what it’s like for us, and I’m looking forward to another week here!

-Adam

*And by that I mean that really I could fill an entire novel with the things we have packed into a single week in this city.

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