Kia Ora from New Zealand!

John Decker ’14 – I have been living in Auckland, New Zealand for about two months now, and my time here has gone by quickly. Classes didn’t begin here until March 5, so I’ve only just gotten back into the swing of classes. Venturing to New Zealand has been my first travel experience outside of the United States, and the country is absolutely gorgeous.

Decker and Kiwi friend at the summit of Mt. Doom

A group of my friends and I went to Tangariro National Park the week before classes started and hiked the Alpine Circuit. The three day hike was filled with beautiful scenery that included mountains, desert-like areas, and lush forests. One minute we’d be trudging uphill towards the summit of Mt. Ngauruhoe (the mountain used in Lord of the Rings as “Mt. Doom”), and the next minute, we’d be overlooking lakes scattered across the top of the mountain.  Once we reached the top of Mt. Doom, we were standing above the clouds and could see several mountain ranges distantly scattered throughout the horizon.

Culturally, New Zealand is not much different than the United States. Auckland is a very cosmopolitan city, with influences from Asia, the United States, and Europe. Just like any other big city, there is always something to do in Auckland. Whether it’s attending a professional rugby match in Eden Park, having a drink by the harbor, or going to a concert, the possibilities are really endless. The pace in New Zealand is a bit slower than the United States. New Zealanders, called Kiwis, are very courteous and friendly. Professors (called lecturers here) are very laid-back with the assignment deadlines and are very inclined to help out any students. I found this surprising for a university with 40,000 students!

Crystal Lakes

Auckland also has a perfect climate. I have arrived at the end of the New Zealand summer, and we’re currently entering the fall. As a Hoosier, I think of fall as a season with temperatures ranging from 45 to 65 degrees. Well, in New Zealand, the temperatures regularly reach 80 degrees and generally only get down to about 60 degrees. The weather here is ideal for those who have a zest for the outdoors. Spreads near my living unit are parks, rugby/cricket pitches, and plenty of jogging trails.

I’ve been doing my best to get the full New Zealand experience. I have been playing for Grammar Carlton Rugby Football Club, a strong men’s rugby club affiliated with the Auckland Rugby Football Union. I take a bus to practice every Tuesday and Thursday and games are usually played on Saturdays. I have been playing with the Under 21 side for the team.  It’s an interesting experience because I am the only North American on the 120 man club. There are ruggers from Fiji, Tonga, China, Northern Ireland, Holland, Australia, South Africa, and England, just to name a few. Sometimes there are some language barriers (even between us English speakers!), but we’re all there for the same reason: to play rugby.

Over Easter Break, I’ll be in Hamilton, New Zealand, staying with one of my Kiwi friends. Over mid-semester break, a big group of us are flying to the South Island to do some hiking and check out all that the South Island has to offer. After about a week of exploring, we’ll fly out of Christchurch (a major city that was devastated by earthquakes in 2008).

This has been a great experience thus far. To current/future Wabash students: I hope you take the opportunity to study abroad. Studying abroad has always been a big goal of mine, and it has exceeded my expectations.

Wabash Always Fights!

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.

Becher ’13: The Rigors of Bi(Tri)lingualism

Keathon Becher '13


Keaton Becher ’13 – (Fribourg, Switzerland) – I’m really not even sure where I should begin. I have been here in Europe for my off-campus study since December 30th. After spending New Year’s Eve with previous Wabash Language Assistant, Tanja Schoenrock, I took the long haul from northern Germany to the small city of Schwäbisch-Hall in the south, a hot spot for Wabash Men before they embark on university classes. I spent the whole month of January at a Goethe-Institute, working to polish up my German a little bit more and I can confidently say, that the instruction I received their helped me immensely into my transition into the mountains of Switzerlan

Yes, Keaton on the Alphorn

Before my classes in Switzerland started then, I participated in a 2-week French language practicum at my university. The shining quality that makes studying in Fribourg so unique is that the city lies right on the border where the German-speaking and French-speaking sides of Switzerland comes together—offering an unbelievable opportunity to be in a bilingual environment; however, in reality, I would even suggest that I live in a trilingual environment. Not only am I surrounded by German and French, but I also am living with a host family, where although they speak German, a dialect of Swiss German, known as Senslerdeutsch is the norm at home. Switzerland is really a fascinatingly complicated country in multiple facets, but specifically, in the realm of communication. Recognizing 4 national languages, there is also within these 4 languages well over 100 different dialects. I can simply go one more train stop over from where I live, and suddenly everyone is speaking Berndeutsch. Mind you, this is only about 5 minutes from where I live!

What is even more mind blowing though is that Switzerland and all of her Cantons continue to run like clockwork (cliché intended). As you can imagine, all the different languages and dialects really keeps me on my toes and the first few weeks were pretty stressful, especially after not speaking any French for well over a month. But Wabash has prepared me well for German & French the past two and half years, and my hometown community has given me a good ear for Swiss German (Adams County is home to- more or less- the only Swiss Old Order Amish Community in the world, many being neighbors and close friends of mine).

Switzerland's natural beauty.

What has truly been a test though are my actual university classes. Coming here, I felt that German-wise, I would have problems more with content than the language itself and the opposite problem with my French. Yet, once again, Wabash and its professors have gone above and beyond at arming me with the tools for success. That’s not to say that I understand every single word that is discussed in class; however, the total immersion atmosphere provides me with an exceptional opportunity to be improving my grasp and comprehension of the language, while at the same time, providing me with outside knowledge in the realms of German poetry, Swiss perspectives of WWII, and the differences between written and spoken French.

Indeed, many practical and cultural aspects are also gained purely through interaction with regular matriculated Swiss students. Normally it is so that they have an interest in me and my life just as much as I do of theirs! In the same regard, much is gleaned from my host parents as well—whether it be discussing politics and religion at dinner or making “butter zopf” and “rösti” with my host Mom, I am absorbing so much information and knowledge. In short, all is off to a good start and I look forward to sharing with the Wabash community, friends, and family about my experiences abroad. As always, your prayers are greatly appreciated as I continue the rest of my journey here in Switzerland and during my travels.

Evans ’13 Growing with Each New French Experience

Edward Evans ’13 – The train stops in Montpellier.  The lost foreigner leaves the station with incorrect MapQuest directions in hand.  With no confidence in his French comprehension, he walks up and down the same streets without asking anyone for directions. After three hours of bewilderment, he hobbles to the right hotel. This is where I began, constantly lost, confused, and incapable of talking to people.

Ed exiting the Pont do Gard.

For the first couple of weeks, the Minnesota program arranged an intensive grammar course to help students find a French groove and to determine our level of the language. My grammar was decent; however, it was apparent that my speaking and comprehension were well-below average. The advisors suggested that I follow an easier Language Studies track as opposed to the Integrated Studies one. (Honestly, I don’t blame them; I was struggling and among the least-experienced in the program.) Wanting to get an authentic French experience and being a little stubborn, I threw myself to the wolves, registering for courses in which I would be among French students.

In the beginning, I had major doubts. The French lectures were killing me. My notes entailed random, unrelated words that I managed to recognize. Later, I would go to the library and try to draw some relation between them. This was extremely inefficient and tiring. My brain felt like a whooping cushion. Each week, however, I have noticed that my notes are more cohesive. Now, I can actually ask questions regarding the subject matter after class. Most importantly, I am no longer eyeing my teachers with this bizarre mixture of confusion and malice. I attribute this lingual enhancement to multiple reasons, one of which is my host family. My host mom is from French Guiana, and she used to be a teacher. She has been EXTREMELY patient when talking to me and has been great in providing tips to improve my French and to speak properly. My host brother, who averages 100 words a second, keeps me balanced with his slang. I don’t think I would be scholastically successful here without them. Host family: Highly recommended.

Aside from school (which I could go on forever about), I have truly immersed myself into the culture. I have noticed great differences between France and the US. The school system, politics, and even the mentalities towards everyday living are just different, not necessarily better or worse. Furthermore, I have a greater appreciation for history. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a chemistry and math nerd. I love it. However, I also realize how easy it is to be consumed by the sciences. When you walk along the ramparts of Carcassonne or across the Pont du Gard, an aqueduct built twenty centuries ago, you have no other choice but to appreciate the incredible ingenuity of the Romans. It’s unbelievable.

An evolution has occurred. Come mid-December, a Frenchman will return to his native country. He will go to the very same train station around which he was completely lost less than four months ago. He will high-five security and will hold a conversation with a woman about the upcoming presidential election and her dislike for Nicholas Sarkozy. He will return to the US with new perspectives, new insight, and a new appreciation for what he is going back to. With a little more than a month left, I already deem this study abroad experience a complete success. Thank you, Wabash.

Floyd ’13 Enthusiastically Embraces Oxford

Riley Floyd ’13 – Greetings from Oxford!

I’ve just finished the fourth week of my study abroad experience at Oxford’s Lady Margaret Hall (LMH), and I can say without reservation that Oxford is one of my favorite places in the world! I’ve made some great friends here, and we’ve had a ton of fun — including the inevitable embarrassing moments as typical Americans abroad. What’s most captivating about the place is everyone’s story. Everyone I’ve met here has had some amazing life experiences, and the difference in their academic interests is fascinating too — from astrophysics to the Cold War — the options are endless.

LMH is a really friendly place. And it’s beautiful—complete with gardens and Georgian architecture. It’s a little removed from the City Centre, and it’s one of the newer colleges — founded in 1878. I say “new” because Oxford’s oldest building was constructed in 1049. It’s quite small too; there are only about 450 students here. But it gives you a great chance to get to know some of the British students — particularly if you take on a sport. And the tradition here is awesome. Formal, three-course dinners take place every Friday in the college’s dining hall — a wood-paneled hall with austere portraits of all of the College’s principals. And there’s quite a sense of hierarchy. The tutors and principal literally sit at a table on a higher plane than the students. But once you leave the hall, that hierarchy disappears; everyone here is really accessible.

And the town itself is great! There are so many pubs, restaurants, and historical sites that it will make your head spin. I’ve been here for four weeks, and I still haven’t seen everything. In fact, I only went into the Radcliffe Camera for the first time last weekend. The kebab carts are really good too — think of it like the Brit equivalent of late night Taco Bell runs in C-ville — which, by the way, the British are incredibly jealous that our fast food joints are open 24 hours. Everything here closes early; even pubs shut the doors at midnight.

Academically, Oxford provides a uniquely individualized setting. There are no “classes” — unless you’re a science student. Instead, there are tutorials. I meet once a week with my Modern Literature tutor and once every other week with my Jurisprudence tutor. For each meeting, I complete a reading list and write a 2500-3000 word essay on that week’s reading. And then we discuss the paper and the readings in tutorial. It’s tough. And the week is easily consumed with reading, writing, and preparing for tutorial. But the social aspects are great too.

I’ve started rowing crew, and it’s a ton of fun. It’s quickly becoming one of my favorite sports — and not just because of the crew dates (dinners and club nights where guys’ VIIIs pair with women’s VIIIs from other Oxford colleges). We’re gearing up for the Christ Church Regatta in 7th Week — a race for novices only. With weekly outings and gym sessions there’s plenty to keep me busy. And it gives me a needed break from all the reading.

I’ve heard people talk about their study abroad experience — the nervousness associated with being in a new place, the new people they met, the traveling they did, and the amazing memories they had. And I thought it was just hype.

But they were on to something. There’s something to be said for leaving everything you know and everything with which you are familiar behind and starting entirely from scratch. That’s exactly what studying abroad forces you to do — particularly at a place like Oxford. And I’m having the time of my life. I can’t explain why, really. I think it’s mainly due to the incredible variety of experiences you can have here. It forces you to look back on everything that brought you here and everything that’s yet to come. And that’s vastly rewarding. I’m exceptionally grateful to be able to have the experience. As great as Oxford is, I’ve also come to appreciate Wabash even more by being here. And I have to say thanks to everyone at the College and to my family for preparing me for this experience. I can’t believe it’s nearly over.

London Helps Wang ’13 Understand Cultural Differences

Bo Wang ’13 – I have been in London for about two months so far, and I pretty much enjoy my life here. I want to say thank you to Wabash that give me such a good chance to explore the education system in British.

Actually, my college, Queen Mary, University of London, runs quite differently compared with Wabash. First of all, I haven’t been assigned with any homework yet, which took me some time to get used to. I have two major courses and two distribution classes here, and one of them has a quiz or a unit test, nor do they have any homework to turn in. In Wabash, I am always doing my homework for most of my day, and there is quiz almost every week that I have to review my class notes every night in order to digest the knowledge in time. There is a boy living besides my room who is a local resident, and he told me that the fall semester could be divided into three small parts, and most of the British student only begin to study after the second part, which is around the Christmas.

They just concern with a “pass”, not the GPA in the U.S. I think their action and altitude then make sense because there is no exam or homework to push them to study in time. Besides, it is hard to catch your professor after lecture because they are always in a hurry to rush to the next classroom. And often their office hour is no more than two hours a week. In other time, their office door is always locked. None of those professors knew my name, and they don’t care. There is a lack of a communication of between the students and professors — the same problem that lies in those state universities in the U.S.
After education, I want to talk about my life in London. London is a great place for everything but study.

One of Bo’s night time shots of London.

I have to admit this three month is the most colorful time in my life. You can do whatever you want to do in this city. Maybe you want to argue that New York City is also a choice in this purpose, however, London is much safer. I often carry my tripod and my Nikon DSLR camera to walk on the streets at night. I love to spend my night time alone, only with my camera. I have explored most part of this city on foot, with hundreds of pictures taken. I love the historic feeling that this city gives to me. The buildings in central part of London are all of hundreds of years in age, and they are so beautiful and graceful. I sometimes even have a delusion that I was going back by the time machine when I hang around Oxford circus or Regent Street, surrounded by those old buildings.

The price level is very high, because of the exchange rate. I can often hear the other students from the states complain about the expensive price of the food and transportation fee. A cup of Ben Jerry’s is about five pounds. A day’s tube fare could be around ten pounds.

As an international student, I feel lucky to study both in the US and in the UK. I thus have a deeper understanding why Chinese young students prefer the US. Because US have a much competitive and stressful education system which can give the student more during their study, both mentally and physically. On the other hand, UK is a better place to travel and spend the holiday.

Griffin ’13 Elected Harlaxton Student Body President

Tyler Griffin ’13 – “You’ll be back with tears of defeat and then you will know that college is no place for you.” The bell rings and I throw my hoodie over my head and let the warm saltiness slip from the corner of my eyes. The rowdiness in the hallways seems to deafen as I precariously walk through my soon to be high school Alma Mater. Three weeks from graduation, eyes set on Wabash and my teacher whispers this into my ear. Some memories never seem to fade.

President Tyler Griffin and Vice President Jon Mondovics

Fast-forward to Monday September 5, 2011, “Congratulations Tyler Griffin you are the new Harlaxton College Student Body President.” In addition to booking trips to the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Ireland and Portugal like the rest of my fellow abroad students, I will be in charge of running Harlaxton’s student government.  Luckily, I will not be running this alone, but rather with fellow Wabash student, Michael Jon Mondovics ’13 who was elected Vice President.

Student government is a bit different in Grantham, England than at Wabash College. Funds are extremely limited and finding people to forgo trips to Ibiza in order to stay and help with a charity event isn’t easy. I have a small team of around 7 people who are in charge of overseeing philanthropy, pep rallies, talent shows and a host of other both recreational and educational events.

Yes, there will be times when I will be organizing capture the flag tournaments, instead of exploring the emerald fields of Ireland. Fear not though, not only is this professional development, it is directly beneficial to my success at Wabash. Tyler Griffin and Michael Jon Mondovics officially announce their candidacy for Student Body President and Vice President for Wabash College in Grantham England, next stop Crawfordville, Indiana. This experience will render some great strategies and tactics hopefully we can employ at Wabash if we were so fortunate to be elected.

My responsibilities have increased exponentially, but with that come greater rewards. I will create deeper relationships with students, learn more about my leadership abilities and find ways to better them. Freshmen Saturday is but a distant memory that continues to aid me in my journey into becoming a true Wabash man. “Sometimes we do things that are not necessarily better for you, but will inspire others into greatness.” President White’s words continue to echo even as I travel this “brave new world with such people in it.”

Steele in England for Summer on Rudolph Fund

Reggie Steele ’12 – Imagine going to class from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, where your performance skills are tested and elevated each day.  Imagine singing intensely for 4 consecutive hours, leaving rehearsal and going directly to learn choreography for 2 songs that you have learned the same strenuous morning.  Imagine acting out a musical that you have never seen with limited time and resources.  Imagine a “Southern Gentlemen” learning to sing with a British accent for many songs.  Thanks to the Kenneth Rudolph Scholarship and a supporting family, this imagination has become a reality.

I am currently in the Performing Arts Program at the University of Sunderland, where I am learning intense vocal performance, drama, musical theatre, and dance training from the best academic tutors in England.  The reason I chose the University of Sunderland’s Performing Arts Program is to discover if I had what it takes to become a Broadway Performer.  Thus far, I am learning more about my talents and ability to hold an audience attention.

On the very first day, my colleagues and I learned and performed a song during orientation.  This experience was a bit shocking because at “The Bash”, we rehearse for an entire semester before we have our end of the year concert. But if you know me well, you would know that I live to perform and I was excited to begin this challenge.

During my first week of performance, my dance academic tutor shared with me a harsh and brutal reality of Broadway. This reality is that a body cut takes place and if an audition-er do not fit the costume, he or she does not audition. My eyes opened and gazed for a very, very long time. As I asked her more questions about this reality, she then told me that two-thirds of the cast of the musical “Lion King” showing in London are Asian. It was shocking to her at first when she was told, but she later stated this is the real world, and the world of Broadway does not have time to make new costumes that cost nearly $500 each.  As I continue to face this reality, my vocal teacher told me that there are many roles that fit my body type, and I shouldn’t give up the faith.  The other thing that he told me was to be the best, and someone will take a chance on me.

So, what am I going to do now? I have chosen to be the best! In order to be the best, I believe that I must continue to have outstanding vocals, improve my acting skills and dance technique, and loose just a few pounds.  The steps that I will take my senior year to improve all of these skills are to continue my voice lessons with the best vocal instructor at Wabash, audition and perform in at least 1 play at Wabash and at least 1 musical at the Vanity Theater, continue dance at Dance by Deborah, and to stay focus and optimistic.

One quality that all of my academic tutors agreed that I have is “star potential.”  I have a quality to keep people interested, and I have the talent that makes people want to invest in.  They confirmed this quality after my interview with 107 Spark FM which could be heard with this link:

I cannot express how important it is to study abroad, and how it could really assist in career opportunities. This short program has been a stepping stone in my career path.  It has shown me what I can do in musical theater, and has given direction to ensure that I make the proper steps to success. I would like to thank once again the family of Kenneth Rudolph and my loving family for your financial and caring support through this journey.  When I return there will be a presentation with footage of my performances, and live songs, so watch for an email.  Although this program has given me the harsh realities, I am grateful.  I know what it takes and what I need to do to make my dreams a reality!

Moore Reflects on Time in Spain

Jacob Moore ’12 – On May 23rd I left my small hometown of Crawfordsville, IN to study in Valencia, Spain for a month.  I was accepted through the University of Virginia to study at their host sight, in Valencia.  This trip was definitely way out of my comfort zone, as I did not know a single person who would be accompanying me.  However, I would not change the experience for the world.  It has made me more confident in myself as a person, seeing a different culture alone, and making many memories along the way.

Growing up, I was the youngest in my family; I always had the back up of my siblings or parents.  Many people see high school as their “growing up stage” and lose their “support” system of family.  However, I had two older siblings already attending the high school, and thus I had support.  Next came college.

Heading to college, I chose Wabash College another small school of about 600, and once again the support continued during this major transition in life, as my brother attended Wabash, and the campus is a 15-minute drive from my house.

This trip, however, I was on my own for the first time! Arriving in Spain, I met my random host family, which turned out to be the best family here (in my opinion).  They are very similar to mine with 3 boys and 1 girl (the youngest, Jacobo, being 25, the eldest, Marino, 36 and with two more in the middle).  They took me in as a fourth brother and showed me the ropes of living in Spain.  The first week was a little rough getting accustomed to being on my own, but after being lost twice throughout the city and making friends everything turned out great.

However, this past weekend has been my best experience, yet.  I hopped on a bus and went to Barcelona for the Sonar Music Festival.  I met another Wabash student, Logan Falley, who is studying in Madrid, and we began touring the city.  If you don’t know Spain, this country NEVER sleeps.  The festival started at 11pm Friday and Saturday nights and did not end until 7am each morning.  This is how the “discotecas” work as well.  Everyone sleeps from roughly 5pm-9pm- a time which is called siesta- wake up to get prepared for the night, eat supper around 10PM at the earliest, and then hit up the bars.  From the bars they either go to clubs or discotecas.  The bars close at 3am, but that is when the Discotecas open up, and don’t close until 7am!  Anyway, back to Barcelona.

The Music Festival was in an “Undisclosed Warehouse” and we had to take a bus to arrive at this warehouse.  After arriving at the warehouse-I can’t explain the feelings for what happened in this warehouse, because there aren’t any words for those feelings! There were roughly 100,000 people amongst 5 different stages all blaring Techno/ Dubstep/ Electronic music.   If you have never heard techno music the best way to describe it is trancelike.  The lasers, bumps, black lights, and EVERYONE moving at the exact time sends a jive through the body only experienced at a Rave. The light shows were surreal, as were the people.  Yes, I had a wonderful time here, but it was on Sunday that made this weekend my favorite trip.

Barcelona is HUGE!  It’s the second largest city in Spain with a population over 1.5 million people. The architecture of the buildings is magnificent and once again words can’t explain.  Logan flew back to Madrid on Sunday morning at 7, but my bus didn’t leave until 7 that night.  Thus, I had all day to tour.  I checked out of my hostel at 11 am.  I circled various parts of the city on a map that I wanted to see and off I went!  My first stop was the Olympic Stadium that hosted the 1992 Olympic Games.  What I did not know was this road was heaven for a tourist, perfect! This area had various other attractions I did not plan on seeing but was glad that I did.

I walked through this beautiful garden of flowers that had blooms the size of my head, an ancient Greek Theatre, the National Museum of Art de Cataluña (MNAC), a park dedicated to the surrealist Juan Miró, and ate a very cultural lunch.  I normally would not have stopped at the two art museums, but I am taking an Art History course here, and have a newfound love for art. (Yes, the extended limbs, squiggly lines, and squares are art).  From here, I hopped on a metro and went up north to visit Camp Nu, which is the home stadium for FC Barcelona, one of Spain’s, and the world’s most famous soccer teams.

Sadly, I arrived 30 minutes too late, and could not walk inside the gate, as there were guards everywhere.  From Camp Nu, the stadium, I jumped on another metro directly east and visited Gaudi’s, Park Güell.  This is not your average park, as Gaudi is an unbelievable architect.  All the way up the mountain were various walls, bridges, and other structures built out of rock and plaster.  How they were able to accomplish this feat I am yet to know.   To finish my journey I headed south to Gaudi’s most famous structure, and one of the most famous buildings/ Catholic Church in the world…. La Sagrada Familia.  The building’s groundbreaking was in 1826, and the completion date is set for 2026, the centennial of Gaudi’s death.  I will try and explain, but once again, you will have to look at Google images to try and understand what I saw, but up close in person is breath-taking to say the least.   Sadly, once again I arrived too late and could not enter, but maybe the next trip to Europe I will be able to accomplish these tasks.    La Sagrada Familia is by far the biggest building I have laid eyes on, and there are various levels to it.  One side shows a group of angels peering out of the side the building, while right next to them is this cone like figure that makes as a window.  However, there is no glass, and people just walk out to peer down to the city approximately 13-15 stories up.  Crazy thing is, this ledge is only half way up the building.  Below I attached a picture of the “edificio” to give the building justice.

From here I had about 1.5 hours left so I began walking to the bus stop.  On the way I had time to reflect on my journey of the day, and the previous three weeks in Spain.  However, these thoughts were interrupted as I passed the bull-fighting stadium!  Finally in my favor (I was not too late), there was a bullfight that night and I was able to witness the protests that went along with it.  After a few tourist pictures and speaking with the peaceful protestor’s I continued my journey to the bus station.  Sadly, I could not miss the bus because it is a 5-hour trip back to Valencia.

Spain has taught me a lot, and I have become a better person because of it.  The people here are more than nice and are more than willing to help out.  I have been lost on a number of occasions, and luckily I was living close to a big church and stated:“Donde está la Mesquita” and with a simple point of the finger I’m was off on my way.  This trip also helped me become very independent person, and know I can travel alone to other countries and be just fine. If I can take the metro, bus, or walk without knowing anyone or knowing the area, I know that I can handle the turns and “closed” signs that will happen in my life journey.

Spain has not been all roses and chocolate though, which also helped me grow as a person, too.  I believe you have to see ugly/hate in order to see peace/love, and that has happened.  On a number of occasions I have hung out with people that are not the nicest in the world, which made me a better person in the end, and I can only thank God for putting me in these situations, as seeing those people not being polite has taught me that being kind and nice will get you further in the game of life.  One occasion I was enjoying a relaxing day at the beach doing some homework and I saw this frail young boy with an oxygen tank.  With him were two adults and what appeared to be his sister.  This had to be the boys first time at the Beach because the smile he had on his face was priceless. He would jog up to the water and just stop before getting wet.  Finally after a few minutes of prodding the young boy took his sisters (4-5 years old) hand and tiptoed into the water.  He splashed and played as much as he was able to.  These experiences are ones that will stick with me forever, and I am grateful I am able to live them.

I hope you liked my tour of Barcelona, and if you have any questions or would like to hear more stories you can always join “Wabash College Wrestling” Facebook page and I will be more than glad to respond!