William Duncan (Barcelona, Jan. 23)

While choosing to attend Hampden-Sydney College was a difficult decision to make, the decision to determine my study abroad location to be Barcelona, Spain proved to be oven more challenging. As I don’t know what I want to do after college, I have been set on studying abroad for some time now. I’m biased towards warmer weather, so I knew I wanted to be somewhere close to water and in a warm climate. I had never been out of the country before and I knew I wanted to see Europe, but I was unsure where I wanted to spend the majority of my time. However, my selection process might have been a little different from others who chose to study abroad. I had to complete one more level of Spanish for my core curriculum requirements, so I began to narrow down places where I could take Spanish classes. Then, I looked at climate, culture, history, and environment, rather than at specific programs. I wanted the best cultural experience, rather than the best study abroad program. After comparing Madrid, Valencia, and Barcelona, I decided that Barcelona met my requirements for what I was looking for in a host city. This masterfully designed metropolis, full of historic artwork and architecture by the famous Gaudi, inhabits the shore of the beautiful Costa Brava and is the capital of the passionate Catalonians. While Madrid and Valencia both are fantastic options, I felt Barcelona was the place I needed to call home on this eye opening experience.

When I was planning for my trip abroad, I saw that Barcelona had a heavily athletic aspect of the city. Being an avid sports fan, this called to me: I am dying to attend a game in the historic Camp Nou stadium to watch one of the richest fútbol clubs in the world, F. C. Barcelona. I can’t wait to see the best player in the world without requiring a television—Lionel Messi. I want to be engrossed with the fans and experience the same passion that they feel, I want to bear the bitter cold temperatures in the signature Barcelona scarves to watch their famous blue and red jerseys fight for victory, I want to be at a small, local bar, cheering Neymar Jr. on to net another flashy goal. As a foreigner, how else am I supposed to truly absorb what it’s like to live in Barcelona?

Barcelona’s stunning coast called to me as well. I work as a sailing instructor for Camp Sea Gull in Arapahoe, North Carolina, but I’m sacrificing that summer work in order to experience sailing off the coast of Spain. I wanted to be somewhere where I could share my passion for this sport with. Barcelona has such a rich sailing culture. Its ports are lined with an excess of sailboats: day sailors, schooners, and massive yachts bob gently in the harbor. I feel like this is a reasonable substitute for my summer job.

Regardless of the endless experiences that Barcelona has to offer, I will admit that I was extremely nervous upon arrival. I am the only Hampden-Sydney student in Barcelona. I knew nobody in my abroad program. My biggest fear was that I might not meet enough people to be comfortable in this new environment. Not only am I not a great speaker of Spanish, but I have never lived in a city as large as Barcelona. One can imagine the culture shock of going abroad for the first time, but an unexpected culture shock was added when I realized how large Barcelona actually is… then again, that’s not saying much when compared to Farmville.

I made my biggest fear my main goal for my time in Barcelona: I want to meet new people from different places. I have lived in the Southeast United States for all of my life, and while I love it more than anything, I think that I should expand my horizons and meet people from many places around the world. I feel that being able to open myself up to new people is a trait that I will be able to use for the rest of my life. Two weeks into the program, I have found that there are many other students who are looking to do the same. I have found a fun group of friends who are from all around the country and are looking to experience Barcelona culture in the same ways that I am. They bring different outlooks on life and their different passions make this experience more exciting. I would not think to try some of the things we’ve experienced if not for these new friends and I could not be more excited to see what else Barcelona and the rest of Europe have to offer with my new friends at my side.

H-SC Students Conclude an Unforgettable Experience in Spain

by Wesley R. Sholtes ’05

From May 17 to June 21, 2003, Assistant Professor of Modern Languages Dieudonne Afatsawo, Lecturer in Modern Languages Keith Sprouse, and fifteen Hampden-Sydney students spent an arduous, but highly enjoyable, May Term Study Abroad program in Alcala de Henares, Spain.

 

The program, which combined the teaching styles of native Spanish-speaking professors with those of Afatsawo and Sprouse, included three hours of class each morning and several excursion trips.  In order to maximize their immersion into the language and culture of Spain, students also stayed with host families who only spoke Spanish.  

 Among the noteworthy cities and sites that the group visited were Madrid, Sevilla, Avila, El Escorial, El Valle de los Ca?dos, Toledo, all renowned for their historical and cultural relevance to Spain.  Students spent time gawking at cathedrals, castles, an aqueduct, huge stone walls, a huge monument to Franco, and famous paintings and artwork in the Museum Prado and the Reina de Sofia.  The excursions usually involved walking long distances and carrying bocadillos for lunch, all the while sweating profusely under the fierce Spanish sun.

Tony Quitiquit (far right in picture above), a sophomore from Emporia, VA, participating in the 201-202 class taught by Sprouse, offers his comments about the quality of the program from an academic standpoint.  “I learned more in five weeks than I would [have learned] in two semesters,” says Quitiquit.  “I would have liked it a little more relaxed.”   Quitiquit says that some nights he was unable to go out of his house because he had to study in order to get a decent grade.  “May term is just as much about experiencing the country,” he asserts.

The 303-485 class, on the other hand, viewed their work load as relatively light in comparison, although the class itself was far from easy. The upper level class attended several lectures in Madrid, gave daily oral presentation analyzing a news article or television show, and wrote several papers. Despite these challenges, advanced students generally had time to enjoy Spain and improve their Spanish through constant exposure to locals.

Such exposure often took place off the beaten path of tourists, especially with regard to the nightlife in Alcal? de Henares.  Many students spent time in bars and discotheques that, on weekends, are open as late as 8:00 in the morning. As one might gather, a few students spent practically the whole night partying before going to class or to their excursion.

In a couple of instances, such habits caused disharmony with the professors. Yet despite a couple of foolish incidents, many found themselves more mature after a month of freedom in a foreign county.  According to Quitiquit, “There was a lot of [growing up] on the trip.”

Quitiquit believes that the friendships he made with both the native Spaniards and American students studying in Alcala made his trip to Spain worthwhile. “I can come back to Spain and have a home.”  Students made good friends with Spaniards and with a number of Latin Americans visiting Spain to work or study.  Some were from Mexico, Argentina, and Chile.

However, because many American students were studying at the nearby University of Alcala de Henares, Hampden-Sydney students found it all too easy to hang out with them and to speak English.  Hampden-Sydney students made friendships with other students from Alabama, North Carolina, Ohio, Arizona, California, and other states.

Favorite pastimes for students included eating tapas and hanging out in the Plaza de Cervantes, a familiar gathering place for the Spanish people in which it is the custom to sit down and socialize for several hours.  In fact, Spanish people never visit each other’s houses for social purposes; rather, they go out to a plaza or park to pass the time of day or night.  As a result, couples kissing or embracing on benches in public is a familiar sight.

The typical family in Spain does not spend much time working while at home. After meals, the primary activity is watching television; they only have a few channels. The food is simple but served in large quantities, especially at lunch, which is the biggest meal by a long shot. After the main meal, which is eaten no earlier than two in the afternoon but usually later, the Spanish people take a siesta until about 5 or 5:30.  Our students would usually spend this time with their host families before going out again around six.  Supper was served around nine or later.

During the four-day vacation set aside by the program for traveling, a majority of the students elected to take a trip to the beaches of Mallorca, a large island off the east coast of Spain in the Mediterranean.  While staying at a four-star hotel designed for vacationing families, students cooked meals for themselves in their rooms and got sunburned on the beach.  Quitiquit thoroughly enjoyed “sitting under straw huts, eating pineapple, and looking out at the clear, blue water.” A few students also took the opportunity to go snorkeling nearby.

Toward the end of the trip, a few students went to a bullfight.  At the bullfight, matadors alternated and killed five bulls altogether, while a sixth lived to see another day. The matadors demonstrated an impressive display of hand-eye coordination and strength.  Excitingly, the last bull charged at and succeeded in knocking over a well-armored horse and its rider, whose purpose for the bullfight was to weaken the charging bull by stabbing the bull in the neck using a long pole with a sharp prong on the end.

Other students went shopping in Madrid on occasion and visited the swimming pool when it opened toward the end of the trip.  One student even went to another beach with a female bartender from Mr. Donkey, perhaps the most popular bar among the students because of its adaptation of the American concept of happy hour.  Still others played soccer in the park from time to time.

When all was said and done, everyone was ready to go home when the time came.  However, when they look back on their experiences, they will never forget them.  Nor will I. I highly recommend the program to anyone looking to get six credits in Spanish and enjoy a foreign country to the maximum.

Spain Anyone?

by Thomas O. Robbins ’04In his famous work La España Invisible, Azorín writes about the richness of Spain in all aspects of its composition from history to geography to culture. He emphasizes that there is a spiritual atmosphere. The students participating in the 2002 May Term Spanish Immersion Program can corroborate Azorín’s argument. The program was, to say the least, an intense immersion program.

 

Twenty-four students traveled to Alcadá de Henares with Professor Dieudonne Afatsawo and Professor Jana DeJong.

Students were placed with families who introduced them to various aspects of Spanish culture. The use of host families is not a new concept to the city of Alcalá de Henares. The custom of host families is closely tied to the Universidad de Alcalá and has been going on since the 14th Century. In general, these families did not speak any English, so students learned very quickly how to communicate. Families taught students essential terminology about household items. For example, meals were an excellent opportunity to teach students various types of food. In addition, host families were available for help with any matter like directions, recommendations of tours, etc.

The family offered a look at cultural differences in family life, but our classes offered a view of academic and educational standards in Spain. Participants could choose Intermediate Language Skills or Culture and Contemporary Issues in Spanish Society. However, one should not be misled. Each set of classes was very challenging. Each weekday, classes met for four hours of instruction followed by homework. The classes are normally taught over the course of a year, so the same amount of information was condensed into four weeks of instruction. Moreover, active participation in the classroom discussion was  required. Debates and discussion topics were supplemented with trips to local historical sites. While the Culture Class (303) was discussing Spanish architecture, the class would take field trips to nearby cathedrals or other structures to determine the style and influence the structure might have had. The local cathedral was a mixture of Roman columns with Visigoth detail. In the Contemporary Issues class, we regularly traveled to Madrid for press conferences, roundtable discussions, and scholarly presentations. Similarly, the entire group would go on excursions during the week and weekends. These trips would be to a destination relatively far from Madrid. Excursions included cities such as Avila, Segovia, and Toledo. These adventures augmented classroom activities from the past week. Excursions had a formal tour followed by leisure time for independent exploration.

On the other hand, the group truly adhered to the Hampden-Sydney adage of “work hard, play hard.” The social life offerings in a city like Alcalá were quite different from those of Farmville. One popular hangout was the Plaza de Cervantes, the town’s center, named for the famous author of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes. The Plaza featured open-air bars and restaurants, cafes, and shopping venues. The bars are an integral part of the social life of Spain. Weekend nights were reserved for time at bars and at midnight a migration to a discotheque of your choice. Personally, I found the Coliseum Disco to be quite lively. My host family found it odd that I returned home at 2 A.M. They told me that the average college student stayed out at the clubs until 5 A.M.!

While bars might, arguably, be the most popular forum for discourse, I found my host family’s patio to be a common place of communication. My family was very close. Every meal forwarded the opportunity for questions to be answered. Siesta was also a convenient time to talk or relax from a hard day’s work. Siesta is a period to time, usually an hour or two after lunch, used to relax; however, this is not the end of the day. Work and school commenced again after the siesta.

The Program illuminated another particularly important facet: group dynamics. There was a clearly noticeable change in the group between the times we departed from Dulles Airport (DC) until our return voyage from Spain. Leisure time was sparse, but the group seemed to find something enjoyable to do. While bars and the Plaza were popular hangouts, many students opted to spend free time exploring the various Spains. My first trip was hiking in a nearby city called Cercedilla. Cercedilla is well-known in Spain for its hiking trails and rich natural environment. The train ride offered a glimpse of the diverse biogeography that quickly changed from a desert-like plain to green agricultural fields to a lush mountain valley.

 
(left to right) Hunter Burnette ’05, Thom Robbins ’04, Joshua Thurston ’03, Meade Stone ’04 in Valencia

 Yet, the most memorable trip would have to be Valencia. A group of four Hampden-Sydney guys embarked on a trip to see the Mediterranean Sea. However, our trip began with a series of problems. First, we missed our train, so we had to regroup and develop another plan. Every door seemed to shut in our faces. We did not despair. Finally, we, with much frustration, decided to spend only one day at the beach and depart very early the following morning. That day we learned a lot about the varying strengths of each person in the group. Traveling with friends in a foreign country really has a profound effect on individuals to work together. Other students took trips to places like Mundaka and Cordoba.

Although traveling presented a perfect opportunity to bond with new friends, camaraderie was also seen through every aspect of the trip. Students were always helping one another study for a coming examination or explaining the difference between future and conditional conjugations. Perhaps the single thing that I will remember most will be the time spent with friends, be it through studying, discussing a multitude of issues ranging from religion to Spanish societal issues, or sharing stories about pastimes with host families.

Azorín would be delighted with the merits of the program. It truly captured the essence of the various Spains. Students left with only two desires: sleep and additional time in Spain.

At Casa de la Americas, Madrid
(kneeling in front)
Matthew Anderson ’05, Zack Hunt ’03

(standing left to right)
Wesley Lawson ’04, Joshua Thurston ’03, Jesse Joyce ’03,  Matthew Friedman ’03,  Michael Roberts ’05,  Derek Barker ’03,  Thom Robbins ’04, Adrian Allen ’04, and Seth Jenkins ’02

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.”