What was your favorite traveling experience?
I’ve been very lucky in my opportunities to travel; I’ve been on safari in Kenya, traveled down the Nile from Aswan to Luxor on a sail barge (which was very Agatha Christie, but without the ‘Death’!) I’ve also been to Russia, and regularly visit France and Germany.
I’m a historian and so I love places with history. I guess that’s why Florence and Siena stick in my mind. The latter in particular, with its huge cathedral, narrow medieval alleyways and the city hall – the Palazzo Pubblico – was just wonderful.
But, to be honest, my favorite travel experience is that of coming home. I’m very lucky to live among the rolling hills of south Wales, and to work in a beautiful and historic city; I still love to come back to its honey-colored streets.
What language have you always wanted to learn and why?
I’d love to improve my language skills overall – I can manage basic conversations in French and German, but would definitely like to be more fluent in both. If was to learn a new language, I think Swahili.
In part because I’d love to go back to Africa, but also (the academic talking again) it’s such a differently-constructed language from those of Western Europe, but built up of a mix of African dialects, Arabic, Portuguese and English – fascinating.
What changes would you make to the study abroad industry?
Apart from making more students come and study with us at ASE? I think I’d like to see Universities provide better support for directly-enrolled international students, both academically and culturally.
Being dropped into the midst of a foreign university and taking classes with students from another country is often a real sink-or-swim experience. It can be great – a real opportunity for personal growth and exploration, but it can also be quite tough – particularly if the learning and teaching styles are very different from what the student is used to.
It can also be isolating; it doesn’t always result in the international students mixing with native students, either. Without institutional support, international students can find themselves every bit as cut off from the culture they are visiting as those on a so-called ‘island program’, if not more so.