Mendoza, Argentina — Josh Miller

May 27, 2015

 

Miller 1

 

After traveling for around 24 hours, my fellow Hampden-Sydney students and I arrived in Mendoza Friday morning. The length of the travel time was the least stressful part of the trip though.

We arrived at the airport in Richmond ready to set out on the trip of a lifetime. We immediately ran into problems at the check in desk, this was a small portion of the problems we would face. We had been previously informed that the airline would allow us to have two checked backs at no extra cost due to our international flight. The staff at the desk quickly told us this was not the case. Each person who wanted to check a second back then had to pay an extra $75 for their checked bag to make it all the way to Mendoza.

The connection in Atlanta went smoothly. We then set out to Miami. Once arriving in Miami, we headed to the gate of our flight to Santiago. Once there, we attempted to obtain our boarding passes from the staff there, however, we were informed that we would all need to exit the area and retrieve our other boarding passes from the front desk. After having Dr. Thornton watch all of our things at the gate, we made our way back through the airport and received our new boarding passes. The worst part was having to go back through security (for those who may not know, the TSA in the Miami airport are not very pleasant).

We then boarded the plane to Santiago; the flight went well. After landing in Santiago and hanging out for about an hour, we had finally boarded the flight to Mendoza. It was finally setting in that we were so close to what will be a very fun and educational month abroad. This flight was my favorite due to the striking views of the Andes Mountains as we soared over them.

After landing in Mendoza, we went finally met our host families. I met my host “mom” and “sister.” I was somewhat nervous about meeting them, mainly due to my incomplete knowledge of Spanish. However, I was quickly relieved when I realized that I know enough to communicate and that they were very patient when I attempted to have conversations with them. This is the first time I have been totally submersed in a culture so different from the United States and I am quickly realizing how beneficial this experience is.

After leaving the Airport with my family, we drove to our home. The house is located in a residential area of the city. It is only one block away from Mendoza’s largest and most beautiful parks. My host mom and one of her daughters live in the home. My host mom’s 6-year-old granddaughter visits daily.

My first impression of Mendoza is that it’s a beautiful city with a lot of culture. Many of the people here are from a European background, which gives them an interesting dynamic. My favorite part of the culture is siesta. Businesses close and people leave work to eat lunch with their families. After lunch, everyone actually takes a nap! This is so different from the US but I really enjoy having time to relax in the middle of the day.

I am most looking forward to learning my way around the city and trying as many new types of food and wine as possible during my time here. I want to absorb as much of the culture as I can.

Miller 2

 

 

 

 

 

Miller 3

 

 

 

 

 

Miller 4

Argentina May Term Abroad

The H-SC May Term Abroad Program arrived safely in Mendoza, Argentina on Friday.  Here are some of the pictures Dr. Thornton has sent.  Thanks, Dr. Thornton!

Look for posts soon from our student blogger, Josh Miller!

About to Board the Plane

 

 

 

 

 

 

About to Board the Plane in Richmond

Argentine Steak for Lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

Argentine Steak for Lunch

14 Floors Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 Floors Up

San Martin Monument

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Martin Monument

A view of the Andes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andes View

Traditional Asado Dinner with Program Host Leader

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditional Asado Dinner of Grilled Meats with Program Host Leader

 

 

Thomas Bourne (May 4)

Now that the semester is over and I have just a few weeks left in Ireland, there are going to be a few things that I will miss a lot. Probably the biggest thing I will miss will be just living here. Yes, it is semi-expensive to live here, but being surrounded with all the history and also the beautiful scenery negates the cost of living. Now if I were studying in Copenhagen, it would be the other way around, Copenhagen is very expensive, and just not nearly as beautiful as Ireland But looking back at Ireland, I have developed a greater love for the country and have been able to do a lot of things that I could have never done in the States. Whenever I would travel around Europe, the best part of my trip was when I landed at Dublin Airport and knew I was home. Personally I have never really felt that way back in the States, and it is kind of hard to explain, Ireland just makes you fell welcomed.

Besides missing Ireland as a whole, I will also miss the food here. Now this might seem strange, but the food here is fresher and better tasting than back in the USA. When I first cooked a meal here it took me a while wondering why this meat tasted better here in Ireland than back in the States, when I have cooked this same meal in the States hundreds of times. The short answer to this whole thing is that the food is fresher here. The meats don’t have to travel far, most of it is locally raised and are not trapped in huge factory farms, but in grass pastures. The same is true for the potatoes, carrots, and apples which are either grown in Ireland or Scotland. But overall, the farmers and government actually care about the quality of the food and look to a higher standard for all of it.

Finally, the last thing I will miss about my time aboard is the opportunity to travel to different countries in Europe. Since I have been here, I was able to see various landmarks and places that I had dreamed of visiting and had seen often in photos. I haven’t been able to see everything I want yet, but I hope that I will be able to visit those places this summer when I am at Oxford. Good luck on your finals H-SC and have a great summer.

TB May 4

Thomas Bourne (April 27)

So I know that I haven’t really talked much about what the classes are like here at UCD Dublin, but I think it is the right time now. First off, the classes here are much easier than at H-SC. At H-SC we have a paper due every other week it seems and lots of reading to do, but here at UCD Dublin there is none of that. Do not get confused, there are papers that need to be written and books to be read, but not on the same level as H-SC. For most of my classes, there is one paper for the class, which is also the midterm, and then a final which makes up either sixty to eighty percent of your final grade. Having only two grades in a course can also place a lot of pressure on each graded piece; there is little room for error. I like the comfort of several different graded opportunities to engage more deeply with the material and to ensure a solid mark in the course. Let’s look at my Russian Revolution class, I have really enjoyed the class and having taken Dr. Frusetta’s Russian History class prepared me for it.  But there are only two assignments for the class, a midterm paper and a final. I know Dr. Frusetta would never have structured his class that way and seeing this different structure made me question the class.

There are two classes that I have really enjoyed while being here. My British Atlantic and Canadian Art History class have both been the classes that I look forward to every week. My CA History class is my closest style class to what I would get at H-SC with two papers and two exams (final and midterm). My teacher for this class is Canadian and he is pretty awesome, he is really helpful and willing to work with the students helping them out with the classes, all the same qualities of an H-SC professor.

My British Atlantic class on the other hand is fun, since it has the most work I have to do. Every week we do a reflection journal of what we found interesting in the class and what we think needed to be added. This class has been fun since I am learning American History, but from a different view point, and being able to help the Irish see the American view of certain things.

Overall, based on what I am used to there just seems to be not enough work. I have some days where I just sit in my room waiting for something to happen and wondering what is going on at H-SC. At H-SC I am used to lots of work and little free time, besides having a lot of free time scares me. Finally, just the vast size of UCD Dublin, in that there are a lot of international students here, makes me sometimes second guess whether I picked the right school. The only Irish people I have gotten to talk to, were on the rugby team and the only time I seem to see them is at games and practices. Overall, what I am getting at is, think carefully about the school and classes you pick for your study abroad. Some potential questions to answer ahead of time are: what type of school size/environment works best for you, what do you want to get out of a study abroad experience, and what types of classes you want?

William Imeson (April)

Somehow, this semester is finally coming to a close. I have only ten days left in Spain and I will soon be taking my final exams and packing up all of my things. I must say, back in January it certainly seemed like this day would never come. Although the end of a semester always comes abruptly, this study abroad experience has certainly amplified the feeling. It was seemingly just yesterday that I was stumbling around this Spanish apartment and trying to figure my way around a foreign city.

As far as expectations go, I tried to limit mine so I could come into this study abroad with an open mind. I didn’t want to set all kinds of goals that I would then either have to struggle to meet or just not meet altogether. I know some people who came here already knowing what they would be doing every weekend and where they would be travelling and where everything in the city was. I preferred to let all of that happen around me and see where I ended up. Lazy? Perhaps. But I would say it worked out pretty well for me.

Of course I expected to learn Spanish and meet new people, but that is pretty basic. I ended up travelling to Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, and Florence, and those trips happened basically because I knew some people that were going and decided to hop on board. If anything, I probably set my Spanish expectations too high. I came to Spain hoping to achieve some sort of mastery over the language, and I would say that hasn’t quite happened. I would definitely say I am fluent, but it is still pretty obvious to most people that I am not from Spain when I talk to them. I understand them and they understand me, but just like English there are countless phrases and witticisms that would take more than four months to conquer.

I will miss a number of things from this trip when I return home. Just being able to walk up to a stranger and converse with them in a different language is such a thrill. It really feels like a door to a whole different world has been opened. I was so honored the few times that Spaniards told me my Spanish or my accent was good. It’s not something you can ever really get in a classroom. After my trip to Italy, I was relieved to come back to Spain and a language that I spoke. It turns out that while Italian and Spanish are both romance languages, they aren’t that similar at all. Sure some words sound the same, but if you try to talk to an Italian in Spanish you will probably just receive a blank stare.

The other thing that I will miss is just living in Valencia. I grew up in Harrisonburg, Virginia and then moved to the outskirts of Farmville, Virginia. Valencia is the first big city I have lived in and I really enjoyed the life here. Valencia isn’t so big like Madrid or Barcelona where it takes forever to get around, but it’s not too small either. I don’t feel as though I have run out of things to do or places to go, and I thoroughly enjoy walking and biking around the city. It is a beautiful place that has an old European feel to it and emits a pleasant yellow glow at night. I’m not entirely sure how; I suppose it has something to do with the street lights and architecture. Valencia will always hold a special place in my heart and I highly recommend studying here to anyone who might be interested. Or even if you’re not interested, you should do it anyway.

 

Atop the Duomo in Florence

WI atop Florentine Duomo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Park Guell

WI Park Guell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pope in Vatican Square

WI Vatican and the Pope

 

Taylor Anctil (March)

I have yet to encounter a dish that I have not enjoyed during my stay in France. As cliché as this may sound… I have to say that my favorite dish is ratatouille. My host mother makes it quite frequently and it is my favorite because of the taste and because of its versatility. One can use it as a sauce for pasta or as a side for the plate.

It is really easy to prepare and I have made sure to learn it so I can bring it back home with me. All you need is equal parts diced: eggplant, zucchini, red bell pepper, tomato, then an onion or two, some garlic and spices: basil, parsley salt and pepper. Then add water to just cover the vegetables and you simmer until all the vegetable are tender.

Well, if I am being frankly honest with myself, the thing which I have accomplished which makes me proud is I have managed to overcome my fear of girls. It is not a fear really but rather an apprehension of going on dates and nervousness when it comes to anything romantic. I am proud to say that I have summoned up the courage to ask a few girls out for drinks and seeing as it was rather enjoyable I have decided that I had been most foolish to not start sooner!

Now, not every date was for romantic intentions, often it was just to get to know another person better. I have really enjoyed the afternoons I have spent with the French students at the local university. They were all really friendly and great people to talk to. They offer insights into the culture and new perspectives on how to view the world.

That really is one of the things I am most happy about, that I had the courage to ask these girls for some of their time and they said yes.

I in fact have not changed how I spend my free time. First of all I define free time as the time when I am not engaged in academic pursuits or spending time with friends in a social setting. Free time for me is when I am entirely at my own disposal. Therefore in that regards little has changed in the manner I pass the time.

I have picked up writing though. Before I left Mr. Burns gave me a journal as a Christmas present ads since then I have filled it with thoughts, experiences, wishful thinking, and escape plans. I grew so loquacious that I have since started a new one and I think I will keep on journaling. It focuses the day and it is nice to put down concretely that stuff that just kind of floats around in my head.

Another of my favorite pursuits is to just sit in a café with a coffee or beer and spend the time reading. It is something that I really cannot do in the United States and I relish the opportunity to sit out in the sun and just be in the world, but perfectly at my ease. There is hustle and bustle all around me on the Cours Mirabeau, but I am at my leisure with my book.

I am making progress with the language. It is for that reason that I am most irritated at having to leave soon. I have finally reached a point where I am comfortable enough in Aix and in my language abilities to be able to participate in the city more. So the trouble is, now I that I have reached that point… I go. Oh well, C’est la vie!

My school is an American school… and my host mother is English… so I have had to really push myself to get away from English speakers. To that end I sing in the choir at church, go out with French girls, joined the bridge group and a youth group. I have surrounded myself with activities that involve no English and force me to speak only French.

Such antics and activities have not come without their slip-ups and gaffs. I think the most embarrassing which did not get pointed out to me until much later was the misuse of the verb jouir. The verb jouir means to ejaculate, and I had thought it meant to enjoy. So there I was… with a bunch of church choir members and I was trying to explain how much I enjoyed singing with them the last couple weeks.

Well once I learned the meaning of this word. The sentence ran along these lines: “I have ejaculated these past weeks while we have sung together. Pretty ridiculous, however I do think it is a good verb to know.

While studying in Aix, I am taking five classes. So within the classroom I am learning about International Relations, The European Union, Wine, French Grammar and Culture. The latter two are taught in French.

I enjoy immensely all of my classes. My professors are engaging and because I am on another continent it is interesting to hear a European’s view on foreign relations and how one has democratic participation in supranational organizations.

I have learned about the different characteristics of wine varietals. So what grapes give what flavors and how the soil composition of the vineyards affects the flavors of the grapes. I think that as a gentleman a proper cultivation of a knowledge pertaining to wine and spirits is necessary, so to that end I have been pursuing my education in the bars and cafés of Aix-en-Provence.

This is the education that one cannot receive in a classroom. The lesson in drinking culture and the flavors of different cocktails and drinks has to be experienced first-hand. Naturally, social skills and cultural exchanges occur at these places of revelry and fun. It is my personal opinion that I have made the most growth in this arena: the area of social interaction and confidence in meeting new people and getting along with them.

I go out in the evening. That has to be the biggest difference between my studying in Aix and at Hampden-Sydney. Part of it is that I have much fewer responsibilities over here. Back home I have several jobs, I am a resident advisor, and the course load is much more rigorous and time consuming, (and also there is nowhere to go out to in Farmville). Here is Aix there are several night clubs, lots of bars and cafes, less schoolwork and no work, therefore I can afford to go out and stay up a bit late each night. Over here I average going out twice a week, back at home it would be there rare event if I went out twice a week.

I need to mention that my mindset has changed too. I no longer think it is a bad thing to stay out late. It is no longer a bad thing to cut loose and dance a little every once in a while. Everybody thinks that the French are uptight, but it was the French who helped me realize that I was the uptight one, and it was time for me to change.

I will be coming back home with a new appreciation of what I have at school and with my adoptive family on campus, but also a little bit changed. I was one of the worst skeptics of the life changing experience that studying abroad purportedly caused. And now I think I have to be one of the largest proponents. I have not fundamentally changed I think, but important life values and views have shifted, and broadened to be more encompassing and welcoming. I do not know, it is still too early, I need to write back after a year or two to be able to tell for sure.

We use two buildings. The first is the main hall and it is a converted chapel. It was a penitent chapel and it was the place that prisoners and political mal-doers were taken to confess their sins, pray and reflect after being tortured at the Hotel de Ville around the corner. It is entirely stone and, (all of old Aix is stone) and I have the opinion that one can still smell the incense used for all of those centuries. I think that the stone must have soaked in the smell and now it quietly seeps out to lend an air of tranquility and somberness to the place. I do not care for the building as a place of instruction because I think the feel of the building stifles class participation and talking because the building still holds a sort of reverence.

The other building is called Manning hall and it is a converted personal residence. Sometimes, if I am not paying particular attention to the lecture, I like to imagine what the different rooms once were. Manning Hall has a grand front door and a big spiral staircase that goes up three floors and the building is tiles in these hexagonal tiles which are very popular in southern France for paving floors. I love the building because there is a secret staircase which goes up the back and I like using it and getting around that way. It brings a smile to my face every time I use it. The whole building is a puzzle because some of the rooms are only accessible through others. It is great fun to have class in this building.

William Duncan (April 28)

I’m extremely glad to be back home in the States. I’m ready to go visit H-SC and see my friends, I’m ready to see my family and be in my own bed. I am going to miss Barcelona like crazy, though. There are many special qualities of that place that are giving me excuses to go back in the future.

What I found that I loved from Barcelona and Europe was the quality of the things there. The food was fresh – you can buy a fresh baguette for 35 cents and have a great, cheap sandwich for 2 days. It’s really easy to keep a very healthy and well-balanced lifestyle there. Breakfasts usually consist of granola or fruit and lunch and dinners are usually light and healthy. Although I am looking forward to digging into some Fishin’ Pig BBQ when I visit H-SC.

Probably my all-time favorite part of the city is that it’s close to both the beautiful Mediterranean Sea and a quaint mountain range. I could go hike up to the top of Parc Güell and then go bring a cooler of beer to the beach all in the same day. Theres usually 2-3 F.C. Barcelona soccer games on every week, so it’s always fun to go to a bar to watch the game or go see it in person.

Duncan Soccer Match

If you’re looking for a more relaxed day, there are plenty of cafes and parks to grab a coffee or sit out and people watch. If you’re lucky, you might just meet someone famous, like the President of F.C. Barcelona, Josep Maria Bartomeu, who frequents the corner café on my street.

Duncan Local Cafe

I’m really going to miss the feeling of always having something to do. One of the major differences of being home and abroad is the feeling to make the most of every day. In Barcelona, I was almost pressured to go see something or do something fun or different since I knew I only had a limited time there. I hope I am able to keep that sense as I am back home. I really feel that I have taken a lot for granted back home and at school. This summer and next year I hope to take advantage of everything in the States.

Thomas Bourne (April 2)

Thomas Bourne, April (Dublin)

I believe spring has arrived in Ireland, but possibly not. Last week, the weather was perfect. The temperatures were comfortable, the sky was clear, and there were lots of students with ice cream playing on the various greens around campus. I really wanted to imitate them, but I had to get to class and I had way too much sugar last week. This week, however, the weather has changed for the worse—it’s cold windy, raining, and sometimes hailing. The drastic change in weather reminded me a lot of the weather back at HSC. Fortunately, the weather forecast predicts improvement. I’ve been looking in to visiting some nice Dublin beaches, so I’d love to do that when I have a day off.

 Bourne soccer

               I played my last competitive rugby game last Thursday with UCD Dublin, and I’m sad that the season is over. It was an honor and an amazing experience to play rugby in Ireland and learn more about the game from them. We lost our game Thursday by one try, after a hard fought game. We were determined the underdogs, but we didn’t let that get us down: the other team really had to fight for their result. It was a dream come true to play rugby in Ireland!

William Imeson (Valencia, Feb. 23)

I have been in Valencia for a little over a month now and it’s finally beginning to feel almost normal. The initial shock of waking up in the mornings and realizing that I’m halfway around the world has worn off, and now I’ve settled into a fairly standard weekly routine. I have classes from Monday through Thursday, and these three day weekends are fantastic. The UVA center here offers 90-minute Spanish classes twice a week that feel pretty similar to the classes at HSC.

Each morning, I have three options for travel to get to class. I can walk, take the bus, or ride a bike. Valencia has a system called Valenbisi, which allows people with a pass to rent a bike for half an hour. There are over one hundred in the city, so after I bought my pass, I can ride these around Valencia freely as long as I return it before the time expires. This is my main method of transportation. I live about forty walking minutes from the school, but the bike cuts that time in half. I bike to school through Turia River, which is a huge park system that goes through the middle of the city and is one of my favorite places in Valencia. It used to be an actual river, but it kept overflowing and damaging the surrounding area. The city diverted the water and turned the riverbed into a long park, filled with palm trees, grass, and flowers. I live pretty close to Turia and it’s a good short cut to get to school. Turia River has several skate parks, soccer and rugby fields, and is always full of people biking, jogging, and walking.

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I live in an apartment in the middle of the city with my host mother and one of her sons, who happens to be my age. It’s actually a pretty large apartment and we have plenty of space. The apartment is long and narrow, and has a nice living room that overlooks the street. Unfortunately, carpeting isn’t big in this country and the floor is easily the coldest tile my bare feet have ever rested on. Luckily, my host mother gifted me a pair of Homer Simpson slippers. The Simpsons are pretty popular here, but it’s a huge shock to the ears to watch it on television and hear the iconic voices dubbed over in Spanish.

I wake up every morning and eat a light breakfast while my host mother packs me a sandwich to take to school. I come back around two o’clock in the afternoon for a larger meal and finish off the day with a big dinner around nine at night. It’s a bit of a strange schedule to me, but it’s not too hard to transition into. Not a single meal passes where I don’t eat an absurd amount of bread. I’d say that my diet here consists mostly of bread and meats, which I don’t have a problem with.

Overall, I’ve had a great first month in Valencia! I look forward to what my next three months will bring!