Friday, June 25, 2010

Laundry by Lex Stathis

Laundry is not as easy as pressing a button. Today I learned the hard way how to wash you clothes the old fashioned way. Let's just say I have a lot more respect for my mom and the invention of the washer machine and dryer, as well as for everyone in my life who ever let me use their laundry facilities!
    I know what you are thinking: "How do you do laundry without a washer and dryer?" Here's my method. First, put the laundry soap in at the bottom of the tub, add your dirty clothes, and add just enough water to cover the clothes. Then, like "I Love Lucy" episode where she was making wine, stomp away. After about 20 minuets of stomping, rinse each and every piece of clothing.  It's at this point where you will see first-hand how dirty your clothes really get. It's gross. Then just hang them in the sun to dry. Its not really hard, but it takes a really long time. However, I'm left with a feeling of accomplishment and the knowledge that my mom can’t claim that I'm lazy.

A Change of Pace by Lucas Otero

Yesterday we took an hour train ride north of Roma to a small Italian lake town called Bracciano. Once we arrived I could instantly sense the difference in lifestyles there compared to in Rome. There were no crowds in the streets or even at the station, and it was a quiet atmosphere everywhere we walked. There were no taxis or street hustlers begging for money or trying to sell me roses. It was a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of the city.
We walked thru the street to the Castello Odescalchi Bracciano, which has been there since before the 15th century! I feel like we may have arrived to the castle during siesta because there was nobody in the piazza in front of it, or perhaps the town is just that quiet. While we waited for our tour of the castle we killed time in a small bar enjoying a glass of vino bianco. At first I could sense a little bit of discontent from the woman working it, who based off the pictures on the some of the walls appeared to be the owner. However once everyone began to clear out and it was just Lex and I, I started to talk to her and she pointed out the region of the wine I was drinking and then told me a little about the where my next glass of wine came from. We conversed with the woman as much as our language barrier permitted us, and I thanked her for hospitality; she warmed up to us!
We then began our tour of the castle which consisted of only 8 people, which was nice compared to the crowded museums in Rome. The medieval dwellings are still owned privately by the same family and its name is carried by only one last living princess.  We walked thru and the very first room was just filled with books and a table, our guide Barbara told us that they were all the original books that the family has kept.  Every part of the castle had images of a bear, lion and a rose which are symbols of the family.
As we entered the first bedroom we saw the walls all painted with biblical images and Barbara told us that this room is named for the pope who retreated to the castle and stayed in this room to avoid the plague. He and one of the prince's are the only people to have stayed in this room.
The next room was what they used for banquets and meetings.  The walls along the ceiling were images of roman emperors. There was a painting of Princess Isabella and the prince who married her, the prince was 12 and she was only 11. Apparently during their wedding reception the prince fell in love with another girl and killed her husband and Isabella in order to marry her!!
A few rooms later we entered Isabella's room. The bed had a large canopy and chest in front of it, pretty much how I imagined a princess' room to look except for one thing; there was a trap door that while she lived in this room had lethal spikes at the bottom. Isabella would allegedly dispose her "lovers" aka one night stands into this death trap!! Poor ol boys never saw it coming. That's is how she was killed by her prince husband; according to his story she was trying to throw him in there and he tossed her first.
We went behind the trap door and up the spiral stairs to another room which had a painting of the Good Samaritan; I really liked it because it was the first time I had ever seen an art piece of the parable. There was also a painting of St Joseph standing aside St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist. You could tell which paintings had always been in the castle and which ones were restored by the difference in color; the older ones did not have the same vibrancy as the newly restored or some duplicated pieces.
The next few rooms were just as big as the banquet room but were filled with medieval weapons and armor. The soldier’s suit of armor weighed nearly 70 kilos and the weapons were large too. Tough times for the king’s soldiers.
We saw the kitchen, the study, and other rooms but the best part of the castle was at the very top outside. From here we could see the entire town and had an incredible view of Lago di Bracciano. The large volcanic lake peacefully reflected its surrounding green hills and the boats and swans that floated upon it.
The tour ended and we walked down the hill towards the lakes shore and were able to eat right out on the lake. As we headed back towards the station saw little bambinos and bambinas running thru the piazzas and parks playing futbol, basketball, having a blast. After taking in the little town’s lifestyle for a while longer I went for a cappuccino by the train station which was even 10 cents cheaper than any place I'd been to in Rome!!!
The whole day was very enjoyable and gave me a whole other perspective of life in Italy.

 Ciao for now,


Castello Odescalchi

Lago Bracciano from top of castle

Town Piazza

Kathryn Jordan- The Colosseum and Roman Forums

The Colosseum and Roman Forums are both historical monuments and major tourist destinations. They both portray the incredible Roman architecture long before modern technology. It is amazing to look at these structures and think about how long they have survived and what they were used for.

The Colosseum is probably one of the most frequented tourist attractions in Rome today. The Colosseum was originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. It was not known as the Colosseum until the 7th Century. The Amphitheater was designed to hold 50,000 spectators. It was completed in 80 A.D. It is known to be the first permanent amphitheater built in Rome. The incredible arches involved in the magnificent architecture speak wonders about Roman intellect.

With the eighty entrances the Roman people were able to manage, control, and entertain the large crowds quickly with ease.

Looking at the incredible structure of the Colosseum, that so many people enjoy every day, it is incredible thinking about the actual purpose for which it was built. The Colosseum was built to host gladiatorial games, combats and executions. It also hosted different games with wild beasts verse each other, as well as wild animals verses humans. The Roman’s believed that it was a sacred place because it was a place of martyrdom. Looking at the Colosseum today, it is incredible to think of the number of both humans and animals lives lost. There is no exact number recorded of the deaths in the Colosseum, however they have an estimated amount. During a single festival held in 240 AD the statistics say that there were 2,000 gladiators lost in a matter of a few days. It is strange to think that people enjoyed watching gory deaths such as the murders in the Colosseum. People took pleasure in participating in the rulings of live verses death.

. Gladiatorial combats continued in the Amphitheater until they were outlawed in 407 by the Christian emperor Honorius. The fights wild beats were finally outlawed in 523. The Colosseum went out of use after these bans.

People are still entertained by gory things today, however. Many people are grossed out by the thought of the Colosseum, but do not think twice about watching a gory movie. Movies are not the only gruesome form of entertainment in society today. Video games, such as Mortal Combat or Call of Duty, all include killing people. In many places such as Mexico bull fights are still held. People need to keep an open mind when entering the Colosseum and think past the gore and deaths involved.

Another incredible tourist destination is the Roman Forums. The Roman Forums were the centre of political, judicial and commercial life in Ancient Rome. The centre was also the home of many markets, shops, and taverns. Many people gathered in the Roman Forums as a place for social gatherings and for entertainment. The Forums were the heart and soul of city life. Entertainment was a major part of the Roman Forums. The architecture, although not as elaborate as the Colosseum, was built in Marble. The columns stood high above the ground. The Roman people used elephants to raise the columns to stand erect. To think of the labor and mathematics involved in the creation of the Forums is mind blowing. Many people look at structures such as these and think of their age. Sometimes people do look past the incredible amount of thought and planning to build formations such as these forums and instead look at them as decrepit and old.

People tend to think of buildings such as the Colosseum and the Roman Forums as ancient but do not realize the mathematics and intellect put into designing them. They are misinterpreted. It is mind blowing to actually look at these structures and think about how amazing they actually are. These buildings are absolutely incredible. Today these two destinations are a major route on the Rome tourist hot spots. They both have a entrance charge that helps the Roman community today. The Colosseum raises money to help feed the poor and the hungry. The Colosseum and the Roman Forums were and continue to be a major strength in the Roman community.

-Kathryn Jordan

Grocery shopping in Rome by Crystal Hernandez

Rome was a challenge in itself.  Changing worlds isn't easy to adjust to and one sometimes thinks that some things will remain the same.  One of these expectations was grocery shopping.  The first few days the excitement of being in a new place makes you want to go out and sample the great, much heard of cuisine.  Very quickly one realizes that is not very cost effective.  However, no one thought that grocery shopping could be a completely different experience.  First thing I learned was how to pick your veggies and fruits out.  Cashiers do not weigh them for you.  The process begins by grabbing a plastic glove and a plastic bag.  Make your selection and remember the number next to the food name.  At the scale weigh the food and enter the food number where a label will print out with a barcode and specifications and price.  In the Las Cruces, we are all accustomed to selecting our food without a glove.  We do not have to worry about numbers, labels, or prices.  The second thing that I saw different was the checkout process.  At the line you specify how many plastic bags you need if any. The cashier will throw the bags to the side and start scanning.  This is when you must race to bag the items before they pile up too much.  After many grocery trips the art of bagging is perfected!  Another thing that is different is the demeanor of the cashier's as they sit on their stools.  In all my job experience as a cashier I have never had a stool.  I must say I have wished for one but understand that it would not happen.  Now that I am nearing the end of the Rome experience, I have become a quick efficient shopper.  Although it is different it works for the people here.  I am glad that I was able to see and experience something different.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Donald Wiklund's Blog on Rome 2010

Rome has been an interesting experience.  Before I left for Italy, I felt very confident about getting around this country.  I purchased Lonely Planet's Italian translator, map, and tour book application for my Apple IPod.  I quickly found out this was a horrible application. When roaming through Rome, I found much difficulty using this application: due to the fact that it required a WiFi internet signal.  So here I was navigating and asking questions to people who knew very little English.  At first I was frustrated with this because I wanted the instant gratification of knowing my travel plan before touring the city or country.  After talking with the locals through bits of English and much body language, I began to learn the importance of communication in a foreign country.  

My first impression of Italians was the "stuck-up" stereotype.  The culture is much different here than the United States.  I have been accustomed to the various flamboyant lifestyles that I have been raised with.  Although the Italians may sometimes dress in flamboyant outfits, I have observed that most keep to themselves and act much more reserve than American behavior: with the exception of Italian men eyeing women down like a "dog in a meat market."  Having to rely less on my IPod and more through interaction with the locals, I began to change my opinion of the people.  Sometimes when I had difficulty communicating where to go, how to find a place, or what time the bus/train departed; the people of Italy were patient and often repeated directions as much as necessary.  I was grateful for their compassion and patience.  Talking with the locals was a huge benefit in the sense of finding out travel niches and tips.
although not everyone was like this.  I knew I had to avoid asking advice from anyone who profited from any tourist type of location.  It almost seemed like they would take advantage of you in order to up sell or lure you into buying their products.  I learned that if you went down half a block out of the tourist traps you could find similar products for less.  Traveling is an education of its own.  I was very glad to apply my "street smarts" and being resourceful.

My recommendations for traveling abroad are very simple.  If you want to have a great time, you must do your homework before you go.  I advise purchasing a hard copy of a tour guide such as Rick Steves', Lonely Planet, or Frommers'.  Read them before you go, so you have an idea what to expect.  I highly recommend Rick Steves' guide books of the three because it avoids a lot of the tourist trap sites and times when to avoid the crowds.  Secondly, I would advise learning the language as much as possible.  If you don't have the time to learn the language, I would recommend a good "phrase book."  Of the three, I would also recommend Rick Steves' book.  Many the other books failed to include simple yet important phrases like "Where do I purchase train/bus tickets?"  Simple questions like these are necessary for the average foreign traveler.  The last thing I would recommend is studying a map of the area before you head out.  Google has done an outstanding job with their Google Maps and Google Earth applications.  I can't imagine how people traveled without the use of Rick Steves' books and Google.  It has been extremely helpful having these resources available; they really have put the time and effort for travelers like you and I to enjoy ourselves in a foreign country.  It has been a privilege studying abroad and I recommend any willing student to study abroad.  This has been an "eye opening" experience and I have learned more about myself traveling abroad than the many years I have spent in college.  Thank you for reading along.


Donald J. Wiklund

Ciao Ciao Italia!

I cannot believe that our time in Rome is coming to an end. Five weeks ago I was looking forward to an amazing experience and today I can say that it has been just that. Each day brought new adventures while exploring the Eternal City. At times our adventures consisted of stumbling upon monuments, trying to ask directions with what little Italian we knew or finding out what you ordered to eat was not what you were expecting.  Living in a big city has its advantages including accessible and easy public transportation, unlimited choices for food, and gelataries at every corner.  I can say that my favorite part of this trip was outside of the hustle and bustle of the city. My roommates and myself traveled to various cities in Italy together and were able to see some of the most beautiful and picturesque sights.These locations include the Almalfi Coast, Cinque Terre and Greve in Chianti. These spots were my favorite because of the peaceful environments and the quietness that brought ease.  The Almalfi Coast had a ravishing coast line with jagged cliffs and cities somehow perched upon them.  Cinque Terre is a string of five lovely coastal communities which includes one of Italy's National Parks and an example of the preservation of their gorgeous environment.  Breathtaking views from the cliffs and brilliant blue waters were what we were able to see as we hiked along the coast from town to town.  Greve in Chianti was where we were able to take in one of Italy's finest attributes, Chianti Classico wine. When I think of wine country I imagine rolling hills, vineyards and generous Italians: this is exactly the things we found. Trying to find all of these things in the city are impossible with vespas zooming through the streets, cars honking, and numerous people on the streets at any given time. The weekend getaways were my favorite part of the our time here in Italy and I am so grateful to have had the time to enjoy these magnificent locations. As we all go our ways I think we can all end this trip knowing we have had one of the greatest opportunities of our lives and we will always have these wonderful memories of Italy

Roma By Stephani Warfield

Well we are done, and what an experience it has been here in Roma! I have never been outside the country before so to be away and in a foreign place has been quite an adventure to say the least. It was very overwhelming when I first got here I didn't really know what to expect so I didn't have my high or low standards for this place. But it has really turned out to be really amazing! It baffles my mind to think at only 21 years old I came to a different country practically on my own to study! WOW!! I will never forget this and apppreaciate every second of it! BUT I AM SO READY TO GO HOME I WANT SOME ENCHILADAS!!!! hahahah!! Thank you Dr. Blanch and Dr. Stathisis and the HRTM department for helping us all get to this point! Also a HUGE thank you to Stella!! You are the best!!! LOVE YOU!!!