Innocents Abroad: ENC
Visits the European Union, May-June,
will appear in the Fall issue of the Christian Scholar]
is amazing how much ground ten adventurous ENC students can cover in
weeks’ time given backpacks and Eurail passes. This past May just
such a group explored nine cities in seven countries over 21 days in
version of the grand European tour without which no undergraduate
is really complete.
Along the way students Luke Cochran, Julianne Hale, Jon Helm, Rachel
Ron Kling, Derek Krause, Alain Poutré, Kevin Uscinski, Heather
and Daniel Wooster experienced enough excitement to fill any number of
travelogues as they took in famous sights, savored curious foods, and
with unfamiliar languages.
with the tradition and spirit of backpacking across Europe, this
could most charitably be described as a no-frills affair.
included bunks in youth hostels and pensions, floors of private homes,
and a multitude of overnight train berths. Meals usually
of curious items purchased from small markets and sidewalk vendors with
group dinners taken each evening in restaurants chosen for their
of national dishes. French bread, Czech clear broth soup, Polish
bratwurst, Austrian schnitzel, and Italian pasta all received high
while London’s steak and kidney pie and Warsaw’s blood sausage were
unforgettable for altogether different reasons!
Professor Carla Lovett, the trip was meant to be both about backpacking
in Europe and about learning the new post-Cold War contours of the
Each student enrolled in her intensive survey course
on the history of the European Union (EU) which provided both an
of the EU since its earliest inception and a focus on its most recent
and stresses. As the class traveled through London, Paris,
Prague, Warsaw, Auschwitz, Vienna, Venice, and Rome class lectures and
writing assignments complemented their witnessing firsthand some of the
drama currently embroiling EU member states.
Union is often touted as one of the most successful and sophisticated
organizations of its kind to date, earning it the sobriquet, “United
of Europe.” At the same time, this success has not been without
drawbacks. London is famous for its double-decker buses, glimpses
of the Queen, and that curious culinary concoction known as bangers and
mash. Yet, Great Britain is equally famous for its deep-rooted
towards the Continent as seen by its membership in the EU but not in
euro-zone. Paris is home to the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and
of the smelliest cheese on record. But it is also where hundreds
of thousands of North Africans, with their distinct ethnicity,
and religion, reside, presenting enormous difficulties to the purist
of traditional French culture.
is even higher in Berlin, where Turkish kebabs are as ubiquitous as
Berlin is known as “Little Istanbul”, and Germans are vehement in their
opposition to Turkey joining the European Union. Italy struggles
with an unemployment rate as
high as 20% in some regions, while Austria despairs at how dearly it
paid for EU membership – sacrificing many of its beloved arts programs
for mandatory defense commitments. Poland and the Czech Republic
have emerged from behind the political partition of the Iron Curtain
to find themselves still segregated, this time by a “golden curtain”
separates Western affluent “haves” from these more poverty-stricken
European “have-nots.” And on the sixtieth anniversary of its
Auschwitz still needs no further explanation.
thoroughly enjoyed their jaunt through some of Europe’s most famous and
beautiful cities, with many vowing to return as soon as possible.
While the entire group escaped bad weather, ill health, getting lost,
any number of other possible calamities, no one could flee the sober
reflection that such abrupt cultural immersion demands. All
with a brand new perspective of the world – from the other side of the
Atlantic – and a much better understanding of the European Union,
and their dream that might someday rival that of Americans.
a short response paper by ENC history major Ron Kling ('06) on the
Union. This exercise was completed as part of Ron's course
for summer travel.