Benjamin Cox ’20 — Today was our excursion to Ostia, the port city of Rome. It started on a somewhat hectic note, as our original travel plans were dashed by a train worker’s strike. Thanks to the quick wit of Dr. Hartnett and Dr. Nelson, we were able to get cab rides out to our destination. The day was bright and beautiful, the first sunny day we’ve had. Unfortunately for one of the fair skin, I sit writing this with quite a sunburn. We began by visiting the ruins of the old city, which were much more intact than I’d expected. Following a presentation by my fellow student Calem Parish over the cult of Mithras, we headed to the remains of the open-air theatre where we ate a picnic lunch ripe with carbohydrates and fermented grapes. After Dr. Hartnett loosened up the men with a Vatican joke, it was then my turn to present the commercial center of Ostia, the Piazzale Delle Corporazioni (an overview of the piazzale can be seen here http://www.ia-ostiaantica.org/news/piazzale-delle-corporazioni/). It was a great experience to finally see the work from the first half of the semester come to fruition. Of course, my presentation was not without faults, but our class is one that embraces errors because we can learn from them. And with Dr. Hartnett and Dr. Nelson around, we never go without gentle correction and the right information. Following that, we listened to presentations by Austin Brown and Aaron Tincher before having free time to explore the extensive ruins of ancient Ostia. In this time I had to roam alone, I was able to apply what I’d learned in class so far. There really is nothing better than getting hands on experience with topics we’ve been studying. For someone like me who had never left the U.S., seeing such buildings from 2,000 years ago was a profound experience. It is awe-inspiring to see what people have accomplished in the past, and gives me a drive to one day have a similar lasting impact. We have been here less than a week, but I have grown much closer with my fellow Wallys than I had ever thought possible. All in all, I proudly enjoy the pain of my Mediterranean sunburn.