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Europe: Reformation Switzerland and Renaissance Italy
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Journal 2

Sept. 6 to Sept. 9

I really enjoyed the scavenger hunt through Basel and the steps we were forced to take in order to complete or find every building, church, square, and institution. Tuesday and all the other days thus far in the trip, I have found the Swiss people to be quite delightful and very helpful when approached about directions or question I or we might have. When I haven't approached Swiss people, I can understand the stereotype of a reserved nation, one not prone to showing feelings or emotions. I don't find them especially peculiar or strange, but more fascinating and a good different. I feel as if I could sit for hours and watch people pass me by in an open air restaurant or cafe. I think I could live a lifetime here and still not fully understand or appreciate completely the Swiss culture.

Slowly, with every new trip into Basel, I am coming to know and love this city, bustling and thriving with many unique characteristics and characters. At this point I can only make weak, skin deep observations of the city as a whole but from first impressions, I see Basel as a cosmopolitan metropolis delving into all natures of life and living. The people, while not incredibly diverse in terms of skin color, are very diverse in dress, style, and living habits. It seems as if anything and everything goes, living up to the openness of European culture which is traditionally how we westerners view them. There may be some slight overriding factors when it comes to fashion and looks but from what I've witnessed and seen individuality and non-comformity seem to be the measure from which everything derives. The Swiss people and culture fascinate me, as do all other cultures differing from my own. This is one of the main reasons I am majoring in history, and I look forward to much more learning and observation time.

As I stated earlier, I had a great time with my group, Ashley and Christy, and getting to know them better in a unique situation as we all strived together to accomplish tasks and find our way around Basel. Frustration was never a factor for me as we all took our time and enjoyed the journey ever more than the destinations. My favorite was the Spiesshof on Heugerg 5/7, after we found it, and then lazily wandered the quiet streets off the beaten path and away from the chaos and stress of shopping/industrial Basel. This street and particular section seemed be be frozen in time with quaint apartments and cobbled roads and a soft, warm breeze floating though it all. The people we saw were reading in the sun, lazily going about their work as if there was no hurry in the world, and relaxing as they visited with others. We bought delicious pastries from a small bakery and enjoyed the moment in a country far from our won but with a people and culture not all that far from ourselves.

-Jon Risser