Postcards From Abroad

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Archive for the tag “SMAD”

Traveling to Urbino, Italy

As a brand new study abroad option, the SMAD program opened up a documenting/magazine production course in Urbino, Italy. But when you think about studying abroad, don’t you normally think of London or some other really big, metropolitan city full of high rises and fast driving taxis? I know I do. So what is the appeal behind Italy? What makes Urbino a good place for students to practice film documentary and magazine production?

The city itself is known mainly for its position in the Marche region of Italy, which was a huge region involved in Renaissance culture and the medieval world. But again, we are media arts and design majors, why does studying here make sense for us? The program is called “A summer in Urbino, Italy; Documenting a Community.” In that sense, it pretty much says it all. Going to a small town like Urbino would make things a lot easier in documenting an entire community. The smallness allows for more intimate connections to the people you meet and really allows you to immerse yourself in their culture. Overall, I think the experience would be so much more different than that of any other study abroad option. Looking to travel somewhere like this would be very exciting, especially if you enjoy the Renaissance lust and medieval clashes.

To me, I think the uniqueness of studying abroad in such a  quaint little town would be a bonus for me. Yes, I love places like London; there is just something about the city that appeals to me,  but I think it offers a different perspective to the media world than a little town would offer. Looking through pictures, Urbino seems like a wonderful place; being the supposed birthplace of the Renaissance adds appeal for me as well. I loved learning about the Renaissance and the medieval times in high school and would open up a wide variety of things I would want to know. What would I write about if I was interviewing the Italians living in this town? I personally, would be interested in the history of Urbino. Maybe Raphael. Maybe even finding descendants of people who lived during the Renaissance time period. Being immersed in such a rich culture really opens you up in a way that you couldn’t imagine. Having had a father who traveled all over the world, I was personally introduced to many different cultures, which I think is incredibly important; being a well rounded individual in my mind menas being well traveled and well known and accepting of other cultures. What better way to learn about that than to study in such a culturally rich town? What better way to learn about the history and culture than from the people who live there?

Besides studying, for those of you not in school anymore, or just looking for places to go on the weekends while there, Urbino is obviously full of history. But besides that, Urbino is nestled comfortably between two beautiful mountain ranges and is full of quaint little plazas, pizza shops, alley ways and courtyards that make everyone stop and stare.

Whether looking to study media in a small town, learning about culture, history, and everything else, or simply traveling to a new town you’ve never been to before, Urbino, Italy is definitely a place worth looking into!!

When traveling, consider this:

  • Weather. According to sources, the best time to travel to Urbino, is from April to October, but preferably May, June, September, and October because August can have unbearable heats

Points of Interest:

  • Festival of Ancient Music- hosted in July- a celebration for Urbino’s famous duke (Federico da Montefelltro) with processions, street performers, and a jousting tournament

(video of Ancient Music Festival)

  • Ducal Palace– one of the first palaces in Italy and features the Dukes study, courtyard, stables, cellars, etc.
  • Marche National Gallery– located inside the ducal palace holds many Renaissance paintings
  • Duomo– a cathedral that houses many important pieces of art work from the Renaissance time period

  • Raphael’s house-Raphael, Renaissance painter, was born in Urbino, his family’s house is now a museum

  • Albornz Fortress-a small fortress at the top of Urbino is great for views of the town, was used as defense in the 14th century

  • Botanical Garden

Posted by: Megan Brothers



Personally, I’m not sure if going to Bosnia would be an enjoyable study abroad opportunity, but it would certainly be unique. When I think “study abroad”, places like London, Spain, and Italy come to mind. Those are the places “everybody goes”, the programs, itineraries, and lodging at these destinations have been set, executed, and repeated for years at JMU and other institutions.

This is why the discussion of the SMAD travel abroad program is a perfect way to kick off our blog; after all, we will specialize in, “off the beaten path”.

Bosnia is a country in the “Balkans”, the geographic area in southeastern Europe leading up to the Greek peninsula. It borders Serbia and Croatia. It is actually officially called Bosnia and Herzegovina, after the regions it occupies.

It is comprised of ethnically Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian peoples, originating from their namesakes.

What makes this particular program unique is the position that Bosnia finds itself in. It is a post-conflict country, regaining stability after a war between the various ethnicities. This war, which concluded in 1996, was caused by disagreements on how to divide the former Yugoslavia (which contained Bosnia and it’s neighbors). Not only was this war devastating to the new country’s infrastructure, but to it’s population as well, causing the most civilian displacement since World War II.

These are the issues that the SMAD program wishes to cover.

“This program is designed for students who have an interest in social issue documentary filmmaking as well as those interested in exploring the role media plays in post conflict societies” says the informational pamphlet.

The students will attend film festivals, workshops, presentations, and will conclude with the creation of a short documentary film.

But according to the itinerary creating documentaries is not the only aspect of this program.

Students will be involved with the “WSA-Franco Bettoli Center Youth Camp”, an organization that hopes to improve the living conditions of Bosnia’s youth, and educate them on peaceful conflict resolution. A concept desperately needed in that country.

This is not a trip for those students who simply want to have a good time. It seems intellectually and emotionally taxing.

It is lead by SMAD assistant professor Shaun Wright.


Neal Hollowell

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