This is a weekly installment in a series of blog posts submitted by a team of Centre College students studying away or abroad throughout the spring semester. Learn more about Centre’s nation-leading study abroad program, a guarantee of the Centre Commitment.
Clayton Bell (Liberty Township, Ohio), a sophomore planning to major in mathematics, is a member the football team and the New Horizons program at Centre, an initiative that helps promote campus diversity. Throughout the semester, Bell will be providing a series of blog posts detailing his study abroad experience in Strasbourg, where he is doing a home-stay with a local family. He says he chose to study abroad in France, because he’s always wanted to “experience the amazing architecture, language, food and other aspects of their culture.” Bell plans to attend graduate school after Centre.
I’ve been in Strasbourg for just over a month now, and it still continues to be a life changing experience. As each day passes, I bond more and more with my homestay family (sorry, mom), as well as the other Centre students on the trip. I also am really starting to adapt to the way of life Europe has to offer. In the past month I have seen so many things, from castles and churches, to new remarkable cities and towns that I have only dreamed of visiting. Two very unique cities that I fell in love with right when I arrived were Paris and Amsterdam.
Right when we stepped off of the train in Paris, I knew I had just discovered my favorite city in the world. It was absolutely stunning; there was something to see around every single corner. The first landmark we visited was the Sacré-CœurBasilica, which is a Roman Catholic church. It was a beautiful building with a great deal of history behind it, including depictions of Catholicism in the form of paintings and statues in and outside of the church. Next, we ventured to the renowned La Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower)—it is simply hard to find the words to describe how spectacular it was. Pictures do not do the La Tour Eiffel justice; it is an amazing national symbol. We unfortunately did not get to ascend up to the top because of strong winds at the time, but that made it no less spectacular. The next destination was not as well known, but holds a special place in my heart. We walked the famed street, Les Champs-Élysées, which leads up at my favorite destination in Paris—L’Arc de Triomphede l’Étoile. Walking up to it and seeing it with my own eyes for the first time was an experience I will never forget. That ended the first day of our trip, and so much had already happened, I was excited to see what the rest of the adventure had in store. We visited many other landmarks, including the eerie Catacombs of Paris, Musée d’Orsey, Musée de Louvre, Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris, and numerous other monuments.
The weekend after Paris, my journey to Amsterdam commenced. It was a long bus ride to the Netherlands, but it was 100 percent worth the trip. Amsterdam is a beautiful but also very unique city because of how the streets are arranged. Canals run throughout the city with an abundant amount of bridges that make navigation quite easy. Another interesting thing about Amsterdam is that the city is set up for cycling. Around every corner there were countless number of bikes—more than double what I saw in Strasbourg. It was so cool to see! While in Amsterdam, I also met up with two of my friends who are in the London study abroad program, and we had a great time. We took some canal tours and visited the Rijksmuseum, which houses historical Dutch and European art, as well as the modern art museum. All in all, it was an amazing trip, and I am very happy I got the chance to experience what Amsterdam has to offer!
The monuments, the buildings and the cities were all amazing, but as I look back and reflect on all of the experiences I have had thus far, I realize they have all been so great because of the people that have been around me. The relationships that are being developed during this trip are really going to be the best part about it. I have met and connected with so many new people, whether they are from Centre College, my family, or even some locals of Strasbourg. They all have had a profound impact on me, and I am so grateful I still have more time left in Europe to continue to develop them!
by Clayton Bell ’21
March 22, 2019