Touring the University of Padua, Italy

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Our excursion to the University of Padua was very emotionally stimulating. First, the fact that we were at the University that allowed a woman to enroll and receive a degree for the first time ever was very rewarding. I was filled with joy and empowerment, but at the same time with frustration because, as the tour guide explained, it took so long for the next woman to be able to do the same and for the rest of the world to catch up.

The tour guide also explained how Galileo was a very popular academician during his time and when he gave talks at the University, it was a huge crowd that attended and it was very hard for most people to hear and see him. Therefore, Galileo’s podium was only built because the students of the university worked together and raised the money in order for Galileo’s podium to be built, just so that they could hear him better during his lectures. This shows how dedicated to learning students can be as well as the power that we actually have as students. It was empowering to be reminded that students can make a difference on their campus and in the world.

Seeing and learning about the anatomical amphitheater was very intellectually stimulating, especially as someone who desires to have a career in the medical field. Before going on this excursion, I was not sure what to expect from this theater that we talked about a couple times in class and I did not know exactly how it was utilized. The theater itself, although very small and crowded, was still remarkable. We learned that the cadaver was prepped in a separate room and then brought into the small oval space in the center and lifted up so students could watch as the autopsy was performed.

Creating a theater and having the cadavers in the center as students watched from different levels was such a creative way to present anatomy to students, given the era they were in and the resources they had. This relates back to what we have talked about in my seminar class that focuses on the history of medicine because some of the most groundbreaking medical and anatomical discoveries were not found until scientists and physicians started studying anatomy by going below the surface of the body.

Enjoy a model of the anatomical amphitheater below from the University of Padua.