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By Taylor Garland

Thinking of coming to this tropical belt for a semester, but not sure what to bring? Here’s a guide on what, after two previous semesters abroad, I packed, and my thoughts on it after being in Singapore for 3 months (one and a half left!).

So to start, my personal wardrobe is very minimal – most of my clothes are monochromatic, and therefore can fit in a variety of outfits. Even my workout clothes double as pajamas or subtle outfit pieces (black shorts, black leggings, etc).

When selecting my wardrobe for this semester, I took into consideration travel, my personal interest in activities (hiking, swimming, etc), and the weather in all of the places I plan to go. I knew Singapore is hot and humid all year long, but a lot of academic buildings have aircon.

To organize my clothes, I used a set of packing cubes I bought on Amazon. I put my jackets, dresses, and some pants in the largest cubes, shirts together, underwear together, etc. I ended up bringing:

  • 5 Dresses/Jumpsuits
  • 11 Bottoms (shorts + pants)
  • 11 Tops (long + short sleeve)
  • 1 raincoat
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 10 pairs of socks
  • 10 pairs of underwear (+6 bras)
  • 4 hats (go dragons!)

For shoes, I tried to pick one pair for each “function”. So in order from left to right starting with the top row: shower, casual slippers for the lazy days, casual, exercise, casual sandals for extra hot days, “going out” heels.

For toiletries and miscellaneous things, I organized them by function, then into bags.

Here I have: makeup + skincare, extra bag (for clothes I might make dirty during transit), earrings + hair accessories, pencils/pens/scissors/calculator, and toiletries + extra toothbrush.

I also brought a few loose bags (2 totes, one “shopping” bag, and a mesh bag for my laundry)

While most of the packing cubes and shoes + related things went into my check-in luggage, here’s a picture of my carry-on with a few extra things I wanted to bring including: my cameras, some books, my neck pillow, a rolling brush, a mirror, and an extra change of clothes (pulled from the packing cubes!)

I ended up having this small carry on, a backpack, and a large luggage to check in (which had room for more things in the event I buy clothes through my travels!)

In all, I know I could have packed even less if I wanted to, and I probably would have gone for a smaller check-in luggage.

Thanks for reading!

By Julia McNally

The University of Auckland has a two-week mid-semester break, providing the perfect opportunity for its abundance of international students to get their travelling in. On Saturday night Paige and I began our break with the All Blacks vs Wallabies game. The All Blacks are New Zealand’s national rugby team, and renowned as the best in the world. The game begins with the Haka, the Maori war dance. This shows the strength, unity, and pride of the team and is a tradition at every All Blacks game. While I do not know much about rugby (my limited knowledge coming from an 11 minute “Rugby for Beginners” video I’d watched earlier that day), the game was entertaining, exciting, and resulted in a 40-12 victory for the All Blacks.

The next morning we rose early to catch a flight to our first destination: Queenstown. Famed for its proximity to skiing and Fiordland National park, Queenstown is must in the South Island. We disembarked the plane on the tarmac, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. “Holy shit. This is a real place in the world. This is just the frickin airport!” I said to myself as we walked the short distance into the airport to grab our bags. We arrived mid-day and decided to spend the afternoon wandering around downtown, which is nestled between Lake Wakatipu and the mountains. The hostel we are staying at is right along the lake, and provides unbelievable views of the mountains and beaches. While relaxing on the beach we ran into a friend from school and decided to grab a pint and a bite together. As we ate, we planned our next day and decided it was Lake Wanaka for us. As our friend had rented a car and wanted to go skiing around Mt. Aspiring, he offered to give us a ride up.

We met up the next morning, and after picking up another friend who was going to ski, we head out for the day. Lake Wanaka was highly recommended to me and had many walks and hikes around it’s borders. We were dropped of at what is known as “That Wanaka Tree”, a solitary tree that has grown up just off the shore of the lake.

After a quick viewing of the tree, we proceeded along the coast of the lake. We tramped for a couple of hours, stopping periodically to observe our surroundings. The lakeshore was rocky, framed by snowy mountains and a glimpse of the small town of Wanaka in the distance. After a couple of hours we turned back and explored Wanaka while we waited for our ride. The town was bursting with small local shops, both for souvenirs and food. I picked up a small, teal pin the shape of the country of New Zealand, perfect for my new backpack. The boys finished their day on the slopes and picked us up, heading back to Queenstown where we visited the iconic Fergburger for dinner.

The following day we embarked upon a hike that would take us to the overlook of Queenstown skyline, a height most people take a gondola up to. However, being students traveling on a budget we opted to climb the distance instead of riding up. The trail was steep all the way up, forcing up to stop and breathe every ten minutes or so. As I’ve said many times before, the climb was tough, and at times almost impossible, but the view was, once again, worth it.

I could have stared down at the town for hours, but meat pies were calling and the wind was sharp and cut straight through all three of my layers. By the time we reached the base of the mountain we were ready for a quick rest before meeting up with our friend to walk around the base of the lake. The views were nothing new but the path was pleasant and calm. A few people were out walking their dogs, but we mainly had it to ourselves. Afterwards we wandered into an Irish pub for dinner a drink.

The next morning we were headed out of Queenstown, so after a cup of tea I walked down to the water and sat at the doc for 45 minutes while waiting for our ride to the airport. The deep breaths of sharply cold air were awakening, refreshing, and made leaving all that much more difficult.


By Taylor Williams

Paris! This month has honestly been truly magical. Returning to Paris is something I’ve always dreamed of. The first time I went to Paris I was 14, and don’t think I was truly able to appreciate the magic that is the City of Love. This time was completely different. For one, it was an amazing trip I got to experience with my soror’s, Faith and Jessica. It was truly a dream, to imagine that one day I’ll be able to tell my kids that at 20 I traveled to Paris with my sorority sisters! The first thing we did when we arrived was set off to the Louvre, to be honest, I wasn’t all that excited to see it, as I’d already been there and seen the Mona Lisa, and had been underwhelmed the first time I saw her. This time, however, was completely different. I hadn’t been able to fully appreciate the magnitude of the Louvre and how much beauty lives within it. 

More than anything, however, this trip inspired me. I’m sad to say I was becoming a little disappointed in London and a little underwhelmed with the city as a whole. That is until my friend Nzinga, whom I visited during my travels in Paris told me about how wonderful her study abroad experience had been, and how she was hoping to extend her trip. When I asked her what made her love it so much, she told me that each day she sets out with the intention of experiencing something new about Paris, and so that's what I aspire to do with London, to see, do, and overall experience something new and different every day.  Until next time! xx

By Joy Kayode

اهلاً وسهلاً،

UPDATE: Crossing into month 2 of studying abroad in Amman, all is well and I have my research project solidified and ready to go! For the last month I will spend in Amman, I will be interning at Envision Consulting Group. The firm is headed by the former Minister for Economic Affairs, H.E. Dr. Yusuf Mansur. I will be examining the prospects for future economic stimulation, revitalization, and growth in Jordan. Before I go into detail about my research, let me first tell you all about a volunteer project that I was involved in last month! As I mentioned in the first blog post, a major component of SIT is experiential learning. One of the methods of experiential learning that sets SIT apart from most study abroad programs is its incorporation of international excursions into the program curriculum. My program traveled to the United Arab Emirates for a week, and as you all can probably imagine, it was a wonderful and action-packed adventure.

We arrived to Dubai on Saturday, October 13th and we had SO many activities planned for our time there. The most meaningful and impactful of these activities was the day we spent in Ajman. This day was the most impactful for me because we were given the opportunity to participate in a service learning or an act of community service in the Emirate. On Thursday of that week, we traveled to the Emirate of Ajman (which is about 45 minutes away from Dubai) to spend the day with Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Ali bin Rashid Al Nuaimi. The Sheikh is known internationally for being a global leader, an active and resilient environmentalist, and a social campaigner in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC), as well as throughout  the Arab World. If you noticed the title “Sheikh” before his name, you’re on to something! His Highness is a member of the Ajman Royal Family (which is the ruling party of Ajman). His Highness is considered to be a change agent for Environmental Planning, and long-term strategist and contributor to sustainability efforts in the UAE. Due to his years of work in studying and advocating for sustainable energy and environmental policies, the Sheikh is also known around the world by his self-bestowed nickname, the Green Sheikh.

Our day was filled with a series of lectures, motivational speeches, activities, and a visit to Ajman Museum, which was the former housing complex of the royal family. It wasn’t until the second to last component of our day that the complete purpose of this trip was internally cemented. The purpose of our day with the Sheikh centered around service to others. Reflecting upon that day, I don’t believe that SIT could have established a better relationship with anyone else. I am confident in my saying that because the Sheikh also serves as the CEO of the Al Ihsan Charity Association. The goal of the organization is to lead effectively in the social work of the United Arab Emirates, but specifically Ajman, with compassion and effective actions. The vision and method of implementation are based on the integration of local-community efforts towards achieving a better life for the needy people and less fortunate families who look after them every day by the organization he oversees. My peers and I had the opportunity to serve the citizens of Ajman by participating in a food donation distribution. Al Ihsan routinely distributes packages of food containing: cereal, milk, juice, yogurt, cooking spices, and additional food items to members of the community who are in need. According to the organization, these individuals primarily tend to be widows, orphans, and low income families, in addition to any other members of the community that are in need. This food drive is just ONE of the twenty plus initiatives fueled by Al Ihsan.

Another area of the charity that I was touched by was the Al Ihsan Medical Complex. The center runs on donations given to the Al Ihsan Charity Association from international, regional, and local benefactors. The complex started in 2003 as one of the projects of Al Ihsan Charity Association to provide medical care and treatment for all society segments of the poor, needy, orphans and the widows, and more than 3000 families. Services offered at the center include: Clinics of Internal Medicine, Pediatric, Dental, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sonar, Cardiology, General Nursing, Laboratory, Pharmacy and Cupping. Upon touring the complex, it was invaluable to share a few laughs and conversations (in Arabic, of course) with some patients waiting to receive treatment. The Medical Complex is extremely efficient in its intake and management of monetary, medical, and miscellaneous donations. Therefore, the impact of organization is far-reaching and all-encompassing in one way or another.

If I was not able to derive anything from SIT Jordan: Geopolitics’ day with the Sheikh, the one thing that was made abundantly clear. The Sheikh, his family, the Al Ihsan volunteers, and the people of Ajman truly understand the impact that any given individual can have on someone’s life. A towering emphasis is placed upon service in this community. I truly believe that with service etched into the forefront of any community, the only direction that the community can go is forward. I am very proud and honored to have been able to interact with the citizens of Ajman for a day.

Fortunately, I did not encounter any international or domestic issues that hindered or affected my volunteer work in any way. As my internship and research work have been approved and are scheduled to begin in one week, I don’t anticipate running into any issues in researching and ultimately volunteering with any organization in Amman.

I don’t believe that my service efforts in Ajman were overshadowed. Similar to the people of Ajman, I understand the importance of person to person interactions from the most basic to the most meaningful of ways. Being able to shake the hands and looking into the eyes of the citizens who received food packages, I am confident that we made a lasting affect in their lives. For another week, these families don’t have to worry about where the next meal will come from. I don’t do community service projects for myself. I don’t do it for the recognition and I don’t do it to receive anything in return. With this clear mentality going into our day of service, I was able to surmise that our contributions were meaningful and will continue to be impactful because of our genuineness.

Well, this was a long post! Thank you all for sticking with me on this journey! Can’t wait to talk to you all next month for my final blog post!!! P.s. Please enjoy the pictures below!

شكرا كتير، يعطيكم العافية و مع سلامة يا شباب!

By Brielle Powers

Though I may technically be the “tutor” on Saturday mornings at Usasazo High School, I have become a student in so many ways during my time in South Africa. Beyond my classes at UCT, in every interaction I have here I am constantly questioning, absorbing, wanting to learn more. I’ve come to realize that engaging with the community is not always about the service rendered but about the knowledge gained.

As a TeachOut tutor, I can’t help but think I’m learning so much more than I could possibly teach. In the past few sessions, we’ve worked on figurative language, debating, and poetry. Since I studied the same concepts at their age, I try my best to employ the same methods and tricks my previous teachers used to help me. But some of these efforts are to no avail as I continue to struggle to relate to the students. However, I think I am making some progress and the students are becoming more receptive to me.

On one Saturday, there was a miscommunication about whether or not there would be a tutoring session and we had only a few students in each class. This made the session less intimidating than the ones in the past and it was nice to be able to have one-on-one time with the students.

As the students were completing their worksheets and we had finished reviewing the elements of a sentence, one of the Grade eight students raised her hand. She said she didn’t understand the difference between a direct and indirect object. So logically I told her how I remembered the difference -- through a rap I learned in the seventh grade.

As I was signing “a direct object is a noun or pronoun that receives that action of an action verb,” I could tell she was starting to understand and she was able finished her worksheet without assistance. Some of the other students like the song and I was able to go around the classroom with ease, seeing where they needed clarification.

Another one of the TeachOut tutors has been tutoring English at Usasazo for almost two years now and helps guide me as to how to explain the concepts to the students. She handles the class so well and is extremely passionate about helping the students pass matriculation, which is South Africa’s version of the GED, a standardized test that students must pass in order to graduate high school. She has taught me a lot about the South African education system and about how programs like TeachOut are integral for public school students who don’t necessarily get the extra help they need in overcrowded and understaffed classrooms.

While I have been making small achievements towards connecting with the students, I’m eager to do more, to get to know them better, and to help them pass their exams. I find myself spending a lot of my time talking to the other tutors. While the students take practice quizzes, I ask them about their high schools and why they started tutoring at Usasazo. I think exchanges like this are what makes community engagement so impactful. Having the ability to talk through and compare and contrast experiences enable us to learn from each other. We are all teachers and students and should take on each role by being open to learning new things, eager to ask questions, and willing to share our own experiences.

By Lisa Maina

Working with Equipe Aidons les Talibés has been very interesting but there has been a recent hiatus in the management of the organization. Because of this, program development had slowed, and I haven’t been able to work with Boukom and his team in the last few weeks. However, I knew still wanted to give back to the community and was restless to find another organization to work with in the meantime. With the help of the incredible program directors here at CIEE Dakar, I was quickly placed at another volunteer post, one I am very excited about.

Being a public health major, with a particular interest in global health, I was drawn to this program in Senegal because of the chance I would have to witness the health system in action here. When the opportunity to work at a health post in suburban Dakar was presented to me, it felt like fate (sorry that’s cheesy). This post was constructed by the Red Cross and operated by Red Cross volunteers until it was offered to the local government. Now, it is operated by two government-paid clinicians, that perform the maternal and child health functions, and several volunteer clinicians, that offer first aid and pharmaceutical services. My point of contact at the post is Cheikh Faye, an impassioned, energetic volunteer that spends basically 22 out of 24 hours a day helping the people in his neighborhood.

My first day volunteering started with a 40-minute bus drive to the outskirts of Dakar in a region called Pikine. Luckily, I was travelling with a student that had been volunteering at the post for a while, so she knew exactly where to go when our bus broke down still about 20 minutes from our destination. This wasn’t my first time on public transport in Dakar, but it was definitely my longest, with loads of traffic, standing, and confusion until we were forced to take a taxi the rest of the way to the post.

When we finally arrived, we received a warm welcome from Cheikh, then we got right into the work. The other student volunteering there already knew the ropes, so she showed me around. There are 4 offices, 3 for family health and 1 for adult consultations, 1 pharmacy and 1 research lab/classroom all on the premises. Right next door to the post is a Red Cross operated primary school and across the street is a delicious restaurant that we frequently visit after long days seeing patients. My duties that first day were to learn how everything works at the clinic and pick it up as quickly as I could.

I work with Cheikh in the adult consultation room where we check in patients for the entire clinic, perform first aid duties and occasionally do mini-surgeries for kids and adults. As consultations for children 0 to 5 years of age are free, we have a lot of newborns and toddlers come into our clinic where they are weighed and sent to the family medicine offices. That is my absolute favorite part, especially last week when I got to weigh a week-old baby, oh my goodness she was so small and quiet it was incredible. Anyways, check-ins are easy enough minus the language barrier. Because we are outside of urban Dakar, many of the clients don’t speak any French and most speak only Wolof. As I have been taking Wolof classes since my arrival in Dakar, I can ask basic questions, hi, how are you, what do you want, what’s your name, and so forth. However, it’s the responses that usually pose a problem. Sometimes they have a specific card that indicates when they should be coming for visits and depending on the type of card I can figure out whether it’s a family planning visit, post-natal or adult consultation, but other times the client assumes I speak Wolof, is disappointed when I don’t, and we just wait for Cheikh to translate.

I also had to quickly learn how to clean and wrap wounds, which is simple enough but more than anything, I had to get used to seeing open wounds and blood without reacting too harshly. Though most cases have been mild, occasionally we’ll have to remove a birth control implant which involves making a deep incision into the client’s arm, squishing out the plastic implant and picking it out from the inside of the arm with some forceps. I wouldn’t say I'm rather squeamish, but that definitely shocked me watching it for the first time, especially as the procedure was done with several other patients waiting in the same room, very little anesthesia and relatively little light. In fact, conditions in the clinic are adequate for the needs of the community but insufficient compared to standards most of us are used to. When the other student first arrived at the clinic, there were no gloves for any of the clinicians in the office, meaning wound cleanings and procedures were done with bare hands. The bed is ripped up and the scale is very outdated; the tools used are limited and reused from patient to patient; and the clinic only provides antiseptic and the cleaning gauze used, so patients must buy wrapping gauze, ointments or any other necessities at the pharmacy next door.

What the clinic lacks in supplies, though, is made up for by the incredible staff that work their butts off every day to ensure the health of their neighbors. Cheikh and his colleagues are at the clinic as early as 8 am, work there until 2:30 to 3 pm, afterwards do home visits for clients that can’t make it to the clinic, then go home to their own families but are usually still on call for any emergencies. My first home visit, we went to the home of these women that are taking care of their elderly father/husband. He had fallen from a flight of stairs and has unable to walk since, but he was also experiencing severe decay of the skin on his left foot. Cheikh explained the likely cause of this necrosis as a result of the fall creating a sort of paralysis and the lack of movement decreased blood flow to his extremities. Since that first visit, Cheikh has made himself available everyday to remove the decaying skin, perform physical therapy to increase blood flow and do routine cleanings to stimulate skin regeneration. Other home visit clients include the family of a woman who unfortunately died after one of her procedures. Cheikh still visits the family members to check in on them and keep in contact as often as he can. Though I haven’t spent as much time with the other clinicians, so I am unaware of their schedules, but I know it takes a really courageous heart to do the work they do and take care of not only their neighbors, but many of these clients have become their friends, further indicating the quality of their care.

I have taken this opportunity to focus more on what I can obtain from this experience rather than analyze my impact on the community. Because I’m learning so much every day and I’m very naïve when it comes to the field of health administration, I doubt I can have much impact other than the occasional help I offer on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. I stand to gain a lot of knowledge not only on health practices, but also on the health system in Senegal, diseases in the region, maternal and child health routines, world perspectives on health, cultural aspects of medicine and so much more, all information I can use in the future to then help make an impact on the international health community.

By Fatima Zahra Kassidi

The real big identity speech I had from my family did not take place before me heading to Singapore for study abroad but actually when I first embarked in my college journey. Indeed, Singapore wasn’t my first real relatively long term adventure away from home but going to the US for higher education after graduating high school in Morocco was. My whole community was encouraging me to make a choice of staying closer to home where most graduating teenagers from Morocco went: France. In that way, they wanted me to remember where I came from and be able to come back home to a certain comfort and safety as often as possible. However, I made the decision to cut ties and fly away to the destination that had the education and life I thought I would flourish the most in. The thought of being independent and learning to make myself safe without the shadows of my community was vital. However my family did not understand this aspect at first as I was leaving to a deemed very far place compared to the average high school graduates. The first support I had from my family when they started to be more understanding of my decision as I was preparing to leave across the ocean was my mother and grand parents filling a whole luggage of Moroccan food and sweets to store when I arrive so that a piece of the culture would stay with me as I settled in the new foreign environment, an idea that I thought was very important to sustain. I remember having a conversation on the phone with my mom about a month after moving in my campus dorm and starting my first semester of freshman year—she reminded me that even though I saw people doing things I was in no way obligated to do the same things just to try to fit in. In that same conversation she also made sure to remind me that people are raised with different values whether they are cultural or religious and in some cases that meant you won’t feel the same excitement about doing some things. And most importantly she told me that this didn’t mean that I couldn’t fit in, quite the contrary, differences make people more interesting and are an incredible way to keep an open mind and learn about each other but only when respect and tolerance are strong foundations. This speech still resonates with me today every time I travel some place new in the world for whatever purpose. The respect of diversity has been such an important thought to me ever since and it helped me build and maintain life long relationships throughout the past few years shaping my current identity. I learned to be able to stand up for my beliefs and never feel constrained to act in some ways for the simple satisfaction of feeling like I belong somewhere. If anything is meant to happen then it will find a way to see life and anything feeling forced shouldn’t be entertained. That is the main thing that I was taught by my community every time I went away and that shaped who I am today and how I engage with both the world and people. I always felt like my identity is constantly changing but it was never really challenged until I crossed national borders and was left to grow on my own and adapt in unfamiliar settings while still remembering and being proud of my original sources.

By Zachary Brumback

On Tuesday I traveled to the Bankstown Art Centre and attended the Bankstown Poetry Slam (BPS). When I arrived at the art center, I was amazed by the number of attendees who were already waiting outside the auditorium. I quickly made my way to the end of the queue and waited patiently for the doors to open. Upon entering the auditorium, I presented my ticket and made my way to one of the remaining seats. As I was waiting for the event to begin, I could feel the excitement resonating throughout the room.

With the dimming of the auditorium’s lights, the co-founder and host, Sara Mansour, took to the stage and welcomed everyone to the poetry slam. However, she was also the bearer of bad news. Due to the performances by two “world-class poets” (Joelle Taylor and Bill Moran), there was only room for fifteen other attendees to perform. As a result, five individuals were unable to perform their pieces. Following this announcement, Mansour reminded the audience that there was a three-minute time limit for each performance and that the selected performers would be judged on a scale ranging from “1-10” by five random members of the audience. As a result, five judges were randomly selected and given whiteboards and expo markers. With that said, Mansour introduced the first performer and exited the stage.

With the auditorium filled with over three hundred attendees, I was immediately impressed by each performer’s ability to recite their poetry with such poise. Their topics ranged from love to anger, happiness to sadness, and freedom to oppression. Many performers used their poetry to convey their personal political beliefs towards a number of ongoing issues. As a spectator, I was mesmerized by how the performers seemed to take on a new identity to complement their words and express their emotions.
Following their performance, the poets received a round of applause and were later scored by the five selected judges. According to Mansour, both the highest and lowest scores were omitted to prevent any bias. As a result, a facilitator from BPS averaged the three middle scores of each performer. After the poetry slam concluded, Mansour announced the first, second, and third place winners of the night’s slam. However, due to a tie, two individuals received second place. Also, the winner of the slam was granted the opportunity to perform in BPS’s Grand Slam later in the year and compete against other slam winners.

Whether one was a performer or just a member of the audience, each member in attendance was engaged in the experience and ultimately received support from each other that they can share with others. Although one may have only been a spectator, they were still able to learn from the event’s performers, reflect on their own experiences, and thus apply their newly acquired understanding and perspective to their poetry and life.

During the second half of the event, BPS hosted two “world-class poets” that presented a wide selection of their work. Through their performances, attendees were able to watch experienced performers and learn from them. In addition to hosting a variety of “world-class poets,” BPS hosts “Flip the Script” on the night before each monthly poetry slam, which serves as a form of mentorship to individuals under the age of twenty-six. Therefore, individuals have the opportunity to receive feedback from a mentor and can improve their piece before performing it the next night.
By attending the poetry slam, I was able to experience a real-life example of a participatory culture in the local community. By performing and expressing their emotions through poetry, individuals are under the impression that their message can resonate with their audience and may potentially help others going through difficult times. Following their performances, these individuals received instant gratification and felt a sense of belonging. Due to its welcoming environment, I was fortunate to engage in this unique event.

By Beatrice Mount

My vacation has ended! After spending a week jetting around Rome, Florence, and Budapest, I came back to UCM on Tuesday feeling refreshed and ready for the rest of the year. Since UCM is on a quarter system, I’m tackling a whole new set of classes for the next seven weeks. This semester, I’m taking Human Atrocity Triangle, Crucial Differences in the 21st century, and Research Methods II, as well as continuing my Basic Dutch lessons. 

One of the reasons I wanted to go on exchange to UCM was because of the class options. As someone aiming for two majors and one minor, I have a mess of academic interests that can make planning my schedule extremely difficult. When those interests intersect, it not only makes my scheduling easier but also makes learning easier. As the saying ~loosely~ goes, if you’re studying what you love, it’s fun and easy. While last semester I focused on more specialized classes, this semester both of my classes intertwine with all three of my favorite subject areas: Crime, politics, and gender. 

Human Atrocity Triangle focuses on bringing a criminological understanding to Gross Human Rights violations. It seeks to define what these crimes are, the role of different actors on the macro (state) and micro (individual) level, and also look at who the victims are. Last semester at GW, I was lucky enough to get into the Human Trafficking course, and I see this class as a natural progression on this section of my academic journey. Instead of focusing on one type of atrocity, I am looking at case studies of a whole range of atrocities. After three classes, i can affirm you that it is a grim subject, but absolutely fascinating. For example, the first class focused on definitional issues — what populations did you leave out by codifying these violations? How does the legal definition allow for states to work around that definition and violate rights? Is there, or should there, be a definite line defining what is and isn’t torture? It’s always the best when you leave a class with more questions than answers. 

Crucial Differences of the 21st Century focuses more on the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Political Science aspect of my education. While the course will cover human rights violations, it’s been more theory based for the most part. We’re starting off by reading on Intersectionality, Identity, and Queer theory, as well as the general histories of the civil, gay, and women’s liberation movements. Understanding how these differences manifest today will also help us understand how to deal with the political and personal ramifications of these constructed differences. 

Research Methods is exactly what it sounds like — figuring out what methods of research are, and understanding what methods might be appropriate in which situations. It’s not too exciting, unlike my other classes. But it’s a nice break from constantly puzzling through genocide or discrimination. Or just letting my brain rest after spending 2 hours trying to figure out the right way to conjugate “gaan” or when to use “lekker.” Spoiler alert: the Dutch language is not very descriptive, and “lekker, which is essentially tasty, is also a catch-all that can describe chairs, carrots, people, and cars. 

I definitely have a full schedule for the next seven weeks, so figuring out how to balance traveling, exercising, studying, and feeding myself will surely be an interesting and chaotic game. While the last few weeks I’ve explored multiple countries, I’m probably going to spend the rest of this quarter using my Museumkaart across the Netherlands and visiting nearby Aachen. If, that is, I can survive the four 8:30 am classes I have. Seriously, you don’t really appreciate the beauty in making your own schedule until it’s gone. If there's one thing I'm looking forward to returning to when I'm back on campus, it's returning to my almost exclusively evening classes.