My Big Fat Greek May Term

By Jonathan Miyashiro ’06It’s our last day in Greece, and I’m about to be arrested right here on the Acropolis.


“Give me the cassette or I’ll call the police,” said an irate curator.

How did I ever get into this mess?

The May Term Greece group left Richmond on May 12, oddly enough encountering Professors Dubroff and Kagan, headed off on a skiing trip.  After an exhausting flight to New York and then to Athens, we met up with Dr. Arieti, who had gone ahead to get our affairs in order.  Our group consisted of Dr. Roger Barrus, his wife Diane, Dr. James Arieti, and (back row, left to right) Christian Davidson ’05, Brandon Chiesa ’05, Stephen Abbitt ’06, Austin Stracke ’03, John Axsom ’05, me, and Blake Tucker ’04.  Front Row (left to right) Lex Rickenbaker ’05,  Evan Osborn ’06, Rusty Foster ’04,  J. B. Billings ’05, Clint Askins ’06, Diego Almeida ’06.  Ty Blount ’05, Cam Bowdren ’05, and Yousef Jabri ’04 were also part of the group as was Professor Bronwyn O’Grady who was along for the ride.

We began with a tour of Athens, visiting the usual sites such as the Agora and the Acropolis. That is most of us did.  Steven Abbitt fell ill and had to be taken to the hospital.  Along for the ride were Dr. Barrus and John Axsom. The hospital itself was an experience, more akin to a Felliniesque madhouse than a medical ward.  While waiting at the hospital, John Axsom saw one patient with a slash across his throat get into a fight with a nurse.

As for the rest of us, we explored the city on our own before having class. Our classes generally met in the evenings.  For Dr. Arieti’s “Humanism in Antiquity” class, we read Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, a good summation of ancient philosophical thought. For “Classical Political Philosophy,” taught by Dr. Barrus, we read Plato’s Republic, the book that preserved the philosophical tradition in the western world.

During our stay in Athens, our group took a one-day excursion to Aegina, a lovely little island a few miles out to sea and home of the oldest, and perhaps the most charming, Doric temple. From Athens we took an overnight ferry to Crete.  There we toured ancient Minoan ruins at Knossos and Phaistos, remnants of Europe?s oldest civilization.  One of the highlights of our trip was the 11-mile hike down Samaria Gorge.  From the mountains of Crete’s southern coast we trekked through one of Europe’s most beautiful trails to a small beachside town at the mouth of the river.

From Crete we took a ferry to Santorini, an exceedingly beautiful ring-shaped island.  Thought to be the site of the lost city of Atlantis, Santorini now boasts picturesque towns and black sand beaches.

Our next stop was Mykonos, one of the hottest party spots in the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, we arrived before the summer vacation season began and the island served us only as a jumping off point to the nearby island of Delos.  Delos was one of the most sacred sites in ancient Greece.  During the fifth century it served as the treasury for the Delian League, an alliance of Greek cities that soon became the Athenian Empire.  We stayed on Mykonos just long enough for Clint Askins and Austin Stracke to rent and subsequently wreck two mopeds.

Returning to the mainland, we visited such notable sites as the temple of Poseidon at Sounion and Marathon, where the Athenians defeated a force of Persian invaders, thus saving western civilization.  After stopping at Eretria and Chalkis, ancient rivals in the first panhellinic war, we moved on to Delphi.  Delphi, located at the navel of the world, was the home of the most famous oracle in ancient Greece.  At the site of the Pythian Games we held a footrace between J. B. Billings and Bill Taylor, which ended in a tie.  The Pythian games were one of the most important sporting events in ancient Greece, aside from the Olympics.

At Olympia we had our own version of the Olympics right on the field where the ancient Greeks would have competed.  Diego Almeida emerged victorious in the long awaited footrace against Dr. Arieti.

One of the biggest highlights of the trip occurred at Mycenae, the home of King Agamemnon. Brandon Chiesa, Clint Askins, and myself ventured into a pitch-black, 99-step cistern (entrance at left) with nothing but a cigarette lighter to guide our path.  As another group of tourists left, we crept deeper into the tunnel, searching for the bottom, where water is collected.  A loud splash followed.

“I found it,” exclaimed a soaked Chiesa.

 Other highlights included the theater of Epidaurus (right), the most impressive and well preserved in Greece, and the canal at the isthmus of Corinth.

On our last day, a few of us went back to the Acropolis to say farewell and take a few last minute photos. The trouble began when a student, who wished to go unnamed, tried to take some photos in front of the Parthenon with a stuffed animal.  This, as we later found out, is forbidden.  Several curators yelled at us and tried to confiscate the offending animal.  Then one of them noticed that I had John Axsom’s video camera.

“Give me the cassette or I’ll call the police,” he said.

Unwilling to give up someone else’s video memories, I refused.  After some strained negotiations, we ended up with a compromise: the footage of the incident would be taped over.  With the situation diffused, we decided we’d better leave before infuriating more touchy Athenians.  Despite the sour farewell, we left with fond memories of one of the greatest experiences of our lives.

H-SC Students Conclude an Unforgettable Experience in Spain

by Wesley R. Sholtes ’05

From May 17 to June 21, 2003, Assistant Professor of Modern Languages Dieudonne Afatsawo, Lecturer in Modern Languages Keith Sprouse, and fifteen Hampden-Sydney students spent an arduous, but highly enjoyable, May Term Study Abroad program in Alcala de Henares, Spain.


The program, which combined the teaching styles of native Spanish-speaking professors with those of Afatsawo and Sprouse, included three hours of class each morning and several excursion trips.  In order to maximize their immersion into the language and culture of Spain, students also stayed with host families who only spoke Spanish.  

 Among the noteworthy cities and sites that the group visited were Madrid, Sevilla, Avila, El Escorial, El Valle de los Ca?dos, Toledo, all renowned for their historical and cultural relevance to Spain.  Students spent time gawking at cathedrals, castles, an aqueduct, huge stone walls, a huge monument to Franco, and famous paintings and artwork in the Museum Prado and the Reina de Sofia.  The excursions usually involved walking long distances and carrying bocadillos for lunch, all the while sweating profusely under the fierce Spanish sun.

Tony Quitiquit (far right in picture above), a sophomore from Emporia, VA, participating in the 201-202 class taught by Sprouse, offers his comments about the quality of the program from an academic standpoint.  “I learned more in five weeks than I would [have learned] in two semesters,” says Quitiquit.  “I would have liked it a little more relaxed.”   Quitiquit says that some nights he was unable to go out of his house because he had to study in order to get a decent grade.  “May term is just as much about experiencing the country,” he asserts.

The 303-485 class, on the other hand, viewed their work load as relatively light in comparison, although the class itself was far from easy. The upper level class attended several lectures in Madrid, gave daily oral presentation analyzing a news article or television show, and wrote several papers. Despite these challenges, advanced students generally had time to enjoy Spain and improve their Spanish through constant exposure to locals.

Such exposure often took place off the beaten path of tourists, especially with regard to the nightlife in Alcal? de Henares.  Many students spent time in bars and discotheques that, on weekends, are open as late as 8:00 in the morning. As one might gather, a few students spent practically the whole night partying before going to class or to their excursion.

In a couple of instances, such habits caused disharmony with the professors. Yet despite a couple of foolish incidents, many found themselves more mature after a month of freedom in a foreign county.  According to Quitiquit, “There was a lot of [growing up] on the trip.”

Quitiquit believes that the friendships he made with both the native Spaniards and American students studying in Alcala made his trip to Spain worthwhile. “I can come back to Spain and have a home.”  Students made good friends with Spaniards and with a number of Latin Americans visiting Spain to work or study.  Some were from Mexico, Argentina, and Chile.

However, because many American students were studying at the nearby University of Alcala de Henares, Hampden-Sydney students found it all too easy to hang out with them and to speak English.  Hampden-Sydney students made friendships with other students from Alabama, North Carolina, Ohio, Arizona, California, and other states.

Favorite pastimes for students included eating tapas and hanging out in the Plaza de Cervantes, a familiar gathering place for the Spanish people in which it is the custom to sit down and socialize for several hours.  In fact, Spanish people never visit each other’s houses for social purposes; rather, they go out to a plaza or park to pass the time of day or night.  As a result, couples kissing or embracing on benches in public is a familiar sight.

The typical family in Spain does not spend much time working while at home. After meals, the primary activity is watching television; they only have a few channels. The food is simple but served in large quantities, especially at lunch, which is the biggest meal by a long shot. After the main meal, which is eaten no earlier than two in the afternoon but usually later, the Spanish people take a siesta until about 5 or 5:30.  Our students would usually spend this time with their host families before going out again around six.  Supper was served around nine or later.

During the four-day vacation set aside by the program for traveling, a majority of the students elected to take a trip to the beaches of Mallorca, a large island off the east coast of Spain in the Mediterranean.  While staying at a four-star hotel designed for vacationing families, students cooked meals for themselves in their rooms and got sunburned on the beach.  Quitiquit thoroughly enjoyed “sitting under straw huts, eating pineapple, and looking out at the clear, blue water.” A few students also took the opportunity to go snorkeling nearby.

Toward the end of the trip, a few students went to a bullfight.  At the bullfight, matadors alternated and killed five bulls altogether, while a sixth lived to see another day. The matadors demonstrated an impressive display of hand-eye coordination and strength.  Excitingly, the last bull charged at and succeeded in knocking over a well-armored horse and its rider, whose purpose for the bullfight was to weaken the charging bull by stabbing the bull in the neck using a long pole with a sharp prong on the end.

Other students went shopping in Madrid on occasion and visited the swimming pool when it opened toward the end of the trip.  One student even went to another beach with a female bartender from Mr. Donkey, perhaps the most popular bar among the students because of its adaptation of the American concept of happy hour.  Still others played soccer in the park from time to time.

When all was said and done, everyone was ready to go home when the time came.  However, when they look back on their experiences, they will never forget them.  Nor will I. I highly recommend the program to anyone looking to get six credits in Spanish and enjoy a foreign country to the maximum.

Costa Rica: anything but “plain and simple”

by J. Devin Watson ’06Dr. Maria C. Yaber recently took twelve Hampden-Sydney men to Costa Rica for a tropical biology class.  We studied the various plants and animals found in three tropical forests located throughout the country, spending a total of sixteen days in Costa Rica.  All of our research was conducted at three biological stations run by the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS), which also offers several graduate and undergraduate classes at the three stations.


After a week of preparation at Hampden-Sydney, we left early on the morning of May 25 from Raleigh-Durham Airport.  After a quick one-hour layover in Miami, we boarded the plane that would take us to San Jose.  Going through customs in San Jose was tedious, but we were excited to be in a different country; for some of us, it was our first time leaving the States. We spent the afternoon of our first day exploring San Jose and finding a place to eat.  Since the airlines have ceased serving food, we were all famished.  We met that night at the Grand Hotel and Casino of Costa Rica and enjoyed an upscale, authentic Costa Rican meal.

The next day we departed slightly later than planned due to some minor thefts and endured a four-hour bus ride to our first research station, Palo Verde.  Palo Verde is a dry tropical forest located in the northern pacific coast.  We spent a total of five days there.  Confronted by numerous clouds of mosquitoes and several inches of rain, the group was unsure how we were going to conduct all of our experiments.  Despite the afternoon showers and the droves of mosquitoes, we managed to conduct plenty of field experiments, gathering enough data for six group papers.  Fortunately, the food at Palo Verde was exceptionally good, which kept up the group’s morale that was tested by the clouds of mosquitoes.  We were able to convince Dr. Yaber to let us spend one of our five days allotted at Palo Verde on the beach at La Playa de Ocotal, a small beach with black volcanic sand, lots of fish, and a nice restaurant/bar. We spent the day swimming, throwing Frisbee, and marveling at the beautiful sights.

We left Palo Verde on Saturday, May 30, to travel to the Wilson Botanical Gardens at Las Cruces biological station, also run by the OTS.  We endured a grueling 11-hour bus ride all the way from the northern pacific coast to the southwestern part of the country, about 20 miles from Panama.  There we conducted research projects on subjects ranging from epiphytic interactions on palm and deciduous trees to the amounts of insect larvae found in Helliconiae plants.  We hiked the various trails around the station and some of us even went swimming in the Java River.  Rodo Quir?, the head biologist at Las Cruces, gave us a lecture on the current projects aimed at restoring the nearby pastures to secondary tropical rain forests.  We thoroughly enjoyed the spacious accommodations, the reprieve from the mosquitoes, as well as the great food.  We were all disappointed to leave.

After four days at Las Cruces, we left for La Selva, a tropical rain forest biological station in the Caribbean lowlands.  This would be our last research station and also the place where we would have to collect the most data and report more detailed findings.  La Selva contains fifty-six species of snakes, seven of them being poisonous, meaning we had to be careful where we stepped.  Two of the three groups studied the behavior of leaf-cutter ants, while others studied the golden-orb spiders and granddaddy long legs.  We were relieved once our presentations and papers were finished and were ready to go back to San Jose to buy souvenirs for our families and friends.

We enjoyed our experiences in Costa Rica and would highly recommend the class to future students, especially to students interested in ecology and environmental science or those who simply enjoy hiking and studying exotic animals.

May Term in France

by Joe Webb ’03
Photos by Professor Bob Blackman 

From May 26 to June 13, fourteen HSC students, including myself, spent May Term in Paris with Professors Joan E. McRae, Ray Kleinlein of Davidson College (husband of Professor McRae), and Bob Blackman. The purpose of this May Term experience was to learn that the French really do not despise Americans, only the rude ones. With that in mind, everyone got the chance to learn about French culture, history, and art. 


The culture part, which was taught by our fearless leader, Dr. Joan E. McRae, was a means to experience the ways of the French. We were encouraged to use as much French as we possibly knew in our dealings with the locals in places like the train station, the cafes, and the post office. The French really appreciated our effort, and they provided us with the best possible hospitality, and we enjoyed our stay. We experienced some of the fine French wines and foods that cannot be purchased in the United States. We also got a good understanding of French labor unions and their willingness to go on strike to press their demands. While we were in Paris, the metro workers exercised that right to strike, which resulted in the trains not running as often.

From Professor Ray Kleinlein, we viewed and came to understand some of the best of the art in which the French take a great deal of pride. We saw some of the principal works of Monet, Inges, and David at Versailles, the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Pompedieu, and other great museums. It was clear that when major events changed the political, social, or cultural life of their hexagon-shaped nation, French artists had something to say about it in their art. 

 As for the history, Dr. Bob Blackman shared his knowledge of France from the Revolution of 1789 to the 1960s. To complement our readings, we visited many historical sites including Omaha Beach in Normandy. France has a number of fascinating and controversial historical figures such as the Bourbon Kings, Napolean Bonaparte, and Charles de Gaulle.

Overall, May Term in Paris was a huge success. On behalf of the students who participated, I would personally like to thank Professors McRae, Kleinlein, and Blackman for their patience and efforts to make the experience an outstanding one. From this experience, I personally learned that the French can and always will be friends of the United States as long as we speak and walk softly within the realms of their great nation. After all, let’s not forget that they helped us to become a nation free of British rule.

Reports from Australia and New Zealand

Milos Mihajlovic ’04 is studying for the spring semester 2003 at Macquarie University near Sydney, Australia. Milos is an English major. His courses this semester include Creative Writing, Contemporary English Writers, and Modernism. The excursion to the Blue Mountains was part of the orientation program provided by the Institute for Study Abroad/Butler University.

“These pictures were taken while we were at the Kemby-Rinjah resort in the Blue Mountains, about three hours south of Sydney. The first picture is of The Three Sisters rock face, an example of the beautiful landscape that Australia has to offer. 

 The second picture is of our  Aboriginal bush-guide, Phil. Phil looked like a cross between Jerry Garcia (obvious from just looking at him) and an ancient Aboriginal chief. In the picture he resembles a king pointing out toward the edges of his kingdom!

The last picture is of me feeding the wild parrots at Kemby-Rinjah, which we got to do every morning.”

I’ve noticed that the people here in Australia seem to be divided as far as the war goes. Some are in favor of the war and support the U.S. completely in it’s efforts. But the other half doesn’t believe that Australia should be involved in it.  


 William Hardy ’04 is studying at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. Will, a psychology major, is taking Psychology Research Methods, Brain and Behavior, Introduction to New Zealand Sociology, and Maori Culture and Society.  Prior to the beginning of classes, Will took part in a traditional “Hangi” which includes Maori dancing, singing, and war chants.

Kia Ora. That’s Maori for hello.  How is everyone.  I have been doing great.  A couple weekends ago three fellow Americans and I traveled to Mt. Holdsworth on a three day hike.  In New Zealand, a hike is referred to as a “tramp.”  So anyway, we tramped for three days; the weather was beautiful.  We had to tramp at night for four hours the first night, and we ate peanut-butter and and jelly sandwiches for dinner (I told you I was eating right, Mom).  So we slept outside in the cold and had oatmeal for breakfast.  We continued our hike the next day.  We made it to Mt. Holdsworth.  If I remember correctly, it was 1500 meters high. The wind was insane.  We stopped for lunch at Jumbo Hut.  There we ate more sandwiches and chips and salsa (the highlight of our food).  Drenched with sweat and tired from the hours  of tramping, we slept for a short period.  For dinner we had the crazy mix of cream corn, chicken flavoured noodles, and chicken and corn flavoured rice (you’ll notice I spelled flavour with a “u” that’s the English way).  It was actually really good.  But then again we were really hungry.  The hike down on Sunday was hard, considering we were in a cloud cover.  It didn’t rain, but the ground was muddy and slick.  I had tons of fun.

Buddhist Studies in Japan

by William J. Kawaihae ’04

at right in front of the Japanese Diet (parliament) Building

In the fall semester of 2002-2003, I participated in the Buddhist Studies in Japan program through Antioch College. I chose this program for many reasons: I have an interest in the Buddhist religion and Japanese culture and a desire to travel to Japan and see everything that the country has to offer. However, the main reason I participated was to make a connection with my ancestral Japanese roots.

First, I would like to tell students – if you are thinking about participating in this program – to make sure that you have an interest in learning about and practicing various forms of Buddhism, not just Zen. Also, you must be prepared to live in Buddhist temples and monasteries, be able to rise at 4:30 AM, to sleep on the floor, to eat only vegetarian food, and you should have an interest in learning about Japanese culture. If you have an adventuresome spirit, then this is the program for you.

The program involved a great deal of traveling, with the other program participants and alone. There were three main temples where we stayed for up to three weeks while in Japan and various other places where we only visited for a night or two. During the extended stays, we studied the various form of Buddhism. The Antioch program begins in California at a place called Zen Mountain Center where we stayed for several days of orientation. We learned  temple etiquette, Japanese customs, basic meditation forms, and had a chance to learn about other people in the group. Then we were off to Japan for three months where we traveled to Kyoto, Koyasan, Nara, the island of Shikoku, Hiroshima, Sakamoto, Tokyo, and many small villages.

I found that many people had problems, in the beginning, with the food. It was strictly vegetarian, which means a lot of rice and tofu. Also, many of the group did not know how to use hoshi (chopsticks), which were the only eating utensils available. A basic meal would consist of rice, tofu and shoshu (soy sauce), miso soup, and some type of vegetable. For the most part, the food was good, and I learned to like Japanese food very much. However, if you did not like tofu, too bad because you had to get use to it!  The sleeping arrangements were not that bad. Most of the time there would be two or three people in a room, but sometimes there would be up to six. The bedding consisted of a pillow filled with beans, a comforter, a sheet, and a futon; it actually was rather comfortable.

The program had many highlights. My favorite experience was the Shikoku Pilgrimage, where we backpacked around the island of Shikoku hiking sometimes long distances to various temples. Another, highlight was going to Hiroshima for a few days. We visited the Peace Park, toured the museum, and talked with a survivor of the A-Bomb.

At the end of the program, we had a two-week research period. We each received a rail pass, which allowed us ride on all JR (Japan Rails) rail lines for free, so we had the opportunity to travel around Japan on our own. I traveled to Misawa, Kyoto, Tokyo and Kyushu on the Bullet Train. Leaving Japan, the group traveled to Hawaii where we completed our research and made individual presentations to the group.

 In addition to the wonderful travel opportunities, the program offered many benefits, such as the Antioch leaders and teachers, fellow students, the monks, and the Japanese people as a whole. This was a great program to go on: an experience like no other, but it will only be memorable if you make the most of every situation. I would be glad to talk to any students interested in joining the Buddhist Studies Program in Japan in a future semester.

Applied Math Major Reczkowski Spends a Semester Abroad

Senior Applied Mathematics major Alex Reczkowski returned to campus this fall after spending the spring semester abroad. Alex spent a semester in Budapest, Hungary, with America’s top undergraduate mathematics students. The Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program is organized through St. Olaf College.

In Alex’s words:

“Grab up the best undergraduate mathematics students, fly them to a great eastern European city, teach them enough Hungarian so they can get some narancsle (orange juice) and palacsinta (crepes), then throw them to some of the world’s greatest mathematical minds, and success becomes virtually inevitable. As an applied mathematics major I was challenged with finding a study abroad program that provided optimal higher-level mathematics courses. Budapest Semesters in Mathematics was the beautiful solution.

“I was part of a lucky group of about 60 students who battled through everything from getting a residence permit in Hungary with minimal Hungarian language skills to making an American Thanksgiving dinner in a foreign country. The program was simply amazing in that it showed all of us the great diversity in mathematicians. Not only was mathematical talent at its pinnacle, but extra-curricular activities were astoundingly diversified, with everyone running around Budapest enjoying everything from shows at the Operahouse to ultimate frisbee on Margit Island. I couldn’t have been luckier. We formed a really great family, and together we not only made Budapest our home, we learned some math while doing it.”

Gibson meets the Iron Lady

In the summer of 2002, John David Gibson ’03 interned for the United States Studies Institute within the University of London. The program has around 30 students and seven professors. Subjects focus on American politics, history, and economics. His work involved contacting American universities and spreading the word about the program.

He also attended many of the seminars held by the Institute. Professors from several universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, gave lectures on various topics including the relationship between America and Great Britain and on America’s foreign policy after September 11. 

According to John David, “To my surprise, I learned that Lady Thatcher had been the sponsor of the program for 11 years. She retired this summer and the institute held a celebration in her honor. I had the privilege of not only to meet her but also to discuss her relationship with Ronald Reagan, the potential of war with Iraq, and how beautiful she thinks Virginia is.”

Spain Anyone?

by Thomas O. Robbins ’04In his famous work La España Invisible, Azorín writes about the richness of Spain in all aspects of its composition from history to geography to culture. He emphasizes that there is a spiritual atmosphere. The students participating in the 2002 May Term Spanish Immersion Program can corroborate Azorín’s argument. The program was, to say the least, an intense immersion program.


Twenty-four students traveled to Alcadá de Henares with Professor Dieudonne Afatsawo and Professor Jana DeJong.

Students were placed with families who introduced them to various aspects of Spanish culture. The use of host families is not a new concept to the city of Alcalá de Henares. The custom of host families is closely tied to the Universidad de Alcalá and has been going on since the 14th Century. In general, these families did not speak any English, so students learned very quickly how to communicate. Families taught students essential terminology about household items. For example, meals were an excellent opportunity to teach students various types of food. In addition, host families were available for help with any matter like directions, recommendations of tours, etc.

The family offered a look at cultural differences in family life, but our classes offered a view of academic and educational standards in Spain. Participants could choose Intermediate Language Skills or Culture and Contemporary Issues in Spanish Society. However, one should not be misled. Each set of classes was very challenging. Each weekday, classes met for four hours of instruction followed by homework. The classes are normally taught over the course of a year, so the same amount of information was condensed into four weeks of instruction. Moreover, active participation in the classroom discussion was  required. Debates and discussion topics were supplemented with trips to local historical sites. While the Culture Class (303) was discussing Spanish architecture, the class would take field trips to nearby cathedrals or other structures to determine the style and influence the structure might have had. The local cathedral was a mixture of Roman columns with Visigoth detail. In the Contemporary Issues class, we regularly traveled to Madrid for press conferences, roundtable discussions, and scholarly presentations. Similarly, the entire group would go on excursions during the week and weekends. These trips would be to a destination relatively far from Madrid. Excursions included cities such as Avila, Segovia, and Toledo. These adventures augmented classroom activities from the past week. Excursions had a formal tour followed by leisure time for independent exploration.

On the other hand, the group truly adhered to the Hampden-Sydney adage of “work hard, play hard.” The social life offerings in a city like Alcalá were quite different from those of Farmville. One popular hangout was the Plaza de Cervantes, the town’s center, named for the famous author of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes. The Plaza featured open-air bars and restaurants, cafes, and shopping venues. The bars are an integral part of the social life of Spain. Weekend nights were reserved for time at bars and at midnight a migration to a discotheque of your choice. Personally, I found the Coliseum Disco to be quite lively. My host family found it odd that I returned home at 2 A.M. They told me that the average college student stayed out at the clubs until 5 A.M.!

While bars might, arguably, be the most popular forum for discourse, I found my host family’s patio to be a common place of communication. My family was very close. Every meal forwarded the opportunity for questions to be answered. Siesta was also a convenient time to talk or relax from a hard day’s work. Siesta is a period to time, usually an hour or two after lunch, used to relax; however, this is not the end of the day. Work and school commenced again after the siesta.

The Program illuminated another particularly important facet: group dynamics. There was a clearly noticeable change in the group between the times we departed from Dulles Airport (DC) until our return voyage from Spain. Leisure time was sparse, but the group seemed to find something enjoyable to do. While bars and the Plaza were popular hangouts, many students opted to spend free time exploring the various Spains. My first trip was hiking in a nearby city called Cercedilla. Cercedilla is well-known in Spain for its hiking trails and rich natural environment. The train ride offered a glimpse of the diverse biogeography that quickly changed from a desert-like plain to green agricultural fields to a lush mountain valley.

(left to right) Hunter Burnette ’05, Thom Robbins ’04, Joshua Thurston ’03, Meade Stone ’04 in Valencia

 Yet, the most memorable trip would have to be Valencia. A group of four Hampden-Sydney guys embarked on a trip to see the Mediterranean Sea. However, our trip began with a series of problems. First, we missed our train, so we had to regroup and develop another plan. Every door seemed to shut in our faces. We did not despair. Finally, we, with much frustration, decided to spend only one day at the beach and depart very early the following morning. That day we learned a lot about the varying strengths of each person in the group. Traveling with friends in a foreign country really has a profound effect on individuals to work together. Other students took trips to places like Mundaka and Cordoba.

Although traveling presented a perfect opportunity to bond with new friends, camaraderie was also seen through every aspect of the trip. Students were always helping one another study for a coming examination or explaining the difference between future and conditional conjugations. Perhaps the single thing that I will remember most will be the time spent with friends, be it through studying, discussing a multitude of issues ranging from religion to Spanish societal issues, or sharing stories about pastimes with host families.

Azorín would be delighted with the merits of the program. It truly captured the essence of the various Spains. Students left with only two desires: sleep and additional time in Spain.

At Casa de la Americas, Madrid
(kneeling in front)
Matthew Anderson ’05, Zack Hunt ’03

(standing left to right)
Wesley Lawson ’04, Joshua Thurston ’03, Jesse Joyce ’03,  Matthew Friedman ’03,  Michael Roberts ’05,  Derek Barker ’03,  Thom Robbins ’04, Adrian Allen ’04, and Seth Jenkins ’02

International Week

For “International Week,” November 11 – 17, President Walter Bortz and Mrs. Bortz hosted a dinner at their home, Middlecourt, on Monday, November 12, for the 15 students who attended semester and year abroad programs in 2000-2001.  Students had the opportunity to talk directly to the President about their abroad experiences and for him to hear first-hand some of the wonderful stories. (See “An Incredible Experience,” )

Sharon Sercombe, H-SC Coordinator of International Studies, was part of the panel that discussed “International Exchange” on Wednesday, November 14, at Longwood College in nearby Farmville.