Men's lacrosse rising junior Ryan Connors was part of a school-sponsored study abroad trip to Europe earlier this summer. Connors was honored at the 2013-14 athletic banquet as the Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and also earned spots on the all-state and all-conference academic teams.
On May 28 the whole class flew into Rome. During our time in Rome we saw the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Pantheon, but we also saw several sights that related more closely to the two classes I was taking while taking while abroad, a Political Science class called "How Wars End" and an English class called "Literature of Modern European Wars". These sites included Mussolini's office, the Italian fascist parties youth exercise grounds and the location of Mussolini's march into the city. We also stopped at the American cemetery in Anzio and the Abbey at Monte Casino, both stark reminders of the sacrifices of the American and Allied troops to topple the Italian fascist government and push the Nazis out of Italy.
From the Balkans we headed north to Hungary to visit Budapest. Budapest was one of my favorite locations places we saw on the trip; the architecture and culture of the city is a unique blend of classical European and Eastern European. The Holocaust museum in the city left a very profound impression upon all of us.
From Austria we made our way to Germany. Of all the countries we visited, we spent the longest time in Germany, visiting Munich, Leipzig, Nuremburg and Berlin. In Munich we experienced the culture of Bavaria and saw some of the scenes associated with the rise of Hitler and the Nazis. In Nuremburg we saw the Nazi party rally grounds where the annual Nazi party rallies took place. In Leipzig we focused on the student lead peaceful protests that lead to the end of the GDR and the reunification of Germany. During our time in Berlin we saw the Sachenhousen concentration camp, the Berlin Wall, the Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie, the Holocaust Memorial, and a lot of other sites around Berlin as well.
After Belgium we spent the night in Luxembourg and then made our way to Reims in France. On the way to Reims we stopped at Belleau Wood and Chateau Thierry, the sites of some of the largest battles of the First World War.
From Bayeux we moved to Paris. We spent a day seeing the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, The Louvre, Notre Dame and several other sites around the city. The next day, on June 28th, we flew back to the US.
We saw an awful lot in one month, and as someone who had never been to Europe before I feel very fortunate that I was able to see so much is such a short period of time. Dr. Lipani, Dr. Lang, and our guide Declan Pratt of Global Explorers put together an excellent program that balanced the educational portions of the trip with free time so that we could explore on our own. I'm extremely glad I took the opportunity to a be a part of this study abroad program and it really was an experience that I will never forget.