May Term in Münster

Donald Barry
May Term Abroad
Münster, Germany

Visiting State Parliament

“Nearing the end of my trip here in Münster I can honestly say that it has been a blast. Individually I have met many unique and friendly people around the city. As a group we have recently been able to meet with a Parliament representative for North Rhein – Westphalia and see how the laws are made for the state we are staying in. I found it very interesting to see the State Parliament where laws could be made to impact the family of my favorite local döner shop, or the school that we study at in the city. We often think that just because something is foreign that it is beyond comprehension, when in reality it is closer to home than we were led to believe.

scenic church view

Our final day of class is Wednesday and we leave for our final destination of Berlin Thursday before departure. Saying goodbye to my host family will be close to saying goodbye to my own family. The program has selected amazing people to host us and make us feel welcomed for our stay here in Münster. I will probably miss the day to day living the most. I will miss stopping at the same bakery every morning before class to grab a small snack before class. I will miss seeing the husband and wife that own the local döner shop and having conversations about the soccer game from the previous evening. Most of all I will miss family dinner time where everyday my house family and I would sit down to a homemade meal and recollect on our day and laugh over small jokes.

Anyone considering studying abroad should stop considering and just do it, and those who have not considered it should start to.”

 

May Term in Spain

Ryan Tomlin
May Term Abroad
Alcalá de Henares, Spain

Since the last time I blogged, I have made a lot of progress with the language. I speak as frequently as possible with my host brother and mother because I learn the most from them. I have gotten to the point where I don’t have to think about what I am going to say before I speak. I find myself responding to them much quicker, without a delay, because I have been exposed to the language for so long. It feels much more natural than in the beginning. Before the trip, I had studied Spanish for only two semesters and I am very proud of how much I have learned.
When I am not speaking Spanish or doing homework, I thoroughly enjoy my free-time in Spain. Typically, I will go down to the Plaza and listen to music or hang out at bars with my friends. There is a small bar called La Panadería that plays rock music and we have made friends with the bartender. In my free-time, I watch a lot of movies with my host brother. We also often watch the World Cup soccer games, especially when Spain is playing.
During my time in Spain, I have also done a lot of traveling to other locations. I have gone to Madrid multiple times, Segovia and Toledo for one day, and Valencia for a weekend. Traveling in Spain has been very different for me. Since I do not have a car, I have taken a train to every location. On the other hand, this is a typical way to travel in Spain because many people do not drive. Madrid was beautiful. We took a tour through the city with one of my professors from the University in Alcala. Segovia was very exciting because they have an aqueduct that runs throughout the city. Valencia is on the coast and my roommate and I went to the beach for a day. We also went to the Museum of Art and Science in Valencia, which I found very interesting because I am a science major at Hampden-Sydney. Overall, I recommend that anyone who studies abroad should try and travel to other locations so that they can see as much as possible.
As my time in Spain is ending in just three short days, I am doing my best to both get my work done and spend time with my host family. In closing, the trip has been very beneficial for me. I have learned a lot about the Spanish culture. Moreover, by traveling out of the country for the first time, I now see how different other countries can be. I believe that this will be an experience I talk about for a long time after college. With the liberal arts mentality of Hampden-Sydney in mind, I highly recommend any student study abroad if the opportunity presents itself.

May Term in Münster

Donald Barry
May Term Abroad
Münster, Germany

Historic Münster

“We cannot really have a study abroad without the study portion. Personally, I am taking a 495 independent study which is a progressive study of the architecture of Münster from it’s earliest beginnings in the Dom Platz, to its more modern architecture with office buildings designed to absorb carbon dioxide from the air. No matter the level of study here in Münster we students find ourselves in situations where we need a bit of help.

Coffee with Dr. Johnson

Coffee with Dr. Martz

Along with help at home from our host families, Dr. Johnson and Dr. Martz frequently set up meetings at the popular Marktcafé in the city center. At this historic cafe near the city center, we can enjoy delicious varieties of pastries and other foods along with a large culmination of lattes, cappuccinos, and other coffee based drinks. Well, enjoying these great amenities while sitting down with our professors and getting one on one feedback and guidance on our assignments. The work based meetings are never strenuous with a fresh strudel and warm cappuccino.”

May Term in Ireland

Daniel Newberry
May Term Abroad
Dublin, Ireland

June 7

At Dulles Airport with Trip Gilmore

Today is the day that I finally get to leave the country. I have waited for this moment my entire life: to travel somewhere abroad and be immersed in a new culture. I knew Ireland was my best choice from the very beginning, when I saw a poster full of abroad opportunities for business classes in the fall. Ireland was an amazing place from what I had heard, and I knew that going there would yield memories that would last for the rest of my life; being able to walk in the same city my ancestors walked was fascinating knowing how old the city of Dublin. From what I can see sitting in the terminal with other Hampden-Sydney brothers, I know it will be a trip to remember. I look forward to walking around the city and meeting the locals, and I cannot wait to experience trips to the countryside, where I will find myself in an endless sea of green. The first thing of course, is to conquer my fear of flying! I’m not as nervous as I thought I would be, but who knows how long that will last.

June 8:

Beautiful Irish Countryside, taken right before landing.

Turns out, flying is not that bad. I stayed up on the plane for the entire ride. I couldn’t sleep because I was so fascinated by the passing lights as we flew up the east coast. The night consisted of small bits of closing my eyes then watching movies, and every so often looking out at the sunrise closing in as we moved across the Atlantic. By 8:30am we had landed in Dublin Airport. Through a tedious hour and a half wait, we managed to get through customs and grab our bags. We met with our bus driver and proceeded to head into the city. It was only on the bus ride to University College of Dublin that I realized I was truly in a foreign land: every aspect of my environment, from reversed lanes to the people and buildings, were not recognizable! I truly felt in a different world.

UCD Campus

We eventually arrived at our apartment, and I couldn’t be happier to see my room. I share my apartment with five others and have a beautiful commons room. That same day we attended orientation with Dr. Isaacs and met our tour guide, a student named Liam, who showed us around campus. The campus was stunning, and I felt amazed going into the many halls that made up the University College of Dublin. He told us where to go for local attractions, including the Irish Emigration Museum and the beautiful views from Howth, and told us about the local customs and culture.

Temple Area at 10pm!

Later that night, me and three others went into the town for dinner and to see the night life. It was spectacular! So many people were on the streets having a pint or listening to local musicians play The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” as we passed the Temple Bar. We ate Irish stew at a restaurant called Quay’s; I have never had such a great stew in my life! We continued on and went exploring across the city late into the night (did I mention the sun is still up at 10:00pm?).
I though the first day would be intimidating, but I have never felt more in love with such a city.

June 9th:

Today was a free day to do whatever we wanted. That night we went out with friends we made who attend the University of Kansas. One thing I love about our trip is that the people are always friendly, and I can say I have met many Irish and Americans who I now call my friends. It’s funny how being so far from home can bring people together!

June 10:

Today we took a bus to the city center for a lunch and a tour of the city! We finally met with Dr. Dempster and his wife at a restaurant called the Wollen Mills, a restaurant with quite a view from the rooftop. From here we met with our tour guide next to Ha’penny bridge, a walking bridge built in 1816 over the Liffey river.

Through the tour, we learned a great amount about the history of Dublin. We visited multiple monuments and buildings throughout the trip that had significant history attached to them. One such monument was located near the Dublin Custom House and depicts the hardship of the Irish potato famine. The statues of the people were tall and incredibly thin and had faces full of sorrow. The statues felt eerily alive, as if they were staring directly at you with every last bit of strength they had. IT was quite an emotional sight to see. A portion of the tour also revealed the struggles for Irish independence from Great Britain, such as the O’Connell monument, which has bullet holes in the bronze statues from the Easter Rising of 1916.

Throughout the tour, we also witnessed the newly developed portions of the city and found out that Dublin is a significant European city. Ireland has been an attractive location for multi-national companies for the past few decades due to low corporate tax rates and a growing technology sector and financial sector. According to our tour guide, Dublin has become a new financial hub for companies throughout the world. The financial sector is located on the northern side of the Liffey river, with the Central Bank of Ireland shimmering in the sun with its golden exterior. On the opposite side of the Liffey, you walk past large buildings housing many high-profile companies, such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon. The entire area is a shimmering paradise of modern buildings and innovation culminating into the gorgeous Grand Canal.

The city is absolutely stunning. Afterwards I felt as if Dublin was, in a way, underappreciated. There is so much to do, so many nice people, and so much opportunity just lying in one place: Dublin. I was transformed by the depth of the city itself and I have never had such an urge to come back to somewhere!

Our tour ended around 6:00pm.

Later that night I was shocked to find out that two of my aunts were in town! We met at O’Donoghues pub, one of the many places that Hampden-Sydney men visit during their trip to Ireland. Prior to my aunts’ arrival, I sat in an alley way that was a part of the restaurant and listened to a man sing a shanty as a crowd watched, sipping on their beers and enjoying his song. My aunts arrived 30 minutes later, and we sat and drank a few pints before we ate a delicious Irish stew. I left around 9:00pm and went back to my apartment to work on homework for the next day.

June 11:

Today was our first day of classes. I woke up at 8:30, got dressed, went to the local Centra deli, and picked up a breakfast sandwich before arriving to class. My friends and I sat before class with Dr. Dempster to talk about our future excursions, class topics, etc. We started at 10:00am and presented our findings to the class. The class is very communal and consists of daily presentations on international business topics. Next, we have Michaux Dempster’s communication class, which focuses on cross cultural communication and presenting information. Class ends at 1:00, and most of us went to lunch and went back to do homework before a late night out.

Trip and I took the bus from UCD to Temple to eat dinner at Quay’s tavern and look at souvenir shops. We walked around for quite until we hopped on the bus…what could go wrong?

Well, unbeknown to us, we got on the wrong route. In my defense we don’t have public transportation where I live, and so the safest bet for a bus with the same number would be to hope it turned around once it got to the other side of town…that was a bad judgment. Trip and I were dropped off in Ongar, far north of Dublin, at 11:00pm with not Wi-Fi! It would have been a five hour walk to campus if it weren’t for a taxi driver passing by! His name was Cyprian, and when we described what happened, he laughed for ten minutes straight. During the ride we got to know him more: He was Romanian, loved basketball, and planned on taking his first trip to the United States by going to Hawaii. He was very personable and by the end of the night we had gotten to know each other really well. We thanked him for helping us and he went on his way, probably happy about the money he just made.

June 12:

After class we took a bus to visit Trinity College! The campus was massive and full of Victorian buildings that were centuries old. Our tour guide told us about the history of each hall, and even told us about how most of the architects weren’t payed because Trinity had a bad taste in each current building designed at the time. Trinity, unlike most American institutions, still honors its traditional scholarly practices and boasts one of the largest collections of books in the world. Speaking of libraries, The Trinity College Library and the Book of Kells were breathtaking. The inside of the library felt endless as you walked past artifacts and thousand-year-old text books. It was a rare sight to see, and it felt as if I had flashed back two hundred years ago.

The rest of the night consisted of Karaoke night, which some of us partook in. Needless to say, we were “excellent”.

June 13:

Irish stew!

After class, I went to visit the Guinness storehouse at St. James Gate. My aunts had just come back from Cork and wanted to tour Guinness, so I took the bus to the Liffey and walked through town to reach them. The Guinness Storehouse is the largest tourist site in Ireland, and I have wanted to go my entire life! I remember the excitement of when I first witnessed the four or five block of seven-story buildings, all with a golden harp painted on them. One of my aunts grabbed me and took me into the building. The storehouse that tourists see today was once the main fermentation building for Guinness, which has now moved elsewhere. I met both of my aunts at Arthur’s, the restaurant on the fifth floor of the building (named after the founder himself, Arthur Guinness.). I had a pint of freshly brewed Guinness and Guinness and beef stew, by far one of the best meals I have ever had! Later we toured the sky bar, where we saw an overview of the entire city! It is one of the highest places in Dublin and the highest pub in the city.

Next, we moved on to the first floor to start our tour. We learned the history of Guinness and how Guinness is made. What struck me the most was the impact Guinness had on Ireland and the world: Guinness maintained a large fleet of automobiles, boats, and airplanes just to transport Guinness around the world! You can still see some Guinness vehicles driving around Dublin: it is not uncommon to see a giant tanker of Guinness being hauled by a truck to the port.

After Guinness, my aunts and I visited the old Jameson distillery on Bow St. The brewery was also a massive complex, full of bars and fancy restaurants for tourists like us. My aunts and I signed up for a tour of the distillery. The tour went through the history of Jameson and showed us how much of an impact the distillery had in the local community, as well as the international outreach Jameson had in the 19th and 20th centuries. We also learned how Jameson was made through an interactive table of ingredients. After the tour, I had to depart from my family to meet the Hampden-Sydney group at the “Irish House Party”

The Irish House party isn’t a giant rave in the middle of the city. It was more of a dinner with traditional music and dance. The music was amazing, and each song the band sung had a fantastic story involved. The one I loved was about a family’s journey from Ireland to New York, and their hardships at sea as they tried to make a new life in a new world.

June 14:

After class, we went to the Archaeology museum in Dublin. We were brought into the center of the museum to start and found that were surrounded by a priceless collection of gold! Most of these relics were dated 800 B.C.E! The intricate bracelets, collars, and knots seemed too modern to be so old! It was hard to believe that the Celts had such an advanced craftmanship with gold. As we moved on, we were surrounded by Viking ships, medieval crosses, and depictions of Jesus Christ; nothing is more intense or interesting as the last exhibit I visited: The Mummy section. Within the exhibit, there were four spirals that led into a tomb: almost perfectly preserved remains of four men, trapped in an Irish bog for thousands of years! Their corpses were surprisingly intact, with their red hair, nails, and some skin still in perfect condition!

Afterwards, we left to go back to our dorms and study for most of the night.

June 15

Today we had our ten-minute presentation on my partner and I’s research proposal. We want to analyze what government policies in the 1990’s-a time when Ireland had the name “Celtic Tiger”-affected economic growth from multinational companies in technology, finance, and pharmaceuticals. My partner Marcus and I were inspired by our tour guide as he was taking us into the financial and technology districts, and we wanted to know how Ireland, a place we barely knew about, was so economically strong. We had fantastic references through discussing our topic with locals and through the intensive studies of Ireland’s transition into an economic powerhouse. Overall, we did a good job for our first proposal and we look forward to presenting our findings with our peers.

All of us wanted to experience the night life. Some of us met a new group of people from Iowa and became friends with them. One of my friends and I decided to split off from our Hampden-Sydney group and go out with them. By the end of the night we had already exchanged information.

Little did we know, we would meet up with them during our trip to Galway!

June 16:

I woke up to a knock on my door: “Come on and get ready, we need to catch the bus.” At the last minute yesterday, me and three others bought bus tickets to take us to Galway. We left at 9:30am and arrived at 11:3. We walked from the bus terminal to a local pub to eat, where we watched Ireland play Australia in rugby; Ireland won! We had delicious seafood, watched the game, and then walked 25 minutes to our hotel. We were so tired between the food and bus ride that we napped for two hours before leaving.

Afterwards, we visited downtown Galway. It was entirely pedestrian and the streets were lined with old fashioned pubs and boutiques! People were playing music and dancing in the streets as we walked by. It took us a while to decide on a place to eat until we finally decided to try McDonough’s, a well-known seafood restaurant that had some of the best fish and chips in Galway!

One of the people from yesterday messaged me and wanted to meet us to Galway. Two of us went into town and decided to go clubbing to meet up with them.

June 17:

We woke up early again to take the bus to the Cliffs of Moher! Our bus ride took us through an amazing countryside full of barren mountains, endless green fields, and castles that dotted the countryside! The bus took us two and a half hours before we arrived outside of a seaside village called Doolin. We were let off on a misty hill, where we could not see the countryside (and we could barely see where we were going!) We followed a path towards where the cliffs form, and we managed to reach a small castle. Turns out the building was an observation post was built by Napoleon! By the time we reached the observation post, we could see what lied below: the ocean howling as it smashed into the cliffs. We were standing on top of a seven-hundred-foot wall! The waves would crash and echo throughout the bay as we walked the edges of the cliffs. There were a lot of travelers on the road and talking to them always was interesting and fun. I even managed to practice my French with two girls studying at UCD during the trip. We wandered around for three to four hours before we took the bus back to Galway. We had to take the bus to Dublin, but we were disappointed to find out that we missed it!

Fortunately, another bus driver snuck us on. We drove the two hours to the city center where we came home and did our homework. The whole time riding back, I couldn’t help to think about the cliffs and the countryside being so alien. Seeing Ireland has given me a new perspective on how immense our world really is. I felt like an adventurer, and I can’t wait to see what else Ireland has for me.

May Term in Spain

Ryan Tomlin
May Term Abroad
Alcalá de Henares, Spain

My day to day life in Spain is entirely different from that of my life at home. From Monday through Thursday, I wake up at 7:30 in the morning to get ready for class. I take an extremely short shower because water is not as prevalent here. At home, I rely on a long and warm shower to wake me up for the day. Then I grab breakfast downstairs with my host mom and roommate. We typically eat a piece of toasted bread with olive oil and butter on top. This also took some getting used to as I usually eat a large breakfast of bacon and eggs when I am home.
After breakfast, I start my 20-minute morning walk to the University. On the way, I typically see other students, most in uniform, going to their schools. I see parents walking to work and buses constantly picking up and dropping off people. Almost every morning, people are mowing or weed eating the grass in the Plaza or preparing the stage for an event the upcoming weekend.
After class, I take the same walk back home and eat lunch in the kitchen with my host brother. Our lunch is typically premade from the night before because our host mother works during the day. So far, my favorite food has been the Tortillas de Patatas and my favorite drink is a yogurt drink called Fresa. After lunch, I work on my homework for most of the afternoon. While I am doing homework, my host brother and roommate typically take a siesta, which is common in Spain. They nap for around 3 hours after lunch which I still have not gotten used to. I do not typically take naps and I am often the only one up for that time of the day.
After my homework, we all eat dinner around 9 pm. Again, this took some getting used to. Lunch and dinner here are shifted about three hours later than I am used to back at home. At first, I felt like I was hungry all the time, but I have since adjusted to the schedule. Once we finish dinner, my roommate, host brother, and I watch a movie in the living room. I have also gotten used to watching TV in Spanish and have started to understand what they are saying in the films. Afterwards, I go shower and then into my room to finish last minute studying.
My room is extremely small, especially my bed. The bed is even smaller than those at school. The room is always kept extremely neat by me or my host mom. It took me about a week to get used to the size of the room and bed. Now, it feels like my home.
In conclusion, the most interesting thing for me thus far has been the transformation of my relationship with my host family. My host mother and I make jokes to one another when before I was nervous just to speak. My host brother and I frequently hang out on the weekends and we have gotten very close. I have enjoyed their hospitality and am gracious for the opportunity to study abroad.

May Term in Münster

Don Barry
May Term Abroad
Münster, Germany

“Now that I have been here in Münster for two weeks, I have found myself falling into a routine that makes me feel as if I am a true Münster resident. I wake up every morning, to get ready and catch the Diekmannstraße Bus 11 to get to the Johann Schlaun Gymnasium, where our classes are held. As soon as I step of the bus at the Servatiplatz stop, I find myself in front of a bakery with the aroma of heaven. Each morning, I spend less than a euro for a small baked treat to eat for breakfast. I then walk a short distance to our school. After classes, I take the Tannenhof Bus 11 to return home. When I reach my stop to go home I find myself in front my favorite place in all of Münster. This place is a small, neighborhood Döner shop. Döner, is a Turkish sandwich filled with vegetables, tzatziki, and a mixture of chicken, beef, and lamb for the protein. Not only is the sandwich delicious and filling, but you are able to watch the chef shave the meat from a large cone that cooks rotisserie style. I realized my fascination with this restaurant had turned into an addiction, when the chef began to recognize me coming in so often and now knows my order completely. It is the simple things, like befriending the chef at your favorite eatery, that makes the connection to the city and the program even deeper.

As for our entire group, we’ve been very welcomed in the city of Münster. We were given a private tour of the town hall where the Treaty of Westphalia was signed. In addition, we were given another tour of the cities museum of art and culture. There were many fascinating paintings, including an original Andy Warhol.”

 

Münster Group with Professors Johnson and Martz

May Term in Spain

Ryan Tomlin
May Term Abroad
Alcalá de Henares, Spain

Arriving in Spain
Everyone always says, “There is a first time for everything.” While I am not sure if that is entirely true, my trip to Spain has been filled with multiple new experiences. Before the flight on May 27th, I had never flown on a plane and I had never left the country. I had never lived with a host family, nor had I studied at any other university. With that being said, the trip has already given me experiences that I will never forget.

But, why did I end up in Spain? Since I want to go into medicine, I studied Latin in high school. I thought the course was difficult and I did not like how the language wasn’t widely spoken. When I got to college, I wanted to study a language that I could learn to speak. Spanish seemed like the perfect option for me. Since Spanish is widely spoken in the United States, I figured that learning the language would be helpful in the workplace. On the other hand, I wanted to learn Spanish quickly because I have a lot of other science courses to take during my time at Hampden-Sydney. I asked my friends from Hampden-Sydney for advice and I was told by multiple people that the immersion experience in Spain would be my best option.

When I got to Spain, I was terrified that I would not be able to communicate with my host mother. I was very nervous, and I did not speak much initially. I could understand what she was saying to me, but I was struggling to speak back to her. On the other hand, I was much more comfortable speaking to my host brother, whose name is Victor. I spoke to him for a few hours on the first day and started to gain my confidence. By the second or third day, I was having conversations with our host mom. In the short time I have been here, I have learned more Spanish than I ever thought possible.

I was also worried about the Spanish 201/202 classes that we are taking at the Universidad de Alcalá. We are in class Monday through Thursday for around 5 hours with a 30-minute break. Both Dr. DeJong and a professor from the University teach our classes. Each class is primarily, if not entirely taught in Spanish. Again, I was very intimidated during the first day of class. Listening to Spanish the entire time was exhausting and frustrating. After the first day, I was intimidated. But by the second or third day as I gained confidence, I started to buy into the full immersion experience. I realized, while it is very challenging, I’m learning so much. Now, I am enjoying the classroom experience as well.

To end my thoughts for now, my goals for the trip are simple. I want to learn as much Spanish as possible, while seeing everything that this beautiful country has to offer.

May Term in Münster

Don Barry
May Term Abroad
Münster, Germany

“I chose the Muenster Program because of the opportunity it offered for an immersive cultural experience in a city that is far older than our country. I am double majoring in Foreign Affairs and German at Hampden-Sydney College and I believe to truly understand how foreign countries operate you must experience these countries first hand.

I was very pleased with the level of hospitality given by my host family. I feel like I am becoming more and more a part of the German society daily by riding on public transport, eating at local restaurants, and attending the local school.

So far, my favorite thing that I have been a part of is the local outdoor market that is held every Wednesday and Sunday in the large city center known as the Domplatz or Cathedral Square in English. This market is where the local residents come to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables along with goods produced locally. It was great to buy fresh fruits and vegetables knowing that it was grown just minutes from where I am staying.

My only concern with coming on this trip was the mastery of the public transportation system. Here in Muenster, there are many buses with select routes that run at very specific times and for someone who has never taken part in prolonged public transportation, this seemed like a daunting task. While I worried about this, my host family reassured me and helped me map out which buses I needed for school and when they would arrive and depart. Muenster is a fantastic historical and beautiful city.”

Spring in the Czech Republic 2018

Nate Dracon
Charles University 2018

Can’t believe that it is already that time for me to come back to the states!

I went to Vienna with another friend of mine from Hampden-Sydney. Vienna was one of the greatest cities that I have been to thus far. It was amazing to see the power of the Hapsburg monarchy. It seemed that every direction that I turned, there was another fantastic building. When I arrived back from Vienna, there were only three weeks left in the semester! I had to focus and complete my finals for Charles University because the next week I was going to Barcelona. It was not the sunny beach experience I hoped it would be, but I still had a great time. I rained every day, which was a bummer. The cheapest place that we could find to stay was a boat. This was not the yacht that I was hoping for but rather a small sailing boat. It was defiantly not good for someone who is 6’4, but I still enjoyed myself. The food was great, and I liked their Old Gothic Quarter. I enjoyed using the six years of Spanish while there even though I could not understand a word they were saying. I made an effort. Coming back, I knew time was running out, so I made sure to do anything else that I had not done yet. I bought plenty of gifts for my friends and prayed they would all fit in my bag.

For my last trip, I visited my friends from Hampden-Sydney Blake, Brendan and Zach in Dublin. Dublin was pretty, and it felt like America with an accent. The highlight of my trip there was going out into the Irish countryside, which is impressive.

Coming back, I had one week left to go, and everyone in my program was feeling nostalgic. I can affirmatively say that I am ready to get back to the States. I already know that my first meal back is going to be Chipotle and I can not wait to sleep in my bed. I am going to miss plenty things about Europe such as the excellent public transportation system in Prague. I am not excited about the long plane ride back, as I will have to leave my dorm at 4:00 am, but I am excited to experience summer in Charlotte again.

Spring in St. Petersburg 2018

David Bushhouse
Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University 2018

 

I fly home from St. Petersburg today! And while I have really missed America—the English language, the following of traffic laws, the common courtesy of wearing deodorant—I thought I would write about how America is unavoidable while abroad. While most Americans have never thought of traveling to Russia, many American brands have; from food to movies to clothing, American products are unavoidable in Russia.

 

American fast food dominates every food court and touristy street corner of downtown St. Petersburg.

 

 

There are plenty of Russian chains as well, but I thought it would be neat for you all to see what American logos look like in Russian; no matter how many times I see a familiar logo in Cyrillic, it always strikes me as a little odd.

Even if you have not learned the Cyrillic script, I bet you can guess which restaurant is in each picture.

 

 

 

 

One interesting fact: most fast food chains in Russia sell beer. Here you can see banner advert in a Burger King advertising a “besplatna vtopoy pivo,” a “free second beer.” At first I was taken aback whenever I, walking through a mall food court, would see people eating McDonalds with beers out on the table—something you would never see in America—but now I think I’ve grown accustomed. The Russian attitudes toward drinking, despite stereotypes, are much more accepting of casual drinking and much more critical of binge drinking than those in America.

 

But the influence of American culture on Russian culture goes further than fast food. I often stumble across English words in the strangest of places. For example, there is a thrift store near my apartment in the northwest region of St. Petersburg literally called “sekond khend,” a mere transliteration of “second-hand.” This is just down the street from a large desert-themed shopping center called “Grahnd Kanion,” a mere transliteration of “Grand Canyon.”

 

 

And then there’s movies. Around 4/5 of the movies screened in Russian theaters are from Hollywood—dubbed in Russian—and Russian teenagers are probably more obsessed with the Marvel Universe than American teenagers. Once I was walking down the street with Tanya, a Russian friend of mine, when suddenly she pulled me aside to say “I can’t wait for Deadpool II come out!” At right is a photo of the Russian advertisement she saw on the street.

 

I have had a tremendous time in Russia, and hope to return some day. In my semester I learned an unbelievable amount of language, tried all the traditional Russian foods, and made some unforgettable memories and even more unforgettable friends. If you’re thinking of studying abroad in Russia, and up for an adventure, I would really encourage you to go for it!