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!

July 13-21, 2009

After taking the train out of Munich, we arrived in the small town of Traben-Trarbach around lunch on the 13th. We dropped off our things at the quaint little hotel, and headed up to Mont Royal for our glider flights! I was a little nervous about being shot up in the air, and I let a lot of people go before me. However I finally gathered my courage, put on my parachute, and climbed into the glider. The take off was pretty intense, but it was a beautiful view and definitely a fun ride!!! I am very glad to have done this, and I definitely believe this was one of the highlights of the trip. You can check out the video of my take off from the airfield at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7618HEPPTco . The next morning we were given a great lecture on German Air Traffic Control, and later that day we took a 23 km bike ride through German wine country. I really enjoyed the small town of Traben-Trarbach and the beauty of the German countryside.

Unfortunately, after our wonderful two days in Traben-Trarbach, the official school trip was complete. I really had enjoyed the group and Professor Kirton, and it was sad to say goodbye. Some students chose to fly home, while others, like me, decided to continue exploring Europe. On the 16th, three of us took the train to Stuttgart where we got to see a friend from ERAU. Our friend (and my roommate for the fall) showed us around the area and opened his house to us for a night. We only stayed one day however, and the next evening two of us flew to Milan, Italy.

My friend and I had a great time while in Northern Italy. We saw so many things: the Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Castello Sforzesco, Santa Maria Della Grazie. Also, we did some shopping in what is considered to be the world’s center for high fashion. After taking in all of those sights on the 17th, we headed up to Lake Como the next day. The train ticket was cheap and we spent the day around the beautiful lake at the base of the Alps. My favorite part of Italy was standing on the lookout tower at the top of a mountain. We could see all of Lake Como, the snow-capped Alps, Switzerland, and much more. The view was breathtakingly beautiful, and I wanted to stand up there all day! After two great days of history, nature, shopping, and pasta, we headed back to the airport to make our final stop before heading home. We flew to Frankfurt on Sunday, July 19, and met another friend of mine who lives near the city. For two days he showed us all the main sights in the area and gave us yet another local’s view of Germany.

Sadly, after three amazing weeks it was time to head back to the U.S. I was not ready to come home but I knew I had a lot to do before heading back to Daytona for the school year. I loved every minute of the European Aviation Study Abroad program, and I would certainly recommend the program to everyone. Not only do you learn about aviation and its affect on Europe, but you also broaden your horizons and truly begin to think globally. I have not only gained six credits from this program, but I have gained an experience of a lifetime I will certainly never forget. If you have any questions about the summer program or about ERAU in general, do not hesitate to email me. Thanks for reading my journal, and I will see you on campus in the fall.

Goodbye from Missouri,

July 10-12, 2009

On Friday we flew from Paris to Munich to begin the Germany section of the trip. The flights had been booked for us, and we got to take Air Berlin (check out the picture). I was very impressed by this low-cost European carrier, and will certainly fly them any time I can in the future. Upon arrival, we got checked into our hostel and only had a few hours remaining in the day. A few friends and I headed straight for the city center of Munich, known as Marienplatz. It was definitely the liveliest area in the city, and had a lot of things to see and do. After a nice dinner we headed back to our comfortable room to get prepared for the next day.

Saturday (July 11) was our big workday while in Munich. That morning we went out to the Deutches Museum northwest of Munich that is dedicated to aviation. The museum had a lot of interesting aircraft and information. Some of my favorite displays were the agricultural-use aircraft, as it showed a different side of aviation we had not yet discovered. Another cool display was not an aircraft at all, but rather an experiment. There was a propeller driven by pedals that, when gaining enough speed, would move the seat around in a circle (see picture). This was a very cool way to learn about how propellers work, and provided our group with a reason to lose concentration for about 30 minutes.

Saturday afternoon, we headed back into central Munich to the main Deutches Museum building, which included airplanes but had also many other displays. At this museum, we got to see many different military aircraft from Germany. Also, there was a Lufthansa Boeing 707 cockpit that you could see into. It is very cool to notice the huge differences in cockpits from many years ago when compared to cockpits of today. Another interesting display was the section on German air traffic control. Aside from the aviation part of the museum, we were encouraged to stay after the session and check out the rest of the exhibits. This museum was certainly one of my favorites and housed exhibits on nearly any technological advancement you could imagine. Some things covered were aviation, space exploration, boating and navigation, nuclear energy, computers, assembly lines, robotics, and thousands of other items. The never-ending array of information was fascinating, and I could have spent a much longer time at the Deutches Museum.

After a long Saturday of work, we were rewarded with a free day to end the weekend. I started my day on a free walking tour and saw a lot of the city. Some of the better sites included the Hofbrahaus, Glockenspiel, Frauenkirche, Mozart’s temporary home, and the City Hall. Although those sites were quite breathtaking, they didn’t even compare to what I was about to experience. That afternoon I hopped on a train and decided to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp outside of Munich. From the moment I arrived I felt the power of such a devastating place. The barracks, the showers, the washrooms, and the museum were almost too much to handle. And then, when I thought I had seen it all, we stepped into the gas chamber and crematorium. The entire time I visited the site I couldn’t help but feel saddened by certainly one of the low points of the human race. However, it was quite a sobering experience, and I certainly will never forget how I felt and what I saw at Dachau.

Munich has been a great way to begin our visit in Germany. I have really enjoyed the city’s liveliness and culture. The German language is very different, but I am having fun trying to use some of what I learned prior to leaving. I am excited to head out to Traben-Trarbach, where our group will take a glider flight. I hope you have enjoyed my Europe journals, and if you have any questions about the trip or something else, email me at meansm@erau.edu. Thanks for reading.

Tchüss from Deutschland,

July 6-9, 2009

We quickly emerged from the Chunnel and arrived in Paris. Although I had been once before, I got to see and do a lot of exciting new things. Paris is so much different than London, in good ways and bad, but it is fun to experience more than one culture on a trip. Although it is generally less inviting than the British, the French culture is one I have a deep appreciation for so I was happy to return to the city of Paris.

After the fast train ride we checked into our hotel and headed to the Louvre for a group cultural experience. The Louvre displays sucha wide variety of works of art from all different time periods andplaces all over the world. It’s a bit overwhelming to try to grip theimportance and historical value of everything you see. A few of thethousands exhibits included Michelangelo’s Dying Slave and Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. I really appreciate the effort of Professor Kirton to make the cultural events part of the course. Not only have I learned a lot about aviation, but also I have broadened my global thinking.

On Tuesday we visited Musee de L’Air et de L’Espace. Filled with all kinds of aircraft, this museum was my favorite in France. The museum had everything imaginable, from man’s first flight in a balloon to full size Concorde jets. My favorite exhibit was the retired Air France Boeing 747-400. I had never been on a 747, and I got to see everything: the cockpit, cabins, cargo holds, wirings, and so much more. The effect of the Boeing 747 on civil aviation is almost immeasurable, and it was an extraordinary experience to study the aircraft inside and out.

On Wednesday (July 8), the group headed south of Paris to an Aerodrome at Cerny. It was quite a trek to this location, but it was a fun little adventure. After an hour on the train, we hiked up a hill for about 30 minutes in the middle of nowhere. Needless to say, we were all happy about finding the airfield. The hangars were filled with old airplanes from the World Wars and other events, all of which were still flyable. An American working at the Aerodrome gave us a walking tour of the planes and answered all of our questions. He was very knowledgeable and his stories were fascinating. While eating lunch, a French Army helicopter landed at the field in the pouring rain, which was neat. After leaving Cerny we went back to Paris for our group picture at the Arc Du Triumph.

Thursday was our free day at Paris, and we accomplished a lot. A group of five of us visited Notre Dame, the Sacre Couer, Centre Pompidou, and the top of the Eiffel Tower. Each attraction was a little different, but I found all of them very interesting. Although they are quite close geographically, the cities of Paris and London feel worlds apart. I love both of them, but I still believe London ranks higher for me. Tomorrow however, we are switching it up again as we fly to Munich to begin our German section of the trip.

Au revoir from Paris,

July 1-5, 2009

I blinked my eyes and just like that I as leaving for London. With a minor delay I left St. Louis and met some friends in Philadelphia for the transatlantic flight. After a very uncomfortable seven hour flight (I do not recommend US Airways transatlantic), we arrived at London-Gatwick airport and our EU Aviation Appreciation adventure began. From the airport we caught the Gatwick express to downtown London and followed the professor’s instructions to catch the tube (London Underground) to our hostel. Our room was extremely small with four beds squished into it, but we only needed the room for sleeping so we made it work.

The afternoon of our arrival (July 2), we all met at the British Science Museum for our first session. The museum has a great display of all different types of aircraft and parts. One of the most interesting planes was the Vickers Vimy (pictured), which was the first plane to cross the Atlantic Ocean. It was a larger plane for its day, and had some pretty impressive specifications. My other favorite display was a cross section cut out of a British Airways 747 jet. It interested me greatly to see all of the inner workings of the commercial aircraft. The next day (July 3), we headed off to the Imperial War Museum north of London. The train and bus rides to Duxford took a little while, but the wait was well worth it. My true love of aviation is in commercial aviation, and this museum had many commercial displays. I really enjoyed the British Oversees Airways Corporation (BOAC) BAC-VC10. I had never heard or read too much about this aircraft, but it was much bulkier than I expected it to be from pictures. It was like an MD82 on steroids with two extra engines. It was very different looking, but still very cool. Another plane I was surprised to see in Duxford was the Concorde. (Check out the picture of me by the Concord landing gear!) The exact Concorde at the Museum was never used commercially, but was one of the testing planes used by the production company. In its testing it had set the record speed and the record transatlantic flight time for all the Concords. Also in this museum was a de Havilland Comet 4, B52 bomber, and tons of other really neat planes. The Imperial War Museum was definitely my favorite in England. Saturday (July 4) came and we were off to the Royal Air Force Museum in Hendon. Although military aviation interests me less, it was still top-notch. The displays in the museum were very interactive and held tons of good information. A lot of information was always appreciated as part of our work included filling out information sheets on aircraft and how they affected aviation and the world. With the information sheets completed we would gather and do short presentations on our favorite planes. This was an effective and simple way to grasp an understanding of how important these planes were to their country’s development and protection.

July 5 was a completely free day for us in London, along with every evening after our sessions. With a lot of time on our own, we got a lot accomplished. A friend of mine from the UK I had met many years ago in Antigua flew down to see me in London. She showed me so many neat things and we really had a great time. The list of things I saw in London includes: London Eye, Tower Bridge, Wax Museum, Wimbledon, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Circus, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, and so much more. I loved everything London had to offer, and I know I will be going back sometime. While we were there we also went to the West End (London’s Broadway) and saw the musical Chicago. Not only was the show great, but the guest star happened to be Jerry Springer! My friends and I waited after the show and got to meet him and get a picture with him, which was awesome. London was so amazing it will be hard to top. However we are about to head through the Chunnel, and I am anxiously awaiting Paris!

Cheers from London,

September 23, 2008

I realize my first blog was kind of a throw in your face, so I figured I would back track a bit and let you know who that person was telling you what to do. I am Heather Owen, a nearly-graduated senior in the Communications Department with a specialty in International Relations. Following my December graduation, I plan on applying to the State Department to begin work towards becoming a U.S. diplomat.

Wait…did I say Communications? Do they even have that at Riddle? News flash: Riddle isn’t just airplanes. I have been in the program for four and a half years.

I am always asked “why Embry-Riddle for the Communications Department?” Well, I have always loved to write. I love giving speeches. Oh, and I kind of enjoy airplanes. However, though I knew I liked these topics, I didn’t quite know what I “wanted to be when I grew up.” I quickly found the Communications Department had plenty to offer. Along with the typical public relations/marketing/journalism curriculum of any other collegiate communications department, Riddle offers an aviation specialty, a niche with many openings, yet few applicants.

Even though I graduate in seventy-six days (not like I am counting), I am not nervous. Graduates from the program have gone into broadcast journalism, aviation-related journalism, public relations, and even law school. None of which is my career path, but the diversity of our program is what makes me a strong post-graduate applicant.

A diploma from the “Harvard of the Sky” alone will open doors, but it has been the experiences I have had that will get my name on the corner office door. Internships and co-ops are the best and easiest way to gain first-hand knowledge. In addition to Career Services, I found my internships thanks to help within my department. The student-to-faculty ratio in the Communications Department is very small, so I quickly got to know all of my professors. As it turned out, I have had that handful of professors for all four years. It was these same instructors who were instrumental in finding me internships and helping me find my career path.

Because I was still on the fence about careers up until my senior year, I took two internships to better acquaint myself with the communications career field. For my first internship, I spent my 2006 summer working for WESH 2 News, located in Daytona Beach. I was on the call with the reporters, riding shotgun in the news van on the way to fires, robberies and homicides. I sat in on court cases, interviewed city officials and visited such fine institutions such as the Volusia County Jail to interview fine, law-abiding residents. I admit the fast-paced dramatics, and getting to “know all the dirt” truly interested me. However, I wasn’t ready to acquire the stigma of a TV news reporter. My second internship this past spring had me working in the Embry-Riddle Athletics Department with the Sports Information Department. I had been in the Athletics Department for four years as a cheerleader, so I was very appreciative to work with those who also supported the Eagles. As a sports marketing intern, I updated statistics, wrote biographies on the players and taped important games. I enjoyed the press passes to games, setting up early morning track meets, and cheering on the Eagles, but I had one big issue. Although I have been a cheerleader for eleven years, I just don’t like sports. I don’t understand them, like to watch them or even care to talk about them. Despite striking out on potential future careers, I learned a lot from the two internships. I found the positives and negatives about the communications field so when I do land a job, I will know what to look for.

So now my senior year. I was set to graduate with a prominent degree, had two internships, had participated in a few activities here and there and gained a few future job insights. However, I wasn’t content with the content of my resume. So, in an utterly rash move which I thoroughly rejoiced about later, I decided to do study abroad and push off graduation. I spent five weeks of my summer in China, speaking Chinese, learning about Chinese culture and just enjoying a culture shock. I continued my education with another three weeks in Prescott studying Chinese.

From the moment I got back to Daytona, I had a path. I want to travel the world. I want to speak foreign languages. I want to play a part in international relations. I want to know the scoop. Oh, and I want a press pass to a non-sport activity (just one of my job insights). Diplomacy is my answer and the State Department will receive my newly minted resume in December. Along with the study abroad on my resume, I also added that I am a sister in the Theta Omicron chapter of Alpha Xi Delta, sweetheart to the Eta Iota chapter of Sigma Chi, cheered for three and a half years at Riddle and am now a devoted student. I am conversant in German and I like to think my English is decent too. Better than a list of do’s and don’ts from a lowly Communications major, huh?