Even Brussels, Belgium is Melting Pot

Ben Wade ’17 – Thursday was the first full day in Brussels, and it didn’t disappoint at all. After getting into the city fairly late last night, it was nice to get the chance to sleep in and relax a bit this morning. However, we couldn’t rest for too long, as we had a whole new city to explore and only three days to do it. Besides, looking out our hotel windows at all the different food options in the main square meant that we couldn’t stay in bed for too long.

The only scheduled event today set the tone for the rest of our day, and sort of underscored something I noticed in Frankfurt. Our trip to the European Council was filled with a diversity that I have never experienced before and that also surprised a couple other guys in the trip. In our travels today, we saw the words “European Parliament” written in 24 different languages; our presenter at the Council spoke at least 5 languages and probably could have defended himself in several more; our dinner was a choice between Ethiopian or Senegalese cuisine, decided only after walking past Greek, Indian, and Indonesian restaurants.

Walking around today showed me that the term “melting pot” cannot just be used to describe the U.S. Today, I talked to an Irishman who spoke very accented Dutch, German, and English about how Chelsea was better than Paris St. Germaine (soccer, btw). Earlier, I asked for pouille mafa (spiced chicken) in a Senegalese restaurant from a waiter who only spoke French, albeit with a little help from Professors Byun and Hollander. Though these cultures and people are very distinct, there is no denying that they mix together in this city and others across Europe. Thinking of America as the only place where cultures come together is simply closed-minded to the entire world around us.

Everything about this place is different from anything I’ve ever encountered: different people, different food, different architecture, and very different experiences. If anything this trip has taught me two things: everything in Europe is expensive (even using the bathroom) and it’s okay to be uncomfortable sometimes. Even though hamburgers and French fries are safe and familiar, you might find that you like spiced African chicken and döner kebab more, as a few of us found out. Though this experience is half over, I have loved every minute here and I’ll finish by giving out a huge shout-out to the Rogge Fund and Professors Hollander, Byun, and Mikek for making it possible.

Rome Changes Personal Perspectives

Christian Beardsley ’16 – Today has been a very unique and bizarre day, one that I will never forget.  being a Christian, today was especially important and spectacular because it was personally very uplifting seeing the multitude relics, frescos, and mosaics.  Personally, my favorite ones were at the Santa Croce in Gerusalemme.  Coming into the church I was not too impressed at the overall state of it or anything within its walls; however, the side chapels would prove to hold many different things that would alter the simplistic mindset that I was in.  In the side chapel, we saw the nail of the cross of Christ, the thorns of His crown, and even the shroud of Jesus.  I was amazed when I saw all of these things and am very blessed to have been given this opportunity to have done so.

This trip has taught me many things along the days involving the beginning of Christianity and the early parts of the Roman Empire, even the culture of the people who live here.  Another thing I have learned was that there were many changes made to the monuments of the ancient times so that they could build over the old and start again with the new on top.  Christianity became a major religion and it was shown in the basilica and churches throughout the city.  Even among the churches, there were many frescos and mosaics from the past centuries, underneath the new structures, that depict key stories within the bible.  The stories would relate to the old and new testament and would also relate to that respective church in some way.

Rome is very different in terms of how people live and interact with others.  It is a very busy city, full of life during all times of the day.  There is never a dull moment to be had whilst here.  Overall, this trip has been a very unique and worthwhile experience, one that I will remember for the rest of my life.  It has taught me much and has provided me with useful tools and perspectives to look upon the world, such as enjoy the smaller things as well as the larger things of life and to just experience new things that may seem different.  I am very grateful to have this experience.

Continued Exploration of Rome

Shamir Johnson ’17 – After waking up at a very early 7:30 it was time to make our way to the Catacombs of Priscilla, also know as the Queen Catacomb.  It is named Queen Catacomb because it is said to have the most martyrs and 7 popes. Here we were able to get a picture of early Christian tombs. The tombs consisted of 3 layers of cemeteries which stretched 13 kilometers.  The travel there was a bit lengthy because catacombs are only on the outskirts or outside the sacred boundaries of Rome.  The location also helps protect from disease in the aorta of Rome.  Nonetheless, in the Catacombs we were able to see authentic frescoes of Mary holding Jesus, the Good Shepherd, the Three Magi, and others.
After leaving the Catacombs we made our way to the Church of Santa Costanzo and Mosoleum where the tombs of Constantine’s mother and daughter were both at one time and are honored.  The Mosoleum was interesting because of the contrast from the other basilica we have visited these last few days, because of the circular structure the focus is at the center where the altar is located and immediately continues in a vertical way rather than a horizontal focus that is the norm for basilica.
Immediately after leaving the basilica we stopped by “Heaven”. Don’t be be confused this was not the name of the restaurant, but just an implication of how good the food tasted.  It was a buffet with meats, and cheeses, and pastas, and pizzas and green vegetables, and salads, and fruits, and vegetables, and deserts, and espressos.  After indulging in the fruits of the heavens with our swollen bellies we made our way to a few Churches all which seemed to be in a ten-minute radius of each.  I hope this gives you an idea of how many basilicas and churches Rome holds. It’s mind boggling; when you pass six churches in a ten minute walk. The churches each housed relics as well as offered visual aids in learning more and more about the Roman Christian and Early Christian architecture. Overall, after a little reflection  it is another good day in the books as I  impatiently wait for tonight’s feast. Ciao!!

History, Culture Combine to Make Rome Special

Cameron Brown ’17 – During my first two days in Rome, I have had a wide range of experiences. For example, on the first day here I was able to finally able to see and go inside the Pantheon. Being able to see, in person, one of the most iconic buildings in Rome was an amazing experience. It gave me the opportunity to experience first hand some of the architectural patterns, including the circles and squares that are repeated throughout the structure, that I learned about in a Roman architecture class last year. In addition to seeing this and many other structures, I was able to try out various cuisines. The first meal I tried, of course, was the pizza in Rome. This, as well as everything else I have ate so far, tasted amazing.

In addition to the food and sightseeing, just walking around the city is an experience. The culture in Rome is completely foreign when compared to the culture in America, as exemplified by the drivers. From the perspective of Americans, they are absolutely crazy. However, there is something in the confidence of the drivers that creates a feeling of safety in the midst of the chaos. I was surprised to find that while public transportation is prominent in Rome, it does not seem to be the prominent method of transportation. If you look out onto any busy street you will see a mass of mopeds weaving in and out of traffic as well as lanes.

I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity, as I have wished to come to Rome for as long as I remember. The culture, food, and even the drivers here have opened my eyes and given me an experience that I will not soon forget.

Imagining Life in Ancient Roman Times

Logan Anglin ’17 – Today in Rome,  I was able to experience what it was like for an ancient Roman Citizen to live in everyday life back in the 1st-4th century. We visited a church and sat through and experienced a traditional Italian Catholic mass. In particular, for the bulk of the day, visited the city of Ostia, an ancient Roman Civilization located near the coast of the Mediterranean. What was really important about studying this city was that unlike Rome, there had been no renovations or building on top of preexisting Ostia buildings. So by examining this city, we were able to see a relatively uninterrupted since the time of its busy existence.

For starters, just let me say how amazing it was to see this city and try to imagine how they lived and participated in everyday life. As we walked down the street made of large stones, there were worn down places only about 4-5 inches thick, which we learned were the result of years and years of wearing down and erosion made from the wheels of carriages. Immediately we began seeing direct evidence of a time in history where these ancient people actually lived here. This was the first real point in my trip where I was able to fully grasp the idea that this was an actual civilization that thrived and dominated the world nearly 2,000 years ago. All of the ruins we saw were simply amazing, like a time machine into the past. Especially since I plan on majoring or minoring in Classics, this helped me realize my true interests within the ancient world.

I especially was able to appreciate the ruins because I have taken four classes of Latin at Wabash College. I was able to practice this skill in the churches, signs, and all over the ruins. It was more of like a jigsaw puzzle, using what we have learned earlier in the semester as a base of knowledge, then by examining the ruins and the Latin associated to it, we could better understand what the Roman’s would have been doing here in these exact spots many years ago.

At one point in our tour with Dr. Hartnett through Ostia, he assumed the role of what a typical ancient Roman vendor would have done. The busy streets were lined with shops with large doors that offered good views of their insides and what they had to sell. Some of these buildings were very well intact and we were able to walk up the stairs into the second and third floor. These floors were meant as the living spaces for the store owners who worked on the first floor.

At one point in the tour, we were told to imagine what we would have seen, felt, tasted, touched, and heard if we were living at the time. We imagined very busy streets, with smells of all kinds of tasty food, smoke, and trash. Smoke would have filled the air as everyone cooked their foods without gas. The most populated streets were probably jam-packed with people, constantly bumping and shoving into one another. Everyone was probably constantly shouting as the acoustics in the buildings were not very good, and with so many people, you would probably have to yell in order to hear each other. The types of food to eat consisted of all kinds of breads, fish that was caught just a few miles over in the Mediterranean, and types of fruit or vegetables.

Even though this was my only second day here, it’s already been a trip of a lifetime as I have seen and learned so many things in the short time being here. It is hard to imagine that only 36 hours ago, I was in back in my dorm room at Wabash in Indiana.

Museum Impacts Young Artists

Jesse Caldwell ’15 – We were on our feet from 10 am Wednesday morning until about 5 pm. Although we were tired, the experience was great! We started the day by going to the Museum of Modern Art otherwise known as the MOMA. While at the MOMA we were lucky enough to see some of the most significant works of art that we have seen in text books the last few years of our education. In my opinion, the most significant work that we saw today was Pablo Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”. The professors have been referencing the significance of this painting for my four years at Wabash. I was very excited to see the work in person.

Students snapped pictures of and with MOMA paintings.

Students snapped pictures of and with MOMA paintings.

When walking through the gallery, I turned a corner and saw this masterpiece. I instantly got cold chills. Everything I was told about this painting flooded back into my head and I got cold chills. I instantly took a step back and snapped a picture of it. As with any painting I see, I looked at it from afar and then slowly approached it while observing the brush work that the artist used. This work by Picasso carried a lot of weight in this room and  the entire museum. This was the painting I had heard about for so long and here it was in front of me. In my student work at Wabash, I used photography as my medium. After seeing this work along with other powerful paintings such as “ The Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh, I wished I had used painting as my medium. The work I saw on this trip will influence the way I approach the subject matter in my photography. These spectacular works of art were not the only things that kept us on our feet.

A few of us spent time in Central Park. We escaped the loud and busy city into a place of quiet and peace. The park was very cool. The peaceful green space is being towered over by the harsh buildings of the city. After leaving the park and the MOMA, we went as a group to the 9/11 Memorial. This might be one of the most significant parts of the trip for me. In the space where we stood, there was totally chaos on that day on September 11, 2001. I believe the way the new building towers of the new memorial is very significant. I believe it is a symbol of strength that looks over the memorial and protects those who are around the area. The entire area brought cold chills to my body and I could tell that it affected others who were there.

Trying to Absory Rome’s History

Wesley Virt ’17 – Today, I was in awe with my surroundings. I was amazed at the ingenuity, creativeness, and mysteries that surrounded the sites we visited. Today we visited the Epigraphical Museum, the catacombs under St. Peter’s, and St. Peter’s Basilica. At the Epigraphical Museum I realized that Roman life is extremely diverse. After looking at artifacts in this museum, I saw various aspects of Roman life that I never thought existed. This included hair dressers, freedman (who were free in a unique sense), and musicians. I could see these unique characteristics of Roman life portrayed through artifacts that were collected in this museum. One artifact that stood out to me was a stone carving that dealt with a freedman who had two patrons to serve. I can’t image being a slave set free and serving not only one patron, but two patrons for the rest of your life!

After this museum, we made our way St. Peter’s Basilica. We received the special opportunity to go underneath the basilica where we got the chance to see the necropolis and the tomb of St. Peter. I could not believe the intricacy of the paintings in the necropolis. These people buried in the necropolis under St. Peter’s really cared about what other Roman citizens thought about their life after death. After visiting the city of the dead we ventured back up to the land of the living to view the present day basilica.

In the past, I have gotten the chance to visit the Cathedral Basilica in Missouri. So I naturally assumed that St. Peter’s would be about the same as this other basilica. I don’t think I could have been more wrong. While both of these churches were massive, St. Peter’s had so many details in every part of the church. It was an overwhelming experience just standing in the Basilica. As Dr. Hartnett warned us before entering the basilica, “If you try to absorb everything in St. Peter’s you will get a headache.” This couldn’t have been more of an accurate statement! Overall, I had a great day. I realized how much history lies within this city piled layers and layers deep.

Being In Musuem Makes Big Impact

Kolby Lopp ‘17 – The group went to the Museum of Modern Art in New York and it was a great experience. Being in New York and experiencing real life pieces of art can be more than inspiring. I thought that going through the museum and gazing at famous pieces of art was phenomenal.

Wabash men at the NY Museum of Modern of Art

Wabash men at the NY Museum of Modern of Art

“The Persistence of Memory” is a famous piece by Salvador Dali, which I see in books or online all the time, but being able to see it up in person is priceless. Being able to go through these museums and see all the work in person doesn’t compare to what you see on paper. For example, going back to the Salvador Dali piece “The Persistence of Memory” you would imagine that his piece would have been bigger than an 18” X 24” canvas but in reality it really is only about 12” X 15”. Chances like this could not have been possible if it were not to Wabash allowing us to come here and view this work with our own eyes.

Seeing the work expanded my horizons and gave me the opportunity to try and incorporate things I saw into my own work. Looking at my work that I am doing now for my next project deals with abstraction and exploration of space. A piece that I saw today in the gallery that provided inspiration for my next piece of art. The piece incorporated paint in the background that was abstracted with mixed paints of watercolor and then layered with multiple colors over another. Then on the painting there was a 3 dimensional piece added on top with painted cave drawings on it that made it look like there is a whole in the painting. This inspires my next work because I was to incorporate multiple layers of colors mixing and dripping over the ground of the painting and then add layers over the top that can give the illusion of the absence of space and dimension.

After leaving the museum Professor Mortong gave us the opportunity to go to ground zero and see how the people who have lost their lives have been honored. The trip to New York was a wonderful experience for us to be put in a position for our skills to flourish and expand our horizons.

Immersion Includes Exploring On Your Own

Alejandro Reyna ’17 -  There in Höchst

Like any “good” Catholic, even before flying to our layover in Atlanta I knew where I would go for mass on Sunday when we arrived in Frankfurt. While decrypting all the German websites, St.Justinuskirche seemed the best option.

Though, like any “good” Catholic, one thing led to another and I never actually made it to mass on Sunday. Being one of the oldest buildings in Frankfurt, the desire of visiting the church was still real. On Tuesday, Ben Wade and I took advantage of the misty, cloudy free day and headed out to St. Justinuskirche.

After considering walking to the church, Ben and I agreed we should not tire ourselves.  The metro rail system would be our means of transportation and so we were off. We figured that we would get on line S1 or S2 and our cue to get off would be “Höchst.” Once the train started going we realized how far we would have needed to walk and were very glad we didn’t. Höchst was our stop and it seemed like a suburban neighborhood for people who work in Frankfurt. As we exited the train station it was clear that nearly no one would speak English, meaning Ben’s limited German would have to suffice. The church was still a hike from the station but even from a distance, we saw the arched doorway at the base of a massive stonewall. No questions asked we walked through.

We entered what we thought was a garden but was actually a medieval fort. Surrounded by this very historical structure we explored many doors, stairs and alleyways that were unlocked. In one of these damp alleyways was the church we had long forgotten about due to our excitement over the medieval fort. The running joke amongst the immersion group has been that you can circle a building many times but you won’t find an open door. So we tried all the doors on the church twice and none were unlocked. We had failed to see the church and it was not disappointing because we found this fort. As a matter of fact, none of the time spent in Höchst was disappointing at all.

If I had to name one of the greatest joys in being abroad it has to be that ones willingness to try new things does not make disappointment passable or ok. You can try different foods and not enjoy them but being upset or disappointed that you did not enjoy it would defeat the incentive to try anything. Put your best foot forward and try anything and everything. If you are disappointed, you are doing it wrong.

Immersed in German Culture

Nash Jones ’16 – As I am typing this Tuesday, we are on a train out of Germany, heading to Belgium. This is my first time out of the US, and I was a bit worried about what to expect in a foreign country. I was more than a little curious about the different customs and behaviors that we would have to follow and imitate in order to be good guests. Before we left, we were informed of different things to prepare for so that we wouldn’t be in for a total culture shock. However, there are a few things in particular that are worth mentioning that took us by surprise.

First, it is a rare occurrence to see somebody use their smart phone during a meal. I, Tyler Hardcastle, and Ben Wade noticed this on our first day in a nice little cafe in Frankfort. Meals are social gatherings to be enjoyed without the use of the internet or apps. It also eliminated those weird instances of people Instagramming or Snap Chatting their food, which is something to be grateful for.

The second thing we noticed was how quiet everyone was. Even some of the softer-spoken members of our group noticed how loud we were in comparison to everyone else. At home, it is no big deal to yell at someone across the room. Doing that in Frankfort could draw some odd looks, and made it immediately obvious that you aren’t from the area. Even in some of the busier streets and parks, I did not hear anyone raise their voice. It wasn’t a bad thing, just different.

We also learned, quite often in fact, to stay out of the bike lanes. Cars aren’t uncommon in Frankfort, but I wasn’t prepared for the sheer number of bikes that zip up and down the streets. It was usually better just to try to maintain a single-file line down a sidewalk than walk side by side like we are used to at home. Luckily, none of us was run down in the street by a bicycle, but there were a few close calls.

The immersion trip has been a lot of fun thus far, and we are all excited to be on our way to Brussels. We all greatly appreciate the opportunity provided to us by the Rogge Fund and Wabash College to go to Germany and Belgium for a week and experience their cultures. This has been an exciting week so far, and I’m sure it will only get better as it goes on!