Ellen WattsEllen Watts
Public Relations Officer, Alpha Alpha Upsilon Chapter
University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC

Ellen’s blog was selected 1st Place in the 2014 Convention Story Contest.


“Definitely going to miss this view. See you soon, Savannah.”

This caption accompanied my Instagram photo that showcased the scenery from my hotel balcony. I couldn’t leave Sunday without taking one last picture of the boats gliding along with the river current and the bridge standing tall in the background.

Savannah Picture

This was my second trip to Savannah, so I already knew I adored this city. History is embedded in the cobblestone streets. Music gets tangled in the moss lazing in the trees. Charm is in no short supply amongst the trolleys, shops, restaurants, and people. Walking throughout the city it is easy to see why so many writers have been inspired by Savannah.

The final weekend of February ushered in a new generation of writers to Savannah. These people were often easily spotted due to the matching name tags or because they wore a cool English themed button or shirt picked up at the merchandise tables. The days spent exploring the city and filtering in and out of convention rooms offered the opportunity to meet with these Sigma Tau Delta members.

Throughout the sessions, students shared their scholarship and creative works, and invited the audience into conversations that expanded knowledge and broadened perspectives. These conversations often did not stop just because the sessions ended. I would notice that as we cleared the rooms for the next sessions to start, small groups would form continuing the thoughts brought up in the closing question and answer periods.

It was an incredible experience to interact with others who share the same love of language and literature that I do. Part of this interaction came during the business meeting. Surprisingly, it was one of the most entertaining sessions of the entire convention.

The roll call that kicked off the meeting shed a little light onto the personalities of each chapter as they proudly announced they were present. Both large and small chapters had unique group cheers or clever slogans and sometimes even choreographed moves. The creativity of English majors could be clearly seen and heard.

I wish I could have captured the energy and enthusiasm in that room and shared it with Instagram. The photo and two sentences that I posted did not begin to cover my experiences at convention. The city, the people, and the conversations all added up to one wonderful weekend.

On Studying Abroad

Donald Brownby Donald Brown
Xi Kappa Chapter, Mississippi State University
Winner of the 2012-2013 Study Abroad Scholarship

I probably learned more during my study abroad experience at the University of Oxford than I have during my whole time living in the U.S. Learning to adjust to their culture gave me a great understanding of who I was, and who I am, as an American. By the time I was beginning to make Oxford my home, it was time to go back to America. I will, however, be returning next year for graduate studies.

During my time there (Trinity Term), I was able to experience the Oxbridge Tutorial system in which I met with a professor, John Ballam, once a week. I would read a play (e.g., Antony and Cleopatra, Othello, Merchant of Venice, etc), write an essay, and then would meet and discuss the essay I wrote. The intellectual community at the oldest university in the English-speaking world is, to say the least, exceptional.

dbrown-blog-pic1I also got to travel around England. Stonehenge is amazing. Though I went to London three times, I still feel like I only saw one-fourth of the city. I love visiting museums, and there are tons to go to there. In fact, many of them are free! From Westminster Abbey to Windsor Castle to the Roman baths in Bath, England, the whole country amazed me. However, I must say the most amazing thing about my study abroad time was the pervasive sense of history that looms over England like a warm ghost.

I encourage anyone who has not gone out of the country to do so. You will be sure to learn a great deal about yourself, America, and the world-at-large.

Learn more about Donald’s study abroad experience on his blog, On the Grand Tour.

Applications for the Spring 2014 Study Abroad Scholarship are due April 1.

Parlez–vous touriste?

rwilloughbyby Russell Willoughby
Sigma Tau Delta Study Abroad Scholarship Winner
Phi Xi Chapter, University of Alabama

Though it seems like hardly a month ago, it has been almost a year since I applied for the Sigma Tau Delta Study Abroad Scholarship for a year-long program in Paris, France. The generous award funded no small portion of my program and expenses in what we all know as an (outrageously) pricey locale. Living in a city that remains—for so many people, spanning so many periods—a paradigm of glamour, culture, and exploration is, most days, incredibly daunting. There’s just something about Paris: a world capital that was both a haven for the intellectual bohemian set of the 1920s and a beacon of couture, the city somehow seems to revel in dichotomies, while also defying them.

Loire Valley region of France

Loire Valley region of France

Now that I am at the half-way mark (!) of my year-long program, I am able to rattle off recommendations for restaurants and arrondissements and bookstores and order my lunch with minimal embarrassment; yet, try as I might, I will never be able to fully remove my Americanness in favor of a haute couture French identity. But I don’t want to! Though I can call myself resident, I don’t underestimate the humbling power of also being touriste. Some of my best conversations with actual residents (i.e. Real Live French People) have been centered on a mutual eagerness to know each other’s cultures. The French have a reputation of being frosty to ex-pats and tourists alike, but my experiences have only been warm and—even more importantly—authentic.

Houses in Strasbourg, France

Houses in Strasbourg, France

More than focusing on having a “traditional study abroad experience” (whatever that means), I strongly encourage anyone considering it  to approach not only the decision but also everything that follows with a YES mentality, even—especially!—to the point of discomfort. Thanks to my new-found freedom from the fear of “awkward” (fittingly, there is no true translation in French) I have friends here from France, Belarus, Taiwan, Tunisia, Georgia (the country), Israel, Jordan, Sweden, and beyond. In Paris I’ve lost the comfort of college-town cloisters, but I’ve gained a sense of belonging that transcends country borders.

Applications for the Spring 2014 Study Abroad Scholarship are due April 1.