Monday, January 30, 2012

Back from Australia

Lisa Migliorisi, Class of 2014, shares her final blog entry after returning from a month-long study abroad program in Geelong, Australia.

I love to travel. This program allowed me to experience a new place, with different people and customs. Most of my learning happened outside the classroom. Our constant planned and spontaneous field trips led us to nice and exciting places. The class itself taught us facts, but the experiences were much more exciting. My visits to Sydney, Melbourne, The Great Ocean Road, and Cairns were especially exciting.  I was able to experience all types of Australia – from cities, to mountains, to beaches, and of the course the world famous Great Barrier Reef.

Sunset over the Sydney Opera House

Wildlife of Australia

The country itself was beautiful and intriguing, but it became especially exciting because of the people I met. At CSI it is sometimes hard to make friends because it is not the type of school that people “hang out” at. But my apartment complex led me to friendships with some very special people. Since we spent the majority of time together, it was very sad when we had to leave. We all became such good friends that my trip may not have been as exciting without them. It was great to have them around so that I wasn’t constantly lonely. Being away from my family and friends was more tolerable because I had developed a family of my own.

Our usual stroll to school
The class I took taught me about many aspects of Australia. Aside from the usual history and politics, I learned about their homes – how the layout signifies the type of people living there: families, singles, college students. I was especially interested in Australian film. I recently declared a minor in film and I was eager to learn about Australian films. I found that the majority of Australian films were geared toward the ANZAC legend. The ANZAC myth/legend is the idea that the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps were fearless, strong, men who embodied strong patriotism. The physical identity is ever-changing but they still symbolize the same things. For my final paper I opted to write about ANZAC portrayal in Australia films. I felt as though by watching these films I understood more about Australian attitude that I did by reading a textbook.

Class held outdoors in the beautiful courtyard of Deakin University

Overall I felt this trip taught me more than I can fully understand. Just being out there traveling makes me want to start planning my next trip!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Spring Semester in Albany

Nicole Wallace, Class of 2013, is spending her spring semester as an intern with the New York State Senate.  She is the third Verrazano student in the past four years to participate in this internship in Albany.  Nicole will be sending updates on her experience in Albany throughout the semester.

My name is Nicole Wallace. I am currently interning for the New York State Senate in Albany at the Capitol. The first ten days of the internship was orientation. The orientation was a great way to learn the basics such as bill drafting, computer training and the major offices located in the capitol. Orientation was also a great way to meet friends and colleagues. After orientation my colleagues and I were assigned our offices. I am working in Senator Tom Libous’ office 9am-6pm Monday through Friday. However, on Thursday the Senate interns meet from 1pm to 5pm for lectures.

Nicole Wallace in the New York State Senate Conference Room

I think the New York Senate Albany internship is a great mix of academics and experience because on top of working in an office full-time, students are still able to gain academic knowledge through weekly lectures. In my office, I am currently in charge of Senator Libous’ Bill website in which I update the status of current bills the Senator is proposing. I also do some clerical work such as filing and answering phones. I enjoy the job very much.

The only negative aspect of the internship is its distance from home.  Albany is more than three hours away from my home in Staten Island.  I have my own apartment in Albany on State Street, and to compensate for my long distance from home I travel back to Staten Island each week using the Greyhound Bus Line.  The bus travel is much cheaper than driving, and the ride is quiet and enjoyable.  So far I've only been interning for a month.  However, I do have recommendations for those who are thinking about doing the Albany internship in the future.  First, if you're looking for an apartment, try and find something very close to the Capitol.  The weather in Albany is not exactly warm and even the short walk to work leaves me freezing.  There are two entrances to the building - one on State Street and one on Washington Ave.  So I suggest finding an apartment on either of those streets.

Spring 2012 New York State Senate Interns

Another recommendation is that if you are thinking about the internship, start saving money now.  It is a paid internship; however, you will not receive the first CUNY check until the last week in January and the first bi-weekly stipend check the first week in February. You will need to have saved at least first month’s rent and security and perhaps the second month’s rent as well. Even though I am not receiving the stipend checks as quickly as I planned and the distance from home is far, I do not regret participating in the internship. I’ve made some great friends so far and I’m gaining tons of experience and knowledge about New York State Senate and legislation.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Reflections from Australia

Lisa Migliorisi, Class of 2014, shares her thoughts on her first days in Australia.

As I stepped off the plane at the Melbourne airport my surroundings were nothing like that of all those beautiful landscape postcards I expected.  Highways and parking lots filled every crevice within miles of the airport.  The hour-long trip from Melbourne to Geelong was not an interesting one, but the following weekend we traveled down the famous Great Ocean Road.  The curves and swerves revealed peeks over the edge of cliffs down to the incredible beaches.  After catching a glimpse of the water, we experienced it first hand - but not without the Australian accessory: a surfboard.  As forty of us set out to surf - most of us for the first time - we were able to take one step closer to understanding the Australian way of life.


The students I have met on this trip are some of the most interesting and diverse people. We all have almost nothing in common – from culture and religion to schools and majors – but it's nothing but fun when we are all together. Between our trips to and from Melbourne, school, and the ever-popular “Cole’s Supermarket” to our “Family Dinners” we have gotten to know and understand each other as well. Studying abroad is not just about learning to live in peace with the locals, but also learning to live in peace with fellow Americans.

But it seems that most of us Americans are having a bit of a hard time handling life in Australia, especially how EVERYTHING closes at 5:30. Malls, stores, and even restaurants. Also, everything is much more expensive here – no dollar menu at McDonalds. Its definitely not $2.25 to hop on a train or a bus, and its not a “Dollar Store" - it’s a “Mainly $2 Store.” Everything seems different than America but as time goes on we’re beginning to accept it and understand how things work here.

But surfing is not the only key to understanding Australia. I was surprised to find out that Australia has experienced many of the same adversities that America has. Their aboriginals faced similar hardships to those of Native American Indians, and racism prevailed throughout the fifties and sixties as well. The short history of Australia is as intricate as that of America. On a class trip, ”Museum Marathon”, we visited Aboriginal, Sporting, Immigration, and Melbourne Museums. Each of these places added a little information of the “Australian Way” and created a large picture for us to understand.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Exploring Italy in January - Greetings from Deryn Cro

Deryn Cro, Class of 2012, sends an update from Florence, Italy.
Thankfully my convoluted trek to Florence went smoothly and I arrived in one piece. I was surprised to see how small the city center of Florence is, easy to get around by foot no matter where you are looking to go. My apartment is about a ten minute walk from the school which includes passing through Piazza della Signoria which is right in the heart of medieval Florence. I have really enjoyed strolling the streets and window shopping and just taking in the sights. Of course January is the sale month in Italy so it is less window shopping and more actively purchasing! In-between eating gelato and bargaining for better deals in the San Lorenzo Market I have also been taking Art History. Specifically we have been discussing art of the Antiquity to the Renaissance. Taking this class in Florence has been especially interesting since we are constantly out and about going to see examples of what was discussed in class. So far we have visited St John’s Baptistery right outside the Duomo as well as Piazzele Michelangelo and assorted churches. I doubt I would have thought to go to many of these places were it not for the class.

The Duomo at night in Florence.

Statue in Palazzo Vecchio.
When I first came to Florence I was slightly nervous about my nonexistent Italian skills. Fortunately English is widely spoken and I am sure many locals have been amused by my pitiful attempts at Italian. For anyone planning on traveling here in the future I would recommend picking up a pocket size phrase book. I purchased one by Berlitz and it is both helpful and amusing thanks to some of its more humorous sections. I am hoping it will come in handy especially when I travel outside of Florence.
My first weekend here I took a four day trip to Rome and had an amazing time! While I did not expect the main area of Florence to be so small, I did not expect Rome to be so big! Although it is still possible to walk around it was a much more daunting task than in Florence; I have the sore feet to prove it too! I stayed in a hostel for the first time, something I would definitely do again. While in Rome I stuck to the main attractions since I only had four days. This included the Colosseum, the Forum, the Trevi Fountain, Vatican City and the Pantheon. The Vatican Museum was one of my favorite places so far, and while there I got to see the School of Athens Painting, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. This coming weekend I will be taking a tour of a vineyard in Chianti. On Sunday I am going to Milan to see Da Vinci’s Last Supper. I am also hoping to take a day trip to Fiesole, a small town right outside of Florence. The town is known for its Etruscan and Roman remains and archeological park. The town is also supposed to offer beautiful views of Florence.
Deryn Cro at the Pantheon in Rome.

The Vatican.

I am disappointed that I only have two weeks left, it seems like the time is going by far too quickly. There is so much to fit in and so little time to do everything!           

Deryn Cro at ruins across from the Colosseum.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Greetings from Australia

Joe Bushman, Verrazano Class of 2014, checks in from Australia.

Before going to Geelong for my actual class, I flew down to Sydney with LisaMarie for New Years and did what tourists do best, touring! The city was beautiful, and we tried to see as much of the city as we possibly could in two days. Sydney was cleaner than New York, for the most part, besides all of the New Years Eve trash. We stayed just a short train ride outside of Sydney in Parramatta. Besides the mall and our hotel, that part of town was fairly dead and had huge cockroaches.  We took a train out to the Blue Mountains for a day. We hiked for an hour and did some more - you called it - touring.  We took a ride down the world's steepest train tracks, at an angle of 52ยบ, down to the bottom of the valley. That whole day was an experience I will never forget.

Upon arrival in Geelong I was stuck outside of my room because I was never given the key. My roommate had arrived earlier in the day and was now out walking around in town, with the key. Luckily he returned not terribly long after I arrived. We met up with the rest of the students doing the Australia Today program and took a short walking tour of the local area in Geelong. After realizing the super market was closing in five minutes we ran over to get some supplies and half of the group wasn’t allowed inside the store because they didn’t make it in time. They stood outside the door and shouted inside, to the students, for supplies they would need for their apartments. This was definitely a good way to aggravate the locals the first day we arrived.

Joe Bushman (second from left), Lisa Migliorisi (third from left)

Over the next few days we all traveled around Geelong and Melbourne and started our geography class. Our first essay is due this Thursday, and our second one next week. There is definitely a lot more work than I expected but it still doesn’t make me any less excited about being in Australia.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Hooked on Travel and Heading Down Under

The following post is from Lisa Migliorisi, Class of 2014, as she leaves for her winter intersession in Geelong, Australia.  This is the first of three blog entries that Lisa will contribute as she chronicles her study abroad experience.
Too many young people are blind to cultural differences and current events because of their lack of education.  To avoid being a statistic, I strive to be less ignorant and more worldly.  In the summer of 2011, I decided it was time for a change – personally and culturally.  I attended a Semester at Sea and visited seven Mediterranean countries.  I experienced protests in Spain, art in Italy, the beauty of Croatia, riots in Greece, and the Islamic prayer service in Turkey.  I couldn’t believe how many interesting features I was unaware of.  This opened my eyes to how much I truly love to learn about foreign countries.  Throughout my voyage, I became what I like to call a “global citizen.” Not only did I learn about each country, their history, and their customs, but I also experienced it.   Each place was very different than the next, and my interests grew immensely.  I loved seeing all the dissimilarities between the countries, such as attitude, public appearance, eating habits and even little facets such as architectural differences.  After getting a taste of the world, I’m hooked.  I want to continue to learn through travel because I feel that it’s how I learn best.

Through CUNY Hunter’s study abroad program with Deakin University, I will be able to visit Geelong, Australia.  The program aims to provide its’ students with tools for cultural orientation, information, experiences, analyses, and interaction, which will inform, entertain, and increase our understanding of Australia.  During my time in Geelong I will have the opportunity to learn about Australian history, Australian film, the ANZAC legend, Australia democracy and the aboriginal settlement.

I want to continue to broaden my horizons and gain a greater understanding of the world around me.  All of the opportunities that arise through this program would increase my global awareness as well as my global perspective.   By visiting Australia I will not only be adding to the list of continents and countries I’ve visited but also to the knowledge I have gained.  This opportunity will allow me to continue to learn about people around the world and continue my comparisons of dissimilarities.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Headed to Australia

The following post is from Joe Bushman, Class of 2014, as he leaves for his winter intersession in Geelong, Australia.  This is the first of three blog entries that Joe will contribute as he chronicles his study abroad experience.

Hello, My name is Joe Bushman and I’m in my second year at the Verrazano School. I’ve always loved the idea of being able to go and travel and experience other places, but I grew up in an environment that didn’t allow for many travel opportunities.

Although I have not had the chance to travel, I have not been shy about applying for extracurricular activities that have given me a chance to travel locally. As a boy scout, I did a lot of camping from tip of south New Jersey all the way up to the Appalachian mountains. Through the Boy Scouts of America, I have developed a strong foundation of personal independence. In high school, I won a free trip to Ireland, for a few days, for a music competition. I had the time of my life there, but that was a very short trip and I did not get to experience much outside of the competition. 

I have wanted to travel to Australia since I was a little kid and when I found the Australia Today program I was trying to find out if there were any scholarships available to help me be able to afford the trip. I found out that the Verrazano school recently started a travel scholarship, I jumped on the opportunity to be one of the first recipients so I can finally travel to Australia.  A few years ago I watched the movie “Australia” which first sparked my interest in learning about the Indigenous Australians. I was especially excited to be learning about the Aboriginal Australians in this class. I will also be learning about about; the Australian government, history, and politics.

The benefit of this study abroad program is never ending. Along with gaining school credits and adding to my personal resume, the life experience I will obtain is priceless. This program will allow me to stand out in a crowd making me a better candidate for jobs, internships, and even scholarships. If someone were to tell me five years ago that I would be able to go to Australia for school, I would have never believe them for it would be too good to be true. No matter what I choose to do in life, this is the opportunity of a lifetime that can benefit me both as a student and as a maturing adult.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Winter in Italy

The following post is from Deryn Cro, Class of 2012, as she prepares to leave for her winter intersession in Florence, Italy.  This is the first of three blog entries that Deryn will contribute as she chronicles her study abroad experience.
When I first heard about the Verrazano Study Abroad Scholarship I knew I wanted to apply to study in Florence, Italy. As a History and English Literature major this seemed like the perfect opportunity to explore a city influential in both subjects. This program will also give me an advantage in regards to my future plans. After graduation I plan on attaining a Masters in Library Sciences with a concentration in Archives and Special Collections. I hope to find work in a museum and having the chance to study in a city famous for its art and history would help me to achieve this goal. The experience of studying abroad will provide me with an opportunity to visit a country that has strong ties to the art world.  I will then be able to apply this knowledge when working in a museum setting. As an archivist or museum curator, it is important to understand the background of one’s material. Art from the Antiquity to the Early Renaissance has been hugely influential into the modern day. Having a chance to closely study art and architecture from a specific period of time will allow me to put my future work into a framework I would not otherwise have.
I will be taking the Antiquity to Early Renaissance class while studying abroad. I chose this class because of my interest in Art History as well as for the first hand experience it will provide me with. I hope that by being able to visit the works I study in class, I will be able to better understand them. Being able to take trips to see what I would otherwise only be seeing in a text book is what really made this class appealing. One does not get this type of opportunity often and I hope to take full advantage of everything this class has to offer! When not in class I am looking forward to exploring Florence and other cities in Italy. I have made arrangements to spend a long weekend in Rome, where I have reserved tickets to visit the Vatican Museums. I am especially excited about seeing the Sistine Chapel given its importance in the art world. On the following weekend I will be visit Milan for the day. While there I will be taking a tour to see The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. This will be my first experience with traveling in Europe and I think the Winter Intersession is a perfect introduction. I can’t wait to start exploring Italy and everything it has to offer. I am of course also very excited about the food!
Prior to landing in Florence I have two layovers, Montreal and Frankfurt. They are only an hour each so at the moment my main concern is not missing my connecting flights!  I look forward to sharing my experience in Florence with the Verrazano Voyager in the coming month and hope students will benefit from reading.