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World

THE REGISTER-HERALD Monday, May 13, 2013

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Quaint, untouched aesthetics of Italy lives up to its billing a neon yellow Post-it Note. Only as an afterthought did I feel like we should have been a bit more prepared. However, when the call connected and I heard the friendly exchange between the smiling bread maker and the voice on the other side, I knew that everything was going in our favor. He ended the call and immediately pointed By Brandi Underwood us up the street to a liveFOR THE REGISTER-HERALD ly restaurant. To our surprise, the INQUE TERRE, room we had rented for Italy — The salty the next two nights beair greeted me longed to the chef at the like a long-lost friend. restaurant right across After nearly the cobblestone nine weeks of street. As it was being bundled a busy Thursday up in thick laynight, he was ers and a coat preoccupied in fastened up to the kitchen, clad the throat, bein a white chef’s ing able to uncoat and hat zip my jacket printed with loband feel the sters and various cool, light sea creatures. He breeze on my smiled at us from Underwood skin was both the kitchen and cleansing and pointed to the invigorating. While I restaurant’s manager, reveled in the soothing who greeted us with a quality of the sea, I smile. She explained that looked at the unfamiliar Alessandro was unable to atmosphere in wonder. take us to the room at The quaint, untouched that moment, and inaesthetic of Cinque stead offered us a coffee Terre, Italy, was a setand cookie. After the long ting that I’ve only seen in day of travel we found movies or travel magaourselves famished, and zines, and one that I nev- chose instead to take a er imagined myself to ex- table for dinner. perience in my lifetime. The server placed Narrow, winding streets handwritten menus becrowded with tiny restau- fore us and elaborately rants and sidewalk paexplained the daily spetios, brightly colored cials. I asked for his recbuildings with freshly ommendation, which I laundered clothing hang- tend to do in such moing from the windows to ments of mealtime indedry, and animated locals cision. His choices were enjoying coffee surround- the stuffed mussels and a ed me. pairing of pesto pasta, Our first step after ar- enlightening us on the rival was to find the fact that pesto sauce origroom we rented, by which inated in that area of we were assisted by the Italy, and the restaulocal bread maker, who rant’s unique pesto recipe kindly used his cell had long withstood the phone to call the number test of time. Needing no we had scrawled down on more convincing, I happiEditor’s note: Brandi Underwood is a senior at West Virginia University majoring in journalism. A 2009 graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School, Underwood is currently spending her spring semester in the Czech Republic and is visiting other sites in Europe as a part of her study abroad. Pictures and stories from Underwood will be featured here on Page 2A every Monday through June 10.

C

Cinque Terre, Italy, features a quaint setting often seen only in movies or travel magazines. Its narrow, winding streets are crowded with tiny restaurants and sidewalk patios. PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRANDI UNDERWOOD

ly obliged. The dinner proved to be delicious, and after finishing, my friends and I walked down to the beach and digested our day while sitting seaside. We had successfully managed to travel by nearly every form of public transportation — tram, bus, taxi, plane, and train — and arrive safely at our destination and according to plan. It felt like a great accomplishment to three early20-year-olds with little travel experience. That night, I lay down

in the foldout Murphy bed that would be my resting spot for the next two days. My head felt heavy after the long day of travel, but even in the fuzzy, unfamiliar surroundings, I was comfortable. As I heard the snores of my two friends quietly humming beside

me, I realized that the anxiety I felt before the trip was completely unnecessary, and everything I worried about seemed to have been in vain. I realized that night that everything seems to have a way of working itself out in the end, and I was more capable of

things than I gave myself credit for. Shortly after, my mind drifted into a sound, dreamless sleep.

— Continue to follow my column for more stories documenting my travels. Emails with questions or comments are welcomed, and can be directed to bunderw3@mix.wvu.edu.

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World

THE REGISTER-HERALD Monday, May 20, 2013

‘THE

www.register-herald.com

ONE WHO DOES NOT REMEMBER HISTORY IS BOUND TO LIVE THROUGH IT AGAIN’ — George Santayana

Dark enlightenment at Auschwitz Editor’s note: A senior journalism major at West Virginia University, Brandi Underwood is spending her spring semester in the Czech Republic as a part of her study abroad and is visiting other sites in Europe. Every Monday through June 10 on Page 2A we will feature her pictures and stories.

By Brandi Underwood FOR THE REGISTER-HERALD

O

SWIECIM, Poland — The sky above us was gray and murky as we gathered at the main entrance. After a mere three-hour drive,

we had crossed the border from the Czech Republic into Poland and arrived at Auschwitz: the largest concentration camp established and built by the Nazis during World War II. The weather seemed fitting for the somber tour ahead of us, which would include guided walking tours through both Auschwitz I, the base camp, and Auschwitz II, also known as Birkenau, the extermination camp. Our tour began as we walked through the Auschwitz Gate. The infamous German greeting

inscribed on a metal sign overhead reads, “Arbeit Macht Frei,” or “Work will set you free.” The sign — now a replica — was seen by prisoners twice each day, first upon their entry into the camp, and second as they returned to their sleeping quarters after a grueling day of work. The mocking quality of the sign set the tone for our visit. We were reminded of how many lives were lost under the sign’s false promise as we toured through the barracks, which have now been transformed into a

BRANDI UNDERWOOD/FOR THE REGISTER-HERALD (2)

Auschwitz was the largest concentration camp established and built by the Nazis during World War II. ers, along with their names, birthdays, date of imprisonment, and date of death. I scanned the dates hoping to find a survivor, but reality sunk in when I realized the majority of captives survived only a handful of months, at most. Through glass windows we viewed enormous piles of shoes, luggage, clothing, and even hair — as prisoners were shaved upon entrance — of those confined in Auschwitz. The Nazis kept everything that they took from the camp’s prisoners, and the magnitude of items communicated the gravity of the camp’s dark history. I first learned about the Holocaust beginning in elementary school, but never did I imagine myself one day walking though the same gas chambers that an estimated 1.1 million people were killed in. Victims were led into the chambers oblivious to their fate, but rather under the impression that they would be receiving a shower. Inside the chamber, a shrine of flowers and pho-

memorial of the camp’s gruesome past. The hallways were lined with photos of the prison-

The barbed wire fence and the watch tower enclosing the barracks at Auschwitz.

tos lay before us. The feeling of stifled emotion hung thickly in the damp, cool air. No one spoke a word, but instead silently mourned the lives taken within the same walls that surrounded us. When I returned to the bus, my heart felt heavily burdened by what I had just seen. I almost wished that I could have taken the experience back, having never gotten off the bus and passing through the entrance gate. However, after a few more minutes of reflection, I realized why holding on to history, even history as dark and horrendous as what took place at Auschwitz, was beneficial. The explanation took the form of a quote that hung on the wall in one of the barracks: “The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again.” Through education, we can prevent such atrocities from ever repeating themselves.

— E-mails with questions or comments are welcomed and can be directed to bunderw3@mix.wvu.edu

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World

THE REGISTER-HERALD Monday, May 27, 2013

www.register-herald.com

Exploring ancient history in a modern-day Rome Editor’s note: As part of a study abroad during her spring semester at West Virginia University, Brandi Underwood, a senior majoring in journalism, is living in the Czech Republic and touring various sites in Europe. Every Monday through June 10 her stories and pictures will be featured on Page 2A.

By Brandi Underwood FOR THE REGISTER-HERALD

R

OME, Italy — My instincts immediately told me that something was wrong. The commotion — although somewhat expected when boarding the Rome metro during the Friday afternoon rush — carried a sense of uneasiness that put me on edge. In front of me, people were pushing and shoving one another on the platform in front of the subway car’s open doors. Italian curses rang out, directing my attention to the source of the turmoil. A group of young children had bombarded the car’s entrance and blockaded it, causing a standstill among the massive hoard of individuals attempting to board. As I lurched forward, compressed from all directions, I felt a light sensation on my side. I looked down to see a small arm protruding from my handbag. The tiny culprit, a young girl of maybe 8 or 9 years old, quickly withdrew her hand and returned it to her side upon my discovery. Seemingly aware of the situation’s ill turn, she and her friends instantly scattered. I realized in that moment that I was the target of an adolescent pickpocket alliance, and I fortunately survived the encounter with all of my bag’s contents intact. Shaken by the situation but still on a mission, my friends and I regrouped

and boarded the next subway, bags safely guarded against our sides. We were resolute to not let the daunting situation affect our fun, and our destination was only a few stops away: the Roman Colosseum, one of the most famous architectural marvels in history. Completed in 80 A.D. after 10 years of construction, the Colosseum was purposed as an amphitheater for the Roman citizens’ entertainment. Used in the past for events such as gladiatorial contests, animal hunts and executions, today’s Colosseum houses displays depicting the amphitheater’s bloody past. Archaeological digs of the amphitheater have unearthed the bones of hippos, giraffes, apes and lions, among many others. In 81 A.D. during the Colosseum’s inaugural games, more than 9,000 wild animals were slaughtered in only 100 days. Rome’s history is rich in many ways beyond bloodshed. The miraculously still-intact ancient landmarks are abundant. Around nearly each and every corner, one will encounter a bubbling fountain, a marble monument, or a surviving structure dating 2,000 years back. Also frequented by tourists is the pope’s home of Vatican City, an independent sovereign city-state separated from Rome by tall, imminent brick walls. Within the landlocked city-state visitors can find the Vatican Museums, which were established in the early 16th century to house the vast and invaluable collections of the Roman Catholic Church. Some of the most celebrated sculptures and most significant masterpieces of all time lie with-

BRANDI UNDERWOOD/FOR THE REGISTER-HERALD (2)

Inside the Colosseum, above photo. At right, the interior of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. in Vatican City’s walls. As we walked into the Sistine Chapel, museum employees hushed the massive crowd in an effort to preserve the peacefulness of the sacred structure. Viewers stood shoulder-to-shoulder, heads tilted back with eyes exploring the massive frescos — including Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” — covering the chapel’s walls and ceiling. After a long day of sightseeing, culture ingestion, and fighting the massive crowds in Italy’s largest city, we ended our tour of Vatican City with an awe-inspiring

view from the top of St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the largest and arguably most beautiful churches in the world. As I did my best to

soak in the eternal beauty all around me, I realized in that moment that even if I would have lost a few possessions to a pickpocket that morning,

that only would have been a tiny ripple in the grand scheme of things. That day, on the other hand, was one for the history books.

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