Honors Summer Snapshots: Conor

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2017 summer routines via photos. Conor traveled to Italy and learned just enough Italian not to intentionally cause an international incident:

Hey! My name is Conor Duffy, and I’m a Junior at ISU double majoring in Civil Engineering and History! I also work as an Undergraduate Assistant with the Honors Program when school is in session, so you might see me around. I had the wonderful opportunity to study abroad in Italy during the first part of this summer as a part of ISU’s Sustainability and Statistics Program at the Polytechnic Institute of Turin, Italy. During the Spring semester, we had an introductory class in sustainability and Italian language/culture to prep us for this trip. I’m currently writing this at my desk in Jischke, because now I’m back here for the summer *dejected sigh*. For the sake of trying to condense my favorite parts of my trip, this “Snapshot” will be more of a chronological series of pictures in an attempt to fit as much as I can into one blog post.

These first two pictures showcase the beautiful sights of Turin, Italy (feat. some fellow ISU students)! Turin (or Torino, if you’re Italian) is a city of about one million people located in the north-west part of the country (think “mid-shin” on the boot). The picture on the left is of the Po River, which runs through the city.


Honestly, the hardest part of being in a foreign country is trying to figure out how to order food. Most of the time, the language isn’t even the especially difficult part—customs are. When do we pay? How do we order? Does it cost money to sit down at a table? Usually we just wandered into a restaurant or café, pointed at some food and, with an atrocious accent, vomited out “vorrei cuelo” (“I would like that”) and hoped for the best! Sometimes it went well. Other times, Austin (pictured on the right) ended up with a plate of meat. I’m sure it was great, but he was less than enthused…


A large part of this class was comprised of tours of sustainable factories and farms. The picture on the left is our group preparing to tour the Domori Chocolate Factory, and the picture on the right is our group at Mura Mura Farms (they make fruit for gelato). The kind folks at Mura Mura let us pick some strawberries from their field, and they were easily one of the top five things I’ve ever eaten. Not pictured is a series of lectures on both Sustainability and Statistics. Those are just pictures of (now retired) Iowa State Professor Larry Genalo, who has been heavily involved in the Honors Program for, well, ever.


After a week of class, we typically had a long weekend to travel around Italy (or other parts of Europe). Above are two pictures of our trip to Interlaken, Switzerland—by far the prettiest place I’ve ever been; it’s like someone 3D printed some kind of “basic” Pinterest account. Food is absurdly expensive in Switzerland, but the views make up for it. The image on the left is a picture of Austin and me at a mountaintop viewpoint called Harder Kulm. The picture on the right is of a train station a few miles outside of Interlaken that we took to head back to the hostel after a four-hour hike into the mountains. 10/10 would recommend this place.


We had one really long weekend, and we took that opportunity to head to Rome. The picture on the left is Connor and me (and Officer Nugs—a stuffed horse the people of Anders made us bring to Europe) in front of the Coliseum. The picture on the right is of me and Officer Nugs swimming in the Baths of Diocletian (which, unfortunately, are not filled with water anymore).


We also happened to *accidentally* walk into Vatican City while the Pope was speaking (Papa Francesco is circled in the picture to the left). From what we could tell, we were blessed by the Pope, which is neat. Someone told me Papal blessings spread to those who the blessed meet. I’m not sure if that extends through phone/computer screens, but there are decent odds you might be blessed. CONGRATS (maybe).


Later on, we went into St. Peter’s Basilica, which (spectacularly) has amazing lighting (shown to the left). Not sure if that’s a heavenly beam of light or not, but I was impressed nonetheless. Also, there were preserved saints and popes in there, which was interesting… The picture on the right is of our final meal in Rome, roughly a block away from the Vatican.


And, finally, I find myself back in Ames for the rest of the summer. If you need me for any reason, I’ll be at the front desk upstairs in Jischke. The view from my desk isn’t as nice as the Alps, but at least I’m better with the language!

Honors Summer Snapshots: Elizabeth

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2017 summer routines via photos. Today you get a two-fer from Elizabeth Garzon, Junior in Environmental Science and Global Resource Systems and summer intern with Cargill, featuring her visit from fellow Honors student Bryn Myers (Junior in Genetics):

Hello everyone! My name is Elizabeth Garzon and I am a junior at Iowa State double majoring in Global Resource Systems and Environmental Science. I am also an Undergraduate Assistant for the Honors Program and of course, a proud Honors student. This summer I have the amazing opportunity to live and work in the Bay Area. I am an Environmental Intern for Cargill at their salt facility in Newark, CA. Today marks the end of my 4th week here at Cargill and I have already learned so much about myself and the industry.  So today for my snapshot I decided to write about a typical day in the life of an intern mixed with the excitement and adventure that comes with living in the Bay Area. Today is not a normal day by any means as my best friend and past First Year Honors co-leader Bryn is here visiting for the weekend (proof that Honors can bring the greatest people into your life). Therefore, I decided to take a half day off of work so we could start exploring the area.

5:30 am: *insert alarm clock sound here* Rise and shine! Every day since I’ve moved here I’ve done hot yoga at a local studio. I figured when in California, one must take advantage of the top notch yoga studios. Bryn, my roommate Shelby and I slept walked out the door and drove 5 minutes to Xplore Yoga in the misty bay weather.

7:00 am: Half-dead and happy we made it through our hour long class. Here’s a nasty picture of Bryn and I just happy to be outside in the semi-cool weather for proof:

7:30 am: Armed with Starbucks and a breakfast sandwich, we head back to my apartment for a quick shower before work!

8:15 am: After getting stuck behind a train for 15 minutes, I finally get to work a little late but awake and ready to take on my half day. My morning normally consists of checking my email, saying good morning to people in the office, and getting myself organized for the day.

8:30 am: Every day I head over to the engineering department and attend the engineering team’s meeting. Even though I’m not an engineering student or intern, going to the meetings helps me keep in the loop of what other departments are doing and how the company functions on a larger scale. Plus, it’s a great way for me to get to know other employees and offer my help when their projects involve anything environmental or waste related.

9:00 am: Heading back to my desk, I start editing a training document I’ve been putting together for the employees here at our facility. California has very strong environmental regulations and they require our employees to be trained and aware of several environmental policies. For the past few weeks, I’ve been meeting with stakeholders and supervisors to make sure the training presentation is comprehensive and engaging for employees.

Here are some awkward pictures of me at my desk to give you some perspective on where I spend part of my day!

11:00 am: For the last hour of my day, I meet with my supervisor and talk about future projects and goals for my internship.

12:00pm: And I’m off! I head back to my apartment to get Bryn, change, and get ready for the rest of the day.

1:30 pm: When in California, one must eat sushi. Bryn and I head to the Willow Glen district in downtown San Jose to grab some sushi and talk about our summer. It was nothing short of amazing. Not many things better than a bento box for lunch!

3:00 pm: After a quick coffee break after lunch, Bryn and I went next door to a candle studio and made our own candles. There’s a bunch of quirky little businesses in the area and we wanted to do something new and different for the both of us. Basically you pick out a candle mold, wax colors, and wax figures and you spent the next hour or so smashing up the wax and filling the mold. Then we picked our scents and poured the seal on our new candles.

5:00 pm. If you’re a nerd at heart and ever in the Bay Area, I would highly suggest making your way to Stanford. Bryn and I walked around for over an hour past the tourists gawking at the central campus and onto less beaten paths. We had about zero clue where we were going but we are two 20-year old college students so no one even blinked when we passed them by. It’s a gorgeous campus with a lot of history and amazing research. We walked around a few buildings and looked at some students’ research posters. What else would we be doing on a Friday night???

7:00 pm. Downtown Palo Alto is the place to eat if you want to try something new yet eat locally sourced food. We ate at Local Union 271, a cute restaurant with good food and TVs to watch the Warriors game. Here are some pictures from dinner:

If you’re not in the NBA loop, the Golden State Warriors are currently in the NBA finals. We wanted to go watch the game somewhere in the area just in case they won and we could be a part of the atmosphere. Unfortunately, they lost on Friday but everyone expected that to happen so they could come win the finals back in the Bay Area! Honestly I’m not a huge basketball fan but it’s a good time to become one.

8:30 After dinner, we headed back to our apartment in Newark and hung out and played rummy until we could barely keep our eyes open. It was a perfect end to the chaotic yet successful day.

Living in California for the summer is everything I dreamed of and more. Every weekend my roommate and I travel around, try new things, and learn what it’s like to be a young adult in a big city. There are endless museums, art galleries, different cuisines, and small treasures to find. I’m incredibly grateful for my internship, my friendship with Bryn, and all the adventures to come. See you back in August Honors!

With love from the Bay,

Honors Summer Snapshots: Emily

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2017 summer routines via photos. Sophomore English major Emily Dux just returned to the US from a Spanish immersion program in Costa Rica:

¡Hola amigos! I kicked off my summer by participating in a three week study abroad program in Costa Rica. I never pictured myself studying abroad before I came to college, but Iowa State really shoves that whole “Choose Your Adventure” thing at you until you can’t help but say “yes!” to some pretty adventurous things. I’d love to walk you through a few parts of that adventure!

I studied abroad through a program called “CPI Costa Rica” that works closely with Iowa State. CPI has three campuses located in three different towns in Costa Rica, so I spent one week at each campus. I chose to live with a host family in all three locations, and I was pretty lucky to have some great families. My first “Mama Tica” (Costa Ricans call themselves “Ticos”) made me feel very safe and comfortable in her home and calmed my nerves about exploring this new country.


The second photo is with my third family, a super fun and friendly group who shared their birthday cake with me and helped me work through a terrible case of “traveler’s stomach” – if you’re thinking about studying abroad, you may want to do some research on that first to be prepared!


I was lucky enough to get to spend two of my three weeks with my great friend and fellow Cyclone, Sarah, who was also studying abroad through CPI. We had a great time doing campus activities and a few excursions together! This photo was taken on top of a tower in downtown Heredia, Costa Rica. There aren’t many white blond girls in Costa Rica, so we had lots of Ticans ask us if we were sisters.


One of my favorite parts was our weekend excursion to Arenal Volcano. We hiked up to the top of the most recent lava flow and decided to pull out the ISU flag to represent! Also pictured here is our Cyclone friend Amanda who spent three weeks in Costa Rica as well, but she was always one week ahead of me. That’s a great example of how independent this study abroad program is – you get to choose the duration, your locations, and when you want to do everything!


I tried to fill every day of my time in Monteverde with a new adventure because there was so much it had to offer. Monteverde Cloud Forest was packed full of opportunities to zipline, bungee jump, climb inside of enormous trees, and discover awesome animals that I had never even heard of.


I could share pictures and tell stories of my time in Costa Rica forever, but I probably can’t do that in blog form. I’ll have to end by saying that living in a different country can be challenging – you’ll get eaten alive by mosquitos, you might have monkeys attack you with fruit outside of your host house, my fellow ladies may get plenty of whistles from creepy dudes on the streets, and you just might enjoy a case of “traveler’s stomach” too… but I don’t regret it at all. Not only was it the best way to improve my Spanish and complete my minor, but it was also the adventure of a lifetime.

P.S. Here’s a shameless plug to check out the video compilation of my experience at https://youtu.be/TCn2QH8oIF0

Honors Summer Snapshots: Brandon

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2017 summer routines via photos. Brandon Renze is working a few jobs on campus and absolutely REVELING in all of the construction during the summer:

Hi summer Honors! My name is Brandon Renze and I will be a Sophomore in Aerospace Engineering this fall. This summer I am working 2 jobs on ISU campus as both an IT assistant for the Math Department and as a research assistant in the Aerospace Engineering Department. My weeks are usually pretty long because on top of work I am taking classes online, but I am still finding time to enjoy my summer. I have a few trips planned, and have enjoyed having a bit of free time during the weekends. These are a few pictures from over the course of one week.

These are the labs that I have spent a large part of my summer in. My main job is making carbon fiber specimens for the researcher that the Honors Mentor Program paired me with. The research is in thermography and its uses in non-destructive evaluation (NDE), specifically in the area of Vibrothermography. Basically, Vibrothermography is where you shake something and cracks or defects inside that something create friction and heat, which can then be detected. This process can be used to evaluate the structural integrity of composite materials, which would otherwise be difficult to see.

A great part of summer ISU is getting to see friends and faculty who are also spending their summers on campus. Most days I have lunch with other friends who are working on campus or living in Ames for the summer. I took this horrible picture outside the hub right before work.

These are a few views from near beautiful Madrid IA! There isn’t much to see in terms of terrain, but Iowa still offers some great skies.

A very important part of summer ISU is construction. Many people don’t know this, but ISU’s entire campus is completely rebuilt every summer from the ground up. At least, that is how it feels. You can’t walk four steps without running into some guy with a jackhammer and an apparent hatred of concrete. On my daily commute, I encounter 5 separate construction sites, all of which have, for whatever reason, decided to remove either the road or sidewalk that I was planning on using to get to work. Pictured above is the removal of the old Nuclear Engineering building across from Hoover in preparation for construction of the new Student Innovation Center.

These pictures were taken at Ada Hayden, which is a lake north of Ames. It has a lot of running paths and is especially great in the evening for taking pictures or being attacked by mosquitos.

Honors Summer Snapshots: Hannah

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2017 summer routines via photos. Hannah Gaffney is having an idyllic summer in Ames:

Hi Everyone! My name is Hannah Gaffney and I will be a junior this fall studying Elementary Education. I am spending my summer in Ames, living in Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity with about 20 other college students! I keep busy during the week nannying and tutoring at Sylvan Learning Center. During the week I also like to go for runs, consume large amounts of ice cream, and find parks to read at! During the weekends I’ve kept busy with trips and going on little adventures with friends! Most of which has consisted of a lot of highway driving and even more country music!

I nanny for a great family with the sweetest girls that live near Ames. I get to help out with three girls – all under the age of 5! The oldest, Liv, is four and loves to have dance parties (normally we listen to the Trolls or Moana soundtrack). She has more stuffed animals than anyone I have ever met and sleeps with every single one of them. The three-year-old, Brinn, loves to play and it doesn’t matter what. She missed the picture since she was napping after a busy day of trying out the new kiddie pool! She never fails to make me laugh, especially when she asks for “Loke” which means yogurt. (Took me a little bit to figure that one out!!) The 2 girls especially love to make their baby sister giggle. Rowynn is 5 months old and so much fun to be around – she is the happiest baby – I could play with her for hours! We have had such a fun summer so far!

Two of my closest friends and I went to Kansas City for a weekend to celebrate my 20th birthday! We went shopping at The Plaza, explored the Power & Light District, and found the Loose Park Rose Garden. The Rose Garden was a hot spot – everywhere we turned we were in the background of a photography session – family pictures, senior pictures, engagement pictures, and pregnancy photos – they were all going on around us! It was fun to watch all those different, important moments in people’s lives being documented at the same time.

My sister-in-law is the head soccer coach for the ADM Tigers, so I have gotten to watch a couple of their games including their match against Council Bluffs, where they won to qualify for the State Tournament!

If I see an ice cream shop I have never been to, I really can’t help but stop and check it out. Billy’s Ice Cream Store in Adel didn’t disappoint – there’s a good chance I’ll be stopping there again! 🙂

Honors Summer Snapshots: Sierra

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2017 summer routines via photos. Sierra Lucht (senior in Computer Engineering) spent a lot of time on I-80 getting to her internship:

This summer, I was fortunate to obtain an internship working out in Silicon Valley, California. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, Silicon Valley is the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area, and about 28 hours of driving from Ames. So, my boyfriend and I packed up my car, said goodbye to our friends and family, and hopped on I-80. We traveled through six states, visited two college campuses, and had a great time taking in the changing landscapes as we drove across the country.

Day 1: Ames, Iowa to Laramie, Wyoming, 10 hours

We started bright and early the first morning on the long drive over the ever so exciting Nebraska. By late afternoon (thanks to the time change) we had made it to Laramie, home of the University of Wyoming Cowboys. Lucky for us, my brother attends the University, so we were able to get a free tour around town, checking out the campus, the parks, the downtown, and the wildlife (jackrabbits and antelope!).

Day 2: Laramie, Wyoming to Salt Lake City, Utah, 6 hours

The second day, we had a much shorter drive to Salt Lake, where we stopped to see our friend, who attends the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Again, we were lucky to have someone to show us around the town. We were able to dip our feet in the Great Salt Lake, check out the campus, the capital, and climb Ensign Peak to check out the city at night.

Day 3: Salt Lake City, Utah to Lake Tahoe, Nevada, 8 hours

On the third day, we traveled from one lake to the next. After the mountainous drive across Utah and the land of casinos, Nevada, we ended the day right on the state line between Nevada and California. Lake Tahoe was beautiful, and there were many things to do there. We were able to hike up another peak to a waterfall, and look out over the sparkling lake below.

Day 4: Lake Tahoe, Nevada to Sunnyvale, California, 4 hours Our final day of driving was quite short, as we needed to arrive in Sunnyvale with enough time to unpack and move into our apartment. Overall, the driving through California was filled with lots of traffic and winding roads. Now we are settled in Sunnyvale, and are appreciating the new environment and weather. It is always sunny here, and the temperatures are very moderate.

Overall, if any of you are driving across the country for work or pleasure, I would definitely recommend splitting your trip into shorter driving days to allow for stops and exploration along the way. Though it may take a little longer to arrive at your destination, the people and places you’ll see will be worth it.

Honors Summer Snapshots: Hannah

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2017 summer routines via photos. About a month ago, Hannah Sams spent some time in a yurt:

Hi everyone! My name is Hannah Sams and I will be a sophomore this fall studying Marketing and International Business. The week after the spring semester ended two friends and I drove up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to go hiking and yurting for 3 days.

This is a picture of the Little Union River Yurt, which is where we lived for three days. The yurt is basically made up of a wooden deck with heavy canvas laid over a wooden frame. It was a 1/2 mile walk from where we parked to the yurt, and on our walks to and from the yurt we would often see animal tracks. We saw a bear print once, but no live bears, which would have been straight-up gnarly. Anyway, the campground area around the yurt had a picnic table, fire pit, wood pile, and that green thing attached to the deck is a place where utensils provided by the park were stored. It was bear-proof as well, so after a few failed attempts at tying our food in a tree we just shoved it in there. There was also a stream down behind the yurt which is where we washed our dishes, and back maybe 30 yards along the trail was the outhouse, which was very nice as outhouses go.

This is the inside of the yurt. To the left is a wood stove, since people stay in the yurt year-round, and it holds heat surprisingly well. There were also two bunk beds, a small picnic table, and an ax for cutting wood. On the table there was a logbook that had entries from everyone who stayed in the yurt, detailing what they had done, what trails they had hiked, animal friends in or near the yurt, and describing the location of a grave 30 yards behind the outhouse.

The first day we hiked 4 or so miles out to the end of a trail, then hammocked and ate lunch before heading back. We pretty much had the park to ourselves, and only encountered three other hikers on the trail and two park rangers. This made for the ultimate peaceful hammocking experience.

We had utensils and the ability to make a fire, so we were able to cook pretty much anything we wanted. This particular night we made jambalaya from an instant mix packet, spam (hickory flavored), and leftover hotdogs. I had never had spam, but it was actually pretty good and I would definitely eat it again, just not often because of the high sodium content. One of the girls I went with knew how to make a fire in such a way that when you had stacked the logs you could pull a grate or something similar over the flames to put your skillet, pot, or teapot on, so that was invaluable to us.

This is the view from a cliff we hiked about 2 miles out to the last day. We ate lunch and just relaxed there for a little while and appreciated the view. The body of water in the middle left part of the picture is Lake of the Clouds. Supposedly it is named that because an early explorer remarked that no wind disturbed the lake’s surface since it was so deeply set in the valley, and it therefore reflected the clouds beautifully.