1991 January 4

Junior Year Abroad

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etg considers the the Italian coast near Portofino in his flag-emblazoned denim jacket

Junior year of college is a fascinating time of transition. The exhilarating freedom of the freshman and sophomore years has passed, but the sobering proximity to the Real World faced by seniors has not yet arrived. You have a sense of your future direction, but not your exact route. You have learned enough to be intelligent, but lack the experience to have earned wisdom.

Junior year, therefore, is a time of identity-building; a time to dream. At least, it was for me. (YMMV) My junior year started off ordinarily enough, but took a significant turn when I applied in October to join the spring Yale in London program. I hadn’t previously expected to do junior year abroad, mostly because I’d already spent three years living and studying in the USSR during what would have been my junior high school years. But two things changed my mind.

First, I discovered that a terrific professor from my Acting Shakespeare class (Murray Biggs) would be teaching half of the Yale in London courses. Second, my good friend Jacob Davenport announced that he was taking an internship at a lab in Cambridge, England.

Jacob wasn’t my oldest friend—in fact, we’d only gotten to know each other during the last half of senior year at Bethesda Chevy-Chase High School. But through him, I met a core group of peers who would remain among my closest friends for the next quarter-century. He also reintroduced me to contract bridge, a game I had tried to teach myself by perusing some bridge books of my dad’s. I was convinced the game was impossible to understand until Jacob invited me to sit in on an actual game during our high school graduation rehearsal.

I was accepted into the program, and (concerns over air travel in the wake of the Gulf War notwithstanding) flew to London in January 1991.