This past weekend I went to my first football (soccer) game. It’s so interesting how different the fan culture is between the United States and here in Spain. The game was between Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid, at the Atlético stadium. I’m a Real Madrid fan and I assumed that since both teams are from Madrid, there would be fans there from both teams. I showed up to the game naively wearing a Real Madrid scarf. A moment after entering the stadium I realized that there were only Atlético fans. Fans started criticizing my friends and I for wearing Real Madrid gear. I very quickly and discretely put the scarf in my bag. In New York, if there was a Mets-Yankees game, regardless of the stadium, there would be fans present from both teams. Apparently, here in Spain, fans only go to their team’s home stadium. ...continue reading "Football (Soccer) Culture"
It is no secret the global climate change is a major problem. In fact, part of the reason I flew 7,000 miles to Costa Rica was to study ways to decrease global climate change and it’s effect on the environment. It is also not a secret that one of the worst contributors to carbon in the environment is our use of gasoline and fuel. Therefore, it is slightly ironic that I flew all this way in order to study how to reduce the amount of carbon that we put into the environment. My flights to and from Costa Rica are not the only times I am in a vehicle. My program spends a month traveling around the country, often by bus. It is incredible how much a sustainability student can contribute to the problem. ...continue reading "Carbon Sequestration In Costa Rica"
Two weeks ago I packed up my bags and said goodbye to my host family and move out... and into an apartment only a few blocks away with five of my best friends in my program. All SIT programs end with a month of working on an independent study, and during the independent study time - deemed, “ISP time” - SIT recommends that students do not live in the comfort of their homestays, but that they spend their independent studies living on their own. Several of my friends and I decided to stay in Rabat to work on our research, and with the help of a Moroccan friend, we found a beautiful flat in the old medina that we decided to rent. Our flat is on the first floor of a medina house that has been renovated into a separate apartment with traditional Andalusian carvings and tiles on the ceiling and the walls. It is complete with a wide-open courtyard that stretches, roofless, to the sky. We have two bedrooms (ringed with traditional Moroccan wall-couches that act as beds), a bathroom with a real shower and hot water, and a kitchen that has a stove, a huge sink, a refrigerator, and beautiful stained-glass windows that let in the sun and the sounds of children playing “football” on our street. Our upstairs neighbors can be heard when they do laundry or watch late-night Moroccan television, but otherwise the space is incredibly private and cozy. ...continue reading "Living Like a Moroccan"
At 8pm the evening after Yom HaZikaron begins Yom HaAtzmaut, Independence Day. It's to commemorate May 14th, 1948, when Ben Gurion officially declared the independence of the State of Israel. And people go crazy. It's a celebration very similar to Fourth of July, with fireworks at night and barbecues during the day. In Haifa, there was a giant street party called Tzubachutz (a slang translation for, roughly, get out on the streets) in the center of town, with big name bands like Hadag Nahash (http://www.youtube.com/user/hadagnahashofficial) and street vendors. It was several hours long and over 60,000 people were there. I tried to find my adoptive student but the cell reception was so bad, and it was so crowded, that after looking for each other in a space of about ten meters for a solid fifteen minutes, both of us gave up and went back to our friend groups. It was a ridiculous night and everyone was dancing and having a good time. People wore silly hats with Israeli flags on them, and had blow-up plastic boppers to cause havoc. It was an all-ages event, though really I questioned parents who were pushing their kids' strollers through the loud, pushy crowd. You should probably wait a couple of years before bringing your kid here. ...continue reading "Independence Day"
Israel's memorial day has two sirens: one at 8pm on the evening before and one at 11am on the day of. Wherever you are, people stop their cars. They stand up, stay silent, and look straight ahead. An entire country completely pauses for a minute during the siren, to pay respect for those lost in combat and affected by the 14 wars Israel has been involved in since its start, 65 years ago. Unlike Memorial day in the United States, which is a great excuse for sales, picnics and parades, Yom Hazikaron in Israel is fairly somber. Israeli flags are everywhere, and many businesses are closed. There are ceremonies and services, and thousands of people visit Har Hertzl, a military and diplomat cemetery in Jerusalem. ...continue reading "Security First"
Twenty-Four Exposures In Jordan
I’ve always been jealous of people who have the ability to just “pop down for a weekend” in a different country. And Israel is fairly limited in countries you can pop over to. Lebanon? Absolutely not. Syria? Forget it. Egypt? It’s extremely uncomfortable to go there and you’d have to go through the Sinai, which is incredibly dangerous. Saudi Arabia? Iraq? The only country we can really visit is Jordan, and last weekend we did. I took my film camera and had to choose my shots very carefully. Haven’t gotten them developed yet. ...continue reading "Twenty-Four Exposures in Jordan"
As I sit in my room on a Sunday night making attempts at 'productive procastination' - that is to say updating this blog, responding to emails, online window shopping, and doing other important tasks in lieu of writing a paper - I realize how quickly my program will be over. I have less than 6 weeks left in this beautiful city and I have no idea how to best take advantage of the time. I will be traveling for my spring break during two of these weeks and continue to remind myself that I have finals to contend with for most of these weeks, but I can't appreciate just how little time I have left. At this point six weeks still seems like a sizable stretch of time and Washington D.C. is so very far away. The weather has just become warm and sunny, and I can't imagine having to spend my last times in Paris sitting inside reviewing French modernist painters and their political system. ...continue reading "I came here to paint"
On Saturday, April 20, I think I might have had the best cultural experience in Buenos Aires so far. I went to see Bizet's opera Carmen, one of the most noted and performed operas, at Teatro Colon. Buenos Aires' main opera house, Teatro Colon is widely considered one of the best concert venues in the world.
As an opera aficionado, I will not bore you will a full-scale review of the opera itself (which was brilliantly executed by the performers and orchestra in case you wanted to know). As a Baltimore-Washington Metro Area native, I've always enjoyed going to the Kennedy Center. As a GW student, I take pleasure in being able to walk less than 10 minutes to enjoy the free Millennium Stage performances , the Washington National Opera, and the National Symphony Orchestra. But going to Teatro Colon might have taken the cake. ...continue reading "Night at the Opera"
I had the amazing opportunity to meet up with my parents this past weekend. They wanted to visit me during my study abroad semester, but had already been to Spain, so we decided on a trip to Dublin, where none of us had ever been. I was beyond impressed with Ireland. It’s a beautiful place, quite unlike any other place in Europe I have visited. Instantly upon arrival it became clear that regardless of the typical gloomy weather, the Irish people are the alive and happy types, who love their pubs and their folk dancing. I fell in love with the place that seems to exist in a perpetual Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. ...continue reading "Patriotism and Devotion"