Grand Finds Australians Very Welcoming

Kyle Grand ’11 – I have been studying at Bond University in Gold Coast, Australia for about three months now, and it has truly been one of the best experiences of my life. The Gold Coast is one of the most beautiful places on earth and is home to some of the world’s best beaches. 

My school is located near the popular suburb, Surfer’s Paradise, and for the most part the weather is always 75 degrees and sunny. Bond is the only private school in Australia and offers a great education. It has a small school feel very similar to Wabash, so I of course fit right in. I am currently taking four classes that cover a wide range of Australian topics. I am learning about the history of the country as well as its government and politics. Australia is a very interesting place with a unique culture unlike anywhere else in the world.

Since I have been here I have been immersed in that culture. In my dorm there are many Australian students that I have grown close to. Australians are very easy going, friendly, and love to have a good time. They understand that I am visiting their country in order to broaden my horizons and have taken me under their wing. Australians have taken me to their homes to hang out, given me rides to the mall, and beach, all for the sake of being “mates”(it’s the word they use instead of friend). 
One idea that Australians live by is mateship, which means doing whatever you can to be a good friend. So far the Australians I have met have demonstrated that principle to me in a big way.
While I have been here I have traveled all over the country and it really is one of the best places in the world. I have seen the beautiful beaches of Byron Bay, walked around the awesome city of Melbourne, and of course spent a wonderful weekend in Sydney. I have seen a professional rugby game, an Australian national team soccer match, as well as an Australian music festival. No matter where I have gone, one thing remains the same. Australians have strong national pride and celebrate the fact that they are Australian.
They truly love their country and I will admit the feeling is contagious. I have really enjoyed my time here and am excited for my last month. Studying abroad has shown me how special other parts of the world are and that culture is something every country should embrace. This country has had an impact on my life and I can’t wait to see what I learn next. 

Study Abroad Includes Seeing Europe

Jorge Rostro ’11 – It has been about five weeks now since I have arrived at Aberdeen. At first, life was dark and cold and the sun hardly came out. Now, the sun shines more and it seems to be getting warmer. I have met numerous people from across Europe, not to mention my flat mates which are from Sweden, England, Scotland, and Lithuania.

Life at Aberdeen is very laid back. In comparison to Wabash, I seem to have a lot of free time. There is hardly any homework or reading assignments and absolutely no tests, except the final exam. This has given me the opportunity to immerse my self in the Scottish culture.

During these five weeks, I have explored the city center. It is absolutely beautiful, although at first I could not enjoy it as much because it was cold. I have been to the local museums. There I have seen great Victorian paintings and other contemporary forms of art. One thing that stands out from Aberdeen is the friendly people and the granite buildings of which give the city a nice feel. I also take nice jogs at Seaton Park. The park is absolutely beautiful and it has a nice river that runs through it.

Last week, I decided to travel to London and Paris to explore my surroundings. In London, I visited Notre Dame Cathedral, the city center, and went out to have a taste of London’s night life. In Paris, I visited the Eiffel Tower and the Catacombs. The Catacombs is an underground place where the French stored dead bodies. Luckily for me, I knew enough French to at least find my way around. This came in handy when I was lost trying to find the train station.

Life abroad has been so great and fascinating. I’ve learned so much about how other people think with respect to life. I have seen how most people take life at a much slower pace. In two weeks, I will have my three week Spring Break! During those three weeks, I will be backpacking through Europe. I want to definitely visit, Rome, Amsterdam, Venice, Bologna, Barcelona, and Greece. Hopefully I will be able to see more than these places. I will definitely keep you all posted about the adventures I have through Europe.

复旦大学: My Shanghai University

For over two weeks now I’ve been a 留学生 (abroad student) at Fudan University in Shanghai. Since the academic experience is the most important part of my time here, I feel that I tell you a little bit more about my studies at Fudan.

I will be able to bring five credits from Shanghai. Two credits will come from my Chinese studies. My Chinese class meets for two hours and fifteen minutes four times per week. Our groups are small (only IES students) and we really learn a lot. During every class the teacher makes sure that everybody participates. Moreover, for every class we have to learn to write 15-20 new characters. Our newly-acquired knowledge is always tested with a dictation at the beginning of the class. The remaining three credits come from classes tough in English that I’m able to take at Fudan with my international colleagues as well as Chinese Fudan students. I’m really impressed with the Fudan faculty who teach these courses. They are true experts in their fields (it’s a top university in China after all) and have many accomplishments recognized on the international level.

One of my courses is titled The Chinese Metropolis: Shanghai in Comparative Context. Thanks to this class, I can understand and appreciate Shanghai a lot more. I’m also looking forward to comparing and contrasting Shanghai with Honk Kong, since this class will be an important part of our IES week-long trip to the latter in April. The second class I take in English is The Political Economy of China. The name pretty much speaks for itself. As a comparative politics political science major at Wabash, I really like it simply because both the political and economic reality of China is so much different from other countries in the world. Religion in Contemporary Chinese Society is the third class I take in English at Fudan. In this course I hope to learn a lot about both the historical place of religion in the complex Chinese society and the issue of religion in the PRC.

When I’m not in the classroom or rushing to the Becton Dickinson Shanghai office, you would often be able to find me enjoying the beautiful and very modern Fudan campus. I hang out with my Chinese classmates making a genuine effort to only speak Mandarin :-). Good thing it’s only March and I have three more months to enjoy this magical place.

P.S. As I’ve been registering for the fall classes this week, I’ve noticed that Mandarin will finally become a part of the Wabash curriculum. I’m really excited about it and believe that this is an important step forward for the college. 

Back ’11 Working on German in Austria

Leon Back ’11 – I just started my abroad experience the first of March. I will be in Marburg, Germany for the duration of the German summer semester. However, as part of my program, I get to spend about a month in the city of Vienna, Austria, to work on my German. While I’ve only been here for two weeks, I’ve already made some great improvements in my language, or at least feel as if that is the case.

I am staying in a Studentheim, which is roughly a dormitory but has workers that take out our trash and vacuum our rooms, just behind the Parliament building. It is absolutely beautiful. For those of you that know a little about Vienna, this means I am not far form the Ringstrasse. For those not familiar with the Ringstrasse, it is a very important street that has some amazing architecture.

I am currently taking two classes. One meets every week day for three hours and it is all about speaking German. The other is a history course that focuses on Vienna. We meet twice a week for three hour tours of the city. Our teacher is a woman that has her PhD in history and has written all about Vienna. She knows the city like Blix knows Wabash. It is insane how much information she has at her command.
After classes, I will sometimes hang out in the cafes. Cafes are everywhere here in Vienna. The best thing is that you can order one drink and then sit for hours and not be bothered. There is no rushing or bothering you. Just sit there and read a while. Do your homework. Ponder life and death. Whatever makes you happy, just don’t feel as if you have to leave anytime soon. Which is wonderful for me, seeing that I don’t like being in my room before 4:00 p.m.. Unfortunately my Studentheim is under construction. The noise can get a bit much, but on the bright side Austrian construction workers start early. Thanks to the jackhammers I never need fear that I will sleep past 7 in the morning on weekdays.
I will be leaving here Mar. 26 and it saddens me a little bit. Next weekend we are going to Maribor, Slovenia. I hear it is a pretty little town. Then the weekend after wards is the 26th. So I guess it will be goodbye Vienna. However, then it is time to start classes at Philipps Uni and really get into my studies, with the occasional trips to Frankfurt of course.

In Photo: Back at the Hapsburg Palace in Vienna.

Starnes Surprised at Quick Immersion into Culture

Ian Starnes ’11 – When my plane arrived at Barajas International Airport in Madrid on Jan. 4, my stomach was cringing with anticipation.  I had no idea what was in store for me during my study abroad adventures. I had heard several stories from past Wabash men saying it is a great experience and you learn and grow so much, but I am the kind of person that doesn’t believe everything people tell me. Well… I believe them now…
I am studying in Salamanca, Spain, which is a college town about two hours Northwest of Madrid. The city was a European Capital of Culture along with Bruges, Belgium in 2002. The city is absolutely breathtaking. The gothic architecture, cobblestone streets, and endless Tapas bars give the town an eclectic yet charming environment. In my mind it is a “city of contradiction” and by that I mean the first two words I think of to describe Salamanca are tranquil and bustling. It is tranquil in the way that it is a historic town with gorgeous cathedrals and academic buildings where great scholars like Miguel Cervantes and Hernan Cortes studied. Yet, at the same time the town houses over 60,000 students and has a vibrant nightlife scene that is unparalleled in Europe. The University is the oldest in Spain and the fourth oldest in the world and brings in a very international student body.
I am taking classes at the 800-year-old university and I am being immersed in the Spanish culture daily. Along with William Fulton 11’, I am engaged in intensive Spanish language and Culture classes Monday through Friday with other international students from around the world. It is interesting because the classroom is a melting pot of ethnicities and the Spanish language is the binding tool that brings the class together. I have taken Spanish language classes since my sophomore year in high school and have always seen pictures in the textbooks of Spanish life, yet I could never really grasp that concept.
Living here has allowed me to become aware of how different the Spanish culture is and I have grown intellectually as a result. I live with a host family and I am challenged everyday to learn more about their lifestyle and I am given the opportunity to interact with them. They do not speak any English and we enjoy every meal together. I even splurged and purchased a Spanish guitar and we sometimes drink wine after dinner and play Flamenco music into the night.
My goal coming to Spain was to grow: Intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. I feel that I have accomplished that in my time here. I have not only grasped but also assimilated into Spanish society. I get asked for directions by tourists daily, and I am mistaken for being a Spaniard all the time. I love when both of those happen.
During my time here I have also had the privilege of traveling. These excursions have also allowed me to learn and grow as a result. I have traveled to Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, Bilbao, the northern coast of Spain, Valladolid, Burgos, Rome, Italy; and Marrakech, Morocco. When I was even shown around the eternal city of Rome by my fraternity brother and Wabash alum Kyle Trusgnich 08’, who is currently living and working in Rome and who so kindly shared his knowledge he had gained from his study abroad experience in Rome with me.
William Fulton 11’ and I even took the chance of running with the bulls in Ciudad Rodrigo during Carnival. (A frightening yet enlightening experience that my mom is still angry with me for partaking in). This upcoming weekend I will be traveling to Valencia, Spain for Las Fallas, which is a large Carnival like event on the Eastern Coast. I will have the opportunity to visit Derrick Yoder ’11, Adam Auter ’11, and Chris Beedie ’11.
It is great to see how Wabash connects all over the world. The bond we hold as Wabash men is unique and truly special and I have seen exemplified while here. After visiting Valencia, Spain I will be traveling Europe for my midsemester break, visiting Bishops Stortford, England; London, Engand; Dublin and Maynooth Ireland; Stockholm, Sweden; and Prague, Czech Republic. I am very excited and look forward to keeping everyone updated of my amazing experience in Spain, Ciao, Hasta Luego!

复旦大学的学期:In Shanghai!

That’s it: my semester abroad at Fudan University finally began! The 13-hour train ride went very well (slept right through it:)) and I got to my Fudan apartment without any problems. Soon after the arrival, we started our week-long orientation. I got to know the American student in my program, the IES Shanghai staff, and our beautiful campus. I also started meeting the Chinese students at Fudan. I knew this university was one of China’s top educational institutions, but students here really impress me with their level of intelligence, devotion to learning, and involvement on and off the campus.  Last week I started classes (a Mandarin course and three classes in English) as well as my part-time internship with Becton Dickinson. Therefore, the past two weeks have been extremely busy, especially as I’m still trying to get everything organized in the new city. That being said, I promise to soon provide you with a lot more details about my life in Shanghai and more specifically, my studies at Fudan.

Experiencing the Chile Earthquake On Second Day

Michael Jordan ‘ 11 – In our orientation the SIT program advised the group that Chile was a country susceptible to earthquakes. With most of us from the Midwest and East coast we paid no attention to that warning, and little did we know that “the big one” was looming. 

The 8.8 magnitude earthquake occurred only after our second day in Santiago (the capital of Chile). After two weeks, the aftershocks are still coming with three today being about the same magnitude as the devastating Haiti earthquake. Luckily, none have occurred less than 90 miles away from Santiago. Don´t get me wrong – waking up to the first earthquake at about 4 in the morning was an experience I will never forget. The ground shook forever it seemed (little more than a minute really) and I jumped up when my host parent yelled for me ‘ven aqui Michael! ven aqui!’ Objects off shelves were flying everywhere, all you can hear is furniture rumbling and glass shattering. It was all very surreal at the time. To finish the night the entire street chatted with each other or slept outside on cushions and blankets.

The earthquake has been a huge part of my program now, whether I like it or not. Dealing with aftershocks is normal and one day we even skipped class to volunteer at the Red Cross center in Santiago. The amount of clothing that was donated was unbelievable, and we spent the entire day sorting clothes into canvas bags to be sent to Concepción.
Despite the earthquake, Santiago was back on its feet the Monday after it happened, almost as if it never happened. Our only reminders have been the cracked and fallen buildings and the constant news coverage near the epicenter. Otherwise I have been in class as normal for intensive language studies, human rights (in relation to the Pinochet era), and the education system here. 
All of my classes are entirely spoken in Spanish as well. Needless to say, the experience in and out of the classroom so far in the past two weeks has been life altering. I can´t wait to see what the next two weeks have in sotre for me (just no more earthquakes please).

Study Abroad Experience Goes Fast

Adam Auter ’11 – It is hard to believe I have already completed half of a semester since arriving in Valencia, Spain. The weeks here are fleeting, each one taking its own unique form and presenting me with unforgettable experiences. I have had no difficulties assimilating into the culture, and I often find myself envisioning living a life as a Spaniard in the future. For that I believe it is safe to say that Valencia has become another home of mine.

I am incredibly thankful and taken aback by the magnitude and nature of opportunities I have encountered thus far. Highlights include day trips to historical villages on the outskirts of Valencia as well as museums and local attractions, playing pick-up soccer with the natives and other European students, receiving instructions about the tactical and fundamental aspects of soccer from a professor of this program who was once a professional, world class player, attending a local church and meeting others here in Spain who share the Christian faith (an awesome experience!), and volunteering at a local elementary school to serve as a conversational tutor for English classes. Each of these has added to the depth and richness of my study abroad experience, and for that I am forever grateful.
Furthermore, next week marks the beginning of “Las Fallas,” which is considered to be one of the greatest festivals in all of Europe. This is the staple that unites all Valencians, and the countdown to the next Fallas begins the day after its culmination. Based on the descriptions I have heard so far, I can’t help but make a quirky connection with Wabash homecoming: the festival is a weeklong event rich in tradition that draws hoards of people causing the population to double; each neighborhood selects their own Falleras (young women who represent the neighborhood in more or less the same way the women of the Miss America Pageant represent their state, or perhaps the way that a 250 pound, hairy freshman represents his fraternity), and each neighborhood also funds and constructs giant floats which can reach up to 150 feet and are destroyed at the end of the week in massive bonfires. While I certainly recognize that this event is far from being the same as Wabash Homecoming, I am intrigued by their common ties that stretch across the Atlantic. I have been told that I will come out of the week as a different person, and for that I wait in eager anticipation.
At this point I am looking back at all that I have done so far and also looking forward to the adventures and endeavors of the second half of the semester. Each day I am spurred by the recognition of the countless possibilities that I have at my fingertips. I look forward to sharing more of my thoughts and reactions in the future.

Hull ’11 Getting Intensive Introduction to Dutch

Cliff Hull ’11 – I’ve just finished up my first month studying abroad in the Netherlands and it has been a whirlwind so far. I am studying in Leiden, a town of 120,000 people on the Old Rhine River only a thirty minute train ride from Haarlem, Den Haag, and Amsterdam.

Like Wabash, Leiden University has a very rich academic history; it lists among its alumni John Quincy Adams and the current Queen Beatrix of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Furthermore, the town of Leiden has been a university town since William of Orange founded Leiden University in 1575. Even though the weather has been pretty chilly, it has been bearable riding my bike to class on cobblestone streets lined on one side by canals and on the other by five and six hundred-year-old buildings.

For my first three weeks here I took an intensive Dutch language course. One of my academic goals for my study abroad experience has been to learn conversational Dutch. Dutch is one of the parent languages of Afrikaans, which is one of the national language of South Africa. I was born in South Africa before moving to America as a baby, so I never got a chance to learn my mom’s native language. Luckily for me, I had no idea that I would get such an intensive language course. We spent four hours per day for the better part of three weeks learning Dutch from a renowned Dutch language professor. All the work paid off, as I have had a few conversations with my mom over Skype in Dutch, not to mention with many Dutch people around Leiden.

Because the Netherlands is such a small country, I’ve had a chance to travel on the weekends to different parts of the country. This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel to the original Heineken Brewery in Amsterdam with the University’s International Student Network. We went to the Heineken Experience, where we got to tour the original 1867 Heineken Brewery, see the famous Heineken Shire horses in their stables, as well as go through an interactive museum detailing the bottling process as well as the history of the Heineken family.

And on the weekend leading up to the beginning of Lent, I was able to celebrate Carnaval in the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, one of the biggest of such celebrations which are most prevalent in the southern Catholic provinces.

The rest of my classes are starting this week, so I’ll hopefully be checking back in with more updates soon.

Next Wednesday I’m going to see the Netherlands play the United States in an international friendly soccer match, and then I’m headed the next day to Barcelona and Valencia to visit Derrick Yoder ’11, Adam Auter ’11, and Chris Beedie ’11.