One of Spanish customs I have had to adjust to but appreciate the most is eating, rather the manner of eating. We often take it for granted at home, but sitting down to share a meal with family or friends daily is an important part of the day I in my experience in Madrid these past couple of months. In the United States when everybody is home, we do eat dinner together and enjoy sharing our days but often in the rush of work, plans at night with friends, or exhaustion we quickly wrap up and head in our own directions. ...continue reading "Sit, down, relax…and eat"
My prompt this week asks me to talk about a custom from my country that I think the US should adopt. While not a "custom," per se, there is one big thing that the Czech Republic does better than the US: money. No, I don't mean the Czech Republic is richer than the United States, or that their spending habits are better, or that Czech monetary policy is better than America's. I mean that their actual money, their cash, is so much better than ours, for several reasons. ...continue reading "Dollars and Crowns"
So, uhm, newsflash: London has a pretty fine street treat here that I would like to see directly exported to the United States.
Back in American cities there’s the hotdog and the pretzel and that’s pretty much it. There’s a huge level of shame that comes from standing out in the sun and staring at a cart for ten minutes and then going up and saying “Hot dog, please….and these chips…..how much is a soda? Okay. Yeah. Thanks.” It really shouldn’t be shameful at all, we all know it’s unhealthy but sometimes a honey needs some chips and a soda.
Here, however, there’s NO SHAME in street eating. There’s a bit of fun in it, really. ...continue reading "Reasons to Live: Sausage Rolls"
When people find out that I'm studying abroad for an entire year, they always joke about how I get a "year-long vacation". However, I don't think that's the best description for it...I've learned so much in the past four months. I also don't think any text book or travel channel could teach me the valuable lessons I've learned while in Singapore. Three ways that studying abroad has helped me is through adaptability, self-sufficiency and self-reliance. ...continue reading "What I learned from studying abroad"
My program managers made it clear from the beginning: "We're here for you, but you're on your own." I think that this a truth that some students may have trouble coming to terms with, that they're expected to suddenly rise to the occasion and keep themselves alive and well as a direct result of their own efforts and abilities (in a place with language barriers and strange customs, no less). In most cases, luckily enough, I think the experience of being a college student does most of the work for us, so it's a matter of tweaking the model and applying that to someplace foreign and undiscovered. ...continue reading "How to Adapt in St. Petersburg (and Otherwise)"
Part of the reason I chose to study abroad in Buenos Aires was because I knew the cultural customs would be a bit different than in the US. Because of the European influence, which seems to come up in just about every blog post, the Argentine customs are more similar to those of the Europeans (especially Italians and Spanish) than other South American customs. A common and more noticeable cultural trait, is that the Argentines are often more open and emotional than the average American. They can sometimes be blunt, and very few topics are off limits; they will gladly talk about politics, relationships, scandal, etc. I definitely respect their ability to be very forward and honest. ...continue reading "Cultural Variety"
Italy, the land of bistecca, and cozze, gelato and prosciutto has—miraculously—turned me into a vegetarian. Whenever my dietary restrictions come up in conversation I have a soft chuckle to myself before regaling my listeners with the harrowing tale of how I singlehandedly liberated an entire farm’s worth of innocent woodland creatures from a sadistic, blood-worshiping cult/sleeper-cell not two blocks from my home. The sick bastards planned on eating those doe-eyed does. Monsters.
Thing is though, I’m the farthest thing from a vegetarian. Unless barking or meowing, animals aren’t people, they’re food. The sadistic cult gathering I crashed? It was a barbecue festival. They wanted €30 to get in. Monsters.
I get away with telling stories like this primarily because these days I’m running on little more than bread, water, and the occasional bowl of Budget brand corn-flecks. I might splurge on some broccoli every now and then or maybe even—wait for it—a bag of potatoes when they go on sale for a single Euro (like today!), but even that is an extravagance that I must be wary of.
If you haven’t put two and two together yet, let me make my point clear: I’m ridiculously, hopelessly, unequivocally broker than broke. And somehow, I’m making it work.
...continue reading "We love our bread, we love our butter, but most of all…we can’t afford meat."
I touch down onto the tarmac wearing a scarf, hooded winter coat, and underneath it all a thick woven sweater. Now I'm hot. I think about all of the cold weather clothes that I packed with me and know I'm an idiot. I'm in Tunisia for christ's sake. I breathe in and can taste Africa on my lips.
Tunis smells like dust and sunshine and salt, like the sea. The breezes that blow through the trees carry with them tendrils of cigarette smoke and something much sweeter, shisha. I can hear the clanking of tongs not so far off even though the chairs I'm sitting in are much more comfortable than the Cairo ahua-style plastic seats that have become so familiar to me. Interlaced in this melee is also a soft murmur that flutters through everything. The language is complex at first, being a rapid-fire hybrid of Arabic and French, the two languages that I know separately, but never together. Never together. The words become easier to tear apart as time goes on, and the part of my brain that has worked so hard to compartmentalize languages by Wednesday has dissolved, like a rubber band released. I can now type in English what the members of these meetings are saying in French and sometimes Arabic at a nearly fluid rate and I feel good and proud and as if I have actually earned my living wage. ...continue reading "Ana bahib Tunis barsha barsha"
I have decided to extend my stay in Jordan to a year long stay; Jordan truly has become like home for me. I am incredibly connected to the people and Amman, I couldn't imagine leaving.
I am still volunteering at the Mubarrat Um El Hossain, and we are entering our seventh week of classes! I am beginning to really feel connected to the girls. They are always so eager to learn and ready to absorb new information. I try and keep the class light because in my opinion, no one wants to learn when they are bored! I hope I am having a positive impact on them. I will really miss them at the culmination of this volunteering experience. The staff at the Mubarrat has also been incredibly helpful. I feel like I can talk with them about anything. I am really grateful I found this experience. ...continue reading "Updates from Jordan- Protests and Pronouns!"
On Wednesday, November 7th, my exchange friends and I watched the election results from a TV lounge inside one of our residential halls. In all, there were fifteen of us from five different countries. Since Singapore is thirteen hours ahead of the US, we all met up around 9 AM to watch the news reports as the polls closed.
When most of the news networks announced that President Obama had won, my friends were all extremely happy. Several of my Singaporean friends also were excited about the results of the election. However, what I found most interesting was the fact that people were willing to skip classes and tutorials to watch the results with us.
Most of my friends were extremely curious to figure out how elections work in the US in terms of how the electoral college works, as well as what it means to be a majority in the House and Senate. Thus, a lot of the American students spent a majority of the morning explaining our political system, as well as how checks and balances work. ...continue reading "Election Results"