Saturday, February 21, 2009

The textbooks have arrived!

As the daughter of a former librarian (actually, both parents retired from teaching careers), I’ve always loved books. From my earliest memory, I have truly enjoyed reading and even still can recall in my mind some of the illustrations and stories from my favorite picture books as a child. So the other day when my textbooks for the study abroad classes arrived at my doorstep, I couldn’t help but get little butterflies of excitement.

While I’m still awaiting one more of the four books total (don’t worry, they aren’t regular $100 a pop traditional textbooks so I didn’t have to sell a kidney or anything) I’m pretty excited about getting a chance to pour through the ones that arrived.

First is the book for my crisis communications class. One of the main reasons I justified going on this study abroad trip was because there is a crisis communications course being offered that I wouldn’t be able to take on campus. Since I’m pretty interested in studying risk and crisis communications and am planning on somehow incorporating aspects of it into my dissertation, this seemed a pretty strong argument to me! The book, aptly named Crisis Communications, A Casebook Approach, has a number of the “biggie” crises that you would expect from a good text, but no specific cases discussing agriculture or food. And there are so many to choose from! No matter – from what I can see so far, the book does a good job of talking about theories and then applying them to natural disasters, consumer-related crises and such, and then presenting some discussion of how to build a crisis communications plan.

It’s been a pretty busy week (a bit more so than usual since we had two faculty candidates in for interviews), so I haven’t yet had a chance to look at the other two books, both of which are for my communication leadership class. The last one is Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which my parents will be bringing me a copy of when they come for a visit in a couple of weeks. No sense in spending money that can be saved for the trip, right?

Hopefully I’ll get some time this weekend to look at the other books. We’ve been asked to read all of the books before we leave on the trip, so I’m sure I’ll be blogging a little bit about them in the future. Hopefully I’ll take enough notes so I won’t have to take the books with me on the trip – but maybe that’s just wishful thinking!

Since we are going to France, I’ve decided that if my entries aren’t specifically about France as a main topic each time, I’ll make an effort to write a little bit at the end of the entry about some of the locations we’re planning to visit on the trip. If nothing else, it forces me to do a bit of research each time to learn more about France and then I’ll have some ideas for free time once we arrive (not that I think we’ll be lacking for fun things to do while we’re there).

This week I took a look at some of what the master, Rick Steves, says about the wonders Paris has to offer. While I was a little disappointed that he doesn’t have anything much about Montmartre (there’s something magical to me about this area of Paris – the Sacre Coeur and Saint Pierre de Montmartre representing religious life and the creative and somewhat outlandish artists’ colony area together on the same hill overlooking the rest of Paris), Steves does have a lovely description of Rue Cler. This market street sounds like a feast for the senses with sights and smells and tastes galore, from the bouquets and baguettes to the daily herb deliveries and wine, cheese and chocolate shops. I have a feeling this may be one of my first excursions while in Paris!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day-o-Fun!

Well, yesterday our group had its second of four pre-trip meetings...although I don't know if you could call what we did a meeting! The group met out at Lake Wauberg, a UF outdoor recreation facility that has a ropes course and staff that leads team-building activities. Despite the sprinkles (we scared the rain off until later in the day), we had an outstanding time! It was really a great chance to get to meet many of the other students and get (and give) a little razzing to the fun faculty and staff members also going on the trip.

Afterwards, I came back to the office (I practically live at my desk, both during the week and on the weekends - what can I say? I'm a doctoral student!) and did a little research about the cities we're going to in France. I've been to Paris before, but not for a long time, so I'm excited to get the chance to see and do some things there as an adult - things always look different through your childhood eyes compared to your adult eyes. But I've not been to Lyon and Bordeaux, so I sought out some information about each city.

I'm a big fan of Catholic cathedrals, having visited a great many of them as a kid when on trips with my parents, so I'm looking forward to seeing the Saint Jean Cathedral in Lyon. Also in Lyon is Euronews, a European news organization known for its different style of news - they don't use news anchors! Instead, they voice over the images in eight different languages. They're considered the leading news organization in Europe and have a higher number number of viewers than CNN International. Check out their website!

In Bordeaux I'm excited to see the Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux (told you I'm into cathedrals) where Eleanor of Aquitaine married Louis VII. The city is actually referred to as the "City of Art and History" - a great place for a closet art history lover like myself. There are numerous museums, so I think I'll have to have a plan of action for seeing as many as possible while still making sure to do all of my classwork and studying!

Closer to my area of study, I'm interested in the agricultural products of the region. With a world-wide reputation for some of the best wine and cheese, I know Bordeaux will be a fabulous place to explore French food. One of my hopes is that I'll find a way to get out into the French countryside and maybe see some farms or vineyards....

Friday, February 13, 2009

Off on the adventure...

So, I've decided after giving a lecture on "managing your online presence" to my students (I teach an undergrad research and business writing course), that it might be a neat idea to start a blog about this fantastic experience that I have coming up. For the first time ever (as a doctoral student, no less) I will be doing an official study abroad trip! As someone who loves to travel and loves to learn, it's a wonder that it took me this long. Regardless, I'm getting to go and I'm beyond thrilled about it.

As a UF Gator, I'm able to participate in a group study abroad experience to three cities in France (Paris, Lyon, and Bordeaux). I'll be traveling with the group for four weeks during May 2009 and plan to chronicle my experiences related to the trip in this blog - two new experiences rolled into one! I hope you enjoy reading!