- Tanner Voliva: Post 4
And…we are back in the states!
I cannot believe that my time abroad has already come to an end! In all honesty, it kind of feels like a fever dream as if my time abroad was just a moment in time which wasn’t real. It all happened so fast. Yet, I know all that occurred was extremely helpful in finding myself and teaching me so much that I hadn’t known before studying abroad.
During my time abroad, I felt very humbled – not only abroad but also now that I have returned to the states. It’s humbling to understand the role we play in this immense game we call life. During my time abroad, I was living in a brand-new city where my access to help was asking questions in a language I’ve only studied for a few years; a language I wasn’t fluent in and didn’t feel comfortable communicating directly with native speakers. Yet, through this experience, I’ve learned that it’s okay to not understand everything and to ask questions. Through this experience I have gained a new level of self-confidence in myself, and I now feel wayyyyy more comfortable with myself and who I am as a person.
A good friend of mine that I met during my time abroad explained to me a method of living which was very helpful in finding this newfound confidence and relaxing outlook on life.
• There was a man who had a GOAL of asking any question he desired in one year – even if these questions seemed to be ridiculous. During this year, the man found that most of his questions were explained and understood. But what about those questions that were rejected and responded to with a NO? This man found that after getting told no hundreds of times, he no longer feared the rejection of asking questions.
This story really helped me to overcome my anxiety and fear of rejection of life. Think about it, what’s the worst that could happen when you ask a question or when you try to go do something…someone tells you no or it doesn’t turn out how you would’ve expected or hoped. There is no reason to fear life.
After my time abroad, I feel much more comfortable as a person and have this newfound confidence in myself. Because I know how much I have grown as a human, I TRULY encourage any student – or non-student – to take some time to themselves and travel abroad for a period of time. This experience is enriching and will allow any person to learn so much about themselves and who they are as a person AND who they want to be in the future.
I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I have been given to study abroad in Valencia, Spain. As well as the support I was given before, during, and after from those who were involved in this experience.
Muchas gracias. Siempre estaré agradecido.
- Franz Gilbert: Post 4
London School of Economics
Study View for Formatives
I am back in the United States for the next few weeks for the holidays and am extremely excited to get some much-needed rest. As I mentioned in my previous blog, the formative assignments are extensive – taking up considerable time – and that routine did not let up into my last week at LSE. I ended up spending a lot of time on campus studying, and you can see the views are amazing. Until I was on the plane, I was in a constant state of running from one thing to the next and making sure I was getting all my assignments done, while balancing the Christmas events for all of the societies I am a part of.
East India Club
I was able to attend a formal Christmas ball at the famous East India Club (EIC). The founders of the East India Trading Company started this club. Inside the club, there were small pieces of British history scattered throughout. It felt more like a museum than a social club. I got into an interesting conversation with some members of the club about their all-male policy and how they recently had a vote to go co-ed – which did not pass. I could not help but compare the EIC to HSC in this way. A lot of the members of the EIC went to all-male institutions and value single-sex education, so I was not getting the bizarre looks that all Hampden-Sydney men are accustomed to getting when explaining the college.
I walk past the British Courts every day on the way to LSE, and there is occasionally some sort of activity going on due to the cases being considered. The above pictures show how protestors tied yellow ribbons to the fencing to protest the Assange extradition hearings. Unlike the US meaning of the yellow ribbon (e.g., tie a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree) to support the troops, in Europe (and other parts of the world), the yellow ribbons are used as a sign to support Democracy. This was made popular in 2014 with the Hong Kong Democracy protests.
Lacrosse – A Co-Ed Social Event
Before I left, I played in a lacrosse match against Imperial College. I am proud to announce we won. Lacrosse in Britain is minor compared to the United States and it is more about the social aspect. Either way, it was a fantastic way to close out the semester.
I was fortunate enough to fly back to the states before Omicron significantly hit and looking back on it, I got out just in time. Most of my dorm, the week after I left, came down with the COVID variant and the college went on lockdown. I hope everyone is recovering quickly and all the lockdowns are cleared up by the new year, so my amazing experience at the LSE can continue. I wish all of you a Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.
Until next year…
- Franz Gilbert: Post 3
London School of Economics
The Social Side:
Since my last blog, a lot has happened. I have had some fantastic experiences with my fellow General Course students in the City of London. For example, I have visited Saville Row, the premier place in London, if not the world, for Bespoke suits. Realize that this is not just about the suit, but also the experience. The fitting rooms do look like the James Bond or Kingsmen movies – and the options are amazing, “would you like tortoiseshell buttons?” These suits run several thousand dollars. I went for my first London Haircut:
I mentioned previously that joining the student union groups is a core part of the social experience. Not only do you enjoy great activities, but then the groups explore the city. These groups have regular students and General Course students (e.g., Study Abroad students). So there are often students who know the city and can take you to hidden gems! We went to a Cigar Bar in the middle of the city, which was a fantastic experience to enjoy and see the vast collections of cigars the bar had collected.
I was able to go to the LSE Shooting Club’s first outing.
Finally, even though Thanksgiving is not celebrated in the UK, the General Course Program put on a Thanksgiving Dinner for the American Students. I ate and then watched the Bears game.
The social activities and the rigorous academic schedule keep me very busy. Unlike back home, midterm is a multiweek process called formatives. For full-time undergraduate students enrolled at the LSE, these midterms do not affect their “true” grades. Instead, they are participation grades. Even though these formatives do not “count” for most of the student body, it is almost impossible to find an empty chair in the library.
However, it has been fascinating how the European system tries to protect the work-life balance. LSE spreads the formatives over several weeks. The classes reduce their workloads. There is a general focus to make sure the students succeed. This is definitely in stark contrast to the US approach of compressed Mid-terms.
The Shaw Library:
Studying for the formatives and finding an empty seat in the library has been a blessing and a curse because it has forced me to explore the campus. I have found the original library of the LSE called the Shaw Library, and this has become my study space.
I often get to sit by a fantastic Stain Glass window called the Fabian Window. It was commissioned by the founders of LSE – George Bernard Shaw, Beatrice and Sydney Webb, and Graham Wallas. It has a wild history, including being stolen, showing up in Phoenix, Arizona, and finally being installed at LSE.
Until next time…
- Tanner Voliva: Post 3
Buenos días from Valencia!
As my study abroad experience closes in on the remaining few weeks, I’ve begun to reflect on what all has occurred during my time in Spain. Over the course of just a couple of months, I have had the chance to grow as a person. I feel as though this opportunity has – and still is – giving me the chance to find myself and find my form of authenticity as a human being. I’ve been learning that I am perfectly fine traveling and finding new places to go on my own. In fact, I love being able to explore new places; and by doing this, I’m able to spend more time looking within and understanding the life I want to live and create for myself.
Not only am I able to travel alone, but I’ve also met some wonderful new friends during this adventure! The UVA in Valencia program has about 40 students this semester and I’ve made some great friends out of this group of students. We’ve traveled to many new sites with the program and on our own group excursions. But H-SC reaches far and wide! Jalynn Camp and I were able to grab lunch with Pieter Green, another Spanish Major from H-SC studying in Madrid, Spain.
One new thing that I’ve found is that not only do I love the beautiful geography of the country, but now I love learning the history that goes along with it. Whereas before coming to Spain, I wouldn’t have considered myself a history buff in the slightest. You always learn in school that America was discovered in 1492…but I don’t think the facts are ever truly put into perspective. Learning the history, architecture, art, and music that was developed long before the expeditions to America. It’s come to be an insane experience being able to walk the same paths as those before and touch the same walls or pillars that supported the castles of nobles.
- Franz Gilbert: Post 2
London School of Economics
A Pandemic Beginning:
Since being in London, I have been able to only experience life as a student in self-isolation. On my first day of classes, I was greeted with an unwelcomed email informing me that I need to isolate due to someone on my floor contracting a breakout case of the virus. Before my isolation, I was able to explore the city and see some marvelous sites and I look forward to continuing my sightseeing adventures. There are several Americans in the program, so it has been fun to talk with them and hear their perspectives on studying in the UK. We have all branched out and are trying to integrate with the freshers (freshmen), which given all of our first years of college were interrupted with COVID, we are all thoroughly enjoying it. I get released this next week, and I am looking forward to getting to explore this amazing city and LSE even more.
I have included a picture of my dorm desk. Atypical to my freshman year at H-SC, you will notice lots of cleaning supplies, protective gear, and stacks of COVID tests. I have to test every few days in order to go on campus. The NHS provides for free tests for British citizens. Each test has a QR code and unique tracking number, and after taking it, you report the results to the NHS. I wish we would have had these tests in America, it seems like it could have saved many lives.
The Course Load:
I have made the most of my isolation by trying to get organized and staying on top of schoolwork. As the British form of higher education does not believe in the approach of many small assignments for most of their classes (quizzes, essays, etc.), and instead assigns a tremendous number of readings. I will have one or two really big assignments (Paper or Exam) per class, but the group discussions require extensive reading and preparation. While it is a lot of reading (minimum 200+ pages a day), the readings are very thought provoking.
My walk across the Millennium Bridge to LSE
Prior to the self-isolation, I did get a chance to walk the commute and it is an amazing 26-minute walk. I go from the dorm, right past the Tate Museum of Modern Art, I cross the Thames via the Millennium Bridge – which has amazing views, I take a left at St. Paul’s Cathedral, and walk through the original “downtown” of London.
Some of the interesting places I walk by are:
Ye Olde London – it is a pub that was built in 1749 that Benjamin Franklin used to go to, but originally, this was the first coffee house in all of London!
The Temple Church – Behind this amazing building is the Temple Church. This is the one made famous in the Da Vinci Code. The real history is even cooler. It was built by the Knights Templar in 1167 and William Marshall is buried there. William Marshall was known as being the best knight to King John, and later was regent to King Henry III. William Marshall was the protector of the Magna Carta, and even convinced King John that he needed to sign it. In the British Legal System, they do not have the “American Bar Association,” but instead have four “Inns of the Court” and a Barrister has to be accepted by one of the Inns. The names of the Inns are Gray’s Inn, Chancery Inn, Inner Temple, and Middle Temple. The latter two took their names from the Temple Church, which became the origination of the Western Legal System.
The Royal Courts of Justice – On the right-hand side of the street, I get to walk past the Royal Courts of Justice, which was built in 1882. The building houses the High Court, and the Court of Appeal for England and Wales. The High Court is similar to the Federal District Courts, and if someone loses in High Court, they can go to the Court of Appeal.
St. Clements Dane Church – This location has been the site of a church since the ninth century. There is a connection to the Danish – as the Danes had a village in the 900’s that was north of London, and the thought is that this church was the dividing line. The church was rebuilt several times (once by Sir Christopher Wren). It was bombed in WWII and restored in 1958. The church is now dedicated to the Royal Air Force.
The London School of Economics – You can see the gate that I turn into in order to get to LSE. Needless to say – what an amazing commute through history every day.
The Old Curiosity Shop – I want to close this blog with one other amazing building that is on the LSE campus – which is their merchandise store! LSE owns the “Old Curiosity Shop,” which is the oldest shop in all of London, and founded in 1567! As you can see, it was also immortalized by Charles Dickens.
I don’t think I could have imagined a more inspiring commute – where there is always something to spark a thought. Whether it is being on Fleet Street, the home of Journalism, or walking past the origins of the Western Legal System, or seeing the resolve of the British to rebuild after WWII – there is always something to help me appreciate the opportunity to be studying at LSE.
Until next time!
- Tanner Voliva: Post 2
Hola from Valencia!
After spending about a month in Spain, I have come to find many new aspects about Spanish culture, American culture, and new aspects about myself! It’s quite interesting to see how all of these interact with each other and how they make me view life here in Valencia, Spain. One brand new aspect of life for myself is that of the daily commute; before arriving in Spain, I had never taken public transportation before! However, I now use the public metro as a way to arrive at the University and the public buses to return home. I also walk in order to explore new parts of the city. By using public transportation you can pinpoint different cultural aspects; it’s quite interesting to see how much people differ here in Valencia. There are many different clothing styles to see – especially as men’s jorts are in style here. I do have to say…jorts are the way to go and are really easy!
There are also many different way in which people carry conversations. Here in Valencia, many people use voice recordings or talk-to-text methods of communication; which is cool to me because I never really used those methods before coming here. Using these methods of communication seem to be more appreciated and easily accessible compared to others. That being said, time frames for many things are lenient once you’ve explained the situation. Spanish time – as they call it – runs anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes behind schedule. Most people are fashionably late using Spanish time. Overall, my time abroad has been spectacular and has been filled with all new experiences that I would’ve never imagined before traveling to Valencia, Spain! However, after spending my time here eating new foods, introducing myself to new people, and working my way through entirely new scenarios…I am very happy to say that I wouldn’t change my decision to study abroad in Valencia, Spain!
Not only has my time here been amazing, but I’ve also made some amazing friends! Many of which will remain lifelong friends!
Yet, one of the most special and important people I’ve met continues to be Doña María José Slavador. María José has been so kind and accepting during my stay here in Valencia. She is also an amazing cook!
- Franz Gilbert: Post 1
London School of Economics
Why I decided to go to LSE:
I have wanted to attend the London School of Economics since I was a Junior in High School visiting Hampden-Sydney. I heard a speaker at a leadership program discussing his time with the “General Course.” Since then, I have had a one-track mind to get there. When I first arrived on the H-SC campus, I was eager to meet those who attended LSE and hear what they had to say. Funny enough, the last three people who attended the General Course became my dear friends and people I look up to as well as my fraternity brothers. With COVID, I was concerned that my high school dream would not happen, and I would not be able to enjoy this unique experience. Thankfully, I am typing this blog from LSE, so it all worked out. I am grateful to Dr. Widdows, Ms. Wright, Col. Snead, many other professors and staff, and finally, my parents for helping me get to LSE!
Where the Pancakes Are:
Upon arrival, I made my way from the airport using the Heathrow Express train, used the tube, and walked to my Bankside House. I arrived early, as there was a required quarantined period for US citizens at the time of my booking. Where was my first meal? I had to find pancakes, of course. This place was a short walk around from my dorm, and the breakfast was fantastic.
Where The Pancakes Are Restaurant – in front of the Shard
London – The Awesome City:
Since being here, I have been in awe at the caliber of people who attend this university. The conversations I have had so far have been amazing, and the friendships I have already found have been profound. Touring the city at night and genuinely getting the university experience in London is like no other. I walk out of my house, and the Tate Museum Entrance is across the way. The Globe Theater is just to the right a bit. I get to take the Millennium Bridge and go by St. Paul’s Cathedral to get to my classes. Compared to Farmville, it is in another universe. However, there is no Walmart here, and when it comes to setting up a dorm room, you really do miss a store like that. Thankfully, UK Amazon is alive and well!
Millennium Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral
The Globe Theatre – looking from across the River Thames
In Orientation Week – Classes start soon:
Classes start on Monday, and I cannot wait to get my entire schedule and start my academic journey. The professors here are world-renowned, and it seems like everyone here is the leading expert in numerous topics. Some make sense, and others require a thesaurus even to understand. This city has been incredible, and the stories I already have are endless. I cannot wait to see what this next year holds.
I took a ride in a Black Cab!
- Tanner Voliva: Post 1
UVA in Valencia
Greetings from Valencia, Spain!
My name is Tanner Voliva and I’m a senior here at Hampden-Sydney College. Given that I am a Spanish major, I knew I would be studying abroad in a Spanish-speaking country, so I decided to look into the programs that were being offered during this time. The more I talked with native speakers, the more I was advised to study in Spain, as Spain has the more proper Spanish. After brushing through the programs, I found the UVA in Valencia program! This program had many different options for courses and activities within the city; so, I fell in love! Now that I’m finally here, I’m not only looking forward to improving my abilities in Spanish but also learning more about the city and the history of Spain. Yet, coming from my small town in North Carolina (and the just as small Farmville), I’m a little nervous to see just how the city life will be for me! It’s definitely going to be a change of scenery, that’s for sure! As of a couple days ago, I can officially say I’ve ridden on a city metro! However, if you have time during your time here, I would suggest the public buses – that way you get to see and learn the city as you ride. Like I said before, I’d love to learn more about the city but that also means getting out on the town and learning the streets and plazas. For someone like me who hasn’t seen more than a few traffic lights, that’s a huge challenge; but nothing anyone shouldn’t try to achieve! Throughout the semester, I also hope to get involved in the lifestyle that is Valencia, Spain. I’d love to get to the point where I meet friends that are native and am able to go out and hold my own in whatever scenario I am presented. Though it’s only been a handful of days, I can already feel a change in my language skills. I know for sure that studying abroad is an opportunity meant for everyone!
- Studying Broad in the Fall of 2021