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By danirendon9

I've been living in Ireland for almost two months now, and it still feels surreal that I am not in the United States and won't be for another two months. It's the longest I've been outside of the country, and to be honest, I have yet to become homesick. Once you get past the fact that home is across the Atlantic ocean and about a six hour flight away, you realize how much closer to the rest of the European world you are.

Since I've been in Ireland, I have traveled within the country, as well as to Iceland, London, and Paris. Next weekend I will travel to Brussels and Amsterdam, and later on to Budapest and Prague. Without trying to make anyone too jealous, I'd like to document my travels in hopes of inspiring everyone to maybe get out of their comfort zones and start traveling! Traveling is the best way to gain new experiences, meet new people, take part in different cultures, eat good food, and make unforgettable memories.

The first place I visited outside of Ireland was Paris, France. I was there for a weekend and got all the essentials in which included the Louvre, Versailles, Eiffel Tower, Arch de Triomphe, Notre Dame, and of course macarons and crepes. The entire experience was all so surreal, I'm still in awe I was there to witness all the landmarks. Here are some tips when visiting:

...continue reading "Across the Pond and Beyond"

By jojoraewilliams

In Ugandan culture, it is customary to invite guests to your house for extremely large and delicious meals. Everyone here feeds us so well and you eat until you feel like you are going to explode at most meals. Even at restaurants food is cheap and comes in huge portions. A full plate of rice with meat and steaming sauce usually costs about 7,000 Ugandan shillings, which is equal to about 2 US dollars. Typical meals consist of a base like rice, cassava, Irish potatoes, matoke, or posho, and then a meat like chicken, beef, or goat, and a sauce that is either meat or ground nut based. Whatever combination of these dishes you get, your meal is bound to be delicious.

One of the most common base dish is matoke, which is my personal favorite. Matoke is essentially large, unsweet, green bananas, similar to plantains, that are cooked and mashed. While doing a rural homestay in Eastern Uganda, I got the chance to learn how to make this tasty traditional dish. First you must remove the thick peel with a knife and wash the sticky matoke. Once they’re clean you line an aluminum bowl with the lush green banana leaves and fill them with the matoke.

Next you make sure that they are wrapped tightly in the leaves and place the bowl and place it on a traditional mud oven. You know it’s ready when you begin to see steam and the leaves just barely turn black. Let it cool until you can touch it, then you can knead the leaves to mash and mix the matoke. At the end, you are left with a hearty meal base that is about the consistency of mashed potatoes.

...continue reading "Matoke Republic"

By AshleyLe

I will be honest here, I don't like staying still.

As a millennial who happens to be attending George Washington University, my schedules in the past two years tend to look similar to that of the rest of my classmates. In addition to the full load of classes, I still managed to squeeze in internships, volunteer services, student organizations, jobs, and student government. And while it sounds impossible, we (GW students and I) have gotten used to this routine of being on the move constantly. Thus, the concept of rest becomes somewhat strange and unnecessary. After all, how can you put resting on your resume, right?

When I arrived to Israel a month and a half ago, one of the first challenging adjustment was the observance of Shabbat. As the state of Israel is established as a Jewish state, its laws are rooted deeply in religious values. The observance of the Shabbat, the fifth of the Ten Commandments, begins at sunset on Friday evenings until an hour after sunset on Saturday evenings. During this time, businesses, public transportation, and almost every restaurants are closed. Religious Jews visit the Synagogue to pray and sing, while families gather for a festive Shabbat dinner.

Unfortunately, as a non-Jewish and study-abroad student, my experience with Shabbat does not revolve around festive Shabbat dinners or family gathering. Living in the holy city of Jerusalem, the challenge to find open businesses is almost impossible to achieve. With the closure of public transportation, shops, and restaurants, I found the 24 hours of Shabbat to be lengthy and lifeless. I felt trapped in my dorm, and unproductive as I am unable to explore more of Israel.

...continue reading "Observing Shabbat, Learning to Rest"

By paigebradford

Normandy, a region in northern France, is one of the 18 Départements which make up mainland France. Luckily for me I had the good fortune to travel to this region as a part of the GW Paris program along with other GW students. I feel guilty to say my knowledge of the history of Normandy prior to the trip was limited to the D-Day landing and a vague understanding of The Battle of Normandy during World War Two. Therefore, it was an eye-opening experience when we arrived at our first stop, the Normandy Memorial in Caen, because I learned a lot about the brutality Normandy faced under the occupation of Germany, and the hardships soldiers and civilians underwent during the many battles.

The battle of Normandy is often referred to as the battle which won back Europe. It was a movement which began on June 6th, 1944 where the Allied forces launched the biggest and the arguably the greatest maritime invasion in history, which was intended to free all those under the suppression of the Nazi regime. Walking through each room within the memorial made me feel a deep sense of remorse and respect towards all those involved in the conflict. Reflecting now on the significance of the battle I believe D-day and the other Allied invasions of Normandy represent all that is virtuous in modern liberal democracy.

...continue reading "A Trip to Normandy"

In pretty sharp contrast to the way my classes at GW were headed with longer and longer papers I have run into a surprising obstacle, maximum word limits. I've always been a little long winded and I know it, but the fact that professors only gave a minimum page requirement or said x number of pages gave me some free space to maneuver. Of course I wouldn't just fill the paper with hot air, everything I would write would be relevant or it would end up cut out during my revisions, but I still had a tendency to end up with a few extra paragraphs if I wasn't too pressed for time.

A good example of this my final paper for my Nationalism in Eurasia class freshman year which was supposed to be 20 pages but ended up with 23 (or 24? I forget) of writing and an additional two for the bibliography.  20 was an outlier but most of my final papers have been listed somewhere in the 10 to 15 range (I think 12 might be the most common but I don't keep records.) In a different case 3 of my classmates and I accidentally wrote a 53 page paper on social security over night although it was only supposed to be 20 to 30. Luckily none of my professors have punished me for my excessive length(or even asked me to control it the next time) but that's where Edinburgh is a bit different.

At the University of Edinburgh papers are a bit shorter. 1500 and 3000 words seems to be the standard. That translates to about 4.5 and 9 pages of size 12 Times New Roman (double spaced of course.)  Now that doesn't sound too bad, I've had one class with very short papers before, but the sheer quantity of information they expect us to condense into that limit is what alarms me. Condensing a 500 page book into 1500 words is just daunting. Even that wouldn't be much to complain about except for the penalty for excess words is what adds the pressure.

...continue reading "Word Limits"

By jojoraewilliams

I have never been a soccer fan; when people say football, I think of my favorite team, the Broncos, and fond memories of NFL Sundays. Despite this, the Uganda vs. Egypt World Cup Qualifier that we went to a few weeks ago was one of my favorite things we’ve done so far.

All 15 of us on my program got general entry tickets, and armed with the knock-off jerseys and vuvuzelas that we bought from street vendors, we blasted pump up music and made our way slowly through the typical Kampala traffic to the Nelson Mandela Stadium. The swarms around us heading to the stadium turned the usually lively streets into a living Ugandan flag of red, black, and yellow as everyone pushed their way up the paths to the stadium sporting their country’s colors.

Once we were inside the stadium, the real fun started. Everywhere we go in this country, shouts of “Muzungu,” the local term for any non-African, follow us, but the stadium was a whole other level. We couldn’t even walk ten feet to grab a soda without Ugandan’s stopping us to take selfies of the muzungus in bright red Ugandan jerseys. Everyone was excited to see us and the energy in the air was electric. The whole stadium was general seating, so we found some spots near the back, where there was less attention drawn to us, to make our base.

...continue reading "Uganda Vs. Egypt"

By mariekevanhaaren

In the U.S. and several other countries, there are Starbucks shops everywhere, serving all kinds of fancy coffee beverages – iced vanilla lattes, Frappuccino’s, salted caramel mochas… In Australia, I have seen exactly one Starbucks, and it is usually only filled with tourists. Real coffee shops in Australia (and especially Melbourne) are very different from the U.S.’s versions.

For starters, coffee shops here are almost all independent shops, with no big chains being able to take over the coffee scene. One exception would be McDonald’s McCafe; most coffee drinkers don’t get their daily latte at a McCafe, though.

Another difference is that the sizes of coffees are much smaller, with an Australian large being about the size of an American small or medium. However, from what I have seen, everyone here gets the small size, which is usually only one shot of espresso and four ounces of milk or water (depending on the drink). And, unlike a lot of U.S. coffee chains, the coffee options are limited to lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, long blacks (aka Americanos) and flat whites. There are rarely any sweet syrups added to make something like a pumpkin spice latte or hazelnut mocha. The idea of simply brewed black coffee is not common whatsoever – coffee makers do not exist here!

...continue reading "Coffee Culture in Melbourne"

By jlee4946

As long as I can remember, I loved the metro (or the subway or WMATA or whatever else you want to call it). But I always hated taking the bus. Actually, more accurately, I'm scared of the bus. They're both forms of public transportation, but the main and most important difference is that the metro stops at every stop while you need to tell the bus to stop at the correct stop. As a result, I would always just take the metro even if it took longer than taking a bus.

However, things changed when I got to Korea and my roommate nonchalantly mentioned that to get to school everyday I would have to take 2 buses. I take the town bus #4 then transfer to #2. Now at first glance this doesn't seem too hard, but as my friends know from my daily Snapchats of me just barely missing the bus, this bus journey can take anywhere between 10 and 30+ minutes.

Nowadays, I don't mind taking the #4 bus because much less people take it and I can always get a seat. But the #2 bus is the one that apparently the entire school takes. During busy hours, it gets to the point that honestly, if you lose your balance you wouldn't even stumble because there are so many people squished together. It gets to the point where since the doors don't close if people are standing on the steps, people literally hang off the bars that are meant to just be held to stay balanced to ride the bus.

Okay, so you say, "Well yeah, it's Seoul with 10 million people." Alright, so it is. But something I genuinely worry about is if you're standing on the bus and the button to stop the bus is too far, what are you supposed to do? Do you try and reach the closest one? Do you ask someone to push it for you? But what if everyone around you has earbuds shoved into their ears? And better yet, if you're in the middle of a crowd, how are you supposed to get off when the doors open??

...continue reading "Overcoming fears…taking the bus!!!"

By gwujrbenjamin

(Due to recent Internet connectivity issues in China, this blog entry was posted on Annaliese De Vita's behalf.)

Hi from my host family’s porch! Although it is October the Kunming weather enables me to take full advantage of this beautiful city. As I wrote in my first post SIT’s programs have a strong research component. However, this is mostly involved in the last month of study, culminating in an independent study project. However, we have many smaller research projects to be done in preparation for our field work. I find this to be extremely helpful because I have never conducted interviews in Chinese, so getting some practice in is for sure needed. 

Our first interview is with anyone we would like, about how the changes in China are demonstrated in their own life. We are to conduct an interview then choose a certain part of their life to write a small report on how their life emulates the larger general changes in China. The first problem for me is always fulling understanding what people mean by their answers. It is hard to fully understand a deeper meaning when you are struggling to understand the general idea of the answer they gave. Further, it is sometimes difficult to culturally understand what is inappropriate to ask. Although, language and culture classes have aided in this process immensely. 

This is a hard first step to the field work process. Living in a second language is exhausting, doing new things can be frightening, and getting discouraged at signs of failure is inevitable. However, what I have learned, is trying means a lot. Step one is always to take a deep breath, and remember everyone struggles sometimes. Then, try again, differently. Everyone I have talked to, or have tried talking to me, is very patient with my seemingly endless amount of clarifiers. People have been understanding that the language is difficult, and do their best to help me. My language also improves quite quickly because of their efforts. I have learned you have teachers everywhere, if you are willing to try, fail, and try again. 

...continue reading "October"

By paigebradford


Three unusual french dishes I have experimented with while abroad are escargots, frog legs, and quail eggs. I first tried escargots when I visited Paris after I graduated high school, so the taste was not fresh in my mind. After my first week in Reims a few other exchange students and I made plans to go out to dinner at a brasserie near campus. After debating over whether we ought to step out of our comfort zone and try a new dish, we came to the consensus that instead of each of us trying something new, we would all together share a plate of escargots. We were served a dozen snails, just enough for each of us to try three. The texture and taste is similar to clams and oysters, but drenched in a butter garlic sauce. Although escargots are not typically something thing I would order from a restaurant menu, I enjoyed getting to experience the French dish a second time around.

...continue reading "Unusual Eats"