2022 Givens Scholarship | Studying Abroad: Michael High ’23

Versailles Garden

When I got on the plane in January, I still wasn’t quite certain what to expect.  I’d done all the research, but some things can’t be looked up.  I couldn’t know what my host family would be like, if I’d like the food, or the weather, or how busy the commute would be.  I only had a vague idea of my classes, because they didn’t have syllabi.  But one thing I wasn’t expecting at all was how beautiful the traditional French gardens would be.

In class, we covered notable French artists and architects who influenced paysagisme, landscape architecture, like Jacques Boyceau, Claude Mollet, and André Le Nôtre.  I learned about the jardin à la française, it’s evolution from French Renaissance gardens, and it’s influence on the developing neo-classical British garden.  But old pictures in a textbook hardly compared to visiting them with my own eyes.

Tuileries Garden

The first garden I visited was at the castle of Saint Germain-en-Laye, and between the view overlooking Paris, the long circuit, the formal flower gardens, and the forest I thought it was one of the best gardens I had ever had the privilege to visit.  Despite that, every garden I visited after that amazed me in new and exciting ways.  When I visited the gardens of Versailles, I was blown away by the scale and intricacy of the garden.  Each path led to another garden and each garden had more paths, and it just kept going.  The size and grandeur were amplified by the detail worked into every elegant statue, pond, bench, and wall.  I loved the peacefulness of the garden at Mont Sainte-Odile, the wind rustling the leaves and petals as it blew over the mountain.  The openness of the garden at Chantilly was invigorating, and the diversity of the gardens showcased centuries of evolution in landscape architecture.  Stretched along the grand canal was the Jardin anglais, from the 19thcentury, the jardin français de Le Nôtre, from the 17th century, and the Jardin anglo-chinois from the 18thcentury.  The farmstead, hedge maze for meditation, reflecting pond, and woods were also exquisite; I could have spent a week there if I had the time.  The chateau de la Roche-Guyon was a step even further back in time, with the oldest sections dating back over a thousand years, although the garden there was created in 1697.

Arles Hospital Gardens

I also visited the Jardin des Tuilieries, Le Jardin du Luxembourg, the hospital garden at Arles where Van Gogh often visited, and Monet’s Water Garden.


2022 Givens Scholarship | Studying Abroad: Simon Terpstra ’22

2022 Givens Scholarship
Simon Terpstra ’23: Paris, France

Paris: the city of food, love, and style. A city so large that getting lost is as easy as taking one wrong turn. But it is this wrong turn that may lead you down a road traveled by kings, or to a quartier once occupied by revolutionists. Paris is the epicenter of a country so rich in history, and I was fortunate to spend an entire semester learning there. One of my more enjoyable courses that I took was about the history of Paris in art and architecture. This was a class dedicated to learning about what events and persons shaped the city into what it is today. We were hardly in the classroom. Our classes consisted of listening to our native Parisian professor speak as she guided us through the small streets and various museums. From the iconic Hausmann style architecture to artworks specifically completed for Napoleon, my professor connected history to the many art movements that occurred since the time of the Middle Ages.  

I knew before arriving that I wanted to expand upon this learning outside the city limits. I could have easily spent every weekend wondering the streets of Paris, but there was so much more to see around the country. So, I did my research and found several locations where I could further explore the beauty of French architecture. When the time came, I booked a ticket, packed a bag, and set out into the unknown. 

A view from the upper ramparts in Carcassonne. You can see the two walls, several guard towers, and arrow slits. Carcassonne is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

My travels to the Château de Balleroy were hectic. After staying up way to late the night before, I hopped on a 6am train to the northern city of Caen. However, sleep got the best of me, and I awoke one hour north of where I was supposed to catch a connection. Unhappy with myself, I rebooked a train back in the right direction and pushed my visit to a later time, finally making it several hours later. It was beautiful. Nestled just outside a small village in the French countryside, the Château de Balleroy stood tall as it overlooked rolling hills at its rear and mazed gardens at its front. The classical French mansion was constructed by famed architect François Mansart in 1636 for Jean II de Choisy. Son of a wine provider to Henri IV and advisor on the court of Louis XIII, he built the château to showcase their success. Its red brick facade and pleasing symmetry really highlight the classical elements used by Mansart. I really enjoyed the large windows decorating the front and the small cupola resting directly in the center. The interior is decorated just as elegantly. There are tall, intricately carved ceilings and walls. Paintings of all sorts fill the walls and hot-air balloon motifs are prevalent throughout the château. Interestingly, Malcolm Forbes of Forbes Magazine bought the place in 1970. It was he who had a large interest in balloons and even started the hot-air balloon festival which took place in front of the mansion. The Château de Balleroy has had many owners over the years, and each has added their own personal touches. Although it sits in the middle of nowhere and has housed residents from many different time periods, this hidden gem still keeps its class. 

Standing on the front steps of the Château de Balleroy. The steep roof is another element of classical French architecture. 

Traveling even further back in time, I made the trip to Carcassonne, a medieval fortress situated in southwestern France. Dating back to the Gallo-Roman period, this fortified city is believed to have been founded by the Romans around 100 BC. As I admired the views atop the ramparts, it was easy to see why they chose its location. You can see for miles from the hill it was built on. Carcassonne is guarded with two walls and 53 towers which were needed during the Crusades, along with attacks by Clovis and the Saracens. As I walked through the cobblestone streets it almost felt as if I was a peasant doing his weekly trading or a character in a Disney movie. Although somewhat touristy, kids ran around dressed up as knights and swung wooden swords, living their own modern-day fairytale. I imagined archers defending the city by shooting through arrow slits and catapults launching projectiles over the towering walls. Many famous cities around Europe, including Paris, began as fortified strongholds like Carcassonne. Visiting this city allowed me to capture an image of what Paris might have looked like over a thousand years ago.  

I am so lucky to have been able to visit places such as the Château de Balleroy and Carcassonne. Not only were they amazing to admire and explore, visiting them added to my experience in the classroom. I was able to make meaningful connections from the art period to history and style. I am grateful to be part of such a supportive Wabash community, as these trips were possible through the Givens Scholarship. The support that students like me receive goes a long way in furthering art education and creating memories that last a lifetime. Thank you to the Givens family for taking part in my journey. 

2021 Rudolph Scholarship | Studying Abroad: Miles Clutter ’22, Granada, Spain

Miles Clutter ’22

This summer, I had the opportunity to study in Granada, Spain at the University of Granada’s Center for Modern Language. It was an incredible experience that helped me grow as a student and citizen of the world. I took classes on the history of Spain, art history, and Islamic history and culture in Spain. I enjoyed classes thoroughly. The professors were friendly, accommodating, yet challenged all of us in our practice of Spanish. My classmates were primarily fellow Americans, with a few from other European countries. Aside from my usual in-class studies, I was offered many opportunities to broaden my knowledge of Spanish culture. I visited several art museums, went to flamenco shows, and regularly met professors or friends for churros or Arab tea. Also, I took part in a weekly cultural exchange program, where people of different cultures met at a pub or restaurant to hang out and better their language skills. This was an incredible experience. In one meeting, I talked with people from Belgium, Norway, England, and Germany about anything from sports to different schools of philosophy.  I had planned to go to Granada last fall, so I had been dreaming of this trip for almost 2 years. I thought that the pandemic had eliminated my chance to study abroad, but the Rudolph Scholarship made this amazing experience possible. 


I lived in a residence hall, which consisted of about half American and half Spanish students. I was initially nervous about living in a dorm as opposed to a host family, but it was one of the best decisions that I have made. Everyone became fast friends and the Spanish were eager to get to know us and show us the city. Through them, we were able to meet many of the locals. We were constantly together when we weren’t in class. We explored the city, studied together, went hiking, and had watch parties for the European Championships. We also traveled together. One weekend was spent in Malaga, relaxing on the beach and visiting landmarks such as Pablo Picasso’s childhood home. Another weekend, we visited Barcelona to see the Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, and spend more time on the beach. These people were the most valuable part of my experience in Spain. I spoke far more Spanish with my friend group in the dorm than in class or class excursions. Also, getting close with a group of complete strangers, from drastically different places, taught me a lot about myself and opened my mind to new ideas. Some of them will surely be my lifelong friends. I will always be thankful for the opportunity to live with such amazing individuals. 

Professor Aurelio

This is one of my professors, Aurelio, as he leads us on a tour of the Alhambra. The Alhambra is the most famous landmark of Granada, and one of the most visited sites in Spain. The fortress served as the capital of the Granada Caliphate, the last Muslim kingdom in Europe before the Moors were completely expelled from southern Spain. The intricate architecture and artwork of the Alhambra were incredible, but the visit wouldn’t have been nearly as enriching without Aurelio. Aurelio had written and illustrated a picture book about the Alhambra which we followed on our tour, and I am confident that he was more knowledgeable than the official tour guides. Aurelio was my favorite professor and a large part of my experience in Spain. Every day, he would teach class without much structure or a class plan. He would simply talk about the Islamic history of Spain off the top of his head and have a conversation with the class about what interested us most. It always felt like we were just hanging out, yet I am sure I retained more information from that class than the others. Aurelio also incentivized us to take interest in Arab culture outside of class. He conducted his meetings with students at an Arab tea house and, one day, he offered me extra credit to wear kohl eyeliner to class and explain its significance in Arab culture.  

I learned a lot and made some lifelong friendships in Granada. I cannot think of another time where I have learned and done so much in such a short period of time. I am immensely grateful to the Rudolph family and Wabash College for giving me this transformative experience. 

2021 Rudolph Scholarship | Studying Abroad: Gavin Rich ’22

Gavin Rich ’22
Rudolph Scholar
Summer 2021

Dear Rudolph Family,

All thanks to your family’s generosity and support towards the Wabash community, I was afforded the opportunity to take a virtual study abroad course over the summer. Due to issues caused by COVID-19, I was not able to travel abroad; however, since I’m a Spanish major, the Off-Campus Study Committee and my academic advisor had encouraged me to participate in a virtual study abroad experience, which has been made common now because of the pandemic. This specific course that I took entitled “Spain and the Americas: From the pre-Columbian period to the present” covered material about the main pre-Columbian civilizations, the discovery of America, both the Spanish and English colonization of the Americas, the colonial era, the Cuban revolution, and much more. I shared a virtual classroom with five other students and Professor Delgado who is from Sevilla, Spain and gave his lectures in Spanish, exclusively. To my surprise, I found that myself and fellow classmates were more engaged and involved with our daily discussions than what I would’ve expected given the circumstances and limitations of our classes being entirely virtual. The high expectations set by our professor inspired deep and constructive conversations analyzing a wide range of topics such as the unity of Latin America or the economic/sociopolitical conditions between the US and Cuba. 

Even though I was never physically able to visit Spain, my professor’s spirit and passion towards teaching and improving our understanding of the Spanish culture certainly managed to compensate for this obstacle. Many of our assignments incorporated not only lengthy, Wabash-like readings and discussion questions, but often included virtual tours and slide show presentations of the historical sites pertaining to our in-class discussions and debates. As for the assignments themselves, all of my homework assignments were to be submitted online, and my oral presentation over the architecture of pre-Columbian civilizations was also submitted virtually via a PowerPoint slideshow recording. I believe that while there would’ve been benefits to taking classes in person – in my experience – the virtual experience offered me a wide variety of courses to choose from, allowed for effortless access to my professor, and improved my self-discipline / technical skills which ultimately afforded me with an unforgettable experience that tailored to my needs all from the comfort of my home.

This was an opportunity that will always look back on blissfully and one that I will never take for granted. From this experience, I have grown a deeper appreciation for the diverse, rich, and complex cultures present throughout Latin America, and have been acquainted with many admirable students and an influential mentor in the process. Thanks again Rudolph family for being a part of what makes Wabash so remarkable, and for supporting and inspiring us students who hope to one day pay your generosity forward. 


Gavin Rich ‘22

2021 Rudolph Scholarship | Studying Abroad: Will Harvey ’22: Granada, Spain

Granada, Spain

Summer 2021



I would not have had as great of an experience had I not met some incredible people to enjoy the experience with.Each person in my program resided from their own corner of the United States, and none of us having met each other before, fell perfectly into a functional friendship. These were the folks that motivated a spontaneous trip to Córdoba to see the Mosque – living away from home is one thing but planning trips around was a daunting task I would not have been comfortable doing alone initially. In our time together we also met numerous locals that introduced us to unique experiences and made us feel comfortable so far away from home. In this picture, we had just hiked up the hills of Falange to get a view of the city and take a photo. This day was special because we got to eat paella on the beach, explore the local shops on our own, and enjoyed a game of volleyball against some locals.



It isn’t a trip to Granada if you don’t visit the Alhambra. This was an incredible experience that brought to life the connections I was making in the classroom. I recall vividly standing in the Generalife, imagining myself hundreds of years ago enjoying the castle on a hot summer day. The view from the watchtower was phenomenal and highlighted monuments in town like La Capilla Real or the old walls that surrounded the city.


Cooking Class

One thing that I found unites everybody is food! I had the opportunity to take a cooking class that was also a Spanish learning class. We made chicken and rabbit paella, homemade sangria, and gazpacho, which called for an incredible dinner that evening. When we would go out to eat, I particularly enjoyed croquetas, which appear like a hushpuppy but are filled with delicious Iberian ham and seasonings that reminded me of an Easter dinner. The seafood, especially calamari, was not like anything I have tasted in the U.S. before and made me appreciate the Mediterranean gastronomy. Spanish tortillas, essentially egg, onion, and potato, are a cheap belly filler and go great with salted tomatoes for lunch. 


Mosque in Córdoba


Finally, I want to mention visiting the mosque in Córdoba. The beautiful colored arcs with unique column designs predates the large Catholic church centered in the middle of the building by centuries. This drastic switch made for an incredible tour of the ancient place of worship and brought to life the tale of the requisition. As this was a hot topic in my classes, it was rewarding to visit and see for myself what we were learning.  

I would recommend anyone thinking about studying abroad to apply for this scholarship and find a program because this was an experience that changed my perspectives indefinitely. I am beyond grateful for the Rudolph family’s gracious contribution to my education and for an adventure of a lifetime.

King ’15 Had Interesting Moroccan Trip

Sky King ’15 –  I was recently given the opportunity to travel to Morocco and though Spain neighbors the North African Country getting there was quite the adventure. The program I was taking to get Morocco was geographically about as far away as you could probably be from Valencia and still be in Spain.

King ’15 checking out the baby camel

We decided to try something new and instead of traveling in an aeroplane, a bus or a train we used a rideshare program called Blabla car. The day we were supposed to leave for our trip we still didn’t have a ride, but luckily one finally popped up. Our driver was to be a man named Said M, a native Moroccan who had spent the last 15 years in Spain working. He spoke Spanish, French and Moroccan Arabic (A distinct form of Arabic). I had a hunch that the reason Said was working for this company and why it was so cheap for us to go so far was because Said was working in Spain illegally. To go from Valencia to the door of our hostel (about a 9 hr drive) was only going to to cost us 36 euros… not bad at all. After quite a few pee/pray breaks (Said is Muslim and therefor five times a day he rolls out his carpet and does his business. It was an extremely interesting juxtaposition to see this done at gas stations and truck stops.) We eventually made it to our hostel in Seville/ Sevilla and headed out for some tapas and a cerveza or two.

We met up with one of my best friends from back in California and went out for some mojitos. After a great night of reminiscing we eventually made our way back to the hostel. In the morning we got up and broke some bread with some backpackers from Australia. I saw that one of them had a tube of vegemite and knowing my friend was likely a virgin to the Australian delicacies enquired if we may proquire some. In typical Aussie fashion he was extremely excited to watch our faces as we tried their favorite spread. Scott, (Wheaton Friend) did not make past his first bite. Vegemite… always an icebreaker.

In order to get to Morocco we took a four hour bus ride from Sevilla and then a one and a half-hour ferry ride across the Gibraltar Strait. Unfortunately, for most of the passengers on the ferry we crossed in a bit of a storm and by the end of the ferry ride the bathrooms were unenterable. Despite the nausea I was able to befriend a group of girls who were studying abroad in Barcelona and who originated from San Diego State. I was excited to be back with some California friends, but even more so when I realized I shared at least one mutual friend with all of them. (If my abroad experience has taught me anything it is how small this world really is… this was not the only instance in which I ran into someone that shared a mutual friend on the Moroccan adventure. I met a girl who went to Depauw and was best friends with our Track/Cross Country star Jarred Burris)

By the time we arrived at our hotel it was pretty late and we were all tired and hungry. I had a nice dinner where I ended up sitting with three girls who came from a single sex college as well. Conversation came easy as we bonded over our mutual love/hate relationships that we felt towards our alma mater. After dinner it was straight to bed.

We left at 8 a.m. after a lovely breakfast (something that has been missing in Spain) and hopped on the bus for a three-hour bus ride to Hessilah, the blue city (see photo, at right) I was extremely shocked by the diversity of the landscape in Morocco. I think most people from the US ignorantly think of Africa as a giant desert. Though Morocco is one of the homes of the infamous Sahara desert, northern Morocco is mountainous, green and stunning.

The bus ride went smoothly, the only hiccup was the passing of the King of Morocco which has a caravan of about 30 cars. All Land Rovers and Mercedes as well as about ten police escorts.  It was quite the sight.

By the time we got to Hessilah we were anxious to get going and quite tired of our guides horrible puns. He started with “welcome to Hessilah, it is quite Blue-tiful” and went downhill from there.

The first thing I saw as we summited the mountain were the strange blue buildings. The majority of Hessilah is covered in a strange blue dye whose inconsistent color makes it seem as if the city is a giant waterfall made even more impressive due to the rain that was pouring down all around us.

The second striking image I saw were all of these little people running/ standing around with these strange pointed hoods. The current style in Northern Morocco is to rock these coarse wool hooded coats and to where the pointy hood upwards. I did end up snagging one for myself. They are woven on a loom and for such great work they were approximately 20 euros.

One of the most interesting parts of my trip to Hessilah was the people there. At one point during my trip I purchased a pack of oreos. I was carrying them with me when suddenly a little boy who was selling bracelets came by and ask if he might have an oreo. Of course, without a second thought I gave him one and went on my way.  About five minutes later I saw the boy again and he was still eating that one oreo slowly nibbling and very obviously enjoying his snack very much. I was a little saddened by this, but was able to push it from my brain until a few others boys came up to him and they looked to be in the same if not worse condition than the other boy. When they realized he had an oreo I honestly thought for a second that it was going to get violent, that was until the boy with the oreo pointed over in my direction placing me as his benefactor. As you can imagine the boys rushed over all asking and holding out their hands. Luckily, I had enough left that each could have one, but I am not so naive to think that these oreos did any sort of good. The faces on these boys were tragic. We talk about not having equal opportunity in the United States and I agree we can always do better, but when I see these boys I really get a sense of what type of problems there are out there in the world. And these boys were clothed, not clean by any means, but not sickly and they had all of their limbs.

I tried to push aside the thought of these boys and enjoy the rest of my Moroccan adventure. It was full of camel rides, ocean side caves, couscous and mint tea. Throughout the whole trip it was difficult to fully enjoy it. I kept thinking back to those boys, I kept thinking back to the kids I saw in China who were missing limbs begging for money and I kept thinking back to what the word opportunity meant.

I flew back into Valencia on Monday morning about thirty minutes before my first class. Made it through the day well and had a blast at soccer practice. I went home to have dinner with my host family and thats where it all really hit me. I walked into the living room and I saw my three Spanish brothers. They are thirteen, nine and eight. The oldest has already done a year abroad in England they attend a private school five minutes away from their house, have a maid which cooks their lunches and does their laundry (I will confess to being a recipient of this as well) and two parents who love them dearly and grandparents who see them every day.

When I walked into the living room the site I saw was what really put me in my place. The eight year old was playing the new Call of Duty for PS3 on his 3D TV. The nine year old was on his fathers iPad playing a tower defense game and the oldest was watching music videos on their giant iMac.

The juxtaposition between these two worlds was one of the most real and awakening experiences that I have ever had. My Spanish Brothers are great. They are kind, funny and outgoing. They do not know the world in which they live. I didn’t know the world that I lived in. That is essentially the message I am trying getting across here. We, all of us, need to travel more, we need to see these things, see the beauty that exists in the world as well as the pain. We need to see that there are real problems. We need to understand that the average person can make such a huge impact. Because when someone literally has nothing the smallest gift goes along way. And helping people and solving these problems isn’t charity and shouldn’t be viewed as so. When we give people opportunity we invest in them and by investing in them we are investing in humanity. Which, no matter your race, gender or religion is something that you are apart of. We are one. We too often forget that.

Thank you Wabash. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to see some of the must extravagant and beautiful sights in the world and thank you for giving me the opportunity to see some of the poorest and painful of my life. Please remember to think outside of your world from time to time and that, “The greatest cruelty in life is our causal blindness to the despair of others.” -La Dispute.

Eibert ’15 Enjoying English Culture

Hezekiah Eibert ’15 – I have been studying at Harlaxton College near the small town of Grantham England. My home is a manor house that to me feels like the Hogwarts Castle! I am still finding new rooms and passageways even three months into my program here. I have made some awesome new friends while here and been on some life changing trips all over Europe.

Harlaxton Manor

One of the things that I’ve noticed along the way that caught me off guard a bit was how different Americans are (or at least I am) compared to the English. They don’t really make eye contact very often; they are much quieter and even on a crowded (understatement) tube ride I find it to be almost silent but the sounds of the car racing down the tracks. Other than that I find myself rather enjoying the English culture, their much more casual and relaxed drinking style, their love of football (soccer) and a nice cup of tea with some jammy dodgers. (Side note: one thing I really enjoy is the fact that even though our currency is only worth $1.77 for every pound, the price you see on the tag is what you pay, there is no hidden tax to be added on later.)

There are so many stories that I can’t wait to share, so many new games and tricks to teach my Wabash brothers. So far this semester I have seen a lot of things that otherwise I would have never seen. Cathedrals of every shape and size, and the castles oh so many castles! I’ve watched the changing of the guard, seen big ben, sang Scottish drinking songs in an Edinburgh pub, been to the Anne Frank house, experienced the Amsterdam culture, and so much more. While it is kind of hard to imagine that it will all be over in a few weeks and I’ll be heading back home soon, I am ready to be back at the Bash with my brothers again.

Normandy Has Impact During Semester Abroad

Fritz Coutchie ’15 – Bonjour à tous! Volumes could be written about a semester abroad in France; unfortunately, I am limited by the format of a blog post. Although I studied in Paris, one of the most valuable learning experiences with my classmates occurred on a sponsored class trip to the Normandy region.  The trip was designed to give students an opportunity to build relationships with each other, while appreciating the shared history and culture of France and the United States of America. Although I was familiar with the basics of the D-day invasion of Normandy, I was unable to appreciate the scope of the military operation before my visit to the various museums, memorials and Omaha Beach.

We first visited the Memorial de Caen, a museum dedicated to the history of WWI and WWII. The visit was a primer for the more impactful experiences later. We then traveled to Asnelles-sur-Mer, which is a small coastal town, for the night. Subsequent to the Normandy landing of World War II, the British installed artificial floating harbors in the region. While staying at Asnelles-sur-Mer, we were able to climb and inspect the remnants of one of these harbors at low tide.  We finished our visit to Asnelles-sur-Mer by visiting a nearby D-Day museum where we learned more about the logistical aspects of the landing and the artificial harbor installations. Later that day we visited the Normandy American Cemetery.

Is there a word that describes an experience or sight that causes both pride and sorrow? If not there should be. The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial celebrates the achievements and goals of the American Soldiers who died during the Normandy invasion, and mourns for the deaths of thousands of young American citizens. The cemetery is perched over Omaha Beach, a tactical landing point for American forces in World War II. The gravestones are lined with perfect symmetry, standing in a walkway staring over the tops of hundreds of white crosses I was struck with a sense of awe. A couple of classmates and I decided that we wanted to see Omaha Beach, after such an emotionally gratifying experience, visiting the beach should help us organize our thoughts.

To reach the beach one must walk down a couple of flights of stairs and then through a wooded quarter-mile trail. As we reached the final starch of the trail and the English Channel became visible we noticed one other group on the beach. It was an older couple, a German man and his wife; the man had just gotten out of the ocean wearing only a pair of white briefs. It was the best example of situational irony I’ve experienced. After one of the most impactful experiences of my life at the cemetery, I expected to have a similar one at the beach, but instead I saw an elderly man in a wet pair of white briefs.

I returned from the weekend closer to my peers with a renewed sense of the gravity of the shared history of the United States of America, and France.

Chinese Student Excels in Germany

Jingwei Song ‘15  – My German has been stretched extensively over the last three months. All my classes are in German, and I feel a little disoriented now writing about my experience in Heidelberg, in English. So bear with me, if there should be any grammatical mistakes.

Song at the Heidelberg Castle

I live in a German fraternity house (Verbindung) which located in the center of Heidelberg’s beautiful old town. There are 28 single rooms, most of them are occupied by males. Girls are allowed to live here for up to two years, but they are not allowed to “pledge”, in other words, to become members of the fraternity. My predecessor, a student from Franklin and Marshall College lived in the house for a year and he has been admitted as a member, which is pretty cool. I am only staying for one semester and it’s too short for a “pledgeship”.

I still remember the first time when I walked into the kitchen. It would be a lie to say I was not nervous: I was just being dropped off to my room by a program staff and ready to explore the house a little bit. I could hear there’s someone in the kitchen. But what should I expect? Will they be able to understand my German?

Germany’s Nekar River

I summoned up my courage and pushed the door open. Upon seeing me, three German students(they are all my housemates) stopped talking and looking at me. There was a second silence and I started to introduce myself. We shaked hands with each other and they were all nice and friendly. One even tried to speak English with me after knowing I study in the US, which I politely turned him down and asked for an opportunity to practice my German. They were curious about how a Chinese went to college in the US and now studying abroad in Germany. My knowledge of German from Wabash was able to keep the conversation going, and I was flattered when they said my German was good.

The higher education system here is quite different from that Wabash. Heidelberg University emphasizes more on the autonomy of students. On one hand its size makes it difficult to offer close-knit academic community, on the other hand its budget is limited (Almost all German universities are state-funded, students at Heidelberg pay 150 euro registration fee per semester) Most classes meet once a week, and professors would rarely assign homework.  Throughout the semester, I got neither homework from my microbiology class nor marine biology class, plus no midterms. It’s my responsibility to understand the slides and prepare for the finals ( the professors are easy to talk with. German students usually take the finals in February. The Professors agreed to give me early exams since I need to return to the US early). It was quite a challenge to deal with big blocks of free time on my schedule. But soon I become a frequent visitor of the library to make the most use of my free time.

During the breaks I visited Paris and Prague, and will visit Amsterdam and Rome before flying back to the US. Of course, all the travels would not be possible without my parents’ financial support and also the generous scholarship from the Givens’ family ( I feel privileged and deeply grateful to what I got and one day I shall do my best to give back.

Detmer ’15: A Wee Dram O’ Scotland

Andrew Detmer ’15 – Halò, a h-uile duine! Nollaig Chridheil! For those of you that don’t speak the lovely language that is Gaelic; that translates as, “Hello everyone! Merry Christmas!” As Christmas fast approaches, so too does my departure from the beautiful country of Scotland. While I look forward to returning home to my family and friends and the hallowed halls of Wabash; I am saddened to leave this amazing city and country behind. I’ve spent the past 3 months studying at the University of Edinburgh and have not regretted a single moment of it. As I sat down to write this blog and reflect upon my time here, the sheer amount of experiences I was lucky enough to have this semester washed over me. While I won’t have the time or space to write them all down here, if you ever want to hear more I’d be happy to regale you with tales of my time in Scotland over a lovely pint.

Visiting a distillery with friends.

The highlight of my time abroad was definitely my weekend I spent in the highlands of Scotland. While many of you might believe you have an inkling of their beauty and majesty from movies like Braveheart, the natural beauty and majesty of the highlands cannot be explained. We spent time in Glencoe, which might be the most beautiful but also most tragic places in Scotland. While during our time the lush green hills and vales were quite peaceful, on February 12, 1692 in the wake of the Glorious Revolution; members of the Clan Campbell massacred 38 MacDonald men and 40 women and children were killed by exposure to the harsh highland winter. The hatred of the clan Campbell is still alive in parts of the highlands, with one pub stating that “No Campbell’s allowed.” Our tour guide said that many an unsuspecting Campbell has found themselves ungraciously thrown from the pub before their meal could be served. Throughout our time in the highlands that was the consistent theme, while there was great beauty in the land it was also home to great tragedy.

Also during that weekend, we were able to visit the Glenfiddich single malt distillery. For those of you that don’t drink Scotch whisky, Glenfiddich is the largest and most popular single malt in the world sold in over 180 countries. Founded in 1887, the company has been operated by the descendants of William Grant, the founder, ever since. If I could convey to you the smell in the air when we arrived at the distillery, I would. However it was so full and hearty there is no way to possibly explain it, simply that if they made an air freshener with that smell I would use it every single day. Even those in our group who don’t like whisky were impressed and enjoyed our time at the distillery immensely.

Hiking Glencoe

And while my vacations and explorations throughout Scotland have been amazing, my experiences as a normal “Uni” student have been equally impactful and amazing. Discussing the role of the frontier in American History with students from all over the world, many who have never visited America, was quite thought provoking. All of my conceptions and ideas were challenged in ways that simply don’t happen when I discuss American history with other Americans. Learning about wine and its global history from a professor who grew up in South Africa and has visited vineyards all over the world has been absolutely fascinating. Although much like Wabash, some of my best experiences have come outside of the classroom. I’ve spent the semester playing for the University of Edinburgh’s Ultimate Frisbee team Ro Sham Bo. They guys and girls I play with have become close friends, and I’m saddened to leave them and the camaraderie behind.

Overall this semester has been an absolute blast and important part of my academic and personal growth. I cannot thank all of the people at Wabash who make opportunities like mine possible. Wabash has given me so much and I cannot wait to begin to give back. Seriously.

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