Study Abroad 2003-2004

During the 2003-2004 academic year, 72 Hampden-Sydney students studied abroad in 11 different countries. The length of study ran from a full academic year to May Term courses and ranged from Europe to Central America to Australia and New Zealand.

On September 2, many of the participants gathered in the Parents & Friends Lounge and several shared stories of their adventures.

G. W. Zuban ’06 of Chesterfield, VA, studied at University of St. Andrews, Scotland, for the Spring Semester 2004.
G.W. chose St. Andrews because of its solid academic reputation and it because is substantially larger than Hampden-Sydney College but not in an urban environment. Early on, he could not find a building where one of his classes was held and stopped another student and asked directions; it turned out to be Prince William, who gave him directions.

Full Story…

Forrest Smith ’06 of Farmville, VA, spent the academic year at University of Glasgow.
He arrived the end of August. Forrest called it a “surreal experience.” “I always wanted to go to Scotland, and I threw myself into the culture. First, I tried haggis. It is a brilliant dish; I loved it. With haggis and a pint of Guinness you can’t go wrong. The people of Scotland are warm and friendly; if you ask directions, they don’t just give you directions they take you there.”
“The university experience was like independent study. Professors are very approachable but you are largely on your own. There is much reading. The routine is paper, project, exam, and go home.”
The rugged terrain is just as it would have been 400 or 500 years ago. This was the Scotland I went to see, and I was not disappointed. I traveled to Loch Ness and Loch Lomond and took 3- or 4-hour hikes on trails up the mountains. Scotland is so very green.

Jordan Gaul ’05, of West Chester, PA, spent the academic year at St. Catherines College, Oxford University, England.
“At Oxford there were no tests, study was entirely independent, lectures were optional, but evaluations were intense and individualized. It was the most thorough and rewarding system I have ever had the opportunity to study under.”

Full Story…


Mathew Anderson ’06 of Staunton, VA, spent his junior year in Paris on the Sweet Briar College Program.
“It was the best decision I have made thus far; of the 95 in the program, 10 were men.”
“We began with a month in Tours and then moved to Paris, where I lived with a host family and attended the Sorbonne. The Sorbonne is extremely different form Hampden-Sydney – huge classes, little support – a different experience.”
“Sweet Briar was great about side trips. We went to Monet’s Garden a Giverny and the American Cemetery at Normandy. I spent Christmas in Brussels. All the guys in the program decided to go to Sweden, and we found a 19 Euro plane fare to Stockholm. Several of us took a 16-day spring-break trip to Morocco including riding camels across the Sahara for two days. It was a phenomenal trip, so very different from anything I had ever seen. The skies and colors of Morocco are beyond belief.”
“Paris is a gift. It is all the sparkle and all the life you could hope for. Last year was the best year ever.”

Joseph Yarborough ’06, of Golf Shores, AL, spent the spring semester at James Cook University in Cairnes, Australia. He took courses in management, psychology, and aboriginal culture.
“I went with Mike Vassar (’06 of Midlothian, VA). Our study abroad conditions were that it was warm and everybody spoke English, and we found the right place.”
“In Australia what you learn above the surface is nothing to what you can learn under the water; diving with a whale is like being with a dinosaur.
We took a 3,000-mile 16-day road trip from Cairnes to Sidney. Up in the rain forests, there are trees that take a hundred years to grow. On the beaches the views are breathtaking. There are gorges with waterfalls that shake the earth. At Barron Bay are the prettiest sunsets you will ever see.”
“It was great experience. Anyone who gets a chance to study abound, just go for it.”

Monti Mercer ’06 of Fairfax, VA, took the May Term course in tropical biology in Costa Rica.

Full Story…

Daniel Gordon ’05 of Burke, VA, studied abroad in Grenoble, France, for two months last summer as part of the requirements for his French major.
“Grenoble is not a tourist town and most foreigners there are students. It is well located and I visited Paris, Verdun, Normandy, Dijon, and Monaco.”
“It was an experience everyone should have. I hope to return to spend a year.”

Spring Semester 2004 Abroad At St. Andrews

by G. W. Zuban ’05

As the new school year opens, I would like to share some of my experiences of last semester spent at the University of St. Andrews in beautiful St. Andrews, Scotland.  As a brief history of the University, it was founded in the early fifteenth century to keep the sons of Scottish nobles from being captured by the English during wartime. In modern times, the University is in the middle of St. Andrews, flanked by the world famous home golf course and surrounded by the North Sea.  While the town is modern, it is also rife with mediaeval charm.  There is a castle destroyed by the Scottish Reformation, along with the remains of a massive cathedral also destroyed during the Reformation.  The remains of both of these buildings were as awe inspiring today as they must have been while they existed in their entirety.

Arriving at St. Andrews was very simple indeed.  After flying into the Edinburgh Airport, which is about the size of Richmond International Airport, I was able to quickly locate the Overseas Society, who had arranged to corral the international students from the airport to St. Andrews.  We quickly boarded a bus and headed out on the hour drive to St. Andrews.  Of course, students from around the United States started chatting and mentioning where we went to school.  Actually, I was quickly asked if I knew Meade Stone, as he was a friend of one of the girls on the bus.  Even though we go to a small school, Hampden-Sydney and her students are remarkably known.  After the bus ride was over, I was taken to Andrew Melville Hall, my residence for the remainder of the Semester.  Melville is an oddly designed building; however, it would serve me well as home.

Before classes started, the Overseas Society held many activities to familiarize us with St. Andrews and surrounding towns, Edinburgh, and with the nuances of Scottish culture.  My favorite activity was a group trip to Edinburgh.  We were taken to the castle, which sits prominently above the city.  This was also a time to establish stronger relationships with fellow “JSAs”as we were called.  That stands for “Junior Semester Abroad”, as opposed to “JYAs”, or “Junior Year Abroad.”  The trip lasted the entire day and was absolutely incredible.  The following few days were filled with trips to Anstruther (right), Pittenweem, and Crail.  These three small fishing towns were situated along the coast just north of St. Andrews.  They were absolutely beautiful and made for a great trip.

While I would have loved to be in Scotland simply for travel, there was also the academic aspect of my trip to address.  Lower level classes (first and second year) are normally large lectures accompanied with a smaller tutorial.  Upper level classes are normally smaller and more like classes in the U.S.  I took three history classes, which were very challenging.  The classes were paper based, without any tests during the semester.  There was surprisingly few assessments during the semester except for the papers.  The majority of final grades were determined by final exams, which were as stressful as final exams are anywhere.  Professors at St. Andrews were very nice and approachable much like Hampden-Sydney.  I never had a problem getting questions answered and contacting professors.  The only real difference that I noticed was that questions were never asked during lecture.  All questions were to wait for the tutorial.  I found this problematic, as it may be a different professor teaching the tutorial as was lecturing.  However, classes were good for the most part and very informative indeed.

Perhaps the most enriching aspect of studying abroad is the people from around the globe that quickly become close friends.  I have no doubt that these friends will remain close for the rest of my life.  We all struggled as students together, some far from home, to be successful at school as well as have a good time. While it was easy to relate to fellow Americans, the most fun was had with people from all corners of the globe.  National identity became secondary, as having a good time or studying became the primary goal.  One of my favorite trips that I took with my new friends (both of whom, in this instance, happened to be American?the others could not go due to exams) was a thirty-five mile hiking trip on the West Highland Way.  We hiked over Ben Lomond, which is the geographic feature noting the start of the Highlands. 

G. W. Zuban (H-SC ’05) and Justin Burger (Bowdoin College’ 05) above Loch Lomond

Hiking around Loch Lomond with my two friends made my trip complete.  We were able to talk about our different experiences at home, at our respective American schools, and as a JSA is Scotland. I think I can speak for the three of us in saying that we all had an amazing time both on the backpacking trip and as students at St. Andrews.

As all good things must come to an end, so too did my adventures in Scotland.  I must admit that it was hard saying numerous goodbyes, getting in a Taxi and speeding away to the airport.  I know that I will never see some of these people again, yet I know that we will never forget our time at St. Andrews.  As I return to the Hill this year, I know that I have grown as a person and a student having studied abroad. I would not, even if I could, change my time in Scotland, and I know that it was one of my best decisions as a student to study abroad in St. Andrews.