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Student Group Learning EU Finances

A key part of each immersion trip - the food.

A key part of each immersion trip – the food.

Josh Bleisch ’16 – Monday was the first full day of activities for class. We began by visiting the Frankfurt stock exchange. On the way there, we walked through the City Hall square. In the middle of the square, there was a memorial of a Nazi book burning that took place during the lead up to World War II. I found the site interesting and very powerful. The quote around the memorial roughly translated to: “when you burn books, you burn people.” This was just one of the many things in the city memorializing the events of World War Two.

At the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, we learned about the history of trading in the city, as well as how the exchange operates today. At the ECB, we enjoyed a great presentation about the strategies of the central bank, both in good times and in crisis. We have been reading about European Monetary policy for half of a semester, but this was our first chance to speak with people actually working within the European Central Bank.

We learned so much valuable information about what the ECB has done during the Eurocrisis to ensure price stability. I ended the day by going to an Ethiopian restaurant with a few other students in the group. It was a great end to a busy day in Frankfurt! We still have most of the week left to explore and learn. I’d like to give a special thanks to the Rogge Fund for making all of this possible!

Theater Group Sees “War Horse”

Nathan Muha ’18 – Today was truly a sight-seer’s paradise. Climbing up from the slowly-getting-familiar Underground station, we walked straight into the middle of Trafalgar Square and the plaza of the National Portrait Gallery. Seeing the huge statues around us, including a bout on top of some lions and a modern horse-skeleton sculpture with the stock market statistics running, it was difficult to take in. Big Ben seemed almost eerily defined against the grey sky just down the road.

Muha '18 giving his class presentation in London.

Muha ’18 giving his class presentation in London.

Taking in some of the sights, we also took the numerous famous locations as places of education with a good few of our presentations. In one of the many gardens we went through, I gave a presentation about English producer George Edwardes at the memorial site of his contemporary Arthur Sullivan. During a walk through the theatre district, we also heard presentations on Charlie Chaplin, Benjamin Britton, Henry Irving, and other topics of interest.

We finished off our walking tour with three of the most recognizable locations in London: Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and the Parliament building. Needless to say, it was breathtaking, and I could not do it any justice through words.

Our theatrical review for the night was War Horse, which many people know from the film adaptation made by Steven Spielberg. One word that would really describe this play was theatrical. The production value was completely out of this world, with life-sized ridable horse puppets, singing, interpretive body work with the sets, and music playing in the background for a good majority of the play. The group agreed that all of those aspects were stellar. Today ended
up being truly remarkable, and a day that I’ll remember for a long time to come.

New York City Full of Art

Scott Hastings ’15 – New York is a wild place even for someone like me, who grew up on the East Coast near the fifth largest city in the country.  Today we visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, home to some of the world’s finest and most significant works of art in history.  Very few places allow you to see works by Van Gogh, Monet, and Pollock together in addition to works by ancient Chinese and Japanese print makers and painters.

The museum had full scale reconstructions of zen gardens, Colonial American squares and Roman Temples.  A couple of the other guys got their first taste of public transportation riding subways and busses in quick succession.  When we were allowed on our own and had our fill of the Met we headed into to Queens to see a famous Graffiti display.  We were disappointed to find that it had been demolished recently but decided all was not lost and headed further up the 7 line to the location of the 1964 World’s Fair.  It’s amazing that the fixtures and displays developed for the World’s Fair are still as modern and fresh as they were in 1964.

Finally, we took the 7 to its terminus at Times Square and walked around marveling at the street performers and activists and all the people who come from around the world to experience the intersection that never goes dark.

Tuesday sees us visiting the polar opposite of the Met as we explore a small gallery owned by a Wabash alumnus called Minus Space.  It will be interesting to compare and contrast the massive museum and the smaller contemporary gallery.

Remarkable Day in Rome

Marcus Kammrath ’16 – Today was the best day of my life. Multiple bucket list sites were checked off of my list today. We started with our light breakfast at the hotel and set off promptly at 8:15 to get our day going. We started at the Roman Forum, the heart of the entire Roman Empire. There we were able to see remains as well as still standing arches, basilicas, and other public buildings. The shear size of these buildings can not be given justice from a photo.

After the Roman Forum we made our way along the triumphal march to the Arch of Constantine and the Flavian Amphitheater! Here we looked a lot at not only the Roman uses for the amphitheater but the early Christian uses as a place of martyrdom. After there we booked it to the train station to catch the train to the Vatican Museums. The amount of graffiti all over Rome, but especially in the subways, is a work of art itself. A good majority of it is really well done and pretty interesting to look at. Thankfully they know better than to try and tag the areas we were in today!

When we got to the Vatican Museums we met with our security guard and headed to the section usually closed to the public (traveling with Hartnett and Nelson certainly has advantages) we listened to the four presenters discuss their various sarcophagus’ and the statue of the Good Shepherd. But wait! There’s more. Have you ever heard of the Sistine Chapel? Yeah we saw that today as well! Me and the group I was walking with had to pretty much pick our jaws up from the floor as we looked up thinking the tourist question of the day “How could one man do all of this?”

We finished at the Vatican Museums shortly after but not until Brent and I discovered the Pope-mobile museum! Complete with a “blessed” Ferrari F1 racing wheel. Had the day ended there we still would have had the day of our lives but it didn’t. Our final stop of the night was the Olympic stadium. To see the Roman Serie A soccer club Lazio play Florence in what was supposed to be a close, hard fought game but ended in a lopsided 4-0 win for the good guys riding a Miroslav Klose 2 goal performance. Thankfully Dr. Hartnett says we will be calming down a little early tomorrow after St Peter’s. A good nights rest is well deserved by all! Best wishes everyone!

Navigating Food, German Language

Tyler Hardcastle ’15 – A cafe?

As soon as we entered the cafe we felt out of place, but not unwelcome. The two waitresses were busy near the back of the shop and there was no sign to indicate that we shouldn’t simply seat ourselves. We made for a small table near the front and the four of us sat down. Then we waited.

Our small cafe at dusk.

Our small cafe at dusk.

This wasn’t your average trip to the Brew. Along with the rest of our class and led by Professors Hollander and Mikek, we had landed in Frankfurt, Germany Sunday morning at 6 a.m. The class, two separate courses dedicated to the Economics and Politics of the European Union, had involved two hour sections, meeting three times a week. During that time we’d unpacked the concepts of the economic and monetary aspects of a common currency, the Euro. We’d also examined the complex political interactions that led to the role out and shortly thereafter, support for the new currency.

Spending the Euro, would be a completely different challenge.

As we waited for one of the waitresses to approach our table, we took stock of the dining room. First, to be sure we hadn’t made some mistake in the seating process and that we were indeed supposed to wait to place our orders. Second, to see others dinner’s meals, hoping for a clue as to the menu. The handful of menus on our table were completely in German. This should have come as no surprise, we had simply set out with new direction and stopped at the first place we saw. We were far from the typical tourist haunts and began to wonder, if perhaps we’d been a bit overconfident.

Each of us had prepared a few phrases, but they went no further than the requisite ‘sprechen sie Englisch?’. Despite our handicap, we had each decided what we would order based off a partial decoding of the menu. I’d found ‘lachs’ to be promising (which I presumed correctly to be lox), one opted for a Cappachino, and the others found what seemed to be ham sandwiches.

In the end it was a useful exercise, but largely unnecessary. When our waitress came she was very nice and did speak English. She also brought us an English menu and offered a number of recommendations and guidance when we ordered.

European Union logo.

European Union logo.

Once the anxiety of ordering food faded, we were able to notice other things. Aside from being very well dressed, not a single dinner – of the nearly 30 – had a smartphone out. Neither did they carry laptops, tablets, chargers, or any other electronic device. No one seemed to be in a rush and in the same spirit, no one rushed us to leave (you have to ask for your check in Germany, they won’t bring it!)

There was still significant confusion when it came to paying. We had a shared check for which we first put down far too many Euros and then not enough. Though ultimately, the experience was pleasant. Unsurprisingly, we found that simply speaking to people offered more help than any phrase book or our typical crutch, smartphones.

We’re hoping to continue this practical learning tomorrow morning as we travel to the European Central Bank and through the week at the European Council, EU commission, and the lectures in Brugge and Belgium. Though even early on, it seems that the most informative experience is not speaking the language. Having to point, use gestures, and generally rely on others takes you completely out of your comfort zone. I usually feel a fair amount of comfort or control in dining and social situations, but had to give that up here.

I’m thankful to Professors Mikek and Hollander for leading this trip and for the Rogge Fund for sponsoring our travel.

German Cultural Differences Noticed

Kurt Miller ’16   We arrived in Frankfurt am Main shortly after 6:30 AM local time. After a long flight, our bodies felt the creeping exhaustion of jet lag. Upon dropping our bags at the youth hostel, myself and several other Wabash men experienced a picturesque Sunday morning along the river and ended up in the central square eating baguettes, sausages and Italian Gelatto (a treat essential for any American to experience over here).

We quickly realized that Americans speak louder than most Europeans. Experiencing stares, the level of volume had to be lowered multiple times.  One of the most surprising things was the difference in general street etiquette between the Midwest and Europe. Back home, I am used to smiling at everyone I see. In Deutschland, this same behavior is met with blank stares.

We returned to check in at 13:00 and I immediately fell asleep. With our fist day done, I am excited for the rest of the week and plan to make the most of this trip and my time in Europe. Learning abroad, in my opinion, encapsulates the liberal arts education and allows young minds to experience the vastly different cultures, institutions, and structures making up the basis of the European way of life. With the grace of the Rogge Fund and the hard working endeavors of Professors Hollander and Mikek, our education has already been furthered on day one. I can’t wait to see what comes next! Aufwiedersehen!

 

Understanding Depth of London’s Culture

A.J. Clark '16 making his presentation in London

A.J. Clark ’16 making his presentation in London

A.J. Clark ’16 – Participating in this immersion trip to London has been a great experience thus far — and I have only been through the first day! It is exciting to see the diverse the city of London. The most memorable trip we took today was to Hyde Park. We visited the ‘speaker’s corner’, which is a space in the park where multiple people get on a soapbox and rant about whatever their grievances are. What is interesting is the number of people who take time to stop and listen to each speaker; hundreds of citizen’s and tourists visit the ‘speaker’s corner’ everyday. You can chose to engage in the conversations and attempt to have a productive discourse; or you can watch other people have unproductive civil discourse by arguing and yelling — which is very entertaining in itself.

Another aspect of the area surrounding Hyde Park I enjoyed was seeing the architectural memorials dedicated to horses and other animals that were used in World War I. I was so interested in the memorials because the research project I conducted for the immersion course dealt exclusively with the stage history of War Horse, which is a novel about a horse’s experience in the First World War. The information I researched told me about the deep reverence and respect the English culture had for horses, especially pertaining to their involvement in the war. Visiting the various memorials/statues dedicated to horses reified my understanding of the English culture’s ‘love’ for horses, which were used ubiquitously during the war. Horses were used to perform several tasks from supporting cavalrymen to hauling mass weapons as beasts of burden.

First Day, First Presentation in London

AJ Akinribade ‘15 – So about that flight in … smooth and easy! Comfort was the name of the game. American Airways had music and movies to my fashion, great food and beverages catered, and awesome service. My first experience on an international flight was a pleasure!

We arrived in London to a cool, calm, and breezy day! For a major city everything seemed polished. The streets were clear of litter, the cars were fancy (the old fashioned English cabbies caught my attention early), and the people were beautiful. Everybody seemed well put together here — comparable to New York City.

We dropped our bags off at the International Hostel and off exploring we went. Our first stop was Speakers Corner. At the Corner people got on their soap boxes and passionately argued their displeasures to any crowd who was willing to listen. One Islamic man tried to use the Quran to deconstruct the Bible and Christianity. Many argued against him rather than sit there and listen. A sub-group of young people formed and engaged in debate over issues of the controversial Racial Contract. Another group of men shared their very sexist views on women in society. The most interesting speaker of them all was the cynical man with a megaphone — not allowed. He was simply there to tell everyone to relax, meditate, and laugh. He kept reminding everyone that what they’re really mad about is usually not the root of their anger. Although he was weird, his sort of optimistic angle at life was different; it was a breath of fresh air at the Corner.

Our next stop was the memorial to war animals where Junior (AJ Clark) gave a nice presentation on the topic in novel, stage, and film depictions. We took pictures and paid homage to the animals by talking Junior out of harassing the pigeons. We also caught the attention of a few London pedestrians who clearly knew we were from the States. We went on to explore Hyde Park and navigated the Oyster a little bit (London’s subway train). We also stopped in a basilica/cathedral and listened to an organ recital. Very soothing. We then dined a little and appreciated the diverse culture within a nice London restaurant.

This was my first time (that I can account for) across the pond and day one in London was a success!

First Day Spent Taking In NYC

Wabash guys went to top of Empire State Building for this view.

Wabash guys went to top of Empire State Building for this view.

John Vosel ‘ 15 – Our first day in New York has been quite exciting. I have never been before, so everything is quite surreal and I am thinking about everything “New York” I’ve ever known. The ride in went smoothly and we had no complications getting to our location and having our rooms situated. We have not gone into any galleries yet, given that it’s a Sunday, but we are about to go have dinner with Trustee Bill Wheeler this evening.

Students in NYC with Art Professor Elizabeth Morton.

Students in NYC with Art Professor Elizabeth Morton.

We have been sight seeing around the town and getting comfortable in the neighborhood of Chelsea, where our Hostel is located. We walked around the area and Dr. Morton pointed out a lot of the local galleries and artists’ studios. We also went to the Empire State Building, which was absolutely stunning. Using our New York passes we got to the top efficiently, and were able to take many quality photos. Something I find very intriguing about New York as a whole so far is the graffiti everywhere. Some see it as a form of self-expression, and others associate it with vandalism and gang violence. Whether it is or not, a lot of it is quite beautiful and adds some serious character to the architecture.

Today, the eight of us guys stopped into Bravo’ Pizza for some giant slices. It was pretty reasonable and run by Italians, sort of old fashioned. It was deep-dish and delicious, and I hope to experience some more of the famous “New York Pizza.”

 – Photos by Scott Hastings ’15

Rome’s Great Art Makes First Impression

Daniel Miller ’17 – Today we started our Immersion experience. From the moment we stepped off the plane we knew we were not at little Wabash College anymore. Some highlights from today were going to all the great Basilica’s throughout the city and seeing the Pantheon. The paintings in the church’s are extraordinary. The enormous amount of wealth accumulated by the churches here is just something that you can not put into words.
I was especially impressed with the paintings on the ceilings of many of the church’s. It’s the little things that make the biggest difference in the buildings. Going to the Pantheon was another wonderful experience. The sheer size and beauty is something everyone should witness in their own eyes. It was also wonderful to see the tomb of Raphael in the Pantheon. He is one of my mother’s favorite artists and I know his work well. The fact it is just wedged into the middle of the city makes it look even more impressive.
At the Pantheon I also had my first Gelato which was the best desert I have ever had. To end the day we ate at a Pizzeria. It was the best Pizza I have ever consumed. The sausage is nothing like I have ever had. It also was a great time to hangout with the guys and unwind after the long day. I look forward to going to Ostia and the Vatican in the coming days. This week is going to be an experience I will never forget.

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