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study abroad

LJMU archeological dig with SCSU President Jo Bertolino and SCSU and LJMU students

In a bucolic, rural setting not far from the town of Chester, England, a group of Southern anthropology students worked meticulously to unearth the remains of men, women, and children buried centuries earlier in unmarked graves.

The Poulton Research Project has yielded the largest amount of medieval bones from the years 1066 to 1485 to come out of English soil. And for the eight Southern students who joined peers from partner institution Liverpool John Moores University at the site during a two-week field study this May, it provided an opportunity that can’t be replicated on this side of the Atlantic.

“We’re uncovering human remains from the Middle Ages, finding out how and why they were buried that way, and trying to figure out how these people died — it’s a great way to learn,” said Jarod McAnern, a Branford sophomore. The chance to participate in an archaeological field study abroad was one of the things that drew him to the Anthropology Department, and to Southern, he said.

McAnern and his fellow students uncovered medieval pottery and coins, along with the skeletal remains, while learning to survey, document, and photograph the burial sites and perform forensic testing in the labs at LJMU.

“Instead of these students doing simulated field work in a lab setting, they’re getting real-life experience in one of the most significant archaeological sites in England,” said Anthropology Department Chair Kathleen Skoczen, who led the SCSU group.

LJMU and SCSU students digging at archeological site in Chester, England

The field study represented another development in the blossoming Trans-Atlantic Alliance between SCSU and LJMU, which in its third year has included research internships, study abroad for students from both institutions, faculty exchanges, and the approval of the first programs in a portfolio of joint master’s degrees.

SCSU President Joe Bertolino and Provost Ellen Durnin were part of a small delegation that visited Liverpool in May to meet with LJMU leadership and advance the university’s first major international partnership

“Our institutions have much in common, both in their roots and the populations they serve,” Bertolino said. “At Southern, our top priority is to give our students as many experiences as possible while preparing them to live and work in a global economy, and this partnership furthers that goal.”

Entering the third year of the partnership, SCSU and LJMU are focused on expanding its reach. Already this summer, 20 LJMU students spent three weeks at Southern as part of a cultural immersion experience. In Iceland, 35 students and four faculty members from both institutions engaged in a field-based exploration of the interrelationships between the economy and the environment.

Projections are that more than 20 students will spend a semester abroad in Liverpool in spring 2018, while more than 30 LJMU students are expected to make the reverse crossing during the 2017/18 academic year. Research and teaching collaborations have been under way, or are planned, in more than 15 disciplines, ranging from creative writing and art, to public health and computer science.

A giant step forward will see the launch of two joint master’s programs — projected for the fall of 2018: an M.S. in coastal resilience, under the umbrella of SCSU’s Department of Environment, Geography, and Marine Sciences and its LJMU counterpart, and an International Master’s of Business Administration, offered by the respective Schools of Business.

Pending approval by the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) Board of Regents, two additional jointly delivered master’s degrees will launch in the following academic year: an M.S. in global health, and another master’s degree focusing on recreation, tourism, and sport management. Other potential shared graduate programs in creative writing and anthropology are in the pipeline.

The addition of these programs would place SCSU and LJMU in rarified territory as the only American/Anglo universities offering more than one joint master’s program. And these new offerings, built on a hybrid platform of online courses combined with time on the ground at both institutions, would be a draw for an international pool of students, senior leaders said.

“As we celebrate our 25th anniversary year, Liverpool John Moores University continues to develop its global outlook and unleash as many opportunities for our students to experience the unique international environment a university education offers,” said Professor Nigel Weatherill, vice chancellor of LJMU. “SCSU, like us, is a pioneering modern institution and this partnership will enhance our strengths across a wide range of subjects for the benefit of staff and students on both universities, for years to come.”

overview of LJMU dig at Chester, England

Hello again! Here are the three videos I created from my trip to Italy. I went to Rome, Florence, and Pisa over an eight-day period. It was the biggest trip I went on in Europe but I went with my two Southern flat mates, Shannon and Andrea. We planned the entire trip on our own from the hostels, to trains across the Italian country side, to finding tours or simply exploring the cities ourselves! We got a lot of tips and advice from friends and family who have previously studied abroad or went to these cities.

The videos were all done with my iPhone and a selfie-stick. I held the selfie stick like holding someone’s hand so the entire blogs are meant to look as if YOU, the viewer, was with me the whole trip!

Italy has always been somewhere I wanted to go but it greatly exceeded my expectations. The Italian culture is simply beautiful from the language, to the historic roman architecture, and of course, the food! The people we met were also completely inspiring and enriched this experience. We me an older couple from Florida who raised kids and made a good life for themselves but then decided two years ago that they wanted more out of life. So what did they do? They sold their house and everything they owned, and have been traveling across Europe for the past two years. We were lucky enough to meet them in a café in Roma. We also met a nineteen-year old who was enjoying the views of the Vatican on his last day of his 11-month solo journey around the world.

My eyes of the world significantly got wider from this Italian adventure. It was an experience I will never forget. These videos try to do justice to what I saw and experienced for those eight days. I hope you enjoy them, and if I were you, start planning your trip to Italia!

Ciao!

America in Liverpool

Rome

Florence
Pisa

November fifth is a holiday in the UK, particularly England. It is known as either Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night, and it has been celebrated since 1606. It commemorates the failure of what is known as the Gunpowder Plot in 1605. This was an attempt by several conspirators to blow up the House of Lords, killing everyone inside including King James I. They wanted to reinstate a Catholic ruler to the throne of England and Scotland. The conspiracy was thwarted when authorities found Guy Fawkes in the basement of the House of Lords with 36 barrels of gunpowder.

Since then, November fifth has been a major holiday for the country. It was originally celebrated by sermons and ringing bells, but has since evolved into a patriotic holiday much like the fourth of July, marked with firework displays all over the country. In Liverpool, the display was set off from barges on the waterfront, and I joined tens of thousands of others on both sides of the river to watch them. The official display lasted for about a half hour, but unofficial fireworks were going off all over the city for hours. Anywhere I looked I could see fireworks going off in rapid succession. Children carried sparklers and flashing lights through the streets. Overall, the city was in a great mood that day, and several days after. They had come together to celebrate, and it was great to be a part of.

Crowds gathered to see fireworks over the Mersey.
Crowds gathered to see fireworks over the Mersey.

Thanks to our membership in the LJMU International Society, we get the benefit of taking several free trips to locations throughout the UK. The first of these trips was to the northern city of York. Besides being the inspiration for “New York,” this city is full of history. Originally founded in the early first century, it is another reminder that English cities are much older than their United States counterparts.

York is just under two and a half hours away from Liverpool, to the Northeast. We travelled in a coach along with 40 other members of the International Society from all over the world. When the bus dropped us off, we were free to explore as we wished, and we had all day to do so. My flatmates and I set off on our own to discover what York had to offer.

As it turned out, York offered quite a bit. There was the architecture—gorgeous and intricate stone buildings from hundreds of years ago. In the center of the city towered the beautiful York Minster Cathedral, constructed between 1220 and 1472. Then there were “The Shambles,” a shopping district dating back to the 14th century. “The Shambles” resembled Diagon Alley from Harry Potter, with narrow streets and eclectic leaning buildings.

Aside from the historic architecture, there was also a good deal of natural beauty in York. In fact, one of the first sights we saw upon arriving was an exhibition showcasing many of the area’s native birds including owls and falcons. The city is home to two rivers, the Ouse and the Foss, and the bridges over them provided a great vantage point from which to view the tree lined riverbanks and the numerous rowers paddling along. Another great spot from which we could take in the natural and architectural sights was the city wall.

York, like many other medieval cities, was defended by a mighty stone wall surrounding it. Much of the wall remains from the 14th century when it was renovated. In fact, it has more wall than any other city in England. To end our day in York, we walked along a few miles of the wall, taking in the view of the city and the surrounding land. Unfortunately, by this late in the day, my camera had run out of battery so I couldn’t get any pictures, but it was a great perspective to see from. I felt immersed in the history of York as I walked along the same stretch of wall and looking at the same buildings that people have been walking along and seeing for hundreds of years.

The grandest of all, Buckingham Palace.

London is one of the world’s great cities, so it was a must for us to plan a trip down to see it while we’re here. On Friday night after we all had finished our classes, we took a two and a half hour train ride from Liverpool’s Lime Street Station to London’s Euston Station. From there, it was only a short walk to the hostel we were staying at. The great thing about studying in Europe is that if you take advantage of the public transportation and hostels, it is much more affordable to travel around than it is to travel from the United States, and the semester affords you plenty of opportunities to do so.

Despite the fact that Liverpool and London are both UK cities, they each have a completely unique character. Liverpool is a diverse port city, but London is the most diverse city in the world. Liverpool has a compact and easily navigable city center, while London has a larger land area than Los Angeles, and as many people as New York City. Liverpool has a history to be proud of, but London’s history is the history of the Western World; from its settlement by the Romans in the year 43 all the way up to today where it is still a center for culture, finance, and politics. We wanted to take in as much of this history as we possibly could in the 3 days we had available to us.

On Saturday morning, we woke bright and early to take advantage of the free walking tour that our hostel provided. This tour was entertaining, informative, and good exercise, as it lasted nearly 3 hours and covered all of the major tourist attractions in London. We saw several palaces including the grandest of them all, Buckingham Palace, home of her majesty the Queen. We also saw the Elizabeth Tower (home of Big Ben, which is actually the bell in the tower and not the tower or the clock itself), the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, King’s Cross Station (where Harry Potter departs for Hogwarts from platform 9 ¾), and the River Thames.

After the tour ended, we continued on our own to see the Shard (the tallest building in the UK), the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, and the London Eye. All-in-all, it was a busy and interesting day, filled with equal parts history and beautiful architecture.

On Sunday, having seen all of the major attractions, we decided to venture into some other areas of town. First, we went to Camden Market, a massive area of open air vendors selling all kinds of goods from intricate lamps to sweatshirts to foods from all over the world. After we spent a couple of hours there, we set out to find Abbey Road, home of the studio where The Beatles recorded many albums and the famous crosswalk which graced the cover of one of those albums. This was a bit out of the way, but it allowed us the opportunity to take a double decker bus and see many of the more residential and less touristy parts of the city. It also allowed us a great vantage point from which to see some of the many sports and luxury cars that Londoners drive around—from Lamborghinis and Ferraris to Aston Martins and Rolls Royces.

Later that night, my flatmates took a train back to Liverpool, but I stayed for one more night to catch a concert at the Royal Albert Hall. This venue was by far the nicest I’ve ever been in, and it is another wonderful example of the gorgeous architecture that London has to offer. Before the show, I spent a few hours in the Kensington and Chelsea Library doing my reading for the next day’s classes, and another hour or so enjoying the view of a rainbow from Hyde Park. All in all, it was a perfect way to end a wonderful trip. In those three days, I realized that London lives up to its reputation as a great city, but I also realized how much I appreciate Liverpool. When I got off the train back in Liverpool in the relative quiet of the early morning, I at once felt comfortable and at home. The streets of Liverpool are familiar to me, and I feel like I belong there, away from the hustle and bustle of a 24-hour city like London.

Here I am on the Roman Walls!

October 15th, 2016

Greetings from York England!

Ever since I decided to study abroad, I made it a goal to take up as many opportunities as I can; my trip to York was no different. This trip to York was FREE through the International Society at LJMU! Everyone on the trip was from different countries & not only was it incredibly fascinating to hear everyone’s stories and perspectives, but we also got to travel somewhere new together!

I spent the day exploring the enchanting city that was home to Roman walls and castles, lopsided stores and alleyways, and the European birth city of chocolate! There were dozens of chocolate shops and it was quite common to see crowds at the store’s windowsill because you could see delicious fudge being handcrafted right before your eyes.

I wanted to experience the most of my seven hours in York so I started by enjoying a traditional York Pudding. It was absolutely delicious but I found that York Pudding is everything you will find at a Thanksgiving meal (turkey, gravy, potato, string beans, mushrooms, and stuffing) but meshed together in a giant pastry! I also ate some York chocolate and a KitKat bar since York is where the KitKat was invented.

Beyond chocolate, York is known as a very old medieval city with a rich and haunting history. (Fun fact: York is the most haunted city in England!) In the afternoon I did a “Dungeon Tour” of York where the tour group of approximately twenty people and I became “peasants.” Similar to a haunted house, we moved room to room and learned about the haunting history of York such as the black plague and the witch trials.

The Clifford’s Tower was my favorite part of the day. It was exactly what I imagined a castle to look like but to see and touch it in person was unforgettable. Fun history facts: the tower was built in 1086 by William the Conqueror. However, over the many, many years of tragic events, the tower has been burned down and rebuilt dozens of times but much of it stands tall today. The Clifford Tower sits in the middle of the Roman Walls that surround it. The original structure of the wall goes back to the Roman period but the Danish Vikings destroyed most of the wall when they invaded York in AD 866.  The wall was rebuilt in the 13th and 14th century and that is what is remaining today! (I love history!)

York was a beautiful city with so much to offer. I would definitely recommend going if you are in the UK! I took tons of videos and pictures but sadly I didn’t properly save them :(. Ironically, the only video that was saved is me throwing a coin into a wishing well on the roof of Clifford’s Tower…I should have wished to never lose my videos, haha! Oh well, luckily I sent some pictures to my mum!

Thanks for following me & my adventures, until next time!

Signing off,

AmErica in Liverpool

It has already been 19 days since I arrived in Liverpool, and with each passing day I feel more and more comfortable here. During my first week, I struggled with a brief bout of jet lag which saw me awake and asleep at all the wrong times, but I have long since conquered that. Overall, I have been able to adjust to life in a new city quite well.

During the first week I was here alone, so I explored the city by myself on foot. I was able to enjoy the great end-of-summer weather that there was in early September. I saw the waterfront and the Albert Dock, where I spent hours looking out across the River Mersey to the Wirral Peninsula on the other side and enjoying the breeze. I saw both of the huge cathedrals that the city is home to, the Metropolitan and the Anglican. I found my school, about a 15 minute walk from my residence accomodation. I found the Echo Arena. I found the Bombed Out Church from World War II. I found St. George’s Hall (which was used as a filming location for the upcoming Harry Potter spin-off) and dozens of other gorgeous buildings and landmarks.

As I explored the city, a wonderful thing began to happen. Rather than needing to use my phone as a map all of the time, I could recognize my location by sight and navigate through memory. It is an extrordinary thing to learn your way around in a new city, and it is one of the best ways to feel more at home in that city. Not feeling lost all of the time goes a long way toward not feeling out of place. Besides just learning the streets, there were a few other things which required getting used to. The money is different, they use many more coins here than in the U.S. They drive on the opposite side of the road, so I have to remember to look the opposite way when crossing the street. They use different terms, for example “Cheers” means thank you and they call courses “modules”, among many others. It is truly enjoyable to learn and adapt to these differences, and it gives me a great sense of appreciation for the culture of this place.

After a little over a week of living by myself, my flat-mates arrived. They are all fellow SCSU students, and they are all great people. Two of them, Erica Surgeary and Shannon O’Malley are also keeping blogs which you should check out as well. All of us get along great, and it is nice to have others in the same situation learning how to live in this great city together.

Our first major outing as a group was to a food festival in a local park. There were hundreds of stands with foods from all different cultures. I had the interesting opportunity to try a zebra burger which, somewhat surprisingly, was quite good. We have also gone to a pub in the city center to watch the Liverpool F.C. match versus Chelsea. There were hundreds of joyous Liverpool fans singing together as they defeated their competitors. This was a somewhat foreign environment for me personally as a Chelsea supporter, but it was impossible not to enjoy the electryfing environment.

The people here have been nothing but kind, welcoming, and helpful. I have already met and made friends with people from all over the UK, from Ireland, from the Netherlands, from Romania, from Hungary, from France, from Italy, from China, and from India, all come to study here in Liverpool. Indeed, Liverpool is a great student city. It is accessible, safe, cheap, and full of things to do. It is striking how similar we all are despite our different backgrounds, and the world feels just a little bit smaller for it.

Classes finally begin tomorrow, Monday the 26th of September, after a week of registration and introductory information. I am looking forward to studying Shakespeare, British literature, and fiction writing here at LJMU. I can’t wait to meet all of my professors and my classmates. Here’s to a good semester!

Chris Rowland

SCSU at Big Ben

October 7th – 9th, 2016

September 14th – 25th, 2016

I can’t believe it’s been just over a week since I arrived to my new home! Everyday I’ve been enriched by the beauty of the city, the dynamic culture, and of course, brilliant English accents. (cheers mate!) In my short time here I can already see that Liverpool is a dynamic city that is perfect for university students. There are tons of free museums, art galleries, and restaurants, a very lively nightlife, and countless of food options to choose from.

I had the best Indian food the other night!

This past week I’ve been exploring the city with my 5 other flatmates, all from SCSU. We live in the same flat but we each have our own room and toilet (that’s what they call a bathroom!). We share a large kitchen & living room space where we find ourselves each evening drinking tea and chatting about our daily adventures, telling old stories, and playing cards. We’ve also made good friends with our neighbors, especially the flat above ours who are all lads from England, Ireland, and Wales! Their accents are sometimes hard to understand, especially scousers; which are Liverpool natives that speak a different and fast pace style of English. I find myself saying “I’m sorry, can you repeat that?” too many times throughout the day, but everyone here is so genuine and kind that they don’t mind repeating themselves.

As seen in my video, I’ve taken the bus numerous times to get to IM Marsh campus at John Moores University (I’ll post more about LJMU next week). So don’t worry, I’m not just here on holiday (vacation) for four months. My modules (classes) don’t start until Monday, September 26th! However, I had “Induction Week”, which is similar to new student orientation. I’ve been enrolling in my Event Management courses and learning the ropes of what it means to be a Uni student in Liverpool.

One thing, of many many things, that has surprised me was that I was going to be with Event Management freshers (freshmen) during Induction Week. Just like me, they are new to the city. It was a relief that I wasn’t just a blue fish standing out of water, well, until I say something and people realize I am an American!

Surprisingly, the most frequent question I’ve been asked is if I’ve seen celebrities!

I’ve made friends with people from all over the UK and they tell me how much they love my accent; how crazy is that?! Sometimes I feel like a celebrity because anytime I speak, all eyes turn to the “American in the room” but it gets better then that… When anyone asks where in America I am from, I say New York (sadly no one really knows where Connecticut is)  their eyes light up and smile instantly. I’ve noticed their excitement is not about where I am from but it’s that I’ve simply seen New York City before!

The majority of my blog posts will be featured via video. If you’re viewing/reading this post as a Southern Owl or LJMU student, and are interested in the exchange program, I hope you keep following me on this adventure! You can also email me anytime at ericasurgeary@gmail.com if you have questions.

 

Well, that’s it for now mates, until next week, wish me luck on my first week of modules!

 

Signing off,

– AmErica n’ Liverpool.

 

Museum of Amsterdam

By Rebecca Weinberger

You may or may not already know, but Amsterdam is one of the most fascinating places to visit. Why? Amsterdam is rich in culture, historical monuments, and politics.

Today in class we focused a lot on religion and politics in the Netherlands. Our guest speaker, David J. Bos, Ph.D., took us on a journey through the history of Amsterdam. Some interesting aspects I learned were the differences between religions, and how religion plays a major part in today’s votes for office, such as parliament. Pillarization (a separation of society) still takes place even today. In comparison, one might look at the requests catholic, orthodox protestant, socialists, and liberal protestants made when demanding that their religion deserve the most privileges – good education, health care, and media were the aspects each religion had most in common. Throughout the ages, segregation and religious battles continued. Today anyone can vote for parliament, providences, and the European parliament.

Amsterdam has come a long way from hundreds of years ago. After class we winded down and ate a short lunch in the University of Amsterdam’s cafeteria. Later, we visited the Museum of Amsterdam. There were audio recordings, which talked about the history of Amsterdam, as well as rooms that depicted modernized culture and artwork. Spoiler alert! Inside the museum are many artifacts and knowledge about gay heritage, and the effects of Amsterdam’s drug and brothel culture. As the night ended, we came together as a group and chatted in the courtyard of our dormitory, then took a walk to get a “late night” snack near the infamous Red Light district.