Saturday, July 21, 2012

(From "Random Reflections") My English Adventures, Part 1: Fun Times at Hillsdale College

Hello dear readers!

I hope summer is treating you well! I promise that this time I have a good excuse for failing to write over the past couple of months. In fact, it's such a good excuse that it's going to be the topic of several of my upcoming posts, starting with this post!

Last month, I had a very unique opportunity to go on what one might call the adventure of a lifetime (at least that's what my mom calls it). I participated in a High School Study Abroad Program through Hillsdale College, and went on their trip entitled, "O For a Muse of Fire: The Land and Literature of England," which studied the works of British authors William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, John Milton, Geoffrey Chaucer, T.S. Eliot, and William Wordsworth. In order to be a participant, I had to submit an application (complete with an essay, letters of recommendation, and all that good stuff) to Hillsdale College back in the winter or spring sometime. I am so thankful I was accepted! A couple months later, I received an assignment from Hillsdale to be completed before the trip which consisted of a lot of reading, as well as a 1200-word essay on the topic of what constitutes a good life. I somehow managed to get all the homework done, and on June 15, after a lot of shopping and packing, I arrived Hillsdale, and the trip commenced.

The first few days of the trip were spent on Hillsdale College's beautiful campus. Participants stayed in a residence hall, ate meals in the student union, and attended lectures on the authors and works studied during the trip. These lectures were presented by Hillsdale professors Dr. David Whalen, Dr. Steve Smith, and Dr. Patricia Bart, all of whom had their own hilarious senses of humor, and were obviously very learned in their subjects. Their lectures were deep, interesting, and helpful in understanding the material, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. In case you're wondering, the works we read were: Hamlet, by William Shakespeare; Persuasion, by Jane Austen; parts of The Canterbury Tales, by Chaucer; parts of Paradise Lost, by Milton; and various poems by Milton, Wordsworth, Eliot, and Yeats. All highly recommended.

Going into this trip, I did not know anyone. I was about to spend two weeks with all new people, with literally nobody that I knew. This made me rather nervous, as this kind of a situation is very out of my comfort zone. For weeks before the trip I prayed for friends, and that I would come to feel comfortable around these new people quickly. I can definitely say these prayers were answered! There were 31 high schoolers from all over the country on the trip, and it turned out that nobody else knew anybody either - so we all made friends pretty fast. We all shared similar beliefs and opinions, as well as a common nerdy love of literature. For example, I'll never forget when an attempted boy conversation among some of the girls turned into a discussion about the characters of Jane Austen's novels after about five minutes! Needless to say, I came home with many new friends.

When we weren't attending lectures, we found plenty of fun stuff to do. Apples to Apples and other games, walks through the arboretum, and socializing and getting to know each other were all popular pastimes. Nightly trips to the ice cream place became a tradition which my friends and I continued during our time abroad. Skits were also a fun activity which took up a lot of our weekend at Hillsdale. We were split into several groups, each of which was given a scene from Hamlet to practice and perform for everybody. This made for good times and good laughs. 

After three days on Hillsdale's campus, the day we had all been waiting for finally arrived. On Monday, June 18, we repacked our bags and headed to the Detroit Metro Airport. We first flew to Atlanta, then hurriedly hopped onto an international plane bound for the London-Heathrow Airport. This flight went overnight (and let me say that sleeping on a plane is not the most comfortable thing in the world), experienced a small amount of turbulence around 1am which scared the daylights out of me, and landed in London early in the morning on June 19.

And this is where I will end this post. I know, I'm leaving you all in suspense. Next, I'll continue the story of my adventures, starting with my first experiences of England.

Happy Saturday!

1 comment:

  1. This is fantastic! I'm so glad you had fun!!! (and I'll admit i'm extremely jealous, lol)


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