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Nexus Abroad 2015: A Journey from Rome to Barcelona

An Experience Beyond the Classroom and Textbook into Real-World History

By Dianne Zotter-Mill, Adjunct Professor, Graphic Design

The meetings, planning and preparation were now well behind us, it was time to experience Europe! Welcome to the first Philadelphia University Nexus Abroad Course. A journey from Ancient Europe (Rome) to the Industrialization/Nationalism and Art Nouveau of Vienna and Linz, Postmodernity of Munich, Paris and Marseille and ending in the fabulous city of Barcelona and home of the great Antoni Gaudi.

This interdisciplinary, collaborative course included 34 students and five Professors from Area Studies, Graphic Design, History, and Interior Design. For twenty-one incredible days we trained, planed, subwayed, bused, cabbed, biked and walked our way through Europe. Our days were very full; many were planned with lectures, tours and explorations through beautiful winding city streets, parks, museums, churches, cathedrals, shops and more.


Nexus Abroad 2015: Vienna Waits for Me

By Rebecca Shocket, (PhilaU GDC, 2016)

When home no longer feels like it once had, you know that your heart belongs to the world. That being said, I am left homesick in America after spending twenty-one extraordinary days exploring Europe. A collaborative group of thirty-four interdisciplinary students studied together as the 2015 Nexus Abroad course navigating our way through Italy, Austria, Germany, France and Spain. We were an eclectic group representing all three of Philadelphia University’s colleges; the adjoining professors were equally diverse as they had varying areas of expertise in architecture, design, history, and rhetoric.


Nexus Abroad 2015: A Trip Through Graphic Design History

By Kendra Stepp-Davis, (PhilaU GDC, 2016)

From late May until early June I had the opportunity to travel with Nexus Abroad 2015, participating in the Design History Study Abroad course. Through this action-packed journey to five countries, seven cities and countless memories, I learned more about design and art then I ever could have imagined. Being able to see all the places and types of work we have learned about in school; this way of seeing art and design gave me a new appreciation for our field and art as a whole.


Nexus Abroad 2015: I would do it all over again if I could!

By Melissa McCusker, (PhilaU GDC, 2016)

At the end of May, students from may different majors gathered at JFK International Airport to board a plane to Europe to experience the Nexus Abroad 2015 summer short course. There were three classes that were involved in this course: Area Studies; (Graphic) Design History; and Interior Design.

When we arrived in Italy and saw the Colosseum, I felt like a tourist, which was a comforting feeling. I think starting the trip in Italy with landmarks that we were all familiar with was a good start and a great transition for the rest of our journey. It was also an exciting experience to try the food (pizza and gelato, of course) and walk around the city and get involved in the culture first hand. My favorite memory from the whole trip was visiting the Vatican City and walking to the top of St. Peters Basilica. The two views: the Vatican and the view from the top—were ones that I will always remember.  


Nexus Abroad 2015: Design for Emotion

By Caroline Noebels, (PhilaU GDC, 2016)

When it comes to design, it doesn’t matter what language you speak. It’s much bigger than that. My favorite thing about design is that you can feel something—anything—from someone who speaks a different language, or practices a different culture, just by reaching out and appreciating their vision. On our Nexus Abroad 2015 course to Europe, I was visually blessed with endless design I had never seen before. I went into buildings I always hated trying to memorize dates for in Rome, was blown away by a modern design studio in Vienna, drooled at storefront designs in Munich, sketched architectural beauty in Marseille, and collaborated with other designers in Barcelona to create a product of our own.


Nexus Abroad 2015: “You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal with them”

By Kelly A. Szymanowski, (PhilaU GDC, 2016)

Before departing for our Nexus Abroad 2015 course, I received two great pieces of advice from two important women in my life about my culinary experiences abroad. My mom said, “Don’t order something you normally would in the U.S. This is an opportunity to explore and try new things.”

My best friend told me, “Calories don’t count when you are in Europe. You are going to be walking so much that you will burn off everything you eat.” With those two thoughts in mind, I began my exploration of an unknown continent with adventure and curiosity leading the way. Our first destination was Rome, Italy. As soon as we arrived, the aroma of brick oven pizza and sharp cheese wafted out of quaint cafes. The espresso looked like art and everything had a fresh garnish. My favorite meal was our lunch stop after our tour of the Vatican.


Nexus Abroad 2015: Vienna, Austria and Marseille, France

By Katelyn Witmer, (PhilaU GDC, 2018)

Having to sum up a study abroad trip such as this within a few paragraphs seems like such a daunting task, especially since I have so many memories. I can definitely say that Nexus Abroad 2015 was an unforgettable trip, one that I would highly recommend to other students at Philadelphia University. The length of the trip was perfect because I was able to see many countries in a relatively small amount of time, and yet I was content to return home for some much needed rest after an exhausting trip.


Nexus Abroad 2015: 40 people; 20 days; 7 cities; 5 countries

By Emma Donofrio-Galley, (PhilaU GDC, 2016)

40 people, 20 days, 7 cities, and 5 countries. I anxiously waited at the Camden transportation center for my fellow travelers to arrive. One by one they joined me to embark on Nexus Abroad 2015. After multiple trains, shuttles, planes, and miles walked, our excitement never wavered. And, before we knew it, we were sitting in a tiny pizza place behind our hotel just outside of Rome, Italy. Looking back, I can’t even fathom the ground we covered in such a short amount of time, but it was unforgettable to say the least. Each location was very unique and possessed many memorable sites, which I will attempt to accurately describe with this blog post.


Nexus Abroad 2015: We’ll Always Have Paris

In the last weeks of May, as part of Summer Session 2015, a rather large—yet equally intrepid—group of PhilaU students and faculty—including ten Graphic Design students and two faculty members—embarked on the inaugural version of Nexus Abroad. The thread of this highly collaborative and interdisciplinary course was a timeline dating back to Ancient Rome and stretching through contemporary times to Postmodernity. The group started out exploring Ancient Europe and Medieval/Renaissance Christian Society in Rome, Italy and then Industrialization in Vienna, Austria. This was followed by the themes of Nationalism and Anti-Semitism in Munich and Mauthausen, Germany, and Postmodernity in Paris and Marseille, France, and Barcelona (and environs), Spain.