Letters from Abroad – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Letters from Abroad

Several HWS students spending the fall semester overseas recently sent messages of greeting to those in Geneva.

From Jamie Agnello in Norwich, England:
Before this week at the university, the HWS group of nine was lucky enough to do small day trips to all sorts of places here with Professor Nick Ruth, whom we lovingly refer to as “Dad” as he picked up taxi fares and covered the tip at restaurants when we forget how to add and count.

It took me awhile to realize I had finally made it to England. It's been something I’ve wanted to do my entire life — and to finally be here is just amazing. We flew into London and were severely jet lagged and delirious from excitement and no sleep. It took us about two hours by train to get to Norwich. In the days that followed, we traveled to Sandringham castle, the queen's country home, in all its opulence and grandeur.

A traditional English garden unfolded in the back of the house, along with many trails to walk through the woods. I was excited by the fact that the queen had a puzzle of her own house half completed on a small table. we also traveled to Sutton Hoo, site of a Norse archaelogical dig; and to Framingham Castle.

Then, in London, Becca and I get lost because the group ran ahead while we were taking photographs. After being extremely frustrated, as Prof. Ruth had our map, we found an info stand, split a delightful sandwich, decided it was “Becca and Jamie do London,” and then proceeded to walk right past Ron Howard filming a movie.

We eventually found the group at the National Gallery, where I got to see works by Seurat; we also saw Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the Thames, Westminster Abbey, and stumbled upon the mayor's “London Pride” festival near the millennium wheel on the Thames, which was just spectacular.

Fun, food and cute couples swing dancing, fresh papaya, a woman painting “The birth of Venus” on the sidewalk, and many things to smell and buy and lovely fabrics to wrap your shoulders in.

When we visited Cambridge and stood in the giant hollow cavern of King's College Cathedral, I finally realized that I am actually in England. It was incredible to be in Cambridge. It’s so incredibly OLD. I mean, Henry VIII built the chapel and has his and Anne Boleyn’s initials ENGRAVED on the wood that houses the organ.

We spent the day walking the tiny streets with the students of the city, and then ended up at the Fitzwilliam Gallery, which housed some of the most incredible secular art I have ever seen.

On my 21st birthday, we spent the day in Norwich, exploring the cathedral (another completely amazing and old building) and touring the castle that sits perched on a hillside right in the middle of the downtown. I purchased a coat (I never ever buy expensive things, so this was an exception): navy blue with golden buttons, very marching band/military style; and found my beloved “The Seekers” CD, complete with my theme song since I’ve been four, 'Hey there, Georgy Girl!' at the Norwich market.

We ate dinner at a traditional Spanish restaurant, complete with tapas, paella and desserts full of almonds and chocolate.

And now I am on the University of East Anglia’s campus, a school of 13,000 (wow. wow. wow.) that sits on the broads where we go to lounge and read in the hazy afternoons. I am thrilled to be here, to be meeting so many amazing amazing people, to be lucky enough to have this entire experience.

My classes include Literature and visual culture: poetry, painting, and Rilke; Creative Writing Dissertation (I asked for a writing class, and this is what they gave me); and From Woad to Westwood: the History and Dynamics of Fashion, which includes a study of the Norwich costume museum.

(Agnello is a Jean W. Reeves '34 Arts Scholar and a Kathryn D. Cook Scholar)

From Laura Geisenheimer in Madrid, Spain:
I'm currently in Madrid, Spain and having a GREAT time. It is truly a challenge to be immersed into another culture with a foreign language in a strange place, but also a rewarding one. I'm living with a family and they're fantastic.

From Lauren Woody in Bath, England:
I've been in Bath for a little over a month, and as I expected I have received not just an education from my studies, but from my new and exciting surroundings. I've been to Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral, Oxford University, and Blenheim Palace. I'm not only surrounded by stunning Georgian architecture, but a sense of history that makes one realize the United States is in its infancy as a nation.

University College — one of the 40 colleges that comprises Oxford University and where I resided for a week — was founded in 1249, and was attended by Bill Clinton, C.S. Lewis and Percy Bysshe Shelley just to name a few. Christ College is probably the most visually stunning of Oxford's colleges. The expansive quadrangle near the entrance is enclosed by high walls and has a fountain at its center. I attended Christ Church one morning to hear choir music, and a sermon that was thought provoking for people of all faiths.

Lastly, here in Bath, I’ve simply been enjoying my time absorbed in the many cultural differences I hadn’t been aware of until now. The longer I reside here, the more I’m beginning to say “Cheers” instead of “Thank you,” “Pardon me” instead of “Excuse me,” and “queue” instead of “line.”

I remember that my instructors here are not called “professors,” but are instead called “tutors,” and that they preferred to be addressed by their first names.

Lastly and most unexpectedly, I have developed a new appreciation for my own culture. It has sharpened my sense of its weaknesses, but also a sense of its strengths, both of which I have examined in a new light.

From Rachel Sukeforth in Galway:
Ireland is awesome! Our group just spent the weekend in Cork, where we stayed in a youth hostel. We’ve also been to Dublin. Both times we stayed in a Kinlay House — there’s also one here in Galway.

So far we haven't dealt with too much anti-Americanism. If we do, it's because we're being loud and obnoxious, making it obvious that we are American. Of course it's rainy here; Galway is the wettest Irish city, however on our weekend trips it's been mostly sunny and fair weather. I enjoyed Cork tremendously; it’s amazing the sense of history that Ireland has.

While there have been battles over preservation over the years of castles and sites, there are many preserved areas. We also visited Blarney Castle to kiss the blarney stone this weekend. Beautiful view from the top.

We’re enjoying our time here. I’ve joined a couple of clubs, including kayaking and young greens. But things are truly just getting under way.