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By ZoNaseef

zoe 2/27-1


I am volunteering for the ICC- Improv Comedy Copenhagen Theater and Café. The ICC is a café by day and an improv theater/training session by night. I got involved with them last semester since I have been taking improv classes and attending their shows. The teachers are paid but the performers, baristas and other vital roles are volunteer based. The most important rule of improv is being able to say "yes, and..." in any situation. This means accepting your scene partners choice and adding to it. It also something we talk about using as a general rule in life.

The ICC has previously been receiving funding from the U.S. embassy since it is the only English speaking comedy venue in Copenhagen, which draws a lot of tourists. Seeing them struggle in wake of the election made me really want to devote my time to helping them stay up and running. It may not be creating social change directly, but laughter is one of the most important tools of medicine and I really believe in the importance of this space remaining open.

Although the classes and shows are taught in English, many Danes also attend. It can be challenging when they come in speaking Danish and I have to switch over to English. It is not an issue since they are coming to the space because they have a good understanding of English but it makes me feel awkward that I am in their country and do not know much of their language. I overcome this by laughing it off and being respectful of their culture in the other ways that I can.

...continue reading "Saying ‘Yes, and…’"

By juliareinholdgw

Tomorrow is the first day of school at Fudan University and strangely enough, I could not be happier to get up early in the morning to go to class.

The Fudan campus is absolutely beautiful. Fudan combines a mix of traditional Chinese architecture, European colonialism, modern-age structures, and scattered gardens. The University itself was founded in 1905, during the last years of the Qing Dynasty. Because of the large European presence in Shanghai during this time, it isn't surprising that buildings such as Zibin Hall mark the campus.
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Fudan University is also extraordinarily large. It comprises of 4 campuses scattered throughout Shanghai. The main campus, Handan, is where I am staying and where all of my classes our. Handan is divided into two sections, North and South. Walking from my apartments to the front gate (located at the edge of North campus) itself takes 40 minutes. Most students here own bicycles, as dorms are located far away from academic buildings. Although renting or buying a bicycle may save me time and get me to class faster in the mornings, Chinese roads are a lot more dangerous than in the US. Drivers tend not to stop for bikers or pedestrians and the sides streets dedicated to bicycles are crowded with motorbikes, cabbies, and other vehicles.

...continue reading "First Day of School"

By jcapobia

JoeC 2/27-1

“Fitting in” is something everybody deals with. When we are young we try to fit in because we think that “fitting in” will make us cool, get us friends, and shield us from looking like an outsider. This was mostly achieved through appearance (new shoes) or cultural (listening to “cool music” and buying the new Lil Wayne album). As we grow older, this desire to fit in recedes to our subconscious a little bit and becomes less obvious.

When I arrived in college I found that people didn’t care about fitting in anymore, they didn’t care about conforming to what was considered “correct” or “cool: In college, people are more confident in themselves and don’t try to adjust themselves as much. I think when people get to college, they forget about trying to fit in because as we become older we become more cognizant of our worth and confident in our abilities.

Although that burning desire to become a chameleon and blend in with your surroundings recedes in college, it never really goes away. In Spain, I’ve found this “fitting in” urge to be very strong, something that I am constantly cognizant of. I visited London this weekend, and I can’t stress how similar I found it to a U.S. city and how “blended in” I felt. Although London is obviously London and has its own charm and culture, I found myself more comfortable there then I have in Spain so far. And I don’t think it was just because there was no language barrier in London. It felt like being in Washington, D.C. again. People were professional, ate at normal eating times, dressed similar to me, and had similar complexions to me.

...continue reading "An American in Madrid"

By KMorris117

Brace yourself; you’re in for a long one.

Have you ever had one of those days that were just so great you never want it to end? Well February 23rd, 2017 was one of those days for me. It was Defender of the Fatherland Day, which is a national holiday. We did not have school, and instead we spent all day exploring and experiencing the new things Russia, and this day in particular, had to offer.

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To begin, I’ll briefly explain Defender of the Fatherland Day. Like our Veteran’s Day, it is a day to honor those who have served in the military. However, in Russia, this day has become a bit more all encompassing. Instead of just those who have served, it has turned into a day to honor all men. It seems a bit odd to me. When I asked my host sister about it, she said it sort of became that way because there was no national men’s day to counter the widely celebrated International Women’s Day here. “It seems ridiculous,” she said, “because every day is men’s day in Russia.”

...continue reading "A Day in the Life"

By rmattiola

My week started with environment shock and ended with culture shock. The desert was intimidating. My flight from Santiago to Arica followed the coastline so we landed over a beach. I wondered when the sand would turn to grass, or some other sort of coastal vegetation but it never did. Sand was everywhere. Our bus ride back was a little quiet considering we were a group of teenagers excited to meet each other. Everyone was taking in the surroundings. I noticed, amongst all the emptiness, a few industrial centers and a single field of corn growing miraculously in the sand. Having never spent any of my adult life in a desert, I was surprised by the vastness. This shook me a little, even though I knew all along I would be staying in the most arid desert in the world. The locals say it never rains here, and they are pretty correct, considering the average rainfall in Arica is .03 inches. I felt 3 or 4 drops of rain when I went on a run along the beach. Maybe this will be it for the semester.

Rosalie 2/27-1Pictured: The Atacama Desert

The city is lively enough, but it only has one movie theatre with one room. I found this endearing. Historically, it was a viceroyalty of Peru for many years and still has many Peruvian influences. For example, in the city’s cathedral (which is closer in size to a church) is a replica of an important church in Peru. But the design is exactly the same; the cathedral of Arica has rain-spouts encased in the face of stone lions even though it never rains here. The original cathedral was destroyed in an earthquake. We’ve been debriefed in the safety procedures for tremblores and terremotos, which happen frequently because the whole coast of Chile rests on a fault line and is therefore the most seismically active country in the world. It is also the longest and most narrow county in the world.

...continue reading "La Primera Semana"

By amberherrle

Differences between the UAE and Jordan


From my experience there, Emirati food is vastly different than the food that you'll find in the Levant and Jordan. For example, I ate about 10 different types of breads while at the Prince's house that were all "traditional Emirati". In Jordan, you're hard pressed to find something outside of pita and pita with thyme on it.


As I mentioned in my last post, the dress varies from emirate to emirate but notable one of the biggest differences in Gulf attire is that men wear Kandoras which are long white robes that tend to have a tassel towards the collar. This tassel has interesting cultural roots - it was originally used be nomadic peoples to swish away the bad smells that came from camels when they were riding from place to place. The men would dip the tassle in perfume and then when they needed to get camel-smell away, they would simply wave the tassel in front of their face.

From what I saw, abayas and hijab were more common among women in the UAE than in Jordan. While Dubai is clearly the outlier, in the other emirates most women were hijab and many women wore abayas with hijab. Abayas are beautiful black shear robes that you wear over other clothing. Typically, abayas will have intricate designs and patterns on them.

Things to do in Dubai

As the commercial capital of the UAE and potentially the world, there's a slim chance that you've never heard of it. The souring skyscrapers and beaches make Dubai a perfect destination for tourists and great home for international headquarters. Here's what I did in Dubai and what I loved about my time there.

...continue reading "The UAE: continued"

By meenuamathews

TERN works towards creating social change within the wider community. Just within the last month, the organization has started a blog, contributed to Huffington Post articles, and made appearances at rallies against the immigration ban. This means that my tasks vary from day to day, which makes for an exciting volunteer experience. on some days, I’m drafting responses to media inquiries and on other days, I’m putting together the organization’s newsletter!

One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had so far is helping at the organization’s “First Flight” bootcamp, which hosted 13 aspiring refugee entrepreneurs. At the workshop, each refugee met their mentor, outlined goals, and created timelines for the progression of his or her business. In the lead up to First Flight, I had prepared workshop materials, responded to emails, and screened applications for the participants. This event brought our work to life: the energy at the workshop was unparalleled! First Flight was a meaningful experience for me, because it empowers refugees to shape their own narrative.

As someone who is passionate about empowering women globally, it was especially exciting to speak with the female entrepreneurs. The hope and passion woven into their stories reminds me of the hope I saw in the Women’s cooperatives of Morocco, in the female-run small businesses of India, and the stories of my own relatives at home in the United States. Volunteering in London has widened my horizons, and deepened my commitment to making the future equal for all.

By lrich522

This past week all 40 CIEE students traveled across every region of Senegal to complete a mandatory part of the program: the rural visit. We had heard a couple of horror stories (real or not I’ll never know) about rural visits from semesters past; students getting lost without being able to speak the local language, people losing all of their money, and there was even the story of a girl getting bit by some mysterious bug and going blind for a bit (I actually met this girl and she can in fact see again) .

The anticipation was intense, and only made worse by the fact that we would be traveling independently of our program staff/host families. A few days before we left, we were charged with the task of ranking our top three locations that we wanted to visit while taking into account whether or not we wanted to stay with a peace corps volunteer, their specific sector within the peace corps, travel distance, and whether or not we wanted to travel with another CIEE student.

I am an extremely indecisive person, and normally when given a few options I ALWAYS pick the wrong one. So I decided to take the list of places and google each of them. In doing so, I was the very last person to turn in my ranked villages and ended up being assigned to one that was not where I had hoped to go and not in the sector that I had hoped to observe. I need to be less indecisive. That being said, I was still placed with peace corps like I had hoped, and I was partnered with another student who is absolutely marvelous. (Shout out to Sarah for always laughing, for sharing her “meta moments”, and for almost passing out on the bush car then sticking through the rest of the trip like a champ). In hindsight, I am extremely grateful for the week I had, the people I met, and the honest and thought provoking insight I received from my Peace Corps volunteer host, Taryn.

On Monday, with travel instructions and duffle bag in hand, I set out to take a taxi from my home to the gare. Sarah and I were meeting there that morning so that we could take the sept-place together to Linguère, which is the town closest to the village we stayed in. Luckily we got there within minutes of each other because right when I stepped out of the cab there were a bunch of men asking me where I was going and offering to lead me there.

...continue reading "Rural visits: mosquitos, bush cars, and a full moon"

By rsengupta18


For February and March, I’ll be exploring environmental conservation efforts in France. My analysis is especially interesting this month as I had the chance to travel throughout the European Union during my spring break. I was able to compare France’s environmental policy with Denmark, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. What I saw throughout the EU was not what I expected.

The EU has a reputation for being the world leader in climate change. Because of this, I assumed every country within the union would be dedicated and innovative to mitigating climate change. But, as with everything in life, it is more complex than it appears. I realized the policy is fragmented, and effects countries in different ways. The most glaring trend I saw was that climate change leadership went hand in hand with a strong economy.

First Stop: Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen was extremely environmentally friendly (note the strong, stable economy). I was impressed by their innovative infrastructure that has come about in reaction to rising sea levels. My favorite was the Inderhavnsbroen, a massive pedestrian bridge connecting two of the islands. The bridge stretches 590 feet, has a stunning view of the water, and a winding, modern design.

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Copenhagen is a beautiful, relatively small, walkable city. This means fewer cars, fewer emissions, and less pollution. I swear, I saw more bicycles than cars when I was there.

What I loved most about Copenhagen, and what I think other cities should learn from them, is their ability to reuse and recycle items in a creative way. For example, at the Street Food Market, old cargo carts are now used as lookout decks where visitors can sit by the fire, sip a drink, and watch the beautiful sunset over the Baltic Sea. Sounds romantic right? I would never have guessed that old cargo carts could be romantic.

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...continue reading "Is the EU really the leader in climate policy?"

By vgosalvez11

victoria 2/27-2

This last week was defined mostly by the exciting new experience of moving in with my host family on Tuesday. I was eager to get settled and to meet my family, but nervous about the prospect of leaving the security of our orientation hotel where all the members of my program were staying together. In reality most of these feelings were outweighed by my burning desire to unpack my suitcase and get myself organized.victoria 2/27-1

Of course my host family is absolutely lovely. I am living with older retired couple, native Santiaguinos who have been living here their whole lives. They have an adult son with two small children of his own (18 months and 4 years old) who come over to play often. This has been a lovely set up for me as I am able to enjoy some peace and quiet as well as many years of knowledge from my host parents. But I also get to play pretend and chase the babies around the yard. As you can see, they love to take selfies . . .

...continue reading "Finding "Una Buena Onda""