Monday, August 10, 2015

Tayla Lugo (Class of 2017) received a Verrazano School Study Abroad Scholarship to take a class on the Medieval Renaissance in Florence, Italy. She spent a month extracting everything she could out of her experience, including traveling well beyond Florence.
My name is Tayla Lugo and I am a Verrazano Student and a double major in English Writing and Literature at the College of Staten Island. This summer I had the privilege to study abroad in one of the most amazing cities in the world: Florence, Italy. I went on a one month long Faculty-led program to learn about the Medieval Renaissance.
I learned about the Medici’s, who were one of the wealthiest families during the Renaissance period, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Donatello, Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, Savonarola, Brunelleschi, and many other prominent figures. My class and I went on many site visits, which included the Academia, the Uffizi, Palazzo Vecchio, a city walk around Florence, the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, the Horne Museum, and a visit to a Preschool in Florence. At the Academia I was able to view Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the David. The Uffizi, which is one of the oldest and most famous museum in the world, showcased Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus and The Primavera, as well as many other works by Raphael and Giotto. My favorite museum that we visited as a class was the Horne Museum because it is a secret treasure that is extremely undervalued. This museum once belonged to the Alberti and Corsi families and contains antique furniture and famous artworks.

Florence and beyond!
While in Italy I visited Pisa, Siena, Capri, Ana Capri, Sorrento, Positano, Cinque Terre, Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Venice, Murano, Burano, Rome, and Paris. Every city was different in its own way, which allowed me to have a greater appreciation for Italy. Studying abroad not only opened my eyes to the endless possibilities in the world, but has also allowed me to escape my comfort zone. I can honestly say that I have matured during this unique experience and my passion for traveling has awakened. I have made true, genuine friendships that will last a lifetime. Florence became my home in an instant and I cannot wait to someday return and maybe even study there again! I am forever grateful to the College of Staten Island for this amazing opportunity and for everyone who contributed to my dream of studying abroad. I hope that my experience will allow other students to inquire about studying abroad and open their minds to the many possibilities that are out there!

Monday, July 27, 2015

All roads lead to Rome. . .

Tayla Lugo (Class of 2017) reports from a very busy summer in Italy. While her course is based out of Florence, she has taken advantage of the opportunity to explore more of Italy with friends.
Ciao! My name is Tayla Lugo and I am studying abroad in Florence, Italy. This weekend ten of my friends and I traveled to Rome, Italy to discover the history of ancient Rome.
The first site my friends and I visited was the Trevi Fountain. Unfortunately, it is being restored but I was still able to throw some coins into the fountain and make a wish. Later on we went inside the Colosseum, which felt so surreal. I still cannot believe that I was there, standing in a huge stadium where gladiators once fought. My friends and I also visited the Pantheon, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican, and Sistine Chapel. When I walked into The Sistine Chapel my jaw dropped and I could not believe my eyes. After studying Michelangelo in class and learning about the Renaissance, it was a treasure and a gift to view Michelangelo’s work. I am so happy that it is forbidden to take pictures in the Sistine Chapel because no amount of pictures would ever be able to do his work justice. 
Tayla Lugo takes advantage of a summer study abroad class in
Florence to head further afield and explore Rome.
After our visit at the Vatican Museum, my friends and I watched a previous Mass by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square and took a plethora of pictures. We ate delicious pizza at Campo de Fiori and enjoyed each other’s company in Piazza Navona. I also raced my roommates up the Spanish Steps, which was a little hard considering there were over two thousand people there.
Rome was truly an unforgettable city where I was able to fulfill my goal of being in two countries at once: Italy and Vatican City. I am so thankful for this opportunity and for being able to travel all around Italy to places I always dreamt about when I was a little girl. I will always remember this amazing journey to Rome and all of the memories that were made here. As I write this blog I am realizing that I only have five more days in Italy. I plan on making the most of my time here while continuing to indulge in the Italian culture and cuisine!

Tayla Lugo

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Steven Arriaga (Class of 2017) has just joined the Verrazano School Honors Program. A study abroad experience changed his life and led him to more travel, and to Verrazano. In addition to studying English with a linguistics concentration, Steven will earn a minor in French, and some serious travelling credentials! 

A CSI/Italy Connection
My name is Steven Arriaga, a Verrazano student and Linguistics major at the College of Staten Island, and I’m currently studying abroad in Italy! Enrolled in an Italian Food, Culture, and Society course at Florence University of the Arts, this is officially my second time attending an overseas program (Vive la France!). Before arriving to Italy, I had the pleasure of traveling with my college mentor, Professor Tortora, where she presented our research project at the University of Iceland. Soon after, I enjoyed some time in my home country of Spain, anticipating a huge Barcelona soccer game among the Catalonians (nevertheless, Hala Madrid!). Aiming to visit ten countries before turning 21, I’ve been to Mexico, France, the UK, Belgium, Iceland, Spain, Italy, The Vatican (this totally counts), and will be going to Austria and Denmark before ending my journey in the City of Light. Although I return home in about 3 weeks, this trip has been nothing short of amazing. A unique program, we traveled during our first week throughout Italy before reaching the beautiful Firenze. Having visited various places including Rome, Viterbo, Populonia, and Viareggio, every city helped me appreciate the traditions that Italians so proudly represent. Although I have an utmost passion for French culture, Italy definitely gives them a run for their money and as an avid photographer, I’m making sure that I capture every breathtaking moment. We also cook and taste different Italian food and wine in class, so what’s not to love? I’ve had the pleasure of meeting students from other CUNYs as well as other states including Massachusetts and Tennessee. Best of all, however, is the fact that I’m slowly but surely picking up Italian as my fourth language! It greatly complements my major and goal to become a college professor, so this trip has already been worthwhile to say the least.

Travel is bliss.
      Studying abroad has definitely been the highlight of my college career and after working as a peer advisor at CSI’s Center for International Service for a year, my desire to continue traveling is greater than ever! I can’t begin to explain how much I’ve grown since I’ve begun traveling, but I can definitely say that I’m a more than twice the person I was a year ago. Europe is the place where I grew passionate for soccer, fine art, photography, literature and surprisingly, fashion, so it’s easily been the most influential time in my life. My future goals include winning a Gilman scholarship to return to Europe for a full semester before applying for a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship and there’s no doubt in my mind that these feats are possible! I could continue writing for hours about how life-changing Europe is but I have to start packing now for Vienna before going out for some amazing focaccia and gelato. Ciao!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Studying Abroad in Florence, Italy over the Summer

Tayla Lugo, Verrazano Class of 2017, has been waiting anxiously for this day since March. That's when she learned she had received a Verrazano Study Abroad Scholarship to attend a CSI course taught in Florence, Italy, over the summer. Read on to share her anticipation!
            My name is Tayla Lugo and I am a Verrazano Student at the College of Staten Island. This summer I am accomplishing something I have always dreamt of doing since I was a little girl: I am studying abroad. I am leaving on May 27, 2015 to study abroad in Florence, Italy.
            I have never been more excited about anything in my life. I also have never been out of the country before and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous. Thankfully, my excitement trumps my nervousness and I look forward to embracing this amazing experience. This is my first step in pursuing my dreams of traveling the world. I plan on traveling all over Italy and also to Paris, France while I am abroad. If you saw my room, you would know how obsessed I am with Paris because of all the pictures I have hanging on my walls.
            It is very important for me to experience the different cultures, languages, and traditions while learning about myself along the way. I hope to come home with a better understanding of the world and a deeper respect for the Italian culture. I cannot wait to get down with my Italian roots and learn more about where my family came from.
I am beyond grateful to the College of Staten Island, the Verrazano School, and everyone else who helped to make this journey possible for me. I am counting down the hours until I am in the land of pasta and gelato. This opportunity will shape the rest of my life and I cannot wait to share it with all with you!
The next time I will be writing to you all is when I am in Italy. How insane is that? I still cannot believe it. Someone needs to pinch me. By the way, packing for a month was such a challenge that I finally conquered after repacking a good three times. I am a girl and I tend to over pack when I go away for a week, let alone a month. I took pictures so you can all see how my wardrobe failed me and threw up all over my room. It was not pretty.
            I hope it will give you a good laugh!
Tayla Lugo


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mathematical Finance: A Verrazano Course Enrichment Project

Michael Siozios, Verrazano Class of 2015, did a special Verrazano course enrichment project in an upper-level mathematics course during the fall semester.  Read below to hear from Michael about what he learned from the course and the project.

Michael Siozios, Class of 2015
Hello, my name is Michael Siozios, and my majors are Mathematics and Finance. I am part of the Verrazano Class of 2015.

My Fall 2014 semester was awesome to say the least. I had a research experience unlike any other, in which I was lucky to witness, in action, all of the mathematics I’ve had exposure to my entire life. Thank you to the Verrazano Program for making this possible. I interacted directly with mathematical finance, utilizing the mechanics necessary for future study in financial engineering. My course material and the research project made me aware that the depth of knowledge necessary to be fluent in this field is vast.

I was able to see and understand a beautiful derivation of the Black and Scholes formula used to price options available for sale in the financial markets. The techniques used to price options are amazing. My favorite part of pricing options is that the methods financial engineers and banks apply hedge an option that writers position to be risk neutral in theory.  Hedging, in investment terms, means that investors use strategies and instruments to try to reduce or offset risk as much as possible. I see why the options market has grown over time to be a tremendous industry.

The course strategy was amazing and taught with passion, giving the class a great perspective on the material. We obtained a thorough understanding of the discrete elements of the course, and by employing methods learned in continuous probability, we were able to move into the continuous, and thus more realistic, world nicely.

Programming was a focus of my research outside of the classroom, and I analyzed and compared models designed to price options appropriately.  A “correct” option price eliminates arbitrage opportunities.  Arbitrage is when someone buys in one market and, at the same time, sells in another market without much, if any, financial risk. I learned that after many instances of time accounted for discretely using the binomial option pricing model, one may price options nicely. Otherwise, one may use the Black Scholes formula. Why am I interested in this material? It’s simple: options have been a key component in finance for a long time, and they allow individuals to hedge their investments. It has even given rise to other practices like option trading. These are business opportunities available to everyone, making it possible for individuals to have a diversified portfolio and a varied source of income.

An important lesson learned in my research experience is that there is no upper limit to the knowledge of programming I should obtain. Many individuals prefer some languages over others; however, knowing multiple programming languages can be extremely beneficial to someone in the field of financial engineering.

All in all, although the demands of my courses and research combined were extensive, this experience was excellent. I have far more knowledge than previously, and I’ve acquired information necessary for my future career.