My Favorite Memories at FUS: Academic Travel Adventures

"I read, I travel, I become" -Derek Walcott, Saint Lucian Poet and Playwright.

Welcome back or welcome to Adventures at Franklin! This post is part 2 of a 3 part series where I reflect on some of my favorite memories of FUS. Part 1 was about orientation week, check it out here! I am coming to the end of my time at FUS, and so I wanted to use this platform to reflect on my adventures at Franklin (pun most definitely intended). When I think about my favorite memories, my mind will always drift towards my Academic Travels (AT). I am about to embark on my last AT (shout out to VCA 120T heading to Munich!), and will definitely write about my last travel experience. However for now, here are some of my fondest memories from my 6 previous Academic Travels! 

Fall 2017. CLCS 248T: European Food Systems (Bern, Strasbourg, Lausanne)
Highlights include: 
  • First Academic Travel. The first one always holds a special place in my heart. It was the first time that I was on a school trip that lasted more than a week. It was the first time I did a lot of scholarly activities while on a trip as my previous trips in high school/middle school were usually focused on physical activities i.e. rock climbing, hiking, canoeing etc. This course was my first travel, and I will never forget it.
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder. One thing I found surprising was that I kept in touch with many of my closest friends and also my roommates over the travel period. In fact, I would argue that the distance made us grow even closer together. We all shared the same happiness of being on Academic Travel, and I remember some nights I spent calling my best friends and all of us sharing our adventures from our various travels. 
  • Got to see my parents. I was very excited to start university and I pushed my parents to the side during my first few days of orientation. However, I quickly realized how much of a mistake that was, and how much I needed to thank them for everything they had done for me. So, I was very happy to have been able to see them over travel. I only saw them for an hour or so, but we had lunch together, caught up, and then I returned to my travel group. 
  • Changed my perspective on food. One of the key concepts I learned from this class is the notion of terroir (you are where you eat, the location that a food is made in will determine its taste). 
Spring 2018. ENV 230T: Freshwater Conservation (Italy and Slovenia)
Highlights include:
  • Great group. On almost all of my travels, I have had great groups. However, this group was particularly great. It felt like everyone talked to each other, and we all got along amazingly well. We did a lot of fun activities and ate great food, so that made bonding much easier. 
  • Amazing food. I have also had great food on a lot of my travels, but the food on this travel was also particularly amazing. The hotel we stayed at in Slovenia had the best breakfast buffet I have ever been to, and we got to go to it for nearly a week. There were waffles, bacon, eggs, sausage, cakes, juice, pancakes, hashbrowns, toast etc. The food we ate at Ragogna in Italy was also amazing. Prof. Della Croce had told us that the chef of the hotel was a finalist in the best chef in Italy competition a few years ago, and the food was of the highest quality. The chef made amazing risotto, lasagna, fried chicken, burgers, and desserts. The food on this travel was amazing. 
  • Lots of activities and they were fun! This travel also has many of the most fun activities from any of my travels. We did fieldwork on the floodplains of the Tagliamento river (one of the only rivers in Europe that is still natural/free-flowing). In Slovenia, we went to the coolest caves I have ever seen. We also visited some great sites like dams and fisheries. All in all, a stunning travel. 
  • I also enjoyed the course material. I have been surrounded by freshwater systems most of my life, so it was great to finally learn more about them. 
Fall 2018. COM 230T: Fashion and the Formation of Taste (Florence, Turin, Milan)
Highlights include:
  • The first-night meal. We ate an entire cow, yep an entire cow. We went to Dario Cecchini's restaurant and butchery in Panzano, Italy near Florence. I love Dario's philosophy. He believes in raising the animal with respect by letting it roam free and feeding it well. I also remember he talked to us about using every part of the animal, as a well to respect that animal and consume it in a more sustainable manner. The food was delicious. The experience was a once in a lifetime. Taking the class is worth having a meal at Dario Cecchini's restaurant alone (unless you do not eat beef). 
  • Lots of free time. I mentioned that for my previous travel that I enjoyed how busy we were. I think I still prefer a travel where we are consistently doing activities, but for this travel I enjoyed how much free time we had to explore the cities. I also formed very close bonds with the people I predominantly hung out with over travel.  
Spring 2019. COM 220T: Symbolizing Scottish Folk (Scotland)
Highlights include:
  • Scotland is my favorite place from all my AT courses. I love Scotland. I love the natural beauty and landscape. I love the people. I love learning about the culture, history, and traditions of the country. We did traditional folk dancing, went to cultural sites, and talked to Scottish folklore experts and storytellers. Given that the class was about learning about Scottish folk and culture, the activities were perfect. Also, I was only in Scotland for 9 days and yet it was starting to feel like home. Everyone was so welcoming and everywhere we went was amazing. Usually at the end of travels, I have had a lot of fun, but I am also ready to take a break and get back to Switzerland. Scotland is the exception. The travel period could have gone on for another week. 
Fall 2019. ENV 282T: Tourism and the Environment (Iceland)
Highlights include:
  • Checking an item off my FUS bucket list. Since I arrived at FUS, I wanted to do the Iceland travel. It was offered my first year, but it was entirely full before I had the chance to register for courses. Iceland is only offered every other year, so this was my one shot at it, and I was and still am, delighted to have gotten onto the travel course. 
  • Northern lights. This item was on my bucket list for a long time. When I finally go to see the lights, I was mesmerized. However, the most fascinating thing is that the lights are not green or purple like in photographs. They are more of a white/gray color tone, but the way the lights dance across the sky is a sight that I will never forget.
  • Hiking. We did a lot of cool hikes. Iceland is truly beautiful, and I hope it can stay that way. 
  • I enjoyed learning about tourism and its impacts. Local Icelanders talked to us about the positive impacts of tourism (money coming in, jobs creation) but they also mentioned the negatives (environmental degradation, tourists can be disrespectful). It is a nuanced arguement and my eyes were definitely opened. 
Spring 2020. ENV 231T: Intro to Coastal Ecosystems (Supposed to be Egypt)
Highlights include:
  • The few things we were able to do before lockdown started. We were all looking forward to snorkeling in the Red Sea, but alas COVID-19 hit the world pretty hard and all AT courses did not complete the travel portion of the class. I remember the week that the school decided to keep travel courses in Switzerland, my class had made plans to travel to Zurich and Lausanne. Of course, I was bummed that we were not able to go to Egypt, but I was happy that I could go see my parents during our stay in Lausanne. I remember the first Monday of the "travel" period, we did some small assignments about species in the Red Sea. On Tuesday, we went to a nearby Grotto and ate lunch. This was especially nice because one of the most fun things about travel is eating great food. On Wednesday, we went on a hike to Morcote, which took about 4 hours. This hike was particularly enjoyable as I had never done the hike to Morcote before, and it was great to get outside. We had made plans to go to Zurich and Lausanne on Thursday and Friday, and then the news from the press conferences hit. Lockdown, the "travel" special sessions cancelled, and we were all stuck in Lugano for the time being. It was undoubtedly the right decision by the Swiss government, and let's hope that travel for this fall goes ahead! 
I hope you enjoyed reading about my Academic Travel experiences. Like I mentioned, my last travel starts next weekend, and fingers crossed/knock on wood that we can actually go on travel! If we do, then I will definitely write about my last travel experience. See you next week for another post!

A presto,
Asa

 

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