Photos around Campus

A Hampden-Sydney Man in Tiajuana

by Bryan Hicks ’06

You can do anything with a degree from Hampden-Sydney College.  That is only partially true; a Hampden-Sydney Man can do anything.  Along with eleven high school students and five other adults, I spent a week in Tijuana, Mexico, at the end of last July. During this week, we built a house and a retaining wall, and we also spent two of the days working at a local orphanage.  Working in the orphanage gave us the opportunity not only to work with the kids in the orphanage but also in the surrounding community.  The orphanage system in Mexico greatly differs from that in the United States.  The Mexican system runs under the one strike policy which means that if the government takes children from unfit parents, the children stay in the orphanage until they are 18.  As a result, many parents voluntarily turn their children over to the orphanage in the hope of retrieving them when the parents’ lives become more stable.  Although these children live in less than desirable situations, they have a tremendous spirit of hope as their lives in the orphanage are better than their lives would be in the community.

My experiences on “the Hill” enriched my time in Mexico.  I took with me the Hampden-Sydney tradition of saying “Hello” to everyone you pass.  A smile and the simple word “Hola” go a long way in attempting to cross the language barrier.  The other Hampden-Sydney experience that paid off in Tijuana was the numerous hours spent in Bagby Hall learning Spanish from Professor Iglesias.

On our second night, we visited a local area church to participate in worship. On the way home, our van got separated from the rest of the group and we found ourselves lost in downtown Tijuana.  I resorted to my Mesa de Español days in trying to pick out key terms in order to understand what was being said.  Although the only directions that I could make out from the man at the gas station were, “You need to ask the taxi driver at the Chinese restaurant,” we were still able to find our way back to the church where the rest of the group was waiting.

It is the liberal arts education that I have received at the College which makes life outside of these gates so promising.  An example of this promise is my brother Justin, a 2003 graduate and the youth minister of the church whose members went to Mexico.  It is the experiences in and out of the classroom and the knowledge of broad and diverse topics that allows one to thrive in the world.  The ability to understand the struggles people are facing because of NAFTA, the ability to communicate with those of a foreign country, and the ability to be an example of a “good man and good citizen” are all things that come with studying on “the Hill.”  It is not the degree he receives that makes a Hampden-Sydney Man, it is the experiences he receives while earning that degree that prepares him for the future.

July 2006

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.”

Some Sacred and Profane Memories – A Year at Oxford

Text of a Speech Delivered on Sept. 2, 2004, Parents & Friends Lounge
by Jordan H. Gaul, IV ’05

In the words of the old Sammy Cahn song, “It’s nice to go travelin’, but it’s oh, so nice to come home.”  It’s great to be back at Hampden-Sydney, and I’d like to tell you some of my general impressions about the value of a foreign study program.

I grew up on the banks of the Brandywine River, in Downingtown, Pennsylvania – about an hour’s drive outside of Philadelphia.  Downingtown is located someplace in that indefinite swath of farmland where the suburbs end and the great sprawling countryside that stretches through Lancaster County and across the Appalachians begins.  When I was very young, a trip to Pittsburgh to visit my aunt and uncle seemed to me to be an expedition of unfathomable scope, and strangely enough it still retains something of the mystique of my early youth.  I grant that, in the history of letters, no one has ever tried to argue that Pittsburgh – of all places – is somehow an exotic destination.  But this feeling of mine has nothing to do with time or space: the trip which I make several times each year from my home in Chester County, PA, to Hampden-Sydney is longer by both measures.  It has to do, I think, with a kind of imagined boundary, running between the places I know and those I do not.  I have never been further west than 80 degrees longitude, although I did once make a trip to Lexington, Virginia, just scraping against the meridian. Someday, I am resolved to see the American West: but for now, for me, it exists only as an abstraction, as does, indeed, anything beyond the Ohio River. Neither is a great distance, or unreachable, but both are still foreign to me in the sense that they are unknown.

There is a word in German, Wanderlust, which is as close to a perfect cognate as any I can think of.  It refers to a “moving-desire,” which is to say, a hunger for travel.  It’s something primal, irrational, something intensely human.  And, I suspect that precisely this fundamental human impulse, the urge to move, is related to the great migratory patterns that shaped the hazy era of human prehistory.  For the past few years, leading up until last summer, I had known it well.  Indeed, it had come to a spiritual boil: I simply had to go and see what else was out there.  My life had been remarkably settled up until this year, in which I have seen the great ruins of classical antiquity in Rome (and eaten superlatively well on the staples of their modern cuisine); watched hazy, golden sunsets in southern France; discussed subtleties of reformation theology late at night, while overlooking the waves of the North Sea in St. Andrews; and even surveyed the Valley of the Kings amid the brutal majesty of the Egyptian heat.  To say nothing of the many evenings I spent in London (cf.: “Varsity Students’ Rag,” John Betjeman), or the money I burned on little indulgences, of which I regret not so much as a single penny.

This year, of course, was the year I went to Oxford.  There is some dispute over whether I, or others, have enjoyed this most, depending upon whom one asks, and on which campus. I flatter myself to think I’ve had most of the fun, though.

Enough has been said elsewhere, and with H-SC sending a trickle of young men to St. Anne’s every summer, presumably more will be said in the future, about the virtues of the Oxford system.  But the institution’s reputation hardly requires my exposition. To praise it would be in bad taste, and I will refrain from that particular narrative sin.  There is only so much that can be accomplished through the purely anecdotal anyway.  No stories, no matter how engaging, could really portray my experience accurately.  There is a unique thrill to traveling, a thrill which is only multiplied by living in close quarters with a foreign people for an extended time.

In the end, much of what we learn makes interesting telling, but the most important details can’t properly be put into words.  They are purely experiential; they consist in the moment, in the doing, in the gradual acclamation to the intangible rhythms of daily life.  The most important things we learn in life we cannot read or hear.  No good advice, no matter how compellingly stated, can ever convince us to alter ourselves – in a genuine or meaningful way – unless we have lived out its consequences; no principles of human nature, even if believed when illuminated second-hand, are ever fully grasped until they have been seen with our own eyes; no descriptions of people or places can approximate the visceral sensation of speaking to, or touching, them.  And nothing in books or pictures or what we are told can tell us too much about the things we think we love.  And yet we live second-hand lives, relying for our conception of reality on external information.

Living overseas and traveling around the world, in even just the gasp of a year’s time, has opened my mind to so much, and allowed me, if even for a little while, to live first-hand.  I had a diversity of experiences this year.  I played poker with Phil Hellmuth; had dinner with Peter Hitchens; heard Noam Chomsky lecture; saw Michael Heseltine lambaste the Blair government; met more members of Parliament than I can recall; and stood at the Graves of Nelson, Wellington, and Blake.  I spoke at the same dispatch box as Gladstone and Disraeli and defended free trade before the Oxford Union.  I walked daily down the cobbled streets where Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer were martyred for the faith of the English people.  I saw the Pieta of Michelangelo, and knelt in the Chapel of the Most Holy Sacrament, in St. Peter’s Basilica.  And I stood as close to the spear point that pierced the flesh of Christ on the Cross as I am to you now.  So much of this is not a visual experience.  It is spatial.  To share in the same physical relationships of enclosed areas and forms as great men throughout history; to see the light at precisely the midday angle they would have hundreds – or, in the case of my travels in North Africa, thousands – of years ago; to smell the same local foliage and to have the same flesh and drink marinating in your guts, is a transcendent feeling.  I felt it once before, when I stood in the old Senate chamber in Washington, DC, before I recited part of Webster’s 1830 speech on the Foot resolution.  But, in England, and traveling through Europe and Africa, history is everywhere, and accessible in the most intimate and immediate way to anyone who is interested in it.  The chance only needs to be seized.

Last year was the greatest year of my life, and I encourage you all to go ahead and to take advantage of the opportunities that I did.

Virginia Program at Oxford 2005

by Corey Van Vlymen ’08
photographs by: Morgan Roach, Sweet Briar College, class of ’07

This summer, three other students from Hampden-Sydney and I participated in the Virginia Program at Oxford University in England.  Stephen English, Peter Gilman, Jonathan Miyashiro, and I traveled to England in June for the six-week study abroad program. There, we were joined by students from five other Virginia colleges: Mary Baldwin, Roanoke, Sweet Briar, Virginia Military Institute, and Washington & Lee.  The program is organized by a team of advisers (one from each of the participating colleges) and is one of the longest established American programs held at St. Anne’s College of Oxford University each year.  It was a chance to get to know students from other Virginia colleges as well as a chance to become familiar with another way of learning.

The curriculum is made up of a class on 16th and 17th Century literature and a history class which covers the Tudor and Stuart periods in Britain, both taught by Oxford University professors or professors from other institutions within the United Kingdom.  The classes are taught using the Oxford tutor system.  Four days each week students were lectured by world-renowned scholars of British history and literature.  Topics included Shakespeare, the Parliaments of the 16th and 17th Century, the Tudor and Stuart monarchs, and others.  We focused on a different work of literature and a different moment in history each week, with the lectures revolving around that topic. At the end of each week, we wrote a short essay for our tutorial lessons.  Though the lectures provided some basis for our essays, each week we were required to read a list of books and excerpts provided to us by our two tutors.  Some weeks, the list would be as heavy as six books or more.  Through our reading and the lectures, we were expected to prepare the essay and our arguments for the tutorial session.  Each session was either two-to-one or three-to-one student to faculty ratio.  The tutorials proved to be the most intense arenas for academic conversation of which I have been a part.  All in all, the academic environment proved to be an experience to remember.

Academics aside, though, the recreational part of the trip was no bore either.  The directors of the program had set up activities that would please even the hardest to please Anglophile.  Kicking off the program in our first week was a party featuring Pimm?s, possibly the most famous Brit-beverage. Although Pimm?s quickly became several students? new best friend, I enjoyed the cricket and punting gatherings, myself.  The illustrious Dr. Ken Fincham, our British director, set up croquet parties, cricket games, and punting outings as well as private tours of the colleges of Oxford. 

In the middle of the six-week program, we were granted temporary asylum from the stress of class for four days.  Most of us took the opportunity to gallivant across Europe to places like Amsterdam, Sweden, Italy, or Wales.  Some of us, however, couldn’t resist the opportunity to stay behind in Oxford and to spend the weekend buried under a stack of books at the famous Bodleian Library on campus.  At the end of the program, the directors closed the six weeks with a bang at the finest final party ever to grace the Virginia Program at Oxford.  Complete with haggis, fine wines, and ascots, the party was the last goodbye, with most of us flying out the next morning. 

I, however, was fortunate enough to have almost a whole week to stay in Oxford after the end of the program. During that week, I was introduced to the world of hostels, but that’s another story.

Virginia Program at Oxford 2004

by Wesley Sholtes ’05

(left to right - Brandon Chiesa ’05. J.B. Billings ’05, Wesley Sholtes ’05 at Kings Collge)

This year’s Virginia Program at Oxford, which brought together 32 students from six small schools in Virginia, including Hampden-Sydney, Sweetbriar, Mary Baldwin, VMI, Washington & Lee, and Roanoke, proved an extremely formative experience for seven Hampden-Sydney students this summer. Through the rigorous tutorial-style system employed by the professors involved in this six- week program at St. Anne’s College, students had the opportunity to master many of the skills that Hampden-Sydney’s own liberal arts education emphasizes, including those of critical thinking, oral argumentation, writing skills, and independent research.

The Hampden-Sydney men participating in the program, which took a focused approach to studying English Literature and History in the Tudor-Stuart Era through the heavy reading and synthesis of ideas in essay form, stood out from among other the participants from other schools in their ability to ask insightful questions following lectures and to take the lead during tutorials. The Oxford environment, which involved nearly daily exposure to renowned historians and intellectuals in the Oxford community, was the perfect place for students to find personal fulfillment both on an academic and social level.

Moreover, with so much free time on the schedule, students were able to carry on a social lifestyle perhaps atypical from that found at home. In addition to the occasional game of croquet accompanied by pitchers of Pimms to be consumed as rapidly as possible, students on the program notoriously visited pubs and clubs in order to immerse themselves in English culture. A party night might involve staying at the pubs until they closed at 11 PM, then going out to the clubs until about 2 AM, followed by a visit to the Doner Kebab truck stand located right outside the college. Students bemoaned the later absence of Ali, who operated the closest kebab stand, when he reportedly took a trip to Morocco.

Since most weekends were entirely free, many students went on day trips to nearby cities, including London, Bath, and Cambridge, among others. Some Hampden-Sydney students even went on a few outings with the director of the program, Ken Fincham, and his family, who went punting (a sport involving a boat called a punt and a long pole), played cricket, and even drove a few of us out to see the Great Hampden and other famous sites connected to the revolutionary parliamentarian for which our college was named, John Hampden. And all of the students got to see Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure in the one-of-a-kind Globe Theater and his Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet in Stratford-upon-Avon, where Shakespeare was born.

Most of the students on the program noticed that their study skills and work ethic were switched on more than usual, especially when they went to the Bodleian Library, the famous research library with its amazing architectural design, that is available to all of Oxford’s colleges. Oxford’s work-hard, play-hard atmosphere brings out the best of what students already have—their talents.

For students considering a summer abroad, this program cannot be beaten. As a veteran of three summer study abroad programs (and I also highly recommend the program to Alcala-de-Henares, Spain), I honestly believe that I have grown more as a person this summer than I ever have grown in my whole life. In the paraphrased words of Dr. Glyn Redworth, a historian who was one of my tutors on the program, it’s highly probable that you will take away from the program a sense of who you are, what you are, why you believe what you believe, and why your personal identity is so complex, also realizing that the world is not so black and white as it might have seemed.

May Term 2004 in Costa Rica

By Monti Mercer ’06Dr. M. Carolina Y?er, Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology, parted from her family for two and half weeks to take eleven Hampden-Sydney men to Costa Rica for tropical biology research.  We were able to perform studies on plants and animals found at three biological stations located around the country, each with its own tropical forest genre.  The stations are run by the Organizations for Tropical Studies (OTS), a non-profit consortium that focuses on undergraduate and graduate level education in tropical biology.

 

Six days were spent on campus preparing for all the research that would be performed in Costa Rica.  It was decided that we would break up into five research groups to conduct the experiments at each station.  We got up early Sunday morning to catch our flight out of Richmond at 7:30 AM, only to have a seven hour layover in Miami.  After we explored either the beach or the airport to pass the time, we finally turned back our watches two hours and walked off the plane into the Costa Rican capital, San Jose.  We all made it through customs with no problems and were greeted outside the airport by a mass of the native people taking pictures and shouting, “Need Taxi?”  A bus soon carried us away into the heart of San Jose where we would spend one night at hotel la Amistad (Friendship) before going to the first biological station, Palo Verde.
During the four hour bus ride to the first station, the change in vegetation became evident.  Palo Verde is a dry forest located in the northern section of Costa Rica on the pacific coast.  Driving up to the main gates, a collection of dragon flies and iguanas were present to greet us.  Settling at this station for four nights, we were provided with three rooms containing two sets of bunk beds per room, a fan, and our own bathrooms with no hot water.  We were also given mosquito nets that fortunately weren’t of much need.  Besides having to check the beds for scorpions every night, the annoying insects that seemed to be immune to DEET, and the long hot afternoons, we were able to make Palo Verde home for the given time.  The five research groups spent the days hiking the different trials in order to obtain information on our topics.  On the second day we took a boat ride down a river that dumps into the Pacific.  A large variety of wild life can be spotted if you have a good eye.  The river is crocodile infested; one of the guys was able to touch one from the boat.  Three guys and Professor Yaber were able to sample raw shrimp sprinkled with fresh lime juice, caught by the boatman in the middle of the ride.  The last day was spent writing papers and we gave presentations of the research that night.  To take a break from research before going to the next research station, we found ourselves on another four hour trip to the beaches of Manuel Antonio, still on the Pacific side.  It began to rain a few hours after our arrival.  We had already agreed to spend this night together as a group, and the rain didn?t spoil that adventure.  The next morning the guys met with Dr. Y?er to go to the beach inside the National Park.  To our entertainment, as if the beach itself wasn’t enough, the guys watched a Squirrel Monkey climb down out of a tree, steal a package of Oreo cookies off a young lady’s towel, climb back up the tree, and enjoy the creme center.  Guess he never heard of the Honor Code.  After basking in the sun all morning, the group returned to the bus for yet another four hour drive.
The Wilson Botanical Garden at Las Cruces is located in the south, about twenty miles north of the border with Panama. Four nights were spent here with spectacular accommodations for researchers.  We had rooms for two with wooden floors and blinds, a balcony overseeing part of the forest, a bathroom with hot water, and a phone.  Although, Las Cruces has the best accommodations out of the three stations, it was the most difficult to gather research topics.  Since it is a botanical garden, most of its wild life is comprised of various plants and birds.  There is division in the group over which station had better food, La Cruces or Palo Verde.  La Cruces has more international style food compared to the typical Costa Rican food served in Palo Verde but it can be hard to please some international travelers especially when every Costa Rican meal contains beans and rice.  We all enjoyed La Cruces and would not have been in a hurry to leave except the next stop was at a volcano.

The nine hour bus ride north to the active Arenal Volcano turned out to be a great experience for those who could stay up.  As the group got closer and closer to the volcano, we became surrounded by overcast and there was no change once we arrived at our destination.  The school had already arranged for an elaborate candle light dinner, so we became indulged with that believing we wouldn’t see the volcano erupt.  After dinner, a little before midnight, seven of us were relaxing in the Jacuzzi and celebrating one of the guy?s twentieth birthday, when we glimpsed a break in the clouds revealing fireworks shooting out of the mouth of Arenal into the empty black sky for a teasing five minutes.

We all watched Arenal in the morning light with hopes of seeing something red as we headed towards the last station in La Selva.  Being in a tropical rainforest, La Selva is full of more species of plants and animals than Las Cruces and Palo Verde combined.  The lab equipment available at this station was the best of the three stations; each group made efforts to use and learn about the different types of equipment.  The best research projects were performed here and were comprised of the following subjects: Leaf-cutter Ants, Bullet Ants, Fig Wasp, and Helliconiae plants.  The food and living accommodations were least liked here out of the three stations and it rained a lot, but the students still enjoyed their stay.  To celebrate the end of all of our research, the group played ultimate Frisbee and took their last hike through the tropical jungle together.

The Last day in Costa Rica was spent in San Jose.  It was comforting to return back to our starting place, la Amistad.  Most of the guys made use of time trying to see everything in the city before it was time to head towards the airport.  We learned a lot from this trip, from increasing our own biological knowledge, to experiencing Costa Rican culture and customs.  The guys began to discuss and really to respect true family values witnessed here.  We were all ready to go home and share our experiences with friends and family.  Thanks to Dr. Y?er and Hampden-Sydney we did it together in the brotherhood, and some of our experiences will never be forgotten.

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.

Cead Mile Failte from Scotland

A Year in Scotland
by Forrest W. Smith ’05

(Forrest climbing Ben Lomond)

Cead Mile Failte
This is a Gaelic greeting that means one hundred thousand welcomes. That’s just what you get when you’re in Scotland. Everything about this country is beautiful, the people, culture, and landscape. When I first arrived in Edinburgh it was the last day of the Edinburgh festival. IFSA Butler had put us in the Roxburgh Hotel, which is a four star hotel. My room happened to be in the older building, and had a very mid 1900s feel to it. Suffice it to say that my first few days in Scotland were surreal. 

Since I have been here I have met a lot of interesting people. The flat that I stay in is part of a group of flats that are primarily international students. In my flat alone there are two Spaniards, a Frenchman, and a Welshman. In the hall that my flat is in there are, Austrian, English, Scottish, Indian, French, and American students. I have enjoyed interacting with these people from all of their respective cultures.

I have done a good deal of travelling. I have been to Stirling, Inverness, Loch Ness, Aberdeen, Banchory, Crathes, and to the top of Ben Lomond on the shores of Bonny Loch Lomond. I still have many more destinations to visit. Including the Isle of Skye and the Orkneys.

Glasgow University Great the main building is Gothic in style, which is my favourite architectural style, and was built in the 19th century I believe. There is plenty to do in Glasgow. With the city center just a short walk away there are numerous pubs, clubs and shops to visit. Glasgow’s UGC cinema is the tallest Cinema in the world, and the city not far from it is the famous George Square.

My favourite thing to do in Glasgow is going out to the Ben Nevis pub, every Sunday and Wednesday night. There they have live Celtic music where anyone can join in and play, which I have done. The pub is the best in the West End in my opinion.

(Forrest in the University of Glasgow Kilt on his 21st birthday at the door to Ben Nevis. )

“Shoe Soles Worn Thin…”

A Message from Dacre Knight ’05
Dated September 16, 2003
Greetings to Hampden-Sydney,

 

I am writing to you from Edinburgh, Scotland, on the eve of beginning a semester of study at St. Andrews.  I am with a group of students, mostly from Washington & Lee, the host university for this program.  We are staying at St. Calm’s International House.  Though it sounds like a hostel, it’s actually very comfortable: an old Georgian house with two people to a room, bathroom, free internet, and breakfast from 7-9 AM.

We arrived here yesterday from York where we stayed in another old Georgian bed and breakfast.  During the day we visited York Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in Britain and north of the Alps.  We had a very good tour guide who told us all about the stained glass windows (over 2 million pieces of glass) and the many architectural aspects-minor mistakes and accomplishments.  Then we toured the rest of the town and saw where Constantine was crowned emperor around 306 AD.

The day before we enjoyed a trip to Oxford, took a walking tour of the town given by a graduate of the university with a degree in history, so there was a ton of information (I just hope I can remember it all!).  Exeter College has over 20 prime ministers to its credit. Sir Christopher Wren’s first design (so they say) was of the Sheldonian Theater used for matriculation and convocation ceremonies; the library was used for the filming of Harry Potter, and there were many more interesting tidbits.

Our last day in London was “free” to explore on our own.  I went to the National Gallery and saw paintings similar to the ones we saw in this past May Term with Professors McRae, Blackman, and Kleinlein.  And, it is true, feeding the pigeons in Trafalgar Square is forbidden! After the gallery, I went to Camden Market, a nice area around the locks, but with pretty much useless stuff for sale.  The group also went to Westminster Abbey, the Museum of London; saw The Taming of the Shrew at the Globe Theatre, acted, strangely, by an all female cast!  We saw another play, Woman in Black, in Covent Garden.  Our flat in London was pretty nice, right near the British Museum.

As for our group, it seemed like some had never traveled before – or just didn’t know how to pack.  You would laugh if you saw these gargantuan bags carried in the group.  I think I was the only one that could go up the stairs at the train station without banging luggage wheels or carrying too much weight.

We have this morning to walk around Edinburgh, then a meeting at 14:45h at St. Giles for a walking tour of the city, and being treated to dinner and a “ghost walk” afterward.  Tomorrow we visit the Royal College of Surgeons.  Saturday we head off for the highlands and islands for a few days, and then back to St. Andrews for classes on September 29th.  I think getting around Edinburgh should be fairly easy.  At least that’s what the man who picked us up from the train station implied, in his thick Scottish brogue, “If ye manage to get yerself’ lost here, ye should’na be studyin’ chemistry!”  So I’ll be out trying to get a lay of the land.  I’ll be in touch.

The City of Spires

by Thomas O. Robbins ’04
 

 

(Thom Robbins in front of Tom Tower at Christ Church, Oxford)

For almost a millennium, the University of Oxford has offered an unsurpassed education to students from around the world. For six weeks, eight Hampden-Sydney students (Will Albright, Mack Crockett, Dave McDonald, Preston Pittman, Thom Robbins, Mike Roberts, Teelo Rutledge, and Larry Wilkes) made their home in “The City of Spires” as part of the Virginia Program at Oxford. The Virginia Program at Oxford (VPO) is an intercollegiate summer program comprised of students from Hampden-Sydney and five other Virginia colleges and is the oldest of its kind at the University. While students are selected from different American universities, they lived at St. Anne’s College and studied Tudor-Stuart History and Literature on the British tutorial system.

Students began their academic endeavor with a visit to the Bodleian Library to become readers. The Bodleian Library is one of the most photographed architectural structures of the University, and its majestic interior is quite conducive for reading. Thus, the process to become a reader is extensive and requires one to swear an oath that he will not remove books from the library or light a fire in the library. Visitors are not allowed to venture beyond the front door without a reader’s card, so it is a privilege to be admitted. With the amount of weekly reading assigned, daily reading and studying were obligatory. Lectures were held each morning for an hour and followed by coffee and tea with biscuits (cookies to us Americans!). Tea time allowed students to talk with lecturers and ask questions. Questions and discourse were important because, in many cases, the lecturers had written the assigned books and articles. Lecturers included such prominent researchers and historians such as Dr. Christopher Haigh, fellow of Christ Church; Professor Peter Lake, Princeton University; and Professor Conrad Russell who is a hereditary peer and active member of the House of Lords. As well, lecturers did not shy away from critiquing another lecturer’s ideas, but the diversity in perspectives was helpful in forming a solid background on a particular topic.

(H-SC Students in Front of Hampton Court Palace. (left to right) Thom Robbins ’04, Teelo Rutledge ’04, Preston Pittman ’05, Larry Wilkes ’05, Dave McDonald ’05, Will Albright ’05, Mike Roberts ’05, and Mack Crockett ’04.)

After a week of lectures and mass amounts of reading, tutorials culminated the week’s events. Tutorials, composed of three students and the tutor, were held separately for English and history. Like our lecturers, our tutors were Oxford dons and experts in Tudor-Stuart History and English; therefore, careful and thorough preparation was critical to performing well in these sessions. Although most tutorials were conducted on premises at St. Anne’s, others were held at nearby St. John’s College, which dates back to the 1500s. Unlike typical American classes, tutorials are a very personal and in-depth analysis of the ideas regarding a particular topic. Students read their papers aloud, and they are questioned on their ideas or the particular analysis of the thoughts presented. At times, the tutorials can feel overwhelming, but good criticism in the free exchange of ideas makes us better thinkers and writers.

While each week was laden with studying and reading, there was considerable academic freedom to plan one’s own schedule. Students held to the Hampden-Sydney dictum: Work Hard, Play Hard. The vibrant social life of Oxford revolves around the pubs and clubs, which is typical in England. Moreover, there are a variety of pubs to visit ranging from new pubs to more historic pubs like the Turf Tavern. For over a century, the Turf has provided good English Ale and a locale for social gathering with its motto, “An Education in Intoxication.” Similarly, The Eagle and Child was the famous hangout of J.R.R. Tolkein. Pubs are a necessary part of a true Oxford experience.

In addition, group activities were organized to immerse students in the Oxford and England experience. At the nearby University Park, some students tried their hand at Cricket or participated in the group sponsored Pimm’s and Croquet party. Pimm’s is a traditional summer drink served with fruit and cucumber – quite interesting! With an unusually warm summer, passing the evening away punting and sipping champagne was also a common escape. Academic excursions were planned to the Globe Theater in London and Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-on-Avon to see Cymbeline, Richard III, and The Tamer Tamed. As one might imagine, theater productions were the perfect complement to the academic curriculum. Other excursions included a visit to Hampton Court Palace and the home of William Shakespeare. Many students took advantage of their time in England to make day trips to historic sites like Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, Buckingham Palace, and Blenheim Palace. As many students found, weekends were an ideal time for more extensive travel throughout the British Isles and Europe. While Scotland, Wales, and Paris seem to be the most popular destinations, some students found time to make trips to Venice, Normandy, and even Barcelona.

Throughout their time at Oxford, students read immensely, questioned profusely, experienced the social appeal of pubs, traveled, and found new friends.  They left “The City of Spires”  with fond memories. Students interested in the Virginia Program at Oxford should contact Professor Shirley Kagan in the Department of Fine Arts.

(Tutors Pose with their Students at the Final Party. (left to right) Alexis Thompson of Roanoke College, Mike McLauglin of VMI, Glyn Redworth, History Tutor, Tom Robbins, and Frank Romany, English Tutor and Lecturer at St. John’s College, Oxford)