The task? Write an article telling us why you’ve chosen to study in a particular place. It sounds simple enough, but we were looking for something special.
The entries we received spanned the globe and were brimming with passion and enthusiasm. But the one you’re about to read really grabbed our attention. It was engaging and enlightening in equal measure. It’s all about the historic state of Virginia in the USA.
Many congratulations to James Bruce of Exeter University, winner of the 2017 Holiday Lettings Study Abroad Scholarship and £500 towards his studies!
Here’s his wonderful winning article. Take a look and see if you’re tempted to book a stay in Virginia…
To study abroad is not just to study in another country, but it is to study the country itself. You choose your university based not just on its academic virtue, but primarily the area of which you will be studying in and the history it holds. What sparks an interest in migrating to another country is the culture that excites you, the landscape which intrigues you and the people that entice you.
I chose to study in America at Emory and Henry College, Virginia.
Now, Virginia isn’t a celebrity state. America has Texas and its cowboy ridden deserts. It has Florida and its sandy, muscle-laden beaches. California, ‘The Blockbuster State’, has its celebrity nest of Hollywood, and Hawaii has its attractive tropical magnetism. The list goes on.
Virginia, on the other hand, well, Virginia was somewhat of an education for me and after reading and researching my way through countless web resources and history books, I came to realise that the dark horse of American states was staring me in the face with an offer that I could not refuse.
Here, I could describe the tourist’s eye view: go through the stunning landscapes; the variety of activities on offer in the area; explicate the trials and tribulations of their beloved American Football Team ‘The Virginia Cavaliers’, or spout about the University’s brilliant track record both academically and recreationally. I could even talk about the quirky ‘Go Wasps!’ t-shirts that you receive and the trivialities of the food and the rooms.
However, I am not going to do that. Instead I’m going to explain the reasons why I’ve chosen to travel the 3,800 miles from my humble village home in Lancashire and board a tin bird for over a day in search of a new experience. What really inspired me to go was the history. The history of the place, of the people, of the religion which was inspired over generations, and of the tribes which dwelt there before European imperialist ‘exploration’ or invasion.
As an English student, history and context assumes a large part of my learning as it is history which explains why people write the way they write, create the things they create, and think the way they think. Thus, it was the history which I looked into first because, after all, the past helps form the present.
Virginia is a place that’s seen the Spanish search for gold, British acquisition of land, the 1622 massacre by natives, the installation of tobacco slave plantations, the original Christian colony of 1619 instilling its faith, the 1861 civil war, West Virginia’s separation and independence, rapid railroad and industrial growth during WW2, and Cold War participation in the ‘space race’ after Project Mercury’s initiation in Virginia’s Langley Research Centre. All this is merely a glance at the area’s history.
Yes, all states have history. But Virginia isn’t popular history; it’s a widespread history I’ve never learnt before. A history I look forward to learning.