Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Obrigado Lisboa

     Thank you Lisbon is what the title says for those who don't speak Portuguese. After two weeks in this lovely country, you would think I would know more than just a few words. Luckily I am able to speak and read Spanish so when we arrived here I was able to understand people as the language was similar yet at other times I had no idea what was being said. The past two weeks have been filled with learning, site seeing, and experiencing the beauty of what Lisbon is.  


First and foremost I would love to thank the Study Abroad administration, scholarship donors, and Professor Skotnicki. Without careful planning and organization this trip would have not been able to happen especially with the extra variable to keep into count which is the coronavirus. Without the scholarship given by the donors, I wouldn't have been able to have enjoy the trip more. And without the professor we wouldn't have learned or experience the religion and history of Lisbon. 

From the first day to the last, the one thing that Lisbon is and that I will not forget is that Lisbon is a city of Hills. I myself am from Yonkers and we are also a city of hills but I think Lisbon blows Yonkers out the water. However, the good thing about hills besides the workout and toning out your calves is the constant views overlooking the city from different viewpoints. There are countless views from this city and from around Portugal such as from Sintra, Tomar, and Evora, that will never leave my mind.

Another fascinating thing that I saw here was the architecture all around the city dating back from the times of the Romans and even later than that.

Besides feasting with our eyes, we were also feasting with our mouth and stomach. I was excited to try new things and simply just for it. I am not much of a seafood person but, I had told myself that if I am here in Portugal where they are known for good seafood, than I shall try it. I was daring one night and I ordered octopus which was delicious and tasted just like chicken. There was some learning to do between tasting octopus and seeing on my plate but I can assure you that this time won't be the only time I had octopus in my life. All the other foods were just as delicious and I even had gelato for the first time.


I would love to conclude this post with sincere gratitude to all who played a role for this program. I am so happy that I was able to come and experience Europe for the first time. After doing trip I know that there will be many more like these and I can't wait for what those trips will bring.


Friday, July 30, 2021

Lisbon, Portugal: A day in Sintra

 We have been in Portugal for a little over a week now and it has been a truly amazing experience. We have learned so much about the history of religion in Portugal in the readings that we do each night and the tours we have been given at the various historic sites. All of the religious sites that we have visited while on this trip have been breathtaking and full of fascinating history.

One site that we visited that has been my favorite visit so far was to a town called Sintra. We visited a site in Sintra called Quinta da Regaleira and it was an amazing experience with some of the most beautiful views that I have ever seen.

As soon as we walked into Quinta da Regaleira, this was our view:

Now if you don’t look closely, you might not see much in this picture but if you look on top of the mountain in the distance you can see a castle that is called Castelo dos Mouros. This really helps to show how intelligent people throughout history were because this castle gave them a stronghold that would be very tough for the enemies to raid and capture. It was a giant castle and really was one of the coolest things I have seen.

Another really interesting site that we saw while in this area was the Poco Iniciatico, or the Initiation Well. This can not be seen from the outside as it is guarded by large rocks that make it invisible to those walking by as a level of protection. But, once we got inside it was incredible. From the top, this photo shows what the view was: 


On the floor you can see 4 large arrows which point North, South, East and West. Also, you can see the arches which are the walls of the staircase that leads you to the bottom. You can see that this is a very tall well and was built with so much detail. We took the many stairs to the bottom and when we got there, we saw that there was a very long tunnel, lit up only by lights on the floor. The only way out was back up or through this tunnel, so we walked through it.

We were told that there are many more tunnels that we couldn’t go through at the time and that there was an extensive tunnel system. I thought that this was super cool because they were built so long ago with way less advanced technology. 


The last stop of the tour, was at the palace where the owners of high class would live. This palace was magnificent:

We got to go walk through the first floor and the level of detail in everything from the floors to even the large doors was so cool to see. The rooms were very large and had so much detail in them as well. When we finished inside, we stepped on the balcony and the views were surreal.


We have already seen and learned so much on this trip but there is still so much more that I look forward to seeing. I am so grateful for being able to partake in a trip like this and I am enjoying every minute of it. I hope one day I can take another trip back to Portugal to see more of this beautiful country and eat some more of the amazing food.


Written By: Connor Frawley

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Lisbon, Portugal: Beyond Lisbon

    It has been a week since we have arrived in Lisbon and I am absolutely loving it! We have gone to many different sites, learned many new things, and of course ate many delicious meals. Since being here in Portugal we haven't been able to go other places outside of Lisbon up until Monday and Tuesday of this week. Both days started out with an early morning where we had to go on the train to get to our final destination. The trains here are so similar yet so different from the ones in New York! Once arrived at our destinations we got to walk around and experience what we had previously learned about in our readings we had done for the day. Although I enjoyed both destinations (Évora and Tomar) I'd like to focus this blog on Tomar. 
    Once arrived in Tomar we started by talking about our reading from the night before. This reading focused on the The Knights Templar, which was a Catholic medieval military order. Prof. Skotnicki took us up the hill to Castelo de Tomar where the Templars once were. If there is one thing I have learned about Portugal is that there are A LOT of hills. The castle was gorgeous and we saw many symbols relating to the Templars inside and out. 
    This has been the third castle we've seen but has to be my favorite. There were so many rooms and so many different directions you could take that all lead to something new. This castle was unlike the others where there was also a church inside. The architecture all around was unbelievable. As we walked around we could read about some of what we were seeing, allowing us to relate it to what we have learned. 

    I’m excited to see what is in store for the rest of the trip and what other new things I will get to learn. I loved being in Tomar for the day and I hope for one day to go back and spend more time in the beautiful Castelo de Tomar. 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Lisbon, Portugal: A Day in the Life of a Study Abroad Student in Lisbon

 Lisbon thus far has proved to be an unimaginable experience. It has opened my eyes to a new culture, which I have been encouraged to and and have so far thrown myself into. I have met what feels like a thousand new people, gone to various areas of Lisbon, taken public transportation, ate new food, and most importantly began learning about Religion in Portugal, which is primarily why I am here. 

Yesterday, Friday July 23rd, our class had two site visits. Our first site visit was the archeological museum of Lisbon in Belem (Museu Nacional de Arqueologia). 

The archeology museum was vast and detailed. It was extremely interesting to be able to look through important objects that existed during the time we are learning about. It is mind boggling that we have evidence of intelligent civilizations and language use and countries from hundreds and hundreds of years ago. We learned all about Rome's influence over Portuguese culture and religion from their 450 year reign over Portugal. 

We then ubered to a different area of Lisbon where would be walking through ruins of an ancient Roman Theatre. A tour guide took us into the theatre where we stood at various entrance points and watching points that Portuguese citizens actually stood at hundreds of years ago. A fascinating part about the theatre is that so many people came to watch that the actual theatre only held the high aristocratic/military men and woman and slaves and other people of a lower class would watch the plays from high building windows and terraces. 

Johanna, the tour guide also took us through a museum which showcased important details of the Roman theatre and civilization in Portugal from hundreds of years ago. This was the view from the museum window: 

And today, for our first free day of our trip, we went to the beach at Fonte De Telha. It was beautiful and the weather was warm and breezy, which made for a perfect beach day. 

Written by: Jane Porter

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Lisbon Portugal - A day of exporlation

 Today was our first official day in Lisbon Portugal, and there was a plethora of culture to take in. We started off by taking a walk down to the coast line ( shown in the picture below ) and there was beautiful architecture along with hidden restaurants and shops. There were a very different shift in culture and it was very easy to navigate and get around. Everyone spoke english and whenever I needed something whether it was from a store or directions, everyone was friendly and helped me out. 

Moreover our professor carried us to a church where mass was taking place and we were able to see beautiful art pieces of Saint Anthony and our group sat down and ate lunch together where the seafood is amazing.

We examined the architecture and I took my time and appreciated the beauty, something that professor Skotnicki said is that in Portugal they do not knock down and re-build, they build and repair the over time. It felt like I was in a different era and I was not in 2021, it felt new but old at the same time.Everything is different from the Trali to the pastries that were fresh and tasted amazing! 

The public transportation is very different and unique in Lisbon, from the Trali going from one part of Lisbon to another. Along the way there were beautiful statues and art pieces that caught my eye. 

Furthermore since I love taking photos, I found myself stopping every few seconds to take pictures because everything around Lisbon is beautiful. I will admit although I am not the best writer in the world I think the photos speak about how unique and different Lisbon is. I feel as if I am a little kid and I exploring a new world that I never knew existed, it is new and refreshing and opens my eyes to a new world after being locked up home in 2020. 

To end off this blog, I can say Lisbon has my heart and my time here is a very beautiful and individualistic learning experience. Personally I would not been in this position without this scholarship and without study abroad.  I will continue to enjoy my time here and I may sneak a few bottles of green wine back to New York because I know thats one of the things I will miss. But overall this experience has been one to remember! 

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Florence/Rome : Reflecting on a Pilgrimage

One of the first things Brother Robert informed our group before beginning this course was that taking this religion class in Italy was most definitely not a vacation. We were going there on a mission and so this was a pilgrimage, or an important journey, but not a vacation. 

And when we arrived we quickly learned what he meant by that. 

We were immediately thrown into a whirlwind of mesmerizing churches, charming little neighborhoods, and what seemed like an endless number of cafes and gelatarias.  There were almost no lines at most of the churches and museums, so we were able to take full advantage of the rich opportunities the towns had to offer and became quickly immersed in the local culture as well.

I loved the excursions we were able to partake in such as visits to Fiesole, Sienna, Lucca and Pisa. The Leaning Tower of Pisa was particularly astounding to see in person; it really does look like it could collapse at any minute.  And every time there was a new hill to climb, (there were some serious hills!) I knew the view at the top would be worth the sweat and tears.

Florence felt like the perfect intersection between culture, history, and gastronomy. Some of the top highlights of our stay in Florence include getting to see the David statue by Michelangelo in the Accademia Galleria, touring through the Basilica of Santa Croce where famous greats like Niccholas Machiavelli, Michelangelo and Galileo are buried, and visiting the sprawling Pitti Palace which houses some of the most incredible sculptures, paintings and artefacts. In Rome, I could never forget standing in the Colosseum or walking through St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. Pictures simply cannot capture the absolute grandeur of these locations, works of art and architecture and they can only give you a small glimpse of the meticulous details and workmanship put into these relics. We were always blown away.

As our pilgrimage in Florence and Rome, Italy comes to an end, I can’t help but take some time to reflect on the experiences of the past three weeks. Considering the ever-changing pandemic situation, I never lost sight of the fact that we were very lucky to be able to study in Italy this summer at all. It was an incredible experience filled with beautiful sights, amazing historical and religious visits, as well as delicious foods. Plus, I think I speak for all of us when I say, we formed friendships that would stay with us for many years to come and created significant memories that only the eleven of us share. I honestly spent so much time laughing I thought I would cough up a lung or something and there wasn't a day that went by that I didn't wish I could take all of the great pasta dishes, cappucinos and italian cornettos home with me.

Italy served as our classroom as we learned about catholic saints and history and explored themes of personal spirituality and purpose. However, some of the most important lessons, those about human connection, compassion and learning to appreciate every little moment, came from the friendships we formed with each other as we experienced this unique pilgrimage together.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Italy: Forza Italy!

When feeling the fresh breeze while walking the streets of Florence, I realized what they say is true: you can manifest your visions into reality. From the delicious grilled bread rubbed with garlic, topped with tomatoes and olive oil to the fettuccine marinated in the right amount of sheep cheese and mussels. I was truly amazed and the best thing was that it was only the beginning. I was very grateful for experiencing the true Italian eating tradition where we would eat about three to four dishes at dinner. It was very different from what I was accustomed to in New York. Not only was the food unbelievably good but there was more to it. I knew there had to be a reason why Italians insist on staying at a dinner table for quite a long time. I found myself getting to know more about my classmates at dinner than on a day-long trip. Italians value the time they have at the dinner table, it is the key to family bonding. I will definitely adopt this new lifestyle when I go back home. 

While I was in Florence, I was truly intrigued by the authenticity and freshness of the meat, cheese, pasta, and even the water. I was able to endure the organic meals that were not filled with GMOs, chemicals, or any substances I can’t even pronounce.

Not only is Italy known for their delicious food, like their exotic cheeses and wines, but they are also one of the world’s top competitors in the sport of football (what we call soccer). It is known to be the significant cultural component that brings people from Latin America and European countries together. I loved having the opportunity to immerse myself in the sports culture of Italy.

 As I was exiting the Vatican museum, I came across this display that caught me off guard. It had the Argentinian, Italian and Brazilian jerseys, cleats, and soccer balls signed and on display. They even had a picture with the pope being handed a soccer ball by Gigi Buffon who is known to be one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. 

It was amazing to see how this display correlates so well with the religion course I am taking in Italy. I never would have imagined that my favorite sport could intersect with my religion. It truly is amazing to see how the team players are still connected to their religion. In the middle of the display, you can see they are receiving a blessing from the pope. 

Although I was very appreciative of being able to see this view, nothing will compare to the night where I lived through a championship that hasn’t been won in 52 years. The adrenaline that flourished in the atmosphere during the European Football Championship 2020 Game was my biggest highlight of this trip. I was fortunate enough to experience this one spontaneous moment where those with different languages and diverse backgrounds unite. Being on your toes and having the same reaction as the locals when the national team would score or miss was the best feeling I’ve ever had. Sitting down on the edge of my seat, I saw the last penalty kick that will determine Italy’s Football record. I watched England's last penalty kick being blocked, the greatest relief I've had. There were moments I would pause and take it all in. In those moments I fell in love harder with my career choice. I even started looking into schools that offer sports medicine programs that are somewhat connected to Italy’s national football team. It was the perfect setting to enhance one’s sport spirit. I can proudly say Forza Italia!