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!

Thomas Bourne (Dublin, Feb. 22)

Hello again, Hampden-Sydney! I just got back from a long weekend trip in Slovakia and Austria. I skipped by Friday class to fly to Slovakia, where I immediately was faced with a challenge—the language difference. I wasn’t sure how to react, so I figured that the safest thing for me to do was find my hotel first. I had no idea how to navigate through the city because all of the road signs were in Slovak. I eventually found it and checked in, then spent the evening walking around the old city. The old buildings looked amazing and there were a lot of little cute shops around. I didn’t explore for very long because I had to get up early to get to Vienna.

In the morning I left for Austria, and the trip was lovely. I decided to ride the train to Vienna, and I was rewarded by views of the beautiful countryside. It looked like something straight out of a movie! When I arrived, I didn’t get as much of a culture shock as I did when I got to Slovakia, but it was still present. The biggest change between Bratislava, where I stayed in Slovakia, and Vienna was how much more advanced and modern the city was. The train station was massive in comparison.

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I finally set out to explore the city, and it was stunning. The imperial palace at the center of the city took my breath away. Unfortunately, the museums in the area were rather expensive, so I didn’t get to tour any. My stomach started rumbling, so my next objective was to find dinner. It hadn’t occurred to me that it was Valentine’s Day, so many of the restaurants I tried to get into were booked, but I eventually found an Italian place for the evening.

The next day, I spent the day hiking through the hills surrounding Vienna. On one of the peaks, I found a quaint little alpine village with an incredible view. I made my way back into the city, and that night I went to a Mozart concert in one of the royal palaces. Overall, the trip was fantastic. That being said, when I got back home to Dublin, I was glad to be somewhere familiar.

 

Thomas Bourne (Dublin, Feb. 10)

Hello, my friends! I hope all is well back on the Hill. I can’t believe that the semester is already flying by; it feels like just yesterday that I arrived in Dublin. UCD Dublin so far is great, but nothing can compare to good ‘ol HSC. Since arriving in Dublin, I have missed a couple of things. The first are my friends back at Hampden-Sydney. When Hampden-Sydney says that the friendships you make there last forever, they’re right! I wish my friends were here to experience everything. Besides missing my friends, the one other part of HSC that I miss very much is, surprisingly, The Moans. I never thought that those words would come out of my mouth, but they have! Cooking for myself has been a struggle. I know how to cook, and the food comes out great when I do, but I can’t get myself to cook very often. What The Moans does for us is amazing, and my respect for them has grown since being away from campus. Since we are on the topic of food, I really wish I brought pretzels. The only pretzels that I have found in the store have been rather expensive for how much food I actually get. I asked my dad if he would be able to send me some—he said that they should be here in six to eight days, but that’s just way too long for me.

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The Sunderland EPL game

In my last entry, I said that I was going to attend an English Premier League game soon. I went to the Sunderland game and it was amazing! Sunderland won the game by two goals and the atmosphere of the crowd after the game was unbelievable. That day, my group and I went to explore Newcastle, England. We met a nice couple who we talked with for several hours. That experience is something that I will never forget, since this was the first time that my friends and I were able to sit down and really talk to some locals. The couple introduced us to some of their friends, one of whom was a former Oxford Professor. I told the professor that I was hoping to participate in the Virginia Program at Oxford (VPO), and he looked so excited. He started listing off things so many things for me to remember about Oxford, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to remember all of it!

Thomas Bourne (Dublin, January 16)

Hello from the Emerald Isle! I’m really thankful to Hampden-Sydney College for giving me the chance to fulfill my dream of traveling to Ireland. One might ask: why would I pick Ireland instead of somewhere like Germany, Spain, or Australia. The answer is fairly simple—history. The history engrained in Ireland is both mystifying and rich. The preservation of the Catholic Church at the fall of the Roman Empire and the multitude of bloody battles over centuries for Irish independence are two fine examples of the history of this fine country. However, history was not the only factor in my decision to study in Ireland. The vast and beautiful natural world that Ireland offers, with rolling green hills and spectacular cliffs, appeals to my love for nature and to my Environmental Studies minor.

Now that I’m in Ireland, the long wait for classes to start has begun. My biggest fear is how different these classes will be from Hampden-Sydney College. When I got to University College Dublin (UCD Dublin) on Tuesday, I walked around campus to soak in the atmosphere. The campus is huge and really spread out; I have to walk way further to get to my classes here than I did at HSC. Another big difference is the environment for classes: instead of small classrooms,  UCD Dublin uses theaters that seat nearly three hundred students. Hopefully my anxiety for these changes subsides, but we’ll have to wait and see.

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I’m trying to plan a trip to Sunderland, England to watch the Sunderland A.F.C. (Go, Black Cats!) face Burnley F.C.. Hopefully, this won’t be the only time I travel; I hope to travel to Iceland, Norway, Denmark, and Germany and see more of our incredible natural world.

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.”