Studying, “Across the Pond” 2017/18

Jamie Agnew
LSE 2017/18

I returned to London on January 2nd, 2018. The London School of Economics’s calendar is quite different from Hampden-Sydney’s as well as other colleges in the United States. You take four classes for the entire year all of which have a final exam in April or May. The only exception to this rule is if you take any Economics classes: they also have a midterm exam in the first week of January. I am not very fond of this setup because, unlike Hampden-Sydney, you enter winter break knowing that you have an exam at the end of break. Nonetheless, my midterm exam was on January 4th, so I returned to London on the 2nd. The exam was quite tough, but I believe I did alright.
Since my exam, I have really tried to focus on school as much as possible. Last semester I traveled around Europe a lot, and it became hard to stay on top of school work. I told myself that I was going to spend the first month or so in London to make sure I get all my ducks in a row for the second semester. I am currently planning several weekend trips in later February, March, and spring break. We have a month off for spring break, which is unheard of in the United States, and I am trying to figure out my plans for that month. I might come home for a week or so, but I am definitely planning on playing golf in Scotland and traveling with a bunch of friends to Greece. Some of my other trips this semester will include Amsterdam, Rome, Barcelona, and Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day.
The study abroad program through the London School of Economics is quite unique because it is a year-long program. Most study abroad programs are a semester, which is great, but I am very happy that mine is a year-long. Not only does it allow me to find a good balance between staying in London versus traveling around Europe so that I am not constantly traveling every weekend, but it also has allowed me to meet so many different people. In the first semester, I traveled around Europe with my buddies and their friends, but they were only here for a semester. This semester, I will travel around with a new set of buddies and friends, which I am really looking forward to. Even in London I have met so many new friends just in the first three weeks because UCL and Kings College have one-semester study abroad programs. Nonetheless, I am having a blast over here, and I can’t wait to see what this semester entails.

Studying “Across the Pond” 2017/18

Jamie Agnew
LSE 2017/18

My study abroad experience was unbelievable. Between the things I saw, the friends I met, and the memories I made, the entire semester was all I could have asked for and then some. I had a rough idea of what the experience was going to be like because I talked to kids that had done the program already. But words can’t describe how much fun I had. London was a fantastic city to live in, and the easy ability to fly to other countries is something unheard of here in the United States. I knew going into it that I wanted to balance school in London with travel to other countries, and I think I did that pretty darn well. I split my time 50/50 between London and traveling, which was the perfect amount.

snapshot 2I can’t speak highly enough about London. It was a huge relief not needing to learn a new language for my time abroad. Londoners loved talking politics with my friends and me. They all assumed that because we were from America that therefor we were Trump supporters, which was an interesting assumption for them to make. The stereotypes I had going into it were that the British had good beer, bad food besides fish and chips, and that it rained a lot. The first two were spot on, but the bad weather wasn’t as much of a problem as I thought. Unlike the mid-Atlantic, the rain over in London was often a light, spitting rain, which isn’t unbearable like the downpours we get here. And on top of that, it didn’t rain all that much; rather it was cloudy most of the time, but there were plenty of nice sunsets to compliment the bad weather.

snapshotThroughout the semester, I traveled to 5 different countries. I began my travels in Amsterdam with friends to experience the city as well as go to the music festival occurring that weekend. Amsterdam is like no place else in the world for many reasons. It was an expensive trip but a memorable one at that.

I then traveled to Prague the following weekend. Prague is a fantastic city, arguably one of my favorites in Europe. It is so cheap and so medieval. The architecture there is quite neat and there are major landmarks like the Prague Castle and the Lennon Wall, which are very enjoyable to visit. Coming from the expensive city of London, Prague was a huge relief because the dollar goes so far there.

Next, I went to Berlin to visit a couple friends from Washington DC that were studying there. While the company was great, the city wasn’t my favorite. It was very dark, cold, and wet. On top of this, the city is very spread out, which makes it unfriendly for tourists. Nonetheless, we saw major landmarks like the Reichstag and the Berlin Wall, so I am definitely glad I went but not sure I am going to go back.snapshotv2

Next, I met up with kids who I went to Amsterdam and Prague with in Florence. A good friend of mine from high school was studying in Florence so we went out with her every night, which was super fun. Florence was a very nice city. Great architecture and even better food. Italian pasta is substantially better than any pasta in the United States. We had a really good time touring the city during the day and going out to the clubs at night. All around a great weekend.

mountainsDuring my last weekend abroad, I went skiing with friends from Washington DC in Chamonix, France, which is in the southeast portion of France (30 minutes from Switzerland and Italy). The French Alps were absolutely gorgeous. The first day we were there, we took an old cable car up the mountain and had lunch up there with an unparalleled view and went to a hockey game in downtown Chamonix that night. The next day was the first day of the season for the mountain, so we rented skis and skied all day long. The mountain blew away the mountains out west even though the conditions weren’t as good as they are in the depth of the winter. It was an amazing trip all together, and I’m so glad I decided to go on it.

As you can see, I had a blast this semester. I feel confident that I could navigate myself around any airport to get to any destination after all the traveling I did this semester. Now that I am back at home, I miss the drinking age being 18 over there since I am still 20 for a couple more months. It was so nice to never worry about being underage and now it’s a rude awakening that I am back in the states.

My best piece of advice for kids studying abroad is to save up a lot of money and don’t ever hesitate to take a weekend trip anywhere. There were a couple trips that I was on the fence about, and ended up going, and it was the best decision. There will be no other time in your life with no obligations besides school where you have the freedom to travel around Europe with your friends, so take advantage of it. But, also save a lot of money because the unforgettable memories cost a lot sometimes.

 

 

 

London in the fall 2017

David Arias Hernandez
UCL 2017

December was the last month of this amazing opportunity to study abroad, and I really took advantage of it.

St. Basil's Cathedral

St. Basil’s Cathedral

At the beginning of the month I went to Moscow, Russia, where, I was able to visit various iconic places. On the first day, I went to the Red Square, where I was able to visit The Iberian Gate, St. Basil’s Cathedral, Statue of Minin and Pozharsky, Kazan Cathedral, Kremlin Wall, Lenin Mausoleum, and GUM. The ones I liked the most were St. Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin Mausoleum, and the Kremlin Wall, although GUM, a Harrods-like shopping center, counted with several souvenir stores with tons of beautiful products. Clearly, St. Basil’s Cathedral was the highlight of the Red Square, as its architecture would attract any tourist                                                                                      regardless of his/her origin.

Lenin's Mausoleum

Lenin’s Mausoleum

Lenin Mausoleum was also a really interesting place to visit, as it provided me with an opportunity to be incredibly close to one of the most iconic characters in world history. Nevertheless, one of the most interesting things about the Red Square, which genuinely caught my attention, was to see how some locals would dress as Stalin to charge tourists for taking pictures with them. Tourists, excluding me, would get really excited about such picture, and therefore, would pay a considerable amount ($20). On the next day, I took a tour around Moscow’s metro. Moscow’s metro is known for the beauty of its stations. Each station has a different architecture, and tourists, just like me, often take some time to take a tour around some of the most important stations.

Display of Russian Nesting Dolls

Matryoshkas ( Russian Nesting Dolls)

After the short metro tour, I went to a Russian market 15 minutes away from the city center, where I was able to purchase very famous souvenirs like matryoshkas and eggs. It was also really interesting to see how many of the t-shirts sold in this market had Putin’s face printed on them. The president is really popular amongst citizens, and such particularity was evidenced on the merchandise sold not only at this market, but also at many other souvenir shops located in the Red Square. On that day, I also went to Gorky Park, which is the equivalent to Moscow’s Central Park. The park was neatly decorated by Christmas lights, and most of it was turned into an ice skating rink. On my final day, I visited the Kremlin, where I was able to see wonderful cathedrals, the palace where Putin lives, and the Senate, apart from several sculptures from the period before the Bolshevik Revolution.

Wembley Stadium

Wembley Stadium

After coming back from Moscow, I was able to attend my first UEFA Champions League game. It was a wonderful experience, as I had dreamed my entire life as a kid to listen the Champions League’s anthem live. The game was an easy 3-0 win for Spurs, and it was a great opportunity to visit one of the most important stadiums in football’s history: Wembley Stadium.

 

 

 

Countdown to the World Cup in Russia

Countdown to the World Cup in Russia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Concluding my entries, I have to say that there are many things that I will take from this amazing opportunity. It is true that I had already experienced studying abroad when I decided to leave Colombia for the U.S., but the magic of studying abroad is never lost. This period in London taught me that studying abroad is never an opportunity one can miss, and I will definitely recommend studying abroad to every H-SC student that is doubting about taking this opportunity. Experiences like the one I’m about to finish are the ones that make us grow as a person, and definitely the ones that help us becoming good men and good citizens.

London in the fall 2017

University College London 2017
David Arias Hernandez

It’s been another month living in this amazing city, and so far, this has been the busiest month not only for the workload of my courses but also for the different trips I’ve completed.

Parthenon in Athens, Greece

Parthenon in Athens, Greece

With less than a month of classes, the deadlines for my different courses have come closer, and with them, the stress of putting sufficient effort to excel in my classes. I have already presented the business I created with my group for my New Venture Creation course and I have also completed the individual assignment for that class, which allowed me to focus on my other courses. Out of the other three courses, I have already started the assignment for Economic History and Ideas, and I have also planned the outline for the other four assignments I have to submit for Emerging Market Economies and Politics and History of Central Eastern Europe. Although courses at UCL have been very demanding, I have enjoyed them and learned from them the most I’ve been able to, and I can’t wait to go back to H-SC to share all I’ve learned in the courses I will take next semester.
During this month I’ve also enjoyed my time with the boys from the UCL Football Club, apart from the four matches I played, the club carried a series of events, like the initiation night, in which I had a great time, full of laughs and joy, with my teammates and the guys from the other six teams the club has.

Nico and I visiting the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Istanbul

Nico and I visiting the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Istanbul

However, the most interesting part about this month was all the traveling I was able to do. During this month, I went to Istanbul, Athens, Bruges, Brussels, and Amsterdam.
I went to Istanbul for two nights and I was able to visit important places like Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Hagia Sohpia, and the Grand Bazaar. The food of this amazing city was clearly the highlight, as apart from being really cheap, it was delightful. After Istanbul, I went to Athens and stayed at this amazing hostel for two nights, where I was able to have a great time with people, apart from visiting tremendously historic places like Acropolis and the Ancient Agora. The highlight of this city was the amazing people I was able to meet, who I’ll probably see again in the future. After Athens, my next trip was Bruges. This town in Belgium is probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to, and although I only stayed there for less than one day, I was able to make the most out of it by walking through its beautiful streets and tasting a delicious Belgian beer at the main square. The next stop was Brussels, where I stayed only one night. Here I visited important places of the city like the European Union Headquarters, the Grand Pace, and the Cinquantenaire.

Delirium Pub in Brussels

Delirium Pub in Brussels

The highlights of this city were not only the beautiful sights, but also the amazing beer I had at Delirium Pub, said to be the best beer in the world, and the street waffles I had next to the Manneken Pis, which are also very famous. After Brussels, I went to Amsterdam, and although the weather was terrible, I was able to have a great time. I went to many places including the Heineken Experience and the I am Amsterdam sign. The highlight of this city clearly was that I was able to visit some family that I had not been able to see in almost five years.
Although this month was full of great experiences, I am looking forward to December. It will also be a great month, as not only I will get done with my classes but also I will visit one of the cities I have wanted to visit since I was a kid. Such trip could be the highlight of December, but it will compete really hard with another important event, as I will also be attending my first UEFA Champions League match at the mythical Wembley Stadium. However, I am extremely conscious that December will be the last month of my study abroad experience, and that makes me feel really sad, as all the experiences I have had and all the wonderful people I’ve met, will make it really hard to get on that plane heading back to the U.S.

Studying “Across the Pond” 2017/18

Jamie Agnew
LSE 2017/18

Harrods in London.

Harrods in London.

Everything has been going great over on this side of the pond. Classes are really picking up pace, which is keeping me busy. LSE has classes and lectures for each class. Lectures are two hour presentations on the material, and you are normally with 200-300 other kids. Classes feel much more like Hampden-Sydney because there are only 20 kids in each class and it is much more interactive. The nice thing about lectures is that they don’t take attendance because they are recorded online, so you can watch them at your own convenience. That is a big plus because I have two lectures on Friday, which I don’t like going to and therefor can watch them on Sunday. Wednesdays are my full-days off, which is common over here because they like to allow    sports teams to practice on Wednesday afternoons.

Big Ben at sunset.

Big Ben at sunset.

So with all that being said, I only walk to school on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. The walk is about 25 minutes door to door, which seems like a lot, but it is actually a very enjoyable walk. I’m living on the south side of the River Thames, and LSE is on the north side, so I walk across the Blackfriars Bridge everyday. I could technically take the tube, but it would take the same time door to door and would cost more. Plus, it is great exercise to walk.

Two friends from home (Washington D.C.). Vincent Kardos (center) and Jim Hurston (right).

Two friends from home (Washington D.C.). Vincent Kardos (center) and Jim Hurston (right).

 

 

The dorm I am living in is called Bankside House. There are only LSE students living there, but I don’t really know that many kids in it. Most of my friends live in the other housing options around the city. I have a single room with an en suite bathroom, which I enjoy a lot. I have had a roommate the last couple years, and it’s nice to have a room to myself for once. The room is much bigger than the ones at Hampden-Sydney.  Bankside House is in Southwark and is directly behind the Tate Modern. I prefer my location to all the other housing options because it is quiet. The area that I live in used to be considered a bad part of town, but in the last 20 years it has really changed for the better, making it a very trendy place to live.

View from the rooftop of Urbaneast. My friends dorm.

View from the rooftop of Urbaneast. My friends LSE dorm.

The culture in London is much different than the United States and much different than Hampden-Sydney. Everyone wears dark, skinny clothes. No one wears shorts. Chuck Taylors are the most common shoe. And, no one wears baseball hats. It is quite intriguing to see the differences in fashion on both sides of the pond. I would say I have conformed somewhat to the way people dress over here, but there are certainly things that still make me stand out as an American. Given all of this, I wish I hadn’t packed some of my pink and red polo shirts, because I haven’t worn them once. It will certainly be interesting when I return home, because I will have to change my style back to the US style.

London in the fall 2017

David Arias
London 2017

The First Month

It’s only been a month since I arrived to London, but long enough to do lots of things.
Regarding my housing, I feel very satisfied. I moved to Goldsmid House, which is a UCL residence fairly close to Buckingham Palace and the Big Ben. I was quite lucky to be placed at this residence, as apart from the amazing location, my room counts with a private bathroom and a semi-double bed, as opposed to many other UCL facilities that only count with single beds. However, in terms of transportation, I wasn’t as lucky as others who live a walk-distance from campus. Daily, I commute by tube to campus, and I take the bus to go back to my house. It’s important to highlight that although commuting by bus takes much longer than taking the tube, I enjoy it more, as the route back from campus passes by Trafalgar Square, the House of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey.
In terms of academics, I can’t complain much. Although I’m taking very demanding courses, I was able to enroll in some of the courses I was more interested in. I’m taking four intermediate courses: two of Economics, one of Political Science, and one of Business. Probably the most challenging one of the four is Political Science, as it focuses on Central Eastern Europe, a region I’m not familiar with, and approaches the subject from a completely political and historical perspective. Nevertheless, all of these courses are really interesting and the module I enjoy the most is Emerging Market Economies, which is about the transition of countries in Central Eastern Europe from centrally planned economies during communism to market economies after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989-91.

Liverpool Football Club

Liverpool Football Club

In terms of entertainment, I’ve also been very satisfied. Apart from enrolling in my classes at UCL, I was also able to join the UCL Football Club. I will play Wednesdays and Saturdays on a league in which other schools in London, like King’s College, London School of Economics, Imperial College, and others participate. This club is the biggest one at UCL, and apart from focusing on the athletics, it also carries several social events during the term which I will happily be part of, like the Christmas Party.

 

Anfield Liverpool's FC Historic Stadium

Liverpool Football Club’s Legendary Bill Shankly

Apart from getting involved in many activities at UCL, I was also able to travel to some places this month. On my first trip I took a bus to Liverpool. It was a very short trip, as I only stayed one night, but long enough to visit, Anfield Liverpool’s FC historic stadium, and the Cavern Bar, which was the bar where the Beatles were discovered. As Liverpool isn’t a big city, one day is more than enough to tour the important places of the city.
On my second trip, I went to Venice, Italy. I stayed two nights and was able to visit iconic places like Plaza San Marco, El Gran Canal, and Santa Maria della Salute. Venice was great, and probably one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been; however, I’m a bit disappointed as I wasn’t able to ride on a Gondola, Venice’s most famous mode of transportation.

Nico and I in Venice

Nico and I in Venice

Piazza San Marco

Piazza San Marco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the coming weeks, I hope I can travel more, meet more people, and learn more, but so far the future seems bright, as Halloween approaches and my classes are getting more interesting.

London in the fall 2017

David Arias
London, 2017

First Entry

I’m David Arias, an international student from Colombia at H-SC, and I decided to study abroad at University College London for the fall semester of my junior year. When looking for study abroad opportunities (H-SC offers many) I kept in mind that I wanted to keep improving my English and study at a school as different as possible from what H-SC had to offer, not because I didn’t like H-SC, but because I wanted to challenge myself and experience new things. UCL appeared as the perfect option because it offered me a 40,000 student population university, located in Central London, with a wide range of departments and courses I could choose from, which at the same time, was ranked among the top ten schools in the world. After a demanding application process, I was accepted at UCL last spring, and I started preparing for this great opportunity.

University College London

University College London

After four months of preparation, in which I worked for a while and then visited my family and friends back home, I’m finally here in London, staying at one of UCL’s housing facilities, which is five minutes away walking from Buckingham Palace, and I couldn’t be happier to be writing this entry. It’s already time to register for courses, or how Brits call it, modules. Registering for classes at UCL is not as easy as waking up at 5:30 a.m. and registering for classes on Tigerweb using an Econ Lab computer. Here, affiliates (exchange students) have to contact the equivalent to a Department Chair and ask for available courses for affiliates and general approval before registering on Portico (the equivalent to Tigerweb) for courses. It’s not been an ideal process, as I have to take a certain amount of credits in order to graduate on time but, the availability of courses, along with kindness UCL faculty and staff embody, keep me optimistic that I’ll be able to take the courses I want to take and the ones that will eventually transfer to an H-SC transcript.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

Apart from the registration process mess, I’ve also been able to tour the city and visit iconic places in London. Big Ben was the first one on my to-do list, and after two days of orientation with the agency that helped me in coming to London, I went to have a couple of drinks with a friend next to the Thames, at a bridge where we could appreciate the London Eye and the Big Ben at the same time. It was definitely a great feeling to realize that the period of preparation and stressful pre-departure from Colombia was finally over. And, I was now on to the exciting part of this new semester-long adventure, as the Big Ben and the London Eye were there, next to one of my closest friends, welcoming me to this great city that’s got lots to offer, and that I hope I’ll take advantage of through my time here. On the list, there is still a lot to do, as I have to visit Tower Bridge, the National Museums, and Buckingham Palace, not mentioning Camden Market and the different Football (soccer) Stadiums, which are really famous places here in London.

Studying “Across the Pond” 2017/18

Jamie Agnew
LSE 2017/18

I am studying at the London School of Economics in the General Course, which is their year-long study abroad program. Given that I have travelled to eight different countries thus far, I have always wanted to study abroad. When it came around time to apply, I focused all my attention to LSE for several reasons. One, I wanted to push myself academically in the fields of economics and finance, and LSE has a strong reputation in those subjects. Second, I didn’t need to learn a new language to live there, which took a lot of pressure off the situation. For those two reasons, I never really looked further than LSE.
I am really excited to get over there. All of my buddies have been in school for 2-3 weeks now, and I feel like I am left out of the fun. So, if nothing else, I am just anxious to have fun. I am also looking forward to meeting new people, which is also where some of my nerves are stemming from. While I am a sociable kid, anytime you go somewhere without knowing anyone, it can be scary. According to kids that have studied at LSE before, they have a good program to integrate the kids in my program including a boat party. I am also excited and nervous about living on my own. It will be nice to have quiet time, but I love to socialize so that is something I am going to have to adjust to.
Lastly, I am REALLY looking forward to traveling. I have buddies studying in other countries in Europe, including Germany, Italy, and the Czech Republic. Airfare is quite cheap over here, which encourages me to travel as much as possible. I have plans to go to Oktoberfest one of the first weekends I am there as well as Prague for Thanksgiving. Nonetheless, I am really looking forward to expanding my cultural horizons by traveling to different European countries.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

 

VPO 2017

Griffin  Salyer
Griff Travels 4
VPO 2017

How was your experience different from what you expected?  In what ways was it the same?

Lake Lamond

Lake Lamond

My experience was more enlightening than I truly expected. I came back wide-eyed and ready to take on a new world. It is weird how you might even expect this change, yet it still occurs so dramatically. I think about different ideas, in different ways, and about different perspectives than I had previously. I know more about myself, and I know more about others around me. I expected to come back with “wisdom” but it is not something I could have understood until I experienced it. Whatever it is that does this to us as humans, it certainly happened to me. It strengthened aspects of my faith, my resolve, and many ideas I have about the world. What I am saying is that no matter what you expect, you will always get more from an experience out of your comfort zone, and out of your own house.

What stereotypes did you have about your study abroad destination? Were those confirmed or negated?

Cool street performer and her dog just outside of the Edinburgh Castle.

Cool street performer and her dog just outside of the Edinburgh Castle.

Generally, I don’t like to go by stereotypes, whether they’re found in truth or rumor, just because of the principle of keeping an open mind about people. I find that I get some different ideas from my family and those around me, and that it’s alright, but I need to form my own opinions and really think for myself – especially when it is about my environment and the people that inhabit that environment. I found that English people are overwhelmingly nice and respectful. The country is not too far different from the U.S. and it felt like I was in a slightly different state, with slightly nicer people.

What do you miss/think you’ll miss most from abroad?

I really enjoyed the pub culture from the aspect of a place to go to bond with your friends,

Dalton and I on Calton Hill overlooking Edinburgh.

Dalton and I on Calton Hill overlooking Edinburgh.

have deep discussions about life and academics, and as a relaxing place that is separate from home and work. It was not about the beer. It was about the friendship that came with the pint and what you did with that friendship. I became much closer to many Hampden-Sydney men because of the discussions about both school and life that we would have over a relaxing pint. Sometimes, we would even read our books in the pub with a relaxing glass of wine or cold pint. It was an atmosphere that was conducive of so many positive experiences and I would feel wrong if I didn’t mention one of the most positive experiences I had.

What’s your general advice for students preparing to go abroad?  How about for students going on your study abroad program?

A war memorial for Scottish American Soldiers directly next to the gravesite of David Hume.

A war memorial for Scottish American Soldiers directly next to the gravesite of David Hume.

Prepare yourself for a different world, a different perspective and new experiences. Go and experience everything around you! Some of the most fun I had was just waking up, picking a place on the map, and going there. Walking everywhere is great, but make sure you have the shoes to do it.

 

 

What’s the best thing about being home?  What’s the hardest?

It is America. By far something everyone seems to take for granted too often. We seem to be one of the best countries, even when compared to a country that is as developed as we are. I got to get right back into school, where I am able to thrive, so that is wonderful as well. I cannot think of a hard thing about being home. I just gosh darn, love it.

In My Head.

The Symphony rages on in my head. A wonderful cacophony of elegant sounds smoothly sails from one side of my brain to another. I feel emotionally different. I feel stronger as a person, more driven, and more mature. I wanted to keep my reflection about my trip short, because it doesn’t need to be complex. It is simple. I grew as a person in every positive way. I came back more understanding of those around me, and with new convictions about where I’d like to direct my efforts. It was an incredible experience.

VPO 2017

Griffin Salyer
Griff Travels 3
July 25, 2017

What’s your favorite food you’ve tried so far?

My favorite food is by far any of the pub foods that are abundantly available in the U.K. Within the subsection of pub foods, nearly every item on any pub menu is restaurant or higher quality, and it is great for a growing young man like myself. Within the delicious pub food realm, I must say that my favorite so far is a panini, filled with tuna and mayonnaise and delivered to transcendence with melted cheese, appearing upon a golden platter and encircled by chips (fries for you America folk).

What have you accomplished while abroad that makes you proud?

The Church of Lincoln College where on of our lectures was held.

The Church of Lincoln College where on of our lectures was held.

I know how to travel. While abroad, by some act of god and the grace of my awesome parents, I did not have to do too much to refine my traveling skills and senses. I have an impeccable sense of direction, an impressive sense of smell for the best local places, and a common sense that can go to battle with the toughest streets of Rural U.K. In addition, my proudest accomplishment in the academic realm is receiving a bold and beautifully penned “Brilliant!” from my English tutor, Miranda Faye Thomas. A totally objective view of this is that it signifies how excellent I am (don’t worry, my ego isn’t that bad). Most importantly, something that makes me proud is the knowledge and skills that my H-SC has imparted upon me, and for that I am grateful.

How do you spend your free time? Is it different from what you would do in
the US?

I spend my free time discussing and interacting with new and old friends over subjects from academics to the height a sheep may jump when frightened. Incredibly, the best times have been spent not laying around and doing nothing, but actually interacting with my environment, my professors and tutors, and the people of Oxford and the U.K. This is not wholly different from what I do in the U.S. but it feels much more different because of the new environment and all the new people.

Are you making progress with the language? Any funny stories of language
gaffes?

The language happens to come very naturally to me. In England they actually, believe it or not, use the English language to communicate! It is truly a beautiful language. Aside from the jokes, the English in the U.K. has many differences, from tone and colloquial meanings, to the contexts of their jokes.  So far, my most embarrassing story is when I learned that “quite good” means “less than good”.  This was of course after one of my tutors had used the phrase when describing one of my papers, and I left the tutorial happy that my paper was “quite good”.

What are you learning in class? What are you learning outside of class?

Bath from Sham Castle.

Bath from Sham Castle.

We are learning Early Modern English history, the period from about the 1450s to the 1660s. I am learning many different lessons outside of class. There are too many to draw from so, just to give you a sense, I am learning lessons like how to talk to people who do not immediately understand your background or the ideologies in your country. I am learning lessons about the harsh reality of people and how they behave – whether good or bad – and how to distance myself from others who are a detriment to themselves, and worse, to those around them. On a lighter note, I am learning the horribleness to currency conversions and the tight rope that is walked when trying to live on a budget in a foreign country.

The ceiling of the Sheldonian Theatre where all Oxford students graduate.

The ceiling of the Sheldonian Theatre where all Oxford students graduate.

The academics have remained constant. Everything is a forward progression into improving the way I think, write, and articulate the thoughts I have. Every week improves my critical thinking skills and tries my soul on the thoughts that I use to have. The academics at Oxford have introduced my scholarship to a new division of thought process and thought articulation, as well as a development in the way that I structure essays. The experience has been overwhelmingly positive. I have become much more well read in legendary critics in literature, history, and the interpretation in both fields. Although it may not be clear in my writing on this blog, I have refined my reading and writing skills to the point that I am much more confident in my writing, speaking, and arguing ability, and much more confident in my ability to present an excellent essay to the waiting professors at Hampden-Sydney. I am enjoying my experience in Oxford.

In my head. I like to think often of how I grow each year, semester, and week as I learn more and am challenged by rigorous academics. I’ve learned from Hampden-Sydney that doing this can give you a sense of where you’ve been, but most importantly it gives you a sense of where you will go. From the beginning of this trip, to now at this last week, I have been through a wonderful experience of personal growth. Whether it comes from the academics, the traveling, or the combination of both – I have grown as a person in many ways. It is easy to forget how fortunate I am. Here, it is easy to remember, and not in a way that I mean to sound arrogant, but in the way that I am so thankful that I can see it more clearly now. I think traveling to Oxford, and staying on my own has developed my world view immensely, and from that I am immediately benefiting.

The entrance to Endinburgh Castle.

The entrance to Endinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh – Edinburgh was the best place I have visited on my trip. It was fun, cool, smart not always too crowded, and it had a world-class zoo! The Edinburgh Castle was an incredible piece of history and outlasted many different wars. The people there, and our AirBnB host, were extraordinarily nice and welcoming, while the entire area gave a nice sense of hospitality. There were many street performers there, and among them there were some talented bagpipe players – my favorite instrument. The only bad experience I had was on the way there, by bus, that took a whole 12 hours of overnight driving with the heat on. Never again will I travel by bus. The landscape was also incredible, and we got the chance to visit Lake Lomond shortly after arriving in Glasgow. I think everything about the Scottish Countryside can only be praised and it was more than worth every penny I spent.

The deteriorated rock of Sham Castle with Bath in the distance.

The deteriorated rock of Sham Castle with Bath in the distance.

Bath – Bath was a nice and comfortable town, very touristy, but also had an obvious personality. My group decided to wander around trying to figure out where to go, until we came upon the Jane Austin center. Here, everyone decided to take a look at what this little museum had to offer – except me of course. I decided that 9 pounds was too steep a price for an author I had barely read, so I waited outside for a long time watching the cars go by and the tour groups wander through. As I waited there, I got to see a shift change of the men who stand outside of the center in there 17th and 18th century clothing.

The Most Photographed Man in England.

The Most Photographed Man in England.

One of those men, who I forget the name of unfortunately, was a very well dressed (18th century standards) man who knew almost everything there is to know about bath, and about American Civil War reenactments! He was one of the most genuine people I met, and the coolest. After an hour of conversation with him, a few songs of the old south that he remembered, and a wonderful tale of all the famous people who have lived in bath, we parted ways and I left down the trail enlightened and entertained. As it turns out, this man is the most photographed man in England! He was famous and I had no idea – even when an LA Times reporter came up to him and told him she would be back later for an interview, I never thought he was famous! I did not even get a picture with him. Other than that, the cathedral was wonderful and I had a lovely time there in Bath.

Stratford-upon-Avon 2 – The second Journey to Stratford ended up being more fun and wholesome. During the day, Sam and I (my buddy from Sydney) decided to spend time talking in any honest pub we found. On our way to the grave of Shakespeare we found a nice pub in the wall just down the street from the theater. Here we spent several hours talking, then we left anxious for the upcoming Shakespeare play “Julius Caesar”. The play was wonderful! The best time we had here was at the pub “the dirty duck”, where we would meet the star of the play we saw the last time we were in Stratford. As we left at midnight, we were told that all the actors from the theater went there afterward to have a pint and hang out. It seems we have a wonderful taste in pubs.

Coming Soon: my final installment, final thoughts, and reflections about my trip. Tying up a couple different ends and concluding this blog series. Stay tuned to hear about my last two weeks and my travel home.