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.
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.
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.
Tian Tian ’11 – Being able to have classes regularly at the Louvre Museum in Paris is already a big treat for me as an art major student. Having an externship in the Louvre during December just literally put me into heaven.
Will Weber ’11 – When I stepped off the plane at the Pu Dong airport in Shanghai the first thing that popped into my head was “what have I gotten myself into?” I had just stepped onto foreign soil, controlled by a totalitarian government that wasn’t too friendly to my American ideals like freedom of speech. I found a surprise waiting for me at the arrival gate. Yangnan “Paul” Liu ’12 was waiting to welcome me to China before he flew back to Wabash. After that I felt alright.
In photos: Top right, Weber with Charlie Kelly ’11, who is also studying in China. Center left, Weber’s class visiting Taiwan. Bottom right, Will and class visited a Chinese Meditative Garden.
Matthew Scheller ’11 – When I first came to Rome, I was incredibly intimidated by the city lifestyle and size of the city itself. Being from a small town in Southern Indiana doesn’t exactly make it easy to cope with such an environment. However, after having spent some time walking around the city by myself with only a map I could hardly read because the images and text were so small, I became more and more confident about my journey. I found my school and place of residence, and I was the FIRST to report to both locations for the Temple Study Abroad program.
When it came time to move into my apartment and head to orientation, I immediately made 5 new friends, one of whom was my roommate. Over the course of a mere 6 days, I felt as if I had gained 100 new friends and had been welcomed into a new community in a foreign environment. It felt as if I had crash landed on some strange planet shaped like a boot and was thrown into a new life.
After a couple of weeks I had already traveled through three quarters of the entire country and had established some very comfortable and what I think will be everlasting friendships with people living all over the United States, people from Pennsylvania, Washington State, Oregan, California, Texas, and even a young woman from Depauw University. Now, before you break down my door carrying torches and pitchforks for befriending the enemy, I must inform you all that her father and uncle are Wabash Men, and she STILL TAILGATES ON OUR SIDE AT THE MONON!
By the end of the second month, I had been from Italy, to Spain, to France, To Greece, and back to the West to Ireland. I had seen the Ancient Sector of Rome and all its riches, I had been to the top of the Eiffel Tower at night, visited countless churches and museums all of extravagant beauty, and I had ran in the Olympic Stadium in Athens.
Having said this, I must admit, that though I have seen so many things and experienced so much in only a matter of months, the thing I cherish most about my trip are the friends I have made. I am part of an enormous family of 180 students that are placed in a situation that can be exciting and dangerous, but we have grown together, learned many life lessions, and leaned on each other when in times of need. It really means a lot and strengthens your bond with people when you lose two family members so far from home, and those people are with you every step caring for you and supporting you. I thank God for this experience that no one can ever take from me, but I thank him even more for the people he has introduced into my life.
Austin Drake ’11 – Spain has, in a word, been asombroso. It has been both a challenge and a great blessing.
Studying abroad has thus far challenged me and driven me towards greater independence and maturity as both an individual and student. I believe that I entered Spain with a very limited worldview, but I will be leaving in just a few weeks with a much greater grasp of what it means to be a citizen of the USA, a European country and the world.
Studying over here, I have found many things that I love about Spain. For example, after a long day of work and a good meal, the Spaniards don’t work around the house; instead they take the famous siesta, prepping themselves for a long evening with friends and/or family. In bars and restaurants, it’s common to chill there after having some tapas and talk with your friends. Life here is centered around being social—not a bad strategy.
Jake German ’11 – My program in Granada periodically schedules weekend visits to different cities of cultural interest in Andalusia like Cordoba, Sevilla, and Cadiz. However, the main trip of the semester is the week-long excursion to Morocco by way of Gibraltar.
Alex Avtgis ’11 – While most of the globalized Western world employs modernization in order to boast of their pluralist hybridities (cultural, social, or otherwise), Morocco can proudly claim the latter without needing recourse to the former; a dynamic cornucopia of Arabic and Moorish influences, Berber native ancestry, and communities originating from several Sub-Saharan African nations traditionally subsist under the royal name of the state, without ever acknowledging the multiple foreign and European influences – be they French, Spanish, Japanese, or American – which also intertwine in Morocco’s present day.
Yes, fresh and highly modern influences do exist already. Cell phones are found in every pocket, be it the pockets of rural jellabas (a Moroccan tunic) or urban designer jeans. Televisions talk constantly, and the internet informs homes across the country. You can locate the centers novelle (new) in every major city (coastal or inland). Some even boast of large corporate Megamalls. In certain parts of Rabat, such as the trendy Agdal, you’d think you had lost yourself somewhere along the way in Chicago or Indianapolis.
And you’d also think that would surprise me, as a Westerner coming for his first time to an African country. But that’s not what I’ve noticed the most.
I live in the capital city of Morocco, Rabat, and arguably the most representative of the entire country. Characteristically, it’s not overly sensational like Marrakech, exorbitantly touristy like Tangier, highly relaxed like Essaouira, surprisingly rural like Boujaad, or fanatically bustling like Casablanca. It combines all of these spices into a nice complex blend, which I breathe in (deep!) every beautiful morning from the leisure and comfort of a second-story bedroom window.
What I have found most astonishing about this charming capital is its constancy in revolving around a romanticized Medina khdeema (old city). Even after hundreds of years, the city’s pulse directly stems from those ancient, cement structures which inhabit the three square miles encased by red stone brick.
Though the city has expanded for miles southward over a short decade or so – through which it can now boast one of the best and prestigious universities on the African continent – most of the life and activity occurs in this conservative, coastal center. All energy found in the Villa Novelle centralizes right outside of the old medina’s busiest hub; where the dusty Avenue Mohammed V intersects the equally worn Avenue Hassan II marks the location, on average, of the most foot, taxi and motorbike traffic found in the entire city.
See, when this intersection dies out, there won’t be a soul wandering the newer French city. What you could find is the chatter of elderly patriarchs (always accompanied by the hurried scurries of younger relatives bearing cups of tea on metal trays), female conversation floating from windows and doorways, the smell of roasting onion and beef rising from street vendors, the calls and scrapple of animated alley soccer games – all of which are screened only for kdema’s citizens.
At times, life inside of it is like life in the Wabash fraternity. There are certain walls which simultaneously bind and liberate individuals, both foster and inhibit growths, and all the while provide concrete boundaries which forge and force relationships to occur.
In short, everybody knows everybody. A shocking story reveals this best – when I was jumped during the first few days, and had both a copy of my passport and an IPOD stolen, it was the medina which came to my aide; I credit the networking of its inhabitants. Immediately following the incident, my host brother rallied the entire police force in a five mile radius by walking from post to post and talking to ‘friends’. While the ensuing search revealed nothing, the situation was resolved hours later, when a fruit vendor, who was also my brother’s friend, informed him of the thief’s home.
When my brother returned triumphantly with my passport and IPOD, I knew it was only possible by the help of a friendly, small city. He confirmed it was. The laughs we now share over the topic confirm my love and deep gratitude I have for the opportunity to study abroad.
That’s only one of many such encounters I have with the kdema’s numerous characters. Everytime I pass the reggae vendor on ‘fish and vegetable’ street (which we’ve appropriately named after its two main foodstuffs), who sits all day listening to music, we smile at each other. It’s the same simple relationship I have with Karim, my friend at the hookah café down the street, who gives me a hug and calls me his brother.
And that doesn’t stop at the peer-level. I’ve been invited over to over for coffee, tea and discussion by a myriad of people who are old enough to be my grandparents.
Alas, I mustn’t keep you any longer. I’m being kicked out of the café in the new city – I should’ve known. Find attached some pictures of Rabat and others documenting some my journeys outside the beloved city.
To me, it isn’t funny I just used the adjective beloved. I guess I have developed a deep love for it; the same way that the freshman must be seeing our dearly beloved Alma Mater right about now, with the leaves falling golden and the warming promises against DePauw circulating.
Before I forget – I recently completed my search for a place to stay during my independent research period. As I turn back home, and navigate the kdema’s ancient streets tonight, I will probably grin as I put the key in my apartment off avenue Sidi-Fatah; I am both proud and happy to continue calling this ancient community my home for the next month.
In Photos: Top Right, Chefchaouen city view; at left, looking up a cathedral bell tower in Casablanca; second right, Casablanca’s Cathedral; lower left, Beni Mallel street vendors.