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An Alternative International Fall Break

By Mario Prohasky '05

November 8, 2001
Contact: Bill Giduz 704/894-2244 or bigiduz@davidson.edu

International students
(l-r) Jasmin Bluhm of Germany, Lorant Ropars of France, Yurii Kornilev of Bulgaria, Monique Antler of Germany, and Nacho Romero-Alcalde of Spain take a moment at the Reflection Pool of the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

"Where will I go for Fall Break?" That's a question confronts all Davidson students at the beginning of October. For the majority of the students the easiest and most pleasant option is to go home, or visit some relatives and friends, to enjoy a little quiet and relaxation. But that option is understandably impossible for most of the international students on campus.

With that in mind, the International Student Office has organized a trip to Washington, D.C., for fall break for the past few years. The advanture has been well received by students, in past years, leading international student advisor Sherri Spillman to now consider it as "a vital part" of international students programming at the college.

According to Spillman, students who have to adapt to a new culture and environment start to feel overwhelmed both academically and socially by the second month of the school year, and feel the need to change their setting for a few days.

International students
(l-r) Jasmin, Yurii, and Monique load up a Davidson van.

This year 15 international students embarked on the trip. Although most were freshmen and one-year exchange students, there were also some upper classmen. Sherri Spillman led the group, drove the van to DC and back, and hosted everyone for the first night in her house in Virginia! Kiril Simov'05 from Bulgaria also deserves special thanks for driving the Davidson International Association car to DC.

International students
Mario Prohasky finds a sleeping spot in International Student Advisor Sherri Spillman's house before the trip.

The journey began in the late afternoon of Friday, October 12. The group Sherri's house on the outskirts of D.C. well after midnight, and everyone quickly started looking for a place to sleep. Mario Prohasky '05 was quite innovative in that respect.

Most students spent the next three nights in Washington. The poor conditions and high price of the youth hostel led some students to move to another hotel after the first night.

International students
Monique and Russian Teaching Assistant Marina Freidina enjoy the Lincoln Memorial.

But the move did not diminish their energy. They toured the city relentlessly on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, visiting all the major sightseeing destinations--the White House, Capitol Hill, the Pentagon, Lincoln memorial, Washington Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, the Smithsonian, etc.

Although they were quite fascinated by everything they saw and experienced, they were saddened by the sight of the destroyed Pentagon. A number of them commented that, "it was really sad to see the way terror and horror have stained this place"

Some of them felt that the spirit of Washington that they have become acquainted with through TV and movies, had disappeared after the horrendous attacks.

Students also found parts of the city which reminded them of their homelands. Laurant Ropars, a one-year exchange student from France, said that Georgetown, with its nice restaurants, cafés, and shops, "had a certain Parisian flavor to it." Some also experienced the international appeal of Alexandria--a place full of European-style shops and restaurants that resembles a number of countries from around the globe.

International students
Jasmin, Yurii, Nacho, and Monique take a break
in front of the Capitol.

After three hectic days, most of the students opted for something less physically demanding on Monday afternoon--a movie or a visit to one of the many malls in Washington.

On Tuesday morning, full of notable memories, students gathered in front one of the Metro stations and met with Sherri Spillman for the return trip to Davidson.
International students
Monique and Jasmin in New York's Time Square.

There were two noteworthy exceptions, however; Jasmin Bluhm and Monique Antler, one-year exchange students from Germany, enjoyed their fall break so much that they extended it by spending the next few days in New York for more sightseeing. They describe their experience in the Big Apple as "overwhelming, tremendously exciting, and fun."

The group got back to campus around midnight on Tuesday, and plunged again into their busy Davidson lives.

Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,600 students. Since its establishment in 1837, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country by U.S. News and World Report magazine. Davidson is currently engaged in "Let Learning Be Cherished," a $250 million campaign in support of student financial assistance, academic resources, and community life.

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