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Postcards from Rome

July 16, 2005 —
Editor’s Note: A group of undergraduate engineering students are nearing the end of a Viterbi School Study Abroad Program in Rome, Italy.  For the past seven weeks, they have been fulfilling course requirements while learning about Italian culture, art and engineering.  The overseas study program is offered each year to students who want an overseas experience but don't want to add an extra semester to their undergraduate program. The study course can be grueling, but it is well worth the experience and opportunity for students to learn more about engineering in another part of the world.  
Over the past six weeks, our group has been able to travel all over Rome using our monthly metro pass. With this handy little card we're able to go to class, to the Colosseum, out to eat, even to the beach, which is a good hour-and-a-half away. Usually the ride goes pretty smoothly--sometimes the subways are crowded, sometimes the buses come late--but for the most part, we've been able to go all around the city without trouble.
That all changed, though, after the London terrorist attacks. Suddenly the metro systems were filled with police and security personnel.  For a few days, I had to show my metro pass every time I got onto a bus or train, sometimes even twice at the same station.

The metro system wasn't the only thing affected. I noticed a lot more police around the city in general. The US Embassy sent me an email, informing me about the attacks. Naturally, the attacks were constantly in the news as well--we could turn on CNN at any time to get the latest updates. And today, Europe had two minutes of silence in memory of the victims.
A few days later, and we're still hearing a lot about the investigation and developments going on in London. But there are fewer guards and police around, and the subways are back to operating as usual. Things are getting back to normal now, in Rome, at least.

Kristine Skinner
Junior, Electrical Engineering

Our second free weekend, some of the girls and I had the opportunity to visit Barcelona for a couple of days.  I can say with full confidence that in all my travels I have never experienced a city anything like Barcelona.  This city blends a nonchalantness expressed in a night-life that never dies with a commitment to art expressed in some of the most innovative modern architecture in the world.  We had the opportunity to visit Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia, a work of art I will never forget.

Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

La Sagrada Familia is undoubtedly a work of art; however, to say that that implies it is beautiful is up for debate.  In fact, two weeks after seeing it, I am still unsure how I feel about it.  Innovative, unique, impressively detailed, yes, it is all of these things.  Heavy-handed, imposing, and in many ways indelicate, it is most certainly these as well.  I was intrigued by it.  Whether I liked the structure or not, I could feel that I was certainly in the presence of artistic genius.  To conceive of and conceptualize something so detailed and ornate is impressive in itself.  To then design something that detailed and ornate before the days of computer aided drafting would have been an arduous and tedious task… again, impressive.

I had seen pictures of Gaudi’s work before I came to Europe this summer; however, nothing compares to the impact of experiencing art or architecture first-hand.  Walking through La Sagrada Familia and climbing one of the towers to look over Barcelona and Spain is an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.  I walked through, interacted with, experienced first-hand a masterpiece by one of the most famous modern architects in the world.  As a building science student, walking through La Sagrada Familia energized me and inspired me.  I am blown away by the opportunities this summer has afforded me, La Sagrada Familia most certainly included, and am looking forward to integrating my experiences and my new inter-cultural insight into my work at USC.

Jessica Dean
Civil Engineering, Building Science  


Our last days in Roma… seven weeks have gone by in no time at all.  Pizzas, pastas, countless gelatos, and about 4 kilograms of parmigiano reggiano later, it's time to head back home.  Culture shock seems to be a big issue when people travel across the globe to new and unique locations, but I don’t think this has to be the case.  Sure, things are different in different parts of the world, but we have to take them for what they are.  We have to experience them and get out of them whatever we can.  There’s always something positive to gain from a trip like ours to Rome.  For each individual, it’s something different.  For me personally, I just want to take back a little bit of Italy.

I may not be able to have a four-hour dinner with the waiter reluctant to bring out the check in America, but I can certainly learn to enjoy my time out socializing with friends more.  As the Italians like to say, “Piano, piano” or “slowly, slowly.”  This is not to say I want it to take four weeks to repave a single block like it has here right outside our class building.  I just think I can take things a little more leisurely and thoroughly enjoy everything life has to offer.  It’s all about being able to extract things from other cultures that appeal to you and apply these experiences and concepts to your daily life back home in whatever way possible.  “Piano, piano… piano, piano…”

Arvin Shajanian

Rome by day is a bustling metropolis full of mopeds zipping in between buses while eager tourists and working class Romans intermingle on the jam-packed sidewalks.  When the sun goes down on the city, Rome takes on a new appearance and literally becomes a different place.  The beauty of Rome at night is unsurpassed by any city I have ever seen.  The white lights reflect off the stone walls and buildings and the city literally glows in a golden elegance.  From the banks of the Tiber River to the walls of the Vatican, the city becomes a different place.

Rome at night is alive.  The hustle and bustle of the work day and guided tours evaporates, and the city is alive with people walking around with no real agenda or place to go, rather just absorbing the city at night.  Piazza Navona is one of the best places to go at night.  The piazza is a huge expanse that is shaped in a huge ellipse, for it was built on the ruins of Emperor Dometian’s stadium from 86 AD.  The piazza hosted chariot races, gladiatorial blood sports, and even mock naval battles where the whole area was flooded.  These have been replaced by a bustling mix of tourists, young Romans, musicians, and street vendors. 
The area is surrounded by gelato stands and small restaurants where you can grab a table and people-watch for hours on end.  In the middle of the square stands the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, one of most beautiful fountains in Rome.  It was built by Bernini in 1651 and stands at an impressive height dominated by a huge Egyptian Obelisk.  The fountain glows from submerged lights and is an impressive sight. 

Just a block from Piazza Navona, the Pantheon is equally impressive.  The pantheon dates back to 120 AD when it was built as a temple to the Roman gods.  Now it is a Catholic church, which even houses the remains of the famous Renaissance painter, Raphael.  By day you can venture into the building and view the massive dome accentuated by a small oculus, or opening in the ceiling.  At night, the building serves as a massive backdrop to a bustling piazza much as the same as Piazza Navona.
These are just a few of the areas to see at night in Rome. 
When the engineering work is done for the day there is nothing like venturing out to truly explore the history and sites of the city hands on.  Studying here I try to take advantage of all the city has to offer by venturing to different areas at night every chance I get.  The architecture seems to be designed for night, and the city is truly alive with unmatched beauty.
(Editor's Note: We were unable to determine the author of this postcard.  If you know, please let us in on it!)

Studying in Italy this summer has presented me with many opportunities and unique experiences.  One of the most memorable of these is a chance to go back to the town where my great grandfather was born, and eventually left to start a life in America.  The town, Cuggiono, is located about 30 kilometers outside of Milan. The experience has also allowed me a chance to look into my past and explore my heritage. 

Lee Berra
Knowing and exploring my past is very important to me.  Most Americans, in particular, those originating from Europe have a diverse ethnic background.  Personally, I can trace my heritage back to Italian, Dutch, English, and Swiss.  I kind of see myself as one of the last generations to be able to do this, for my kids will probably lose a lot of this identity due to more dilution of their origins.  Therefore, it is something in my life that I do not want to fade away, both for me and for my subsequent generations.  For these reasons, I decided that I needed to go.

The trip to my home town was a little adventure, accelerated by the fact that I went alone.  Getting from Milan to Cuggiono was not an easy task.  The bus system that runs out to the towns on the outskirts is seldom, if ever, used by tourists; so the system was not the easiest to understand.  At the bus stop everyone except me seemed like they know what they are doing.  And the fact that I know and understand roughly 10 Italian words did not help.  After waiting at the wrong bus stop for an hour I found myself sprinting across the station to hop on the bus as it pulled away.

The drive out to the countryside was very beautiful.  The metropolis of Milan seemed to suddenly fade away into beautiful stretches of farmland and small quant villages.  The first I saw of Cuggiono was a bell tower peaking over the horizon as the bus got close to the town.  Entering the town I was surprised by its simplistic beauty.  The town is not to small with about 3,000 residents, yet the contained none of the bustling and unfriendly qualities that major cities exude.  The town is centralized around a large piazza with the main church and small shops ringing it.  When I got off the bus it was a neat feeling for I was the first Berra in my immediate family to step foot in the town in nearly 125 years.  Immediately, I felt I was at home. 
A main piazza by the church was named Berra Piazza and also a main street was named Via St. Louis.  This is due to the large number of immigrants who moved to St. Louis from Cuggiono, one being my grandfather Joseph Berra.

  The first place I went to was the cemetery.  There I saw many graves of Berras from the town.  Some had pictures on the graves, and I felt like I was looking into my past.  I spent the whole day in the city, just wandering the streets and exploring the town.  Maybe I just look into things too much, but even the simple things affected me.  One of those things was going to the ATM to draw out money.  My grandfather left his home and all he knew so that he could find a better life in America.  Now I saw myself drawing out 200 euros from the bank with little or no thought.  It got me thinking and made me really grateful for all of the sacrifices and hard work of the people who have come before me, and I how much I really owe them.  
Traveling to Cuggiono was the most memorable experience I have had on this trip.  It was so personal and that made all of the difference.  As I watched the bell tower fade in the distance as I drove back to Milan, I didn’t know if I would ever have the chance to go back, but I know that the experience is something that I will remember for the rest of my life.
--Lee Berra 

Every day, huge crowds of tourists and worshippers pack into St. Peter’s Basilica.  However, a small minority of them are brave enough to climb the over 500 stairs to the top of the dome.  And even fewer are brave enough to wait up to two and a half hours in a queue to do so! 

The top of St. Peter's Basilica.
I was able to perfectly time my visit in the early morning hours, as Rome was still awakening.  The climb to the top is broken up into two stages.  In the first stage, you enter a wide spiral staircase that corkscrews its way up the inside of the basilica’s south wall.  You emerge on the roof where you can walk around.  You can enjoy an espresso at the café before you face the more daunting trek to the top of the dome. 
The sterile environment and complicated design of the roof are a stark contrast to the ornate decoration and architectural harmony that most people identify with St. Peter’s.  One begins to get a sense of the tremendous accomplishment of the one hundred year building project it took to finish the basilica.  Millions of bricks form the complicated slopes of the minor domes that line the aisles of the basilica.  There are complex structures built to direct light into the basilica as well.  While the roof of St. Peter’s is certainly interesting, it is the massive dome that impresses a young engineer the most.
The dome is built with an inner and outer shell.  The access to the top is along a sloping ramp which later yields to a steep narrow staircase.  The ramp lies between the two shells of the dome.  As you climb to the top, you find yourself slowly leaning more and more as the curve of the dome increases.  The space between the two shells is purely functional, to the extent that it almost seems unfinished. 

The roof of St. Peter's Basilica is just one stop on the way to the top of the dome.
It offers an opportunity to appreciate the achievement of the designers and builders of the project.  As you approach the top, the walkway reduces to a tiny passage.  As you methodically continue up, up, up you are suddenly greeted by the most dramatic view of Rome.  The observation area at the top of the dome offers a 360-degree view of the ancient city.  You can see everything from the monuments of Ancient Rome, to the modern Olympic Stadium, and to the Mediterranean Sea on the western horizon.  I was most interested by the view of Vatican City.  It is the only chance you have of fully appreciating the smallest sovereign nation in the world, but also realizing that it is perhaps the most beautiful one.  Large gardens and unbelievable art and architecture fill Vatican City, yet most are closed to the public. 
When in Rome, climbing St. Peter’s dome is a must.  But remember: get there early and bring your walking shoes. 
Joseph Yeargan
Aerospace Engineering

Last night we attended a performance of a lifetime, Romeo and Juliet at the Terme di Caracalla. A beautiful setting, amongst Roman ruins. I have never seen a ballet in an outside setting but to have the backdrop of the ancient Baths of Caracalla was amazing.
The ballet was a fusion of modern dance and classical ballet. I was thoroughly impressed by the dancers' ability, yet one thing caught my eye as the scenes progressed....they seemed to be slipping. After a short intermission it was apparent that there were problems with the stage. It was wet. The moisture of the outside air was proving to be greater than the pirouettes of the dancers. After an announcement by the choreographer and the theatre's artistic director, they decided they could proceed with the show...carefully.
The next act proved that these dancers were not going to be able to overcome Mother Nature. The dancers' disappointment marked the rest of the act and although it was very graceful, it was also apparent they were unable to perform to the best of their ability. Regrettably we were unable to see the conclusion of one of Shakespeare's most well-known plays.
Although disappointed by the abrupt ending I really enjoyed the ancient Roman setting and the gracefulness of the dancers. An incredible fusion of art and history. 
Kirstin Harper-Smith
Civil Engineering Senior 


BARCELONA, SPAIN—Aaaaahhhhh, sunny Southern California.  There’s nothing like taking a Cali-Cruiser for a ride down the main drag and taking in the city sights when the weather is a hot 35°C and 85% humidity.  Wait…….scratch that……..let me start over.
Rome’s architectural influence was seen all over the city and in neighboring countries. For instance, the ornate detail of Rome's very own Arco di Constantino is seen in Barcelona's Arc de Triomf, students noted. 

Aaaaahhhhh, sunny Northeastern Spain.  There’s nothing like taking a Cali-Cruiser for a ride down the main drag and taking in the city sights when the weather is a hot 35°C and 85% humidity.  For the nine of us who traveled to Barcelona during our first free weekend, that’s exactly what we did.

Arriving on a packed flight late on Thursday night, we made our way to Barcelona only to find the city alive with fireworks from every street corner and down every alley at 1 in the morning.  The city’s biggest holiday had just started, and we were there to witness it first hand.  We woke up Friday to hop on a bike tour of the city, complete with, you guessed it, California Beach Cruisers.  Each of us hopped on the familiar two-wheeled vehicle as if pilots strapping in for a routine flight.  What a novel thing to find 6000 miles from home.
Downshift, brake, peddle, upshift, swerve, brake, downshift.  Our trusty steeds bred in the dry air of Southern California led our tour to all the major hotspots in Barcelona.  La Sagrada Familia, the steps where Christopher Columbus proclaimed that he had found the New World, a few other famous churches, parks, and fountains, the Arc de Triomf, and some underground Roman ruins were all stops along this biker gang’s trail.  What an opportunity it was to experience yet another culture’s engineering feats first hand.  But like the cruiser, it was all too familiar.  Even out of the country, Rome’s worldwide influence could be seen on every stop in this tour of the Spanish city.
BIKERS—Kurt Nakamura, Lee Berra, Ben Ferrara, Karen Eitan, Jeff Kaiser, Calvin D’Silva, and Kellen Sick show off their pretty cool, rented cruiser bikes on a Barcelona street.

After hopping out of the cockpit of my cruiser, I began to think about the importance of Rome’s influence on the world and what it meant to me as an engineer.  What I came up with is the age-old adage “sharing is caring,” and changed it to fit the situation, “sharing is sparing.”  Information should be shared because it spares other cultures and civilizations the problems, dangers, and disadvantages that exist without that information.  Whether Rome forced its engineering influence on Spain by conquering it in its quest for an empire, or whether information is shared in seconds via the internet today, information should be passed back and forth between societies.  Who knows, their different perspective may make your technology even better. 
Kellen Sick 
Senior, Aerospace Engineering  


It’s a typical Tuesday night in Rome.  I’m at a concert.  I take a moment to reflect on my surroundings and what I find is surprising.  While I will admit that I have not been to many American concerts, this one seems extraordinarily well planned.
First off, it's free.
The next thing I notice is that it’s extraordinarily safe.  Ambulances are stationed surrounding the piazza—Italian for square—in various strategic locations.  It is extraordinarily hot tonight, but I have in my hand some water which someone from the event staff has been kind enough to hand out.  A smart move considering in the long run it’s probably much more cost-effective to just hand out water than to have people be hauled away in ambulances. The old architecture is being reutilized to the enhancement of modern needs.  The people are located mostly around the stage at the top of the piazza.  And we—albeit perhaps on the less safe side—have positioned ourselves on top of a wall which surrounds the piazza and have a good view of the stage.
The music is a sort of Italian jazz. People of all ages—ourselves included—are clapping their hands to the beat and generally having a good time. So, we’ve got free, safe and new—what more could one ask for from a concert?
Paul DuMontelle

Noon in Rome during the summer is hot.  After walking for an hour in the noon time sun you feel as if someone has crammed you into a vat of crazy glue and let you dry in an oven.  Because of this fact, Romans, my peers, and I try to stay out of the sun as much as possible.  There is even siesta time in the hottest part of the day, which I am convinced is due to the Italian’s desire to escape the extreme heat.

On this particular Saturday morning, the sun’s heat was fierce and the humidity was in full force.  All I wanted to do was stay inside, especially once we waited in the miserably hot line to get into St. Peter’s Basilica.  However, due to poor prior planning, I had said I would meet another friend at the Egyptian obelisk at the center of St. Peter’s Square about 30 minutes after we finally arrived in the Basilica.  All of us were going to climb St. Peter’s dome.  Thus, my predicament – how would I tell my friend that I was already inside the basilica and for him to meet me inside — without actually leaving the basilica?  I figured the only chance I had was to go to the exit without actually exiting the basilica and try to get my friend’s attention.

So this is what I tried to do.  I yelled and I waved.  To my dismay, he was unable to see or hear my signals due to the incredible number of tourists that were in the square…darn tourists.  After deep contemplation, I decided it was time for me to bite the bullet and leave the friendly confines of the basilica in order to meet my friend…the things I do for my friends.

Sort of annoyed at my friend for not picking me out of the crowd, I allowed him to start the conversation – which he did with the word, “Look!”  To my surprise, people were clearing the way for a large path in the middle of St. Peter’s Square.  The Swiss Vatican Guards were out in full force and stood at attention in the clearing created by the moving people.  Now I had been to St. Peter’s Square often during my time in Rome, but I had never seen anything like this before.  Intrigued, my friend and I headed over to see what was going on.

We were not disappointed.  Shortly after we joined the mass of people, we saw a caravan of cars come through the opening gates of Vatican City.  Benedict XVI, the newly elected pope, was in the middle car of this caravan and waving to the crowd as he passed by.  Previously, this same friend and I went to St. Peter’s Square to hear the pope’s blessing on Sunday.  We had seen him, but I could have put my thumb up and covered up both him and the window he was speaking out of.  Right now, we were seeing the pope from like 10 feet away…I decided it was OK that I had left the basilica.

Mark Weaver
Senior, Civil Engineering Building Science

This past weekend was our first free weekend and I decided to venture off to Barcelona, Spain.  Our first sight seeing excursion consisted of a bike tour around the city.  After being introduced to many of the sites in Barcelona while on the tour, the influence of Antoni Gaudi, architect and designer, was apparent all around the city.  His work makes up some of the city’s most notable landmarks and it is clear where others have tried to emulate his unique style.  His use of colorful mosaics adds a positive touch to his architecture and his use of nature is always evident.
San Marco Basilico.
The Temple de la Sagrada Familia is probably the most famous and expensive landmark in all of Barcelona.  The construction of this church began in 1882 and Gaudi worked on the project for over forty years.  However, the church is still not even close to completion.  Gaudi’s contribution to the project is both the most detailed and the most astounding. 
The front of the church depicts a large tree with birds and other animals.  The inside of the church consists of many columns unfolding into a sort of canopy of trees.  Gaudi is able to lessen the impact of a large building by integrating elements of nature into the architecture.  The building itself is constructed out of various types of natural stone keeping with the natural theme.  The recent additions to the church have attempted to realize Gaudi’s original vision and the most striking evidence of his natural inspirations are the newly built towers topped with bushels of grapes.  Climbing through this massive building was definitely an interesting experience as Gaudi’s work is strikingly different from other more traditional churches.
Another of Gaudi’s contributions to the city of Barcelona is Park Guell.  This massive park is intended to be a “garden city” and even accommodates Gaudi’s previous place of residence, which is now a museum.  The entrance to the park has two cottage style buildings covered with mosaics and fountains in the center.  The most notable characteristic of the entrance is the famous mosaic lizard which brings color and uniqueness to the park.  Above the entrance is a vantage point with an extremely large open spaced enclosed by mosaic walls.  From here you could look out over all of Barcelona.  Sporadically throughout the park, archways, walls, and overhangs line the trails, each serving a special purpose.  While a park in itself can be considered the optimal nature setting in a large city, Gaudi was able to take buildings and structures and integrate them into the natural setting rather than making them seem out of place.
While architecture and civil engineering designs change the landscape of our cities, it is important to respect nature.  Buildings and other structures can be very disruptive to our environment.  We bulldoze greenery to make open space, cut down trees and force animals out of the areas which we occupy.  However, through Gaudi’s work we can see how important nature really is and how it can be integrated into our future work. 

Karen Eitan
Senior, Civil Engineering

Ciao from Roma!

Everybody knows that Rome is famed for ancient engineering awes such as the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Forum, and so much more.  While these structures are more than impressive to anybody and especially to a civil engineer like me, I find myself just as intrigued with the social and cultural aspects of Italian life.
Insidethe Palazzo Ducale.

This last Saturday, some classmates and I embarked on a journey to Ostia.  Ostia is a beach about an hour and fifteen minutes away from Rome by public transportation.  Successfully arriving in Ostia has with it a certain feeling of accomplishment itself.  Getting there involves two metros, a train, and a bus.  When you finally get the public transportation down is when you know you’re finally settling in.  We all felt that much more Italian.

We got off the last bus and made our way down to the sandy and intensely hot beach.  There was so much to look at.  The most astounding social difference between a beach in Los Angeles and a beach near Rome is the gender roles and interaction.  Men walk around in a state that most Americans would consider almost naked.  Those who are not wearing Speedos are often donning very small shorts.  To say the least, the attire would be considered far from masculine in Santa Monica.  As far as male interaction is concerned, we saw men applying sunscreen to their male friends’ backs, men lying quite close to one another while sunbathing, and an overall comfortableness with each other such as girls have with each other in America.  Needless to say, this is not your average male behavior in Los Angeles.

Girls conduct themselves more “freely” if I may say, but what is surprising is the way that the men respond to these women.  When we set up camp under our umbrella, we noticed a few women who chose to tan topless.  This is to be expected on a beach in Europe, but what we found surprising was that nobody paid them any attention.  To tan topless was nothing more than a preference.  Other women chose to wear bikinis that were less than conservative from an American point of view, but, again, no special attention.  Bathing suit attire (or lack thereof) seemed to have almost nothing to do with being provocative.  It was simply a matter of, “Do I want tan lines or not?” 

Italians seem to view conservative dress and nudity in an entirely different way than we do in America.  While interesting, I’m not sure it is a cultural standard I plan on bringing back to the US with me.  Nonetheless, it is these excursions from which I feel I have gained the most.  It is the days that I sit and watch and interact with Italian people that I absorb so much more culture than a guided tour through a visitor-ridden site.  It is days like our day in Ostia that I feel Italian. 

--Jessica Dean

Last night we climbed to the top of the world and took pictures. 

We paused on the 138th Spanish Step, caught our breath, and took a long sweet sip of Rome at 19:39.  On the horizon, the sun yawned and stretched its arms, then tiptoed demurely behind the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica for the evening.  The sky glowed pink and orange and every color but blue, and famous monuments and infamous monuments and monuments I didn’t know the names of but needed to visit burned charcoal silhouettes into the skyline.  A thousand meters below our feet, trinket vendors pulled wooden shutters over their riches and small children picked their noses and pushed their sisters.  Travelers lined the wall to our left and right and tried to appreciate the splendor before them.
View from the top of the Spanish steps.

We tried, too.  We took pictures.  I took pictures.  But not with my camera; with my mind and my heart. 

Rome has a beauty that defies technology.  The idea that anything laughs in the face of technology is an idea few engineers (or engineering students) wish to consider.  We devote our lives to studying how life works.  We know why apples fall.  We know why heat rises.  We know why the sky’s blue, and why it rains.  We don’t know why a camera somehow fails to truly capture the glint of the sunset off the dome of an ancient basilica, or the footsteps of a hundred dumfounded tourists on the floor of the Sistine Chapel.  Sure, we can take a photograph or shoot a movie, but these devices don’t capture the moment.  They interpret it.  They rob it of space and dimension and feeling, and hastily summarize the biggest and brightest features.  (Take a look at the pictures accompanying these articles; beautiful, yes, but do you really feel like you’re there?)

This shortcoming of the camera used to frustrate me.  I’d look at pictures of myself or of a place and think, “Oh.  Is that what it looked like?” or “Why didn’t someone tell me my hair was sticking out?”  I’d want to go back to that moment and do it again, changing the frame or the lighting or my hair.  Rome has helped me to leave that desire behind.  Now I slow down and let myself be; I don’t whip out my camera.  When we scurry through the city’s winding, vibrant streets at 9:00 every morning on our way to class, I make a point to lose myself in the bustle.  When we meander through the roofless ruins of Pompeii or the stone streets of Viterbo, I walk a little slower and look around a lot more.  It’s a fine art, this form of mental picture-taking, but I’m learning how to do it.  Just acknowledge the passage of time and recognize where you are and then let go.  Just let yourself be.  Here.  And now.

Last night we climbed to the top of the world and took pictures.  We left our cameras at home.
Zenzile Brooks
Junior, Civil Engineering