Banner

MacDougal ’14 Enjoys English People, Soccer

Ian MacDougal ’14 – What comes to mind when someone says St. Andrews? The Old Course and R&A or the place where William met Kate. To me, St. Andrews represents a home away from home. I have been in Scotland for about two months now, and I can honestly say it has been an experience of a lifetime. St. Andrews is a beautiful little coastal town void of any big name superstores or any fast food restaurants. Add the fact that it is a college town with a lively atmosphere of old and new, St. Andrews is my kind of place. When I started my classes, I had no idea what to expect going to the 3rd oldest English speaking university, let alone it being co-ed. Classes here offer a lot more freedom to study a particular aspect of a topic, but discussion lacks in comparison to Wabash.

Outside of classes, I have ducked away from the other 30 Americans in my study abroad program to spend time with British students. One opportunity that this experience has afforded me was a chance to play football (soccer) again. The athletics system here is less structured compared to the NCAA. I train Mondays and Thursdays with the ones, Monday morning and Thursday afternoons with the twos, Tuesday afternoon with the threes, and goalkeeper training on Tuesday night. We play Wednesdays against other universities in Scotland, while Saturdays are reserved for Fife Amateur League games. I have had the pleasure of playing for all four teams within a two-week span. I have had so much fun playing soccer again, especially with people from all over Europe. It has taught me a lot about the game. I was named Man of the Match in four out of ten games thus far. In my time here, I helped the ones to their first league title in ten years and guided the twos to a league cup finals appearance.

St. Andrews also offers a two-week spring vacation. After my classes on Friday, I took a bus to Glasgow then a train to Manchester for a United game. After spending the morning exploring the Museum of Science and Industry, I headed over the Old Trafford four hours before the game. The stadium was amazing and the atmosphere was indescribable. I spent about two hours in the store alone buying souvenirs for my family and girlfriend. Once the gates opened, I went to my seat and watched United warm up and then play Reading to a 1-0 win. I was able to sing the songs of the United faithful at Old Trafford, a dream come true.

I then traveled to Oban on the west coast. I was able to explore the castle Dunollie where the MacDougall clan has resided since the times of William Wallace. It was so interesting to be able to walk in the same ground as my ancestors and see the MacDougall museum. I learned so much about my family’s history. After climbing Ben Cruachan and discovering another family castle, I headed back to St. Andrews only to hit a snag in housing for an evening. Fortunately, Bash Bunks and Mark Osnowitz ’12 gave me a place to stay for the evening.

Swilcan bridge on the 18th Hole with the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse in back

Once back in St. Andrews, I played 18 rounds of golf in 8 days. The Links offers a student ticket of 180 pounds to play unlimited golf for the year. Sadly, I have not had the opportunity to play the Old Course yet, but I know I will get a few rounds in before the end of my time here. The 7 courses are unbelievable. They are challenging but fun at the same time. You have to be on your A-game to play well.

I am only halfway through, but I know this has been an experience of a lifetime. I have crossed so many things off my bucket list in the past two months alone. My advice to future Wabash students is take advantage of these opportunities that Wabash affords you. While I do love it here, I am looking forward to whistling Back Home Again in Indiana when I step off that plane and back into my loved ones arms.

Taking the WAF spirit around the world.

Cheers from Bonnie Old Scotland

Cook ’14: Immersed in Chinese Culture, Language

Ben Cook ’14 – Few people in Xi’an, China speak much English.  I found that even though Chinese students study English throughout school, their English studies focus more on reading and writing English than on speaking English.  With the exception of a few students who speak great English, most of the time my spoken Chinese is better than that person’s spoken English.  If I speak with an adult, then I’ll definitely need to use Chinese to communicate.  The combination of taking Chinese class for three hours a day, practicing with Chinese people all the time, and needing to use Chinese throughout my daily life has improved my Chinese language ability exponentially.  I appreciate the English levels of Chinese students at Wabash, because they are the exception rather than the norm.

I feel confident that I can survive on my own somewhere like Xi’an.  I even make my own money.  I heard from a friend about a part time English teaching opportunity.  After I interviewed, they asked if I could teach accounting.  I took two accounting classes at Wabash, and now I’m teaching accounting part-time to three Chinese students who are older than me and speak mediocre English.  Every week I prepare a three-hour accounting lesson.  Next week I’ll host a TV show episode about Shaanxi Opera.  I also do some free-lance English tutoring.  Through tutoring, I met a Chinese girl from Xi’an.  I learn many new Chinese words and cool local places through her.  I also met many Chinese friends through my Chinese roommate, basketball, and through random conversations.  Basketball is huge in China, and many Chinese guys know Indiana because of the Indiana Pacers.

I enjoy the exchange rate between America and China.  One dollar buys around 6.5 Chinese RMBs.  Things in China tend to be inexpensive.  I can get a good meal from around $0.5 to $6 US dollars.  On top of that, I can negotiate sometimes!  It is fun.  Chinese merchants tend to start at a higher price because I don’t look Chinese.  So I usually reply with a lower price, sometimes 10 percent of the asking price.  Then after some back and forth, I walk away.  Many Chinese stores sell similar things, so I can play stores against each other, and end up with a price around 30 percent of the asking price sometimes.

I’ve seen many cool sites in China so far.  I spent a week in Beijing, where I saw the Forbidden City, many great restaurants, an acrobat performance, and Chinese new year celebrations.  In Xi’an I saw the Terra Cotta Warriors, rode a bike on the city wall, hiked in the mountains south of the city, learned some painting technique at a folk-painter’s studio, and learned to cook some dishes at the best cooking school in Xi’an.  I’m especially happy that I learned to make Chinese eggplant, which is phenomenal.  I also enjoy fatty meats in China, especially duck, and the famous noodle dishes in Xi’an.

I’m excited about the upcoming travel I’ll do.  My program takes a two-week trip along the ancient Silk Road that will take me west to a less-touristy part of the Great Wall, the desert, and some oasis towns.  I’ll get to ride a camel.  I also plan on traveling to Chengdu, Shanghai, and several other places.  I’m especially excited to meet with some Wabash alumni working in China.

Bennett ’14: Experience Intricacies of Rome

Sam Bennett ’14 – The 35 of us visited Ostia last Tuesday, an ancient port-city located where the Mediterranean Sea and the River Tiber are joined. Field trips like this one take place on most Tuesdays and Thursdays, and, in accordance with Murphy and his legal tendencies, lately it has been raining heavily on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In Ostia, the trend continued. As we traversed from Ancient Roman apartment complexes to spacious market places and administrative buildings, thick droplets in what I suppose must have been river-effect showers accompanied us throughout most of our journey. Just prior to the day being half completed, we visited the House of the Painted Vaults.

Inside, the floors were mosaic, there was a room with the Muses featured—each in her own private, painted niche—and there was a pigeon trapped in the courtyard. You see, Ostia was a very important locale in antiquity. When the Romans needed to trade with those cultures which developed across the Mediterranean, Ostia’s position was convenient for the transport of grain, olive oil, and most importantly, wine (many ancient water sources were impure, and the fermented and alcoholic nectar was almost always safer to drink such that soldiers even carried a pouch of it with them into battle). Often neglected in relation to volcanically-preserved Pompeii, Ostia maintains serious historical and archaeological significance. The sites of ancient dwelling places, resort-like apartment complexes, and lavish marketplaces have been under close examination since the early 19th century and, like most areas of archaeological interest, still undergo rigorous study today. Since many of these ancient objects of intrigue are still standing (thanks to a small bit of reconstruction), preventative measures against damage have been taken. Courtyards, in particular, have been covered over with a mesh-wire netting to keep the birds out. However—in the House of the Painted Vaults—there was a pigeon trapped in the courtyard.

She flew in somehow; perhaps she crept beneath a weakness in the netting over the open ceiling. In vain, the pigeon threw herself against the mesh-wire over and over again. As the 35 of us filled the courtyard, she stopped and hid in a crevice of brick and stucco and plaster. And she made me think about myself.

Trapped beneath an invisible ceiling, the last few years of my life have been in preparation for such a Roman journey—and now that I have arrived, what exactly have I learned? What exactly have I encountered? Everything slips back into normality sooner or later and whatever coming-of-age I both expected and condemned to result from this semester abroad hasn’t come to light, leaving me both bewildered and comfortable. It never happened, like the movies and books said it would, and thank God, for I’m not usually inclined to surround myself with clichés. But at the same time, I do not understand how something so wildly different as the Italian manner of life could quickly become so normal. And regarding my studies—I’m still inspired by the literature, the poetry of Lucan, the ancient romances of Chariton—but we’re approaching a certain flat line here. This supposed “classical education” has taught us nothing about the ancient world and has turned into a process of mere fact-gathering. Archaeology could change that, but only incidentally and as a result of its necessary immersion within history and philology and (worthwhile) speculation. But as modernists, we are supposedly learning about antiquity and, even then, subsequently at a distance from antiquity; we are failing to seriously engage with antiquity.

Please don’t read this as a condemnation of the program I’m studying within — rather, read it as a condemnation of the entire field of Classics as we approach it. ICCS has provided me with an abundant font of resources and information—information necessary to any hope for further engagement. But the whole of it — as it spans from the roads of Crawfordsville, Indiana to this street in Rome, just west of the Tiber, up the Tambourine Staircase, at 19 Via A. Algardi, in Room 20 on the first floor of the Centro — leaves us studious characters like pigeons in a net-covered courtyard: at first, we ached to creep in; next, we became aware of our environment; then, we wanted to fly back out to take a better look at where we had situated ourselves, only to find the exit blocked off. And now, we have to work from the inside-out, so to speak, carrying the burdens of scholarship in our backpacks. Who could be so foolish as to complain about the shortcomings of academia when he is surrounded by some of the greatest monuments with which man has ever adorned his cities? Yes, who indeed?

I don’t complain because I have nothing better to do. I complain because there is something better that can be done.