About Brenna


Aerospace Engineering

**Area of Concentration:** Astronautics
**Hometown: Fairbanks:** Alaska
**Career Goals:** To be an aerospace engineer who works for an international organization. Hopefully, I’ll have the chance to live and work overseas.
**Why I Chose Embry-Riddle:** The strength of the degree programs offered, the overall feeling of the campus, and the amount of possibilities
**Activities:** Honors Program, Resident Advisor

Bonjour Tout le Monde

Bonjour Tout le Monde,

I am writing to you from Paris, France. Both of my plane flights went relatively well. I was able to catch up on some reading and watch a few movies while in the air. When I arrived in France, I took a train from the airport to my hotel. Luckily they both had stops on the same line. However, when I tried to leave the train station, I discovered that I had accidentally purchased the wrong ticket and therefore the turn-styles would not let me exit the station. In order to leave, I ended up calling the ticket office at the train station for help and one of the workers just manually opened the gate for me.

The classes for the French summer language intensive program seem to be going pretty well. We start at 9:00 am and finish by 4:00 pm on most days with about a two hour lunch break from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm. We work a lot of building vocabulary and verb conjugation. When classes finish for the day, I either go to the supermarket to buy food or take the train into Paris for sightseeing.

The most iconic symbol and tourist attraction is, of course, the Eiffel Tower. According to the website for the landmark, the Eiffel Tower was built to commemorate the Exposition Universelle in 1889 which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. The tower was designed by Gustave Eiffel and took two years and two months to build.

The Eiffel Tower was created in 1889 and designed by Gustave Eiffel. Taken in July of 2013

Besides having 1,665 steps to the top, the Eiffel Tower is also known to light up every night for the first five minutes of every hour.

The Eiffel Tower at night. Taken by Kinoshita Atsushi in July of 2013.

In the picture with me are some of my classmates from the French summer language intensive program. Students come from countries all over the world, such as Brazil, Russia, Spain, South Africa, and Australia.

Another must see landmark of Paris is the Notre Dame. This year marks the 850th anniversary since the start of construction of the cathedral in 1163. Notre Dame then took about 100 years to complete.

Notre Dame Cathedral. Taken in July 2013.

The cathedral has about 37 sculptures of Mary, the Mother of God, inside the building and on the outside. Notre Dame is also known for having beautiful stained glass windows. The grandest of the windows is the South Rose Window, which was constructed in 1258 and has a diameter of 12.90 meters and a height of almost 19 meters. The 84 panes are divided into four circles each displaying events in the New Testament.

This is the South Rose Window at Notre Dame. Taken in July of 2013

During one of my free afternoons, a few of my classmates and I visited Bercy Park, which is located in the eastern side of Paris. Of the parks that I have visited in the past week, this one is by far my favorite because it contains many beautiful garden and flower beds, mazes, ponds with bridges, arched walkways, and statues. Here are just a few pictures of the park:

This tree lined walk way contained many benches suitable for reading books, eating a meal, or spending time in the presence of others. Taken in July of 2013.


This rock stature in a lily pond was my favorite place in the park. Taken in July of 2013.

Covered arch ways, such as this one, give park visitors a bit of privacy. Taken in July of 2013.

Bercy Park really highlighted one of the differences between French and American culture. I have noticed that the French have no hesitation to publicly display affection. While in America it is common to see couples holding hands and maybe exchanging a quick peck on the lips, the amount of touching between couples seems toned down compared to French couples. French couples, young and old, don’t mind making out in parks, trains, dance clubs, and other areas where everyone else can see them too. In addition, even on trains or walking on the street, it seems that the French have a much smaller personal space bubble than people in the US. It is very interesting and something that I need to learn to adapt to since I tend have a bubble larger than most of the French.

During this weekend, one of my classmates, Irina, and I visited the Ménangerie du Jardin des Plantes, essentially a small zoo located in the middle of Paris. Even though the menagerie was smaller than most zoos in the US, there were still plenty of animals to look at and learn about. Irina and I practiced our French by reading the information signs located next to each exhibit. One thing that I noticed was that each exhibit had smaller walls and fences compared to enclosures in the US. This may be due to the fact that since the menagerie was smaller, it did not contain many of the larger, more dangerous animals and therefore needed smaller safety precautions. It is also possible that France has fewer and less strict rules than in the US. Either way, it allowed Irina and me to view animals up close. Even though the menagerie was small, we were still able to see a lot of animals.

A flock of flamingos taking a nap in the afternoon sun. Taken in July of 2013.

A black panther prowling around his enclosure. Taken in July of 2013.

A crocodile in his enclosure. Taken in July of 2013.

One of the other must-dos in Paris is to experience the Parisian night life. On Saturday night, a few of my classmates and I went to a discothèque, a dance club. The one we visited was called Mix-Club whose entrance was located on street level, but whose dance floor was actually a few stories underground. The music was very loud and from countries all over the world. In addition, there were also a lot of flashing lights and fog machines. Since I love to dance, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Even though we stayed at the club until 5AM, the club was nowhere near close to closing. The idea in Paris is that night clubs stay open until morning so that many intoxicated dancers have access to public transportation such as the trains, busses, and metro, most of which are closed at night, and to decrease the amount of drunk driving and related accidents. It makes sense to me. Since the other clubs in the same area are also underground, noise isn’t much of a problem, the clubs make more money, and people are kept safer.

A few classmates and I at a Paris dance club. Taken by Kinoshita Atsushi in July of 2013.

Thank you for reading,

Local History & the Future of Flight

Greetings All,
Since I last wrote, I was very fortunate to visit a town in Florida that is near Daytona Beach. Two weekends ago, my friends and I drove a little less than an hour north to St. Augustine. The minute I saw this town, I absolutely loved it. According to the City of St. Augustine’s website, this town was founded in 1565 by the Spanish, which makes it the oldest continuously occupied settlement in the United States. For those of you who are history buffs, this means that St. Augustine is 42 years older than Jamestown and 55 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.

This is one of the side streets of St. Augustine. As you can see, it was in the historic part of town. Taken by Courtney Hough, my roommate.

In the present day, this city thrives on tourism. There are plenty of locally owned shops carrying artwork created by people who live in St. Augustine. There are unique foods to try from family-run cafes to high-end restaurants. In the evenings, many places have live music from all over the world. St. Augustine is a truly wonderful place.

Even though this city is almost 450 years old, it has aged beautifully. In the older parts of the city, there are historic cobblestone streets and houses with balconies.

Many houses in the older neighborhoods looked like this one. I love houses with balconies. Taken by Courtney Hough.

In the Historic Colonial District, there are 36 colonial buildings that are still standing.
One of the most beautiful buildings is part of Flagler College.

This is the sign in front of the college’s main buildings. Their school crest is amazing. Taken by Courtney Hough.

The main building was built in 1888 as part of the Spanish Renaissance architecture and was originally used for the Hotel Ponce de Leon.

This is one of Flagler College’s main buildings which was originally the Hotel Ponce de Leon. Taken by Courtney Hough.

It was one of the first poured-in-place concrete buildings in the United States and one of the first electrified buildings. The inside is absolutely beautiful.

The inside of this building was incredibly gorgeous with dark polished wood and vibrant paintings and art. Taken by Courtney Hough.

This is one of the main stairways leading up to the residence halls. Taken by Courtney Hough

The main entrance opens up into a courtyard with a fountain in the center and walkways leading to various parts of the buildings. In addition, there are many wonderful stained glass windows, mosaics, and murals.

Seeing all of the beautiful architecture of Flagler College makes me glad to be close enough to visit. For me, it is nice to see buildings, streets, and cities that were built hundreds of years ago because it gives me an appreciation for the hard work and dedication used in those times. Sometimes I feel that society is too busy dealing with the now or looking towards the future that the past is forgotten. While I enjoy modern cities of the United States, I sometimes feel that society has forgotten what it is like to plan not just for now, but for future generations. I believe that it is better to build and structure that is meant to last hundreds of years than to build one that may be torn down in maybe 15 years. It would save a lot of time and money in the long run, quality over quantity. It is interesting that the other big event of the past two weeks presents a strong contrast to St. Augustine and deals solely with the future and science.

Last Monday, Boeing’s new Dreamliner the experimental 787 was open to Embry-Riddle students for tours.

787 Dreamliner

This is the tail section of the new experiments 787. Pictures were not allowed inside the aircraft. Taken in June of 2013.

Since the Dreamliner is still in the experimental stage, the side of this plane was essentially used as a flying laboratory. There were stations for each scientist and engineer that monitored the sensors mounted in and on the aircraft. Data gathered each day is then uploaded into a main computer for analysis. Probably one of the most intriguing aspects about the inside of the plane was the large water tanks located all over. When we asked some of the scientists, we found out that they use these water tanks to manipulate the center of gravity of the plane to simulate the plane being as full capacity with strangers and luggage. The system is brilliant because it is so simple.

787 main engine

This is one of the main engines. I love the color. Taken in June 2013.


Dreamliner 787 Daytona Beach

This picture shows of my roommate, Courtney, and I in comparison to the jet engines. Taken in June of 2013.

Well, that’s most of the exciting news of the past two weeks. The next entry should be from France. Fingers crossed for luck. Thank you for reading.

Artist? Architect? Aerospace Engineer!

Hey Everybody,
As promised, the following entry will be about the Dual Degree Program: how I became interested, details and benefits of the program, and the application and preparation process.

First things first, let me say that I decided on a career much earlier than most of my peers. Even now, at age 20, some of them are not 100 percent sure of what they would like to do in the future. When I was about 14 years old, my teacher assigned my class a research paper about an occupation we were interested in. I ran through various careers I was intrigued by when I was younger, artist, architect, and oceanographer, but eventually decided that the topic of my paper should be aerospace engineering.

I came up with the idea while watching Star Trek with my family one evening-super inventive of me, I know. I was fascinated with how the engineers knew the ins and outs of every piece of equipment on Enterprise. They could push the engines to go faster than ever before, improvise a communication device, and were able to repair every system on the ship. They were intelligent, inventive, and an integral part of the crew. I also loved how Enterprise traveled to other worlds and met different species and were able to communicate successfully and learn about their culture. I saw aerospace engineering as the perfect way to learn about all the engineering disciplines while being able to travel and work with people from other countries.

Since that revelation, I have done everything I could to make that dream a reality. During high school, I took advanced classes in math, science, and English. I also participated in a robotics club that went to a state competition for two years. I knew that these areas of my education needed to be strong in order for me to become a good applicant for top colleges. In addition, I also learned that the European Space Agency had headquarters in Paris, France. I thought that the ESA would be more likely to hire somebody who had studied French to help with the language barrier. As a result, I studied French for three years and traveled to the country during my senior year of high school. When I came to Embry-Riddle my freshman year, I sought out the Study Abroad table during the student activities fair to see what programs were offered. My favorite program by far was the Dual Degree Program.

The Dual Degree Program is an agreement that Embry-Riddle has with EPF, a well-known school in France, where students are able to earn degrees from both schools. The idea is that aerospace engineering students who participate in the program, which starts in their junior year, will be able to earn at least a Bachelor’s Degree from ERAU and a diplôme, a diploma, from EPF. Schooling at EPF starts during junior year with students returning to ERAU during their senior year to complete their Bachelor’s Degree. Then students travel back to France for their “Fin d’Etudes” or end of studies. From there, students have the option to either receive an internship through EPF or return to ERAU for their Master’s Degree.

Since all the classes taught by EPF will be in French, students will become bilingual and fully immersed in French and European culture. It is thought that bilingual individuals will be more likely to be hired due to globalization of the aerospace industry and international companies who have offices in both the United States and in other countries overseas. Furthermore, because both schools have a different approach to learning and teaching, students will have versatile problem-solving skills and be better equipped for engineering jobs. Essentially, the Dual Degrees allows students to earn two degrees that will be both recognized in the United States and in other countries while living in a foreign country, learning a new language, and becoming fully immersed in a new culture. Naturally, the minute I learned about this program, I was ecstatic and could not apply soon enough.
Eligibility requirements for the Dual Degree Program as stated on the main website, located here, are:
• Have sophomore status, complete all Freshman and Sophomore courses listed in the catalog for you degree program, and a CGPA of at least 3.0 at the time of application
• Write a one-page essay in French describing out the program will help you to achieve your goals
• A preferred completion of HU153 French II or be able to demonstrate proficiency in French

The application for the Dual Degree Program is located here and is due during the third week in February. The list of documents required for the application process is:
• The application itself-it asks for a lot of basic information as well as scholarships received, extracurricular activities, practical experience, advisor consent, liability forms, etc.
• A sealed copy of official transcripts-these can be obtained from Records and Registration located above the Departure Lounge near the Mailroom of the Student Center.

The door to the Departure Lounge, taken during summer 2012

• Two letters of recommendation, one must be from a past or current professor
• A one page, double spaced essay in English describing why you would like to study abroad and what you expect to gain from this experience
• Two passport sized photos-you can get these at Walgreens, located just off Beville Road
• A copy of your most recent passport-it must be valid for at least six months after you return to the U.S., if you do not have one, information about passports can be found here.
• A résumé in French-also known as a CV, please not that this is not simply a regular résumé translated into French. A CV has different content and a different layout than a résumé.
• One page, double spaced essay in French describing why you would like to participate in the Dual Degree Program
• An EPF Program of Studies Form-essentially how ERAU requirements are filled by EPF’s courses

The most recent Program of Studies form, as of summer 2013.

• A copy of your travel itinerary-due no later than one month prior to departure

One of the best ways to make sure that your application contains French that is grammatically correct is to ask a friend who knows the language to look over your application. I was fortunate to have a friend, Bryan, who actually grew up in France and was kind enough to help me with my application. Even though I took three years of French in high school, my skills were very rusty and I had to look up a lot of the vocabulary words on a website called, wordreference.com, which works much better than Google Translate.

My friend, Bryan, helped me with the French portions of my application. In this picture, he is wearing his Halloween costume.

Once student have been accepted by the Study Abroad Office at ERAU, they must apply to the summer language intensive program held by EPF, information about the program is here. The Programme enables students to learn French before they take regular classes during the school year. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, students are also introduced to French culture and are given ample time to explore Paris and the surrounding areas.

While students are applying to the Programme, they also need to apply for a long-term student visa. Information about long stay visas can be found here on the French Consulate in Miami’s website. Unfortunately, in order to apply for a French visa, students need to physically visit the consulate in Miami. Luckily, I was able to drive there last week with friends, so we made the day of it and visited the beach and saw the sights.

Miami Beach, taken by Courtney Hough, June 2013.

All that is left for me is the waiting game. I should receive my student long-term visa later this week. In between packing and getting all the logistics figured out, I have been practicing French. I have been using a program called Mango Languages. Embry-Riddle provides this program on ERNIE. Probably one of the most helpful parts of the program is that every word and part of speech is color coded to match the English translation. In addition, as each word is highlighted, a box pops up with how to pronounce each word phonetically. The program can get repetitive, but it’s supposed to in order to maximum retention of words. Mostly, I am using Mango for review and am on lesson 41. It is my goal to finish the entire program before leaving for France on June 26.

Until Next Time,

Managing the Gauntlet – tips for engineering success

Greetings Everyone,

If spoken of, it is whispered. It causes sweaty palms and incites feelings of dread. It intimidates even the best of students. Ladies and gentlemen, this phenomenon is known as The Gauntlet. The Gauntlet consists of three classes for engineering students, ES 202 Solids, ES 204 Dynamics, and ES 206 Fluids. These classes are considered to be difficult and people say that they will “kill” your GPA.

No fear, I have taken these classes and have picked up a few strategies on how to manage these courses. First off, try to take ES 201 Statics as soon as you can in your academic career. Since all of The Gauntlet classes require statics, this will allow you to space out the classes. ES 202 Solids is the easiest of the Gauntlet, so it should be paired up with one of the two harder courses, ES 204 Dynamics or ES 206 Fluids. By spitting up the classes, they become much easier to manage. Another way to manage The Gauntlet is to take all three classes together, but to make sure that you do not have any labs in the same semester. Labs, especially PS 253 Physics 3 Lab, have a tendency to take up a lot of time in the form of labs that last over 2 hours and formal post lab reports due every week. I actually used strategy two to manage The Gauntlet. Even with my full time job as a Resident Assistant, I was able to keep those classes from “killing” my GPA.

The difficulty in these classes is not the work load, but rather remembering how to approach certain problems and what strategies were used. Solids went pretty well for me. My professor, even though he was forgetful, allowed us to have a note card for each test containing all of the necessary equations. I ended up having a study group for Dynamics. It was immensely helpful because working out problems together and verbalizing strategies really helped me to remember how to do problems on the tests, as one professor told me, “Collaborate and graduate.” My most difficult of the three was Fluids. I had a very good professor who would create her own questions on exams, which were much more complex than questions in the text book. Luckily, this professor gave a lot of extra credit on the fluids project; my group received a 128%, which helped my grade for the class.

Academics were the reason why I did not write during the school year.
Some of you may remember that I wrote a student blog last summer when I went to Italy with the Study Abroad Program from ERAU. If you would like to read about those experiences, as well as where the Study Abroad Office is located and who works there, please go to this address: https://riddlelifeflorida.erau.edu/author/freemab3/.
Currently this summer, I am taking a few summer classes, EE 335 Electrical Engineering 1 and EE 336 Electrical Engineering Lab 1.

A typical circuit for EE 335 Electrical Engineering 1, adapted from the EE 336 Electrical Engineering Lab 1 Manual.

Summer courses are by far one of the best kept secrets of ERAU. Summer is divided into two sessions, Summer A and Summer B. Each session allows students to take up to 6 credits worth of classes. Even though there is class Monday through Thursday and sometimes Friday, the work load isn’t too bad since a lot of the professors want to relax over the summer too. One of my professors believes that one poor test grade should not affect a student’s overall grade for a class. Therefore, there are no tests, repeat, we do not take tests. Instead, this professor has a list of skills that he would like us to learn during his course. We are given multiple chances to prove our knowledge in the form of in class exercises and once we prove to him twice that we understand and can effectively apply the skill to a problem, we receive a check mark for that particular skill. If we receive 90% or more of our check marks, we receive an A for the class and do not have to take the final. Granted, some of the other summer professors may not be as understanding as my professor, but they do tend to be more lenient.

I really enjoy summer classes because I have a lighter course load, less homework, fewer tests, three day weekends, and I still get to have a summer full of sunny outdoor fun, lounging about indoors watching television, reading, and hanging out with friends. Probably the best part about taking summer classes is that it allows me to have to take fewer classes during the fall and spring semesters and it allows the Dual Degree Program to better fit into my four year plan.

The Dual Degree Program is under the Study Abroad Program and allows aerospace engineering students to receive one or two degrees from Embry-Riddle and a degree from EPF, a well-respected engineering university in France, depending on the track chosen. The main website for the program can be found here: http://daytonabeach.erau.edu/degrees/study-abroad/dual-degree/index.html. EPF’s corresponding link for the Dual Degree Program: http://www.epf.fr/en/international/double-degrees. Students from ERAU take a summer intensive language course during Summer B in France before their junior year in order to prepare them for a full academic year at EPF where all the courses are taught in French. I will have more information about the Dual Degree Program in a later entry. Au revoir!

The Eiffel Tower, taken in Spring of 2011 during my first trip to France.


July 24, 2012

Greetings All,

After my final evening in Rome, I woke up very early the next day and caught a shuttle with a few other study abroad students to the airport. We arrived roughly four hours before my flight was scheduled to board. I figured it would be alright if I showed up that early because I could just go through security and then hang out at an empty gate. However, I was informed by a baggage agent that KLM, the airlines I was flying with, only opens for boarding three hours before departure. Therefore, I sat on the tile floor outside security and tried to find ways to entertain myself. Eventually, the security checkpoint was opened and I was able to get in front of a whole tour bus load of people. When I got through security, I bought a snack consisting of a Panini and gummy bears. I then relaxed at my gate until my airplane was ready to board.

My trip back home was a little hectic. My flight into Minnesota was delayed due to a storm. Once we were able to land at the airport, we found out that most of the connecting flights had been grounded due to high wind speeds. At one point, the airport staff made an announcement asking all passengers to please stay away from the windows because the winds were strong enough to either break them or throw an object into the glass. Naturally, people went closer to the windows to watch the storm and take pictures. The plane I caught out of Minnesota was about two hours and thirty minutes late. Luckily, this was my last connection. I just kept my family aware of what time I would arrive home. They picked me up around 2:30 am at the airport and my luggage made it just fine. When I got home I went straight to bed. I was exhausted after flying the better part of two days.

Home for me is Alaska.

I took this picture from my front porch. This October sunset is just one of the many beautiful views of Alaska. 

Alaska is the largest state in the United States of America and resides in the top left corner of North America west of Canada. Even though Alaska has a gigantic amount of land, relatively few people live here. According to the 2010 Census, there are slightly more than 701,000 inhabitants. Most of the population is concentrated in the main cities: Juneau, our capital, Anchorage, which is the largest city, Wasilla, and Fairbanks. However, there are still a fair bit of people who live in smaller towns and villages located all over Alaska. An interesting fact about Juneau is that even though the city is our capital, it cannot be reached by car. People who would like to visit Juneau must either fly or take a barge. In addition, the city is close enough to glaciers that locals often go swimming in the runoff waters in the summer.

This is a picture of a few ice floes in one of the sounds. 

The state is incredibly diverse. Southeast Alaska receives a lot of rainfall and is considered to be almost like Seattle. The Interior experiences extreme temperature changes. In the winter, I remember temperatures reaching as low as -60 degrees Fahrenheit by the river and in the summer around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Alaska contains the highest peak in North America, Mount McKinley, or as locals refer to it, Denali. Denali means “the great one” in one of the Athabascan dialects. Athabascans are one of the many groups of native indigenous peoples who live here in the Interior.

This is one of Alaska’s many mountains. 

I live in Fairbanks, which is also located in the Interior. The Fairbanks North Star Borough, boroughs are our version of counties, has about 32,000 residents. While the city is considered small compared to other metropolises in the United States, we have everything we need. We have grocery stores, schools, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a mall, a movie theatre, golf courses, boutique shops, local markets, restaurants, many stores, and even a few farms. It’s like an oasis because the closest town, Nenana, is about an hour away by car and is very small. The closest big city is Anchorage, which about six hours away. One of the advantages to living in Fairbanks is that Moose Mountain Ski Resort is just outside of town. In the winter, I often meet friends on the hill to go snowboarding.

My snowboard standing next to my friend’s board – he’s very tall and I’m short. Some of my friends also enjoy snow machining or four wheeling depending on the season.

Even though Alaska has modern amenities, people still live very close to nature. Some college students choose to live in “dry cabins” because they are very inexpensive. These cabins can be a ways out of town and do not have running water or electricity. Wood stoves are used for heat and water is hauled in by truck. Personally, I live in a subdivision a few miles out of town.

This is a picture of me when I was about 5 or six years old. I’m demonstrating proper winter attire while carrying the head for my snowman. The road is not paved and we don’t have a well or city water. As a result, we have a holding tank that a water truck fills every few weeks. However, we do have electricity and internet, both for which I am thankful.

Though Alaska is very beautiful and modern, there is always one thing to keep in mind: If you don’t know what you’re doing, Alaska can kill you. If you know what you are doing, Alaska can still kill you. In the winter, roads become slick with layers of ice and snow and temperatures drop so low that without proper attire, hypothermia sets in within a matter of minutes.

My truck slid into a ditch due to icy roads. Thank you to my friends who helped me to dig it out.Every year people die due to the cold and not dressing warmly enough. Sometimes, moose wander across roads or into lawns, causing car accidents or threatening the safety of people and pets in yards. In the summer, people like to go camping. If they are unprepared, they risk being visited by a hungry grizzly bear. However, as long as people know what to do, such as staying away from moose and not keeping food at their campsite, most of the time they should be fine.

Two common misconceptions about Alaska are: that it is always winter and that there is nothing to do. While our summer is short, Alaska does experience about three months of the season. Two seasons that we experience very briefly are fall and spring. Each lasts only a few weeks. Furthermore, there are plenty of outdoor activities to do, such as canoeing, rock climbing, hiking, biking, or having bonfires. In the past, I have gone to laser tag, soccer and hockey games, and various street fairs. For a more historical view of my state, there are always the gold dredges, gold mines, saloons, and national parks. Since cities are so isolated from each other, they often are very self-sufficient and are full of entertainment. This, in combination with the natural beauty of the land, makes Alaska a very popular tourist destination, it most definitely a place to visit if you are ever in the area.

Thank you for reading.

July 15, 2012

Greetings Readers,

After about a month in Italy, my time there had finally come to an end. I took my Italian language final and submitted my last work to Dr. Fleck. Everything was packed up by Wednesday night. We said goodbye to the wait staff and owner of the restaurant around the corner who we had befriended over the course of our stay in Siena. Then, on Thursday morning, we left for Rome.

To get to Rome, we traveled for the better part of a day. Moving a group of seventeen people with at least one piece of luggage each on cramped trains is very stressful. Due to the lack of space on regional trains, a few students and I opted to stay with some of our group’s luggage and just sat on the bags near the door of the compartment. Even though one train was about 20 minutes late, we still managed to catch our connection and arrived at the refurbished monastery, where we were staying, on time. After we moved into our rooms, where we would be living for the next three days, we walked to dinner.

On the way to the restaurant, we passed a number of historical sites, such as The Fountain of Four Rivers.

Located in Piazza Navona, the work of art was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1651 for Pope Innocent X. Bernini’s work symbolizes the four rivers, the Nile, Danube, Ganges, and Platte, whose continents, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, throughout which the papal authority had spread. The papal symbol, the two crossed keys, with the crest of the pope can be seen over the arch of the fountain. On top of the combination of architecture and sculpture, there is an Egyptian obelisk.

On the top of the obelisk, there is a dove with an olive twig, which is the Pamphili family emblem of Pope Innocent X.

We ate dinner at a small restaurant with outdoor seating. I splurged and ordered a pasta alla carbonara. The dish was made up of pasta, egg, cheese, and bacon. Everybody agreed it was one of the best dishes of the night. While we were waiting for our meal, we took the opportunity to smile for a few photos.

This is a picture of Candace and me. Even though Candace is a few years older than me we got along great. She’s from the ERAU campus in Prescott, Arizona and just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Candace is pretty funny and we like a lot of the same things. I was fortunate that she chose to room with me. Oh, and before I forget, the alien antenna is courtesy of Charles. He has a crazy sense of humor, but can also be very pragmatic. Currently he’s studying aeronautical science at the Daytona Beach campus.

 The next morning we started out bright and early. The first ancient building that we visited was the Colosseum.

The elliptical amphitheater was completed in 80 AD and could seat up to 50,000 people. The Colosseum was used for gladiator fights, mock sea battles, executions, dramas, and hunting wild animals. The participants, such as people and animals, in these public entertainments were housed in the hypogeum, a series of tunnels and cages underneath the floor of the main arena. In addition, there also used to be underground passages that connected the Colosseum to Ludus Magnus, a school where gladiators trained.



By this time of the day, the sun was high overhead and it was very warm. Luckily, on the way to our next destination, we were able to stop and get cool water from one of Rome’s many fountains. From there, we proceeded to walk inside the old Roman Forum.

This area contains the ruins of government buildings and used to be the center of ancient Rome. Commerce, business, and the administration of justice all took place here in the rectangular plaza located between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills. It was here that the Roman Republican government, an ancestor to the administration of the U.S., began. 

Following the Roman Forum, we went to the Pantheon.

The inscription on the front translates roughly to “Marcus Agrippa son of Lucius, having been consul three times made it.” The pediment, the triangular top stone, used to contain sculpture depicting the battle of the Titans. The dome is made up of a series of intersecting arches. The heaviest building materials were used at the base of the structure while the lightest, such as pumice, were used at the top. The highest point of the dome is actually an oculus, a circular opening in the center of the roof, is lined with bronze and lets in natural light.

The Pantheon was created to honor the pagan gods of ancient Rome. Today, however, it is used to house the tombs of Italian kings and the famous Renaissance painter Raphael.


From the Pantheon, we made our way across the city to the Vatican. Along the way, we crossed Ponte Sant’Angelo. The bridge spans the Tiber River and was completed in 134 AD by the Emperor Hadrian.

In 1669, Pope Clement IX commissioned Gian Lorenzo Bernini to create a series of ten angels holding the instruments of Christ’s Passion. These tools include, but are not limited to, the crown of thorns, nail, cross, and lance.

Eventually, we reached the Vatican. Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world. It is here that the Pope, Pope Benedict XVI, lives. He is not only the Bishop of Rome, but also the head of the Catholic Church. One of the main entrances into the Vatican is St. Peter’s Square.


This piazza was also designed by Bernini, who was one of the most important artists in the baroque art movement. Visitor’s quickly realized that the square is clearly baroque due to the elliptical shape of the square and the elaborate, fancy stone work and design. In fact, Bernini used properties of the ellipse in creating St. Peter’s Square. For example, at each focus of the shape, he placed two fountains.

In the center, where the major and minor axes cross, he placed an Egyptian obelisk made out of red granite. The piazza is outlined in colonnades, rows of columns, which wrap around the square and symbolize the Catholic Church embracing visitors and worshippers alike in maternal arms. After we saw the square, we visited the Vatican Museum, which did not allow pictures. We saw Raphael’s School of Athens, which is a fresco depicting almost every great Greek philosopher. We were also able to visit the Sistine Chapel and see Michelangelo’s famous fresco on the ceiling. One of the many stories featured in the work of art is the story of Adam and Eve. The panel illustrating The Creation of Adam shows God reaching out to touch fingers with Adam. God appears to be reaching out of a human brain to perform this action, displaying Michelangelo’s knowledge of human anatomy. This gives evidence to the thought that the great Renaissance artist performed human autopsies even though they were illegal at the time.

After spending hours in the Vatican Museum, and getting lost multiple times, we exited the building and entered St. Peter’s Basilica.

It is the largest Christian Church in the world and is one of the holiest sites of Christianity. Each year, many people make a pilgrimage to visit St. Peter’s Basilica.

 This church is cruciform in shape and contains multiple chapels, altars, and tombs of popes. In the picture, Bernini’s baldacchino, the canopy over the papal altar, is visible. The four huge undulating columns are made of bronze and the work as a whole is the epitome of baroque architecture.

Following our visit to the Vatican, we returned to the refurbished monastery and recovered from the twelve hours of walking and incredible heat and humidity. While resting in my room, I contacted my friend John who is stationed in Naples with the Navy. I first met John four years ago on a People to People trip to the United Kingdom and Ireland. We kept in contact over the years and he was ecstatic to find out that I would be in Italy. He decided to come and visit while I was in Rome. That evening, a group of my fellow students and I met John and his friend at the Rome Hard Rock Café. We ate and talked the night away. After saying goodbye to John and leaving the restaurant, we decided to use the Roman metro system because we thought it would be an easier way to get back to the monastery. Unfortunately, certain subway lines only run until about 10 PM. While we’re not exactly sure how, we ended up on the back side of the Vatican, which was off our map. Eventually after walking around for about an hour to an hour and a half, we found our way back to the residence.

During the morning of our last day in Rome, the first place we visited was the Baths of Diocletian.

They used to be the most impressive baths in all of Rome and were the largest of the imperial pools. Today, even though some parts of the building have been preserved as baths, other rooms have been converted for other uses. For example, in one of the two circular rooms has been converted into a church, while the frigidarium, where the cold pools were located, is now a basilica. Other parts of the building are now part of the Roman National Museum.

When we left the baths, we walked across the Piazza Barberini, at the center of which is the Triton Fountain.

The statue was commissioned by Pope Urban VIII and created by Bernini in 1642. Triton was a sea god in Greco-Roman legends. The sea god rests on the tails of four dolphins that are intertwined with the papal symbol of the crossed keys and the Barberini family crest of the three bees. Originally, the spout of water used to be much higher. This, in combination of the pose of the Triton, makes the fountain very dramatic.

The last tourist attraction we visited as a group with our professors was the Spanish Steps.

This is the widest staircase in all of Europe and spans from the Piazza di Spagna to the Piazza Trinita dei Monti. It was at this point in time, that Professor Fleck and his wife said goodbye to us and left. The group of study abroad students said their goodbyes as well and separated. Some people needed to catch trains or the subway to get back to the airport. Others had the rest of the day to spend in Rome doing whatever we wanted. For me, that meant visiting the Borghese Gallery to examine the Bernini’s most famous works.

Part of my honors course work included an in-depth paper that would further examine a topic studied in class. I chose to study Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s marble statue Apollo and Daphne. Bernini was truly a genius when it came to sculpture. From the sheer amount of detail of Daphne’s fingers transforming into leaves to the look on her face as Apollo catches her, Bernini is amazing. The Borghese Gallery also had Bernini’s David, Pluto and Proserpina, and multiple works of Caravaggio, another great baroque artist. Originally, I thought that my two hour ticket would be ample time to example all of the works in the gallery. However, I found that I was one of the last people to leave and I only saw the first floor. It could be my honors geek speaking, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself just staring at Apollo and Daphne. If you ever find yourself in Rome and have some spare time, I most definitely recommend that you visit the Borghese Gallery.

July 7, 2012

Greetings Everybody,

During the weekend between our second and third week in Siena, Italy, we said goodbye to Professor Alan Pratt and his wife, Bonnie. Then we had pizza with our second Embry Riddle Professor, Robert Fleck and his wife. This professor swap is due to the structure of the Siena study abroad program. One of our classes, HU 399 Italian Art & Culture, focuses on Italian contribution to both art and science. Professor Pratt is a humanities professor and so taught us about art. We studied the Renaissance, High Renaissance, and Baroque periods. Professor Fleck is a physics professor, so he focused on science. With Dr. Fleck we learned about linear perspective, geometry, and astronomy.

Our third week went pretty much like the two previous, with one exception. Instead of visiting Venice, we visited Florence. We had to wake up early on a Thursday morning and catch a bus to the train station. From there, we took a high speed train to Florence. The high speed trains were very comfortable. We had ample room for our luggage and the seats had a lot of leg space. Even though we only spent a day in Florence, we saw many buildings and artifacts that are important to religion, art, and science.

The first building we visited in Florence was Basilica of Santa Maria Novella. Located near the train station, the basilica is the city’s most important Dominican church.

 The solar emblem, found on the pediment, is a sign of the Dominican order. The lower part of the façade is gothic while the top part contains elements of humanist architecture, which mixes classical architecture with proportion and astronomy. This can be seen in the Corinthian columns that surround the entrance and the geometry of the rectangles, squares, and circles on the building. Evidence of the importance of science to religion can also be found on the façade.

In the past, people used this decoration as a tool to tell then when important seasons and holidays were occuring based on the location of the shadows cast by the pins on the chart. In additon, Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is the first church to have volutes, or scrolls, located on either side of the pediment. These s-shaped decorations can be found on churches all over Italy and later were an important feature of Baroque architecture.

Inside the basilica, is a fresco by an early Renaissance painter named Masaccio. The Holy Trinity is one of the first works of art that correctly implemented linear perspective, a mathematical concept. Using this technique, Masaccio was able to create the illusion of depth in the fresco by using a common vanishing point. Therefore, it appears that God is behind Jesus with a dove, who symbolizes the holy spirit, between them. In addition, the panels of the barrel vault in the background appear to getting smaller as they progress into the work. It was really incredible, unfortunately they did not allow photographs so I don’t have one here.

 While we walked around Florence, we saw multiple busts of Galileo.

Galileo Galilei was a physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher. He was known for his role in the Scientific Revolution. He improved the telescope, discovered Jupiter’s four largest moons, and was the first to observe the phases of Venus. Galileo also analyzed sun spots and supported Copernicus’ heliocentric theory. For his beliefs, he was inspected by the Inquisition and deemed guilty of heresy. For the rest of his life he was under house arrest and forced to recant heliocentric theory.

Our next destination was Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise.

In 1400, the guild responsible for the Baptistery’s maintenance decided to sponsor an artistic competition in which the victor would be awarded the commission to create new doors for the building. Ghiberti won the contest and provided a series of ten bronze reliefs depicting scenes from the Old Testament.

 In these panels, Ghiberti has created the illusion of depth by making the figures in the foreground of the image three dimensional and flattening ones in the background. The bronze reliefs of the Gates of Paradise were cast mostly as one piece except for a few of the elements. Ghiberti’s technique was less labor-intensive and used less materials that his competitors.

 Across the street from the Gates of Paradise is the Cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore.

Finished in 1434, the dome of the building was devised and built by Filippo Brunelleschi. Instead of being a hemisphere, like other cupolas before it, Brunelleschi designed the roof to be parabolic. This maximized the height of the ceiling. The dome was constructed without the use of Gothic buttresses and relied on a double shell design. Today, visitors can still climb stairs between the two layers to reach the top of the dome.

The longest we spent visiting one particular attraction in Florence was two hours. Around midday, we entered the Uffizi Museum.

Outside the museum, there were statues of the great artists who are featured inside. The Uffizi palace was commissioned by the Medici family in 1560 and was used as offices for various magistrates. Over time, the Medici family used the building to display their art collections. After the last family member died, the palace was turned into an art gallery that grew into a museum.

While I was at the museum, I made sure to follow around our professor, Dr. Fleck. Even though he has a doctorate in physics, he knows a lot about art. We visited almost every room in the museum. I remember that we visited a gallery on the Dutch Golden Age. We examined works by Rembrandt, who was one of the most important artists of that time period. The Dutch fascination with light was exemplified in their works. Paintings of wine glasses reflected and distorted light exactly like a real glass would. Pictures of people and fruit were bright with light from clearly defined sources. It was truly amazing.

The nice part of this week was that we visited Florence on a Thursday, leaving the rest of the weekend for us to do as we pleased. Some of my peers would take the opportunity to travel around Italy and visit other cities. They would visit Sicily, Milan, Cinque Terre, etc. Sometimes, their weekend excursions would go very well and they would have a lot of fun. Other weekends were a bit stressful due to long commutes or problems with hotels. Usually on the weekends, I would head back to Siena so I could explore the city on my own. I would purchase gifts for friends and family back home, possibly do some laundry, and work on arranging a visit to the Borghese Gallery in Rome. I needed to go there to see some of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s most famous works, one of which I would base my honors contract paper on.

As always, thank you for reading.

May 27, 2012

Greetings All,

My second week of school had largely the same schedule as the first week. One of the highlights, the Tuscan cooking class, took place on Monday evening. 

Our entire study abroad group. Picture from Bonnie Pratt. The above picture contains all of the students in our study abroad group including our student aid, Joey, and Dr. Pratt. Not pictured is Professor Pratt’s wife, Bonnie. Dante Alighieri, the Italian institution that we attend for language and culture classes, had us cook because one of the distinguishing features of Siena is the Tuscan cooking style.

We prepared a total of four courses that were crafted from a variety of different ingredients. In Italian, the four dishes we made were sformatino di zucchini, pappardelle con melanzane e funghi, rotolini di tacchino con champignon e limone, and tiramisu alle fragole, which translate roughly to zucchini quiche, pappardelle with eggplant and mushrooms, turkey rolls with mushrooms and lemon, and strawberry tiramisu. Pappardelle is essentially a broad fettuccine noodle. After we finished cooking, we were able to eat our meal.

Here are some students getting ready to eat. Picture courtesy of Bonnie Pratt. In the above picture, the blond woman is Dr. Pratt’s wife, Bonnie. She’s really nice and a favorite of the students. She enjoyed our meal. The noodles we made were by far the best noodles I have had while in Italy so far. Our meal lasted until around 10 PM at which we returned to our residence and went to bed in preparation for Luca’s class the next day.

My favorite lesson that Luca taught was about the contrade of Siena and the Palio. The contrade are one of the most distinctive features of Siena and originate from the Middle Ages. In the past, Siena had up to 59 contrade, or districts. Currently, however, the city has a total of seventeen contrade. Each ward has its own museum, fountain, church, colors, and symbol. Some even have allies and adversaries. 

The colors and symbol of the Woods contrada. Our residence is located in the Dragon contrada, but we pass through the Goose and Woods contrade on our way to Dante Alighieri, which is located in the Tortoise contrada. The Sienese who live in each area of the city feel very unified, patriotic, and proud of their contrada. For example, one day while I was at the post office, a teenage boy had a tattoo on his leg depicting the flag of his contrada, the Tower. The symbol of the Tower is an elephant with an obelisk on its back.

During our second week in Siena, the Dragon contrada was celebrating one of its holidays. The street was decorated with ornate lights that were painted the colors of the contrada: magenta, green, and gold. Children, teens, and adults alike walked around with their neighborhood’s flag tied around their neck. On the weekend, there was a giant feast that included the entire population of the ward on one of the streets near our residence.

These customs have been practiced for centuries. In the past, the neighborhoods were charged with protecting their fountain, which was the ward’s water supply, and to give men to serve in Siena’s army that protected the city. Today, they serve to enhance and enrich citizens’ cultural identity, allowing them to both remember the past and live in the present. For example, each contrade participates in the Palio, which dates as far back as medieval times.

The Palio horse race is held twice each year on July 2 and August 16. Siena puts quite a bit of money into each race in order to pay for the horses, hire jockeys, purchase decorations, etc. In addition, jockeys are given undisclosed amounts of money to bribe other riders in order to gain some sort of advantage during the Palio. Each race consists of ten horses that are ridden bareback by jockeys dressed in their contrada’s colors.

The stable of the Eagle contrada. The racetrack goes around the Piazza del Campo, the Siena’s city center. The race circles the Campo three times and typically lasts less than two minutes. Sometimes the goal of the jockeys is to keep the rival contrada from winning and sometimes jockeys are thrown from their horse. Luckily, the winner of the Palio is the first horse that crosses the finish line, not the rider. The loser of the race is considered to be the horse that came in second, not last. This is because the second place horse came so close to winning but failed to do so. We had multiple classes that taught us about the contrade and the Palio. Another part of our classes consisted of visiting different cities in Italy.

During the second week of our studies, we visited two cities, San Gimignano and Venice. San Gimignano, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located in the providence of Siena, Tuscany. The walled medieval hill town is famous for its architecture, specifically its towers.

One of San Gimignano’s remaining towers. At one point in time, the city had as many as seventy two towers. The largest of these were around fifty meters tall. It is thought that affluent families would have towers built to show their wealth and supremacy. Currently, however, there are only fourteen towers still standing. The others were taken down due to wear, rebuilding, and wars. In the past, whenever a city was captured, the conquerors would knock down the town’s tower to symbolize the loss of power. During our trip to the city, we took the time to climb up San Gimignano’s tallest tower in order to view the beautiful Tuscan landscape. We could see the rolling hills, neighboring towns, vineyards, and rows upon rows of olive trees.

A view of Tuscany from the tallest tower of San Gimignano. Later that same week, we visited Venice. The city is built on top of 118 small islands that are connected by bridges and canals. The city, and the lagoon it rests in, is considered a World Heritage Site.

The Grand Canal, one of the main waterways of the city. This picture was taken from the Scalzi Bridge. During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Venice was a major maritime power and an important center of commerce due to the city’s location directly on the water. Furthermore, the metropolis was also the origin of many important artistic movements and styles, such as the Renaissance and the Venetian School. Presently, this town is very famous for its Venetian glass and the Carnival of Venice, which is when people wear intricate and beautiful masks.

During our first day in the city, we visited the Doge’s Palace. The Doge is the title for the chief magistrate and supreme leader of the Republic of Venice. They are elected for life by the aristocracy. The palace was built in the Venetian Gothic style. Originally, it was used to house the Doge, but now the building serves as a landmark and museum.

This is a view from the inner courtyard of the Doge’s Palace. My favorite exhibit in the museum was about medieval warfare. The display had many artifacts and was quite expansive. There were full suits of armor for people and horses, swords, daggers, crossbows, guns, spears, and so much more. Since my father loves knights, I grew up adoring castles and watching films about the Middle Ages. I was very disappointed to find out that I was not allowed to take pictures of the collection. I must have spent up to two hours in the museum.

After the Doge’s Palace, I had some free time with which I used to explore Venice. I saw both men and women in brightly colored carnival costumes wearing dresses with huge skirts and white painted masks. If people put euros into the baskets of the festival performers, they could take a picture with them.

Three people putting on their Carnival of Venice costumes. When I was walking around Venice from island to island across the bridges, I noticed that some of the crossings had locks attached to them. These locks usually had two names written on them and the date of when the lock was placed on the bridge. Sometimes there were even inscriptions about love lasting forever, giving them the name “love locks”.

Some of the many love locks that I saw attached bridges. The idea behind the love locks is that two sweethearts engrave their names onto a padlock and attach it to a public fixture such as a bridge, gate, fence, etc. and throw away the key. Since the lock cannot ever be removed, this symbolizes their undying love for each other. While an appealing idea, these love locks are considered to be controversial. Some people do not like them because they build up over time and can affect the aesthetic quality of public places.

Thank you for reading this entry and I hope that you thoroughly enjoyed it as well as learned a little bit about Italy.

May 15, 2012

Greetings All,

Before I get started about my travels to Siena, Italy and my experiences, I have one order of business to take care of. My previous entry mentioned Steven Bohlemann, a student who works in the Study Abroad Office, but I was not able to get a picture of him in time before I turned the journal admission. As promised, here is a picture of Steven (courtesy of the Study Abroad Office in Daytona Beach).

During my travel to Siena, Italy, I had layovers in Houston, Texas; Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Rome, Italy. I found flying was the least stressful mode of transportation I experienced. My travel was fairly simple because I did not have to worry about carrying my luggage around and that my ticket told me, in English, directly where to go. However, when I traveled by train I was very tense because I had to constantly watch my luggage at the crowded train station and keep an eye out for the correct train.
The most nerve wracking event I experienced was when my train was fifteen minutes late. When this occurs, passengers neither know when exactly their train will arrive, nor do they know the platform, or binario, where their train will be located. To make matters worse, I only had a fifteen minute layover between trains in Chiusi Chianciano. Luckily, my delay did not cause me to miss my second train to Siena. After I arrived at the train station, I took a taxi cab to the Residenza San Domenico, the place where students are housed.

The rooms at Residenza San Domenico are decently furnished. Rooms can house anywhere from two to four students depending on the room. My roommate is a girl from Prescott, Daytona’s sister campus, named Candace. We get along great. No two rooms are alike, but each has a bathroom with a large wardrobe that contains a small kitchenette unit that houses a large sink and hotplate. In addition, silverware, dishes, and cups are provided with the rooms. Some rooms have lofts and others will have large closets and drawers. One of the rooms meant for students has a phenomenal view of neighborhoods across the valley as well as the Duomo, a large gothic church located on of the other hills of Siena.

When the Duomo was constructed the thirteenth century, the Sienese wanted to make sure that the world knew that the people of Siena built the church, not the pope. As a result, the entire building displays the link between the Duomo and Siena. Outside of the main entrance, there are two pillars with statues on top of a female wolf nursing two small children. The she-wolf with the two children, Romulus and Remus, is the symbol of Siena and shows the city’s strong connection to ancient Rome.

According to the legend, Romulus, the found of Rome, had two sons, Senius and Aschius. It was these two men who founded Siena. Their colors, white and black, are displayed on the flag of the city and in the colors of the Duomo. On one side, there is an outcropping of red brick and a black and white marble wall. According to my professors, the church was supposed to be much larger than it is today. Work on the expansion halted when Siena was struck by the bubonic plague, which killed about two thirds of the population. I walk by the Duomo every day on the way to class.

My school day typically consists of taking two classes. One class is run by Dante Alighieri. The college is named after the famous Italian writer and is focused on promoting Italian language and culture. It is located in the tartuca, or tortoise, contrada.

The other class is run by Embry-Riddle. At 9 AM, I take an Italian language class with Massimiliano, an Italian professor. Our learning consists of using a text and workbook along with supplementary lessors. We have learned a lot so far. Typically we have a short 30 minute break at 11AM. This is when most students eat lunch. At 11:30, we either have Massimiliano again or we study Italian culture under Dr. Luca Bonomi, the director of Dante Alighieri. When we have Luca, we usually have a short presentation in class and then he takes us outdoors to walk around and explore Siena. We have visited the Piazza del Campo, which is the city center, as well as the main political buildings. One day, we even analyzed Italian body language and what each of the subtle nuances mean. It was fascinating. After either another session with Massimiliano or Luca, we get another short break of about 15 minutes or so at 1:30 PM. Then we are taught by ERAU professors Dr. Alan Pratt or Dr. Robert Fleck. Dr. Pratt teaches art history, which occurs during the first two weeks of our session. He tries very hard to make sure that we are getting the most out of our studies with daily quizzes that require one word answer and consists of about 15 questions. After Dr. Pratt leaves, we study under Dr. Fleck who teaches Italian contributions to both art and science. Professor Fleck is a high energy teacher. It is quite evident that he is passionate about science. One day, he even tried to draw the solar system on the classroom floor while jumping about in an Einstein t-shirt. He is very entertaining. The end of our day can occur as early as 2:30 PM and as late as 4 PM. It just depends on the day. Luckily, we get three day weekends.

During my first weekend in Siena, while I was walking around with my friend Nathan, I saw an old car race.

Picture of an old blue car that we saw racing, taken by Nathan Grand

These cars were going about 40 miles an hour throughout the city of Siena. Spectators could feel the vibrations of the ancient engines in their chests. When going around corners, they would warn everybody by honking their horns, which made the classic arrooga arrooga sound! Entire families were waving flags while the children cheered incessantly. It was truly a sight to behold. That same day, Nathan and I walked around and explored Siena.

The following pictures were taken around the city, both inside and outside of the old city walls.

The old part of the city of Siena is located within the medieval walls. The above picture displays what the Duomo looks like from afar. In addition, it shows the height and proximity of the buildings as well as that the city is built on hills.

The younger parts of Siena feature wider streets and more sunlight that reaches the ground.

Among our explorations, Nathan and I found where all of the locals go to exercise and play. About a five minute walk from our residence, we came across an old fort. The Italians treat the fort much like a park. There are plenty of people running and exercising, in addition to just hangout out on the low walls and benches. We even saw a father teaching his son how to play soccer.

Below the fort, to one side, is located a beautiful and very peaceful park. Citizens walk through this area on the way to the small market that takes place on Wednesdays and Sundays. Vendors at this market sell cheap clothing, food, crafts, and sometimes animals.

Notice that in the base of this statue contains the symbol of Siena: the she-wolf with the two children. This concluded my first week in Siena, Italy.

May 10, 2012

Greetings All,

My name is Brenna Freeman and I just finished my freshman year at Embry-Riddle. This university has so many amazing opportunities, one of which is the Study Abroad Program.

I initially heard of the organization during the fall activities fair that took place near the beginning of first semester. Steven Bohlemann, a student who works in the Study Abroad Office, had a table set up with pictures, posters, and flyers. He was the one who suggested that I look online at the Daytona Beach Study Abroad webpage, where there was information about summer programs, semester exchanges, dual degrees, and scholarships. For knowledge for opportunities in Prescott, Arizona, look here.

To get involved with Study Abroad, I filled out the application form provided online here for Daytona Beach, Prescott is here, and visited the program’s office. In Daytona, the Study Abroad Office is located above the Departure Lounge, which can be found near the university bookstore.

After entering, climb the stairs and look for a plain wooden door almost directly across the room from the staircase. Go through the door and proceed down the hallway until there is a branch to the right that has a sign reading “Study Abroad”.

Turn right, enter through the class doors, and make another right. At the end of the hall, to the left, is the Study Abroad Program office.

Working in the office are Steven Bohlemann, Kris Fields, and Sue Macchiarella, who is the Assistant Director of Study Abroad.

I talked to them and figured out which program would best fit my major.

The program I am specifically involved in is Siena, Italy. It starts on May 14 and ends on June 10. I’ll be taking two humanities classes, HU 199 The Culture and Dialects of Tuscany taught at Societa Dante Alighieri, an Italian institution, and HU 399 Italian Culture instructed by ERAU professors Dr. Alan Pratt and Dr. Robert Fleck. Both courses are worth three credits and fulfill the humanities requirements of my degree program, Aerospace Engineering. Furthermore, since I am in the Honors Program, Study Abroad also satisfies my HON 350 requirement. I was elated to find out that not only was I able to make my semester course load lighter and more manageable, but studying abroad cost less that attending Summer A on campus at ERAU. I found out this information and other helpful factoids when I attended Study Abroad meetings.

During assemblies held by the program, I learned about the wide variety of educational opportunities available (Italy, England, France, Germany, etc.). For example, the different programs were described in detail and many pictures were shown of our exotic classrooms-some programs travel to different countries while teaching. I am not sure about other programs, but for Siena, Italy, meals are not included in the original price. As a result, it is suggested that students budget for $30 a day. I also discovered that enrolling in the program does not mean that students are registered for classes. Therefore, students need to fill out the course registration forms, which can be conveniently found at Records and Registration, located upstairs above the departure lounge and near the Study Abroad Office. After I completed all the unexciting administrative paperwork, I started the first leg of my journey to Italy.

Currently, I am spending a week in Killeen, Texas visiting family friends. I have picked up plenty of reading materials in preparation for my long layovers and plane flight. In addition, I went through my suitcase yet another time to minimize the weight. This will make it easier to travel in Europe, where I will have to haul my own luggage multiple city blocks to get to my destination, Residenza San Domenico. At the end of this week, I will wake up at 4:30am and board an airplane to Houston. The first of three flights to Italy!