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Showing posts from June, 2010

Capitoline Hill

Our class walked to Palazzo Farnese on Capitoline Hill today to learn about their family. The Farnese house rose from obscurity to nobility by aligning themselves to marry with aristocratic noblewomen. We also were able to view a couple of their commissioned architectural works and antiquities in the museum on Capitoline Hill. Thanks to our art history instructor, we were able to get into the museum for only two euros instead of the base admission fee of eleven euros. This meant more money for gelato later on in the evening.


In addition to mythological bronze castings and marble statuettes, the museum also showcased the Temple of Jupiter, which was once considered the most important temple in Rome. The rear of the underground tabularium provided an amazing view of the Roman Forum. Spelunking the foundations of the temple allowed for a better understanding on the ancient Roman perspective of the Gods.

Escaping gunfire and bloodshed

Yesterday, in addition to visiting the Vatican, I volunteered at the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center as a part of a service learning component for my class on global migration. A group of students and I started the morning by passing out tea and bread to these refugees, many of which came from counties like Afghanistan and Iran near the Middle East. We also spent time in a classroom teaching these refugees basic skills. In addition to teaching the English language, I taught refugees their multiplication tables and computer proficiency. I was also able to interview Aweiz Isa, a refugee from Somalia, to learn about his personal accounts on migration.

Aweiz was born in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. He recently came to Italy in 2009 as a refugee result of the ongoing civil war in his native country (Somalia's government declared a state of emergency in June of 2009, resulting in military intervention from neighboring countries). He first hand witnessed the gunpoint murder of his best …

Fugitives in the Vatican...

Having cooked/consumed an equivalent of five consecutive bowls of pasta last night, I carbo-loaded myself for today’s trip to the Vatican. Vatican City is the world’s smallest country, and it is surrounded by a thick brick barricade within Rome. The line to even get into the Vatican was ridiculously long; luckily our instructor was able to get us “reservations.” Initially, we were asked to leave the Vatican because of protocol issues, and some students thought that we would get deported like fugitives! Luckily, our professors were able to handle the situation; they truly go the extra mile for us. I was really surprised by the amount of security present—i.e. metal detectors, Swiss guards, etc. Then again, it’s where the Pope lives, and safety is a must.

We toured the museums of the Vatican via headsets—this communication was sort of telepathic in a sense, and our art history instructor served as an informative tour guide. We went through exhibits that covered paintings and sculptures f…

I need my gelato. Stat.

One of my favorite aspects of Italy is the authentic gelato. This frozen dessert is similar to ice cream, but it’s much richer in flavor (not to mention less fat and sugar content). Gelato comes in either a cup or a cone and its flavors widely range from creams to nuts to fruits. There are so many gelato shops in Rome; there’s practically one every corner. The dessert has to be eaten very fast outside because it melts rapidly under the searing weather. It can serve as a cheap, standalone snack or a perfect compliment to any meal.

Here’s a list of the flavor combinations I have tried thus far (matched with people back home):
Vanilla + Chocolate = Traditional (Blanca, Shanny)Raspberry + Mango = Tangy Touch (Sundona)Blackberry + Lemon + Whipped Cream = Acidic (Heng, Gavin)Pistachio + Rice Pudding = Subtly Asian (Ryuji, Joanna)Mint + Turon = Silent Kicker (Stephanie)Hazelnut + Nutella = Brown Zest (Troy, Crystal)Orange + Milk = Youthful Youngins (Carsen, Michael)Fudge + Chocolate Chip = Ro…

Mediterranean coast

Finally: it’s Saturday. All week we were looking forward to visiting Ostia Antica and its nearby beaches. We first entered the ruinous city through its necropolis and headed toward the central forum (which had an ampitheatre). Ostia had a great bathing complex that was operated by the Ancient Romans. Back then, public baths were a social norm; women would bath in the morning while men bathed in the afternoon. There were multiple chambers, floored with mosaic tiles, dedicated to cold pools, hot saunas, sun rooms, etc. The baths were their version of a modern day gymnasium; it was a place where Romans conducted their social business.


The highlight of the day was the time spent at the beach. Before heading out to swim, students changed into their swimming gear and spread out their sunbathing towels along the very hot sand. Having been in Rome for over a week, everyone has become considerably tanner. During our beach relaxation, we were constantly bombarded with the beachcombing hustlers …

Nude, not naked

My art history class spent a large portion of today walking to different riones, or regions, of Rome. We began at the Roman Forum to finish off the unit on Imperial Families. We noted Trajan’s Column and how it reinforced its reader to remember his life by reading his res gestae, or a visual depiction of his accomplishments, on a spiral tower. After a brief lunch break, we headed toward the Ponte Sisto Bridge for a brief introduction to the della Rovere Family. It was interesting to learn that even the Popes in this period of time were corrupt and governed the papacy with nepotism (favoring close friends family members).

We then headed to the church of Saint Peter in Chains and saw one of Michelangelo’s sculpted masterpieces: Moses. It was originally commissioned by Pope Julius II for his very own tombstone. Fun fact: as soon as you become a pope (or even the President of the United States), one of the first tasks you must focus and prepare for is your funeral. Unfortunately, Pope Jul…

Class notes

Today, Thursday, was one of the more uneventful days in Rome. (Everything fun and recreational happens on the weekends, and our art history class has visits Roman monuments every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This leaves Tuesday and Thursday to be filled with indoor classes on migration/markets and Islam/Italian cities. Even though these classes take up the majority of the day, their topics are very interesting to study as a lot of the material taught in these classes overlap with one another. Themes of memory, unification, and governmental failure reoccur in our daily readings and class discussion.
I have come to love the UW Rome Center. Students study on the third floor and it has become my new home—sort of like how Odegaard Library was there for me last quarter at UW. I study much better at the center than at my apartment because of the noise reduction. The center is very airy and has great balcony views of the city. The design of the roof terraces and church domes in the skyline r…

I bring you peace

Art history class started later than usual today, and the class took a scenic walk to the more northern side of Rome. Under the intense heat rays, we made our way to Ara Pacis Auguste, also known as the Altar of Augustan Peace. On 13 BC, it was commissioned by the Senate of Rome to honor Augustus’ victories over Spain and France and served as a symbol of peace during his reign.

The newest building to be constructed in Rome since the last 50 years, its modern look interestingly juxtaposed itself with the significantly older surrounding buildings. Many Romans found this building controversial for this very reason. With the instillation of water-flowing walls and double glass window panes, the contemporary architecture of the building simply appeared out of place.

Regardless, Ara Pacis itself was a wonder. Composed of white marble, the altar was once a place where sacrifices were performed. Emperors, priests, and vestal virgins would slaughter large animals as offerings to the Gods. The …

Migration stories

Professor Friedman taught our morning class today, focusing on the subject of migration, markets, and minorities in the New Europe. We were to visit the Joel Nafuma Center for refugees to learn more about these issues. To get there, we had to purchase two (one euro each) tickets for the bus ride to and from the center. The public transportation system was strikingly similar to what we had in Seattle. The buses were so crammed that some members of the class couldn’t fit, and we had to leave them behind until they found the next bus.

Once everyone reunited at the Joel Nafuma Center, we met the priest in charge of the program and sat in the front rows of the upstairs church as he debriefed us with its history. Apparently, the refugee center was run in the crypts of Saint Paul’s Within the Walls. Earlier in the morning, we learned what differentiates a refugee from an immigrant: a refugee flees his native country to escape persecution. It was very interesting to discover that the Joel Naf…

At the heart of the Roman Forum

Today was our first day of the art history class and we covered a brief introduction to the Roman Imperial Families. Back then, Romans believed that any man could live forever through memory. This was why they had so many statues dedicated to their once-glorious leaders. With this in mind, our group took a lengthy—yet scenic—walk to the heart of the Roman Forum. It served as a marketplace during ancient times, and it was currently undergoing excavation. The ruinous place was laden with propaganda; monuments dedicated to the apotheosis of past leaders like Caesar contributed to the political deification of government leaders who would successively ascertain the throne. Not only would leaders like Augustus be worshipped by the plebes in prayer; their legacies would be remembered forever. However, memory of one’s existence could have also been forgotten through damnatio memoriae, a sentence prescribed by SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romanus, “The Senate and the People of Rome”). This resulte…

Time to focus...

Apparently the Italian desserts that I ate last night contained super-saturated amounts of caffeine, and I was stuck lying in bed awake for the majority of the night (even though my body was desperately tired). So I spent the rest of my morning working on the functionality of this blog (photos and videos are now updated). The morning was colder than usual, with clouds looming ominously overhead…

The majority of the class went to an optional trip to Porta Portese with Lisa, our art history professor. As Rome’s largest flea market, she warned us watch our pockets vigilantly for theft. And Lisa was right; I felt at least two different hands touch the proximity of my back pockets. Practically anything and everything could have been found at this market, though many of us questioned the authenticity of the more expensive items for sale. On our way back to the apartments, Molly, David, Bennett, and I were caught in a sudden rainstorm. Those dark grey clouds finally gave way to a heavy torre…

When in Rome…

After a restful ten-hour slumber, I woke up from my apartment with a “ready-to-go” attitude. The jet lag finally left my system. It was mid-noon already and I immediately went outside to explore what the outdoor markets in the Campo had to offer. The food here is surprisingly cheap; pizza/strawberries/loaves of bread/coffee cost just two Euros or less, and everything appears to have been made fresh. It was also interesting to discover the twists and turns of the streets of Rome. The alleyways are made of cobblestone and the drivers are not afraid to drive along the narrow paths. I swear that I have already had over ten CLOSE encounters with random cars and motorcycles. It’s a miracle that I’m still alive.

During the afternoon, I went with a couple of my peers to visit the Pantheon for the first time, a temple made for the Gods. The designs were very basic, but astounding at the same time. The wide oculus at the top of the dome was my favorite part of the site. The Romans were very cle…

Rome: I made it!

After a rocky start with all of the prior airport drama, things finally fell into place after my departure from Detroit to Rome. On the nine-hour flight, I managed to cram in basic Italian vocabulary and course readings assigned for the program. Between the intermittent naps and flight dinners, I also managed to watch “Invictus,” a movie I’ve been waiting to see for months. Once I landed, I met up with my professors and shared a cab ride back to the UW Rome Center.

After checking into my apartment in Campo de’Fiori, I met finally met up with my peers. Mauna, Molly, Rebecca, and Katie took me to an outdoor ATM, which apparently was the site where Caesar was stabbed to death. Later on in the afternoon, the class as a whole went to a nearby bar to watch the United States take on Slovenia during the World Cup. During the middle of the match, the bar experienced a blackout at a critical moment of the game (USA was behind 2-0)—I hope I didn’t bring my bad luck with me to Rome!

Due to the je…

A very rough start

After an unexpected round of unforeseen accidents, I missed my initial flight from Yakima to Seattle by just a couple of minutes. What a great way to begin a trip… I quickly decided to take the charter bus to Seattle anyways in hopes of transferring to a different flight schedule. It wasn’t until I was already half way to Seattle that I realized my passport was left back at the Yakima Airport. After many rounds of phone tag, I managed to have my passport forwarded to Sea-Tac airport on Horizon Air’s next flight to Seattle (which eventually got delayed to a later departure).

Once I arrived at Sea-Tac Airport, I stormed through a whirlwind of phone calls. I had to get a hold of my travel agents (Orbitz), my airline representatives (Delta), one of my professors at Rome (Lisa, though the call was unsuccessful), the UW Rome Center (left a voice message), and my peers (via text message) that I was going to be on a postponed flight schedule. I was literally on the phone for at least four hou…