May Term in Vienna & Budapest

Ethan Gaines
May Term Abroad
Vienna & Budapest

My experiences abroad in the imperial cities of Vienna and Budapest went above and beyond my previous expectations of the trip. I expected only a few statues and monuments carefully placed throughout the cities, but I learned quickly that we would easily view around a dozen during our rigorous and in-depth tours. The food was much better than I expected it would be, and there were even many American cafes and restaurants in walking distance from our hotels. I had no idea how the people there would react to American tourists, but I was pleasantly surprised by their continual politeness and kindness.
Some similarities I noticed involved the public transportation system and the security. The metro and tram systems in Europe are surprisingly similar to what we have in America, with certain times of the day being more crowded than others and its corresponding lack of personal space. It was sometimes difficult to navigate around the city because of the strange names such as Schwedenplatz and Blaha Lujza Ter, which were the two districts where our class stayed, but we got used to it by the end of the trip.
From this life changing experience, I learned that different parts of the world, at least America and Central Europe, were not so different from one another. They all honor their traditions and history’s. I also learned a little about myself on the trip, such as how easy it was for me and the rest of the class to absorb all of the information thrown at us and how we were able to quickly immerse ourselves into the respective cultures. The three weeks there flew by so quickly because it really did feel like a second home.
What I will miss most from my study abroad experience will be the experiential style of learning in the classroom. Instead of being lectured to in the classroom for four hours a day, going out with the class and seeing it for yourself made to so easy to learn the material. Experiential learning was exhausting, but I will remember every single day of class on this trip.

May Term in Vienna & Budapest

Ethan Gaines
May Term Abroad
Vienna & Budapest

Over the three weeks we were in Vienna and Budapest, we toured so many amazing museums and magnificent monuments. There was almost too much history in these two cities, which made it difficult to fit all of these historical sites into the schedule.
In Vienna, we saw two incredibly appealing palaces in the Hofburg Palace and the Schloss Shonbrunn with its beautiful gardens. For museums, we toured the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum of Military History, the Wien Museum Karlsplatz of Vienna’s history, and the Jüdisches Museum Wien of Jewish history, life and religion in Austria.
In Budapest, we saw many more museums. We toured the Hadtorteneti Museum of Military History, Buda Castle for the history of Budapest, and the House of Terror and Holocaust Memorial Center which exhibit the tragedies of World War 2 and the Holocaust. On our last day in Budapest we hiked up Gellert Hill to see the Freedom Statue as well as the amazing view. Lastly, we were able to go inside the Hungarian National Assembly that was possibly the coolest and most beautiful place I saw on the entire trip.
In our free time, we visited the Tiergarten Schönbrunn (The Vienna Zoo) which is one of the best in the entire world. In Vienna, we also visited the Seegrotte Hinterbruhl which is a large underground lake and cave system on the outskirts of the city that offers underground boat tours. In the early twentieth century, the cave was used for mining expeditions and there are currently many memorials in the cave dedicated to the Hungarian miners.

May Term in Vienna & Budapest

Ethan Gaines
May Term Abroad
Vienna, Austria & Budapest, Hungary

When we first arrived to Vienna, we started in a suburban town on the outskirts of the city that looked very similar to Virginia. Then, we traveled by bus to our hotel in the middle of the city and we immediately witnessed the grand architectural structures and monuments that made Vienna so beautiful. This major urban area had numerous restaurants, bars, and cafes we would later venture to after class. Budapest offered much of the same, but often times we had to take the metro as our hotel was not in the center of the city.
For class in Vienna, we only had to go a few floors down in the hotel where we had a conference room set up for lectures from Dr. Frusetta and Dr. Glont. Before class, we were given complimentary breakfast in the hotel with a traditional European breakfast consisting of sausages, deli meats, and many different kinds of croissants. In Budapest, we needed to take the metro one stop away to a separate building for class.
Both our hotels in Vienna and Budapest were very nice with employees who were also kind and helping. I would say that the biggest difference between living at home and abroad is the lack of air conditioning. During our may term, it was regular 90 degrees or more so we had to get used to the heat. I should have packed more shorts and sun screen.
There was excellent food in both cities. Schnitzel was easily the best meal I had in both cities, and the food stands in Vienna along the Danube river were cheap and delicious. Also, during our class excursions all over the Vienna, we would often stop to get a quick snack at the many tasty pastry shops that served some of the best croissants and donuts I have ever eaten.

Applied Math Major Reczkowski Spends a Semester Abroad

Senior Applied Mathematics major Alex Reczkowski returned to campus this fall after spending the spring semester abroad. Alex spent a semester in Budapest, Hungary, with America’s top undergraduate mathematics students. The Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program is organized through St. Olaf College.

In Alex’s words:

“Grab up the best undergraduate mathematics students, fly them to a great eastern European city, teach them enough Hungarian so they can get some narancsle (orange juice) and palacsinta (crepes), then throw them to some of the world’s greatest mathematical minds, and success becomes virtually inevitable. As an applied mathematics major I was challenged with finding a study abroad program that provided optimal higher-level mathematics courses. Budapest Semesters in Mathematics was the beautiful solution.

“I was part of a lucky group of about 60 students who battled through everything from getting a residence permit in Hungary with minimal Hungarian language skills to making an American Thanksgiving dinner in a foreign country. The program was simply amazing in that it showed all of us the great diversity in mathematicians. Not only was mathematical talent at its pinnacle, but extra-curricular activities were astoundingly diversified, with everyone running around Budapest enjoying everything from shows at the Operahouse to ultimate frisbee on Margit Island. I couldn’t have been luckier. We formed a really great family, and together we not only made Budapest our home, we learned some math while doing it.”

An incredible experience

On September 6, many of the nearly 60 Hampden-Sydney students who had engaged in international study during the past year gathered to talk about their experiences.

Most frequently used expressions: “I would go back in a heart beat,” “It was good for me,” “I made great friends,” “It made me appreciate Hampden-Sydney.” Consensus: the food was so, so; it rains a great deal in the British Isles, much beer and wine was consumed; we learned a lot, and it was an incredible experience.

For Hampden-Sydney students who grew up in small towns, one of the greatest adjustments was to city life. During a metro strike in Paris, David Price ’02 from Collinsville, VA, who was with the Sweet Briar Program, had to walk two and half hours to class. “Really, once you get to understand how the French think and what their ideas are and what their customs are, they are very nice people, and I made numerous friends.”

For Edward Finnerty ’02 from Charleston, SC, Dublin was a challenge. Good public transportation is nonexistent, “everyday something happened, but you just had to laugh.” Despite the municipal shortcomings, Teddy, who studied psychology at Trinity College, asserts that in Dublin, “every night was a brand new experience; it was really fun. Anybody our age should definitely go there…just to witness the madness.”

Logan Wanamaker ’02 spent a year in Granada. He stayed with a host family for the first semester. “It was a little overwhelming when they picked me up and drove me into the city; I am from a small town [Durango, CO] and had never lived in a city.” Second semester, Logan lived in an apartment downtown with two young Italian women and two young Spanish women, which was “a big switch from Hampden-Sydney. First semester I got in a rut and I was hanging out with Americans and going out with Americans but once I moved in with my other roommates, my Spanish really took off.” He spent free days on the beach at la Costa del Sol and on weekends went skiing in the Sierra Nevada. “I brought my skis over and made great friends up at the ski resort, so I had buddies that I got to go skiing with. To have something that you really enjoy to share with someone from another country was really special to me.” He traveled all over Spain, to southern Portugal, Morocco, into the Sahara by camel to Marrakech, to Majorca, and through the Basque country. “Now when I look at a map of Spain I know what every town looks like and all the history behind it. It was an incredible experience.”

McKay Johnson ’02 from Atlanta, GA, studied international business at the University of Victoria in Wellington, New Zealand. He traveled all over New Zealand, which is “absolutely beautiful, very green, mountains everywhere.” The New Zealanders call hiking tramping, and McKay did plenty of tramping. The study was initiative based. There were no textbooks; it was up to you how much you learned, and people there study “real hard.” The New Zealanders are “absolutely great people, friendly, real nice.” He encountered the indigenous Moari culture that, although poorly treated in the beginning, the New Zealanders did not try to exterminate them as was done to the indigenous populations in the United States and Australia. Today, the two cultures live well together. McKay visited Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Burma. “It is incredible [in Burma] to see the struggle that is going on for human rights.” He spent a month in China traveling from Hong Kong to Beijing meeting local people. “It was an incredible experience. The government is screwed up, but I cannot tell you how nice the people are and how beautiful the country is.”

Bert Drummond ’02 from Hampton, VA, participated in the Antioch College Program in Germany, Poland, Hungary, and the United Kingdom. There were 11 students in the program with a 23-year old Polish leader: according to Bert, “she is beautiful with a moving personality.” The program centered on an independent research project based on interviews and experiences. “Our professor, Manfred McDowell, is a brilliant man and an atheist, which contrasted to me as a Christian, and one of my majors is religion. My independent study had to do with the theory of secularization in terms of Europe. I had to be extremely objective and use nothing but facts and data in writing. It was really challenging for me and healthy. Poland and Hungary are extraordinary places with extraordinary people. Hungary has a large Romanian population who, believe it or not, are more discriminated against than African-Americans in the United States. In the Polish villages, people are under such [economic] duress. They are in a completely different situation than we are; yet, we had so much in common when we talked to each other. I lived with a Jewish family in Budapest; Jewish life in Europe, especially Central Europe, is an whole different world.”

“We stayed in London for a month. We went from Poland where people are warm, compassionate, and friendly to London where everyone is not so warm, compassionate, and friendly. England is an extremely secular society. I think I saw the sun for maybe two consecutive hours on one day, but you get used to it after awhile. It was so fun, so fun.”

Six Hampden-Sydney students participated in the Virginia Program at Oxford and studied at St. Anne’s College. According to Kerr Ramsay of Raleigh, NC, dormitory life was less than luxurious, “the shower was the size of a toilet,” but “the library you study in was founded by James I, I think about the time of Jamestown. In the upper reading rooms you can see where Charles I had his government during the English Civil War and there is a place where you can still see the burn marks where Bloody Mary [Mary Tudor] burned Protestants at the stake.”

Andrew Walshe ’02, from Herndon, VA, spent a year at the London School of Economics. “It was more work than I thought it would be, but it was a good experience.” The school was filled with a very diverse group of people and “absolutely brilliant” people. “I was just hanging on for dear life at the beginning, but, by the end of it, I was doing OK, and everything worked out really well. We had amazing lecturers. It was tremendous. After lectures, you go to class with graduate students; every graduate assistant I had was from a different country: England, Germany, Italy, Greece, and Holland. On all, it was good experience and a good time. Living in London was tremendous.”

Andy Yarborough ’02, Gulf Shores, AL, studied for a semester at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, a small, about 3000, university on the northeast coast. He lived in student lodge with students from all over world. “The land is unbelievable: it is nearly impossible to be bored: you can draw so much enjoyment from the land.” In his indigenous studies courses, Andy learned that the treatment of Aborigines was comparable to that of Native Americans, and race relations in Australia are still delicate. He went out into different aboriginal communities and befriended a head of a clan who took him out into the bush, interpreted aboriginal rock art, and to ancient initiation sites. “I was lucky to be able to go and to get in with the people I did. I saw places where land is still totally pristine and untouched by civilization, a far cry from anything that I have seen in the States.”