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Matt Frise

Europe 2010 preparing to launch.

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Park Hall (SSU’s main campus building) is abuzz with activity as another SSU team prepares to leave this Sunday for their European study-abroad term. Four members of Faculty, three Staff, three Assistants and 32 students are making their last preparations for a two-month study tour of Western Europe. Students will visit world class cities in Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and the U.K.  They will be exploring galleries and  museums, cathedrals and architectural icons, important landmarks, and historic sites.

Follow along this summer as students and Faculty post about their adventures in education.

Those Rasenberg boys…

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SSU students and brothers Jonathan and Aaron Rasenberg are often found exploring and adventuring whether at home or abroad. Here’s a gallery of some of their latest adventures in South East Asia with friends Laura Copping and Nicola Gladwell.

(Photos courtesy of Jonathan Rasenberg)

SSU at NWU – Laoag City, the Philippines

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The St. Stephen’s University Study-Abroad team is safe and sound at Northwestern University near Laoag City in the Philippines. This is the first location among several stops for this semester’s Southeast Asian term. Here are a few photos taken at a recent mixer between St. Stephen’s University and Northwestern University students.

(Photos courtesy of Northwestern University student Jerico de Castro.)

Austria, Prague, and Germany

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the SSU team has travelled through Zell Am See and Vienna in Austria and through Prague in the Czech Republic and are now situated in Munich, Germany´s Bavarian capital.

In Austria, students experienced beautiful scenery, Vienna coffeehouses, and took in an oprea in the cradle of Western classical music. Some visited the burial site of great composers such as Schubert, Beethoven Brahms and a monument to Mozart. Students also had there first significant taste of football fever: Austria vs. Germany packed Vienna with supporters for both teams.

Explorations in Prague was a first taste for SSU of Eastern Europe and new territory for the Europe study term.  Our time revealed a beautiful town that has been somewhat overrun with the growing tourist industry there. Nevertheless, students had some more experience of life during the the communist regime and some saw a world class production of the ballet “Swan Lake.”

Prayer concerns are happily few beyond the general weariness of reaching the trips midpoint.

Venice – a floating city of pirates

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Students learned yesterday about Venice and the many treasures and historic pieces stolen over the years of the Renaissance by the climbing city state.  This morning was an experience also in kind: Trip leaders Dr. Peter Fitch and Mary Ellen Fitch awoke to find that Mary Ellen’s bag had been stolen in the night from their tent while they slept. Her bag contained all of her valuables, including her camera, mp3 player, gifts she had bought, and a large sum of money. Other students also reported have their tents opened in the night. 

While the Fitches travelled to the local police station, SSU students searched the campsite for any possible clues or remains of the bag. Students eventually discovered a small hole in the outer perimeter fence and were able to crawl through, finding almost everything covered up with grass in various smaller piles. The money was gone, but all of the Fitches other possessions were recovered. Mary-Ellen is delighted to get her camera with all of its Europe photos and her iPod especially. Please continue to pray for our safety as we journey through these campsites that are not always as secure as we would like them to be.

Today, we head for Salzburg Austia, echoes of the theme from Sound of Music already beginning to build.

Venice = water

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Yesterday, the group had a great day exploring Asissi under hot sunny skies. The students were asked to find out two things: 1. the significance of the Tau cross often associated with Francis, and 2. something interesting about Francis that they did not know before. The winners for best answer by group vote would get a free pizza per question. The group discussion that ensued went long into the evening and ended with a short time of worship singing and arrangement of St. Francis’ prayer “Lord make me an instrument of your Peace” by Holli Durost.

Today we made our way to Venice and sett up our tents just in time to be deluged with some of the heaviest rain we have experienced on the trip. After huddling under shelter to eat supper most retreated to their tents our the campsite pub. The inside of our tents mostly managed to stay more wet than dry.

Tomorrow The SSU team will explore the waterways of the floating city of Venice, taking in piazza San Marco with its Duomo, art galleries such as the Fuori, and the beauty that is present everywhere in the city.

A Peace of Assisi

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The SSU travel team arrived in Asissi yesterday evening after some delays that were nerve racking for student Charles Carmody who lost the keys to his rented scooter and would be required to pay 200 Euro if they did not materialize. Fortuantely the keys were found all rolled up in his tent mate’s sleeping bag. Meanwhile, the rest of the group enjoyed their first and last taste of honest Sorrento sunshine while drinking cappucinos, and were appreciating the delay so much that bus driver Chris offered to ‘lose the keys’ for awhile. Nevertheless, we were off down a bumpy road into Italy’s interior and the quiet little town once home to St. Francis called Asissi.

Last night we were treated to night off cooking in the campsite restaurant with a meal of lasagne followed by Guinea fowl and potatoes braised with basil and a panna cotta for dessert, all while watching the Netherlands soundly defeat Italy 3-0 in a Euro cup match on the big screen TV. Most slept soundly after our adventures in Sorrento (our “rest” stop).

Students are presently taking in a lecture by Dr. Margaret Anne Smith on the C.S. Lewis novel Until We Have Faces for their mythology and literature course. Later in the afternoon we will explore the town of Asissi and the haunts formerly of St. Franicis and now of the Franciscan monks who continue in his legacy.

Sorrento – the happy place

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A recuperative spot on the trip, students Faculty and Staff are at last enjoying a long awaited “no program day” in Sorrento, the gateway to the Amalfi Coast. Some of the team are using the day to swim the some of the bluest waters the Mediterranean has to offer just below our campsite and catch up on their journal assignments. Others are renting scooters for the day to explore Amalfi. Not having the nerves of steel required to drive on the Amalfi Coast, I plan to take the bus and do lunch with SSU friend Robyn English and SSU Faculty members and perhaps catch a ferry back.

Yesterday was a great program day despite intermittent pouring rain, mud everywhere, and a plague of ants that made us all wonder if we were remembering Sorento incorrectly as “the happy place.” Our guide Bartolo introduced students to the ancient city of Pompeii and the modern culture of the area surrounding Vesuvius on a walking tour of the city’s ruins. Students walked on ancient Roman city streets, saw the largely intact remains of shops, houses, and public baths, and saw plaster casts of the preserved remains found of the victims from Vesuvius’ last blast.  After exploring the site, students were taken into Naples to see the treasures of Pompeii being preserved there, such as statuary, mosaics, metalwork and glassware.

Prayer concerns to date include Kara Thiessen who stepped on a sea urchin yesterday and still has 15 or 20 nasty spines thoroughly lodged in her foot. Also Dr. Margaret Anne Smith and Staff member Kendall Kadatz have been experiencing ongoing headaches for the last couple of days and would appreciate some relief. Off to do lunch in Ravello!

Arrivederci Roma

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The team is packing up as I write and preparing for the scenic drive to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. Students have had two intense days of experiencing the Roman and Papal treasures available here in the Eternal city. On the first day students were taken to see the forum, the Collusseum, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps, then left to explore some on their own or just sit poolside back at camp and enjoy some of our first truly hot sunshine. The next day was mostly spent in Vatican city seeing the museum of ancient Roman, Greek, and Etruscan works and Renaissance paintings such as “the School of Athens” by Raphael and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Following the Museum students explore St. Peter’s Basilica and some climbed up to the top of the dome for an impressive view of the city.

The past couple days have also added to our numbers. Robyn English and Dave Levangie arrived from Canada to meet us in Florence and Dave Warne (fiancee to student Zoe Fitch) joined us on our first day in Rome. Packing with this additional gear will be a challenge because we are already packed to the gunnels and there is not a seat to be had on the bus now. Please pray for a miraculous bending of the laws of physics!

Student’s Staff and Faculty are still pretty weary and our looking for a relaxing time in Sorrento – our official R and R spot. I’ll write another post from there.