Normally when I travel I’m with other GW students from my program here in Madrid. We usually stay in hostels or hotels and we speak mostly in English. It’s great to travel with my friends and we always have such a great time. Recently, however, I traveled to Valencia for the Las Fallas Festival with my Flamenco teacher, Ana. Ana is absolutely the sweetest person, and she is an amazing dancer, too! My friend Jess (another GW student in my program), and Ana’s friend from Saudi Arabia, Rana, also traveled with us. My experience at Las Fallas and with Ana’s family was a once in a lifetime experience, and most definitely my favorite weekend of my study abroad experience. ...continue reading "Las Fallas"
This week I was fortunate enough to be visited by two very good friends from GW who have been having their own European adventures, but wanted to spend the weekend in Paris with me. It was probably the beautiful city and fantastic sites that inspired the visit, but I like to take some credit. I greeted Jo Jo from Florence and Haley from Copenhagen with open arms and pastries, and I spent the next few days with them as a tourist in my own city. ...continue reading "Where is everyone? Here"
As I am getting to know the students at the Oromo Center more, I am becoming more and more aware of their everyday lives (what they do and why). This considered when I think about what kind of vocab I should teach first in order for the conversations to be relevant to what they are doing. At first, everyone was new and there were never a guaranteed number of students that would show up each class, which made it hard to recognize any sort of pattern in each individual's lifestyle. I noticed they all play soccer every day at around the same time (timeliness is not hugely valued here culturally) and usually with the same people. It used to bother me that I did not know what each student did with his or her day and it bothered me that no one was conversational enough to explain what their lives were like to me. And that was the issue exactly. No one could communicate with me. And more importantly, they couldn't communicate with other refugees, even some from their own country. ...continue reading "Ethiopian refugees in Cairo…why English?"
April 1st: Discuss any updates with your volunteer work/research, any challenges you have faced, and any accomplishments you are particularly proud of. Have there been any current international or domestic issue that have affected your volunteer work/research, has your work become more relevant or has it been overshadowed? What kind of impact do you think you are making on the local community and do you think that impact will have a lasting affect?
The Waste Management Project has made a lot of progress in the past weeks, we are hoping to have the project fully completed by the end of April.
This past month has been all about making connections with the community.
Firstly, in order to start a project in Ni Boii Town you must send a ‘letter of intent’ to various individuals in the community including: the chief/ traditional leader, metro education and health offices, metro assembly, the Community Directed Development Association as well as school administrators. It’s all a simple formality for everyone in community to be aware of our work and to give them the opportunity to object or ask any questions. ...continue reading "sachets, sachets, sachets"
Finally I am getting settled into Rio. Last Friday, after several days of orientation at the university, I was all excited for my first visit to Meninas Mães. However, of all days, the bus workers’ union decided to go on strike that day, leaving me with no way to get an hour across the city to my destination! Fortunately, after 6 months in Brazil I was already accustomed to this kind of uncontrollable occurrence, which inevitably changes one’s plans. Long story short, I was unable to begin my long-term volunteer work this week; however, I took the opportunity to volunteer with Rio de Janeiro’s Central de Movimentos Populares (CMP) on International Women’s Day on March 8th. ...continue reading "Central de Movimentos Populares (CMP) on International Women’s Day"
It is that time of the year, Midterms. Study abroad midterms are no different than midterms in the states, they are no fun.
My midterm course load consisted of two take home midterms in Operations Management and International Banking Systems, a traditional midterm in my Belgium cultures class with multiple choice and short essay questions, a midterm in french, and my economics professor doesn't like conforming to traditional midterm operations. While this seems like a lot, it is completely doable. The perks of being abroad is not having club meetings and appointments. ...continue reading "STUDY abroad"
Although UCA did not cancel classes for Pope Francis's inaugural mass last Tuesday, they decided to start classes at 9:30 a.m. instead of their usual 7:45 a.m. I really wanted to watch the event, but I needed all the extra hours of sleep possible. Even though this was the second week of class, I felt a little more pressure because of something called the add-drop period.
At UCA, international students can sign up for classes in any faculty of their choosing. After their initial registration during orientation week, they are given until March 22 to decide their final schedule. As a GW student who has to figure out credit amounts and transfers, I was glad that I had time to shop around. As an international student, I am required to take a Spanish class. Furthermore, there are excellent courses in the Program of Latin American Studies (PEL) that are available to international students. But as a requirement for my GW program, I have to take two regular courses if I take a PEL course. Spanish does not count towards that requirement. Now I like the regular courses at UCA. In fact, this was one of the reasons I chose this program: direct enrollment with UCA students in their classes. The problem I had was finding the second course! ...continue reading "The Benefit of the Add-Drop Period"
Although Santiago is Chile's official capital, Congress convenes in the beautiful coastal town of Valparaiso. The structure of the building says a lot about democracy in Chile - from the crowd fences to control unruly spectators (yes, Congressional sessions are open to the public - and "communicating" with the floor is common practice) to the date it was built (during Pinochet's regime) to the proximity of a Catholic church (which shares the same grounds).
They say time flies, well time must be wearing a jet pack! I can not believe I have already been here for three months and only have one more month left! In three months I have: learned how to avoid being hit by crazy moped drivers, eaten my weight in pasta, can hold a decent conversation in Italian, and have crossed multiple borders. I guess in a sense I have accomplished alot and I am ready to see my friends and family. However, I am not sure if I want to go back to the states. ...continue reading "Time flies"
One of my greatest hesitations upon applying to my study abroad program was the idea of staying with a host family. Though I recognized that it would be the best way to improve my language skills and come to understand the French culture, I simply could not bring myself to look forward to moving in with a random family for five months. I met my host family three days after arriving in Paris and it has been a constant adventure since.
I live in a gorgeous and classically-Haussmann apartment in the 17th arrondissement, with a delightfully bizarre French family. My host mother works as a school teacher and is fantastic at explaining French culture and language when I become confused every few minutes during dinner conversation. My host father owns an antique toy store and behaves exactly as a grown man who owns a toy store ought to. It is more common for students to live with their parents during or after university, and so I live with three host brothers in their early twenties who have taught me all the important slang, cultural references, movies, and snack foods I should regularly consume to be considered a true Parisian. Moreover, my host family has been hosting students from around the world for almost a decade and they are complete champions of the process. They invite me to outings and museum exhibits with them, but also give me the leeway to make my own dinner schedule and come-and-go as I please. In many respects I am that extra girl - or 'notre américainne' as my host father says - who hangs out and eats dinner with them, but they've done an excellent job of making me feel welcome. ...continue reading "What about that extra girl? That’s me."
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