Culture & Psychology Summer 2017 Student Blog Series 2: Day 3 and 4

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Day 3: Ancient Rome Tour

Student Blogger: Katelyn Eckstine

The Ancient Rome tour with our guide, Salome (Sah-lo-meh), was very informative, and the part I found most interesting was the theme of recycling which was explained in the beginning with the basic history of how Rome came to be. She began by introducing the famous Romulus and Remus, the two babies sent down the Tiber river who were raised by a she-wolf. She easily debunked this and gave the practical explanation for how Rome came to exist. The foundation of Rome was developed through common interest and trade.

The Vatican area of Rome was inhabited by Etruscans who were wealthy and powerful, while the Seven Hills were inhabited by all different people – practically a separate country. These two areas of Rome are divided by the Tiber River. 3,000 years ago there were no bridges because no one knew how to build them, but there was a tiny island that jutted out into the river which easily connected both sides. The island came to be used for business and trade between the two areas which made them more interconnected. 500 years later (2,500 years ago) the two villages decided to form a democracy based on the Greek model; thus came the Roman Forum which was the square where the senate and people came together to form a Republic.

Roman power peaked in 100 AD, becoming the capital of the world, because of the immense amount of communication. They were the first people to pave their roads which spread a total of 50,000 miles (the largest set of roads in the world). What made them so powerful was that they dominated land with roads rather than water with sailing like everyone else. The Romans also invented cement to build concentric arches, walls, and bridges using limestone, dirt, water, clay, and other natural materials. This was the beginning of centuries of preservation through recycling.

Rome is the best preserved ancient city because most were poor and could not replace anything after massive floods and destructive wars with the “barbarians.” Because replacing everything was not possible, they recycled everything. There are many ruins, but the reason they are still around is because over the many centuries, Romans recycled them. This means that they would use one building for the government, and when they moved from it, many years later, it was turned into a church. Every building had multiple purposes over the course of its existence. In addition to whole buildings, things that were destroyed had usable material. For example, old columns and marble were reused as floors in churches.

Without using the natural materials and recycling them, Rome would not be as evidently historic as it is today. Throughout the whole tour, we could see how much detail was put into every carving on every building and statue. There was no technology so developing the architecture took significantly long. We could all learn this from the Romans: put time and dedication into everything we do and always recycle it so it lasts for a very long time and holds historical significance.

Day 3: Guest Lecture with Silvia D’Ambrosi

Student Blogger: Nicole Wheeler

This afternoon we had the pleasure of meeting with Silvia D’Ambrosi, press officer to the Italian Senate.  She discussed Italy’s membership in the European Union, and compared their government to the United States’ government.  The two have a variety of similarities and differences. Both countries have a House of Representatives, a Cabinet, and a President.  However, Italy is not a Federal State and the President does not have executive power.  Italy also has free healthcare, but because of this the citizens pay more taxes.

Towards the end of the lecture with Ms. D’Ambrosi, we began discussing some of the issues that occur in Italy.  The youth unemployment rate is about 34.1% and the overall unemployment rate is about 11.7%.  Compared to America, whose unemployment is 4.6%, Italy’s is extremely high.  The difficult job market allows gender disparities to persist; in order to obtain employment, some women are signing work contracts stating that they resign from their jobs effective immediately, with the intention that the company will resurrect this contract when a woman is pregnant. However, these practices are shifting, with an increased focus on women’s rights.

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Young people right out of college are also struggling to find jobs as well.  Many students will go abroad to look for careers because they struggle to find them at home.  I didn’t realize how high the unemployment rate was, nor did I realize how hard it was for college grads to find jobs.  I was really surprised by this.  In America college grads struggle to find jobs, but very rarely will people at that age travel to a different country to find a job, and start a life.  I never really thought about how different it was.  I just assumed that people were always able to find jobs.  I didn’t think about the fact that another strong country, like Italy, could be struggling with something so important to their livelihood.

Overall, I enjoyed our time spent with her! Her lecture and discussion was eye-opening, and made me really think about things.  Although Italy is a strong country, they do have their own issues just like everyone else.  The United States and Italy are definitely very different, but the two share similar issues as well.

Day 3: Galleria Borghese

Student Blogger: Erin Toomey

Our second stop of the day was Galleria Borghese. This was a beautiful art museum featuring many Roman paintings, sculptures, and mosaics. The building was transformed into the art museum from the former home of Cardinal Scipione Borghese.

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To get to the Galleria, we walked through a beautiful park. All of a sudden, the canopy pines opened up and gave way to this beautiful mansion. Inside, we were able to explore the different rooms of the gallery with floor to ceiling (and the ceilings were the best part!) 3-dimensional murals, stunning paintings, and massive mosaics in the floor.

I loved standing back and watching as people entered a new room and looked up in awe as they saw the breath-taking, arched, painted ceilings. One of the ceilings had so much depth I thought that if I laid on the floor it would seem as if I was looking into the sky. My favorite piece in the gallery was found upstairs. It was small and looked like every other painting there, until you got really close. When I moved closer, I realized that the piece was actually a mosaic made with the tiniest tiles I have ever seen. It was incredible. I got so excited I started pointing it out to everyone that passed by.

I loved being able to sit and talk about each of the ceilings and color schemes in the different room; each one had its own feeling. Some were bright and airy, others were bold and dark. Each made me feel a different way, which added so much to the experience.

Day 4: Eataly

Student Blogger: Eva DeVries

Eataly sensationalizes Italian culture by selling thousands of products, from meats, dairy, olive oil, and beer to beauty products. Eataly promises fresh, regional, and delicious ingredients. During our tour, we were introduced to a twelve-sectioned display board showing consumers what products can be found in Italy during each month.

Next, we sampled products such as pizza, olive oil, gnocchi, and cold-cut meats. The food we ate differed greatly in taste and quality compared to what an American would taste in a local Giant. Furthermore, Eataly cooks their food behind glass walls. Thus, we were able to observe the production of mozzarella and pasta, as well as the brewing of beer. The transparency of the tedious production of these products is not a traditional practice seen in supermarkets.

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Moreover, the products found in Eataly spoke for themselves. They are simply displayed on shelves with a description of where the product was sourced and the price in small black font.  On the other hand, American supermarkets have the quality of the product overshadowed by the price. The sale of the item is often printed in flashy prints in bold colors.

Another major difference between a standard American market and Eataly lies in how the meat products are displayed. Americans prefer their meat products to be unrecognizable to the animal it once was. Meat is shredded and even dyed to an unnatural resemblance of an animal product. On the other hand, Eataly proudly hangs pork haunches from the ceiling and clear resemblances of the true animal remains clear when the meat product is inside a display case.

While Eataly proves to have enchanting qualities, there are disadvantages to their philosophy. For instance, consumers may demand to have access to the products in the winter time that are only available in the summer. With technological advances, many consumers have grown accustomed to having immediate access to his or her favorite products at any given time. Furthermore, consumers will need to find a substitute or make another trip to a different store.

Eataly holds the promise of fresh food with fair and sustainable eating practices. The transparency of the production of food was an added bonus. American markets should adopt Eataly’s practices to improve the health of the people, as well as the environment.

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Day 4: Colosseum, Forum, and Palatine
Student Blogger: Carrie Haynes

The Colosseum, Forum and Palatine were all places of ancient Roman history that still stand today, over two thousand years later. It was so amazing to see how these places have withstood the tests of time over and over again. There is more history in these three places than in all of America. I found every part to be amazing. To think that people built these buildings without the help of our modern day technology is absolutely mind-blowingly amazing!

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Learning about the history of the Colosseum has changed how I view individuals different from myself by challenging my way of thinking. Just because I don’t agree with the customs of people of different cultures, doesn’t make those customs wrong. An example of this is the gladiator fighting and the executions that occurred at the Colosseum. I personally don’t believe in fighting animals for sport, or executing people by making them act out their own deaths, but to understand someone being able to sit and watch this for sport, you have to understand that what is “normal” is a construction of that time and place and this was normal for them back then. While this probably isn’t the best example, the conclusion of not judging others without taking into account the historical context remains the same.

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Learning about these events also encouraged my personal development and growth because by seeing these historic places up close and personal, I realized just how wrong my view of these places was. By walking around these places, I learned to look beyond what I see in pictures, because pictures only show a fraction of everything there is to see. Seeing these places has also taught me to not underestimate anyone, as well as changing my perspective of the world by showing me that just because other people don’t have the tools that we do today, doesn’t mean they can’t accomplish amazing things. These places taught me to not be so close minded and ethnocentric.

Something I learned that I would like to share is the misconception that lions were predominately used during gladiator fights. Due to them being so expensive and difficult to get, other animals that were more local and cheaper to obtain were used most of the times. But the stories of lions have lived so long because it’s the more exciting and interesting tale.

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