Shantell Mitchell: Kansai Gaidai Internship Program: Not Getting Lost

I have always been afraid of traveling on my own, even if it was in my own neighborhood. Sometimes going the store by myself was difficult for me. Living on a college campus and having my own car has really helped me get better at traveling on my own. However, when I got to Japan there were so many things that I wanted to do and see but I was to afraid to explore on my own. On my trip we had the opportunity to explore on our own for one day in each country.

Side note: Something that I liked that my professor did that I really liked was that he made all of the participants use a map to figure out how to get around Japan. We used trains and buses to get around so that by the end of the trip we were all experienced in reading the maps, train signs, and bus signs. Which I really loved considering that I am going to be living in Japan for a year. I can now go back and there won’t be much of learning curve. I also loved how we used the physical maps rather than Google maps.  Some people have never even used a map before. Sure it was frustrating as hell at times, nonetheless, it was a great experience! Professor D’Amato (coolest guy ever and he should let me be student leader next time he goes) if you are reading this, I learned some shit, thanks!

Anyway, back to the original story, sorry. Like I said, I regret not getting lost, essentially. I would have been able to see so much more and experience so much more of the culture. But don’t be mistaken, I did not just sit around my hotel twiddling my thumbs (okay one day for like 3 hours but we had climbed a mountain the day before and I was dead) I explored the local areas and went to book stores and museums I stayed 30 minutes walking distance from the hotel and there was a lot of things to do just in that area. But I do wish I went other places but I will not be making that same mistake when I go in August.

Shantell Mitchell: Kansai Gaidai Internship Program: Currency Culture Shock

So while I was cleaning up my room and unpacking some things I brought home from college, I ended up stumbling upon some charms that I got from 金閣寺 (kinkaku-ji) in 挙党、日本 (Kyoto, Japan). While I was looking through the bags I found a few receipts and I was absolutely shocked at how much money I had actually spent. Just in that bag alone, I had found two receipts totaling around 8,000円!
友達:「どうしてシャンテルさん。どうして。」私: 「わかない!も。日本の買い物は本当にすごいですよ。」

So to save you a little time I’ll just tell you what 8,000 yen is equivalent to—it’s roughly, give or take, $70. You want to know what one of the receipts was for? Twenty face masks. I spent $70 on face masks. Mind you the entire time I knew the conversation rate to the dollar while I was in Japan. Guys, I am so frugal I even refuse to fill up my car when I have been driving on empty for a questionable amount of miles. What was I thinking, you ask? Well, I wasn’t, clearly. I was just so excited that I was in Japan, buying everything my little heart desired, and to be fair I only ran out of money on the very last day of my trip. Still, I can think of a million other things I could have invested that $70 dollars into but c’est la vie. Je vais devoir vivre avec elle. Pas de problème. All the money I spent I had saved for this trip so I guess it’s okay. No, it is okay! I am just going to need to get my life together before August.

Stephanie Benzur: Reflections on the Excavation Experience

(Originally dated Aug. 4, 2017): Today was the last day of the excavation, and it was very bittersweet. This half of the excavation involved opening up two new trenches in front of the tomb and excavating the interior of the tomb, something I was very excited for. I got to be one of the first ones to excavate the tomb since I was there for the first half. We all rotated, so I only got two days in the tomb. It was worth it though.

Excavation around the tomb

Burial practices of the Chalcolithic/Bronze Age almost always consisted of cremation burials, so that’s what we expected to find. I had high hopes for finding pottery or some other grave goods in the tomb, but unfortunately there weren’t any. We did however find large quantities of bone, some cremated, some not. I discovered two fire pits in the tomb, and one of the directors said that they’d never discovered fire pits in all their years of excavation. We bagged the hearths and all of the surrounding soil. The excavation of the tomb continued for the rest of the session with different people rotating in each day. They all found more cremated and non-cremated bone.

Outside the tomb, the finds weren’t as good as they were in the previous session. They mostly consisted of animal and human bone fragments, with more flakes from stone tools. One of the volunteers found a beautiful bronze dress pin, but it most likely dates to the Medieval period. I didn’t find anything else major, but nothing could have compared to the arrowhead anyway.

By the tomb

All in all, the excavation was definitely the most wonderful experience of my life. I learned valuable archaeological skills such as excavation, site planning and modeling, and artifact identification. It really solidified my desire to be an archaeologist, and I can’t wait to continue with future excavations.

I even made the front page of the local newspaper!

Stephanie Benzur: Doing Archaeology in Ireland

(Originally dated June 24, 2017): The first session of the field school is all wrapped up. What an amazing month! Archaeology is my passion, but until now I’ve never had the chance to participate in an actual excavation. This year, the field school is excavating the Parknabinnia Wedge Tomb on the Burren in County Clare. The tomb is from the Chalcolithic (Copper Age) Period and dates back to about 5000 years ago. This is exactly the kind of site I want to study.

The Tomb

The first few days consisted of removing sod and grass. One of the volunteers found a Neolithic thumb scraper used for scraping flesh off of animal skin. This was really interesting because it predated the site. Other than that, the finds mostly consisted of large amounts of bone, mostly animal. Later that week we finally began troweling. I thought it would be a bit boring but it definitely wasn’t. When excavating a site, you remove different layers of soil that are referred to as contexts. We removed the first two or three contexts in the first week or so. After a few days of no major finds, I uncovered what the director later said was the most important find of the entire dig: a Neolithic arrowhead! It was made out of a stone called chert and absolutely beautiful. Definitely one of the best moments of my life. That same day, one of the site directors uncovered what turned out to be what is referred to as crouched inhumation: an articulated skeleton that had been buried in the fetal position. He and another student in the field school spent the next two days uncovering and then lifting it. Later examination revealed something incredible: he had been stabbed in the ribs! This was his likely cause of death. These were the two largest finds of the first half of the dig. The finds from the rest of the session consisted of human and animal bone fragments and stone flakes from tools. After four wonderful weeks, the first half wrapped up. But, I decided to stay on for the second half! I was asked to stay on and continue, and I just couldn’t say no. So, after a two-week break, I’ll be back on site to continue digging!

Neolithic arrowhead!

Julie Sparks: A Meeting with Stefan in Vienna

In Vienna

As the title suggests, the class went on an Impact Hub Crawl from Prague to Vienna. While visiting the Vienna Hub, a local social entrepreneur spoke with us about his project—Refugees Code. This program addressed a significant need in the community; how do we employ refugees and how do we address the shortage of IT professionals?

Even though he had no experience in coding, Stefan was a grade school teacher, he used the Impact Hub community to launch a teaching program. The process is simple. Refugees in Austria that know English come to coding boot-camp hosted by Stefan and programming graduate students to walk through online CS50. CS50 is the introductory course offered to Harvard and Yale students that is published online for other educators or students to use. Once the students get through this boot-camp, there is a designated counselor to place them in a job. Stefan has received government and private funding to launch Refugees Code. It is still in its early stages but they just completed their first class of refugees.

Stefan was an inspiration—he saw issues in education and immigration and then worked to fix them. Leadership exChange’s class was so beneficial for me because of the people I met working in fields all over Eastern Europe. I was able to connect and observe how they interact with the business and social world to create and implement products.

Impact Hub in Vienna, Austria


Julie Sparks: Leadership exChange’s Impact Hub Crawl through Prague


Starting June 15th, I traveled fifteen hours to the beautiful city of Prague which is located in the Czech Republic. Since the Impact Hub Crawl was not a Rollins program, I was among students from all over the world and the only representative from Florida. The program specifically looked at social entrepreneurship in Prague and other Eastern European cities. They taught what makes effective leaders but also why there is a lack of it in a post-communist state. The class was interactive as we left Charles University, we traveled to museums, landmarks, and Impact Hubs. This included a tour of the United Nations in Vienna, Austria. Impact Hubs are co-working spaces that are common around the world and are focused on start-ups or social entrepreneurs. They work by building a network within the community to foster social trust and aid growing businesses and ideas. Orlando has recently opened several small co-working spaces but they lack the established networks that other cities are using. Through this program, I met entrepreneurs in Czech Republic and Austria. I also met Czech, Indian, Australian, and Colombian students. Classrooms discussions became more complex and interesting with the very different perspectives. I feel that I personally grew from interacting with these students on issues in our world and our communities. I gained perspectives that would have been impossible to see within the Orlando area.

Stephanie Spence: Presenting Research at the ACS Conference

During my visit to the American Chemical Society National Conference in San Francisco, I presented a poster of my research on the analysis of caffeine as a tracer of wastewater contamination. Presenting my research at a conference of this scale was a new and exciting experience for me. As I arrived at my scheduled session and hung my poster up, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of presenters and the scale of the conference as a whole.

During the session, I had the opportunity to talk and share my research with undergraduate students, graduate students, professors, and industry professionals from around the country. The depth of discussion varied with each person’s interest and background knowledge of the topic, but it was a pleasant experience to be able to talk about my research with other scientists. More experienced members of the field were very supportive and impressed with my research when I explained that I was an undergraduate and encouraged me to continue research.

I also had the opportunity to walk around the hall during the session and see other posters. It was beneficial for my own future research to see and hear graduate students or professors describe their work. Participation in this poster session has not only given me a great opportunity to be a presenter at a national conference, but it also gave me a better appreciation for scientific communication. I am grateful to have been able to participate in this conference and to be a part of the scientific community.

Stephanie Spence: The American Chemical Society Conference

From April 2nd to April 6th, I attended the American Chemical Society 253rd National Conference in San Francisco, CA. This was my first time attending a national scientific conference and my first time traveling for a conference. During my stay, I was able to do a little bit of sightseeing in San Francisco, but I spend majority of my time walking around the hotels and convention centers experiencing all that the conference had to offer. I went to a variety of talks throughout the session, given by industry professional, academic professors, undergraduate and students. Looking at the session topics, it was amazing to see the scale of the conference and all the areas where chemistry is applied.

One of the most memorable moments was attending the Kavli Foundation Lecture Series featured speaker Dr. Jennifer A. Doudna, one of the largest talks at the convention. I was also able to attend a workshop during the conference on finding a career to fit with personal strengths and goals. As an undergraduate, the workshop was very helpful for me to learn the differences between jobs in academia, industry and government, and helped me think about what I might like to do after graduate school. It was a great opportunity to be able to attend this conference as an undergraduate and hope to return in future years as I continue my education in chemistry.

Isabella Seddon: Overview of the SEPA Conference, plus Takeaways

Attending and presenting my independent research at the Southeastern Psychological Association annual meeting in Atlanta was definitely a highlight of my senior year at Rollins. After a long process of conducting research, meeting deadlines, and submitting applications, I was ecstatic to hear that my hard work had paid off. While I was only able to attend a few of the poster sessions when I was there, I still saw a significant amount of current psychology research conducted by undergraduates, graduate students, and professors. I talked to many students from around the country and learned about their backgrounds in psychology, the research they were presenting, and their future plans for graduate schools and careers in psychology.

An aspect of the poster session which I found especially interesting was the diversity of topics being presented. These ranged from animal behavior to politics to music. It was also neat to see the complexity of research increase from undergraduate to graduate to post-graduate categories. For me, this emphasized the fact that psychology’s application is extremely widespread and there are many different career paths in psychology that I might be interested in outside of the most common few. While I am still unsure what I want to do in the future, this trip definitely helped me take a step in the right direction. I really enjoyed seeing what the city of Atlanta had to offer and intend to go back and visit soon.


Cristina Perez Diaz: Reflections on the Southeastern Psychological Association Conference

The SEPA conference at Atlanta was an amazing experience for me and I would also say my classmates. Outside from the expected result of making connecting with undergraduate and graduate students from other colleges, I was able to develop closer bonds with Rollins students I barely knew before, and learn more about the research they are conducting. I was able to also meet and learn more about some of the Psychology teachers at Rollins that I have not had the pleasure of taking a class with, such as Dr. Houston. I truly benefiting from having lunch with the psychology teachers and sharing a conversation with them, since some will be part of the committee for my thesis, and it really helped to learn more about them as individuals outside of Rollins, and some of the topics they have researched in the past. As mentioned before, I was able to practice some of the skills I will definitely need if I am lucky enough to attend the conference again, but this time to present my own personal research. I had never been in a conference that is based on poster presentation, and it was a great professional and interpersonal experience that I would recommend to anyone that is fortunate enough to attend. I am extremely excited to share this experience with fellow students and teachers, and hopefully present my own research as a first author, something that would be a great accomplishment for something coming from abroad.