Greetings from Barcelona, Spain!

Trent Singelton-November 2015

In the thick of it…

Once this week begins, I will have approximately six weeks left in Barcelona. I am both a bit disappointed and excited to see that reality. While I am excited to return to H-SC in the spring, I know it will be difficult to leave Barcelona—a city I now feel comfortable calling my home. I can only hope that the next six weeks go by slowly.

             View from Rooftop Bar-Hotel Majestic  (Sagrada Familia in center)Picture1
My Spanish skills are definitely improving. I definitely benefit from living with a local family—they do not speak English, so I am definitely immersed in the language while at home. The version of Spanish spoken here is called “Castellano.” It is appreciated if you are able to recognize that preference instead of calling the language Spanish. While here, I have had a few dreams in Castellano, which I was excited about because it shows that my skill in the language is growing. It also helps that I am taking three classes here taught solely in Castellano: one culture, one language, and one literature. I hope that by December I have an even stronger grasp on the language and a better understanding of the culture here.

My free time is definitely spent a bit differently here—since I am so close to many other European countries, I have been able to travel a bit. I recently have been to Amsterdam, and I have a tripped planned for Rome in two weeks. It is also great to spend the day walking through the city and finding hidden gyms that Barcelona has to offer. Last weekend I went to the top of Tibidabo, which has an incredibly panoramic view of the city. I feel that my time is best spent exploring the city, since I will not have an opportunity to see the sights I can for a while. One of my favorite places is a small square near my homestay called Plaza del Sol. While it is not large or that impressive architecturally, there are always locals at the various tapas bars or restaurants, and performers and musicians playing for the crowds.

                                              Two  Views from Tibidabo


I am the only student from Hampden-Sydney in Barcelona, but I have met a few students who know the school. I almost prefer being here alone, because it has forced me to meet new people. There are many amazing and awesome people here—if I was with a group of H-SC students, I am sure I would have a great time, but I feel I would be a bit more limited in the perspectives I would get to see and obviously in the people I would meet. It will be interesting when I return to the Hill in the spring—I am excited to see how my time abroad has changed my perspective.

Greetings from Seville, Spain

John Skyler Whitfield – October 2015

An average day in Seville…

My time in Spain has been like waking up in an Alfred Hitchcock-inspired mini-series; while daily life is overall the same on a grand scale, it has been riddled with perplexing and subtle differences that I continue to stumble upon with each passing day. That said, here’s a few of my most noteworthy/amusing differences I’ve noticed during my time here in southern Spain.

Every day there are colonies of stern looking businessmen buzzing around on mopeds in designer suits. Men of all ages wear pants that are so tight it looks like the denim is trying to eat their legs. Women wear pants just as tight. At the gym, there is no correct place to store weights- people scatter the dumbbells all over the place to add a hide and seek element to one’s routine. Almost every Spanish family keeps a pig leg on a wooden vice in the kitchen from which they carve their daily serving(s) of ham. At the McDonalds there is a “Walk-thru” window, but no drive-thru; they serve beer with any combo and food is ordered via a touch screen.
There’s a tradition known as botellón where the Spanish youth stuff grocery bags full of alcohol and gather in large groups to drink and use the streets as their trashcan.

But I will go back and say that as wild as some of these things seem to me, each of these differences has a more positive if not rational side (except the leggings- those honestly baffle me). The mopeds are better for the environment than trucks, and the hide and seek at the gym reflects the laid back and relaxed nature of southern Spain. The pig leg is an economical buy, as it can provide food for a family up to a month if not more. Beer at McDonalds may not work well in the US with our drive-thru’s, but it works great in Spain and I’d venture to say it’s pretty open-minded. Lastly, the botellón is not only an entertaining event but it creates jobs – as every night, industrial pressure washing vehicles and street sweepers roll through the town, leaving no trace of the prior fiesta.

At the end of the day I think perception of these differences really comes down to attitude- So my advice to future travelers in Spain, would be, “Instead of judging the men in leggings or a pig leg sitting in the kitchen, enjoy everything you can, and remember there’s always a cold beer and a Big-Mac right around the corner!”

Greetings from Salzburg, Austria

Daily Life in Salzburg

Conner Lachine, Fall 2015

I live on the south side of Salzburg with about 1/3 of my group, so a fifteen minute bus ride is required to reach any place in town. Unipark, the plaza where most of my classes are held, is three bus stops towards city center from my building. The walk to my bus stop, the bus ride to the university stop, and walk to Unipark all together is a thirty minute commute. I found that riding a bike it takes only twenty minutes, so when weather permits, which is usually twice a week if I am lucky, I ride my bike to class. The bike relieves me of riding the hot and crowded city bus, which is efficient and clean, but the morning bike ride is refreshing and allows me to choose one of many scenic routes to class. The south side of Salzburg is a commercial and residential area so I do not pass any of the 12th century buildings like Mozart’s house in city center, but I have the opportunity to see the “real” Salzburg, where the city residents live, shop, etc.

I live in a dorm style building in a neighborhood with several similar buildings. All about five stories tall and house roughly 150 people, most of whom are students of the University of Salzburg. The most exciting difference between living here and HSC is the student diversity. My next door neighbors are from Italy and Iran; across the hall are two girls from China. Another different aspect to the dorm is a large communal kitchen where everyone on the hall cooks. Cooking together has been an easy conversation starter and has given me an intimate perspective of cultures I never would have encountered at HSC. Sausage is one of my favorite foods, right now. Austrian cuisine is made up almost entirely of sausage, bread, and beer. It is not just a funny stereotype. Other than a diverse student population and communal space the dorm is very similar to any dorm in the US. I share a room with one guy from my program and have very similar accommodations to housing at Hampden-Sydney.

Packing was a struggle between being prepared and packing light, which was a unanimous recommendation. I only packed clothes, lots of cold weather clothes. Although the weather has not been vastly different than Virginia’s, I expect it to turn quickly as Salzburg does sit along the western side of the Alps. There is a gargantuan IKEA where Pete, my roommate, and I have purchased most of our home décor.

The typical twenty-somethings in Western Europe dress very similarly to each other. It is much more formal compared to how the average student dresses in the US. A little more fashionable. No shorts. Always presentable. It is frowned upon to walk around my building in sweats.

Other than using the 24 hour clock there is not much difference in how we view time in the US. Shops close a little earlier. It is rare to find a shop open past five or six during the week, even convenience stores and CVS-type businesses. On Sundays 95% of Salzburg is closed. Grocery stores, mom & pop shops, even the mall is entirely closed on Sundays.

Greeting from Barcelona, Spain!

After  Mi Primer Mes

Trent Singleton — October 6, 2015

I have settled in quite nicely here. I really enjoy the family I am living with, and I am able to practice my Spanish frequently. I am still loving the city and the many activities to do and sites to see.


The View from Montjuic

Within the first month I have accomplished a lot: I have climbed Montserrat and Montjuic, been to several beaches, traveled to Munich and Salzburg, and I plan on visiting Paris this weekend and Amsterdam the next. The proximity of the many countries in Europe is both convenient and amazing for me. I am able to see aspects of incredibly different cultures and many new perspectives.


Picture3 Montserrat


Luckily, I live relatively close to the center of Barcelona and am relatively close to the IES abroad center. I can probably make it to class in around twenty minutes but some days I will take the metro if I am running a bit behind or simply am feeling a bit lazy. The public transportation is efficient here—much more so than in my hometown of Richmond. I was able to take the metro to Montserrat, which is only an hour away. My trek to class is usually walked at a brisk pace—the city folk here seem to usually be in a hurry. After walking so much here, I have developed a new pet peeve: slow people on the sidewalks. I do whatever I can to avoid them—dodging, slipping and sliding past the slower walkers amid the large crowds of tourists and pedestrians. However, I do enjoy my commute to class; it gives me a chance to take in all of the impressive architecture, and I usually detect the sweet scent of chocolate croissants and other pastries that are freshly made in the local bakeries.

Picture3.jpg  Salzburg Waterfalls

Conner and I at the Waterfalls in Salzburg

I share my living space with my one roommate; the room itself is long and a bit narrow, but it is perfectly suitable for me—it is probably longer than my room in Carpenter X freshman year. While the people hear certainly dress a bit differently—slimmer fitting clothing and a nicer casual dress—I still dress relatively similar to how I do in the United States. Most people wear pants here, and it is simply still too hot for me to wear pants everyday.

The food here is probably one of my favorite aspects of my host culture. Tapas are a popular type of restaurant in which a group usually shares different smaller plates. My favorites are olives, patatas braves or brave potatoes (fried potatoes with a spicy sauce), tortilla española (essentially a thicker, cheese omelet with potatoes), and paella—a traditional rice dish, usually served with seafood or chicken.

The first month here has certainly flown by—I hope the next few go slowly, but I do not expect that to be the case. I was sad to hear about the great tree by Graham Hall—may she rest in peace.

Greetings from Seville, Spain!

John Skyler Whitfield — September 13, 2015


I was first exposed to basic Spanish in middle school back in 2005. By my junior year in high school, Spanish had become a passion of mine, which has been nourished and enriched in and outside of the classroom to present since I started as a freshman at H-SC in 2011.

While I loved the language and wanted it to be a part of my life, I was never the strongest or most fluent student in the classroom; so in the traditional Tiger-Spirit, I began seeking a radical, hands-on approach to change my circumstance- not just to better myself and achieve my personal goals, but to uphold the academic legacy, passed down to me in good faith, by the great H-SC men who came before me.

When it came time to select a program, I made it my mission to push myself above and beyond my academic comfort zone. I tossed out the idea of a summer program, as I wanted to spend as much time as I possibly could abroad (even if that meant missing Greek Week or H-SC’s football season, two of my most cherished traditions at the Hill). So at this stage I was looking at programs that lasted at least a semester.

Geographically, I knew I wanted to go to Spain… While linguists say that no one dialect of the same tongue is better than the other; many Spaniards consider their Spanish to be the gold standard of the language. Whether that’s true or not, I figured the best way to get a better understanding would be to go there myself and attempt to speak Spanish like a Spaniard.

Looking for semester long programs in Spain with the personal standards I had set for myself (to push my own academic limits and broaden my horizons) in mind, I knew I needed to live in a city. Between life in my quaint home town of Holden Beach, NC and my time at Hampden Sydney, I’d never had the opportunity to live in or understand the culture of an urban environment. The few times I’d ventured out into DC and Richmond, I didn’t feel as well-rounded as I should be when faced with navigating the streets and metro system without GPS.

Once I had laid out my parameters for what I wanted out of a study abroad experience, the most obvious choice was the “JYS in Seville” program sponsored by Sweet Briar College. I viewed this program as a one-stop shop so to make me a stronger student, a more conscious traveler and a better person all around.

I’ve only been in Seville for about a week now but its incredible how much more comfortable I feel speaking the language; not to mention, next time I stop through DC or head up to Bethesda (or any major city), the metro will be a piece of cake if I need to use it.

I am truly blessed to be here, and as the only HSC student on this program, its been wonderful learning amongst the great company of our friends from Sweet Briar.

I want to give a special thanks to: my family, my advisor: Dr. Palmer, Dr. Widdows: H-SC Global Education director, Giulia Witcombe: JYS/SBC program director, Prof. Afatsawo: Spanish Department Chair and all my brothers from Woodberry, H-SC and Theta Chi doing big things back home.

Lastly, I’d like to thank the alumni, extended friends and family of the Hampden Sydney and Sweet Briar College communities that have sacrificed to make these kind of dreams become reality for current students like myself.



Greetings from Barcelona, Spain!


La Vida España — Trent Singleton — September 16, 2015

My short stay in Barcelona so far has been nothing short of amazing. The culture, the architecture, and activities have all been both rewarding and didactic.   Initially, I chose Spain because I was already interested in the Spanish culture. I have taken Spanish since I was a freshmen and high school and after my first class I fell in love with the language. Trying new foods is also something I really enjoy, and I knew that I would love the variety that tapas—essentially Spanish appetizers—would provide. However, the main reason I chose Spain was to achieve fluency in the Spanish language. Immersion within the culture that speaks a different language is, in my opinion, the best way to grasp another language that is native to you.

Trent Singleton

I had a difficult time choosing between Madrid and Barcelona, and despite the urging of some of my professors, I went with two other Hampden-Sydney students’ recommendation to go to Barcelona over Madrid. I now am incredibly glad that I made the decision I did. The architecture here is mostly of gothic influence, and it is without a doubt the most beautiful and complex I have ever seen. Whether it is the impressive cathedral Sagrada Familia designed by Gaudi or the Arc de Triomphe that looms over Passeign Lluís Companys, the structures here are impressive and a sight to behold.

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe


I am most nervous about communication and actually living in a foreign country for four months. I trust my ability to speak Spanish, but it definitely pales in comparison to the native speakers here. However, I know that my Spanish will get better every day and that is the main purpose for which I am here. My literature class will also be challenging; I have taken one at HSC, but this class seems extremely intense and will require a lot of reading. It will be interesting to see how far outside my comfort zone I am willing to go—four months is a long time. I have been here for only two weeks, but it feels like a lot longer. The time will definitely pass quickly, as I have been told this is the fastest semester one can have in college—time flies, as they say.

Cathedral Sagrada

Cathedral Sagrada

By the time I leave Barcelona, I hope to become fluent in the language and to have a greater understanding and appreciation of the Spanish culture. It would be nice to find my future Spanish wife here, but I am not sure how possible that actually is. I cannot wait to travel throughout Spain and other parts of Europe. Barcelona is a beautiful city and I still have much to see.

Cathedral Sagrada

Cathedral Sagrada

Germany — Matt Carter

July 11, 2015

Hello for one last time, the summer Münster program has ended and all of the students have returned home. The experience was definitely one to remember and one I hope that other students will take in the future. Although, it is quite different once you get across the pond; Germany drives on the right side of the road, but much of the similarities stop there. The architecture is a beautiful mixture of old buildings hundreds of years old and modern architecture with glass as the main element. These two very different styles of architecture are extremely beautiful to look at when meshed together. The vehicles were much nicer considering Porsche, BMW, VW, & Jaguar were made over there making them much cheaper to own. The public transport system was amazing and heavily used by the people due to it being efficient and effective. Lastly, the way they eat is different from the way we do, they eat bread and jam for breakfast and dinner, but have a large lunch where the family will leave their work and come home to eat with the family. I believe I will miss the opportunity to travel to other places so easily, meaning that I was able to just hop on a train and travel to another country in a short amount of time considering if I wanted to hop on a train over here and travel the same amount of time, I would still be in the same state. I think I will also miss the wonderful food while traveling abroad including the currywurst and bratwurst.

The advice I would give to students planning on going on this abroad trip is to realize that Europe is cooler than America. The weather typically hovers around the lower 60s and high 50s, so pack warm! I mistakenly packed for warm weather and was cold for most of my time there. Also, realize that Euros are stronger than the US Dollar and you will end up spending much more money than you will have originally wanted to, but realize that it is an experience of a lifetime and will be worth it.  I would definitely recommend traveling to other countries. Yes, you have gone on that specific program to experience Germany, but you will have a great opportunity to visit multiple other countries in a short amount of time and experience multiple different cultures.

The best thing about being home is that everyone speaks English. I no longer have to translate everything that is being said in my head. I also missed my bed and my shower. Also, it is great being home and being able to catch up with friends and telling stories about my time abroad and listening to what they have done for the last month. However, the hardest things is as soon as I got back I went right back to work.

Argentina — Josh Miller

image11June 30th

I’ve been home for a few days now. I was surprised how large the shock would be returning to an English speaking community. Many of my classmates and I were still saying “por favor” and “gracias” without thinking. I am somewhat relieved though to be back in the states.

I really became close with my second host family. I enjoyed getting to know the kids and grandparents during the weekly asado’s on Sundays. I’ll also miss the family’shyper border collie, Símon. I know that I’ll keep in touch with them and hope to visit them again in the future. They made me feel like a member of their family and for that I am very thankful. My host family really made my time abroad memorable and enjoyable.

image10 (1)

My main piece of advice for students going abroad is to speak up if there is an issue with your host family. At first I was worried about speaking up about my problems with the host family. I did not want to make the family upset, or for them to lose money(since they are paid to host students). However, I was lucky enough to have the support of Dr. Palmer and Dr. Thornton who helped guide me through the process of switching host families. After switching host families, my whole experience changed for the better. I realized how important the host family’s role is in the experience of studying abroad.

image9 (1)

I’ll never forget my time abroad and I will look back on it as one of the best experiences of my life. I encourage all students to study abroad and to be immersed in a foreign culture.



Argentina — Josh Miller

June 30th

Now that I’ve been in Mendoza for a little more than three weeks, I feel that I am finally getting into the routine the people follow here. Typically, after classes are over at 1:30, I head home for lunch with the host family. In my new host family, the host parents are often busy at work during lunchtime. I usually eat with the three kids and the housekeeper. It is an interesting family dynamic to get used to but I really enjoy the change from the typical American routine.

This week, we toured a meat-processing factory. At first, I was less than excited to tour the facility. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The tour was very interesting and informative. In Dr. Thornton’s Latin American Economic Development class, we discussed how difficult it is for businesses to purchase machinery and heavy equipment necessary for production. Knowing this was a problem, a classmate asked the tour guide (who was actually the granddaughter of the founder of the company) this question. She explained that the machinery was mainly from Germany and Italy. She explained that the way her grandfather runs the business does not allow for debt to accrue. So, the company paid in full for all of the machinery in the factory. She also explained that the machinery had to be paid for in euros due to the weak exchange rate of the Argentine peso. We later discussed in class how difficult it is to acquire foreign currency in Argentina due to the government’s attempts at strengthening the value of their own currency.

Later in the week we toured Bodega Alta Vista. This Bodega is more of a ‘boutique’ operation compared to Familia Zuccardi’s bodega. We sampled three different complex wines with interesting origins from the Mendoza wine regions. Alta Vista differentiates their products from others by focusing on the terroir of the vineyards. The result is a premium product with a more specialized consumer market. I really enjoyed learning about their process and customer base.

Caskets of Wine


In the last full week of the study abroad experience I hope to continue to learn as much about the culture in Mendoza as possible.


At the Vineyard

Germany — Matt Carter

June 28

Today marks a month since we have been in the beautiful country of Germany. We are now wrapping up the semester with final projects, oral exams, and our final written exams in the coming week. Since my last blog the students have done quite a bit here in Münster. As I mentioned in the last post, some of the students were invited to an Opera at the Münster Theater where we were able to watch a French Opera adapted to the German language. It was a very interesting tale told by singers with extremely beautiful voices. We also visited the LWL- Arts and Culture Museum of Münster where were able to see contemporary art all the way up to modern art, some of which were very strange and curiously considered art.

Arts & Culture Museum

At the Arts & Culture Museum





A few of the students also made their way to the Picasso Museum where we also able to see some of Picasso’s work on display as well as the current visiting exhibit called “Paris im Blick” where black & white photos taken of Paris throughout the last hundred years were on display, some of which were very beautiful in their simplicity. The entire student group made their way to the StadtMuseum (City Museum) where we were able to see how Münster had grown throughout the years as well as what had happened to the city during World War I, the Weimar Republic, and World War II.








In the StadtMuseum


Some students also took the opportunity to go to the Münster Zoo. In my opinion, a very beautiful zoo with an amazing number of animals of which I took over 200 pictures1 of! The layout of the zoo had interactive exhibits to where you could walk into where Lemurs, monkeys, birds, & camel enclosures and be up close to the animals themselves. Afterwards we took a boat ride across Lake Aasee to the west of Münster and enjoyed a nice beer on one of the only boats on the lake. This past weekend the students also had the opportunity to experience the Carnival in town complete with fireworks on Friday evening and many fun rides and interesting carny foods to try. After all this activity in the last week, the students are now hunkering down preparing for finals and the eventual end of classes and thus the end of our time in Munster.

At the Zoo

At the Zoo

Wednesday is our last day of classes and our last day of finals after which many of the students will be going out and celebrating a successful study abroad month in Münster. Thursday marks our final day in the city we have grown to call home after living in it for a month hosted by our wonderful host families. Thursday evening we will be having dinner with all the students and their host families at the beautiful Schlossplatz Garden Restaurant. Although we have all thoroughly enjoyed our time here in Münster most of us are ready to head home and reunite with loved ones and friends. Before we are able to do that though we will be enjoying a few days in Berlin complete with multiple museum visits and the celebration of July 4th at an “American” Bar where we will be able to meet other Americans and celebrate Independence Day in our Patriotic clothing.