多谢我的大学:Summer at ECNU – last weeks here

As mentioned in the previous note, I’ve been spending my summer at the East China Normal University in Shanghai. I picked this place because I thought it would be a great environment to focus on my senior seminar research; it was a good choice:) Every day I have the chance to interact with Dr. Melissa Butler and Dr. Ethan Hollander from our political science department. Moreover, I met quite a few students in the ECNU summer school (most of them are Chinese who study in the U.S.) who provided help with some of the most difficult aspects of researching the 2008 fiscal stimulus in China.

Apart from working together (going to their classes was a great review for the upcoming comps), I also spent much of my free time with the Wabash professors. We caught up on what happened at Wabash last semester, saw a lot of Shanghai together (The Bund, Pudong, French Concession, St. Ignatius Cathedral of Shanghai, World Expo, Fudan University, you name it:)), and met with our alumni.

There’s one more week ahead of us in Shanghai. On Tuesday, we will meet with Chris Beebe’79 who spent many years working in Asia. I am really looking forward to finally meeting Mr. Beebe in person. I will take my time to say bye to this fascinating Chinese metropolis and leave for Beijing after the weekend. I will spend about five days there networking (including a meeting to discuss my research with a political science scholar who I met during the winter) and on the 23rd of this month I will board my returning flight to Indiana.

Dear Wabash community, it’s been an amazing experience, which I can’t wait to share with you in person. Thank you for everything.

Hull ’11 Reflects on Spring Study in Portugal

Cliff Hull ’11 – I recently returned from my semester abroad studying in the Netherlands. After I finished my exams, I left Leiden with a couple of friends . Through the non-profit organization World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), we were able to get in contact with the owner of an organic farm in the Algarve, the southernmost region of Portugal . For a menial maintenance fee (and sometimes for free, depending on the country’s WWOOF organization), WWOOF provides access to a database of local farmers using ecologically sustainable farming practices.

After communicating with a few farms, we decided on a farm located outside of the city of Portimão . We spent two weeks volunteering on the farm, in exchange for housing and food. Since no herbicides are used on the farm, a majority of the work consisted of pulling weeds by hand. But we also helped with other projects around the farm, such as building a new area to store firewood (as well as splitting a lot of the firewood), creation of compost areas, clearing brush for fire prevention, and cutting down dead or dying trees.

My WOOFing experience allowed me to spend time in a country as more than a tourist. I was able to get a much more authentic experience, being able to work, live, and eat with a Portuguese family. It was also nice to do volunteer work, especially in the region we were working, since it is one of the poorest regions in Portugal . It was especially rewarding to know that besides helping out the family for whom we worked, our efforts were also helping to positively effect the environment.

Just a little over 24 hours after getting home to Indianapolis from my six month stay in Europe, I started an internship at KERAMIDA Inc, an environmental engineering firm located in downtown Indianapolis. Although it’s a bit of a change from my previous summer job as a whitewater rafting guide in West Virginia , it offers me a great chance to experience working in a professional environment before making my decisions for graduate school.

Once I’ve graduated from Wabash , I’m hoping to go to graduate school in the area of environmental engineering. Getting a chance to work alongside professionals who have taken the same path I plan is helping me to better focus my plans for the future. It’s crazy to think how close “the future” is. It seems like just the other day I was a disorientated senior in high school on Honors Scholar Weekend, trying to decide where to live if I decided to come to Wabash College . Now, a little over three years later, I’m deciding what to do once I’m finished with Wabash. It’s amazing how fast it all goes.

In photos: Top right – Hull, in red tshirt, helps take down a tree. Lower left – a look at the Portuguese countryside.

Surface ’11 Finishing Final Weeks in Chile

Jacob Surface ’11 – Twice in the past two weeks I have awoken to screams here in Chile. When that happens in Latin America, a couple of thoughts jump to mind: 1) Is this another earthquake? Well, my bed/room doesn’t seem to be shaking so I guess not. 2) Is this a military coup? Well I don’t hear tanks, planes, or guns so hopefully not… 3) Is there a soccer game? YES, in fact it is the World Cup which explains why the entire city is going mad. Even as I write I can hear the honking, yelling, and chaotic celebratory sounds of Chile’s latest win. The pride for the Roja (red) is ubiquitous in Chile as school and workplace alike are postponed for people to watch the games. Meanwhile, I am preparing to head off to that all too forgotten segment of study abroad – class. 

As the semester is drawing to a close here I want to talk a bit about my favorite class so far. My Latin American history course has been one of the most interesting courses I have had the chance to take while in Chile. While some of the reading material is review from other political science/history courses I have had (which I appreciate with comps a semester away), the classroom dynamic has been very rewarding. With Chile, France, Mexico, Spain, Colombia, and of course the US represented in a small group of 15 students, class conversations from populism and democracy to social inequality and military coups have been extremely well informed with so many experiences represented. I just finished my final essay for the class and was able to squeeze in some Pevehouse between the likes of Tilly and Huntington (just ask Dr. Vasquez about his International Politics course last fall and civil-military relations). 
In other news, my running is going quite well now. I took fourth in my last road race, a charity event to benefit victims of the earthquake. I got 25th in a much bigger race a few weeks ago in an inland town about an hour away. Running is a great way to get to know an area and the fitness increases the chance that you can get out of sketchy situations in a jiffy if need be. 
Speaking of sketchy situations, our program took a human rights tour through the capital of Santiago a week ago. We visited the General Cemetery and saw the monument to Allende as well as the one to the Disappeared Victims of the coup. We then had a guided tour of Villa Grimaldi, a former summer resort area that was converted to a torture/detention center as Pinochet sought out members of the armed leftist movement (MIR). Unfortunately such issues have only became a public discourse in Chile after Pinochet’s embarrassing extradition to Spain in 1998 when a six-hour window between diplomatic immunities allowed authorities to detain him while seeking back surgery in England.  Even now Chileans are not very open on the topic. 
Some friends and I stayed behind in the city that evening for a nice dinner and a self-guided walking tour of the Bellavista neighborhood, the more bohemian sector of the city. The next morning we awoke and ascended Cerro San Cristobal in the municipal park to gain a fantastic view of the city from above and of the Andes in the distance. Later we walked through the central market and through the historic government district, finishing up in front of La Moneda, the presidential palace whose image was made famous during the 1973 bombing of the building by junta forces.      
I also recently took a trip to Easter Island. That’s right, the place with the big stone head statues or Moai! It was incredible to see everything up close. My trusty travel team and I explored the island, the lava tube caves formerly used as storage and shelter by the builders of the Moai, and experienced the native Rapa Nui culture. It was a very beautiful place to say the least. Nothing says paradise like finishing a 10-mile run on a white sand beach surrounded by Moai and palm trees. 
Now only a few more weeks of the semester stand between me and a trip north through Bolivia and Peru and then back to sunny Crawfordsville.

Surface ’11 Exploring Chile Post Earthquake

Jacob Surface ’11 – I have been in Chile for about a month and half now, since just after the earthquake or ‘terremoto’. While it sounds like a long time, I can still vividly remember boarding the plane in Miami with my new study abroad compatriots. We arrived for our brief orientation of three days that was supposed to prepare us for the shock of Chilean culture, complete with salsa lessons! But nothing could have prepared me for Chilean Spanish. With filler words that mean absolutely nothing, elongated syllables, dropped consonants, and a variety of colloquial expressions that confuse and stun the new ‘gringos’, Chilean Spanish is a murmured dialect with a musical flow that leaves you lost in the tones, wondering, “What just happened?” I am still picking up language skills everyday.

The geography of this rugged area is definitely one of the highlights. In fact, I spent my Easter Sunday closer to God hiking around Mt. Aconcagua National Park, the highest mountain in the Americas, where I couldn’t resist trying my legs for a two mile run at altitude. Talk about a workout! After a brief respite on a hill with a perfect view of the snow covered mountain, I turned to see if my hiking group had caught up to me. Unfortunately, we missed each other and I ended up running a mile back in the opposite direction just to find out that they were down by a mountain stream off the beaten path. 
The experience of being all alone and slightly lost at the top of the world was well worth it however and I will not soon forget the pure blue sky and crisp air of that place. I have also seen much of the 5th region, where I live in Vina del Mar/ Valparaiso. Valpo is a busy sea port with a history peppered with international immigration, commerce, art, and of course earthquakes. Vina is the more residential, middle class part of the urban area, with quiet streets perfect for running.
Speaking of running, I recently competed in a 5-mile race over the toughest terrain I have ever seen. Apparently ‘Cross’ isn’t the same as U.S. Cross Country where rolling hills and grassy straight-aways optimize competition. Rather, it signifies a tough race over impossible hills on a dirt road with no flat ground in between to catch your breath, with a few stray dogs for extra motivation on the return trip. I came in seventh and got a fancy medal for my efforts, but was left panting after my first race since early March. I got a chance to meet the oldest Chilean ever to complete a marathon, 80+ with 14 international marathons under his belt. We will see if Coach Busch can last that long. In the meantime, I plan to try my luck again on an easier course! 
The fruits and veggies here have a freshness unlike that of produce from home, although bread and avocado, or ‘pan y palta’, tend to rule the table. I also had the opportunity to attend a wine tasting while in Argentina where the Malbec is most popular, and have also sampled the Chilean Carmenere, which is smoother than its peppery Argentine cousin. I also went parasailing off of the Andean foothills in Argentina, although I assure you that was well before the wine tasting.
I miss the blooms of our little campus in summer as the cool sea breezes bring winter here to Chile. But I have learned an extraordinary amount of language, culture, history and even some patience in just the last weeks.   I am glad I made the decision to study abroad, one that, without Wabash’s unparalleled assistance, would have never been possible.
Back in a few… In Wabash, Jacob
In photo, Jacob with his host brother.

Beedie ’11 Reflects on Semester in Spain

Chris Beedie ’11 – My semester in Spain was definitely a memorable one. Studying abroad gave me an amazing opportunity to fully immerse myself in the Spanish language, which has proven invaluable to me in my study of the language and my desire to teach Spanish in the future. The program I studied with is a part of the Hispanic Studies program of the University of Virginia. The program has been located in Valencia for over 25 years and prides itself on its content and mission. My classes were taught by extremely knowledgeable and passionate professors willing to help us advance out study of the Spanish language, literature, and culture in any way possible. 

My semester was one filled with the “locura” of Don Quijote, a study of modern Spanish literature which included a whole segment focused on the historical memory of the harsh reality of the repression and hunger that existed during and after the Spanish civil war, a study of short stories and their adaptations in Spanish cinema, as well as a study of the Spanish economy, its historical evolution, and characteristics today.

My home life in Valencia provided me with just as many learning opportunities as the classroom. I spent the semester living with a retired university professor who has now hosted American students in her home for ten years. Charo, as we called her, made sure that my roommate and I never left the dinner table anything less than absolutely stuffed with food, and will probably be retelling the story of the infamous “día de los espagutis” to her students for some time – I think I saw my life flash before my eyes trying to finish the mountain of spaghetti on the table, but like good sons Derrick and I conquered the giant pile of food…but not before roughly an hour had passed. 

Charo’s sense of hearing can also be compared to that of, well, whatever animal has the most acute sense of hearing…and if she even had the faintest suspicion that we were speaking English somewhere in the apartment, she would run in and begin scolding us. The experiences I had with Charo are definitely unforgettable and it is hard to recall a time when the three of us didn’t spend the majority of dinner laughing together. I also think that it is safe to say someone could write a book or TV series centered on the relationship between Charo and the woman who helped her clean the apartment, Mari Carmen. Although Mari Carmen was prone to breaking things and Charo quick to critique her cleaning methods, Mari Carmen was always ready to rescue Charo when she would somehow get trapped inside various rooms of the apartment.

I don’t think anyone who has visited Valencia during March can write about their experience without mentioning Las Fallas. A 19-day celebration that ends in the burning of hundreds of giant and intricately designed sculptures, Las Fallas is unlike anything I have experienced before. Every day at 2 pm rang out the unforgettable words “Senyor pirotécnic, pot començar la mascletà,” which in English basically translates to “get ready for ten minutes of insanely loud explosions.” In Valencia these firework shows that occurred at 2 pm are nothing like what we think of in America. For starters, it is 2 pm! Therefore it goes without saying that the people of Valencia are not really interested in the pretty lights of the fireworks, but rather seeing how much explosive they can pack into each firework to make them as loud as possible. Luckily, before I left to see my first mascletà my host mom reminded me to keep my mouth open and to not cover my ears while the fireworks were set off…so that I wouldn’t rupture my ear drums! It truly is hard to describe a mascletà in words, and it really is something you have to experience, or better yet feel, as the explosions are that powerful.
In short, my experience in Spain was an unforgettable one. From my classes and amazing professors to the laughter that probably drove our neighbors crazy every night from 9:30 to 10:30, I can’t think of anything more I could have wished for in a study abroad experience. The semester truly was a blessing and a phenomenal opportunity to study Spanish in an environment so committed to academics as that of the University of Virginia Hispanic Studies program.

Working at Winery Part of Williams ’11 Experience Abroad

Ben Williams ’11 – I have now been in Europe for a little over two months now, and my experience has been nothing less than the experience of a lifetime. From the second I stepped off the plane in Stuttgart, Germany, to where I am now in Vienna, Austria, every day has presented me with unique experiences and challenges that have truly made me a different person. And I can only imagine the adventures that lie ahead.

The program I chose to participate in is unique in that I have had the opportunity to study in two different locations. For the first month of my program I was located in Schwäbisch Hall, Germany. Schwäbisch Hall is a small town an hour north of Stuttgart. While in Schwäbisch Hall I was enrolled in an intensive German course which helped me adapt to the language before I came to Vienna. I am now fully immersed in the language. Schwäbisch Hall was a unique experience because I was exposed to many different cultures from around the world. There were many international students also learning German along with me. Because of the unique exposure I was given the opportunity to get to know people from other nations such as Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, France, Argentina, Italy, and many other nations. 
The second part of my program placed me in Vienna, Austria, where I am now, and will remain until the end of June. I have now been in Vienna for a little over a month and the experiences I have had thus far would take another four or so blogs to get through. But I will try to explain some of my more interesting ones thus far. I will first talk about what I feel is the most interesting thing I am doing over here. 
I am currently an intern at a winery located in the northern part of Vienna. Working at the winery is an experience I will never forget. So far I have done everything from pruning the bushes in the vineyards to bottling over 12,000 liters of wine. And in a few weeks I will be attending a wine tasting in which I will have to help explain different wines to native English speakers who do not speak German. Having this internship once again put me in the situation where I am exposed to many different cultures. All of my co-workers are immigrant workers from Poland, Croatia, and Serbia. Learning their stories has been an experience in which I can truly say I would not have the opportunity of receiving at Wabash. 
I have also been able to get to know many Austrians. The Austrian students in my dorm have been very generous and have certainly gone out of their way to make me feel welcome in their country. 
Even the classes I am taking here are unique for me. There are girls in my classes for one, which is obviously a bit different for anyone that attends Wabash. But my classes are also all taught in German. This is a very sobering experience because having all my classes taught in German has certainly tested not only my ability to speak the language, but it has also tested my fortitude and willingness to persevere. 
There have been many times where I have felt like the “dumb” kid in class, which for us self-confident Wabash men is a hard pill to swallow. But I do believe that in the end it has very much helped my ability to adapt to the situation and succeed, which is certainly something Wabash teaches us all to do well. Although I am thankful for this experience that I would not be able to receive at Wabash, I feel I would not be able to take full advantage of this great opportunity without the skill set I have received from Wabash that has helped me so dearly since I have been here.

Cantu ’11 Experiencing Bali Hospitality

Aaron Cantu ’11 – The first view out of my airplane window of Bali, Indonesia, was absolutely beautiful, and its been nothing but beauty since. I had no idea what was in store for me stepping off the plane, but almost two months into the program, its truly been an adventure.

My program center is based in Bedulu, a small village to the northeast of Denpasar, the capital of Bali. It is a beautiful place to call home. The village is riddled with tall palm trees, wild roaming chickens, and the zipping by of motorbikes down the main road. My classes are taught in an open air classroom which allows for a wonderful breeze on those hot Bali days. Being able to touch a refreshing rain during the rainy season from my desk is another spoil of studying here.

The intense language course has allowed me to communicate with locals and become integrated into the culture, as opposed to being just another tourist. After a mere week of class we were dropped off in a nearby village and expected to survive with our limited language skills. It was a frightening experience at first, but once I met a nice Balinese masseur, my nerves were calmed. We talked about America and my time in Bali while drinking a tasty cup of Balinese coffee and viewing a beautiful panorama of seemingly endless rice fields; all this in Bahasa Indonesia. It was my first taste of the wonderfully hospitable culture of the Balinese. 

This seems like a regular occurrence in Bali; being invited into peoples homes for meals after a mere five minutes of conversation is not uncommon. It’s the culture that allows for one to be completely immersed into Balinese life. I have been to temple ceremonies with my family, joining them side by side in prayer on some of the most holy of Balinese Hindu celebrations.

Along with wonderful people, the island also contains breathtaking scenery. I climbed the active volcano of Batur and witnessed the sunrise over the clouds on its peak. I felt as though I was on top of the world, on some secret perch that only few have been granted to experience. I have ran my toes through sands of every color on some of the most secluded and beautiful beaches in Bali. I have swam with dolphins in open ocean at sunrise with the view of mountains jutting into the ocean as my background. I have even hunted eels by hand through rice terraces with only the aide of starlight and fireflies.

The experiences that I have gathered so far will never be able to be fully understood through these words, or those of any others. I appreciate immensely the opportunity given to me by Wabash College to experience all that has been set out for me. I have grown in so many aspects of my life and will continue to do so in the coming month. I will be documenting village life through painting and sketching for the next month, which means no class, just living and painting. I will spend half my time painting in Seraya, a poor fishing village on the southeastern hill of Mt. Seraya, overlooking the pristine coast.

After my time is exhausted there, I will continue painting in Sukawana, a small village in the mountains near Batur. Although internet access will be hard to come by, I will be sure to update once I have finished my projects in these two villages. Sampai Nanti. Until Later.

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.

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.

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