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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.

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.

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.

Turnbeaugh ’14: Oxford Best for Studying Creative Writing

Chet Turnbeaugh ’14 – There are few better places in the world to study Creative Writing and Analytic Philosophy than the University of Oxford. Simply strolling down the High Street is enough to fill one with a renewed sense of wonder and inspiration.  When in Oxford, it seems like anything is possible.  If London is the world in a city, then Oxford is the world in a school.  Consisting of 38 unique colleges, the University becomes eclectically broken into a congregate of Hogwartsian type institutions, each with their own cozy personality. My college suited me well, St. Catherine’s College.  Built in the 1960’s, it is highly modern looking and considered by some to be an abysmal architectural failure. Still, some optimists, myself included, hold that the yellow walls of St. Catherine’s dining hall and the Americanesque dormitories help give Oxford fresh form.

Sometimes in life you need a castle—most of Oxford’s colleges look like castles. I, on the other hand, needed a chance to get away and get a fresh perspective on my life, my goals, and the reality of what is doable in this lifetime, and where some of my dreams will have to be cut short. The chance to sit and talk with leading researchers, PhD students, and other intellectual eccentrics was absolutely fascinating.  Half the time I expected either Lewis Carrol’s Alice, or Tolkien’s Frodo, to pop out from behind the dreamy sandstone spires and strike up a conversation with me.  While very magical, nothing of the sort occurred during my stay in England. I did get a chance to meet new friends, eat pounds and pounds worth of traditional English dish, enjoy snapping my fingers to jazz on George Street, and discuss poetry at St. Catherine’s.

After term concluded, I was able to travel to Paris, Barcelona, Rome, and Glastonbury, England.  Prior to studying abroad, my worldview was small and my self-view was stuck in the way of me seeing the bigger picture.  Standing atop a stone tower in Barcelona, overlooking the entire city, a mesmerizing light drew my eye.  Hundreds of meters above us was another, even larger hill, with a magnificent church perched like a twinkling star on top.  At the top of every mountain lies a higher peak somewhere beyond in the distance. Now, with my world a bit bigger, and my self a bit lighter, I’m ready for the next peak.

I had many conceptions of what I would do and whom I would be when I got to Oxford, but after being there for a while I realized that there is no right way to be an Oxford man, so long as he is his own man.  I recall having a similar realization about what it means to be a Wabash man early in my freshman year; this Wabash spirit has never left me. Being on my own was an experience that I have always wanted, but never been able to have until now. I am truly grateful to have been given this brilliant opportunity!

Preparing for Final Exams in Switzerland

Beecher, center, with friends

Keaton E. Becher ’13 – Well that time of the semester that all students just love (*note lots of sarcasm) has arrived here in Fribourg. Yes, I am referring to the time that requires long nights, lots of coffee, and surround-sound yodeling music as I begin to prepare for my final examinations. A matter of fact, as soon as I finish this, it is back to the books as I have two finals already tomorrow.

It is with great joy to know that another semester is about behind me. I have definitely been tested and tried in many ways — culturally, physically, and of course, in regards to my language, academically; culturally because despite coming from an area with a deep Swiss heritage, the customs and nuances vary greatly in Switzerland compared to Indiana; in a physical sense, the terrain of Switzerland is drastically different from back home — you go up one hill, reach a “flat” spot, only to realize that you are standing at the start of an incline up another hill!

My Grandma told me recently in an email that she believes I won’t walk right for a couple days once I return to Indiana as I will have to adjust to what it feels like to walk on flat land again.

Finally, academically, my language has been stretched exponentially. In the past month, I have had to give two presentations — one being in German and the other being in French. I can say though, it truly is a great feeling when you realize that you think and dream in another language other than your mother tongue. On top of my presentations, as I enter into my exams, both my written and oral language will be tested as I do everything from analyzing German poetry to explaining the different historical stages in western Europe following the fall of National Socialism.

The amazing daily views of Switzerland.

My exams will span out over this week as well as the first week in June; however, before I got underway with finals preparations, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Redding and his group of Wallies in Marburg, Germany last weekend. It was great being able to catch up with the group and it was exciting to see such a large group of underclassmen that have such an enthusiasm for the German language and culture. I hope that my time with them served as an encouragement as they continue on their academic and linguistic journey.

This will probably be the last time I write to all of you as a student at the Université de Fribourg but I have enjoyed sharing my experiences through blogging as well as the many stories I will be able to share once I return to campus in August. Please keep your eyes open though in the next 4 weeks as I will be starting my internship in Burgdorf, Switzerland (thanks to the generosity of the Dill Grant) before I return back to the States at the end of June. As always, your prayers are greatly appreciated as I complete my exams and wrap up my semester here in Switzerland, as well as my internship that will be starting in a short two weeks.


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