Currently, my semester runs from August 15th- November 26th. This means that I am wrapping up my finals this week, breaking ground on my independent study, and I’m about halfway through my program. I cannot believe it! There are a lot of reasons this feels exciting but also a little weird, the first being that it’s already October and still 100 degrees everyday in Madurai (I may often have a flair for the dramatic when it comes to temperature but this whole 100 degrees business is a true, hard fact).
So basically, the days are only getting hotter and I am living in an eternal August. Although I can’t complain too much about the heat when its very presence is the reason that coconuts and papayas are as plentiful and bodacious as ever. And if there’s one thing I know I love in this world it’s a ripe and tender coconut.
Every time I do something new (whether that be learning how to cross the street without getting hit by a cascade of city buses or pronouncing every fifth Tamil word with even the slightest bit of accuracy) I feel like I am learning more about myself which is really cool! It’s definitely not one jolly stroll along a flowery path to self discovery because with all this fun self discovery comes a little but of growing pain. The onslaught of well intentioned but ear piercing honking that seems to forever be echoing from the streets can be in a word, frustrating.
...continue reading "Learning New Stuff is Cool and Fun and Sometimes Involves Mosquitoes: Midpoint Reflection"
This week classes finally began at UCL and it felt almost strange to be back in class after a nearly five month break. Classes here feel pretty familiar, there are many similarities to GW, but something also feels different. Here are a few thoughts about academic culture at UCL and the U.K. more broadly.
First, students here have much more free time than at GW. Classes only meet once a week, one hour for a lecture and one hour for a seminar for larger classes. That means you're not really in classes a whole lot, but be prepared to spend much of that free time reading.
Reading lists for classes, or modules as they're usually referred to, are massive. As a student, you're expected to do much more independent study than in the U.S. There are always several required readings per week, but also an extensive list of optional readings some of which have to be used for papers. It's more about you as a student taking the time to read up and become something of an expert on a topic rather than a professor telling you most of what you need to know.
...continue reading "College life in the U.K."
By Ty Malcolm
After a month straight of traveling and making friends, it is finally time to slow down a bit and go to class.
- International Financial Management (valuation, portfolios, trading)
- International Energy Strategies (investment projects, M&A for energy companies)
Corporate Finance (canceling this one, it overlaps too much with the first two!)
- Multinational Corporations and Political Markets (lobbying, taxes, regulations)
- Market and Business Evaluations for Siemens Austria (market research, consulting)
- CEE Growth in Context (central European economic conditions)
- German Business Communication (exactly what you think it is)
...continue reading "Wait, I have classes?"
Whenever I tell people here that I'm from the U.S., there's usually one topic they cannot help but discuss: Donald Trump.
People I've encountered from Greece to China to Germany and the U.K. have all asked me with a sense of curiosity and often a healthy dose of friendly ridicule how the man they knew as a brash and boastful reality television star became the Republican nominee for president.
Without getting too political, let's just say he doesn't appear to be too popular overseas.
There's usually a similar set of questions: What do you think of Trump? Can he win? Why does America like him? Do you know people that support him?
...continue reading "The (American) Elephant in the Room"
By Ty Malcolm
Today (Sunday, 2. October) is my last day before the semester starts! Since my mid-August arrival in Vienna, I've had a month and a half to figure out how I like spending my free time in the city. Here are some of my favorites:
Cafés and Coffeehouses
Vienna is famous for its traditions with coffee, since the 17th century trading and fighting with the Ottoman Empire. The people of Vienna have always viewed these coffeehouses as their extended living rooms, which give them a place to meet friends or read the newspaper. Throughout history, they have also doubled as black markets and art studios. For the price of a cup of coffee (probably €5 or so) you can sit and relax for as long as you want. No one will rush you or wonder why you are there so long. The waiters are some of the best in the city, and always seem to know when to be available and when to make themselves scarce. It's the perfect place to meet friends, grab breakfast, or get some work done. (We are still students, after all.) The Kaffeehaus closest to my apartment is Café Westend, which is over 100 years old!
...continue reading "Free Time in Vienna"
Hands down, one of the best parts of my study abroad experience thus far has been indulging in the heavenliness that is South Indian food. South Indian food uses a lot of lentils, chickpeas, rice, coconut (!!!), and veggies (one of the most interesting veggies present in a lot of the dishes is the drumtree, a fibrous okra-like vegetable). For non-veg south Indian, one can find mutton or chicken. Currently, the best non-veg meal I’ve had is mutton biriyani, which is a rice dish with onions, sometimes a little tomato, and a sauce. The mutton falls off the bone and is so ridiculously tender I am often entranced.
Every time my ammaa places a new dish in front of me for dinner, I emit a noise that can only be compared to that of a wild grizzly bear reveling in its spoils (table manners were never exactly my strong suit). In my first two weeks of being in India, I fell in love with the greasy, flaky, decadent egg parotta. However, it was not long before new foods caught my eye and led me astray from my first true love. Lately, I have been quite taken with dosa, which can only really be described as a sourdough crepe served with a number of chutneys.
...continue reading "I’m in love with south Indian food and I don’t care who knows it"
I was able to attend a Hindu wedding ceremony at a wedding hall in downtown Madurai as a guest of my host parents. The entryway boasted two, tall, freshly cut banana trees as well as an assortment of small colorful ornaments hanging from the top of the threshold. Women sat at a table outside of the wedding hall with (yellow paste), kum kum, red flowers, and sugar crystals to distribute to guests.
All of the women in attendance were wearing ornate sarees, most of which featured a number of intricate gold details and vibrant colors. The men in attendance sported western clothing that was significantly more casual, typically a button-down shirt or t-shirt and jeans or slacks. This casual style carried over to small boys, who similarly wore sandals or sneakers with a graphic t-shirt or button down. The groom was wearing a white kurta and pants with sandals when he arrived, but later changed into a suit to receive gifts with his new bride and take pictures with guests. Upon his arrival, a queue of women met the groom at the entrance holding plates with rupees fanned out, fruits, and painted figurines depicting couples in love. Each woman and girl offered the gift and was given a gift by the groom in return.
...continue reading "Observations at a Hindu Wedding Ceremony"