Tagged: study abroad

02 Jul

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Fanjeaux Pilgrimage

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All of the “pilgrims.” There were forty-three faculty, staff, and students representing eleven Dominican institutions.

On Memorial Day, I, along with A.J. LaPoint, assistant director of campus ministry, and two students, Stephanie Rivera and Ilci Valarde, flew to Fanjeaux, France to study medieval France, Saint Dominic de Guzman, and the Dominican order. Upon arrival we met the other members of our pilgrimage group, thirty-nine faculty, staff, and students from ten other Dominican institutions. Over the next two and a half weeks we discussed the Dominican charism and how it forms the shared foundation of the missions of Dominican colleges and universities.

Top: The town of Fanjeaux, France, taken from the spot where St. Dominic converted two Cathar assassins. Fanjeaux was home to St. Dominic from 1206 to 1215. It was our home base for the first two weeks of the pilgrimage. Bottom left: The Cathar fortress of Monsegur. The group started here and climbed our way to the top. The view of the Pyrenees is breathtaking. Bottom middle: The church of St. Mary at Vals. The original church was carved out of the stone. Over several centuries, the rest was constructed. Bottom right: A watchtower in Coulliure, on the Mediterranean Sea. The tower was painted by Matisse and the town features structures built by the Visigoths in the fourth century.

Fanjeaux was home to Dominic for nearly a decade.  In and around the village we saw Dominic’s home, the altar where he celebrated mass, the spot where he converted Cathar assassins, the convent of the original nine Dominican sisters, and at least three wooden beams claiming to be the one that was hit by the book during Dominic’s debate with a Cathar. I was privileged to be able to direct a quick rendition of The Miracle of Theophile, a French favorite, in the chapel space where Dominic preached. Even as a non-Catholic, it was moving to walk in the steps of Dominic.

Left: The remains of St. Thomas Aquinas at the Church of the Jacobins in Toulouse. Right: The altar in Fanjeaux where St. Dominic celebrated mass. The students were fortunate enough to perform a medieval miracle play in this space.

Most days included an excursion to an important site in Southern France. Some of the highlights for me were the Abbey at LaGrasse, the Church of the Jacobins in Toulouse that holds the remains of St. Thomas Aquinas, prehistoric cave paintings at Niaux, a falconry exhibit in the Pyrenees, and the Mediterranean Sea at Collioure. The trip was packed with places and things to see. At each location the leaders of the pilgrimage had every detail well planned and executed.

Left: The pyramid at the Louvre. I can now say I saw the Mona Lisa. Right: The interior of Sainte Chappell in Paris. The stained glass in this cathedral is stunning. As a friend said, it’s like standing inside a jewel box.

The last three days were spent in Paris. I went to the Louvre and the Orsay, but for me the highlight was the Comedie-Francaise. Being in the theatre that had been Moliere’s home was a real treat. I also walked through many Parisian neighborhoods and found a few unexpected gems. If you’re ever in Paris, look up Deyrolles taxidermy shop, you won’t be disappointed.

The Comedie-Francaise in Paris. This building hosted many of the great French playwrights, including Moliere. For a theatre professor, it was an exciting place.

The trip was only possible for me due to the incredible generosity of the Dominican Sisters of Hope. Their faith in the continuing mission of the college is now partially my responsibility to maintain and strengthen. In Fanjeaux we spoke a lot about the idea of midwifing; how the sisters at each of our institutions have helped give birth to something that is now in our hands. I hope I can do my part to continue their legacy.

A falcon seen at a birds of prey exhibit near the Pyrenees. Nearly every day included a trip to an historical or culturally significant spot in Southern France. The falconry show illustrated the hunting and gaming interests of medieval nobility.


James Phillips is the Assistant Professor of Theatre at the Mount.

To learn more about the Fanjeaux experience and find out how you can get involved, visit www.msmc.edu/fanjeaux

10 Apr

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A Life Changing Experience

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El Calor de Marruecos

You’ve probably seen all the flyers, the articles, and the ads for studying abroad. You may have even complained about those people who talk non-stop about their experiences abroad. Well, I have to confess that it will not stop. Once you study abroad, life becomes more exciting, and speaking about it is the only way to travel back. However, there is a reason to all this madness; otherwise, I would not be writing this to annoy you even more.

Lily in the sunStudying abroad is a life changing experience. While studying abroad in Granada, Spain, I realized something: there is a difference between vacationing and actually living somewhere. When visiting a country for vacation, you do not get to experience the culture, the places, and the people. A majority of vacation time is spent visiting the touristy places and ordering food similar to our own. While living in Granada for almost five months, I immersed myself in the culture, so that by the end of the experience, I felt I was part of the Spanish culture. Besides the touristy places, I visited the local area and met local people. I spoke Spanish 24/7 with my host mom and I ate authentic Spanish food which was a huge plus. Most importantly, I had the opportunity to understand another country’s government, social problems, and traditions.

Why is this important? Learning to understand and interact with a different culture helps us to work better in a diverse environment. The ability to speak a different language helps you to become more aware of the world. In other words, you will become worldly and more marketable.

Embracing differences is rarely negative; in fact, it often strengthens and broadens our knowledge and skills. Another positive about studying abroad is that it teaches you to appreciate other cultures. I always knew I wanted to study abroad. Learning about other cultures always fascinated me. When I went to Spain, I was open to experience something different than my own. In fact, while in Granada, I participated in the University theater group, I volunteered in a senior center, I took flamenco classes, and on top of that, I was a full-time student at the university. The result: the best experience of my life so far.

Footprints

Studying abroad will ultimately enrich you with adventures and a great sense of independence. One thing I discovered in my journey abroad was my identity. There were many times when I reflected about my life, my goals, and where I was heading. I am clearer on where I want to go now. It was a journey full of surprises, challenges, and happiness.

Do not be afraid of the unknown. Go to the Study Abroad Office and learn more about what they offer. Search programs and talk to your relatives. Who knows, next year you might be on a plane going abroad for an amazing journey!


Liliana Peralta-Zapata, class of 2014, is a public relations major with a double minor in theatre and Hispanic studies from the Bronx, New York.

06 Mar

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Being a Tourist in London

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Weaver at Chelsea Football ClubHello loyal readers,

The past two weeks have been relatively hectic, but I am finally done with my first set of term assignments. I have also started constructing my final papers which are due at the end of term today. What have I been up to you might ask? Besides editing and revising my assignments, I have been embarking on a few exciting adventures.

I recently took a tour of the Chelsea Football Club, and no, this is not American Football.  I got to go out near the pitch and learn about how football began. Although I am not an avid fan, it was an amazing experience to see a stadium of such magnitude in London.

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27 Feb

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Canals, Cannolis, and Carnevale: My Weekend Journey to Venice!

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View from the Grand Canal during the Vaporetto del Arte tour

Mount student Jillian Torre is currently studying abroad in London, England for the spring 2013 semester.

One of my favorite things about living in London is its proximity to everywhere else in Europe. Where else in the world are there so many different cultures, all with their own unique history, sandwiched into such a small geographical space? I came here fully intent on seeing as many of the world’s greatest cities as possible, and blowing every last cent in the process. I quickly booked trips to Italy, Scotland, Paris, Greece, and Ireland. I didn’t expect the start of my travels to come so quickly, but sure enough, Venice has come and gone.

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06 Feb

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Dancing in Dublin, Sailing through Stonehenge, and Basking in Bath

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S. Weaver at Stonehenge, Circus

Guilty as charged. I apologize for not writing to all of you last week. It was a crazy one. I got home from Dublin on Monday and ran to my Shakespeare lecture on Richard II (it is not my favorite Shakespearean piece, but it is a perfect example of a history play). This week was paper week for me. I wrote two seven-page papers, and while I enjoyed writing them, it’s refreshing to have a little bit of a break to edit them before they are due in two weeks. I apologize, I am forgetting myself. Let me tell you about Dublin.

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