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MUDEC Méinden Fall 2020 #5
MUDEC Méinden Fall 2020 #5
Miami UniversityJohn E. Dolibois European Center logo
MUDEC Méinden-Weekly news from the MUDEC community for the MUDEC community-#lifelongMUDEC

Fall 2020 #5

 September 21, 2020

  • Meet the Profs-Stephanie Law
  • MUDEC Advisory Board Chair Eric Steva
  • Lecture Pictures: Ambassador Guy de Muyser
  • SFC Adventure Weekend
  • Host Father and more: Guy Graul
  • Discovery Tour Pictures-Orval and Bouillon
  • Discovery Tour Preview-Trier
  • Epic Travel Misadventures-Pencil Chronicles Part 1
Meet the Profs-Stephanie Law
Man and woman in front of a building
Stephanie Law and her partner Armando
1. Tell us a bit about yourself. Where did you go to college and what did you study? Did you study abroad and if so where?
I am originally from Melbourne, Florida just south of Kennedy Space Center where my father worked for 33 years. I received a 5 year Bachelor of Architecture from Auburn University and a post professional Master of Architecture from Rice University. I did a study abroad in my fourth year of study at Auburn. Auburn does not have a center like the château, so we chartered a bus and traveled to 13 different countries in three months. Including Turkey and the then communist block countries of Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Hungary. It was an amazing and educational trip that I will never forget.
2. How long have you been teaching at MUDEC and what brought you here?
This is my sixth year teaching at MUDEC. I came to Trier, Germany in September, 2000 with two horses to train in the Olympic sport of dressage. I thought I was taking a year off from my architectural career to see Europe and get top notch training, but 20 years later, I am still here. I met Dean Leterre at an American Chamber of Commerce event in Luxembourg and that’s how I started teaching at MUDEC. It was a great opportunity that I am still very grateful for. I work as an architect in the firm, Saharchitects in Mersch, Luxembourg.
3. What are the biggest differences that you notice between American and European students?
I taught English as a foreign language for a few years, but my students were mostly working adults, so I can’t really compare the two.
4. What inspires you?
It inspires me to visit the outstanding architecture here with students experiencing it for the first time. I see the buildings differently each time because of their reactions
5. What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
Watching three teenagers try to turn their t-shirts into masks at the grocery store because they forgot theirs. I had a box full of them in my car, so I happily gave them some. They were getting creative with those shirts, but I was worried they were going to pass out from not being able to breathe!
6. What do you want to be when you grow up?
An astronaut! Or maybe I’ll still go get that Olympic medal. 😀
MUDEC Advisory Board Chair Eric Steva
Man and woman with city skyline behind
Eric Steva and his wife Elizabeth in Luxembourg during the 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2018
Man and woman with mountains in the background
Eric Steva and his wife Elizabeth on the Isle of Skye
As the 2020-2021 Chair of the MUDEC Alumni Advisory Board, I want to acknowledge Pam Archer’s tenure as last year’s chair and her long-standing service and commitment to MUDEC. She has left and continues to leave a lasting legacy that has helped strengthened this board for the betterment of MUDEC and its Alumni. This year has presented unique challenges for MUDEC and the board. First came the COVID pandemic and quick return of the students to Oxford. In July, Raymond Manes started his term as the interim Executive Director with Dean Leterre’s departure after 11 years of service to MUDEC. The board sends a heartfelt thanks to Dean Leterre for his foresight 7 years ago when he created the MUDEC Alumni Advisory Board and we wish him well in his future endeavors. The board is looking forward to working with Director Manes with his fresh outlook and enthusiasm.

With the start of the Fall Semester, the 22 students at the Château will probably become one of the tightest alumni groups in the years to come. I look forward to hearing their stories at future anniversary gatherings. It is hard to believe it has been two-years since over 700 of us gathered in Luxembourg to celebrate the 50th anniversary of MUDEC. I don’t know about you, but that was one of the best trips and experiences I have enjoyed. I believe the success of the 50th has led to alumni and friends of MUDEC prompted to give over $40,000 during the Move-In-Miami campaign. This year we honored the legacy of Dr. Emile Haag and added to the Dean’s fund that helps pay for student discovery tours and other student engagement opportunities that come up unexpectedly. The funds raised get us closer to the goal of the Capital Campaign that was launched last year, so a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who has donated

The Board continues to look for new programs and opportunities to engage our expanding network of alumni. We want to make sure we effectively communicate with our Alumni, so please continue to follow us on Social Media or by announcements made through our network of class captains. Pease make sure Miami has your current email and if you have not received any communication from Miami recently, you may want to contact them to make sure you have approved all channels of communications. Miami recently sent out an email to all alumni who attended the 50th Anniversary celebrations in order to give them the chance to get a free copy of the 50th Anniversary book. Please don’t miss this opportunity to get this great keepsake. I am also excited to let you know we are working with the Alumni office to offer MUDEC Merchandise that will be available through their website, this should be ready in time for the Holiday season. Please watch this newsletter, social media and your emails for future announcements on this and other events.

I want to thank all the MUDEC Alumni, friends, faculty & staff in Luxembourg and Oxford, and other members of the board for their continued support of MUDEC.  We continue to make this the crown jewel of Miami’s study abroad programs for years to come.

Eric Steva
MUDEC Spring ‘88

Ambassador Guy de Muyser
Guest Lecture Pictures

Man speaking at a lectern
Guy de Muyser
President Reagan's face in the middle of a religious painting
One of the artworks
Man speaking at a lectern
One of the artworks
5 people with masks standing in the Grand Hall of the Château
Cheryl Young, Juan-Carlos Albarrán, Elena Albarrán, Guy de Muyser, Raymond Manes
SFC Gotcha!, Smores, Mario Kart and Adventure Weekend!
5 Students with bowling balls at an alley
SFC Communications Chair Corrine McClintock

With no lecture on this week's horizon, the SFC jumped in to organize a series of activities. The MUDEC Gotcha! tournament started this morning, so students will be watching their backs for the next two weeks before leaving for the Study Tours.

This week marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall, with the weather forecast reflecting that transition. Tonight, the SFC will help say goodbye to summer with smores on the back patio of the château. Wednesday, it's fun and games with a Mario Kart tournament in the Cave.

This weekend is Adventure Weekend, with indoor skydiving at (I believe I can) Luxfly on Saturday and a trip to an adventure park with ziplining on Sunday. There is never a dull moment at MUDEC!

Host Father Guy Graul
Man seated in front of ivy-covered building
Guy Graul in front of the ready for fall Château
Fall decorations
Fall decorations

Guy Graul is a familiar face to many of us in the MUDEC community, as he has been hosting students since MUDEC moved to Differdange in 1997.

In addition to being a rescuer of students involved in bizarre mechanical pencil misadventures (read more below), Guy is also an avid gardener and has been volunteering from time to time to help spiff up the landscape around the château. Check out his fall decorations in front of the Château above.

On top of that, Guy noticed that his students thought that the tree to the left of the Château parking lot was a pear tree, when in reality it is a quince tree. He went ahead and made quince jam, which he has graciously provided for any students that would like to try. Merci villmols Guy!

Tree in front of ivy-covered building
MUDEC's quince tree
Travel Section Banner

Orval Abbey and Bouillon Castle Discovery Tour Pictures

Two pods with students inside listening to a presentation
Individual pods where the trappist beer brewing process was explained
Students holding a flag at Orval Abbey
Orval Abbey
Students listening to a tour guide inside of open air ruins
Orval Abbey ruins
two men in medieval costumes jousting
John Stroszak jousting with the tour guide at Bouillon Castle
Students with a flag at Bouillon Castle
Bouillon Castle
Close-up of a bald eagle
A bald eagle at the falconry show at Bouillon Castle

Ancient Rome Right Next Door-Trier Discovery Tour Preview

The fourth Discovery Tour of the semester will take place this coming Friday with a trip to an old MUDEC favorite, Trier, just over the border in Germany. "Old" favorite is of course more than appropriate since Trier was one of the capitals of the Roman Empire and is home to no less than 10 UNESCO World Heritage sites.

We will visit, among other things. the Porta Nigra, the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps, Constantine's Basilica, built in the 4th century, and the Electoral Palace, the Trier Cathedral, and the Roman Amphitheater.

Konstantin's Basilica in Trier
Constantine's Basilica
Electoral Palace in Trier
Electoral Palace

Epic Travel Misadventures

We're not sure that this fits the classic mode of Epic Travel Misadventures, but it is epic, it is definitely a misadventure, and two MUDEC students plus one host father had to travel because of it, so it's close enough. MUDEC Fall 2020 student Riley Farrell kept a time-stamped blow-by-blow account of his attempt, along with sidekick Michael Nevar, to rescue his lost mechanical pencil, so sit back, relax, and prepare to laugh as you read excerpts from his journal below.

  • Reader discretion is advised.

  • No animals were harmed during this misadventure.

  • Please do not attempt to do this in a well at a castle near you.

Pencil Chronciles Part 1
by Riley Farrell
What follows is a direct transcription of the journal I took during my grand adventure to recover my mechanical pencil that I had been using for the last seven years. On the recent Discovery Tour to Useldange castle it fell down a well. Since I was not traveling that weekend, I decided to go after it.  

Each timestamp, unless otherwise marked, is the time that entry was written on buses, while walking, etc.
View down to the well
Here is where the pencil fell, almost as if ceremoniously placed down in the hole like the Sword in the Stone, glistening in the light, surrounded by a pool of water. 
September 5
14:20 – On journey to recover pencil. After “carefully” plotting route said “the hell with it” and hopped on the first train to arrive that was going in our direction. We took the RB60 to Petange. Saw some horses grazing in a field.  Getting off the train now it is 14:24. Thought we were getting off, looks to be a trainyard… Now actually getting off 14:27.
14:32 – Found bus stop outside of the Petange train station. Waiting for the 334 bus, it is crucial that it is not missed as it only comes every 60 minutes. We (Michael Nevar and I) will be riding it from Petange station (its first stop) to Steinfort (its last stop). Then the plan is to get on another bus and ride it to probably its last stop.  Then a short walk and we’ve made it to our first stop to the hardware store to buy some rope/and or string, having already acquired some type of what is probably strong glue.
14:39 – Got on bus (It is very bumpy). Had some initial confusion with the driver as apparently, we were trying to board the bus on its arrival stop and that we were only allowed to board on the departure zone (despite there being no passengers or anyone else in sight). This bus is not the same as the large city buses in Differdange. It has no monitor for stops and only has seating for 12. Also just saw a free-standing McDonalds in Europe for the first time, oddly enough it looks just like the nicer ones in the United Sates. 14:27 – Saw first contemporary church since arriving, it looks suspiciously like one in Kettering Ohio.
15:30 – Got off the 222. Jaywalked near fire station. Lack of sidewalk is making this a daunting task. Can see the sign for Bauhaus in the distance, but need to navigate there…. We crossed some more streets and walked what felt like a very long way through an interesting looking commercial park with an IBM building and various others. Finally, we came to the Bauhaus and things began to look up for the day.  When inside we did not really want to attempt a conversation with a nonnative English speaker, so we began meandering the aisle to finally getting to the garden section where Jute twine was found. I also devised another plan that would involve looping the twine around the pencil and putting a washer through the ends so that it would form a latch. We also purchased two types of plastic bottles to even out our chances.
16:30 – Found the next bus stop which looks to be across from some mall-looking place Kichechef, But… next bus won’t come until 17:36. So we will tool around in the mall till then.
Entry of a shopping center
Some mall-looking place
man with mask on bus
Michael Nevar on one of the many buses of the day
17:01 – Turns out the “mall” was actually an upscale furniture outlet with many 1000 Euro chairs. After evading the sales people, we found and made use of the bathrooms or W.C. as the locals seem to call them. Currently we have found seats on the sidewalk at the Bus Stop; and are enjoying our evening meal of the 0.50 Euro baguette I bought, as well as the tea and carbonated apple juice while we wait.  Michael is now working on his French skills while I pretend to read the free Lux Newspaper I picked up in order to look less conspicuous. Oddly enough we have not gained any weird looks. We are in an area so far removed from a touristy area no one seems to suspect a thing about us. Though they also seem to speak less and less English outright (No signs etc.) – 17:15
17:20 – Getting on the # 255 bus back to stop we arrived in and will take several more to reach the castle and will rescue the pencil. Also just saw that the castle is listed as being closed after 19:00 so our current estimated arrival time of 18:23 will be very close…
17:28 – After some initial confusion we hopped onto the 1st bus with our # 250.  Examination of the bus app shows this bus is not going where we want. Now getting off at the next stop to change buses. Perhaps this is the right way.
17:36 – At the Kessler stop, will be taking the bus to Staereplatz Etoile then a train to bus to a train station to another bus. Hopefully to arrive now my 19:10, but the sun might be going down by then….
We just looked up how much a taxi, fare would be 70 Euro. So bus it will be, can see it coming in the distance.
17:53 – Missed train.. We immediately hopped off our bus, waited for the light to change to cross the street, sprinted across the street and got to the platform next to the door and immediately the train pulled away…… Next train will come in 10 minutes, hopefully no more screwups. Entire Youth Basketball Team also practically appeared out of thin air and are getting on the train with us. (They seem to be speaking English?).
18:25 – On new bus #265. After train ride we got off and the GPS map told us to take a bus back where we just came from. So we walked along the sidewalk next to the train tracks and hopped on bus for a 50 minute ride….
18:37 – Michael and I are having doubts about our mission. But we have ridden so many buses/trains and wasted so much of our Saturday it feels like a waste to quit now. Though this is a very nice drive, through forests and empty little towns, almost quiet and peaceful on this bus with relaxing Italian? Music (like something you would expect to hear as background music in a café or something). If only we had a car………….
19:04 – Sitting at bus stop Ripweiller, Biem Nossert. Bus will come at 7:15. Hopefully we can get to it. This “town” (village) looks to be a place no tourist has probably ever been. Very quaint little traffic and no shops to be seen. No people either. Maybe one restaurant, looks to be lots of cars (about 6) parked up the road.
Man at bus stop with house behind
Riley Farrell, where no tourist has gone before
man walking on grass between buildings
Successful inflitration of Useldange Castle
19:09 – Getting rather chilly now – rations now depleted, hunger will probably set in soon….
19:14 – Got on the 510 bus. On way to Useldange, anticipation growing as we ride down this tree lined road with pastures and little farm houses. Currently 25 km from Luxembourg City.
19:26 – Arrived at the castle! As we climbed up the steps the sun glistened on them lighting up the plants strung along the path with its warm rays, almost to front gate now!
It was locked…….
All entry points locked. No way without siege equipment to get in …
20:00 – After my last entry we decided to infiltrate the castle by scaling the fence between the courtyard and the cemetery.
Currently trying the method of glue and rope. The string broke once during Michael's trial runs but he is currently on attempt 2 letting the glue dry. There is also a man sitting by a window nearby at eye level with the cemetery and courtyard, a huge risk that we will be spotted. Heart rate currently 120 and I am only on watch, not even over the fence. Pretending to be on my phone as a look out.
20:15 – At the chime of the church bell Michael and I switched positions, I inside attempting the rescue and him on lookout. It is getting very dark and can hardly see anything down the hole, glue and pencil are both probably wet…
All hope is pretty much lost, broke into/trespassed a castle in potential sight of many people, luckily police have not been called
Have no real hope: Waiting for glue to “dry” but no real hope…
Going to have to call it quits after this and make the long journey “home” ….
The hole was about 9 wingspans long so almost 50 feet.
Note written on paper
I wrote the following note on a page torn out of my Journal
gate lit at night
I then used a piece of twine to tie it to the front gate of the castle
Man at a bus stop at night
Waiting for the bus we found a very cool looking stick
man eating an egg in a cafe with a TV in the background
A hard-boiled egg has never tasted so good
20:38 – Leaving.
21:34 – Currently sitting in a bar. The last bus of the evening flew right past us.  Michael made phone calls to no avail with my phone after his died while I explained our situation to the waitress and I bought 2 hardboiled eggs. Other waiter came by and said he would go ask his manager if he would drive us to the train station because there is a train coming in 20 minutes but it is a 30-minute hike.
21:58 – Waiter has not returned but taxi would cost 100 Euro if we could even find one.
21:59 – Right as we were discussing calling a taxi Michael’s host Guy Graul called us and Michael is on the phone with him now!
22:03 – Guy is on the way!!
22:27 – While waiting I have been reflecting on the day's events but cannot decide if this was:
  1. A Grand Adventure turned into a Drama
  2. A Complete Waste of my Saturday
  3. A Travel Misadventure
We spent the entire day hopping on different Buses/Trains in an attempt to retrieve a mechanical pencil from a 50-foot hole by jumping a fence to a closed castle by using a spool of twine tied to a bottle of gravel with superglue spread all over the bottom end to fail and not retrieve it missing the last bus of the evening to wait in a bar trying to call Michael’s host for an extraction from Useldange.
22:35 – Just was talking to waitress and she informed me that everyone in the restaurant is Portuguese but in the restaurant they all speak French. Apparently 40% (According to her) of Luxembourg is Portuguese, or some other large percentage. And that she knows some people who have been here for 20 years and still only speak Portuguese.
23:26 – Guy Arrived! Finally leaving!!!!!

The following was written as of Sunday September 6, 11:53 a.m.

After Guy picked up us up I finally got to meet the illustrious host I heard so much about. Around 11:40 p.m. we stopped at a pizza shop and Michael and I were very relieved to not being the ones breaking through the language barriers. The pizza place was closed but they referred us to the nearest town where they said there would be at least one place open
By midnight we arrived in the very dead/quiet looking town of Arlon, Belgium. After parking the car and walking a little further we came across a very large bustling area with at least 150 people all sitting in chairs outside eating and drinking, clearly not observing any of the WHO COVID precautions. We happened by this burger place sandwiched between the bars for a low price of only 4 Euros. At this point in the evening it was getting even colder, about 8 Celsius which is 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit. You see when we set out on this grand misadventure it was a nice day and we had expected to be back by around 8 and have a nice dinner in the city
I was graciously dropped off at my hosts home at 1:07 a.m., Thus bringing an end to this adventure for now……..
Odds and Ends
Dog with birthday hat


No, we have not been neglecting birthdays in the newsletter this semester. With a group of only 22 students, though, birthdays don't happen every week. The SFC did have a great idea, though, to celebrate half-birthdays where possible.

This week, everyone will be wishing a very Happy Birthday to Emily Dye on September 25. That same day will be Michael Nevar's half-birthday, with Nick Kaneps' half-birthday following on September 27.

This Week's Schedule graphic
  • Classes
  • SFC Gotcha! tournament begins
  • 19:00 SFC Smores Evening on the back patio
  • Classes
  • Classes
  • 17:30 Mario Kart Tournament in the Cave
  • Classes
  • Classes (a.m.)
  • Discovery Tour-Ancient Rome Right Next Door in Trier
  • SFC Adventure Weekend
Château & Administrative Hours
Aerial view of the Château de Differdange, where Miami's Luxembourg campus, the John E. Dolibois European Center, often abbreviated to MUDEC, is located

Château Hours

Monday-Thursday: 8:00-22:00

Friday:                     8:00-17:00
Saturday, Sunday: Closed

Administrative Hours
Monday-Friday:  8:30-12:30

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