This summer Silvio Curtis (Classical Languages M.A. candidate) used his Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Award and a Devaux Graduate Travel Award to study at Leiden University. Here's a bit about his adventure!
This summer I traveled to the Netherlands to participate in the Summer School of Languages and Linguistics organized by Leiden University, thanks to funding from the Graduate School Dean’s Award and our department’s Devaux Fund. I took courses on Comparative Indo-European Poetics and Mythology, Reading Tocharian Texts, The Homeric Kunstsprache (artistic dialect), and The Hittite Language. Studying Hittite was a particularly unique opportunity, since it’s one of the oldest recorded Indo-European languages but it isn’t normally taught at UGA. It’s allowing me to write an MA thesis on hospitality type-scenes in Homer and Hittite mythological texts, and it also turned out to be helpful for a conference paper I’m working on about the Indo-European etymology of δόλος. Besides, I can now face down marauding Hittite time travelers with lines from my homework exercises, like zik=ma=z DUMU-as! nu ŪL kuitki sakti! naḫsarnusi=ma=mu ŪL! (You are a child! You know nothing! You do not impress me!). Apparently that quotation is almost the same as one from the Game of Thrones TV show – at least that was my classmate’s explanation of why she cracked up translating it.
The professors were Indo-Europeanists from Leiden and other European universities. My fellow students were mostly European, but some came from places further afield, like Australia or Japan. Quite a few people were professors in some classes and students in others, but the majority of students were grad students like me, and there were even a few undergrads. I don’t even know how many times people asked me if I was Italian because of my name. For the record, I have no known historical connection to Italy! And when you mentioned Georgia, you had to remember to specify whether you meant the US state or the nation, especially since the Summer School had a course in Georgian. UGA isn’t an obscure name, though; quite a few people remembered students from our Linguistics Program who had gone to the Summer School in recent years.
I regretted that attending classes, doing homework, going to evening lectures and socializing with fellow students and professors afterward left no time for exploring the rest of Leiden. It’s roughly the same size city as our Athens and didn’t look all that different on the surface. One novelty was having so much water everywhere. I crossed the Rhine every day on my way to classes and back, and you won’t walk five minutes without seeing canals or ponds, all well populated with ducks, swans, seagulls, and often humans in boats. I loved it, but not all students appreciated having talkative seagulls outside their window in the early morning! You can see that the city doesn’t depend on cars nearly as much as Athens, with wide, well-used bike lanes on every street and buses running every day including weekends. I took a half-hour bus ride out to the beach the Sunday morning after classes ended and flew back to Georgia that same afternoon.