Although I was not ready to leave Venice, I thought that Vienna was a very pretty and sophisticated city. The activities that the school planned in Vienna were my absolute favorite and I learned a lot more about the history and culture of Vienna.
The Schonbrunn Palace complemented with the audio guide was absolutely fantastic. Not only did the audio guide allow me to go at my own pace, but in each room, I learned at least three interesting pieces of information about Vienna or the royal family. Some of the highlights of the room visits for me included seeing the room where the young Mozart performed, visiting the room where Kennedy met with Khrushchev, hearing the tales about Marie Antoinette, and listening to the explanations of the different decorations in the rooms. The extra ten minutes that we were allotted for the tour made a grand difference and some of my favorite rooms were in this “extra” tour session.
After the tour, a few of us wanted to explore the gardens. It was fun to imagine members of the royal family walking around in the garden in the same spaces that we were walking- the gardens definitely have a sense of grandeur and splendor. We walked to the top of the hill and had a spectacular view of the palace. The day was pretty busy with the visits to the churches and palace; it was nice to reflect on what I had learned that day.
My other favorite activity was our visit to the Kunsthistorisches Museum. The audio guides were a huge help for me and the even the first descriptions about the architecture and history of the building proved to be fascinating. When I finally arrived at the art gallery, it was a bit overwhelming how many pieces of art were available for the audio guide commentary. I eventually had to learn to pick and choose which art pieces I wanted to learn more about. My favorite piece of information that I learned was about “Paragone.” Paragone is an artistic argument that occurred in the 16th century; painters attempted to show their dominance over sculptors (they believed sculptors were not in tune with nature, unlike painters).
I also enjoyed the Egypt collection contributed by Austrian archaeologists. The audio guides were also helpful during this section and each room was dedicated to a different section of ancient Egyptian history. My favorite audio guide sections were the explanations of the sphinx and the hippo in Egyptian culture. Hippos were actually seen as cruel creatures, while the sphinx had no negative connotations (this differs from the Greek ideas on the sphinx).
I am glad that I was able to spend more time at this museum because of the information available through the labels and the audio guide. Of course, I could have spent the whole day at the museum, but I am happy with the provided information and have added the Kunsthistorisches Museum to my list of “museums to visit again.”
I have to admit that although I was looking forward to the Venice trip, I did not believe that I would enjoy the city due to the plethora of tourists. While there were many tourists in Venice, this did not prevent me from falling in love with the city. It did not matter which direction I turned- the beautiful views were unceasing and I now understand why Venice is one of the most photographed cities in the world. Each moment in Venice really was perfect (the weather, the activities, the meals, etc.). In particular, there are two activities that stand out to me when I think about this trip- the Peggy Guggenheim Museum Collection and a (accidental) two hour water taxi ride I was able to take with a few friends.
I have never particularly appreciated modern art. I admittedly accepted the negative stereotypes of modern art- “I could paint/construct what these ‘artists’ paint.” However, I while at the Guggenheim Museum, I was fascinated by the paintings and wish that I could have spent more time learning from the pieces. I think that one of the reasons why this museum changed my mind about modern art was the description next to each painting. The descriptions were all extremely intelligent and displayed unique insight into various subjects. For example, one painting had the description explaining that the blurred colors and smears showed the artist’s idea that WWII and the Holocaust cannot be represented (one of the topics in my Holocaust and Memory class at McDaniel). It was also a special experience to see paintings by famous painters such as Picasso and Andy Warhol.
During our free night in Venice, a couple of friends and I decided to explore and take advantage of our 24 hour water taxi passes. We originally thought that the ride might last half an hour around the island. We were on the boat for over two hours (we even got off before the boat made the roundtrip). While the first half of the boat ride was a little crowded with locals and tourists alike, the second half was much less claustrophobic. We were able to stand outside and watch the scenery and see different parts of the island. We were able to drive past/around Murano, where our glass souvenirs were created.
Visiting the art museums did allow me to learn more about Italian art and lifestyle. I even found a (free!) museum dedicated to Vivaldi and string instruments. The variety of instruments and their history accompanied details about Vivaldi’s life and it was a wonderful experience to learn about Vivaldi while in Venice. As I mentioned before, each moment was perfect while in Venice and it is always a memorable experience when I can learn about history while seeing the actual sites and locations where the history took place.
A few days ago, I checked my mail and received my Vote by Mail ballot, to my great excitement. The only reason I was excited to turn 18 was to finally be able to vote. Even though I’m many miles away from the great city of San Francisco, my permanent residence is still technically in the city, which means I’m allowed to vote!
Not having been in the city and not having been paying much attention to the current issues, I was a little ashamed to realize I barely even knew what was on the ballot. Thankfully, they had also sent me a voter information guide, which is also published online before every election. I spent a good couple of hours reading through the measures on the ballots and the arguments in favour and in opposition of the proposed measures. I found it fascinating, especially having worked with my own legislation through Maryland Student Legislature.
While I can’t visit the city as frequently as I’d like to, I can still speak my voice in the greatest city!
Tailgating during the game is a big tradition on the Hill! Sororities and fraternities traditionally paint their letters on the grass prior to games.
I’m a senior this year, so I knew that I had to make the most of my last Homecoming as a current student on the Hill. (Plenty more Homecomings await me as an alum!) I went to McDaniel’s Homecoming my freshman and sophomore year here, and they were okay. I only stayed for part of the game, and things were cold–my first year, it even snowed!
However, the weather was picture-perfect this weekend, with sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s. I mosied on down to the football field a little after kickoff happened at 1:00. McDaniel is famous for tailgating, and once I got to the stadium, I joined my friends at the Gamma Sigma Sigma and Alpha Psi Omega tents. I’m not a member of Gamma Sig, a service sorority, or Alpha Psi, a theater honor society, but both the groups, with tents set up close to each other, gladly let me hang out and watch the game with them.
The game was a close one. McDaniel lost 33-28, but it was exciting to watch. When I wasn’t watching the game, I was chatting with friends, meeting new people, and trying to find friends of mine who are now alumni.
After the game ended, I nearly left, but I ran into a couple of my friends who are alumni, and I joined them in scouting out other alums. With their help, I was able to find a few people I had worked closely with through the Free Press and the Writing Center. I was thrilled to get to see them! I was most excited to get to see my friend Amber, who graduated in May and is now getting her master’s degree at DePaul in Chicago. We were both genuinely happy to see each other and catch up. I was so glad I didn’t go back to my house right after the game was over, because otherwise, I wouldn’t have gotten to see her!
Once I left the tailgating area, I went back to my house to take a breather before meeting up with my friend Emily, an alumna, at 5:00 at the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs’ Homecoming Reception in the lobby of the gym. There, we chatted, and an hour later, we went with another friend to Denny’s for a reunion dinner. I love going to Denny’s this time of year because their pumpkin pancakes are delicious; I always order a Grand Slam breakfast so I can eat some at the restaurant and save some for later.
After Denny’s, we went to go see Danger Sauce perform in Decker Auditorium. Danger Sauce, our improv troupe on the Hill, does a Homecoming show every year for Danger Sauce alumni to participate in. I’d never been to one of the alumni shows before, and it was a treat to get to see Danger Sauce performers who had graduated, regardless of whether our time at McDaniel had overlapped.
I finished up the evening hanging out with my friends in North Village, McDaniel’s on-campus apartment complex. We chatted, enjoyed some snacks, and played a hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity.
It’s not often that I get to pack so much fun into one day and see so many people I love all at once. This was truly a Homecoming to remember, and I hope I’ll create more fabulous Homecoming memories in the future!
Last Wednesday, McDaniel took a huge step forward when Dr. Casey and Dean Gerl signed the Real Food Challenge agreement. The school is agreeing to ensure that by the year 2020, 20% of the food McDaniel serves in Glar will be ‘real,’ which means local or community/based, organic/ecologically-sound, humane, or fair trade. This will mean that the school prioritizes this real food and really works towards making our dining hall sustainable.
I haven’t been particularly involved myself, but a few of my best friends were really heavily involved through Progressive Student Union and spent countless hours working on their calculations so that they could present the plan to the school. The signing ceremony on Wednesday in Glar was a huge step forward, and represented all the time they’d poured in. I am so proud of them for inspiring change, and of the school for listening to the ideas students have.
At the same time, this endeavor will raise awareness on campus of ways to eat healthily and in a sustainable fashion. I’m so proud of everyone involved.