Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I will miss you Dr. Hashemi!

The day before our final was a sad day for me, because I had to say good bye to Dr. Hashemi, who is one of the best Professors I have ever had. "Just DO IT!!!!!" I will miss you Dr. Hashemi!

travel break

Rodrigo: This photo was taken in Morocco during an excursion trip by Discover Sevilla. We traveled to M'Diq, ChefChaouen, Tetouan and Tangiers in one weekend. This was very exciting for me since it was my first time ever to be in a third world country and because the scenery was beautiful. It was a completely different world for me. ChefChaouen is a very interesting city since the walls and doors of buildings were blue colored and the walkways were very narrow. It was somewhat interesting that although we were sleeping in a four star hotel the water was still a bit brown colored. The people in Morocco are very friendly to foreigners, despite that the starting price is very high when you barter with local merchants. I enjoyed the food for the most part and I was surprised of how much food they provide in one plate. What I didn’t like much is that there wasn’t a lot of variety. Almost every Moroccan menu had only tagines and couscous dishes. I felt that the food was a bit bland, at least for my taste. I hope that I will return to Africa to see other countries and regions, especially the Sahara desert.

Trevor: I went to Rome over the break between classes. I was there for a total of two and a half days, during which time I'm sure I walked over thirty miles and saw many things I'll never forget. Even though it was roughly only a two day trip, it's still hard to sum up in a few sentences; the weekend was packed full of seeing things and experiencing Roman culture.

I started the trip with a bang on the first morning at the Vatican City, the smallest city-state in the world and home of the Pope. It was incredible, as could be expected. One of the friends with whom I was staying and I took a tour in the morning for about 3 hours through first the Vatican Museum and then the other highlights of the city, including the Sistine Chapel, which features arguably Michelangelo's best work, The Last Judgement, and St. Peter's Basilica, the largest church in the world. The whole city was full of incredible history, architecture, and of course, tourists. After the Vatican City, we went to the Pantheon and saw multiple plazas and fountains, of which Rome has an incredible amount. After supper that night, we went to see some of the sites we would go to the next day as they were lit up at night; the Coliseum, the Roman Forum, the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, etc. After a few hundred pictures and a few miles, we called it a night.

The next day we all went our separate ways to see everything we wanted. I went to countless more small churches and plazas and got to see the Trevi Fountain, another incredible and beautiful work into which I threw a coin to ensure I'd come back to Rome. After having seen a church with a solid gold ceiling and more plazas than I could remember, I went to take a tour of the Coliseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. I've always wanted to see the Coliseum, and it didn't disappoint me at all. To this day, it is an amazing feat of engineering, especially considering that it was put up in only eight years. The Forum and Palatine Hill are both full of more history than I could remember, but basically, the Forum was the direct center of ancient Rome and Palatine hill is where the royalty stayed (or so I believe). After these tours, I saw the famous Plaza of the Republic and the Castle of San Angelo, a castle very close to St. Peter's Basilica that's connected to the old Vatican City walls.

As I said, it's a hard weekend to sum up in a few short paragraphs, but what I have written includes the highlights of the trip. I had a great time and can't wait to go back. Here is a picture of me at the Castle of San Angelo with St. Peter's Basilica and the courtyard of the Vatican in the background.

Andy, Garret, Eric, Brian, Robert, Erika, Rodrigo, and me(Riley): We went to Barcelona for our 5 day break between sessions and had the time of our lives. Barcelona is on the Mediterranean Sea and also surrounded by mountains, and none of us had ever seen the whole mountain, beach combo so we all thought that the city was absolutely beautiful. We got to see the famous "Segrada Familia" cathedral done by Guadi and many other architectural masterpieces done by him. Our favorite adventure was probably the bike tour that we did that took us all over the city. It was an awesome way to get to see all of the highlights and all in all, we had an amazing time.

Sebastian: Over the 5 day break, I had the opportunity to go to Barcelona and travel with my parents. It was an amazing trip, and I enjoyed Barcelona a great deal! I was able to visit La Sagrada Familia, which was an incredible sight, both from an artists perspective, as well as an engineers. My second day we went to Parc Guell, and that night we met up with my uncle, who lives in Bilbao, and went to see the classical guitarist Manuel Gonzalez who performed an array of great classical guitar pieces from Concierto de Aranjuez to Recuerdos de la Alhambra. The following day, we took a trip to the Dali-Gala Theater Museum, which is in a town about an hour and a half from Barcelona called Figueres. The museum is unlike any I have ever been to. It is as if walking into one of Dali's paintings, from the moment you step in the door there is no way of knowing what you can expect. Along with all these great places, there was also the food! I had some of the best paella, shrimp, sardines, and sangria I have ever had the opportunity to taste! I can't really point at either of these and say they are my favorite, since I enjoyed all so much. But I'll send you a picture that made the most impact on me during the trip.

from Amelia: I went to London for the break between summer sessions, and it seems that, by and large, what I saw most were the street performers. Funny or talented, they would elicit coins from passerby using various tricks and gimmicks. This guy was wanting to draw a crowd for some reason, so he was breakdancing. This was in Picadilly Circus, but many of the performers I saw were also in Covent Gardens. I guess they figure that, if people are going to be spending money anyway, they might as well give spare change to performers on the street.

The best thing I did in London, though, is visit the British Museum. I spent four solid hours wandering the exhibits, and I didn't even cover half of it. Everything there was amazing. Other than that, I just wandered around. London was a really great trip.

Rebecca and Mary: Over the four day break between classes Mary and I decided to stay in Seville. Even though we had both been here for 5 weeks already we still felt like we hadn't really seen much. Only class and then home, with an occasional walk around the shops by the cathedral. It was really fun to finally be able to walk around without having to keep checking time to see if we were late or not. A park that we always pass on the way to school was holding a neat fair that had artists and people selling crafts. There was a little miniature trampoline/bungee contraption, but it was closed when we passed. Then we also visited the Maria Luisa park. It is absolutely gorgeous, and HUGE too. The trees that grow there are like something out of a Disney movie, there roots seemed like they would go down to the center of the earth. They were definitely my favorite part of the park. We also experienced some night life. We went to the discoteca which was a lot of fun. It was called Buddha and people would walk in and automatically walk to the third floor. There was probably only like ten people on the first two floors and then when we went to the third floor we saw how packed it was. The funny thing is that they played all American songs, and there weren't even that many people speaking English but it seemed like everybody was singing along. Besides that Mary and I took advantage of sleeping in and relaxing watching some world cup games. It was a fun break, now back to work.

Austin, Matthew, and Eric(me): In Paris France during the study abroad program in Seville Spain. We took full advantage of one of our free travel weekends alloted by the staff at the Seville Tech Center. Using the metro system, we were able to see the Eiffel tower, Notre Dame, Arc de Triumph, The Moulin Rouge, The Louvre, and the Catacombs. The food was amazing, and unlike any place we have traveled to before, the entire meal was set for one low price with your choice of appetizer, entree, and a dessert. The Paris experience was not complete, of course, without a taste of some fine wine. . . Paris was an experience that everyone should enjoy.

First Impressions

Sean: My first few days in Spain have been amazing. Everything here is different. The people are real friendly, and it all seems like a mix of the old and the new. My host mother, Carmen is awesome. She’s always very friendly and cooks some great food, like fried ham and cheese. We’ve had time to do some sightseeing. We’ve explored some of the older parts of Seville, like the area around the cathedral. You just don’t get to experience anything like that at home. The whole area is older than our entire country. It’s amazing. Plus, everything in Seville is just a short walk or bus ride away. There’s so much to see, and so little time.

I just got here and haven't gone anywhere yet, but we have explored the town a lot. We saw the river and the cathedral which was really cool, and everybody here is way chill. Our host family is really tight and they give us plenty of food. Oh yeah.

Stephen: Before I landed in Madrid last Saturday, I thought I would have a hard time navigating and living in Spain for four weeks while not knowing more than a dozen words of Spanish. Fortunately, I was proven wrong. Both the airport and the train station had signs in both Spanish and English so there was never any issue. Once on the train heading towards Seville, anyone could tell by looking out the window that Spain is an absolutely beautiful country. Calming rolling hills with red flowers and thousands of orange trees are all throughout the countryside. As my taxi cab took me to the hotel, I was still focused outside the the window looking at all of the beautiful architecture created by the rich culture of Spain. I've only been here for four days and I'm loving it here!

Jared: I have had a great first couple of days. Just getting to Sevilla was a blast. You always here about the fast metros they have in Europe and they are more impressive in real life. I got dizzy looking out the window because electricity poles wizzed by. Boy does our host mom cook a lot food. They have some of the best foods especially the oranges. Oh the oranges. I am already planning on how to take ten pounds of them back to U.S. with me. I have gone to the river and the cathedral area and plan on exploring them indepth this weekend. Sevilla is an amazing city.

Monday, June 21, 2010

WCOE in Seville, 2010

I am typing to the rhythm of the clapping and foot stamping of Flamenco dancers rehearsing in a studio across the street from our apartment. That is part of the experience of Sevilla, Spain, home to the Texas Tech University Whitacre College of Engineering study abroad program for lower division engineering students. Welcome to the 2010 version of our blog. My name is Walt Oler and I am one of the Texas Tech University faculty members who are teaching in Spain this year. I hope that you will enjoy following the blog as we chronicle the experiences of our students and try to convey a little of the beauty and charm of this unique Spanish city.

Summer 2009 was the first year of the engineering program in Spain. Twenty students participated and everyone had a wonderful time. If you are new to this blog, I encourage you to check out the earlier posts which describe last year's experiences. Our participation this year is larger with approximately 40 students. Some were here for the first summer session and took the first fundamental course in engineering mechanics 'Statics' with Dr. Javad Hashemi. Many of the students also took 'Music of Spain' taught by Dr. Eric Fried. Additional students have arrived over the weekend to take 'Thermodynamics' which I will teach and either 'Engineering Communications' taught by Dr. Dean Fontenot or Dr. Mark Webb's class on 'World Religions.' Today was spent with the students getting acquainted with their 'host' families and beginning to find their way around Seville. Classes will begin tomorrow.

Here are a few of the sights from Sevilla (click on the photos for larger images):

One of the first things that you notice about Sevilla is that the plazas and sidewalk coffee shops and restaurants are the social centers.

In old Sevilla the buildings are all very old but reasonably well maintained. The streets are narrow and the sidewalks are even smaller. You have to be very careful not to step off in front of a car or moto (motor scooter).

This 14th century monastery now serves as the Andulusia Center for Contemporary Art. Christopher Columbus was a guest here between his first and second voyages to the new world. According to legend, this tree was planted by his son.