Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Stepping back in time. Well sort of...

Well I have managed to survive my first two weeks at Purdue, with one week of classes now completed as well. I am taking an interesting selection of papers, and so far I have found the class set-up to be similiar to New Zealand, though my assessments are quite different. Instead of essays I have quite a few small tests during the semester which should be a little easier. This is reflected in the grading scale which requires a much higher mark to pass.

However, the highlight of this week was probably a trip I took yesterday (which was a public holiday for Martin Luther King's birthday) to Shipshewana which is the centre of an Amish community. For anyone interested, here is a website: Shipshewana or for more information on the Amish people It was an interesting experience though it appeared to highlight some contradictions in the community. We started with a trip to an RV manufacturer ( in Topeka which was not the most interesting part for me I admit, though I was intrigued as the business employed a large number of Amish workers who appeared to have no problem with using electricity and other modern technology whilst working. I'm yet to understand why they are comfortable with that, but strive for such a simple life in the home.

Two men working on the carpentry at the RV factory.
The finished product: a top of the line version of what they were making at the RV factory. More details here:

Welcome to winter in Indiana.

After the RV trip we grabbed lunch at a diner which once again was staffed and patroned by many Amish visitors who seemed to enjoy making the most of electricity and other technologies, but whom still rode in their horse and buggy to the restaurant.

A common sight in the community, the horse and buggy is the only mode of transport for Amish families.
We opted for a slightly different form of transport, group shot time.

Moving on, we visited a Mercantile in Shipshewena - this was basically a small mall in the village. Davis Mercantile included a variety of shops, ranging from handcrafted goods, especially quilts, to outdoors shops and other gift shops.

A selection of fabric available at one of the shops, with a particular emphasis on quilting.

A gift shop which featured an array of handcrafted quilts.

From the Mercantile, we headed to Menno Hof - a visitors centre designed to explain the story of the Amish and Mennonite people. It was incredibly well done, and an interesting look at the background of these religions. However, at many times it did a good job of oversimplifying the story - though I guess that is to be expected when such a broad overview is delivered.

Outside the Menno Hof.

Self potrait time.
After the Menno Hof, our large group descended on an Amish family home where we were provided with a home cooked meal - all created from scratch and without electricity. Unfortunately I was hungry, so ate instead of taking photos. However, the food was great, simple fare. From mashed potatoes and gravy, to fried chicken (still not sure how this was done without electricity) and homemade bread and salad. Dessert was a selection of pies: cherry, apple and banana cream - I opted for the latter option and it was tasty. The women who created the meal runs a business doing banquets and explained she had awoken at 3.30am that morning so she could do the laundry and then started preparing the meal - I think I would rather make the most of electricity myself!

All in all it was a fascinating experience, and has prompted me to spend more time reading into the ideas of these people. However, I will struggle to understand their reasonings as their concept of a simpler life does not really appeal to me.

This week is shaping up to be a busy one, but I will try and post again soon.


  1. After an early wake up call of 5.1 mag at only 10km deep this was a welcome distraction:-) Thanks Anna.

  2. Neat to read about your experiences Anna, keep it up :0)

  3. Hi Anna, love reading about your experience sounds crazy alright in Amish land. Self portrait looks like your really really cold : )