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TBS Trip Documented by Paul Jung ’20

By Lizzy Moore on October 30, 2017

This interview was conducted with Paul Jung, a sophomore in the Benton Scholars Program intending to major intending to major Mathematical Economics and minor in Film and Media Studies. This past summer, Paul made a video documenting the Benton Scholars’ trip to France, Belgium, Germany, and Russia.

What drove you to make a video documenting the Benton trip?
I’ve always been interested in film, but I never had any experience. Before the trip, I got a job at the Digital Learning and Media Center as a media mentor, and I talked with my boss to see if i could possibly borrow a video camera, tripods and equipment. I haven’t really travelled before and I was excited. I wanted to make something for the Bentons so that there’s always something for us to look back on and remember. I also wanted to get some experience in video editing and I thought this would be a great opportunity. This was the first time I’d done something like this, so I felt a little awkward. But I’m glad I did it and I’m pretty proud of it.

What did you learn about videography as a result of this project?
I learned that audio is such an important part- if the sound is bad on a video, you automatically don’t want to watch it. During the interview portion of the video, I had to figure out how to properly place the mic on people so that the audio quality was good. I also learned that video editing was a lot more time intensive than I expected. I probably ended up spending about 50 hours in total on editing the video because I was learning how to use Final Cut Pro as I was editing. The biggest thing I got away from it is how fun it is and I realized that’s something I want to do more of in the future.

At the end of the video, you interview each of the Bentons, asking them about their favorite part of the trip. What was your favorite part of the trip?
Experiencing different cultures, talking with local people, making connections from random conversations- I’ve never been to Europe so this was a new experience. And I just liked spending time with everyone.

“XYZ with Q”1: Language exchange with DAAD Graduate Scholarship winner Joshua Smeltzer ’12

By Quanzhi Guo on September 22, 2015

In the blog series XYZ with Q, Quanzhi “Q” Guo ’18 visits current and former Benton Scholars to learn about their interests, passions, and accomplishments. In this post, Q did a language exchange and interviewed Benton alumnus Josh Smeltzer ’12, who currently resides in Hamburg, Germany.


Language exchange session with Josh via Skype

Language exchange session with Josh via Skype

Learning a foreign language is hard, and German can be particularly hard with its grammatical gender and winding words, like “Entschuldigung Sie bitte” for “excuse me.” However, my language exchange with Benton Scholar alumnus Joshua Smeltzer ’12 (Josh) over Skype was not as painful as I thought.

It was, to be frank, fun to do some muscle workouts for my mouth, and Josh’s experience as a teacher definitely helped. A former Fulbright fellow, he taught English for nine months at a German high school before he started a Master of Science in Politics, Economics and Philosophy at the University of Hamburg. Recently, he received a DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Graduate Scholarship, which covered the cost of living and insurance for his master degree.

To me, Germany has always been on my list of “Top 10 Countries to Visit” for its romantic castles, spirit-lifting cultures, and…Rittersport! But Josh’s interest in Germany was not sparked until he was in Colgate’s Freiburg German study group. “It changed my direction. I felt that I wanted to come back to Germany again,” he said.

Now he lives in Hamburg, and he likes it a lot for its greenness and cleanliness, “unlike the odor that never leaves NYC,” we both laughed.

“The government is very welcoming. Even for non-citizens, the tuition is free,” he said. I asked him why Germany could be so open to foreigners. As in the recent refugee crisis, Germany has been a beacon of hope for many desperate refugees and migrants.

“In Germany, immigrants still pay more for the social service they receive than the benefits they gain. The government also needs young people to come and stay, because of the ageing population and the low birth rate,” he said.

Despite having lived in Germany for more than three years, Josh still experiences some culture shock. “The second time I went back, when I ate breakfast with my host family, I was piling up my bread like a sandwich. To them that was totally unbelievable, as they usually stack it with only a piece of cheese,” he chuckled, and I felt appreciative about the make-it-yourself sandwich bar at Frank.

In terms of academics, the class experience is also very different. “There is less sense of community. You go to class, then leave, and there is no extra-curricular activity. At the master level, we have about 35 students in a class, so there is definitely less attention from the professors. The professors are also more lecture-oriented,” he said.

When he looks back, he thinks the most valuable thing he picked up at Colgate is critical thinking. “I notice that people in my program who go to liberal arts colleges tend to be more critical to the texts than people who go through the German system.”

And a walk down the memory lane can never be complete with a piece of advice. Here is what Josh offers: “Try to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible to hear different ideas, from faculty dinners to guest lectures. For me, it is also about being open to new experience. It was not until I was in Moscow with Professor Nancy Ries on our Benton trip to Russia that I started to think about a PCON major. I was asking her about what I should major in, because I wanted to do English but did not quite like it, and she said ‘why don’t you give PCON a try.’ I was really glad I took her advice in my sophomore year and gave it a shot.”

Tschüß and Danke Josh for the fun German-learning and sharing! Good luck for your new adventures through DAAD!

About XYZ with Q, and a spoiler: in the next post, I will be doing DJ with Mark Maggiore’18, so stay tuned!