Even in the fourth year of the summer trip to Kiplin Hall, English Department Chair Dr. Richard Gillin found himself re-organizing his plans in May and June.
"We weren't sure if we could make the trip this year due to the outbreak of hoof and mouth disease in England this past summer. Up until the last minute we were making phone calls and double-checking everything to see what was open for tourists and what was not."
Gillin continued, "North Yorkshire was the epicenter of infection, but luckily the government lifted bans in the area, and we got to do new things. We learned some new routes to climb the mountains, as well as spending two days in Scotland for the first time - staying in a 150-year old dormitory at St. Andrew's University (where everyone got their own room) and spending the day in Edinburgh. We even saw the golf course."
Regarding the health risks and dietary changes of the trip, Gillin simply stated, "We stayed out of the areas that were quarantined, we ate a lot of chicken and learned to love vegetables. Since we do all of our cooking for the group together, we knew everything was safe."
Dr. Gillin plans a trip for a small group of students to visit England's North Yorkshire and the Lake District every summer from late June until early July to study the works of William Wordsworth, the Bronte sisters, as well as Sir Walter Scott and Burns.
His wife, Barbara, assists as a second chaperone, another chauffeur for van travel as well as head cook for the group. Class is held everyday to discuss the works in a natural setting. He encourages everyone to apply, no matter his or her major.
The three-week, four-credit English literature course is certainly unique. Kiplin Hall is the ancestral home of the Calvert family, the founders of Maryland. The University of Maryland converted part of the stables into a study center for students, with only three shared bedrooms.
Gillin explained that there are plans to expand it over the next few years: "The Maryland Historical Society holds the lease to the building. They plan to develop it to hold larger groups of students, educators and others interested in the site."
Just last May, renovations were completed on the main building and most rooms were re-assembled with the period furniture; the grounds and gardens were being tended while the students were there.
Junior Shane Brill commented, "Traversing the English countryside, romping through the Scottish highlands, and exploring quaint villages, ancient castles and the miracle of human connection - I loved it all."
The group of twelve students, according to Gillin, "was intrepid, with plenty of spirit. I think most of them were surprised by the physicality of the trip. You have to either be physically fit or have a positive mental attitude throughout the experience. I think it was also one of the calmest groups I've ever had. Nothing went wrong - there were no problems with broken-down vans, unlike the trip of 2000. We went through four of them!"
Sophomore Julia Paradiso said, "Whether climbing some of the highest mountains in the country to the gentle laughter at the dinner table, surrounded by new friends, I have learned much about myself as a student and person."
Junior Meredith Scherer also enjoyed her trip: "The best parts of the trip were going to the abbeys. You experienced a peaceful feeling the minute you entered the grounds. The ruins at Rievaulx were especially gorgeous."
"My Kiplin Hall odyssey was one that I will never forget. All of the people on our trip made it that much better. Of all the places we visited during our three-week adventure, and we went to a lot of different places, I enjoyed hiking up the mountains. They were hard and challenging, but so worth it in the good company of our group," added Junior Tom Palazzo.
Dr. Gillin will be sending out an e-mail regarding interest in this summer's sojourn to the student body shortly. Students can contact him by phone or through Blitzmail. The cost of the trip includes airfare, travel by van, food and lodging. It is possible for students to seek a grant from the Society of Junior Fellows to cover the cost.
He stated, "I think we have the greatest insight into the work of Wordsworth when we're there. The landscape serves as the world's greatest classroom."