Skip to main content
Indiana University Bloomington
  •  
  •  

Hutton Honors College

 — Indiana University

Joshua M. Samis
Spring 2001

I never wanted to go to London. My heart was set on studying in Jerusalem even before I came to college, but unfortunately the unrest in the region made it impossible for me to go. So I applied to London, and had no idea what lay ahead of me. After spending five incredible months in Europe, I realized that my preconceptions and initial disappointment could not have been more incorrect.

My experiences in Europe are too memorable and life changing than can be described in a simple essay for it is the small details that made my adventure so worthwhile. I remember Charles and Vanessa, the South Africans who ran the hotel I lived in across the street from Hyde Park. I remember trying to go on a different guided walk through London every week so as to learn about all parts of the city. I remember going to a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in which the crowd was completely English and nobody in the crowd stood or showed any emotion for the entire duration of the show.

My experiences were certainly not limited to my time in London. While in a beer hall in Munich, I met a young German police officer that has devoted his life to hunting down Neo-Nazis. In a single night, all my stereotypes about the German people were shattered. I can now say with authority that the best gelato in Italy is in a small fishing village called Corniglia, which is part of the Cinque Terre. However, the three hours of hiking previous may have helped the taste. I can also now say with authority that time seems to stand still while sitting on the park bench at the Park Guell in Barcelona, looking down on the city and the Mediterranean Sea below.

There are countless numbers of these experiences, but what they amount to is that not all learning comes in a classroom. While one can read about Roman civilization in a textbook, the history comes alive while walking through the Roman Forum. One can sit in a lecture about the royal history of England, but it is not the same as walking through the Tower of London. Everywhere from Amsterdam to Zurich I was able to actively participate in my learning, finding curiosities and tales wherever I went. I learnt Russian from my companions on the night train from Venice to Vienna, and talked politics with a German student in a bagel shop in Prague. Traveling presents you with the most unusual encounters, and it is how you learn from these experiences that makes you a true student of the world.