Photos around Campus

Taking Part in a Foreign Culture

By Justin Smith ’11

As Americans, we often find ourselves visiting other countries, whether it be for business or vacation. We spend a week or two shopping, eating out, and visiting famous museums and beaches. We then return home, making the claim that we visited “this place, that place, and everywhere else”. But do we truly understand the countries we visit? Do we take part in their culture, discovering what makes them so unique? I thought about these questions as I partook in the study abroad program to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I wanted to experience what it meant to be Argentine, that I could then share my experiences and observations.

One of the first things I had to get accustomed to was the family life in Argentina. My host family consisted of my host mom, Marta, whom I love dearly; my host brother, Nicolas, who was crazy about guitars, jazz, and blues; and the cat, Martina, who somewhat despised my existence, except at mealtimes. One thing I found interesting was that the children usually stayed at home until they got married. This is because it is so expensive to get an apartment, which is what most people live in, that they have to wait until they can live with a spouse. Thus, oftentimes, there would be thirty-year-olds living with their parents. This does not seem to be a problem, as most families in Argentina are extremely close; this is true for the extended family as well. At least once per week, Marta invited her sister, her brother, nieces, nephews, an the occasional friend over to the apartment. There was always something going on with the family. Another interesting fact is that the members of the family are often very open with each other. For example, one day Marta asked me how my life was going with my lady friends. I told her it was fine. I didn’t realize that any other Argentine would have gone into some detail, variations of such depending on the person. As I didn’t offer more information, she began to pry. That was when I learned that almost anything was up for discussion when dealing with families. To be honest, I got a kick out of it!

One other thing I find important when traveling are the friendships. If you don’t have the luxury of being with a family when you travel, you should definitely try to make some good friends! Making friends is another way to experience the culture of the place you’re visiting. I found my friends to b every interesting. From what I saw, most people in Buenos Aires are extremely outgoing. When I was invited to go hang out with my friends, it was often in groups of three to ten. We would go to parks, museums, coffee shops, movies, etc. One thing what intrigued me was that not once did we go out to movies, or watch TV, and call it a night.l Always, without fail, we talked, and talked, and talked. Talking, for Argentines, is the method by which one gets to know one’s friends. And they talk for hours on end, whether it be joking, politicking, or just a friendly conversation. What’s even more interesting is what I call the “ceremony of talking”. Usually, when we got together, someone would have a strong tea called “mate.” They would pour hot water from a jug into a mate gourd, and then pass it to someone. The person drinking could not way “thank you” until they were done drinking (I learned this after my friends looked at me weirdly when I did so beforehand.) The gourd would then go back to the server, who would pass it to another person. When the water ran out, the server would run and get more. This went on the entire time they were conversing. It was truly an interesting experience, one that I repeated many a time.

What I depicted was but a small part of the things I took part in. If you are fortunate enough to travel somewhere, make it worth your while. It’s fun to go clubbing almost every night of the week, but it’s also beneficial to get in on the culture. There are many way s to go about it: talk to shop owners, go to performances, take a walk to national museums, etc. We may say that the world is a small place, but it gets bigger with every new culture we take part in. So: don’t pass up a great opportunity the next time it comes around. You never know what you might learn!

International Club Celebrates Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival

By Nay Min Oo ‘12

The International Club celebrated on October 7th the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, one of the biggest festivals in China.  More than 80 students, faculty, and staff attended the event at Crawley Forum. Among them were Eric Dinmore, Assistant Professor of History, and Dr. J. Z. Zhao, Assistant Professor of Economics.

The celebration started with a video to introduce the Mid-Autumn Festival.  The Chinese have a special affection for the moon, and there are many stories about the Mid-Autumn Festival.  The most popular is the myth of Chang’e, the lady who lives on the moon with her rabbit.  On Mid-Autumn Day, millions of Chinese worship the Moon Lady.  In addition they hold family reunions.  Since a full moon represents the family, all the members will try to reach home on this day no matter how far apart they are.

Together, the family will enjoy the moon on a cloudless night and eat moon cakes—an essential and special feature of this festival.  The tradition of moon cakes started as the sacrificial offering to the moon and later became symbolic food.  The first slice of the moon cake is always offered to the oldest one in the family to show respect to the elders.  Although the general features of the Mid-Autumn Festival are the same, different regions have their own unique traditions.  The video also showed the process of making moon cakes.

After the video, Professor Anthony Zhang, Chinese Fulbright Scholar and professor of Chinese, led nine students from his class in reciting a traditional Chinese poem, “Shui Diao Ge Tou” (Thinking of You).  After the recitation, the students sang the poem as Professor Zhang played the piano.

Next, the Tai Yin Chinese Lion Dance team from Maryland performed the famous lion dance for the audience.  This performance was made possible by the generous help of Mladen Cvijanovic, Assistant Dean of Students for Intercultural Affairs.  The lion dance team consisted of five members who were passionate about this traditional Chinese art.  They first explained the history of the lion dance.  According to the myth, thousands of years ago, the Lion from the mountain would frequently go down to the villages and harm the livestock.  However, after confrontation with the villagers, the Lion became their friend and protector.  Therefore, to honor the Lion, people developed this highly acrobatic lion dance.

The lively music of drums and gongs and the energetic performance of the lion dance pumped up the atmosphere in Crawley Forum.  The audience gave a round of applause whenever the team performed a breathtakingly difficult move.  For example, very often the young man in front would jump in the air and land on his partner’s shoulders.

After the dance, the team also demonstrated Chinese Kung Fu such as Small Five Animal Fist, Big Five Animal Fist, Chinese Broad Sword, and Big Buddha Stick.  The audience was amazed at these moves, which had been seen only in the Kung Fu movies.

After a question-and-answer session, the performers taught the children present how to lion dance.

As the final part of the event, the organizers served moon cakes and refreshments.  All the guests left with a new understanding of another culture, the taste of delicious moon cakes in their mouths, and smiles on their faces.

International House Hold Open House

By Nay Min Oo ’12

On September 16, the International House continued its annual tradition of an Open House.  The event was a huge success with a turnout of more than a hundred enthusiastic guests including faculty, students, and staff who were eager for a taste of exotic Asian food.  The foods served at the event did not disappoint the guests as each was gone shortly after it was served. The specialties were Shan rice noodle, Kung Pao chicken, Chinese meat pies, spring rolls, stir-fried bean sprouts, fried rice, and Navajo fry bread.

The celebration started at 5:30 PM, and, as the first dish, my Shan noodle was presented to the guests. It is noodle soup with pork curry.  Shan noodle is very popular in Myanmar (Burma). Since my parents run a noodle shop back home, I had no difficulty making the family food. “We are noodle folk. Broth runs through our veins,” if I may quote from the movie, Kung Fu Panda.  The guests enjoyed the Shan noodle but commented that the serving was too big as they wanted to try other food as well. Luckily for Shihao Tian ’12 from China, I had reduced the serving size, so that the guests were able to enjoy his Kung Pao chicken, the glorious outcome of his decision to learn to cook during summer. Kung Pao chicken is fried with garlic, onion, cashews, and dry chili peppers.  Tian’s authentic specialty proved to be especially popular among the guests as two large bowls of chicken were gone in a very short time.

After Tian’s Kung Pao chicken, Professor Anthony Zhang (foreground), Chinese Fulbright Scholar and professor of Chinese, and Ke Shang ’13 from China served the highly-anticipated Chinese meat pies.  These meat pies were fried dumplings stuffed with a mix of grounded beef and vegetables.  The demand for the meat pies was very high among the guests.  Even after the event was over, there were still many people waiting about in the hope that there might be more these delicious pies.

Originally, we planned to serve only the above three dishes for the event as we anticipated no more than 50 people to show up.  In fact, more than a hundred guests showed up, and this unexpectedly large number pleasantly surprised the organizers.  To accommodate the greater number of the guests, we decided to cook more dishes—stir-fried bean sprouts, spring rolls, fried rice, and Navajo fry breads.  For the stir-fried bean sprouts, the duty fell into the hands of Tian, our main chef of the evening, who also impressed the people in the kitchen with his masterful pan-flipping skill.

Tan Le ’10 from Vietnam, President of International Club, cooked spring rolls and Vietnamese fried rice. Moreover, two American students, Alex Burner ’10 and Will Thomas ’11 contributed to the variety of food by making Navajo fry breads.  The Open House event finally closed at 8, an hour later than originally planned. Although the organizers, especially the chefs, were tired and hungry after the cookout, they were delighted with the success of the event.

This event showed the rising level of diversity and cultural awareness at Hampden-Sydney.  The Hampden-Sydney International House has contributed significantly to this higher level of awareness on campus. It is located in the Fraternity Circle between the Minority Student Union (MSU) and Women’s Guest House, and the house has an open door policy to everyone.

In Another Country Revisited

by R. Wesley Proctor ’10

I don’t really know how to describe my preconceptions going into my May Term abroad program in Costa Rica other than about 95% pure excitement mixed with 5% apprehension about living with a foreign family whom I knew relatively little about, not to mention the language barrier.

Hindsight is 20/20 and I have the good fortune of being able to say that I would not have done anything differently. Pushing myself to speak the language and interact with the family and the local community yielded tremendous dividends in both conversational improvement as well as in social education. I learned a lot about myself and an international environment while having a good time in paradise.

There were 16 Hampden-Sydney students on the trip. Everyone lived with a Costa Rican family and made their way to class twice each day at the institute where we studied.  During the week we worked hard during the day and unwound a little a night, but the weekends were definitely highlights.

The first weekend we toured around San Jose getting acclimated to the area as well as seeing many museums and places of interest, such as the Teatro Nacional (left), which was a standout because of its fantastic architecture. 

 The second weekend we went to Manuel Antonio (right), a rain forest national park positioned next to Quepos, a small fishing town. With the help of my taxi driver, I set up a day of off-shore fishing which turned out great; although it was the off-season, we landed a sailfish.

The following Friday I was invited by my host sister, who is my age, to go to one of her friend’s birthday parties. I foolishly accepted not knowing how hard Costa Ricans throw down. They told me I was welcome to bring a friend, so I invited Holden Bryant ’10. The party was ridiculous. One thing that was hard to keep in my mind was the possibility that some of these people do in fact speak English. It was about 10 minutes of my stumbling with my Spanish trying to tell someone, whom I thought to be Costa Rican, about the plot line of The Dark Knight before he informed me that he was from California.

Getting up at 7AM the following morning wasn’t the easiest task, but there was no way I was going to miss Costa Rica’s most active volcano, Arenal.  If there’s anything that wakes you up in the morning it’s vistas of liquid hot magma chased by hot springs with waters of varying temperature both with and without aqua-bars.  Seeing this volcano may very well have been the highlight of the trip.  It was majestic, impressive, and humbling all at once.

Our final weekend we visited Tortuguero, an island in the Caribbean where turtles go to lay their eggs.  It was quite a trek to get there, but, when we did, it was worth it.  The beaches were astounding; the water was the perfect temperature, unattainable in any bath or Sharper-Image product.  I went fishing and canoeing; both offered uncanny views of the Caribbean Coast.  The canals behind Tortuguero made me feel like I was in the Amazon and far more intrepid than my mom may have liked.  We saw three types of monkeys, a sloth, toucans, crocodiles, and many other animals for which I lack the proper nomenclature. The trip was a blast.

The following weekend was our departure, which was bitter sweet.  I had such an indescribably good time and bonded with my host family, with whom I still keep in touch, but as always it’s good to be back in the old U.S. of A. as well as Hampden-Sydney.  The trip had such an effect on me that I have decided to minor in International Studies as well as a Spanish minor.  I would advise anyone who is thinking about doing a study abroad program to just check all reservations at the door because for me it was the experience of a lifetime.

Summer School Abroad at LSE

by Scott T. Jefferson ’10

During the months of June and August of the summer of 2009, Christian A. Caiazzo ’10, Scott T. Jefferson ’10, and Scott R. Ouzts ’11 attended the London School of Economics for an intensive summer school program commonly recognized as one of the most rigorous and culturally diverse in the world.  The program is known for attracting students, professors, and even accomplished businessmen from every part of the globe.  Somewhere in the mix were the three Hampden-Sydney students, each one of them in for a unique experience beyond The Hill.

The program consists of approximately 3,500 students.  An extensive range of courses is offered, covering the breadth of the social science expertise that LSE has to offer. Courses range from traditional core economics, accounting, and finance subjects to politics and management theory and practice.  The program has been operating for 20 years, each year more competitive and more culturally diverse than the last.

Scott Jefferson ’10 commented on the diversity of the university, “Being from the Northern Virginia area, I have experienced a great deal of diversity in my lifetime, but not nearly as much as I experienced in my short time at the London School of Economics.  For example, I made friends with students and businessmen from Columbia, Denmark, France, Brazil, Madagascar, Russia, Norway, and many more. These people made for a fun, international experience both in and out of the classroom.”

Christian Caiazzo ’10 took a course on financial markets, which covered everything from the organization of financial markets to risk evaluation and investment strategy.  Christian said, “After sitting through hours of class everyday with numerous students from Ivy League and countless other top-tier institutions from around the world, I have never been more confident in the quality of a Hampden-Sydney education.  When I found I could not understand a concept or work out a problem, I would look around and notice that I was not alone; we were all on the same level despite our different educational backgrounds.”

On the weekends, the H-SC students were able to escape the crowded city of London to experience everything from the southern beaches to the western countryside. One weekend they were even able to meet fellow Hampden-Sydney students studying at St. Anne’s College in the Virginia Program at Oxford.  During breaks between lecture and class, the students also found the time to explore the many great destinations of London such as Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the National Gallery, the Tower of London, and more.

The three students offered the following advice: one of the most quintessential aspects of liberal arts education is a strong international exposure.  If you are even considering studying abroad, we strongly recommend talking with Mary Cooper, Director of International Studies.  You may also find it helpful to talk with people you know who have studied abroad.  Students who have studied abroad are generally more than willing to share their stories.  Also consider looking into summer programs, these allow you to gain the experience without feeling as if you have missed out on an ever-eventful semester at Sydney.

Reflections on Cultural Exchanges

Publications Office Note: Matthew Hubbard and Ben Shega, both Class of 2009, are teaching in Shanghai through the Marshall University (West Virginia) Teach in China Program.In the summer of 2009, Matt was one of 30 American students selected to participate in the U.S. – China 30/30 Program commemorating 30 years of student exchange between the two countries.  This was a fully funded program through the Institute for International Education Fulbright Program sponsored by the Department of State.

by Matthew R. Hubbard ’09

(In April 2009 Matthew Ryan Hubbard (center) received the prestigious Wilson Center Public Service Certificate from Dr. Walter M. Bortz III, Former President of Hampden-Sydney College (right), and Dr. David E. Marion, Director of the Wilson Center for Leadership in the Public Interest (left).  The Public Service Certificates are presented to seniors who have successfully completed a two-year concentration of classes, internship, and research and who are seriously considering careers in public service. )

It might be safe to say that a sizeable number of undergraduates who consider studying abroad see their experience as an opportunity for anything from achieving a higher language proficiency to self-actualization.  Programs of this nature are rarely seen through the lens of geopolitics, perhaps because some students are unwilling or unable, due to lack of awareness to view in this way the process of cultural immersion and linguistic acquisition in a foreign country.

If you are considering working in Teach for America, the Peace Corps, the military, or international business studying abroad is a means of dipping your feet in the water of a seemingly-vast pool that encompasses many careers that might appeal to your more altruistic instincts.

Studying abroad is an opportunity to make as big or as little an impact on the world around you as you wish.  If you actively seek opportunities to discuss culture, politics, and economics with the citizens of another country, it has an impact on the way they see the world.

It is probable that such interactions educate individuals and help to create the kind of understanding among the world’s citizens that is necessary if there is to be a lessening of cultural myopia and the pressure on policymakers to take actions that make cooperation in the world more difficult.  Your conversations might influence your interlocutor, who then might talk to her previously-xenophobic uncle—you know, the one who may have the ear of a national politician.

Cultural exchanges make an impact on the way peoples see each another. The professors from various foreign backgrounds who teach at Hampden-Sydney — whether temporarily or for the long term — sometimes fundamentally impact the way students at the College see themselves in the world.  Former Fulbright scholars who taught Chinese at Hampden-Sydney, Professors Guo and Li, were individuals who introduced previously unknown facets of China to H-SC students.  Those professors were in a way cultural ambassadors, and the United States government’s sponsorship of these two gentlemen is a testament to the weight the U.S. government gives to cultural exchanges on campuses with new Chinese language programs.

Professor Li, knowing of my interest in China and my desire eventually to make the country and its people the focus of my career, was kind enough to submit my name to the U.S. State Department for a summer peer-to-peer exchange program.

While in China for the three weeks of the 30/30 Program and during the many months ahead that I will spend in Shanghai teaching English and world history courses designed for native and non-native speakers,  I hope I have facilitated and will continue to facilitate greater sensitivity on both sides of the Pacific.

Cultural exchanges must occur with greater frequency if the lack of knowledge of different cultures and their motivations are to be lessened.  There is much work to be done and an immersion experience abroad as an H-SC man is a step in the right direction.

Studying Abroad in Paris

by Joseph P. Andriano ’10

When I exit my apartment building every morning, it is quite clear I am no longer in Farmville, VA.  I make a quick left off my street, and I am on the hustling and bustling Avenue de la Grande Armee.  This road runs under the Arc de Triomphe, and on the other side of the Arc is the very famous Champs Elysees.  I quickly enter the Paris Metro, a world with countless people each doing his own thing.  The Parisians keep very much to themselves, and they do not make eye contact with each other.  It is amazing to turn on your I-pod, pronounced “e-pod” here, and to have a great sound track by which to watch all the different people on the Metro.  I love having unlimited access to the Metro; it is truly amazing.  I ride it to and from school and then wherever else my day takes me.

The French have very interesting cultural differences, and contrary to the typical stereotype, they are some of the nicest people.  When I first met my host family, it was quite comical.  I was exhausted from my trip and struggling for the right words.  I definitely doubted my French skills, and I realized I had a ton to learn but that was why I came here.  I sat down for dinner a few times with my host family when I noticed that they always placed their bread on the table, not on their plates. They also were very particular about always using forks and knives while eating, and this goes for anything.  One night my host mom made pizza.  I watched for a minute as they carefully dissected it with fork and knife.  However, this was where I drew the line; I mean, hey, I have culture too.  I picked it up, folded it, and ate it like it was made to be eaten.  They thought it was funny.  Also trust me, they love their baguettes; they always have a fresh one for dinner.  They also eat one for breakfast; beaucoup de bread.  In the Metro, I have been hit by a baguette or two by people on their way home.

The French care very much about the environment, and it makes me think about our habits in the United States.  My host family only uses lights at night, air dries their clothes, recycles almost everything, and keeps their heat very low.

One of the first nights I was there, I walked in a little store near my apartment and, when I entered, I said “Bonjour” to the owner, who replied “Bonsoir.”  I was confused at first, but they change their greeting at some point in the afternoon.  However, I think it confuses them sometimes, too.  It really has been such a great experience living with a host family.  Each night I have dinner with them, and we talk about all kinds of things in French, and it has really helped improve my language skills.  The French love to talk about politics, especially American politics.  They always want to know who I think will win the American election, Barrack Obama or Hillary Clinton.  I tell them John McCain.  Learning another language can be such a brain tease, and there are definitely times when I catch myself saying ridiculous things.  I definitely understand why people trying to learn English sound the way they do.

There are literally too many things to see in Paris, but I started with the obvious ones.  The first time I laid eyes on la tour Eiffel overlooking the Seine, I would have to say I was a bit disappointed.  It looks like a hunk of metal, but it grew on me, especially when it is lit up at night.  I pass it everyday on the way to school from the Metro, and I later found out the French did not like it at first either.  When it was first built, it was called the “Wire Asparagus.”  An amazing monument is l’Arc de Triomphe, conceived by Napoleon I.  The workmanship on the monument is incredible.  In my opinion, the most amazing building architecturally in Paris, is the Opera.  The stone and marble work inside is like nothing I have ever seen before.

Paris is amazing, and it is incredible that from my doorstep I could easily throw a baseball and hit anything you would ever need, a place to get your haircut, a grocery store, bank, multiple car and motorcycle dealerships, countless restaurants and cafes, a couple discotheques, etc.  After living most of my life in pretty small towns, from time to time, all of the people can be overwhelming; however, I have absolutely loved the experience, and I am sure that when I leave here, I will miss so many things about Paris.

July 2008

Reflections on Japan – May Term 2007

by Benjamin M. Brown ‘10

(At Kegon Fall – left to right, first row, sitting – Ben Brown ’10, David Bowen ’09 Second row, crouching - Andrew Wolfe ’08, Wes Julian ’08, Richard Shelby ’08, Cory Cutler ’08, Warren Beth ’09 Third row, standing - Clay Behl ’08, John Rothgeb ’08, Anson Bird ’08, Christian L’Heureux ’08, Alex Modny ’08, Matthew Dubroff, Eric Dinmore)

On a particularly dark night in May, twelve students embarked on a journey from Hampden-Sydney to the Land of the Rising Sun.  With Professors Eric Dinmore and Matthew Dubroff leading this procession through Japan, a land of dragons, samurai heritage, and timeless tradition, the group departed from America and landed a day later at Kansai Airport. We arrived with high expectations and anticipation of the sites to be seen.

From the airport in Osaka our journey began in Kyoto, a city where old ways meet the innovation of the present. The beauty and spiritual depth of Japan was revealed through encounters with the Golden and Silver Pavilions, ornate shrines, inspiring temples, and the many art forms that a person can spend a lifetime mastering.  One almost felt as if he were dreaming when wandering through the culture that defines traditional Japan.  Yet, everyone was reawakened periodically by the harsh reality that this trip was also an academic program, and reading, studying, and presentations broke the rhythm of an otherwise ebon flow.  This responsibility to maintain academic awareness amidst so many awe-inspiring wonders and unbelievable opportunities in fact exemplifies the concept of giri-ninjo, or duty versus desire, a theme expressed in traditional Japanese arts.

Not forgetting that the traditional side of Japan coexists with a contemporary hustle and bustle that stops only when halted by a red crosswalk signal, the group conversed with locals and explored the restaurants and nightlife with wide eyes and a true Hampden-Sydney curiosity. This was especially true in Tokyo, where the present actually moves toward a wondrous and ever-evolving future.  If ever there were a place that could be called a futuristic metropolis, Tokyo is that place.  Few have ever witnessed such awareness of fashion, technology, and activity as the group came upon while in the city.  In fact, by the time of the yakatabune harbor cruise and dinner that marked the end of the group’s visit to Japan, each member, including the professors, could call claim to a very personal superlative accompanied by a memorable trinket and story to tell.

From start to finish, there were many firsts on this journey.  For some, this trip meant their first ride on an airplane, train, or subway.  For others, it was an indulgence in new cuisines and countless new drinks from the many vending machines that lined the streets.  For yet others, it was their first time simply reflecting internally and documenting their evolution as they reevaluated themselves throughout the journey.  And further still, some took the true cultural plunge, from accidentally buying traditional undergarments, to singing uninhibited karaoke, to sumo wrestling in the subway, to getting lost on purpose simply to find themselves.  But whatever the memory, the consensus in our culturally enlightened group is undoubtedly that this journey through Japan was unforgettable.

Mt. Fuji from the air: photgraph takem by Richard Shelby

Gruß Gott aus Karl Eberhard Universiät Tübingen, Deutschland!

by Peter Crowe ’08

(Wurmlinger Kapelle about a two hour hike from Tübingen)

Greetings from the University of Tübingen, Germany!

I am very confident in stating that my study abroad experience has been one of the most unique and independent opportunities that students from Hampden-Sydney College can experience.

The program which laid much of the groundwork for my experience is called Antioch Education Abroad, organized by Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Antioch’s philosophy is very liberal in that it only organizes very little, allowing us students partaking in the program much leeway. The program is broken into essentially three sections: Goethe Institute, German Compact, and actual study at the University of Tübingen here in southern Germany. Antioch makes us participants take German classes at a Goethe Institute (language and cultural school) anywhere in Germany. I wanted to study in Münich because I had heard how beautiful a city it was. Not only that, but I knew it would be nearby the beautiful Bavarian Alps.

(Tom Badger and myself at the Olympia Stadium in Münich. Tom was visiting from his study abroad program in Scotland at the time.)

So it was that I began my trip in Germany by touching down at Münich International airport on February 5, a few weeks after Hampden-Sydney College has returned to session. Münich is known as “Stadt mit Herz” or “city with heart”. Münich is very much the city with heart. During weekdays I attended language class for about four hours every morning. In the afternoons I would wander around the city exploring the many beautiful churches or historic sites in Münich. And before you ask, no I have not seen the movie, “ Munich”, but I have seen the place where that movie took place: Olympia Park located on the edge of the city. Then in the evenings I would return to the dormitory and spend the evening with a few friends I made. Two of the other people in my dorm and also at Goethe were also Antioch students. We became friends and spent lots of time exploring the cultural phenomenon that helps define Germany: Bierhalls. And of course we have gotten to eat many delicious Bratwursts and items of Chocolate. During February, I got to spend some time in some very neat places: a day trip to Salzburg, a weekend in the Alps, and a day trip to Neuschwanstein (new swan rock) which is the castle Walt Disney based his dreamland castle at Disney World off of. But of course like all things, Münich had to end. The day after our last class in Münich, I boarded a train with Lincoln and Emily, the two other program participants who were also in Münich.

(Neuschwanstein)

Our trip to Tübingen was not uneventful. To save money we decided to purchase a Bavaria and a Badden Würrtemburg ticket. These tickets cost about 27 euros each, but up to five people can travel on one. The only thing is these tickets are only good on the slow regional trains, not inter city express trains. Our itinerary called for us to take the regional from Münich to Ulm, then change at Ulm to Plochlingen, then change again to take a train to Tübingen. We arrived in Ulm a few moments before we expected our next train to leave. We got to the platform, and around our expected departure time we saw a train pull up. We figured it was ours since the time was pretty close, so we boarded. The ticket collector came around and had news for us. Our tickets were no good because we had boarded the wrong train! The train we had boarded was an ICE or an Inter city express headed to Stuttgart. Whoops! So we each had to pay 25 Euros for a ticket to Stuttgart. From then on we are all very cautious to make sure trains we board are in fact the correct trains!

(Peter Crowe with other Goethe participants in Salzburg)

We arrived in Tübingen ready to be away from the trains for a while. We were all eager to get to our Wohnheims (dorms). In Tübingen in March we took part in the German compact Program which was more language school. During that time I got to know a lot of other Americans and a few foreigners. Since the cost of the course is so high, most of the students from Europe do not take it. Only us Americans supposedly take it. German Compact highlights included randomly organized potlucks with friends, a week in Blauburen where the most exciting thing was the blue water and a hike up the tallest church tower in the world ( Ulm-Münster Church), and a wine tasting in Esslingen, outside of Stuttgart.

(Me with my newest purchase—the world of Hits Der DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik). The DRR was the soviet part of Germany. Therefore their music is superb(haha). And I was very proud of my newest CD.)

I did not finish the German Compact Program because I instead went to Rome for Holy Week. After my return from Rome and the Vatican, I had about a week and a half until classes at the University began. During that time I recovered from Rome and enjoyed the quiet and relaxed atmosphere of Tübingen. German Universities are quite different than anything we have, especially at Hampden-Sydney College. German Universities consist of basically two sorts of classes: seminars and Vorlesungs. Seminars require registration and are more like what we have including interaction with other students and the professor. The Vorlesungs are big lectures and the only graded thing is a test at the end of the semester. The only registration required is for the test. And German Professors are essentially semi-deities. They are addressed as “Herr Doktor…” or “Frau Doktor…”. Before the revolts in Europe in 1968 the title “Professor” was included in this already lengthy title.

Germany is very much like America, especially since there was so much American influence in the rebuilding of Germany after the War. There are, however, differences. Germans have not discovered ventilation. Rooms can get incredibly stuffy, so the solution is to open the window, even if it is freezing outside. In that case it is the window open and the heater on. Germans are also very punctual. The best way for me to illustrate this is by stating in German airports or train stations, there are no announcements that planes or trains are on time. It is assumed they will be on time. Being delayed by 5 minutes will illicit apologies from the conductor of the train, and if the ICE is late by 8 minutes, the train staff hand out free stuff. Shops are closed on Sundays and most weekdays by 8pm or so. Sundays are days of Church and hiking in the forests, hills, and mountains.

And there are some similarities. The German government is also not too much fun to work with. Did you know there used to be a state run lost and found in Germany? We can only imagine what would be required to get something found: a biometric passport photo or two, stacks of paperwork, and weeks and months of waiting.

Even though three months of my program have already elapsed, I have three more glorious months in the land of punctuality, Beer, Chocolate, Paperwork, and world class Automobiles. I suggest to anyone who is desiring to study abroad but afraid to leave H-SC to go ahead and study abroad! There is so much to be learned by living in another culture for some time! Also, bis dann und auf wiedersehen!

Herzlichen Grüßen!

April 2007

A Semester in Florence

by Phil Miskovic ’08

Ciao from Firenze, the city of fine wine, gourmet food, and artistic masterpieces. My semester abroad began in mid August with a three day trip to Rome touring some of the famous sights, the Coliseum, Trevi Fountain, and the Vatican to name just a few.  Next came orientation in Lido di Camaiore, a small town on the coast of northern Tuscany.  Our time was spent in a three-hour, daily intensive language course, followed by relaxing on the private beaches, sipping cappuccini in small trattorie, and visiting nearby Pisa with its leaning tower; Lucca, the birthplace of Puccini; and the Alpuan Alps, where Michelangelo got his marble. Nights were full of pubs, discotecas, and mixing with the local residents.

A week into September, we arrived at our apartments in Florence. I live with four other guys in a four-bedroom apartment equipped with 1½ bathrooms, a kitchen, and an amazing view of the city.  Situated only blocks away from the Ponte Vecchio, my current home is within a 20-minute walk of anywhere in the city.

Classes are held both in a 17th century building and on site. We spend the rest of the day touring museums and churches, watching street artists and performers, exploring outdoor markets, attending wine tastings, cooking classes, concerts and soccer games, and planning for weekend travel. Wednesdays I volunteer through Ars et Fides giving tours of Florence’s Duomo, the Catedral de Santa Maria del Fiore, the 4th largest church in Europe.

On weekends I travel both inside and outside of Italy. Most recently I’ve been to Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis; Asti, home of spumanti (Italian champagne); San Damiano, a small town where my great-grandfather lived; Torino, host of the 2006 Winter Olympics and home to one of Christianity’s most famous relics, the Shroud of Turin, and Cinque Terra, an area of five towns on the Tuscan coast with crystal clear water and rocky beaches, all connected by mountainous vineyards. In the coming weeks, I plan to go to Pompeii, Amsterdam, Venice, the UK for a week long break, and various wineries in the Tuscan region. Following the program, I’ll be spending the few weeks before Christmas in Paris, Germany, Vienna, Krakow, Athens, and Sicily.

While coming to Italy has always been a dream of mine, I never thought I would get this opportunity until I went to H-SC’s Study Abroad Office. There I discovered multiple options, all of which are less than the cost of a semester at H-SC. Add in the fact that with endorsed programs financial aid transfers, this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I could not pass up. While I do miss things like football games, Homecoming, and trips to VT and JMU, the experiences I have had in Italy and the people I have met make up for it. I would recommend that everyone look into a study abroad experience and take advantage of what the College and the world have to offer.

Arreviderci.