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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 (www.Bus2Alps.com), 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.

Posthauer ’15 Settles in to German Life

Ronnie Posthauer ’15 - Thanks to the generosity from the Rudolph family, I am able to take part in a four week intensive language program at a Goethe Institut located in southern Germany. However, before I began my course in the south of Germany, I was able to spend four days in Frankfurt, where I was able to reconnect with a friend I had met over a year ago.

I’m thankful that my friend was generous enough to provide for me a place to sleep, tips as to where I could shop to get the most value for my euro, and valuable language practice before I was to take on Germany alone. During those four days I grew confident in my ability to order food, travel on trains, and finally understand German as well as correctly produce it under stressful situations. For example, when it was my turn at the front of a line full of anxious people, I listened to a fast-talking salesman tell me all of the perks of various cellphone plans before paying for the best option. This might sound easy to most people, but I’ve never done some of this in the States, let alone while speaking German.

Posthauer '15

Posthauer ’15

I’m very glad I had this chance to practice too, because less than an hour into my trip to Schwaebisch-Hall and saying goodbye to my friend, I had already run into trouble. My first train, known for being the fastest train in Germany, ran 15 minutes late and caused me to miss my first connection. I frantically approached the first railway official I saw, explained my situation to him and showed him my ticket. Without giving me much information, he pointed to another train and told me I better hurry before it left in thirty seconds. I didn’t really have much choice, so I hurried over and boarded the train just before the doors closed and it departed. I then looked at my ticket and the final destination of the train I was riding; its destination wasn’t anywhere on my ticket, and the times didn’t match up at all. I started to panic. I couldn’t contact anyone for help because my cellphone was still not activated, and WiFi was not an option. After a few minutes of thinking it was the end of the world, I got over myself and approached another passenger for help. Luckily the fellow was kind and had a cellphone which he used to look up a new set of connections for me. I thanked him and wrote these down. However, with my luck this train also ran slightly late and I missed the next train. Again I was on the verge of hyperventilating, but I calmed down and found the list of trains incoming and outgoing trains for the month and boarded the next train headed for Heilbronn, which is where one of my connections was located. In Heilbronn, I realized that I was not going to make it to my Schwaebisch-Hall in time to check into my hotel. At this point I finally broke down and paid for a wireless hotspot. I sent an e-mail to the hotel with the details of situation with the trains and hoped that I would still be able to check in. I was worried that the doors would be locked and that I would have to spend the night outside like I have heard of students doing in the past (no worries, everything worked out that night). Finally, I made it to Schwaebisch-Hall, but that wasn’t the end of my troubles! I was supposed to take the number one bus to the hotel; however, my ticket didn’t tell me there would be two number one buses facing in opposite directions… I boarded the only number one bus that was at the train station. After taking my seat, I saw a second number one bus pull up and had just enough time to think, “hmm.. I wonder if that’s the one I need to take,” before my bus took off. I had the pleasure of riding this bus to the end of its route, which by the way did not include my destination. I then had the wonderful experience of convincing the “gentleman” not to force me off the bus in the middle of nowhere. He explained to me that it would take another 45 minutes before we would circle back around to the train station where he would then begin the second part of his route in the direction that the other number one bus was facing. During this conversation he impatiently used a sentence structure containing three different verbs which I found very interesting. “Du haettest den anderen Bus einsteigen sollen” (You should have boarded the other bus). After turning my expected three hour trip into an epic nine hour journey (3–>9!) I finally reached my hotel, checked in, and crashed.

Reflecting on this situation, I am thrilled that I was able to overcome adversity and my own failures and in the end make it to my destination. Although I am completely responsible for some of my misfortune, I was able to utilize what I learned in the classrooms at Wabash College to dig myself out of one stressful situation after the next in real world experience. I’m not even (that) bitter about my lengthened travels because for one, everything worked out in the end, and second of all I used my language skills to correct my mistakes. That is a very good feeling to have.

There is more to come in the next few weeks here at Schwaebisch-Hall (hopefully just positive), as the people of the Goethe Institut have organized several activities. You can also look forward to more pictures.

King ’15 Had Interesting Moroccan Trip

Sky King ’15 -  I was recently given the opportunity to travel to Morocco and though Spain neighbors the North African Country getting there was quite the adventure. The program I was taking to get Morocco was geographically about as far away as you could probably be from Valencia and still be in Spain.

King ’15 checking out the baby camel

We decided to try something new and instead of traveling in an aeroplane, a bus or a train we used a rideshare program called Blabla car. The day we were supposed to leave for our trip we still didn’t have a ride, but luckily one finally popped up. Our driver was to be a man named Said M, a native Moroccan who had spent the last 15 years in Spain working. He spoke Spanish, French and Moroccan Arabic (A distinct form of Arabic). I had a hunch that the reason Said was working for this company and why it was so cheap for us to go so far was because Said was working in Spain illegally. To go from Valencia to the door of our hostel (about a 9 hr drive) was only going to to cost us 36 euros… not bad at all. After quite a few pee/pray breaks (Said is Muslim and therefor five times a day he rolls out his carpet and does his business. It was an extremely interesting juxtaposition to see this done at gas stations and truck stops.) We eventually made it to our hostel in Seville/ Sevilla and headed out for some tapas and a cerveza or two.

We met up with one of my best friends from back in California and went out for some mojitos. After a great night of reminiscing we eventually made our way back to the hostel. In the morning we got up and broke some bread with some backpackers from Australia. I saw that one of them had a tube of vegemite and knowing my friend was likely a virgin to the Australian delicacies enquired if we may proquire some. In typical Aussie fashion he was extremely excited to watch our faces as we tried their favorite spread. Scott, (Wheaton Friend) did not make past his first bite. Vegemite… always an icebreaker.

In order to get to Morocco we took a four hour bus ride from Sevilla and then a one and a half-hour ferry ride across the Gibraltar Strait. Unfortunately, for most of the passengers on the ferry we crossed in a bit of a storm and by the end of the ferry ride the bathrooms were unenterable. Despite the nausea I was able to befriend a group of girls who were studying abroad in Barcelona and who originated from San Diego State. I was excited to be back with some California friends, but even more so when I realized I shared at least one mutual friend with all of them. (If my abroad experience has taught me anything it is how small this world really is… this was not the only instance in which I ran into someone that shared a mutual friend on the Moroccan adventure. I met a girl who went to Depauw and was best friends with our Track/Cross Country star Jarred Burris)

By the time we arrived at our hotel it was pretty late and we were all tired and hungry. I had a nice dinner where I ended up sitting with three girls who came from a single sex college as well. Conversation came easy as we bonded over our mutual love/hate relationships that we felt towards our alma mater. After dinner it was straight to bed.

We left at 8 a.m. after a lovely breakfast (something that has been missing in Spain) and hopped on the bus for a three-hour bus ride to Hessilah, the blue city (see photo, at right) I was extremely shocked by the diversity of the landscape in Morocco. I think most people from the US ignorantly think of Africa as a giant desert. Though Morocco is one of the homes of the infamous Sahara desert, northern Morocco is mountainous, green and stunning.

The bus ride went smoothly, the only hiccup was the passing of the King of Morocco which has a caravan of about 30 cars. All Land Rovers and Mercedes as well as about ten police escorts.  It was quite the sight.

By the time we got to Hessilah we were anxious to get going and quite tired of our guides horrible puns. He started with “welcome to Hessilah, it is quite Blue-tiful” and went downhill from there.

The first thing I saw as we summited the mountain were the strange blue buildings. The majority of Hessilah is covered in a strange blue dye whose inconsistent color makes it seem as if the city is a giant waterfall made even more impressive due to the rain that was pouring down all around us.

The second striking image I saw were all of these little people running/ standing around with these strange pointed hoods. The current style in Northern Morocco is to rock these coarse wool hooded coats and to where the pointy hood upwards. I did end up snagging one for myself. They are woven on a loom and for such great work they were approximately 20 euros.

One of the most interesting parts of my trip to Hessilah was the people there. At one point during my trip I purchased a pack of oreos. I was carrying them with me when suddenly a little boy who was selling bracelets came by and ask if he might have an oreo. Of course, without a second thought I gave him one and went on my way.  About five minutes later I saw the boy again and he was still eating that one oreo slowly nibbling and very obviously enjoying his snack very much. I was a little saddened by this, but was able to push it from my brain until a few others boys came up to him and they looked to be in the same if not worse condition than the other boy. When they realized he had an oreo I honestly thought for a second that it was going to get violent, that was until the boy with the oreo pointed over in my direction placing me as his benefactor. As you can imagine the boys rushed over all asking and holding out their hands. Luckily, I had enough left that each could have one, but I am not so naive to think that these oreos did any sort of good. The faces on these boys were tragic. We talk about not having equal opportunity in the United States and I agree we can always do better, but when I see these boys I really get a sense of what type of problems there are out there in the world. And these boys were clothed, not clean by any means, but not sickly and they had all of their limbs.

I tried to push aside the thought of these boys and enjoy the rest of my Moroccan adventure. It was full of camel rides, ocean side caves, couscous and mint tea. Throughout the whole trip it was difficult to fully enjoy it. I kept thinking back to those boys, I kept thinking back to the kids I saw in China who were missing limbs begging for money and I kept thinking back to what the word opportunity meant.

I flew back into Valencia on Monday morning about thirty minutes before my first class. Made it through the day well and had a blast at soccer practice. I went home to have dinner with my host family and thats where it all really hit me. I walked into the living room and I saw my three Spanish brothers. They are thirteen, nine and eight. The oldest has already done a year abroad in England they attend a private school five minutes away from their house, have a maid which cooks their lunches and does their laundry (I will confess to being a recipient of this as well) and two parents who love them dearly and grandparents who see them every day.

When I walked into the living room the site I saw was what really put me in my place. The eight year old was playing the new Call of Duty for PS3 on his 3D TV. The nine year old was on his fathers iPad playing a tower defense game and the oldest was watching music videos on their giant iMac.

The juxtaposition between these two worlds was one of the most real and awakening experiences that I have ever had. My Spanish Brothers are great. They are kind, funny and outgoing. They do not know the world in which they live. I didn’t know the world that I lived in. That is essentially the message I am trying getting across here. We, all of us, need to travel more, we need to see these things, see the beauty that exists in the world as well as the pain. We need to see that there are real problems. We need to understand that the average person can make such a huge impact. Because when someone literally has nothing the smallest gift goes along way. And helping people and solving these problems isn’t charity and shouldn’t be viewed as so. When we give people opportunity we invest in them and by investing in them we are investing in humanity. Which, no matter your race, gender or religion is something that you are apart of. We are one. We too often forget that.

Thank you Wabash. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to see some of the must extravagant and beautiful sights in the world and thank you for giving me the opportunity to see some of the poorest and painful of my life. Please remember to think outside of your world from time to time and that, “The greatest cruelty in life is our causal blindness to the despair of others.” -La Dispute.

Eibert ’15 Enjoying English Culture

Hezekiah Eibert ’15 – I have been studying at Harlaxton College near the small town of Grantham England. My home is a manor house that to me feels like the Hogwarts Castle! I am still finding new rooms and passageways even three months into my program here. I have made some awesome new friends while here and been on some life changing trips all over Europe.

Harlaxton Manor

One of the things that I’ve noticed along the way that caught me off guard a bit was how different Americans are (or at least I am) compared to the English. They don’t really make eye contact very often; they are much quieter and even on a crowded (understatement) tube ride I find it to be almost silent but the sounds of the car racing down the tracks. Other than that I find myself rather enjoying the English culture, their much more casual and relaxed drinking style, their love of football (soccer) and a nice cup of tea with some jammy dodgers. (Side note: one thing I really enjoy is the fact that even though our currency is only worth $1.77 for every pound, the price you see on the tag is what you pay, there is no hidden tax to be added on later.)

There are so many stories that I can’t wait to share, so many new games and tricks to teach my Wabash brothers. So far this semester I have seen a lot of things that otherwise I would have never seen. Cathedrals of every shape and size, and the castles oh so many castles! I’ve watched the changing of the guard, seen big ben, sang Scottish drinking songs in an Edinburgh pub, been to the Anne Frank house, experienced the Amsterdam culture, and so much more. While it is kind of hard to imagine that it will all be over in a few weeks and I’ll be heading back home soon, I am ready to be back at the Bash with my brothers again.

Immersion Prompted Pingel ’15 to Study Abroad

Eddie Pingel ’15 – Last year I was able to accompany Professor Hartnett on an immersion trip to Italy, where we visited places such as Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Rome. It was on tht trip I realized just how interested I was in being abroad. As a Classics major, the decision to return to Italy, and in particular Rome, was an obvious one.

My experience here thus far has been reminiscent of my immersion trip in that I once again find myself completely captivated by this city and its unique culture. Rome is a city of levels, where one will find materials ranging from the 7th century B.C. to the Roman Republic and Empire, and from early Christian churches to the Papal palaces of the Medieval Ages. I have been fortunate to study each of these time periods. My studies have primarily focused on the Ancient Romans, and I have gone to such sites as: the tomb of Aeneas, the founder of the Roman race, the supposed Hut of Romulus, the founder of Rome itself, Pompey’s Theater, where Julius Caesar was assassinated, and the Riace Bronze Warriors, which are among most famous bronze statues in the world.

I have also been throughout the country of Italy, ranging as far north as Venice and as far south as the island of Sicily, where we spent 9 days exploring the ancient Greek theaters and temples, built over 2500 years ago and which are still intact today.

The experience has been educational in other ways as well. The cultural barriers that once were intimidating and foreign have now become familiar and even home-like. My complete lack of knowledge in the Italian language once intimated me into not interacting with the people of Rome at the beginning of the semester.  Halfway through it, this is no longer the case.

Even though I am still by no means fluent in the language, I have learned enough where I can finally exchange light conversation, particularly with the staff that works within my living unit. To conclude, this semester has been an unbelievable experience, and has enriched my learning experience not only academically but culturally as well.

Normandy Has Impact During Semester Abroad

Fritz Coutchie ’15 – Bonjour à tous! Volumes could be written about a semester abroad in France; unfortunately, I am limited by the format of a blog post. Although I studied in Paris, one of the most valuable learning experiences with my classmates occurred on a sponsored class trip to the Normandy region.  The trip was designed to give students an opportunity to build relationships with each other, while appreciating the shared history and culture of France and the United States of America. Although I was familiar with the basics of the D-day invasion of Normandy, I was unable to appreciate the scope of the military operation before my visit to the various museums, memorials and Omaha Beach.

We first visited the Memorial de Caen, a museum dedicated to the history of WWI and WWII. The visit was a primer for the more impactful experiences later. We then traveled to Asnelles-sur-Mer, which is a small coastal town, for the night. Subsequent to the Normandy landing of World War II, the British installed artificial floating harbors in the region. While staying at Asnelles-sur-Mer, we were able to climb and inspect the remnants of one of these harbors at low tide.  We finished our visit to Asnelles-sur-Mer by visiting a nearby D-Day museum where we learned more about the logistical aspects of the landing and the artificial harbor installations. Later that day we visited the Normandy American Cemetery.

Is there a word that describes an experience or sight that causes both pride and sorrow? If not there should be. The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial celebrates the achievements and goals of the American Soldiers who died during the Normandy invasion, and mourns for the deaths of thousands of young American citizens. The cemetery is perched over Omaha Beach, a tactical landing point for American forces in World War II. The gravestones are lined with perfect symmetry, standing in a walkway staring over the tops of hundreds of white crosses I was struck with a sense of awe. A couple of classmates and I decided that we wanted to see Omaha Beach, after such an emotionally gratifying experience, visiting the beach should help us organize our thoughts.

To reach the beach one must walk down a couple of flights of stairs and then through a wooded quarter-mile trail. As we reached the final starch of the trail and the English Channel became visible we noticed one other group on the beach. It was an older couple, a German man and his wife; the man had just gotten out of the ocean wearing only a pair of white briefs. It was the best example of situational irony I’ve experienced. After one of the most impactful experiences of my life at the cemetery, I expected to have a similar one at the beach, but instead I saw an elderly man in a wet pair of white briefs.

I returned from the weekend closer to my peers with a renewed sense of the gravity of the shared history of the United States of America, and France.

Chinese Student Excels in Germany

Jingwei Song ‘15  – My German has been stretched extensively over the last three months. All my classes are in German, and I feel a little disoriented now writing about my experience in Heidelberg, in English. So bear with me, if there should be any grammatical mistakes.

Song at the Heidelberg Castle

I live in a German fraternity house (Verbindung) which located in the center of Heidelberg’s beautiful old town. There are 28 single rooms, most of them are occupied by males. Girls are allowed to live here for up to two years, but they are not allowed to “pledge”, in other words, to become members of the fraternity. My predecessor, a student from Franklin and Marshall College lived in the house for a year and he has been admitted as a member, which is pretty cool. I am only staying for one semester and it’s too short for a “pledgeship”.

I still remember the first time when I walked into the kitchen. It would be a lie to say I was not nervous: I was just being dropped off to my room by a program staff and ready to explore the house a little bit. I could hear there’s someone in the kitchen. But what should I expect? Will they be able to understand my German?

Germany’s Nekar River

I summoned up my courage and pushed the door open. Upon seeing me, three German students(they are all my housemates) stopped talking and looking at me. There was a second silence and I started to introduce myself. We shaked hands with each other and they were all nice and friendly. One even tried to speak English with me after knowing I study in the US, which I politely turned him down and asked for an opportunity to practice my German. They were curious about how a Chinese went to college in the US and now studying abroad in Germany. My knowledge of German from Wabash was able to keep the conversation going, and I was flattered when they said my German was good.

The higher education system here is quite different from that Wabash. Heidelberg University emphasizes more on the autonomy of students. On one hand its size makes it difficult to offer close-knit academic community, on the other hand its budget is limited (Almost all German universities are state-funded, students at Heidelberg pay 150 euro registration fee per semester) Most classes meet once a week, and professors would rarely assign homework.  Throughout the semester, I got neither homework from my microbiology class nor marine biology class, plus no midterms. It’s my responsibility to understand the slides and prepare for the finals ( the professors are easy to talk with. German students usually take the finals in February. The Professors agreed to give me early exams since I need to return to the US early). It was quite a challenge to deal with big blocks of free time on my schedule. But soon I become a frequent visitor of the library to make the most use of my free time.

During the breaks I visited Paris and Prague, and will visit Amsterdam and Rome before flying back to the US. Of course, all the travels would not be possible without my parents’ financial support and also the generous scholarship from the Givens’ family (http://www.wabash.edu/international/finaid). I feel privileged and deeply grateful to what I got and one day I shall do my best to give back.

Detmer ’15: A Wee Dram O’ Scotland

Andrew Detmer ’15 – Halò, a h-uile duine! Nollaig Chridheil! For those of you that don’t speak the lovely language that is Gaelic; that translates as, “Hello everyone! Merry Christmas!” As Christmas fast approaches, so too does my departure from the beautiful country of Scotland. While I look forward to returning home to my family and friends and the hallowed halls of Wabash; I am saddened to leave this amazing city and country behind. I’ve spent the past 3 months studying at the University of Edinburgh and have not regretted a single moment of it. As I sat down to write this blog and reflect upon my time here, the sheer amount of experiences I was lucky enough to have this semester washed over me. While I won’t have the time or space to write them all down here, if you ever want to hear more I’d be happy to regale you with tales of my time in Scotland over a lovely pint.

Visiting a distillery with friends.

The highlight of my time abroad was definitely my weekend I spent in the highlands of Scotland. While many of you might believe you have an inkling of their beauty and majesty from movies like Braveheart, the natural beauty and majesty of the highlands cannot be explained. We spent time in Glencoe, which might be the most beautiful but also most tragic places in Scotland. While during our time the lush green hills and vales were quite peaceful, on February 12, 1692 in the wake of the Glorious Revolution; members of the Clan Campbell massacred 38 MacDonald men and 40 women and children were killed by exposure to the harsh highland winter. The hatred of the clan Campbell is still alive in parts of the highlands, with one pub stating that “No Campbell’s allowed.” Our tour guide said that many an unsuspecting Campbell has found themselves ungraciously thrown from the pub before their meal could be served. Throughout our time in the highlands that was the consistent theme, while there was great beauty in the land it was also home to great tragedy.

Also during that weekend, we were able to visit the Glenfiddich single malt distillery. For those of you that don’t drink Scotch whisky, Glenfiddich is the largest and most popular single malt in the world sold in over 180 countries. Founded in 1887, the company has been operated by the descendants of William Grant, the founder, ever since. If I could convey to you the smell in the air when we arrived at the distillery, I would. However it was so full and hearty there is no way to possibly explain it, simply that if they made an air freshener with that smell I would use it every single day. Even those in our group who don’t like whisky were impressed and enjoyed our time at the distillery immensely.

Hiking Glencoe

And while my vacations and explorations throughout Scotland have been amazing, my experiences as a normal “Uni” student have been equally impactful and amazing. Discussing the role of the frontier in American History with students from all over the world, many who have never visited America, was quite thought provoking. All of my conceptions and ideas were challenged in ways that simply don’t happen when I discuss American history with other Americans. Learning about wine and its global history from a professor who grew up in South Africa and has visited vineyards all over the world has been absolutely fascinating. Although much like Wabash, some of my best experiences have come outside of the classroom. I’ve spent the semester playing for the University of Edinburgh’s Ultimate Frisbee team Ro Sham Bo. They guys and girls I play with have become close friends, and I’m saddened to leave them and the camaraderie behind.

Overall this semester has been an absolute blast and important part of my academic and personal growth. I cannot thank all of the people at Wabash who make opportunities like mine possible. Wabash has given me so much and I cannot wait to begin to give back. Seriously.


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