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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.

First Day in Rome Opens Eyes

Brent Poling ’16 – Just had a wonderful first day in Rome!! So far I have been up for about 32 hours straight with the plane ride over here and being super busy the entire day. The trip from the airport to the hotel was a very interesting one to say the least. The people here are very busy and seem to get mad very easily at Americans. But once we were able to get to the hotel we took a long break before exploring some of the city.
The first day here we were able to see many small temples, a few churches, and even many ancient monuments. My favorites so far were the Column of Trajan, the Pantheon, and the Roman Forum. We spent a few hours scouring the city getting to see many of the major historical monuments from at least a close distance. I am very excited to be able to get to go see each of them up close when we go into more depth with the individual structures.
The last thing we did was got some pizza for dinner.  The cuisine here is different from America, it seems to be that every meal you have has at least two courses. Also, there were many small shops scattered around the town that you could just walk up into to get coffee or gelato. It was very hard to get used to the differences of the city as a whole, but it is one of the most extraordinary experiences I have ever had.

Biology Immersed in Belize’ Animal Diversity

Professor Eric Wetzel – There’s no better way to learn about the great diversity of animals than to experience them first-hand in their natural habitats. And there’s no better place to lo​ok for invertebrates (animals without backbones) than the coral reef.
A photo from a previous Belize immersion trip.

A photo from a previous Belize immersion trip.

Wabash students in Prof. Eric Wetzel’s Biology of the Invertebrates course will do just that as they spend the week on South Water Caye, a small island 10 miles from the coast of Belize. South Water Caye is in the heart of a large Marine Reserve in the Caribbean and sits directly on Belize’s barrier reef.

Students will spend most of their time in the water as they explore the various habitats adjacent to the island such as patch reefs, mangroves, and the deeper water of the fore reef; they’ll also be able to experience the dynamic intertidal zone as they search for snails, worms, seastars, corals, and the occasional octopus or squid. Even while it’s possible to study these animals in the lab on campus, there’s absolutely no substitute for learning about these animals in their ecological context as they face the challenges of these different habitats.
Be on the lookout for student posts and photos from this Wabash Immersion experience that lives up to its name!

Peters ’16 Enjoys Typical German Life

Wabash guys enjoy a wurst-fest gill party with local Mayor.

Wabash guys enjoy a wurst-fest gill party with local Mayor.

Steven Peters ’16 – Traveling to another country, one tends to have certain expectations going in about the people of that country. Ask most people in the USA what they think is typical of the German people and likely their answers will be fairly similar. Germans are a lederhosen wearing people, throwing around large steins of beer, their vocal inflections carry an underlying hint of anger, and all they eat are large wursts (sausages). My younger sister even feared that I would face many rude Germans, because apparently they are a mean people. After studying the language and culture for two years, one comes to find that those stereotypes are not necessarily true. Despite that education, however, there is still that hope that some of those stereotypes will be seen. A benefit, then, of an immersion trip like this is to discover for yourself, by mingling with the people, what is in reality typical German.

 

Neustadt Mayor welcomes Wabash guys to his town.

Neustadt Mayor welcomes Wabash guys to his town.

Our trip to Neustadt, a small town near Marburg, gave me and my fellow classmates an experience which allowed us to see who the Germans really are as a people and to practice our language skills. Through connections that Erik Kile has with Neustadt residents, we received a personal tour of the historical sites by two local historians. One of them, Gerhard Bieker, hosted Erik’s aunt as an exchange student some 30 years ago, and the families have been close ever since. Herr Bieker quite literally wrote the book on Neustadt’s history (entitled Nova Civitas: Eine Wanderung durch die Geschichte der Stadt). Through him we gained full access to the curious 15th-century “Junker-Hansen-Turm” (tower) that looms over the town. He also got us into the old town hall and gave us a tour of the most historic parts of town. Another friend, Herr Krapp, gave us a tour of the town’s oldest Catholic Church (built between 1502 and 1517). He led us through the small space behind the high altar, took us up rickety stairs into the attic of the church, and showed us the air pumps that drive the organ. We got a more personal view of these old sites than one can typically get in more popular sites in tourist-filled cities.

After our tour we were greeted by Thomas Groll, the mayor of Neustadt, and our hosts grilled kilos of wurst supplied by the local butcher. A reporter took our picture with the mayor and the historians who guided us, and an article about our visit will appear in Oberhessische Zeitung, the region’s largest newspaper. This part of the trip to Neustadt was the most memorable and useful part for me in experiencing German culture and practicing skills used in class. Our generous hosts fed us wurst after delicious wurst and we were able to converse with the mayor and others in a stress free environment where we were not worried about saying the wrong thing or not being understood well enough. While some of us lingered over apple strudel, some of the group joined a group of local teenagers in a game of pick-up soccer at the adjacent part.

So what is typical German? It is impossible to fully understand a people after only one week living within their culture, but from what I experienced the Germans are a people who seem reserved on the surface, but if given the chance will show you the greatest hospitality, even if they do not know you, and fill your stomach with good food and your head with good conversation. We may not have seen any large Germans with a beer in one hand, and a rope of wurst around their neck, but what we did receive was a greater understanding of who the Germans are as a people and an opportunity to become more knowledgeable as a whole. -