A Visit to Cork

Submitted by Danny Maney on the 2023 summer session program in Ireland…

Visiting Blarney Castle

This past week, we had a “free weekend” and a majority of the people I was with decided to go to the next largest Irish city, Cork. The main reason for going there was to visit the Blarney Castle, which apparently is an Ireland tourism staple. When we went, it was like nothing I had ever experienced before. The trip up to kiss the blarney stone was a must when we visited. One of our inside jokes was that we would rank all the castles we went to based on how hard it would be to siege them. This started when we went on a tour of a tower in Waterford and the tour guide talked about how they made the steps uneven so it would be harder to siege for a long time. Anyways, the Blarney steps would have been particularly hard to siege and it was this long spiral staircase that had a bunch of little doors to the different rooms of the castle. There was also a “murder hole” where I guess the castle dwellers would dump hot water down on invaders, I found it interesting that this was something of note in the castle. When we got up to the roof, the stone itself was a lot smaller than I expected it to be. It was part of the castle wall and when we went to kiss it, we had to bend backwards to reach it. I never really thought I was afraid of heights until that moment. There was a railing and there were workers to hold us up but the whole ordeal was quite terrifying. I can’t think of any American tourist attraction where something like that would happen. We also got to walk around the grounds after and it honestly didn’t feel like we were even in Ireland anymore. There was lush greenery that made me feel like we were in the middle of the jungle. 

Me on UCC campus 

Another thing that we did in Cork was go walk around the University College Cork campus when no one was around. There were a lot of differences between this campus and UD for example. There was an art gallery that was open for us to wander around and was free. Also, we made it into one of the lecture halls and it was significantly smaller than the ones in UD. There was also a main green area which again was smaller than the one at UD. This campus was also very different from Trinity college, which is where we stayed in Dublin, mostly due to age. Trinity was founded in the 1500’s while UCC was founded in 1845. There was also a river that flowed through campus and it made for some really nice pictures. I found it odd that we were just able to go into most of the buildings, even though there weren’t that many people there. This would never happen at UD as I think that most of the academic buildings are closed on the weekends. We also got to see a cathedral and again I am absolutely in awe of the way churches are built here. A lot of the catholic ones were built more recently, as after the protestant reformation under King Henry the VII, all the old churches were seized and converted the Protestantism. The Irish Catholics really had a chance to build magnificent churches in the 19th and 20th centuries. (Submitted on July 18, 2023)

Exploring Rotorua, New Zealand

Submitted by Stepfanie Stapf on the 2023 summer session program in New Zealand and Australia…

Walking along a bridge during a zip-lining Canopy Tour in Rotorua, NZ

Hamilton, New Zealand has been my home for the last week. Every day has consisted of a new experience, and I am happy to say that new friendships have arisen as well. The time change was definitely apparent, as New Zealand is 16 hours ahead of the United States!

Due to the reversal of the seasons, the weather here has been a bit chilly, but this has not stopped us from being outside. One of the most memorable activities so far has been black water rafting through Waitomo cave. I had never been rafting before, so this was quite the first experience. We had to jump off of running waterfalls and float through complete darkness. I was terrified in the beginning, but the confidence of the tour guides and the closeness of our group allowed me to put full trust into the process. When we entered the deepest part of the cave, we looked up and saw thousands of glowworms luminating all that was above. I do not think that I would have embarked on this activity on my own, and I am so fortunate to have done so with the new friends I have made during this trip.

Although our excursions have granted me with the adventure and excitement I was looking for, they have also introduced me to a wealth of knowledge. We visited Te Puia, which is a historical site that houses an institute dedicated to indigenous art and history. There is also a Kiwi bird conservation and a beautiful array of geysers that can only be seen through entry into the institute. These natural attractions have encouraged visitors like us to come and learn about indigenous culture, as well as fund their efforts. Later in the week, we went zip-lining, and learned that our funds for this activity also contributed immensely to rainforest conservation efforts. Previously, I always had a slight feeling of guilt for being a tourist. However, knowing that my presence in these facilities was actually helping them stay open and thrive reminded me of the importance in supporting these remarkable organizations. When I return to the United States, I want to take the extra step of ensuring that the activities I do benefit the greater good, and aren’t just for fun – because plenty that offer both do exist! (Submitted on July 27, 2023)

Last Week in London

Submitted by Moira Gervay on the 2023 summer session program in London, England…

Standing in front of Abbey Road Studios

My last week in London is very bittersweet. I had such an incredible time on this trip, and I’m sad to be leaving. I learned so much, both about myself and the culture I was immersed in. 

Our last week mostly consisted of working on our final projects and cramming in any last-minute visits that we wanted. On Monday, we visited Pentagram as a group. Pentagram is a global design agency comprising 22 partners stationed at various locations. Each partner has their own design team, and the agency is run entirely by them, including the business side. I loved this visit, as it gave me insight into how an agency can run on such a large scale while staying fairly in-house. I hope to open my own design agency one day, so the advice we received was super helpful and interesting.

Later that same day, we visited Abbey Road. While it was cool to walk across the crosswalk that the Beatles did, it was very dangerous to do so considering how many cars are trying to drive through on their afternoon commutes. All the tourists are such nuisances in their eyes. It was cool to see Abbey Road Studios, even if just from the outside. I’m a huge music fan, and I often incorporated it into my design work.

We spent our last day shopping up a storm trying to cover all of our friends and family’s souvenirs. We returned to Borough Market in the early afternoon to get some lunch. I got more chocolate-covered strawberries. I think they were one of my favorite parts of this trip. After Borough, we took the tube to Portobello Road to keep shopping. I found some perfect gifts for my friends and even scored a red leather jacket for myself. I always have fun chatting with the shop vendors and digging through piles of old things. I wish we had more markets like this in Delaware!

Overall this trip was unforgettable. I gained so much knowledge and insight (and an additional 5 pounds added to my suitcase from all the gifts), and I look forward to taking what I learned and applying it to my final year at the University of Delaware. (Submitted on July 9, 2023)

Picture of me and my flatmates as we wait outside before one of our final presentations.

Fun in Volterra and Florence

Submitted by Courtney Hicks on the 2023 summer session program in Volterra, Italy…

I have landed in Italy. I don’t think I have processed it but there are many emotions and feelings running through me. I arrived at the airport and waited for my group in arrivals. I was super nervous. Once they arrived I felt a bit shy and left out, which is very different for me as I am a very outgoing personable person. But since I know no one, I kept to myself till we were on the bus. A girl named Olivia sat next to me and a simple hi has taken us from strangers to inseparable friends. The bus ride to SIAF I was trying to take in everything I saw. It was so different from the US. It was quiet, historical and most importantly beautiful. Looking out the window makes you realize the importance of location and where you are in life. Once we arrived I was eager to check out where we were staying. This is where Liv and I met up with more students in our group and wandered around campus. It was so nice and peaceful and the view is something I would have never expected from a campus. I couldn’t believe I got the opportunity to be able to learn, explore and enjoy such a well known country. I thought our first day we wouldn’t be going anywhere but we got to tour the city of Volterra, our first Italian town. It felt like I was in a movie. The sites were unreal and there were so many people. This is when I was able to start listening to people talk around me and see how others communicate. It was fascinating. I know for this being my first day, I was in for a real adventure that will broaden my horizons in all aspects. I had to remind myself, I was in Italy. (Submitted on June 11, 2023)

We are off. 9:30 and the bus is off to Florence. As I was half awake on the inside I was nothing more but excited to go back to this lively city. I landed in Florence Monday, June 5th one day before the trip started. Because of this, I had a day to admire a few of the monumental attractions. Friday, June 9th I was able to go back and finish what I have started accompanied by my classmates and friends. We were able to go on this excursion, an in-depth tour of the building of this city and how it became such a tourist attraction and crowded city. Then as 5:30 started to approach Fanta, Shams, Lydia, Olivia, Liv, Dayana, Sarah, and Camielle meet for a vegetarian dinner to end the day. It was very peaceful and a way to get close to each other on more than a student-to-student level. After that was the trip to the hostel. Where I experienced a new adventure. Who would have thought I would be sleeping under the same roof in the same room as people I have never met before? Crazy. It was an experience that I hope to try again. Meeting new people, hearing their stories, and understanding their ways for a short time was fascinating. Not only was Italy giving me a different perspective on life but we’re the people I was meeting in and outside of the trip. 

Two nights in Florence will always be one of the most memorable memories I acquired here. I got to spend my weekend with fellow females on this trip without the distraction of male humor and comments. I was able to take in the atmosphere, and admire the different fashions and pricing compared to Volterra. One complaint that I noticed straight away was how much of a tourist town that was and the number of employees that worked in all the local stores who spoke and understood English. The values these locals had for Volterra differed drastically. Many are money oriented in Florence because of the takeover of tourism, which Volterra is very community-orientated. This I noticed while I browsed the aisles of each clothing and retail store I entered. It was an opportunity and learning experience I wouldn’t change for the world. I wonder what’s in store for next week. (Submitted on June 18, 2023)

Beyond the Pale 

Submitted by Danny Maney on the 2023 summer session program in Ireland…

Visiting Malahide Castle

The second week in Ireland has been very eventful and jam packed with new experiences. We have settled into more of a routine and the streets of Dublin have become more familiar to me. One thing that has stood out to me this week is just how old everything here is. For example, we visited the Book of Kells, the oldest Bible in Ireland as well as the Trinity College library. In contrast to America, where the oldest things are 400 years old at most, there are a lot of things in Ireland that are significantly older than that. And the fact that they just sit on a college campus akin to UD is so cool. While the Book of Kells was relatively small, it was still very pigmented and impressive. It made me think about how these people crafted such a thing when they did not have access to modern technology and how painstaking it must have been. 

One of the other excursions that we went on this week was to Malahide Castle, which is in the northern part of Dublin. This is by far my favorite experience thus far, I felt it was something out of the Netflix show Bridgerton. The tour guide explained to us how the castle used to be used for balls and that the ladies would have to avoid the fireplace as it would melt their beeswax makeup and it would cause them to need a touch up. This is where the phrase “mind your own beeswax” comes from. I didn’t realize that there were even castles in Ireland, but due to its complicated history with England it makes sense. There were also beautiful gardens on the grounds that we walked around.

A herd of dairy cows, spotted on the train back from Waterford 

The reason why I titled this post as beyond the pale is because this week we took a trip to Waterford in the south east of Ireland. This term comes from the original English occupation of Ireland in the middle ages where the area surrounding Dublin was the only place that was under English control and it was referred to as “the pale”. Everywhere else was known as the “wilds” as it was controlled by the native Irish people. The reason I wanted to talk about this trip was because of what I noticed on the train there. We passed many pastures full of beef and dairy cattle, as well as sheep and horses. The proximity of these pastures together as well as the mixing of species are practices that I have not seen in America. On UD’s Webb farm each of the herds has their own pasture and they rotate accordingly. I think that the reason they do this is because of the lack of space. America has endless pasture land whereas in Ireland it is probably limited, so it makes economic sense to keep animals closer together. I would really like to learn more about Irish livestock keeping practices while I’m here as this is the area I am interested in studying in veterinary school so I will be sure to add more in subsequent posts if I learn anything more. 

Wrapping up, there is still a lot of adjusting I need to do to become accustomed to living in Ireland. There are a lot of social cues and norms that I struggle picking up and this sometimes leads to awkward situations of not understanding people. For example, ordering stuff at restaurants is particularly difficult. One morning I went to starbucks with my friends and I said my usual order and I got something slightly different. I also struggle with a lot of general anxiety and homesickness while I am here. I realized that I have never been so far away from my family and friends in my whole life and it is quite jarring. As the trip goes on, this is just something else I need to become adjusted to. (Submitted on June 24, 2023)

The Chronicles of Italy: Coffee, Fear, and Portofino

Submitted by Jack Roff on the 2023 summer session program in Volterra, Italy…

Getting coffee in Siena

After returning from Rome, we went to the town of Siena and spent about the first hour of our time there getting drenched in the rain. Despite this, I still loved the town because to me it looked like a cross between Volterra and Florence. Exploring the town was a real highlight for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it despite it being so wet. However, the real joy for me from this trip came from the feeling I got while I was there, which I would describe as a feeling of belonging. I don’t think this word fully encapsulates what I’m trying to convey but it works well enough. What I mean is that as I walked through the town I felt as though I had a better understanding of the town and what it meant to be there. In the first few days at Volterra, I was uncomfortable. A foreign traveling novice in a richly cultured ancient town trying to interact with locals and understand customs. But by this time in the trip, I had been around Volterra many times and had even navigated my way through Rome. Walking through the streets of Siena I felt as though I belonged there. One of the best examples of this is when I went to get coffee from a little coffee shop just off the town center. I have had to get used to the coffee culture in Europe. In the U.S. not only are all the sizes bigger and more complicated (filled with extra ingredients like sugar), but the entire way you drink coffee is different as well. In coffee shops, you walk up to a bar order a coffee and then you are given it in a small cup that you drink there on the spot. There is no sitting and talking. You get it, drink it, and go. At this point, I felt like a local because I was able to go up to the barista and order the coffee without seeming lost or confused. While it seems strange to me that you wouldn’t sit and talk to friends over coffee going to enough of these coffee bars gave me an idea as to why the quick coffee culture exists. My current experiential understanding is that coffee is not a social drink in Europe (at least where I’ve been). Instead, This is replaced by the wine that is drunk not to become intoxicated but is meant to pair well with food and perhaps open up the conversation. To me, this explains the difference, wine became culturally recognized as a European social beverage long before coffee was really introduced and therefore coffee is used more as a quick “pick me up” while wine is considered a social drink. This connected with Europe’s history as coffee migrated from Ethiopia to Yemen and became the middle east’s social drink because Muslims were not allowed to drink wine. Coffee was not introduced to Europe until much later, possibly explaining the difference. This is a concise and seemingly unimportant topic but as someone with an interest in coffee, it was a really interesting revelation to have. 

A picture of the Christian Church while we were floating above the statue of Jesus.  

On the ship, one of my favorite experiences was going ashore in Portofino. The area is beautiful, packed with the houses and boats of the super-rich, and there are some ridiculously cool things to do while you are there. The first thing my group and I did was walk through town until we got to a road that led to steps that led us up and into the mountainous area of the town. Even for someone who often hikes the sheer amount of stairs and elevation gain (650 feet) in that short period of time was challenging. What was even more challenging to get over was that there are people who live up in that area and farm. What I thought was a hiking trail was a thin road used to connect the town to the houses in the mountains. As we walked, we talked about what it must be like to live up there, joking about what a man’s wife would say if he walked all the way up from the town store only to realize he had forgotten milk. We decided that those who live up there must be self-sufficient in order to live. This line of thought led us to the idea that perhaps the locals who lived up there didn’t have farms simply so that they could sell their crops, but also because perhaps they needed them to survive. This could be the case or perhaps it’s just the thoughts of four comparatively soft Americans who need to get out more. Beyond this, I encountered another challenge when we hired a captain to take us out on a boat for an hour so we could see a 15th-century church and snorkel on an underwater statue of Jesus. This experience was a dream come true for me as I had never snorkeled before and despite being a swim coach, had never swam in deep water. Jumping into the water I was filled with amazement, happiness, and fear. I could fish swimming around me in every direction. I was living some people’s dream, snorkeling in the Mediterranean. I swam down into the water and saw the 2-meter-tall statue of Jesus about 20+ meters down. I really didn’t know what to feel. I felt amazed at how beautiful and cool the statue was but was also so unnerved by seeing a mysterious human-like object sitting at the bottom of the ocean. How could a symbol of love also inspire so much anxiety? Perhaps I just have a fear of the unknown of the deep ocean. In any case, as time in the water went on I became used to the statue and remembered how privileged I was to be doing what I was doing and that thought got me over the worry. If someone else were in my shoes they wouldn’t spend their time being worried about something so cool. I can easily say that going out on that boat was one of the best decisions I have ever made on this trip. 

Reflections on Fortezza Medicea

Submitted by Dayana Lara on the 2023 summer session program in Volterra, Italy…

Today as a class we visited the prison in Volterra called Fortezza Medicea. I was very excited yet intimidated when I was reminded of our visit while looking at the class schedule. This is because I have never been inside a prison prior to this so I was curious about what it would be like and was also interested to hear about how the prison functioned versus how it functioned when it was first built and operated as a prison. Once we were inside the prison we met with the warden who explained to us the history of the prison and the infrastructure of the building which was very interesting to learn about. The prison staff explained to us that in the history of Fortezza Medicea there was only one woman prisoner and she was sentenced for having an affair. Although this was unfortunate to hear that someone was sentenced so harshly for having an affair I did not find it surprising for the time period of the event as women have historically been disadvantaged and oppressed. The staff also explained to us that in the prison, there used to be what was considered a VIP prisoner. I was curious about what made someone a VIP prisoner and if there were any in the prison today. I wondered about this because I was under the assumption that every person would be treated equally in prison despite their crimes or sentences. I asked the staff and they explained that a VIP prisoner was one who was allowed to enjoy certain privileges not permitted by the prison rules and regulations. They also stated that today there were no VIP prisoners. Touring the prison was very eye opening as I learned that they operate very differently in Italy versus how they operate in America. For example, Fortezza Medicea focused on rehabilitation rather than in punishment and they intended for the prisoners to be integrated into society and work in Volterra as cooks, waiters, cleaners. There are also art classes, theater and sculpture classes and cooking classes offered to prisoners. This is something that I rarely hear about in prisoners in America and I believe that this is a more helpful approach and I wish that the United States had a similar approach. At the prison we also encountered dogs outside and we learned that they were therapy dogs. I found this very important as a Human Services major who hopes to go into therapy or social work after graduation. I strongly believe in the benefits of therapy and getting accurate help to resolve inner turmoil and help treat mental health conditions and I believe that this could prevent future involvement in crime. This made me think about the people who are in charge of  prisons in the United States and how they could move towards a prison system that values rehabilitation more. I was truly impressed by the leadership in Fortezza Medicea and their values and I hope to visit a prison in the United States to better compare them. (Submitted on June 14, 2023)

Exploring Italian Towns and Cities

Submitted by Ella Krudop on the 2023 summer session program in Volterra, Italy…

Views of Volterra

In the first week being here we started to explore right away. On the first day after visiting the bank and the museum, we walked around the town of Volterra. We sat down at a small restaurant and had some appetizers and drinks. It was interesting how different restaurant service is in Italy versus America. In America you usually get sat by a host and then your server is constantly coming up and checking in and giving their opinions on the food. In Italy, we just sit down and the waiter comes up, takes your order and that’s it. We enjoyed sitting outside and enjoying the nice weather and view and it was kind of nice not having a server come and check up on us, we were able to just sit and relax. We also did some shopping on our first day, mainly in the alabaster shops. I bought some jewelry for my mom and it was surprising how less expensive things are here versus America. The necklace I bought was around $7 USD, whereas in America I would expect it to be closer to $20 USD. It was interesting how well the locals could understand us, coming here with no previous knowledge of Italian, I was expecting it to be a little difficult to communicate. But instead, we were able to talk to the locals and workers in English, and they were able to understand and respond. We even asked some of the workers in the local shops questions about bathrooms, or foods, and they were all very helpful and were patient with us. In America, if someone doesn’t speak English it’s much harder for them to find help, and people often get annoyed and aren’t very helpful. After having such an eventful day, it has made me excited for the rest of this month and learning more about how different the culture is here. (Submitted during Week 1)

Exploring the cities

Today, we had an amazing day trip to the beautiful city of Siena, which was a refreshing change of scenery from our time spent in Volterra. To be honest, I didn’t have high expectations for Volterra initially. It was described as a small Italian town, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, over the past week, my perspective has completely shifted, and I’ve come to love this little town more than I ever imagined. When we first arrived in Volterra, I was a bit unsure about spending two whole weeks in such a small place. The drive through the outskirts of town didn’t give us much to go on, and I wasn’t sure what there was to see or do here. But as we explored the winding streets and stumbled upon the unique shops and charming restaurants, I quickly fell in love with the charm and character of Volterra. It has a special atmosphere that is hard to put into words. After visiting Florence for the weekend, while I loved the crowded streets and large city, reminding me of my home in Chicago, I found myself missing the small and quiet town of Volterra. Florence was fun with its busy streets and popular attractions, but it was also quite touristy, and I missed the authenticity of Volterra. Our visit to Siena further highlighted the unique qualities of Volterra. In Florence and Siena, I felt like I was often surrounded by very touristy places, and even some American stores that were chains and I had already been in 100 times. One of the main reasons I chose to visit Italy was the amazing culture that comes along with it, and being in Volterra I feel like the small shops and local establishments give it a genuine feel that is hard to find in larger cities. It feels like a place where the community is proud of its traditions and eager to share them with visitors. In Siena and Florence, we saw their Duomos, which were so beautiful and can’t compare to anything in the US. It amazes me the amount of detail and work they were able to put into them, even having fewer resources that we have today. Seeing the amazing landmarks of the large cities made me grateful we had the opportunity to visit these different cities. Learning about the annual horse races in Siena was also fascinating. While we had seen videos about them before, being in the main square and imagining the excitement and energy of the live event was something else. The smaller size of the square added to the thrill, as I could imagine the horses riding past, close to the crowds. As I reflect on our experiences, I am genuinely amazed by how much I have come to appreciate and enjoy Volterra. I’ve loved being able to talk and get to know so many of the locals and help me grow more as a leader. It has become a place that feels like home, even though we’ve only been here for a short time. Each day brings new discoveries and moments of awe as we continue to immerse ourselves in the rich culture and history that permeate this enchanting town. I am grateful for the opportunity to be here and excited for what the rest of our trip will bring. (Submitted during Week 2)

Visiting Volterra and Florence

Submitted by Dayana Lara on the 2023 summer session program in Volterra, Italy…

Roman theatre in Volterra, Italy 

Upon arriving at Volterra, I was filled with excitement about finally landing here. As this was my first time in Italy and I have heard many things about people’s experiences with visiting different parts of Italy such as Rome, Milan, Sicily, and Florence but I have yet to hear about someone else’s experiences at Volterra. I have also heard a lot due to the large representation Italy has in the media and pop culture. On the day of our arrival, we arrived early in the morning after traveling for many hours and having an overnight flight. On the first day at Volterra, I was experiencing an extreme case of jet lag and sleep deprivation but despite this, I was very excited to do a tour of Volterra and see all of the shops, museums, and restaurants and get an opportunity to speak to the locals. On the first day, we got the opportunity to see a few museums and churches, and my favorite church we visited was the Volterra Cathedral. It was very impressive to see as it is very historical dating back to 1117 when it was rebuilt due to an earthquake that destroyed most of the town. The interior was beautiful and the attention to detail throughout was captivating. I found myself in the museum for a while trying to take in all the details. In Volterra, the main language that is spoken is Italian and few people speak English fluently so I quickly realized the importance of learning phrases in Italian to better communicate with the locals. Thankfully later that day in class we had an Italian class that has assisted my ability to order at restaurants or when I visit shops, visit museums, and other activities where I interact with locals. My background in Spanish has also been helpful but this experience has emphasized the advantage of knowing a few phrases.

During class, one of the assignments was to ask a local what leadership means to them since that is the topic of the class I’m taking. Initially, the task seemed challenging due to my lack of fluency in Italian but with the help of the few phrases I was familiar with and with the help of google translate the interaction was a lot smoother. We decided to ask a local business owner that owns a wine shop. My group and I wanted to get to know him a bit so we asked him about how long he has been running his business and his favorite parts about it. This interaction was very wholesome as the owner Bruno, was very welcoming and friendly and was happy to speak to us about his perspectives and experiences. I hope to visit him again during my time in Volterra.
We had a day in Volterra where we had the opportunity to explore the town and this is when we saw the Roman Theatre. This was one of my favorite things I have seen during the week I have been in Italy. I was unfamiliar with the history but I learned that the theater was discovered in the 1950’s during archeological excavations of the ancient Roman city conducted by Enrico Fiumi. I also learned that it is one of the best-preserved Roman Theatres in Italy. I found this very interesting considering I was completely unfamiliar with it before my visit. It is incredible that I was in the presence of something so historical and it made me extremely curious about the people that lived there hundreds and thousands of years ago. It sparked my curiosity in learning more about their societies.

Primavera by Botticelli at the Uffizi gallery in Florence 

Since my first week at Volterra was coming to an end, I was excited about the group visit to Florence and the free weekend where I was able to explore a city of my choice on my own with a few other classmates that were also staying in Florence. I decided to stay in Florence for my free weekend due to practicality as I thought it would be easier to book a hostel in Florence instead of looking for transportation and housing in a different city. This was the best decision as I had the two best days and nights I could have ever imagined. It was a very amazing experience and although by the end of my weekend, I was exhausted since I was always on the go and walking everywhere I can say that the experience was worth it. I made amazing new friends at the hostel from all over the world who were either also studying abroad or were backpacking to different European cities. It was exciting to hear about their different experiences on their trips thus far and about their future adventures. In Florence, I decided to go to the Uffizi Gallery because I wanted to see the Birth of Venus and it was more beautiful in person. My favorite painting I saw that day was Primavera by Botticelli. I was unfamiliar with this painting but I learned that it was one of the most controversial and written-about paintings in the world. I also had the opportunity to try new foods and try a few Italian Vegetarian restaurants which felt very special because they were rare to find.

Overall I have had a more than amazing week and I am looking forward to what’s next in Italy! (Submitted during Week 1)

Learning New Things in London

Submitted by Moira Gervay on the 2023 summer session program in London, England…

Vintage Olivetti typewriter posters at the Design Museum.

It’s Week 2 in London, and I still feel like I am learning something new about the city daily. One new thing I noticed is that here in London, you have to pay to eat at some cafes or quick-grab restaurants. There is a slight upcharge depending on if you choose to sit down after your purchase or if you do take away. I’m unsure of the reasoning behind this because I never encountered it in Delaware. Another thing I have learned is that you must ask for “tap water” not to be charged for water on your bill. Coffee creamer is also very expensive here, so much so that my aunt mailed me some!

Despite these small differences, I am much more comfortable navigating the city. I’m a pro at the Tube now. The other day I accidentally got separated from my friends and managed to get to our destination perfectly fine on my own. It was very nice to venture off by myself. I got to reflect on how my trip was going and explore the area by myself before rejoining everyone again. It was very meditative, and I look forward to doing it more often. 

The coolest thing I experienced this week was Central Saint Martin’s 2023 Show. CSM is part of the University of the Arts London and is one of the most famous art schools in the world. We got to explore the final projects of the recent BA and MA recipients and find inspiration for our own work and upcoming senior show next spring. It was incredible to talk to students around my age about their work, and I found that many of them had similar interests as me. There is something truly incredible about meeting other designers and artists from all over the world and seeing people be as passionate about their interests as you are. It makes you feel less alone and proves that art brings people together. I’m so excited to continue to be inspired by this city and its people!

The entrance to Central Saint Martin’s BA Graphic Communication exhibit.