“Bon Voyage”

Michael Willis

Semester at Sea 2016
I have prepared for my study abroad experience by booking all necessary flights and materials to get out of the country. I have gotten my passport and my necessary visas for travel. I have packed my bags and decided what type of weather I will actually be experiencing while I am abroad. I will not be in one country for long and will mostly be at sea, so I will need to plan very appropriately as each country will have a different climate.

A Voyage Around the World

102 Days, 15 Cities, 11 Countries

• Embark: San Diego, CA, United States 1
• Honolulu, Hawaii, United States 2
• Yokohama, Japan *
• Kobe, Japan *
• Shanghai, China *
• Hong Kong, China *
• Ho Chi Minh City, Việt Nam
• Rangoon, Burma
• Cochin, India
• Port Louis, Mauritius 3
• Cape Town, South Africa
• Takoradi, Ghana *
• Tema (Accra), Ghana *
• Casablanca, Morocco
• Debark: Southampton (London), England

I am most looking forward to experiencing all of the different countries along the route of the voyage. Although I am not in a single country long enough to get to see the entirety of the country, I will get almost a week in every port to experience the City that we are in port for. I am most looking forward to seeing Japan, India, and Morocco. These countries have very unique and interesting cultures that can be similar to the United States but absolutely different at the same time. Getting to see first-hand what these cities and countries cultures are makes me very excited.
I am most nervous about sea sickness. I am very at home on the water in a canoe. However, this is the first time that I have ever been on a cruise. There is the inherent problem of sea sickness while on a ship, and talking to many alumni of Semester at Sea, it is a very common problem that everyone will experience once, at least. I have acquired many home remedies to hopefully not get sea sick, but we will see as the semester progresses if I get my “sea legs” and this no longer is a problem.
My goals for my time abroad are simple. I hope to get to experience as much of a cities culture while I spend my time there. Every city has a unique and characteristic flare that makes it its own and distinct. I hope that I can find and get to experience a part of these distinctions and see what society outside of the United States is all about. Another goal is to not be the typical American tourist. I am traveling abroad and am a representation of myself, my school, and my country. I do not want that to be a poor representation of anything that I represent. My last goal is to excel academically. I will have a different set of distractions than I do on campus. I hope to do better academically on board the ship than at Hampden-Sydney. I will implement a strategy to be successful and hope to uphold that strategy in and out of port.

Saying “Goodbye” to Barcelona

Trent Singleton- December 2015

The Last Week

I cannot believe it is December and that I already have to leave. The time has flown by; this is by far the shortest semester of my college career. In between traveling, acclimating myself to the host culture, and learning the busy city of Barcelona, it feels as if I have only been here for a few weeks. I have had a few down moments—getting lost in the city, having my debit and credit cards stolen—but I do not regret a moment of the experiences I have had here. A few of my favorite moments/parts:

Mi familia:
Living with a family has really enhanced my experience. As I have mentioned before, they speak essentially no English, which really forced me to use the Spanish language. I never realized how frustrating it can be when you are unable to express yourself verbally. The combination of my three Spanish classes, especially the one with my professor Rosa and my living situation fostered and improved my ability to speak, understand and communicate with Castellano or the Spanish language.

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My trips:
While I did spend a lot of my time exploring Barcelona (and it is a city that I recommend everyone visit and explore), I also was fortunate enough to travel to several countries throughout Europe. My first trip was to Munich for Oktoberfest. This was one of my favorite trips and a great cultural experience. I also was able to see Paris, Normandy, Amsterdam, Brussels, Salzburg, Rome, the Vatican, Grenada, Tarragona, and Berlin. Studying here has really increased my appreciation for Europe and the culture. It is a bit different than living in the US, but it was easy for me to adapt. One of the drawbacks is that you almost always have to pay for water, but the ease and low costs of travelling make it completely worth it.

Trent Sigelton Barcelona

My view:
It is difficult for me to articulate exactly how I have changed. I think it may be a bit too early to tell. I know for sure that I hold Europeans and other cultures in much higher regard. I recommend that everyone, if given the chance, to travel to another place and ignore your comfort zone. Learning to live differently and to adapt are valuable skills and will serve one well in life. This has been a great ride. I cannot express enough the gratitude I have towards my family for the great food, environment, and conversations of which they have provided me. I also am very appreciative of H-SC, Dr. Widdows, and the entire study abroad program. In terms of the application process and support, it has been incredible, and I owe this incredible experience to you.

Greetings from Seville, Spain

John Skyler Whitfield – November 2015

Before we dive in to my experience at University of Seville, I’d like to express my gratitude for the kindness, laughs, and time spent over delicious cuisine that I’ve shared with my Spanish family. It has been an absolute pleasure living with Paqui and Alberto; from giving me an all access pass to any and everything in the refrigerator, accommodating my mom during her stay in Seville, and buying my train ticket to Madrid after my debit card was stolen (just a few things among a long list of kind acts), they always go above and beyond to make me feel welcome in their home.
In addition to a great experience with my homestay family, I was lucky enough to have all my university courses in the main campus, known as the ¨Royal Tobacco Factory¨.

Whitfield- Seville SpainBuilt in the early 18th century, converted into an academic building in the 1950s, the University served to complement preexisting marvels in the city (like The Cathedral and Real Alcazar) as well as house machinery for tobacco production which speaks for its expansive, high-ceilinged rooms and grand styling. It’s a special and rare occasion that I come across a campus capable of rivaling the pastoral beauty and classic style of Hampden Sydney College; but the University of Seville is surely one of them. Located in a highly trafficked part of the city, the university doesn’t exactly have the flora fauna of HS-C, but the building itself makes up for it. Reminiscent of a castle or well-ornamented fortress, plastic seems to no longer exist in this this wonderful display of 18th century, industrial architecture. The building is surrounded by a mote, stone walls (adorned with intricate reliefs), and larger than life iron gates. Within the walls of the university, are milky-red, marble floors and staircases, heavenly stained-glass windows, sturdy, hard-wood desks and doors from days of yore, and magnificent enclosed courtyards encasing statues and fountains… I find the list of wonders in this building only limited to ones attention to detail, as every square inch of this building is truly a sight to behold.

 Whitfield-Seville Spain Nov 2015

Whitfield-Seville Spain Nov 2015.jpg #2 As a woodworker, the level of craftsmanship found throughout the University (in all her structural mediums) is as inspiring as it is impressive- which in turn has greatly enhanced my classroom experience and moral here as a student. While my pictures don´t do the university justice, I hope they can at least give a vague idea as to why this building has become such a special place to me.

Greetings from Barcelona, Spain!

Trent Singelton-November 2015

In the thick of it…

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

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

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

                                              Two  Views from Tibidabo

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

Greetings from Seville, Spain

John Skyler Whitfield – October 2015

An average day in Seville…

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

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

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

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

Greetings from Salzburg, Austria

Daily Life in Salzburg

Conner Lachine, Fall 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Greeting from Barcelona, Spain!

After  Mi Primer Mes

Trent Singleton — October 6, 2015

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

Montserrat

The View from Montjuic

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

 

Picture3 Montserrat

Montserrat

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

Picture3.jpg  Salzburg Waterfalls

Conner and I at the Waterfalls in Salzburg

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

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

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

Greetings from Seville, Spain!

John Skyler Whitfield — September 13, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Greetings from Barcelona, Spain!

 

La Vida España — Trent Singleton — September 16, 2015

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

Trent Singleton

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

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

 

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

Cathedral Sagrada

Cathedral Sagrada

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

Cathedral Sagrada

Cathedral Sagrada

Germany — Matt Carter

July 11, 2015

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

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

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