Scholarships Help Students Study Overseas
by Christopher James Klein
Dear Professor Sernau,
|were informed that the last time the students had it so easy in London speaking the same language that they felt very surprised – almost shocked – at the difficulty in having to speak French to the best of their ability just to get what they needed at meals and stores.|
I found Paris to be a very alive city socially, a historical city culturally, and – the most shocking part for me – another “big city” of the world, in ways much like New York, NY, San Antonio, TX, or Indianapolis, IN, due to the hustle and bustle, the tall buildings, and the high prices on everything from food to souvenirs. (I do not mean to complain about high prices – that was expected, with the sad state of the dollar!)
From my geography, history, and culture classes I remember discussing other places: the Eifel Tower, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Louvre Museum with the original Mona Lisa, and the red double-decker buses, the scene of the Great Fire of 1666 and Samuel Pepys’s house...but until you actually see the places firsthand, you can only imagine what it’s like to be there, to see, hear, touch (and sometimes taste and smell) these great pieces of culture, of world history. I remember so vividly standing in front of the Eifel Tower and craning my neck to see the entire structure at once…and I was awe-struck. Absolutely awe-struck at the sheer size of it, thinking about the weeks of work it took to build it, and wondering just how many people appreciate the culture behind it instead of seeing it only as another “ride” like a ferris wheel or roller coaster. In the day-time I only saw it during the day, but at night it is such a beautiful sight that no picture can capture the emotion felt when standing next to it or gazing from afar. I remember feeling the same way about every part of London that I visited, from the small-mansion Apsley House to the London Eye. Given the chance, I would do it all again. Now that I have been home for a few weeks, I wish I would have taken more pictures, journaled more, and tried to do more. I did appreciate everything there, but you also wish you appreciated it more. More than likely I will go back, but until then I will treasure my memories and pictures, wondering how many seconds are left before my return trip to either city.
|To say the program is just interesting, well-worth the time and money, or cool would capture only ½ of 1% of the true feelings I have about it. Phenomenal! Awesome! Fascinating! Culturally captivating! Enlivening! Eye-opening! Exciting! Inspiring! Artistic! Once in a lifetime experiences had every day! Traveling to two cities with similar histories yet completely different cultures, and to have studied them from 1660-1870, studying how they became modern and how that affected who and what they are today before the trip and then seeing everything firsthand…I cannot satisfactorily conjure a single word
or phrase that sums up all my joy at learning, my comfort at being uncomfortable (due to my lack of French skills!), and my anticipation to go back and study more…there is no easy way to capture all the stories, the laughter and tears, the raindrops at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, the sunshine at Hyde Park, the beautiful star-strewn skies of Paris, or the wonder that is Versailles in a quick way.
In short, I am trying to say thank you, thank you, thank you for helping me fund this most awesome of my travels and studies abroad thus far in my life. The program is excellent, and I do not think it should be traded out for another one any time soon. I would only suggest it were expanded upon and that the exchanges of emails with the students from the University of Lille were encouraged more and started earlier (like immediately after the first class meeting). I was very, very fortunate to have been partnered with such an awesome young woman, and I believe we will do everything possible to stay in touch. Perhaps find a way to stay in Lille for a few days, too, so the students can actually spend time together, instead of a mere few hours.
I hope this letter captured an inkling of the emotion and satisfaction I feel when thinking about all I saw and accomplished both there in Paris and London and from my studies, readings, and research conducted both in the states and abroad. Likely the most rewarding part of the trip was doing an on-site presentation with research done before traveling and not having a clue what was to be found on-site. Both of my presentations were a huge success, and I cannot wait to have that experience again.
Thank you sincerely, and I look forward to talking about my experiences with any and all students, especially those who are potentials for any study-abroad program.
Christopher James Klein
Lover of languages, cultures, and study-abroad programs