Rutgers - Science Summer Abroad 2010
Nine Science Undergraduate Students Around the World

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Greetings from Cluny

Today is the first day I am able to get internet access at one of the internet cafes in town! Once our professor gets his computer set up at the hostel were living in, I will begin maintaining a daily log of what is happening in Cluny and will also add in entries about my time in Switzerland before the course. For now though I will give you all a quick summary of the course thus far. I apologize in advanced for the lack of apostrophes as I cant figure out how to make them on French keyboards. Also the q/a, z/w, and m/n/, keys have been switched around, so I also apologize for future typos. Anyway, onto the good stuff!

The second I arrived in Cluny, I was told to put down my bags and quickly come downstairs as we immediately were scheduled to have a wine and cheese tasting at a local wine shop. If you can come up with a better way to start a three credit course do let me know! Afterwards was our first of many long meals in Cluny, a 2 hour dinner. Thus far, all of our meals have been a minimum of 1.5 hours long and utterly delicious the Whole way through. But alas, I could go on for pages about the culinary experiences weve had outside the classroom thus far, but ill save that for a day when I have an American keyboard and more time on my hands. Needless to say, after the first night of the course, I knew it was going to be a fantastic 2 weeks.

Indeed even though its only Wednesday, we have done more things people dream of doing than I ever imagined. For example todays itenerary started out with a tour of a vocational school that teaches the art of wine making. Then we travelled and toured the vineyards of a prominent Burgundian winemaker where we had a wine tasting. Then he invited us to have a picnic by his fanmily pond situated on the hillsides within the French countryside. We topped it all off with a trip to a goat cheese farm to taste some fresh, unpasteurized goat cheeses after touring the farm. Of course, both the picnic and the farm both involved many glasses of wine as well!

Although wine and cheese tastings have been abundant, that is only part of the course. Every morning begins with lectures on the biochemistry of wine and cheese production while the afternoons have been filled with history lessons about the town of Cluny. I now understand why my sister was a medieval history major. After learning all about Cluny, its impossible for anyone not to fall in love with medieval history! I also understand now why she is incredibly jealous of this trip.

At this point, it is appropriate to introduce you to Cluny. Little did I know, Cluny was THE center for Christianity, its glory peaking by the end of the 12th century. What was once a monastery of a few monks that started out in the 10th century, it had become the biggest church in Europe, until the construction of St Peters in Rome! The sad news is that over the centuries only one wing of the church remains as it eventually was taken apart during the 19th century for use as building material. Though but a small portion of the church remains, it is impossible for me to describe what the church must have looked like at one point. As soon as I can get some pictures up, I will indeed walk you through what it would have looked like based upon the ruins that were left behind. So consider it a cliffhanger for now.

Still, no picture thus far can really do justice on how beautiful Cluny and the surrounding countryside is. Around every corner is another great view of the countryside. And almost every home dates back to at minimum, 200 to 300 years old. One of the more memorable moments though was when we toured the inside of a 12th century house. No words can describe the feeling you get when you climb a 12 century staircase that was still intact. As I have more time to blog later this week, I will also go into more detail about this house.

In the end, these past few days have been surreal. This course has been like nothing Ive ever experienced before. Cluny is a town full of medieval history, surrounded by a countryside of the worlds finest wine and cheese makers, with enough beautiful landscapes to last a lifetime. As I get better access to the internet, I will indeed be filling up all the gaps in my stories. For now though, consider this to be but a taste of what we have experienced thus far. I cannot wait to continue updating you on this too-good-to-be-true experience, while filling in the rest of the holes in my story thus far. If youve gotten this far, thank you for reading, and I hope to be posting much more very soon. Until then, as the French say, "Au Revoir!"


  1. Nate, my mouth begins to salivate as I read your wonderful post here. Please say hello to Prof. Max and tell him I want to be an undergraduate again.......
    Lily Young

  2. Nate;

    And I understand you also get credit for this? What a sweet deal!

    Enjoy your stay and try to concentrate long enough on Biochemistry for it to go into long term memory.

    Say hello to Professor H for me.

    Rick Ludescher

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  4. To Brian: I respectfully disagree :)
    To Nate: So glad you're having an amazing experience, I can't wait to read more! Hope you're taking pictures, I'd love to see some in your next entry.
    P.S. Bring me some yummies, kthnx

  5. Sounds like a gastronome's delight!