Adventures Abroad and Abbey by the Sea, Summer 2019
Reflections on Italy from the Honors Seniors
John Paul Hamilton (Honors '20): In our time abroad, the focus of one of our classes often centered on food, both its meaning in Italian culture and its very delicious reality. Thus, as you can imagine, we had to eat a lot of pasta for academic purposes. Almost every meal, in fact, contained a course of pasta done up in a different way. However, Italians are very picky about (1) their food—how it is prepared, where the ingredients are from, how long the pasta is cooked—and (2) the way you eat their food. “Every time you cut a pasta noodle,” warned one of our professors, grim and prophetic, “an Italian grandmother dies.” Because you don’t want to kill an innocent, sweet Nona, you too begin to eat pasta like an Italian. This means, of course, that you must roll your pasta on your fork (The trick of using a spoon to help was not universal. In central Italy, it was enough to have only a fork). The trick to this difficult culinary trial is, as the same professor demonstrated to me after ridiculing my attempts to eat basic spaghetti, you have to separate a small pile of noodles from the rest of the lump, and then, with your fork perpendicular to the plate in the small noodle nest, you spin the fork in a clockwise direction. Counterclockwise does not work as well (this is strangely true). Once you have a sizeable amount of spaghetti on your fork that does not immediately unwind, you may eat. At this point in the demonstration, my professor held up the perfectly wound spaghetti to my mouth like an airplane. I obliged, enlightened by the ways of Italy.
Theresa Wilson (Honors '20): From zip-lining in small towns in the Apennines to walking eight miles a day to see all of Rome in a week, the Summer Institute in Italy was a blast! We took two classes during the program: Narrating Italian Food and Wine and an introductory Italian language course and within them we had four guest lectures, and one of them involved a trip to a cheese factory! In the factory we wore the coolest outfits; I kept the hat and brought it home! Later in Castelnuovo we embarked on two hikes as well as a six mile bike ride, a ropes course, and a perpetual round of the capitalism card game. The six of us also discovered a latent love for and talent at Foosball. Francis won a tournament against Elizabeth and I in the last round.
Where do I start with Rome! Shoutout to the water fountains around the city for keeping us going on our long excursions! My favorite church was the Santa Scala or Holy Steps which Jesus walked up to reach the praetorium. I honestly can’t fit the experience and memories into so few words as the alumni know! I hope you Juniors similarly enjoy your turn next year!
Abbey by the Sea
To celebrate reaching the halfway mark of their studies in college, the current Junior class joined Dr. and Mrs. Thuot in an academic retreat in Hilton Head, SC in May. There they discussed Shakespeare's King Lear and enjoyed exploring the island by bike.
- Year: Class of '23
- Major: Philosophy, Politics, and Economics with a Minor in Great Books
- Hometown: Albany, GA
- Why Belmont Abbey? I knew I was looking for a Catholic school and both my parents are alumni. Belmont Abbey is fairly close to home and gave me the opportunity to play tennis. I really love the school. When I came for scholarship weekend and took Dr. Hren’s class on St. Benedict’s Rule and St. Thomas’ Summa the way he taught and the conversation we had was amazing. I just had to join.
- What has been your favorite part about being in the Honors College? The friends that I’ve made! The environment and how much we’re learning allows for amazing bonds to develop. Being in all the same classes we become very close. Also, spiritually, everything we learn in some way or another points to Christ. I really love that. It’s incredible and so different than attending a secular college. The Honors College really encourages me to work hard and to learn. I haven’t always had this level of motivation. The classes have really developed me a lot. My writing skills have improved dramatically, and now when I read I formulate questions for class rather than taking everything at face value. I definitely question more and better form my own opinions, which will serve me well in any career.
- Year: Class '23
- Major: English with a Minor in Great Books
- Hometown: Damascus, MD
- What drew you to the Abbey? The Honors College! When I found the Honors scholarship I really liked everything I saw. My visit was the deciding factor. I’d already been accepted but being able to talk to the professors and sit in on classes really helped. I really like the discussion based seminars. When I first got in I receive a personal email that showed my application had been read thoroughly and the Honors College really seemed to care about how I would fit in and what I liked studying.
- What goods have you experienced because of your decision to come here?How much everyone here is trying to build a community of friends. Everyone wants to learn and cares about what we’re learning. Spiritually, it’s really nice having all the monks around. I go to vespers with them, and Mass and confession being so close is very nice. I really like studying philosophy and literature because it’s a good way to look at my faith from the outside—it’s different then memorizing the Catechism. You come to understand more what you mean by those things we profess as Christians. Sometimes I’ll have moments when nothing makes sense and then suddenly I figure it out! And WOW! It’s so exciting.