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.

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Immersion Prompted Pingel ’15 to Study Abroad

Eddie Pingel ’15 – Last year I was able to accompany Professor Hartnett on an immersion trip to Italy, where we visited places such as Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Rome. It was on tht trip I realized just how interested I was in being abroad. As a Classics major, the decision to return to Italy, and in particular Rome, was an obvious one.

My experience here thus far has been reminiscent of my immersion trip in that I once again find myself completely captivated by this city and its unique culture. Rome is a city of levels, where one will find materials ranging from the 7th century B.C. to the Roman Republic and Empire, and from early Christian churches to the Papal palaces of the Medieval Ages. I have been fortunate to study each of these time periods. My studies have primarily focused on the Ancient Romans, and I have gone to such sites as: the tomb of Aeneas, the founder of the Roman race, the supposed Hut of Romulus, the founder of Rome itself, Pompey’s Theater, where Julius Caesar was assassinated, and the Riace Bronze Warriors, which are among most famous bronze statues in the world.

I have also been throughout the country of Italy, ranging as far north as Venice and as far south as the island of Sicily, where we spent 9 days exploring the ancient Greek theaters and temples, built over 2500 years ago and which are still intact today.

The experience has been educational in other ways as well. The cultural barriers that once were intimidating and foreign have now become familiar and even home-like. My complete lack of knowledge in the Italian language once intimated me into not interacting with the people of Rome at the beginning of the semester.  Halfway through it, this is no longer the case.

Even though I am still by no means fluent in the language, I have learned enough where I can finally exchange light conversation, particularly with the staff that works within my living unit. To conclude, this semester has been an unbelievable experience, and has enriched my learning experience not only academically but culturally as well.

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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.

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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 (http://www.wabash.edu/international/finaid). I feel privileged and deeply grateful to what I got and one day I shall do my best to give back.

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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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MacDougal ’14 Enjoys English People, Soccer

Ian MacDougal ’14 – What comes to mind when someone says St. Andrews? The Old Course and R&A or the place where William met Kate. To me, St. Andrews represents a home away from home. I have been in Scotland for about two months now, and I can honestly say it has been an experience of a lifetime. St. Andrews is a beautiful little coastal town void of any big name superstores or any fast food restaurants. Add the fact that it is a college town with a lively atmosphere of old and new, St. Andrews is my kind of place. When I started my classes, I had no idea what to expect going to the 3rd oldest English speaking university, let alone it being co-ed. Classes here offer a lot more freedom to study a particular aspect of a topic, but discussion lacks in comparison to Wabash.

Outside of classes, I have ducked away from the other 30 Americans in my study abroad program to spend time with British students. One opportunity that this experience has afforded me was a chance to play football (soccer) again. The athletics system here is less structured compared to the NCAA. I train Mondays and Thursdays with the ones, Monday morning and Thursday afternoons with the twos, Tuesday afternoon with the threes, and goalkeeper training on Tuesday night. We play Wednesdays against other universities in Scotland, while Saturdays are reserved for Fife Amateur League games. I have had the pleasure of playing for all four teams within a two-week span. I have had so much fun playing soccer again, especially with people from all over Europe. It has taught me a lot about the game. I was named Man of the Match in four out of ten games thus far. In my time here, I helped the ones to their first league title in ten years and guided the twos to a league cup finals appearance.

St. Andrews also offers a two-week spring vacation. After my classes on Friday, I took a bus to Glasgow then a train to Manchester for a United game. After spending the morning exploring the Museum of Science and Industry, I headed over the Old Trafford four hours before the game. The stadium was amazing and the atmosphere was indescribable. I spent about two hours in the store alone buying souvenirs for my family and girlfriend. Once the gates opened, I went to my seat and watched United warm up and then play Reading to a 1-0 win. I was able to sing the songs of the United faithful at Old Trafford, a dream come true.

I then traveled to Oban on the west coast. I was able to explore the castle Dunollie where the MacDougall clan has resided since the times of William Wallace. It was so interesting to be able to walk in the same ground as my ancestors and see the MacDougall museum. I learned so much about my family’s history. After climbing Ben Cruachan and discovering another family castle, I headed back to St. Andrews only to hit a snag in housing for an evening. Fortunately, Bash Bunks and Mark Osnowitz ’12 gave me a place to stay for the evening.

Swilcan bridge on the 18th Hole with the Royal and Ancient Clubhouse in back

Once back in St. Andrews, I played 18 rounds of golf in 8 days. The Links offers a student ticket of 180 pounds to play unlimited golf for the year. Sadly, I have not had the opportunity to play the Old Course yet, but I know I will get a few rounds in before the end of my time here. The 7 courses are unbelievable. They are challenging but fun at the same time. You have to be on your A-game to play well.

I am only halfway through, but I know this has been an experience of a lifetime. I have crossed so many things off my bucket list in the past two months alone. My advice to future Wabash students is take advantage of these opportunities that Wabash affords you. While I do love it here, I am looking forward to whistling Back Home Again in Indiana when I step off that plane and back into my loved ones arms.

Taking the WAF spirit around the world.

Cheers from Bonnie Old Scotland

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Cook ’14: Immersed in Chinese Culture, Language

Ben Cook ’14 – Few people in Xi’an, China speak much English.  I found that even though Chinese students study English throughout school, their English studies focus more on reading and writing English than on speaking English.  With the exception of a few students who speak great English, most of the time my spoken Chinese is better than that person’s spoken English.  If I speak with an adult, then I’ll definitely need to use Chinese to communicate.  The combination of taking Chinese class for three hours a day, practicing with Chinese people all the time, and needing to use Chinese throughout my daily life has improved my Chinese language ability exponentially.  I appreciate the English levels of Chinese students at Wabash, because they are the exception rather than the norm.

I feel confident that I can survive on my own somewhere like Xi’an.  I even make my own money.  I heard from a friend about a part time English teaching opportunity.  After I interviewed, they asked if I could teach accounting.  I took two accounting classes at Wabash, and now I’m teaching accounting part-time to three Chinese students who are older than me and speak mediocre English.  Every week I prepare a three-hour accounting lesson.  Next week I’ll host a TV show episode about Shaanxi Opera.  I also do some free-lance English tutoring.  Through tutoring, I met a Chinese girl from Xi’an.  I learn many new Chinese words and cool local places through her.  I also met many Chinese friends through my Chinese roommate, basketball, and through random conversations.  Basketball is huge in China, and many Chinese guys know Indiana because of the Indiana Pacers.

I enjoy the exchange rate between America and China.  One dollar buys around 6.5 Chinese RMBs.  Things in China tend to be inexpensive.  I can get a good meal from around $0.5 to $6 US dollars.  On top of that, I can negotiate sometimes!  It is fun.  Chinese merchants tend to start at a higher price because I don’t look Chinese.  So I usually reply with a lower price, sometimes 10 percent of the asking price.  Then after some back and forth, I walk away.  Many Chinese stores sell similar things, so I can play stores against each other, and end up with a price around 30 percent of the asking price sometimes.

I’ve seen many cool sites in China so far.  I spent a week in Beijing, where I saw the Forbidden City, many great restaurants, an acrobat performance, and Chinese new year celebrations.  In Xi’an I saw the Terra Cotta Warriors, rode a bike on the city wall, hiked in the mountains south of the city, learned some painting technique at a folk-painter’s studio, and learned to cook some dishes at the best cooking school in Xi’an.  I’m especially happy that I learned to make Chinese eggplant, which is phenomenal.  I also enjoy fatty meats in China, especially duck, and the famous noodle dishes in Xi’an.

I’m excited about the upcoming travel I’ll do.  My program takes a two-week trip along the ancient Silk Road that will take me west to a less-touristy part of the Great Wall, the desert, and some oasis towns.  I’ll get to ride a camel.  I also plan on traveling to Chengdu, Shanghai, and several other places.  I’m especially excited to meet with some Wabash alumni working in China.

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