“Dear Mama, I just made it to Bratislava. All is well. Love, Field.”

“My baby boy, you are really something else. You are going to places I have never even heard of. :) I am so proud of you. Have fun. Love, Mama.”

This is a portion of an iMessage exchange that transpired between me and my mom about a month ago as I traveled with two friends in Central Europe. We went to Prague, Vienna, and then Bratislava. I didn’t tell my mom in the message, but I had never heard of Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia, more than two months ago.

I was traveling with Serbian-American who went to the University of California-Berkeley and knows eight languages—and is in the process of learning his ninth and tenth (i.e. Arabic and Russian)—and a Hispanic-American who went to Harvard, knows three languages, and has interned for two of the most powerful senators in America, Corey Booker and Bob Menendez.

It is an understatement to say that, when I entered college I would have never imagined that I would be traveling around Central Europe due to money given to me for academic success. And not only that, I would have never imagined that I would be travelling with the people I just described, or that I would call them true friends for life.

However, due to my time at Mississippi State, and more particularly, my participation in the Honors College, I have, at the ripe age of twenty-three, done things I would have never thought possible in my whole lifetime. I have eaten a pastel de nata in Lisbon before going to see one of the best athletes in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo, and the rest of Portuguese national team, defeat Serbia in a UEFA Euro Cup qualifying match. I have to pinch myself to this day to make sure it is all real.

Since getting the Rhodes scholarship, I have traveled to ten countries, and I presently write this from Montpellier, France, where I have been sent to learn French for the research I will be doing over the next year on a group of American writers who moved to Paris after World War II. For the next few months, I will be living in Paris doing that research. As my first year comes to a close, I have realized that the Rhodes means more than just Oxford, even though that would be enough to suffice. It has opened up the world to me, literally, through the friends from all around the world I have made, and the places I have traveled.

It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am grateful to be on this journey.

Sincerely yours,
Donald “Field” Brown