Tian Tian ’11 – With the combination of an art major with French and economics minors, as well as a life-long passion for classical music, I simply cannot think of a better place than Paris to spend my study-abroad semester. This is a city that helps me digest what I have learned in the past, inspires me to learn a lot of new things at present, and shows me a lot of possibilities to better develop myself in my future.
Nick Marzotto ’11 – As the leaves turn red, brown, and yellow at Wabash College, I have been experiencing a different atmosphere in the southern hemisphere. I have spent almost a month and half in beautiful Argentina, where the season is Spring rather than Autumn.
I´m studying in the city of Rosario, which to most Rosarinos, is considered the second largest city in Argentina. Rosario lies on the Paraná River, which is the fourteenth longest river in the world. I like to equivalate Rosario to Chicago because of its industry, sports teams, and layout. Rosario has two major soccer teams, Newels Old Boys and Rosario Central, which both compete in the top league in Argentina. Rosario is crucial to Argentina because of its connection to the interior of the continent so many different cultures influence the atmosphere in Rosario.
The culture in Argentina is very interesting because it seems to be a mixture of European, American, and a little flavor of South America. The food in Argentina is incredibly European, which means no spice. Steak and wine is what Argentina is known for and I would definitely have to agree. Another difference that makes Argentina unique is the accent that use while speaking Spanish, it´s Spanish with a major Italian influence.
The school I have been studying at is called the Universidad Nacional de Rosario. The courses that I am enrolled in are Gramatica 4, Conversación 4, Historia, and Topics in Latin American and Argentine Culture. Each class is challenging but gives me an interesting outlook on the history of Argentina and the struggles the nation has endured in its short history.
In the month and half of living in Argentina, I have explored different cities/areas. I have made trips to Salta (which is in the Andes), Buenos Aires (the tenth largest city in the world), as well as Cordóba (third largest city in Argentina). Each area had its on story and atmosphere which was incredible to see and experience.
In a couple weeks, my program is taking a trip to Iguazu Falls which to many is considered one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world. It´s the fifth largest waterfall and should be a breathtaking sight. The opportunity to view and experience this diverse and fascinating culture has been a real treat to my liberal arts experience and a true once in a lifetime experience. Wabash Always Fights!
In Photos: Top left, Nick at A waterfall in La Cumbrecita, Rosario from the Parana River. Bottom right, the Barrio La Boca in Buenos Aires.
Jake German ’11 – This semester I am studying in Granada, located in the southern region of Spain. This territory is known as Andalucía. My program has visited the three main cities of Andalucía: Sevilla, Cordoba, and of course Granada.
Each city demonstrates the influence of eight hundred years of Arabic culture intertwined with the natural beauty of mountainous southern Spain as well as contemporary Christian culture. The Cathedral of Sevilla is the third largest cathedral in the entire world after St. Peter’s in the Vatican and St. Paul’s in London. It can also claim (with some argument) the remains of Christopher Columbus. Seville also has an amazing minaret, which was subsequently converted to a Christian bell tower to stand beside the cathedral.
Cordoba is home to one of the most famous mosques in the entire world. It reflects the dichotomy of Moorish architecture and Christian iconography. After the fall of the Muslim empire in Spain, the mosque was converted to a cathedral; this was a common practice in the fifteenth century during the Reconquista. Red and white stones were used to make the horseshoe arches that still stand today in rows throughout the church.
Granada, my city, is the location of one of the last great Moorish palaces in all of Spain. The Alhambra (the Red in Arabic) is a palace with beautiful gardens inside a great fortress. It contains centuries of different Arabic and Islamic art and architecture, all containing influences from the twenty successive Caliphs who called this magnificent palace home. The palace is located on top of a hill overlooking the city. Granada also boasts the last place in Spain where you receive free tapas with a drink. Tapas are Spanish hors d’oeuvres. Some examples include tuna in a tomato sauce on bread, tortilla Española (potato omelet), quiche sandwich with red peppers, and my personal favorite calamari with a vegetable tomato sauce. Olive oil is used on EVERYTHING here which makes the cuisine healthier.
Being in a town the size of Granada (230,000 inhabitants) gives you the big city experience without the big city hassle. I could walk anywhere in the city; I don’t because they have an efficient public transportation system, but I could do so. Moreover, the monuments to Isabel Católica, the plaza de toros, and the museums around the city are never crowded. Spaniards enjoy the art of conversation, and the cafes and tapas bars provide opportunities for people to talk and enjoy a glass of sherry. All in all, I am having a great time. In two weeks, I will travel across the Mediterranean Sea to Morocco on the coast of the African continent for five days. I can’t wait!
Andrew Sparks ’11 – I am still dumbfounded that I have already studied in Perugia for a full month, and it has been a month that I will never forget.
The city of Perugia is nestled in the hills of the region Umbra in the center of Italy. The relatively small population of 100,000 allows for a student to become fully immersed into the life of the historic city. Perugia is well known for its historic architecture, as well as the many cultural events. The city hosts a world renowned Jazz Festival in the month of July, and the Euro Chocolate festival in October. It is commonly known as the “University City” because it is home to three universities that host 40,000 Italian and foreign students.
The nightlife is another unique aspect of the city of Perugia. The heart of the city’s nightlife is the famous Piazza IV Novembre al Tramento. The steps of the city’s Duomo that look over the piazza come alive at 8 o’clock with people socialize and preparing for the nights events. This is a particular favorite spot for the students to meet up before going out to one of the many restaurants or bars in the city. The nights out usually do not start until after 11 because dinner in Italy usually starts around 8:30, and usually lasts for about and hour and a half. This allows for great conversation and a chance to enjoy the delicious Italian cuisine.
Perugia is also home to a class C soccer team, and a class B Rugby team. I had the privilege to practice with the city’s professional rugby team a few weeks ago. This was the first time I ever played rugby, and it didn’t help that the majority of the team spoke only Italian. I eventually got the hang of it, and finished the day with a few tackles as well as some new friends. Playing with the team was an amazing experience, and I will be practicing with them in the future when I have the time.
Umbra University provides a diverse list of courses that have some sort of Italian aspect. My courses include Italian 101, Survey of the Italian Renaissance Art, The Art of Leonardo da Vinci, and the History of the Roman Empire. Each course provides a weekend trip that will allow us to personally observe the material covered in class. This is certain to enhance my understanding of each subject, and will allow me to see artwork and building that I have dreamed about seeing. I am very excited to learn about Italy’s rich history and culture!
I am truly blessed to have the ability to study abroad this semester. I would highly recommend to all Wabash students to take the opportunity to study abroad.
In Photos: Top right, Sparks with other Umbra students visiting Florence. Bottom left, a view of Perugia from Sparks apartment.
Graham Youngs ’11 – At the end of September I will have lived in Salamanca, Spain for one month, certainly a month that I wouldn’t soon forget.
The city of Salamanca, with a population around 150,000, is good sized and caters particularly well to a Spanish and International student demographic. During the day Salamanca is alive with tourists and inquisitive students who come from all over the world to see the incredible Renaissance architecture of the Cathedrals, Fachada, and the world renowned Plaza Mayor.
Despite the breathtaking architecture, the city of Salamanca truly comes alive around midnight, when the streets and bars fill with students and partygoers. From Sept. 8-14 Salamanca undergoes a series of parties that even outdo the city’s normal fiestas. I think it was during this week that my Spanish mom actually apologized to me for the excessive night and day parties; apparently she felt slightly embarrassed by the duration of the fiestas. I quickly settled her fears, by telling her that celebrating this week with the Spanish people stands as one of the greatest experiences of my life.
Each night during the week of fiestas a different free concert could be seen on a huge stage in the Plaza Mayor. Everything from traditional Spanish Flamenco to what sounded to me like Flogging Molly could be seen and heard all while sipping on a fine Spanish wine or beer.
On Thursday during the week of fiestas I bought a ticket for 20 euros ($30.00) to see a bull fight in the Corrida de Toros, just north of the Plaza Mayor. I sat in the nosebleeds, but that did not preclude me from fully experiencing one of the greatest, yet most obscure sporting events of my life. I was left in amazement from the beginning ceremony and it took me nearly 3 rounds to pick up on the subtleties of the sport culminating in the tercio de muerte, or the final kill. I was fortunate enough to see the best matador of the week quickly dispatch no less than six toros to the wild applause of a packed stadium.
In between concerts, bullfighting, and other fiesta activities, I have still found time for studies at the University of Salamanca. During the month of September I am in class from 9:00am-1:00pm taking an assortment of intensive Spanish language and grammar classes as well as a class in practical conversational skills.
From October to December I will begin the bulk of my coursework in Spanish grammar, conversation, culture, and art history. Thus far I have enjoyed taking the skills I have learned in the classroom and putting them to use in conversation with my family and with people on the street.
I feel blessed to be given this fantastic opportunity to study a language at its source while simultaneously immersing myself in a truly unique culture.
In Photos, from Graham: The photo of me was taken in a small pueblo near Salamanca called el Ciudad Rodrigo. The wall is called the fechada and it is basically the entrance to the University. Finally the picture of the people was taken in the Plaza Mayor and it is basically the celebration of a Spanish parade in progress.
Chris Beard ’10 – Apart from the lively festivities and fascinating tourist spots, the most enjoyable part of my stay in Sevilla has been seeing how the history and geography of the region have affected the people and culture here so much. Though of course we in America are shaped by these things, it didn’t really hit me until I became immersed in the Andalusian atmosphere of the city, and started to learn about it from the Sevillanos themselves.
As my art history professor explained it, many of the people here still identify the city with its golden age, though it declined about half way through the 17th century (more than a 100 years before our country’s founding!). The city became really wealthy during those times and was considered a world capital—this brought them to start a ‘holier than thou’ competition with Toledo, building what is still to this day the world’s largest Gothic cathedral and really going over the top with their Holy Week. Even the city’s symbol is a source of pride, which refers to an event long ago when Sevilla was the only city to remain loyal to King Alfonso X after a coup.
But even though the city’s former stature was destroyed in a plague more than 350 years ago, you can still see the pride that the people have of the golden years. My host brother for example, though not very religious, walked around barefoot in a procession for 14 hours straight this year at Holy Week, carrying about 80 pounds worth of a Jesus statue on his shoulders. While many people in Spain are Catholic, and many cities also carry out celebrations during Holy Week, my family has explained that Sevilla is famous for its Holy Week because of how the city fills the streets in procession for the whole week and shut down schools and business in honor of the traditions that go back the years of Sevilla’s world prestige.
The city’s pride comes out again a few weeks after Holy Week, during the Feria de abril. This is like a week long fair where the whole city dresses up in traditional clothing and heads to the fair grounds, dancing the ‘Sevillanas’ while eating and drinking all day until about 7 in the morning—every single day. During this week, the city puts on its best in an event that brings widespread attention to the pride of the Sevillanos.
But the history only explains half of what makes the people here so unique. The weather and location also contribute an awful lot to the way they interact. Sevilla is in the south of Spain, and is the first part of Europe to get the warm air of the Pacific. Today was a cloudless 93 degrees, and I haven’t felt it get below 50 since I arrived in January; this great weather seems to be the other explanation for why people here are so uniquely outgoing, according to friends who compare the atmosphere to that of other places in Spain and Europe.
But I had a hint that I was about to be immersed in this warm sea of charisma even before I got off the bus to Sevilla and experienced the weather. On the way here, I struck up a conversation with a really friendly college graduate from the city that ended up giving me directions on where to go, and left me with her contact information in case I ever needed any help or advice getting around the city.
A few days later, on my way to meet a friend at a place I’d never been to, I got directions from a woman who was heading in the same directions. After explaining where to go, she immediately said, "Hey, you’re not from around here! Where’d you come from?" I’ve been ambushed plenty of other times by the friendliness of the people here, and have been invited to gatherings and birthday parties, simply for being the friend of a friend of a friend. I think my host mom summed it up best when she was telling me not to worry about getting off on the wrong stop on the bus for my first day of classes. "Someone will tell you where to get off," she said. "In Sevilla, everyone takes care of everyone."
I’ve enjoyed the small details of living abroad in Sevilla too. Jamón curado and sopa de lenteja are definitely two of my favorite foods I’ve ever tried. I’m going to miss watching Barcelona crush whichever unfortunate team it has to play every weekend, and the annoyingly dubbed American movies, and doing pescadito until the actual party starts sometime after 1 am. But the great part of this experience has been seeing how the beautiful year-round weather and the rich history have defined the people of Sevilla to this day. The city may not be what it was a few hundred years ago. But the memory of its history still resides in the people, who continue to remember it with their daily customs and traditions.
Jacob Castilow ’10 – Most people I meet ask, at some point or another, if I like Scotland — a pretty generic question, right? I do enjoy the lovely scenery and the history — it’s all very rich and wonderful, but I enjoy the people in a much more impressionable way, and this is where I usually stumble with words.
John Dewart – Granada, Spain – When I was a freshman at Wabash, the prospects of immersion learning and a semester abroad were always fixated dreams of mine. I look back at my days as a tour guide and reflect on the statistic “One in three Wabash men study abroad, and even half of a class will take part in immersion class,” and can’t hardly believe that I spent time in Ecuador, experiencing Quito, the rain forest, and the Galapagos Islands and now here I am sitting a top of my apartment’s roof in Granada, Spain listening to the songs of the birds against the clash of the cathedral bells and writing this entry. With such a rich culture, the beautiful Alhambra, towering cathedral, and vast Sierra Nevada Mountains before me, I can’t help but marvel in the splendors and wonders this semester will offer.
David Rosborough – Before I left for Italy earlier this month, so many thoughts were rushing through my head. Did I forget anything? What is the lifestyle like? In my mind, traveling is an important part of our maturing process. The amount of organization and planning is very time consuming, but also proves that we have what it takes to survive in a totally different culture thousands of miles from home. I knew that the rigorous study abroad process had finally paid off as we sat at JFK airport in New York awaiting an experience that would impact our lives from here on out…
EDITOR’s NOTE: The second semester of Wabash students studying abroad is underway!
We discovered in the fall semester this blog was popular and got lots of hits. We have written all 25-plus Wabash men studying abroad this semester in hopes they will contribute a time or two during the spring learning period.
There are Wabash men studying in Spain, Scotland, France, Austria, England, Italy, Australia, and Germany.
Check back frequently for updates!