Experience in Education

Chase Francoeur ’17 – During my first month in the French capital I spent much of my time visiting the typical tourist areas with the other students in my class, places such as Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Versailles, Tour d’Eiffel, and Arc de Triomphe. On the weekends my program would take us outside of the city to visit other sites such as the home and gardens of French painter Claude Monet in Giverny, the wine cellars of Tours and the southern city of Toulouse where the Cassoulet (a meat stew) could rival any American chili.

After settling in and getting the rush of exploring a new city and new country out of our system, our classes began to delve into the problems that existed in not only Paris but also France as a whole as they battled against many of the very same things that headline our own newspapers and media. Place de la République, a plaza in central Paris, was a shining example of the turmoil surrounding the country in relation to immigration, racism, police brutality and more. The plaza only two years ago was a bustling place for youth to hang out and spend their summer afternoons, but is now the focal point for violent protests, even forcing the metro station in the middle of the square to be indefinitely closed as it has become so dangerous after sunset. As we shifted to seeing past the façade that is a beautiful, bustling city we began to identify the daily hardships that many faced, many of them first-hand through our weekly class excursions.

The recent terror attacks, one of which occurred on Bastille Day (July 14th), were almost commonplace, as were the protests as France struggled to maintain control over a mass of immigrants entering the country through Marseille from countries bordering the Mediterranean. The task was made even more difficult when considering many citizens were also unhappy with the government as it pushed labor agendas that inch closer towards capitalism in a strongly socialist country.

In Calais, the closest city to the United Kingdom, a refugee camp nicknamed ‘The Jungle’ because of its harsh conditions, is home to over 7,500 refugees. Crowding many of the disbanded railroads of Paris, Roma communities, known to us more commonly as gypsies, have been present for well over a decade despite walls of plywood and tarpaulin roofs that are held down with anything they can get there hands on.

Although many of the children in these communities were born in France they are not considered French citizens as if you are born to parents of a foreign nationality you are considered a foreigner until you are 18, at which point you can declare as a French national. Even upon declaring as a French national, many still experience unofficial discrimination from the government as decades of intolerance have led to inequality, which directly contradicts the country’s motto, “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité”, or “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.”

Although France utilizes laïcité, religious neutrality in public spaces, and separation of church and state, the system faces constant harsh criticisms. In 2011 the government banned women from wearing the burqa or niqab in public, a measure that many believe interferes with the ability to practice Islam. Religious symbols were also banned from public schools in 2004, and as a result many religious families moved their children to private education, which has caused a slight divide in the culture as these children do not grow up with exposure to other religions and their corresponding cultures and have a higher prevalence of intolerance towards them.

When one thinks of France we often picture a short man dressed in a black and white horizontally striped shirt, a red beret and sporting a well-maintained moustache while holding a bottle of red wine in one hand and the legendary ‘baguette’ in the other. Or, if you don’t picture that, maybe it is of a group having a picnic in the countryside with a platter of various cheeses, breads, and a few bottles of wine. After 10 weeks exploring and studying in various parts of France (Bordeaux, Caen, Chantilles, Paris, Toulouse, Tours) thanks to the Rudolph’s generous donations, I have discovered for myself how the culture and daily life of the French is so drastically different from what I personally once thought. My experiences have taught me that while you can be in an area for even a few months, you will still be blind to much of the society and culture and if you seek to be able to truly immerse yourself you must be ready to break down barriers, leave behind preconceived notions and experience difficulties and defeat.

Schafer ’17 Summer Study More than German

Harrison Schafer ‘17 – Once again, Wabash has given me an opportunity that I could never hope to repay. With funding from the Rudolph family and their summer abroad scholarship, I am able to write this blog post from Goethe’s Munich office just around the corner from the Altstadt.

Though I came to Munich to primarily enhance my skills in German, I now see how this trip has helped me become a more able Wabash man. I would like to think myself more independent because of this trip. No longer can I rely on the Sparks Center’s seemingly endless supply of warm meals, available whenever I want. Instead, I travel every week to the supermarket down the street to figure what I am going to cook for lunch, not only forcing me to learn how to finally provide for myself but also provides me with a little German practice as I run through the checkout or decide what to actually buy. Every weekday, I unfortunately experience the mixed bag that is public transportation. Despite the U3 line being the oldest and busiest line in all of Munich’s subway system, I’ve developed perhaps an odd affection for the line. With Munich’s size, I experienced an unbelievable range of people on my daily trips, with more variation than I am used to in Crawfordsville.

Schafer '17, at far left with new friends.

Schafer ’17, at far left with new friends.

Munich offered an overwhelmingly different perspective than Wabash’s campus. I attended my Goethe classes with an international smorgasbord. To my surprise, I interacted with far more than just Germans during my time abroad. I became friends with Mexicans, Panamanians, Spaniards, Saudis, Russians, and encountered many more nationalities through our weekly “Goethe Treff” program, where students attended dinner at renowned Munich restaurants and created new friendships over plates of Bavarian cuisine. Outside of the classroom, I also took the opportunity to observe the enormous variety of internationalism in Munich. Sitting on the Marienplatz fountain, I watched and listened as thousands of tourists shuttled to and from the famous square to the nearby Viktualienmarkt or Frauenkirche; I heard echoes of Southeastern Asian languages, Australian & British accents, nuggets of fellow Americans’ English, and, of course, the busy conversations of Germans bustling about on their lunch breaks. People-watching quickly became a new hobby, as I slowly realized that Munich was not the rustic, quintessential Bavarian town known only for Oktoberfest, lederhosen, and pretzels. To my surprise, Munich offered much more than merely language studies; it allowed me to appreciate cultures from across the globe.

Within my classroom, I studied German with people of many different backgrounds. Under the command of a wonderful German from Hessen, our class developed a quick sense of friendship, despite hailing from diverse backgrounds. My classmates and I formed bonds by striving through our language course; in fact, German was the only common language between me and a few other classmates. Despite having only four weeks with this international crew, I know I will miss them and hope to visit them in the future.

My application for this scholarship talked about how learning German at Wabash and immersion trips only whet my appetite for overseas study. Foolishly, I thought that this trip would sate that hunger. My time abroad has opened my eyes to new possibilities in the future; why not try to continue what I started this summer? I am completely thankful for my opportunity, which has now set in motion more concrete plans for the future–though I would have loved to have experienced this yearning sooner!

Xu ’17 Started German on Flight

Tianhong Xu’17 — First of all, I would like to thank the Rudolph family, who offered me an opportunity to take a month-long German language program at the Goethe Institute in Hamburg, Germany. With this opportunity, I had more chances to learn German not only in classrooms but also in real life situations.

My learning did not start with the program, but on the flight over. Before arriving at the Goethe Institute in Hamburg, I had an opportunity to meet one of my high school classmates in Paris, France. I had a flight to Hamburg operated by Germanwings, which was the time I spoke German in Europe for the first time.

Xu '17 in center of the photo.

Xu ’17 in center of the photo.

I was sitting in the 11th row in the flight. The flight attendant was doing cabin catering services, providing drinks for the passengers. I was not quite able to understand the substance he said with the front passengers, but, I knew that it was German. At the same time, I was so nervous: I will not be able to understand his sentences. What should I do? How embarrassed I would be!

The flight attendant had already been catering row 10, and he would reach row 11 at any second. My heart went to pit-a-pat suddenly. The flight attendant asked: “what drink would you like?” I did not realize he would use English to speak with me. “Orangensaft (orange juice)” just escaped my lips. “Here you are,” he said. “Danke schön. (Thanks very much)” “Bitte schön. (You’re very welcome.)”

It was a short conversation, but it was totally unexpected. That’s probably the start of my German language learning in Europe. Teachers in the Goethe Institute gave us a chance to learn German in a way that was different than my language learning at Wabash, due to the short duration and intensity.

My teacher, Kathrine, introduced us a relatively different learning method for learning German as a foreign language. Even though we know memorizing new words and phrases should be conducted by the students, Kathrine would use a large amount of class time to help us remember them. She asked us to match words and the corresponding pictures. Compared with the method of after-class, self-learning at Wabash, this study method actually did accelerate the speed of familiarizing and memorizing the new words and phases for us.

Also, Kathrine spoke German all the time. Even I could ask questions in English, but she would always reply me with German. In the beginning, I was not totally comfortable with that, but, as time goes on, I am totally fine with her all-German class atmosphere. By this way, I feel like I have a better grasp of the listening part of German.

Even though one month is a short period for language learning, I was able to use German to deal with some basic real-life situations. For example, I spent one weekend exploring the rich history of Berlin (about 1 hour and 50 minutes by train) and was able to ask some basic questions like, “How do I get to the Berlin Wall?” and “Which subway I should take to go to the Brandenburger Tor?”

In the meantime, I met lots of classmates from all around the world: Thailand, Malaysia, Italy, Bangladesh, Turkey, Scotland (I learned that some Scots do not identify as being British) and more.

Peterson ’16 Spends Summer Traveling

Peterson (second from left) gathers with classmates.

Peterson (second from left) gathers with classmates.

Aren Peterson – Grüß Gott!

I would like to start by sincerely thanking the Rudolf family for funding an absolutely fantastic summer for me! My language skill grew tremendously through the constant interaction and immersion in the German language!

I’ll start by briefly summarizing the itinerary of my time abroad.  The day after finals finished, I boarded a plane with my German 202 classmates for a two-week immersion course in Tübingen. After our wonderfully conducted course had wrapped up, I took a train to Stuttgart to stay a few days with a friend before flying to meet my parents for their 25th anniversary in Edinburgh. When I returned, I took a train from Stuttgart to Luxembourg City to stay a week with a friend I met through my internship with the university there. From Luxembourg I took a bus to Heidelberg to stay a week with yet another friend before finally making my way to Freiburg for a month of my Goethe Institute language courses. From there I traveled to stay with my Great Uncle in München for a week. My final stop before flying home was a stop in Ulm to visit my Großonkel’s twin brother for a few days.

If that seems like a lot, I assure you it was. Pairing the physical exhaustion of so much travel with the mental strain of thinking and interacting in another language left me always craving more sleep. Fortunately Wabash had prepared me well for that, so I did just fine!

You may ask if my “dedication” to learning became spread thin by so much travel;  quite the opposite! Excluding the short excursion to visit my parents, I had to hold my own continually with native speakers; all of my German friends and family I spent time with were well aware of my interest in learning German, and certainly didn’t go easy on me! I had heard testament to the value of “immersion,” but for some reason figured its effect was exaggerated. Now I fully appreciate how difficult but rewarding something as simple as keeping up with a conversation can be!  Outside the classroom is certainly as much, if not more of a learning experience in a foreign country!

Peterson2The classes were fantastic as well! I was placed with a dedicated and engaged group, who kept me accountable when I was tempted to slip back into English. The benefit of such an international group of students attempting to learn German is that it tends to be practically the only language connection! Our teacher introduced us to plenty of learning materials and opportunities, and the institute certainly provided an excellent environment to interact exclusively in German.

Definitely worth mentioning is how absolutely beautiful Freiburg is! Located on the South-Western corner of the Black Forrest (or Schwarzwald), it is backed up to some gorgeous coniferous covered mountains. The glittering Dreisam flows nearly through the heart of the city, and feeds the dozens of mini-canals and gutters that help supply the Altstadt (or city center) with fresh, cool water; wonderful for chilling your feet during the many over 100 degree days in Germany’s hottest city! The Munster is also one of the oldest in Germany, made from red Limestone that is always corroding, and requires constant restoration; the tower hardly is ever without its hat-like scaffolding!

Overall, the whole summer and abroad experience was utterly invaluable, certainly providing me with experiences and interactions I simply couldn’t get in a classroom.  It also provided me with a more international understanding of issues of which we only ever get to hear one side! I look forward to sharing my experiences with anyone interested, and know I will be going back to Germany some day in the near future!

Locksmith ’16 Arrives in Germany

Germany1Timothy Locksmith – First helpful tip about living in another country for any amount of time… It’s a hell of a lot easier if you speak the language fluently! I came to Bremen with the goal of improving my German at the Goethe Institute here, but man the way I handled my trip was a bit like learning how to swim by being thrown into the deep end of the pool.

My flight to Hamburg was scheduled and easy enough to get to since I took off from Orlando and only had a layover in New York (both airports I am relatively familiar with, and everyone there speaks English). However getting from Hamburg to Bremen (a bit over an hour trip by train), wasn’t quite so easy. I was up for a bit of a challenge so I didn’t buy my tram/train tickets ahead of time, and told myself I was going to only speak English if I really got into trouble.  Long story short, Germans speak very quickly so any of the directions I was given meant absolutely nothing to me. So I asked for a “Stadtplan” (map) and figured it out by myself after a while, since I was a bit too embarrassed to ask them to repeat themselves for a fourth time. Eventually I arrived safely in Bremen, and after I was finally settled into my room and had taken my placement tests, I realized that I hadn’t slept for the past 28 hours (34 if you count the time change) and took a quick 14 hour nap.

So on my first real day in Bremen, I walked around the school a bit on my own and then had a proper tour just before starting my first lesson. The campus is much larger than Wabash’s, and has many gorgeous spots hidden around with great views where one could sit out and study, or just relax and enjoy the weather (unless it’s raining… which it does here frequently). The lessons are going fine, all in all not too difficult with the exception of the listening comprehension. I’m not too worried though because I’ve already noticed some improvement, and I believe that will only get better with time. My instructor’s English isn’t great and very little is spoken in English, save a few word here and there for clarification. Luckily I’m here to learn German, which she is (obviously) fluent in.

Germany3So far my best experience has been “exploring” the older part of the city. I use quotations here because most people would probably say that I was lost. To elaborate I had gotten rough directions from my roommate to the Tram Büro so that I could get a ticket to ride the trams for the rest of the month free. Seemed simple enough, so I headed on my way and wouldn’t realize that I had left my map behind until I was in the middle of the old part of the city without a clue where the Büro might be. Since I had a few hours before my lesson started that day, I figured I might as well have a look around and ended up touring a large portion of the city by myself, while occasionally asking a passerby in broken German about certain areas. I’m not sure why, but being lost in an entirely foreign city while a bit frightening, was extremely exciting, and it was so satisfying when I was able to ask someone for directions, and then manage to understand said directions well enough to get me back to the university.

I am thoroughly enjoying my time here in Bremen, and it has already become clear to me that one month isn’t very long, as this past week and a half has flown by. But I plan on doing a bit of traveling this weekend to fully take advantage of my time abroad, and will hopefully have plenty more stories to share with you in the near future.

Miller ’16 Finishes in Germany

Kurt Miller ’16 – From Turkey to Finishing up in Freiburg

Oh my how this summer has flown by! Last week, our program visited Izmir and Istanbul, Turkey. For nine days, we explored ancient cities, new cities, and learned about Turkey’s accession process towards the European Union. Surprisingly, it was actually colder in Turkey than it is in Germany!

The first stop in Turkey was the university city of Izmir. Myself and my classmates attended the Izmir University of Economics and stayed in their dorms. Our professor’s father-in-law owns a beach house and invited all 23 members of our program to come out and spend the 4th of July on the beach. Unsure how Turkish people would react to Americans celebrating our independence day in their country, I was shocked when our presence was greeted with applause and shouts of “U.S.A!” It was heartwarming to feel welcomed and at the end of the perfect day, the father-in-law had a special surprise for us – fireworks.

After leaving Izmir, we first stopped at the ancient city of Ephesus before we made it to Istanbul. The ancient city, originally built in pre-Alexander times, was remarkably well preserved. I was stunned to see how the ancient Greek writing had survived Roman, Ottoman, and now Turkish occupation.

When we arrived in Istanbul, my first impression was shock. The city was HUGE. I had never been to a city this large, but at approximately 17 million people, this is one of the largest in the world. Between workshops on Kurdish and Armenian issues, strolls through the Grand Bazaar, and tours of both the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia, my experience in Istanbul was eye opening. I witnessed Muslims fasting for Ramadan, the integration of Christian and Muslim cultures, and the recent problems brought about by such a large influx in Syrian refugees. My favorite experience in Istanbul, however, was visiting the Byzantine Cisterns. These ancient well-like structures were buried deep underground and held up with massive columns. During times of siege, this underground oasis kept water flowing to the city.

Today, I am well rested and back at the IES Center in Freiburg, Germany. Over the summer, this city has become my home. Unfortunately, this program and my summer will soon come to an end. This has been the most progressive summer for my personal development in my entire life. Being abroad has taught me many new lessons, and very importantly, made me ever so thankful to be born in the United States and attend the great institution of Wabash College. I want to thank the Rudolph Family Scholarship Fund for the generous assistance this summer. They allowed me to explore and understand our modern world from a whole new perspective, and for that I am eternally thankful.

I am afraid that many students go abroad and succumb to their fears of being alone in a foreign place. With the preparation I received at Wabash College, I feel more prepared than many of my peers to face the challenges of studying abroad. Learning abroad with other non-Wabash students has made me more proud than ever to be a Wabash Man.

The German Department, specifically Professors Redding, Tucker, and Miles, have all taught me exceptionally well. With their guidance, I have been more than able to get by in Germany speaking their language.

Wabash Always Fights!

Miller ’16 Learning in Srebrenica

by: Kurt Miller ’16

How can we pat ourselves on the back when so many died?
When good men do nothing, evil always thrives.
Through the horrors of horrors, that bloody genocide,
Too many tragedies in too short a time.

History says we saved them, but we are the victor.
It’s a filthy lie that with time, only grows thicker.
Remember not the guts and glory,
But the Cowards who fled, now that is the story.

Peace keeping is foolish, when war has begun,
But it is even more silly to drop everything and run.
All for the sake of a few dozen men,
Tens of thousands met their tragic end.

Why, oh why did these events unfold?
So many chances to not repeat the mistakes of old.
“Never again” – the mantra we uttered,
But how, then, does this keep happening amongst brothers?

Too many mothers grieving for sons.
Even today, many still succumb.
Genocide on an industrial scale,
A tragedy of modernity, people still wail.
While we all were young, crying and sleeping,
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, evil was creeping.


Kurt Miller ’16 – This summer, we  have studied over the past several weeks the limits and potentials of enlarging the European Union to include the country of Bosnia & Herzegovina. This week, we visited the beautiful city of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia & Herzegovina. Amongst this ancient and beautiful city, the scars of the devastating war from 1992-1995 still remain present. It is hard to imagine that for four years in the 1990s, while I was living a comfortable life in the Midwest, this city was under siege. The longest siege of a city since World War II has left an eerie mark on this city. Shrapnel scars pepper buildings and many structures remain skeletal shells – stuck in a state of limbo as their legal owners’ fates are unknown.

The real tragedy of this war was not, however, the siege of Sarajevo, but the genocide committed throughout the country by paramilitary and military forces. Yesterday, we visited Srebrenica – a town smaller than Crawfordsville, Indiana. This picturesque town, nestled between scenic mountains and lush green forest, was the site of the most destructive genocide on European soil since World War II. We met with a Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) who lost both his twin brother and his father to Serbian forces. His eyes and speech told me the story of his struggle and I felt his pain during his presentation.

Bosnia & Herzegovina is divided into two main state entities comprising three main ethnic groups. In one half of the country, the Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina contains a majority of Bosniaks (Muslims) and a minority of Croats (Catholics). In the other half of the country, Republica SPRSKA, an overwhelming Serbian majority (Orthodox) is present.  The conflicts between these ethnic groups and religious groups reflect thousands of years of foreign occupation dating back to Ancient Rome. Over the past 2,000 years, further occupations by Ottomans, Austo-Hungarians, Nazis, and Communists dichotomized this country and drove deep divisions based upon ethnic lines.

After the breakdown of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, multiple wars of independence were fought. In 1992, Bosnia & Herzegovina was on the brink of civil war between the two state entities. During a parliamentary session, the leader of the Serbian delegation threatened the “extermination” of the Bosniak population. Bosniaks expected war, but they did not expect genocide. When Serbian forces rolled into the mountains around Sarajevo, cutting the city off from all electricity, phone lines, water, and food sources, horror stories began coming out of tales of mass murder. All Muslim men between the ages of 12 and 77 were targeted by Serbian forces. The goal of these murders was to ethnically cleanse Bosniaks in order to create a greater Serbian state.

When we visited the site of the largest genocide yesterday, I felt an overwhelming wave of sadness. As a Wabash man, we are taught to think critically, lead effectively, act responsibly, and live humanely. All of these values could have helped prevent these heinous crimes from unfolding, yet none were present. U.N. Peacekeepers were present at this site during the time of the genocide, yet they did NOTHING to stop it. I cannot help but feel regret that the international community did so little to stop these atrocities. The hardest part was knowing how many mothers and young children still grieve at the unknown fates of their fathers and brothers.

We have intently listened to multiple speakers tell their stories of the war and while the scars are present, they paint the hope for future reconciliation. The international community has by and large failed to solve this country’s problems, so the people take the difficult responsibility upon themselves to cobble together a history that is neither discriminatory, nor falsely accusatory.

We will return to Freiburg, Germany on Saturday, but the people, cities, and mountains have told me the story of a people on the grieving side of history that I will remember forever. Twenty years after these tragedies, I feel a sliver of hope. Bosniaks still ostracize Serbs and vice-versa, but the killing has ended. The state, described by political scientists as a minimalist state, has successfully integrated military forces containing multi-ethnic units. This may not seem like much, but it is a major step forward that only two decades ago these men were killing each other simply because of their ethnic heritage.

For now, we must never forget. Before I came here, I knew next to nothing about Bosnia. Now, I leave here with the goal to never allow my fellow Wabash scholars to glance over this small Balkan country as another tragedy of history.

Andrews ’15 Exploring Italy’s Amalfi Coast

Tyler Andrews ’15 – Time flies when you are having fun. And it flies even faster when you are in some of the most beautiful coasts in the world. For my 4th of July weekend, I joined the rest of the students in my program on a trip to the Amalfi Coast. For those not aware, the Amalfi coast is quite literally paradise. Sandy beaches, from black, to white, to pink sand, Amalfi offers beauty unparalleled by other wonders of the world.

Andrews, upper left, and classmates exploring the coast.

Andrews, upper left, and classmates exploring the coast.

Thursday night, we set off at 7 PM (or 1900 hours if you refer to typical European time). After a long and winding bus trip, we arrived at our hostel at 3:45 in the morning on Friday, and passed out for 3 hours before waking up to travel to the island of Capri. Capri is home to some of the wealthiest individuals in the world. Indeed, as we cruised along on a boat tour, we passed multi-million dollar yachts including Georgio Armani’s super-slicked silver behemoth of a boat. Indeed, Denzel Washington owns a house on the island, just a few short miles from the Gerber baby house. Leonardo DiCaprio also happens the area on occasion. We did a full boat ride around the island before enjoying a relaxing dip in the Mediterranean Sea. The rest of the night was spent enjoying the local cuisine and local discotecas before returning to our hostel which had an incredible view from the roof terrace of the ocean and surrounding area. My independence day was one of a kind, unforgettable, and full of Red, White, and Blue.

Saturday began with a little bit more sleep, and then a trip to Positano, Italy, a location with immaculate black beaches, and some of the best cliff-diving and sea caves in the world. Several friends and I decided to rent out a private boat for the afternoon and got a private showing of some phenomenal spots. There is nothing in the world quite like cliff diving into the Mediterranean from 30 feet+ in the air. Life, in that part of the world, is seen from a whole different angle. Not to mention, you are swimming next to some of the most valuable coral reefs in the world. The day ended with a return to our hostel for dinner and an active nightlife. Over 173 students decided to go to Amalfi with Bus2Alps (, so we were all in different accommodations. Word had quickly spread that our hostel was the prettiest and had the best night life, so everyone came to our location that night. A DJ played music while visiting hip hop dance groups break danced in the stairwells (there is a competition going on in the area called House Dance Europe, and many groups were staying at our hostel). Needless to say, it was an unforgettable night and evening.

Sunday, we packed ourselves back into buses, sad to leave this tropical paradise, but excited to see the mysteries of Pompeii. We stopped off at the ancient city on our way back to Florence and received a phenomenal guided tour. The city has been kept in such good condition considering how old it is. The images of the place are surpassed only by the sheer intrigue of the stories about this old civilization. Of the 15,000 people who lived in Pompeii when Mount Vesuvius erupted, 3,000 died, and everything that had been built in this strong city disappeared for centuries.

Sunday night, we all passed out early, exhausted from our incredible adventures of the weekend. Italy has much more than history. When you get past tourist traps and pickpockets, and focus more on what Italy has to offer, you find things like the blue grotto (a sea cave that is one of the 7 wonders of Europe), beautiful cliffs and coral reefs, a cuisine of real Italian food that is mouth-watering to think about, and people who are passionate about the beauty that they live in. You stay classy, Amalfi Coast.

Montgomery ’15 Learning Spanish Culture

“Jack, la vida es corta! ¿Sabes lo que quiero decir? “Si, lo sé.” “Jack, yo se tu sabes, pero, ¿Tu entiendes? “ Sí… Creo.”

Jack Montgomery ’15 – What sticks out most to me about this specific conversation with my host mothers dear friend, was for one thing the message. Rather beyond that, the fact that the instance symbolized the moment in itself. Siesta is a concept that is entirely foreign to us in the United States where we are hinged to the fast paced consumer society. Naps and afternoon beers with friends are not productive or acceptable. To see an entire city shut down in the afternoon to rest from the long nights or take in the company of others is a somewhat farfetched idea of what life should be like in the world I grew up in. Yet it is strongly intertwined into the Sevillean culture. If New York City is the city that never sleeps, than Seville, Spain is the city that never sleeps… but naps. Despite severe economic turmoil and massive unemployment the city remains vibrant and the people just as so. As Carmen told me, “La vida es corta,” life is short and the Sevilleans support such notions with gusto. To them, the economic crisis is a devastating reality, however as long as they have their families and friends they will get by.

Montgomery350Prior to our conversion, my fellow homestay member Brad and I were walking back from our Spanish placement interviews. The interviews lasted five minutes covering the basics of our trip and our first 48 hours in Seville. Afterwards we walked back to our homestay taking a different route to try and find a replacement glass for the one I had dropped the day prior while trying to be heroic, carrying too many dishes into the kitchen from the dinner table.  Upon entering Triana the neighborhood we are living in, we were called over to one of the many tapas bar where our host mother and her friends were enjoying some afternoon Cruzcampos (Local beer) and gamabas (shrimp-like crustaceans).  Though we had just had our formal interview with our study abroad directors, the real interview was about to begin; as for the next hour and a half we would be grilled by the women on our Spanish. As the women treated us to a few Cruzcampos and plates of Gambas, we discussed life and Spanish-American cultural similarities and differences. It was in this moment that I felt as though I was truly being immersed into the Spanish culture.

Throughout the week, continued to see much of the beautiful city that is Seville.  We viewed grand monuments, attended a Flamenco show and experienced the energetic nightlife attending bars and a botellon. Botellons are a new fad for the Sevillean youth that currently faces an unemployment rate of over 50% for residents between the ages of 20-30. Where 20 and 30 year olds gather in parks and open areas to casually sip wine, beer, or rum to enjoy the company of others and socialize. Throughout my orientation activities and our nightly adventures it has been fascinating to see how many things in common my classmates and I have found with each other, as well as the locals we have met.

The week concluded with a trip to Lagos, Portugal for some fun in the sun and a trip to the Cabo de Sao Vincente for a magnificent sunset. The locals refer to the cape as the End of the World as it is the most southwestern point of Europe and is where the world was thought to have ended in the days the earth was believed to be flat. Slightly blocked by the clouds, the sunset was nonetheless breathtaking and offered a great moment of reflection for me. Looking out over the ocean towards the sun it was crazy to think despite so much travel and cultural stimuli over the last week I was still witnessing the same sun.  It stood as a great reminder of how lucky I am to have this experience and see the things I have been able to see over the last week. All I can say is that if that is just first week, it’s gonna be one hell of trip.

Andrews ’15 Embracing Florence, Italy

Tyler Andrews ’15 – (written June 25) From the beautiful, historic streets of Florence, I write to you a simple message: There is no place on earth that equals the beauty, variety, and creativity that is Italy.

Two weeks into my summer study abroad program in Florence, Italy, I am having the time of my life. I was very nervous at first as to whether I would even be able to study abroad. I was fortunate enough to hear about the Rudolph Scholarship, and have now been able to study abroad without fear of financial woes. If you are unsure of whether you should study abroad or not, stop thinking. It is a must and it is life changing.

Andrews with fellow students in Florence.

Andrews with fellow students in Florence.

My program includes studying painting and Italian in an art cultural center of the world. Enrolled at the Accademia Italiana, an award-winning design school on the south-side of Florence, I have classes 4 days a week, in varying locations. Not just in the classroom, but also on the banks of the Arno River, in the Boboli Gardens, on roof terraces, and everywhere imaginable. And the learning does not just happen during class time. Living in the heart of Florence, you are forced to get accustomed to the pace of the city (slow at times, 100 miles an hour at others-specifically when Italy is playing for the World Cup). Shopping for groceries becomes a scavenger hunt all of its own and is quite enjoyable. Actually, shopping of all sorts here is fantastic. Your local market might be just a few doors down from the Gucci and Prada stores where guards dressed in Armani suits keep shoppers from stealing the thousand euro purses that sit just inside the front doors.

Within Florence, I have now toured the Uffizi museum (where I was lucky enough to join the visiting Wabash Alumni group and got a special private tour of the Vasari Corridor. 200-plus self portraits of famous Italian painters? Not bad at all. Seriously, the Wabash Mafia runs deep…

I will keep you all updated, but here is the key: Italy is the greatest country on earth to visit, and Florence is the greatest citta (city) on earth to visit. I have found paradise and I sincerely hope that all of you who read this either plan to study abroad, have signed up, or studied abroad in the past. The United States only has so much to offer. Europe, specifically Italy, has history that we cannot even comprehend. To everyone out there, Ciao! And benvonuto to my blog about the great adventure that is Italy.

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