I traveled this past summer to Greece and England to partake in a month-long program for the analysis and performance of Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles. As a Freshman reading the Oresteia, I never would have imagined that I’d have the opportunity to visit Clytemnestra’s tomb in person, see the ancient theatre at Epidaurus, or wander around the same Delphi I’d read about.
Students at St. John’s have two campuses to call home during the academic year, plus an array of domestic study away and international study abroad options during the summer. Funding from the college is available to pursue many of these opportunities.
I believe a St. John’s education prepares one very well for both language immersion as well as study abroad in general, and it prepared me well for this program. I believe that the ability to question rigorously and dive deeply into one’s curiosity is crucial to understanding a new culture and system of communication.
I found myself mainly drawn to the field trips dedicated to painters who were known to have been inspired by southern France. We read the letters of Vincent Van Gogh to his brother during his years living in Paris, Arles, and Saint Rémy, and then took trips to discuss the progression of his work. These trips quickly began to pique my interest in art history. I struggled with history in high school, and though reading the classics helped me get better acquainted with the subject, I’ve never felt so connected to history than when it is specifically about art.
I realized I could thrive in a hybrid workplace environment that is equally focused on effective collaboration as independent research. I also deepened my appreciation of collaboration in conducting and writing a research paper and strengthened my confidence in leading a research project independently and clarifying a topic of study.
I think my work at St. John’s at first glance seemed very irrelevant to the course because it offered a very systematic way of learning computer programming. But I found that when trying to solve problems or write codes it was a similar process of trying to solve problems in mathematics tutorial, and also learning different commands felt a little like learning Greek or French so it came rather naturally.
I was curious about how the Roman cityscape witnesses the traces of various cultures and epochs, in a colourful juxtaposition of Roman pagan ruins, Medieval Christian churches, synagogues of the Jewish community and finally the modern threads of an international population. How have people lived together in the past, how do they share this space today? These questions were a big component of our readings in the “Empire and the Soul” course.