Students provide dispatches from abroad

Four juniors share their experiences studying abroad this winter term


Lauren Fredericks, ’20, holds a baby goat with new friends in Oman. Photo courtesy of Fredericks.

Maggie Barker

Japan. Australia. Austria. Lebanon. Galapagos. Germany. New Zealand. Morocco. Bolivia. Switzerland. United Arab Emirates. Spain. Denmark. Ireland. Italy. Czech Republic. The Netherlands. France. The United Kingdom.

That’s the full list of countries where a record number of 102 Washington and Lee students are studying abroad during this term, said Cindy Irby, the university’s study abroad advisor. 

Griffin Link, ‘20: Aix-en-Provence, France

Griffin Link is studying international business, French history, international wine trade, French grammar, and Cézanne and Van Gogh art history in France this semester. She said she loves everything about Aix-en-Provence. 

Griffin Link, ’20, recently took a weekend trip to Chamonix, France. Photo courtesy of Griffin Link.

“It is a small town, so it is really easy to become connected with the community, but it is also very developed in the sense that there are a copious amount of restaurants and shops,” Link said in an email. “There is always something new to try, see, or do.” 

Link is living with a host family and said she is surprised by how much her French is improving. 

“I came to Aix with only a few semesters of experience in French, but through the constant exposure you get by living with a host family, I feel that I have greatly improved in just a matter of weeks,” she said. 

Greer Gordon, ‘20: Barcelona, Spain

Greer Gordon is currently taking four classes in Spain this semester: intermediate Spanish, global marketing and culture of FC Barcelona, “Between Tolerance & Conflict: Muslims, Christians, & Jews in the Iberian Peninsula” and “Barcelona: The City and Its History.”

Gordon said she loves how Barcelona gives her the chance to practice Spanish and to explore the city’s different neighborhoods like El Born and the Gothic Quarter and the nearby beach. 

Greer Gordon, ’20, during a weekend trip to Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. Photo courtesy of Greer Gordon.

“Barcelona is also pretty centrally located compared to other cities in Spain and it’s very easy to find flights to different places in Europe,” Gordon said in an email.

Gordon said she has definitely experienced a bit of a culture shock. 

“I’m surprised at how much I miss the US, not from being homesick, but I just have a greater appreciation of how much we have and how much we take for granted,” she said. 

Sloan Warner, ‘20: Sydney, Australia

Sloan Warner is studying at the University of New South Wales this semester in Sydney, Australia. He took a negotiations class for a month and is now taking three other classes: world literature, introduction to development, and marketing. 

Warner said his favorite part about Sydney is the immense culture that’s engrained everywhere in the city. 

“I have been here since January 4 and I don’t feel like I’ve come close to doing all that Sydney has to offer,” Warner said in an email. “Nearly every day it seems I come across a new cool thing to do or suburb to check out.”

Sloan Warner, ’20, poses with KP Rurka, ’20, and Elena Kruse, ’20, at Milford Sound in New Zealand. Photo courtesy of Sloan Warner.

He said he also appreciates the accessibility to world class beaches as well as the downtown Central Business District. 

Warner added that one of the most unexpected things so far is that the University of New South Wales and almost every other university are mostly commuter schools. 

“There are 50,000 [plus] students who attend UNSW, but only a small fraction lives on campus with me,” he said. “So the campus culture is not similar to W&L in the least.”

Lauren Fredericks, ‘20: Muscat, Oman

Lauren Fredericks is currently working as an intern for the U.S. Department of State at the U.S. Embassy in Muscat, Oman. 

Fredericks is one of three interns, with each intern being in a different section of the embassy. She said that Oman has a medium-size embassy, which she said translates into there being plenty of interesting people to meet. 

“I have gotten the chance to meet with most section heads and many FSO’s (Foreign Service Officers) in various stages of their careers,” Fredericks said in an email. “I was also fortunate enough to be at the Embassy when the Secretary of State visited Oman, which was very exciting for us.”

 Fredericks said she has been overwhelmed by the amount of exploring there is to do in Oman. Every weekend she had been able to go on a new adventure, whether that be desert camping, exploring a wadi (a valley, usually with water), or snorkeling. 

“I have described myself as being in a constant state of frenzy because there is simply too much to do in this country in the short amount of time that I have,” Fredericks said. 

 She added that Omanis are kind and welcoming people, and it is not out of the ordinary to have an Omani family approach you and invite you into their home to meet their family and have coffee and dates.