William Duncan (Barcelona, Jan. 23)

While choosing to attend Hampden-Sydney College was a difficult decision to make, the decision to determine my study abroad location to be Barcelona, Spain proved to be oven more challenging. As I don’t know what I want to do after college, I have been set on studying abroad for some time now. I’m biased towards warmer weather, so I knew I wanted to be somewhere close to water and in a warm climate. I had never been out of the country before and I knew I wanted to see Europe, but I was unsure where I wanted to spend the majority of my time. However, my selection process might have been a little different from others who chose to study abroad. I had to complete one more level of Spanish for my core curriculum requirements, so I began to narrow down places where I could take Spanish classes. Then, I looked at climate, culture, history, and environment, rather than at specific programs. I wanted the best cultural experience, rather than the best study abroad program. After comparing Madrid, Valencia, and Barcelona, I decided that Barcelona met my requirements for what I was looking for in a host city. This masterfully designed metropolis, full of historic artwork and architecture by the famous Gaudi, inhabits the shore of the beautiful Costa Brava and is the capital of the passionate Catalonians. While Madrid and Valencia both are fantastic options, I felt Barcelona was the place I needed to call home on this eye opening experience.

When I was planning for my trip abroad, I saw that Barcelona had a heavily athletic aspect of the city. Being an avid sports fan, this called to me: I am dying to attend a game in the historic Camp Nou stadium to watch one of the richest fútbol clubs in the world, F. C. Barcelona. I can’t wait to see the best player in the world without requiring a television—Lionel Messi. I want to be engrossed with the fans and experience the same passion that they feel, I want to bear the bitter cold temperatures in the signature Barcelona scarves to watch their famous blue and red jerseys fight for victory, I want to be at a small, local bar, cheering Neymar Jr. on to net another flashy goal. As a foreigner, how else am I supposed to truly absorb what it’s like to live in Barcelona?

Barcelona’s stunning coast called to me as well. I work as a sailing instructor for Camp Sea Gull in Arapahoe, North Carolina, but I’m sacrificing that summer work in order to experience sailing off the coast of Spain. I wanted to be somewhere where I could share my passion for this sport with. Barcelona has such a rich sailing culture. Its ports are lined with an excess of sailboats: day sailors, schooners, and massive yachts bob gently in the harbor. I feel like this is a reasonable substitute for my summer job.

Regardless of the endless experiences that Barcelona has to offer, I will admit that I was extremely nervous upon arrival. I am the only Hampden-Sydney student in Barcelona. I knew nobody in my abroad program. My biggest fear was that I might not meet enough people to be comfortable in this new environment. Not only am I not a great speaker of Spanish, but I have never lived in a city as large as Barcelona. One can imagine the culture shock of going abroad for the first time, but an unexpected culture shock was added when I realized how large Barcelona actually is… then again, that’s not saying much when compared to Farmville.

I made my biggest fear my main goal for my time in Barcelona: I want to meet new people from different places. I have lived in the Southeast United States for all of my life, and while I love it more than anything, I think that I should expand my horizons and meet people from many places around the world. I feel that being able to open myself up to new people is a trait that I will be able to use for the rest of my life. Two weeks into the program, I have found that there are many other students who are looking to do the same. I have found a fun group of friends who are from all around the country and are looking to experience Barcelona culture in the same ways that I am. They bring different outlooks on life and their different passions make this experience more exciting. I would not think to try some of the things we’ve experienced if not for these new friends and I could not be more excited to see what else Barcelona and the rest of Europe have to offer with my new friends at my side.

William Imeson (Valencia, January 16)

William Imeson (Valencia, January 16)

I have now been in Valencia for almost a week and it is already far more than I could have ever anticipated. As I prepared for the trip, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, other than the basic cultural differences that come with visiting another country. I knew that I would be taking some classes with my program and that I would be with other students my age. I knew that Valencia has two official languages: Spanish and Valencian. I knew that people in Spain eat different kinds of food at different times of the day. But aside from these basic understandings, I really don’t have any preset notions of what my semester here would be like. I will just let my experience in Spain and with my study abroad program play out and see where it takes me.

I always knew that if I studied abroad, I would want to go to a Spanish speaking country. I have studied Spanish for about eight years, and I wanted to be able to put that practice to good use. For the record, I don’t speak Valencian at all, but it isn’t too terribly different from Spanish if you can make a few educated guesses at words that are similar to Spanish. I chose to travel to Spain because there are a lot of good study abroad programs for this country and because I wanted to return to Europe. I went to Europe as a child and I felt compelled to go back. I eventually decided on the University of Virginia Hispanic Studies Program at Valencia because it is a language-intensive program and I heard positive reviews about it from previous students in this program.

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The two things I look forward to most are travelling around Spain and improving my Spanish. I sometimes forget that the United States is still an infant compared to these ancient European countries. Spain has been around for so long and history can be seen all around the country. There’s something intriguing about walking around an old city and feeling its age beneath your shoes (side note: I also don’t mind that Valencia averages about 65° Fahrenheit during the day in winter). Although I would certainly enjoy learning some Valencian, I don’t know if I will be here long enough to pack two languages into my brain. The first couple of days have been a jet-lag induced whirlwind, but now that I have been here for a while, I have started to acclimate and will start my classes soon. While I wouldn’t say that I’m dying for them to start, I’m sure it will be nice to finally get out of Morton and Bagby.

Thomas Bourne (Dublin, January 16)

Hello from the Emerald Isle! I’m really thankful to Hampden-Sydney College for giving me the chance to fulfill my dream of traveling to Ireland. One might ask: why would I pick Ireland instead of somewhere like Germany, Spain, or Australia. The answer is fairly simple—history. The history engrained in Ireland is both mystifying and rich. The preservation of the Catholic Church at the fall of the Roman Empire and the multitude of bloody battles over centuries for Irish independence are two fine examples of the history of this fine country. However, history was not the only factor in my decision to study in Ireland. The vast and beautiful natural world that Ireland offers, with rolling green hills and spectacular cliffs, appeals to my love for nature and to my Environmental Studies minor.

Now that I’m in Ireland, the long wait for classes to start has begun. My biggest fear is how different these classes will be from Hampden-Sydney College. When I got to University College Dublin (UCD Dublin) on Tuesday, I walked around campus to soak in the atmosphere. The campus is huge and really spread out; I have to walk way further to get to my classes here than I did at HSC. Another big difference is the environment for classes: instead of small classrooms,  UCD Dublin uses theaters that seat nearly three hundred students. Hopefully my anxiety for these changes subsides, but we’ll have to wait and see.

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I’m trying to plan a trip to Sunderland, England to watch the Sunderland A.F.C. (Go, Black Cats!) face Burnley F.C.. Hopefully, this won’t be the only time I travel; I hope to travel to Iceland, Norway, Denmark, and Germany and see more of our incredible natural world.

Taylor Anctil (Provence, Jan 25.)

Hello everybody, it’s Taylor S. Anctil reporting from Provence, France. I chose to come to France because I thought it was high time I took my study of the French culture and language seriously. I chose the IAU College program because it offered several courses that would contribute to my major and because I would be residing with a French family.

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During my time in France, I am most especially looking forward to exploring all of the nearby villages. I already have my bus pass and my travel companion, therefore I shall be reporting back soon with inside knowledge of all the neat spots to visit and out-of-the-way places.

There is really not all that much that I am nervous about. My rather gung ho personality and way of facing the world leave little time to think and get nervous about the experience itself. If I had to choose something, I would say that I am most nervous about my inability to speak with French women—my inability to speak French fluently, that is. I can communicate well enough with my host family and my teachers, but as soon as I go into a store or café, I get so flustered and mixed up that you can hardly get two coherent sentences out of me! The girls are just so pretty and speak so quickly that I hardly know on which to place my concentration: the girls or the language.

I mentioned earlier, my goals are to study the French culture, learn the language, eat, drink, and be as merry as possible (and squeeze a few classes in as well). I want to be so comfortable by the end of my stay here that I am mistaken for a local—that would be the best goal to achieve.

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!

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

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.

Study Abroad 2003-2004

During the 2003-2004 academic year, 72 Hampden-Sydney students studied abroad in 11 different countries. The length of study ran from a full academic year to May Term courses and ranged from Europe to Central America to Australia and New Zealand.

On September 2, many of the participants gathered in the Parents & Friends Lounge and several shared stories of their adventures.

G. W. Zuban ’06 of Chesterfield, VA, studied at University of St. Andrews, Scotland, for the Spring Semester 2004.
G.W. chose St. Andrews because of its solid academic reputation and it because is substantially larger than Hampden-Sydney College but not in an urban environment. Early on, he could not find a building where one of his classes was held and stopped another student and asked directions; it turned out to be Prince William, who gave him directions.

Full Story…

Forrest Smith ’06 of Farmville, VA, spent the academic year at University of Glasgow.
He arrived the end of August. Forrest called it a “surreal experience.” “I always wanted to go to Scotland, and I threw myself into the culture. First, I tried haggis. It is a brilliant dish; I loved it. With haggis and a pint of Guinness you can’t go wrong. The people of Scotland are warm and friendly; if you ask directions, they don’t just give you directions they take you there.”
“The university experience was like independent study. Professors are very approachable but you are largely on your own. There is much reading. The routine is paper, project, exam, and go home.”
The rugged terrain is just as it would have been 400 or 500 years ago. This was the Scotland I went to see, and I was not disappointed. I traveled to Loch Ness and Loch Lomond and took 3- or 4-hour hikes on trails up the mountains. Scotland is so very green.

Jordan Gaul ’05, of West Chester, PA, spent the academic year at St. Catherines College, Oxford University, England.
“At Oxford there were no tests, study was entirely independent, lectures were optional, but evaluations were intense and individualized. It was the most thorough and rewarding system I have ever had the opportunity to study under.”

Full Story…

 

Mathew Anderson ’06 of Staunton, VA, spent his junior year in Paris on the Sweet Briar College Program.
“It was the best decision I have made thus far; of the 95 in the program, 10 were men.”
“We began with a month in Tours and then moved to Paris, where I lived with a host family and attended the Sorbonne. The Sorbonne is extremely different form Hampden-Sydney - huge classes, little support - a different experience.”
“Sweet Briar was great about side trips. We went to Monet’s Garden a Giverny and the American Cemetery at Normandy. I spent Christmas in Brussels. All the guys in the program decided to go to Sweden, and we found a 19 Euro plane fare to Stockholm. Several of us took a 16-day spring-break trip to Morocco including riding camels across the Sahara for two days. It was a phenomenal trip, so very different from anything I had ever seen. The skies and colors of Morocco are beyond belief.”
“Paris is a gift. It is all the sparkle and all the life you could hope for. Last year was the best year ever.”

Joseph Yarborough ’06, of Golf Shores, AL, spent the spring semester at James Cook University in Cairnes, Australia. He took courses in management, psychology, and aboriginal culture.
“I went with Mike Vassar (’06 of Midlothian, VA). Our study abroad conditions were that it was warm and everybody spoke English, and we found the right place.”
“In Australia what you learn above the surface is nothing to what you can learn under the water; diving with a whale is like being with a dinosaur.
We took a 3,000-mile 16-day road trip from Cairnes to Sidney. Up in the rain forests, there are trees that take a hundred years to grow. On the beaches the views are breathtaking. There are gorges with waterfalls that shake the earth. At Barron Bay are the prettiest sunsets you will ever see.”
“It was great experience. Anyone who gets a chance to study abound, just go for it.”

Monti Mercer ’06 of Fairfax, VA, took the May Term course in tropical biology in Costa Rica.

Full Story…

Daniel Gordon ’05 of Burke, VA, studied abroad in Grenoble, France, for two months last summer as part of the requirements for his French major.
“Grenoble is not a tourist town and most foreigners there are students. It is well located and I visited Paris, Verdun, Normandy, Dijon, and Monaco.”
“It was an experience everyone should have. I hope to return to spend a year.”

Spring Semester 2004 Abroad At St. Andrews

by G. W. Zuban ’05

As the new school year opens, I would like to share some of my experiences of last semester spent at the University of St. Andrews in beautiful St. Andrews, Scotland.  As a brief history of the University, it was founded in the early fifteenth century to keep the sons of Scottish nobles from being captured by the English during wartime. In modern times, the University is in the middle of St. Andrews, flanked by the world famous home golf course and surrounded by the North Sea.  While the town is modern, it is also rife with mediaeval charm.  There is a castle destroyed by the Scottish Reformation, along with the remains of a massive cathedral also destroyed during the Reformation.  The remains of both of these buildings were as awe inspiring today as they must have been while they existed in their entirety.

Arriving at St. Andrews was very simple indeed.  After flying into the Edinburgh Airport, which is about the size of Richmond International Airport, I was able to quickly locate the Overseas Society, who had arranged to corral the international students from the airport to St. Andrews.  We quickly boarded a bus and headed out on the hour drive to St. Andrews.  Of course, students from around the United States started chatting and mentioning where we went to school.  Actually, I was quickly asked if I knew Meade Stone, as he was a friend of one of the girls on the bus.  Even though we go to a small school, Hampden-Sydney and her students are remarkably known.  After the bus ride was over, I was taken to Andrew Melville Hall, my residence for the remainder of the Semester.  Melville is an oddly designed building; however, it would serve me well as home.

Before classes started, the Overseas Society held many activities to familiarize us with St. Andrews and surrounding towns, Edinburgh, and with the nuances of Scottish culture.  My favorite activity was a group trip to Edinburgh.  We were taken to the castle, which sits prominently above the city.  This was also a time to establish stronger relationships with fellow “JSAs”as we were called.  That stands for “Junior Semester Abroad”, as opposed to “JYAs”, or “Junior Year Abroad.”  The trip lasted the entire day and was absolutely incredible.  The following few days were filled with trips to Anstruther (right), Pittenweem, and Crail.  These three small fishing towns were situated along the coast just north of St. Andrews.  They were absolutely beautiful and made for a great trip.

While I would have loved to be in Scotland simply for travel, there was also the academic aspect of my trip to address.  Lower level classes (first and second year) are normally large lectures accompanied with a smaller tutorial.  Upper level classes are normally smaller and more like classes in the U.S.  I took three history classes, which were very challenging.  The classes were paper based, without any tests during the semester.  There was surprisingly few assessments during the semester except for the papers.  The majority of final grades were determined by final exams, which were as stressful as final exams are anywhere.  Professors at St. Andrews were very nice and approachable much like Hampden-Sydney.  I never had a problem getting questions answered and contacting professors.  The only real difference that I noticed was that questions were never asked during lecture.  All questions were to wait for the tutorial.  I found this problematic, as it may be a different professor teaching the tutorial as was lecturing.  However, classes were good for the most part and very informative indeed.

Perhaps the most enriching aspect of studying abroad is the people from around the globe that quickly become close friends.  I have no doubt that these friends will remain close for the rest of my life.  We all struggled as students together, some far from home, to be successful at school as well as have a good time. While it was easy to relate to fellow Americans, the most fun was had with people from all corners of the globe.  National identity became secondary, as having a good time or studying became the primary goal.  One of my favorite trips that I took with my new friends (both of whom, in this instance, happened to be American?the others could not go due to exams) was a thirty-five mile hiking trip on the West Highland Way.  We hiked over Ben Lomond, which is the geographic feature noting the start of the Highlands. 

 
G. W. Zuban (H-SC ’05) and Justin Burger (Bowdoin College’ 05) above Loch Lomond

Hiking around Loch Lomond with my two friends made my trip complete.  We were able to talk about our different experiences at home, at our respective American schools, and as a JSA is Scotland. I think I can speak for the three of us in saying that we all had an amazing time both on the backpacking trip and as students at St. Andrews.

As all good things must come to an end, so too did my adventures in Scotland.  I must admit that it was hard saying numerous goodbyes, getting in a Taxi and speeding away to the airport.  I know that I will never see some of these people again, yet I know that we will never forget our time at St. Andrews.  As I return to the Hill this year, I know that I have grown as a person and a student having studied abroad. I would not, even if I could, change my time in Scotland, and I know that it was one of my best decisions as a student to study abroad in St. Andrews.