From Hobbiton to Harbour Bridge: Exploring New Zealand and Australia

By: Ashley Wilford, EC Scholar and Honors College Sophomore

Ashley 41New Zealand and Australia are two nations I never would have imagined having the chance to travel to, but this summer, I was fortunate enough to spend part of my summer in both of these wondrous countries. The two week tour organized through ECU’s Summer Study Abroad Program stopped off in Rotorua and Auckland in New Zealand then Cairns and Sydney in Australia before rounding off in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Our first day in Rotorua, New Zealand included traveling on a gondola, luging down a mountain, exploring a village built around thermal energy, riding ogos (those big plastic hamster balls!) down hills, and attending a Maori cultural performance and “hangi” feast – Needless to say, I was exhausted by the end of the day!

After a relaxing mud bath hot springs spa, we later ventured to Auckland where we toured the set of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films, Hobbiton! Sadly, I had only watched the first Hobbit movie and bits and pieces of the other Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies before the trip. However, Hobbiton was just as scenic and breathtaking as the movie portrayed! I doubt very much digital enhancing had to be done for the set!

The landscape consisted of lush green hills, pine trees, deciduous trees, ponds, and sheep. Apparently, the directors paid so much attention to detail that the sheep on the farm were hidden behind the hilltops and replaced with black “stunt” sheep when filming because they looked more appropriate!

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While snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns, Australia was an entirely nonpareil experience on its own, one of my most memorable experiences on my study abroad trip was a free day spent in Sydney. During this free day, I chose to tour the Sydney Opera House, climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and attend a Waratahs versus Crusaders rugby game.

While I had a wonderful time learning about the architecture and engineering behind designing the Opera House, I enjoyed the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb tour even more. On our way climbing up the bridge, our tour guide shared stories about the building of the bridge and its history. When making the ascent, I had not even realized how high up we had already climbed, and it was not nearly as frightening as I had imagined!

One of the reasons I am fascinated with Sydney is because of its landscape of both beaches and mountains surrounding the cityscape. Once we reached the top of the Harbour Bridge, we were able to see this entire view, which was spectacular! I could see Sydney’s entire skyline, past the outskirts of the city, from the mountain range to the sea, and the various neighborhoods in between.

Also, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of only a Ashley 1handful of bridges around the world that allow people to climb it. This made the climb even more meaningful to me since I knew that it was really a once in a lifetime experience! Climbing the bridge was well worth it, because the climb was fun with friends and the top view was amazing.

The conclusion of my adventure-filled day was spent attending my first rugby game and exploring downtown light show Vivid!. Rugby reminded me of football combined with soccer (but don’t tell Rugby fans that!). It took a while for me to be able to follow what was happening in the game, but it was a fun experience that was a must do in Australia.

Each year, Sydney puts on a two-week long display throughout downtown of projected lights, color, and music each night called Vivid!. Apparently the locals enjoy this exhibit just as much, if not more, than their New Years celebration. Judging by the crowds of people flooding the streets for a chance to explore the different light spectacles, I have no trouble believing this. The light shows were so perfectly synced in time to the music and were constantly changing up their images to make it so you didn’t want to miss anything!

I’m appreciative of the opportunity I was given through the EC Scholars Award Program to travel to these two countries and only hope that I will one day be able to return to see more of what these cities have to offer!

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Honors in Media: Editor-in-Chief Ryan Clancy

By: Ryan Clancy, Honors College Senior

11363642_1464270573873839_1941839180_nIn May I was selected to be the 2015-16 editor-in-chief of The East Carolinian, which means I get an office, a sure sign of success if ever there was one. The East Carolinian, or TEC, encompasses a newspaper, website and news show. My job is to ensure that all three keep ECU students and faculty up to date with accurate local news.

I am in charge of a roughly 50 student staff at The East Carolinian, including editors, reporters, designers, photographers and videographers. My responsibilities include managing the staff, controlling the content TEC puts out and making sure TEC connects to readers over social media. Over the summer I’ve learned to be flexible, whether it be filling in at different positions to make up for a smaller summer staff or taking the equally important role of grill master at the paper’s summer cookout. I came to East Carolina University, the leadership university, with the vague idea that I would write things, not necessarily have to lead anybody. But I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to lead at The East Carolinian, and I have a fantastic staff that makes it easy.

While I may tell people that the amusement park field trips are my favorite part of the Honors College, I know I wouldn’t be editor-in-chief, or even be attending ECU at all, without it. Dr. Fraley, the first ECU professor I met, helped convince my parents to let me attend an out-of-state school they had never heard of, and my scholarship gave me the financial means to attend ECU. Now, thanks to the Honors College, I’m going into my senior year as the editor-in-chief of The East Carolinian, and I fully expect every member of the Honors College to faithfully read the paper from now on.


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A Whole New World

By: Kristen Edmonds, Honors College Junior

_DSC0733“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

I constantly kept reminding myself of this as I said a shaky goodbye to my parents at RDU and I made my way through security.  I had not been on a plane since I was three years old.  I had never been out of the country.  Yet there I was, waiting to board my flight to Charlotte where I would then fly to Rome, Italy.  I was traveling to the land of art, pasta, history, and a language that I did not speak. When it was finally my turn to board, I gathered my courage, carry on bag, and personal item, and I began my trip.

I was very fortunate that my trip incorporated as much of Italy as possible within our short stay.  While abroad, I visited Rome, Florence, Venice, Sienna, Pisa, Cinque Terre, and various small villages in Tuscany.  Our home, Certaldo, was a medieval village full of some of the most welcoming people I have ever met.  Even though many of the locals there spoke a very small amount of English, they were all very patient with our attempts to speak Italian and were very willing to help us learn new words.  Several restaurants even gave us discounts on our meals because we were students.

Speaking of food…I tend to be a picky eater when it comes to food in America, so I was worried that I would starve while overseas.  I promised myself that I would try new things in Italy, and I was never disappointed in my choices.  Some of the best things I ate included fried bread, pizza with French fries on top, chocolate muffins filled with Nutella, gnocchi pasta, and of course, gelato.  It’s safe to say that I will never be able to look at Olive Garden pasta the same.

_DSC0880When I wasn’t busy eating my way through Italy, I found myself in some of the most breathtaking places I have ever been.  It is hard to put into words the feeling of being inside of the Coliseum, staring at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, or making eye contact with the Statue of David.  And while I may not be able to describe it, I can encourage you to experience it for yourself.  I am eternally grateful for East Carolina University and the opportunity I was given to see the world differently.  Italy will always hold a special place in my heart, but I don’t intend on ending my journey as a world traveler just yet.  I have no clue where I’ll travel to next, but I have a lot of empty space left in my passport.

For more information on ECU’s Italy Intensives, click here.

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SAAS Spotlight: Testimonial from Kristalyn Gill

Gill4_SAAS_Grant.pngKristalyn Gill, EC Scholar, junior, dance performance and public relations double major

After applying and receiving the SAAS grant, I was thrilled to learn that the Honors College would provide me with $100 to support my passion for dance.

When I created my creative project, I combined pain research and theories provided to me by Dr. Daniel Goldberg in my freshman EC Scholars seminar with my passions for writing spoken word poetry and choreographing dance works. My project centered on the universality yet individuality of chronic pain. I created different characters enduring this element of pain in different situations and forms. A major theme of the work itself involved the cyclic phases of the moon, ever repeating and showing its same face – representing chronic pain.

Gill3_SAAS_Grant.pngWith this project and the aid provided by the SAAS grant, I was able to present my piece at the ECU Intersection of the Arts and Sciences event and for Undergraduate Day during Research and Creative Achievement Week. Also, I put on a ticketed performance of my piece in the blackbox theatre within the ECU School of Theatre and Dance Building. Many friends and faculty members from a variety of fields and backgrounds came to support my work, completely entering into the story my dancers and I created.

Having the opportunity to create this project that has deeply impacted East Carolina University and its surrounding community is something I will cherish, and to think that this all began with $100…

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ECU Hosts NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)

By: Erika Dietrick, Undergraduate Director of Marketing and Communications

IMG_3875Senior EC Scholar Leela Goel has had her eye on biomedical research for as long as she can remember. What began as a love of mathematics fused with a passion for medicine and a desire to change the world.

Always one to work hard toward her goals, she spent last summer immersed in the Brody School of Medicine and Honors College Summer Heart Institute Internship. Her exposure to clinical procedures and the engineering miracle that is the da Vinci Si Surgical System further fueled her interest in improving medical treatment.

This summer, Leela applied for the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) – Biomedical Engineering in Simulations, Imaging and Modeling (BME-SIM). Funded by the National Science Foundation, the 10-week summer research program allows outstanding students to work on cutting edge projects with a distinguished faculty member. This year was ECU’s second time hosting this particular REU experience.

Leela was 1 of only 8 students chosen out of a pool of 200 applicants from across the country.

She recently presented the culmination of her work alongside her REU peers. Under the direction of Dr. Stacey Meardon, Leela created a computer model of the tibia (or the shin bone) in the hopes of predicting tibial stresses. Tibial pain and fractures are a common problem, especially among athletes. By taking measurements of several long-distance runners, Leela was able to design a tibia model capable of being personalized to individual patients.

For more information about the biomedical engineering REU program, click here.



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