“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” -Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad
There are things in this life that cannot be learned by opening a book, nor by sitting in a lecture hall filled with 100 of your closest friends. It is for this reason that study abroad provides a whole new take on what Texas A&M University can offer to its students by taking us out of our comfort zones. Truth be told there is a world existing outside our own, and not just one, but several, and not only in terms of culture, but time as well. All of these worlds intermingle with one another forming the basis our world depended on to exist. We stand on the shoulders of giants, who stood on giants before them, and so on. Engineering in its essence is the accumulation of brilliant minds that paved the way for the makeup of our modern world. That is why it was no accident that Dr. Allen and Professor Cordes, our leading-faculty members organizing the first ever ocean engineering study abroad trip decided to travel to Italy, the land where great minds like Galileo, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Brunelleschi sprang from and where ancient empires rose and fell.
This past summer, a group of 32 ocean engineering students from both the College Station and Galveston campuses embarked on a month-long study abroad trip to this ancient land which lives both in the past and present. On the coast of the Adriatic Sea, we resided for the majority of our trip in Ravenna, a city steeped in history from being the final resting place of Dante Alighieri and the last capital of the Roman Empire. In this city, our class soon became entangled in the everyday life and culture, from the people we met to the remnants of the past that echo our own.
In the days we were not in class, our professors took us to the cities Italy is well known for like Venice, Florence, and Pompeii where we saw many sights like:
- The Colosseum
- The Pantheon
- Trevi Fountain
- The Vatican
- Basilica of Sant’apollinare
- St Mark’s Basilica and Campanile
- Basilica di Santa Croce
We were also fortunate enough to tour the MOSE Project in Venice, Italy, the multi-billion dollar project intended to protect the city from flooding. While the project has yet to be completed after 16 years, our professors reminded us that this was the very reason there is a need for engineers who are trained for the Sisyphean task of working with the natural earth.
In addition, we visited a power plant belonging to Eni, one of the top ten oil and gas companies in the world.
I am not alone in my sentiment in saying that this was truly a fantastic trip and we wish to thank our professors for organizing and structuring it the way they did. If this was the first ever for ocean engineering I cannot imagine how exciting the subsequent trips will be for the years to come.
The College of Engineering offers a wide variety of opportunities to study abroad. Search programs by department, location and type to find the perfect fit for you.