Land and Lit: The Grand Opening to My Golden Years at Hillsdale
Written by Madison Moore
“The Land and Literature of England: A Muse of Fire” trip in the summer of 2014 was the perfect precursor to my college career at Hillsdale. It was the summer before my freshman year, and I had committed to studying here, but I needed a warm-up to the daunting and fateful world of college.
The Land and Lit trip undoubtedly eased my worry.
Students on the trip stayed in dorms on campus, met college faculty members, and attended lectures in one of the academic buildings many of us would attend class in soon thereafter. I was amazed at how quickly the students established close bonds within the first few days.
English had always been my best class in high school, but I must admit it did not become one of my chief interests until well into my time here. The Land and Lit trip contributed to that budding love for literature. From Windsor Castle with its grand state rooms, which include artwork that is not infrequently featured on Penguin Classics book covers, to Warwick Castle, which, incidentally, was celebrating the city’s eleven hundredth anniversary while we were there, all the way to Stratford-Upon-Avon, Oxford, Bath, Canterbury, Tintern Abbey in Wales, and London, those ten days abroad showed us some of the richest history the western world can offer.
I believe every single person I asked agreed that Tintern Abbey was their favorite destination, myself included. I will leave the magic of that peculiar place to explain itself to its visitors. But, other than the relationships developed in the course of these adventures, I must say our visits to the city of Oxford left the most lasting impression on the course of my college career. I remember one evening wearing my new Oxford University crewneck as we boarded the bus to return to our hotel. Al Philipp, the illustrious and seemingly all-knowing guide who traveled with us from Hillsdale, commented on it, and I vowed to him: “Some day I will come back to study here. You’ll see.” In a wonderful turn of events, and long after I had forgotten my promise, I did return, studying the works of John Milton—one of the authors we read on the Land and Lit trip—at Oxford University for six weeks in a summer of growth and maturity that will, I suspect, go unmatched for most of my life.
When I returned to campus a few months after the Land and Lit trip, I found myself feeling a lot more at ease than many of my freshman friends. Campus was no longer unfamiliar, I already knew a few members of the faculty, and I considered some of the individuals on that trip close friends.
I would encourage any high-school student with a desire to learn in a more rigorous atmosphere, whether attending Hillsdale in the future or not, to jump on this opportunity. Your fellow students will be a joy to travel with, the faculty will teach you more than you thought possible in a couple of weeks, and in the end, this trip will foster growth that will prepare anyone for life in a college atmosphere. It certainly did so for me.
Madison Moore, ’18, is an English major at Hillsdale College.