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

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Internet at Last!

Though the connection is slow, we finally got steady internet access at the hostel! The downside, all 7 of us students have to share this pay-for-hour internet USB thing there's only one to go around. Thats ok though, because sharing is caring.

As you can see i'm able to put up pictures now! So allow me to continue my comments on the Abbey of Cluny. The photo above was taken from what would have been the right in front of the church's door. The two buildings closest to you would have been where the entrance towers were. Between them would have been a large decorative arch, some of which has remained and is kind of visible in the picture. A few feet further would be the grand entrance of the church and the start of the nave of the church. This nave would have extended back all the way to where the last remaining tower is. Now, the tower you see in that picture, imagine another one just like it connecting it to the nave, but maybe towering 50 feet more. This would have been where the altar was. Then add another tower like the remaining one to the left of the altar and you almost have the complete church. Behind the altar would have also been another set of beautiful and extravagant architecture. To help you visualize all this I have attached a second picture (2nd from the bottom) which is a model of what the church once looked like. With these pictures, I hope to pass on the same feelings of inspiration and awe I first felt when picturing the church in my mind as it was in the 12th Century. I mean if you think about it, this church was humongous!

Moving on to more about the course thus far. Today was a fairly calm day. We learned about the process of cheese making during the morning, had another 2-hour lunch, then visited a supermarket to look at the variety of local cheeses being sold to help us select a cheese to write about. Yes, we do have assignments in between all of our adventures. By the end of the course we need 2 3-page papers on one local cheese and one local wine, discussing how its made while providing a brief history of it. In addition, we must prepare 2 15-minute presentations on both. My cheese of choice for the paper is called Saint-Nectaire.

The best part about this program however is that the course thus far has been a great marriage between the biochemistry and microbiology of wine/cheese and the history of Cluny, the Burgundy region, as well as the culture surrounding regional wine and cheese production. Though a lot of time is spent on history and culture, we have still learned equally as much about the biochemistry. In fact, me and my classmates frequently discuss how Dr. Haggblom is so good at teaching biochemistry because he continually clears up many of the things we found confusing in our General Biochemistry courses. Personally, his lectures have helped me make the big connections between regulation of glycolysis by the citric acid cycle. In all, since the start of the course, we have learned the glycolytic pathway (also known as the fructosebisphosphate pathway), differences between respiration and fermentation, what homolactic and heterolactic fermentations are, and the process of cheese making from curdling to separation of curd and whey to the microbiology of aging cheeses.

By the way heres a tidbit of info you may not have known:
Homolactic fermentations yield only lactic acid and are used in cheese production while heterolactic fermentations yield lactic acid and CO2 and is used to produce products such as kefir. Kefir is a popular European fermented dairy product and is very delicious.

Anyway, back to where I was.

Tomorrow our day begins at 7:45 AM, and we will be visiting the Abbaye de Citeaux, where the abbey monks have prized cheeses. They will be showing us their production facilities while explaining their personal cheese making process. After a visit to the local market and subsequent lunch in Nuits Saint-Georges, we will visit the Chateuax du Clos de Vouget and then end our day at the Gaugry cheese dairy in Brochon for another tour/tasting. I think it should be a pretty good day.

To finish up this entry, I will now direct you the other two pictures I posted, outlining the major events from my time in Switzerland. The first is a picture of Chateaux Chillon, one of the most beautiful castles i've ever seen in my life, which are few in number. I'll talk more about that castle in future posts. The last picture is of the delicious Swiss cheese fondue Wayne and I enjoyed our last night in Switzerland. Of course, the fondue was accompanied by a glass of delicious white wine.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it as much as the last one! Oh, and Dr. Haggblom gives his regards to Dr Young and Dean Ludescher


  1. Rat bastard.
    It is hard to be kind as I sit at my desk working away and you are writing about yet another and another encounter with wine and cheese. However, I have shown this to a few people at work and they are very amused with your entertaining blog! Okay, you are kind of amusing. Remember to eat the stinkiest cheese as possible for me.

  2. More cheese, less fructosebisphosphate. Great pictures, I feel like I'm right there with you. Except not. Love you!

  3. So would it not be a heterolactic fermentation for Emmenthaler or Swiss cheese with the holes in it??

    Lily Young

  4. I am truly enjoying reading about culture and microbiology all mixed together!

  5. Another two hour lunch! How are you going to survive when you're back in Jersey?
    Rick Ludescher