The Westman Islands

The day trip we took to the Westman Islands was probably among my favorite places to see during the trip. We had read the journals of Ólafur Egilsson and the abductions that occurred on the islands, so it was fascinating to see them in person. I think one thing that became apparent from our visit to the islands is that there really was nowhere for the people to hide from the pirates, as there are no trees and the islands are small. This vulnerability really put in perspective how the pirates were so successful at taking prisoners. On a personal level though I was amazed by the beauty of the islands, as they mostly are made up of sheer cliffs and vibrant green grass, creating a unique contrast. We did a boat ride, however as I remained above I ended up getting fairly soaked by a large wave, which while entertaining in retrospect was a little cold at the time.

Let’s Learn Spanish!

March 27, 2017

First Day of School (and of real traffic in La Paz)—by Jordan Pryor

La Paz

The first day of school was, for lack of better words, a struggle. I believe that this was mostly because we were all still acclimatizing and somewhat still sleep deprived. The whole school thing started out a bit rough when we couldn’t find the school at all, even though we walked past it several times. Like any class, there were parts where time went quickly and also times that went slowly. Either way, we all survived our first lessons. It is quite interesting to learn from a native speaker one-on-one in comparison to classes in the United States. I won’t say it wasn’t difficult, but I am looking forward to the improvement these four days of classes will have on my Spanish. After our classes, we found a Peruvian restaurant, whose menu consisted exclusively of seafood… I’ll just say some of us liked it more than others. We then met with a professor from the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés to travel to a museum as well as a haunted street. We spent the rest of the evening before dinner exploring local shops and small markets, which are on every street in La Paz. We also explored the Plaza de Murillo, a popular place for locals to spend time and also a place for many shops to sell various items. One thing to note about La Paz, and about Bolivia as a whole, is the number of indigenous people. It is especially easy to recognize the indigenous women as they have a very specific type of clothing and they are often times the women running the shops. After dinner with professors from the university, the group was pretty tired and we all turned in for the night.

New Country, New Experiences—by Lauren Reynolds

Plaza Murillo

Rise and shine! It is the first day of class! Getting up at 6:30 for class was not my first thought when going on spring break. The tiredness of all the travel and then the early morning made want to cry when I heard the alarm go off in the morning. The three times I hit snooze was not enough, but nevertheless I overcame.  It was all worth it, though, when we got our day started. This morning we ate breakfast together and talked about what was the most surprising to us about Bolivia. Something that is surprising to me is the cable car system that they have implemented in the past few years. It is called the teleférico. It looks like a ski lift and it takes you from La Paz to El Alto. The traffic here is crazy, so going the short distance from the two cities can take forever. La Paz is working on adding 7 more cable car systems in the next few years.

After our language classes we went to a Peruvian restaurant that was, to say the least, interesting. I keep thinking I like seafood, but when it comes down to it, I really don’t. I was coerced into eating clams and octopus. Later, we went to a museum and got to walk around the streets of La Paz. We learned about the different groups of people from Bolivian history and how they developed tools, household items, and their ceremonial costumes. Something that was really interesting to me was how part of the “Cholitas’” (indigenous women in Bolivia) outfits came about. These Cholitas are always wearing a traditional outfit of a ruffled skirt with a top and a bowler hat. The hat has not always been original to their outfit. It originated in England, and when the English men stopped buying the hats, some businessmen took them to Bolivia to sell. When they arrived in Bolivia they could not find any men because they were out in the fields working so they told the women that if they wore the hats that they would be more fertile. That was something all the women desired so they purchased the hats from the businessmen and that is how it became part of their

Pique a lo macho

traditional outfit. Later in the evening we met up with some professors from Universidad Mayor de San Andres (UMSA) for dinner. The dinner was amazing. I ate a traditional Bolivian dish, Pique a lo Macho, which was beef tips, sausage (cut up hot dogs), peppers and onions, an egg, and a spicy sauce, all on top of French fries. I’ve made it a goal to try to eat true Bolivian food everywhere I go and so far it has been a success! Something I have noticed is that meals in Bolivia take way longer than meals in the States. Once we finished dinner we were all exhausted and went to bed because 6:30 was going to come really early.

San Sebastián & Trucha—by Connor Yarnall

My Spanish lessons began today with my private tutor, Cecilia. Cecilia is a native of La Paz and shared a lot about the cultures, customs, and people in La Paz. We talked in Spanish about the various social classes and indigenous groups that call Bolivia home. I also learned about the problems that the Bolivians have and the governmental structure. We continued for four hours but it seemed like only an hour had passed. I could not believe I was able to hold a conversation in Spanish for so long.

The doors to La Iglesia de San Sebastián

After my first lesson, we ate lunch at a Peruvian seafood restaurant where I had pulpa (octopus). It was the best food that I had in Bolivia until dinner tonight. After lunch, we traveled to the Museo Nacional de Etnografía y Folklore. I was exposed to artifacts of ancient, colonial, and contemporary eras. After the visit, we went to Plaza Murillo to see the Presidential Palace and La Iglesia de San Sebastián. I love ancient architecture and churches so this visit ranks near the top of my stay in Bolivia thus far. La Iglesia de San Sebastián was astounding and breathtaking.

We went to dinner with a few professors from UMSA to eat my best meal of my stay in Bolivia: trucha (trout). It was absolutely amazing and I would have to put it high on my list of best food I have ever eaten. The UMSA professors were great company and the food made it a fantastic night.

A Life-Changing Three Weeks

By Katie Werth

IMG_0899Getting to be in Annecy for three weeks was one of the most amazing things I have ever done. Being the student that knew the least amount of French in the group, I was very scared about living with a host family and not being able to communicate with them. I was very lucky and got fit with a wonderful family. They spoke English, but also taught me French. I was incredibly sad when I had to leave them.

The language course that I took was probably one of the hardest classes I’ve taken. It was a complete immersion class, so I learned how to speak French in French. It was a big struggle at first, but about one and a half weeks in I started getting the hang of it. IMG_0904The teachers were amazing and so were the other students. In one small classroom I got to meet people from all around the world. I think that getting to meet so many people from different countries was probably my favorite thing about this experience. It was really fascinating to hear about how differently things are done around the world and it gave me a new perspective on American life.

The city of Annecy itself is probably one of the most gorgeous cities on the planet. There are flowers and trees everywhere you go. The water in the lake is as clear as glass. You could see the bottom all the way in the center. One of my favorite things to do was get an ice cream and go for a walk around the lake. The mountain during sunset is one of the most breathtaking sights I have ever seen. I really hope that one day I will be able to go back to Annecy and spend all of my time exploring the town!

The Construction of French Cultural Identity in the Pantheon

By Alexandra Womack

Pantheon 1On May 27, 2015, a somber procession made its way to the Pantheon of Paris. It was bringing the coffins of four members of the French Resistance, including two women, Germaine Tillion and Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz–whose coffins were symbolic, as they contained dirt from their gravesites—and two men, Jean Zay and Pierre Brossolette. Although the whole world may not have been watching, it seemed that much of Paris was there in person. Our class was fortunate enough to also be in attendance, watching along with several thousand French men and women as history was made right before our eyes. Tillion and de Gaulle-Anthonioz, along with compatriots Zay and Brossolette, are not the only members of the Resistance now found in the cool darkness of the crypt—they join Jean Moulin, an administrator and a resistor during the German occupation of the country who died after his capture and torture by German officers. Originally laid to rest in Père Lachaise Cemetery, Moulin’s remains were transferred to the Pantheon in 1964. The interment of Tillion, de Gaulle-Anthonioz, Zay, and Brossolette was a celebration of the spirit of the Pantheon 2Resistance. These four heroes present new faces that promote the ideals of the motto “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité,” which dates from the French Revolution.

The presence of both Moulin and these four resistors gave all of us a unique chance to experience how cultural memory persists in France, and especially in places such as the Pantheon. The idea of these lieux de mémoire, or “places of memory,” is a foreign one to me; I can think of only a few places in the United States that act as a receptacle for our collective cultural memory in the same way as the Pantheon does for France. The French actively establish these “places of memory” and continue to maintain them through times of war and peace, abundance and strife. I was vividly reminded of this when I stepped into the building for the first time, three days after we had watched that stately procession. In Photo from Rosethe echoing space, it seemed that all aspects of French spirit shared space—Sainte Genevieve, patron saint of Paris, watched over us from great murals splashed across almost every wall; a marble statue that dominated the far wall of the building depicted intellectuals and soldiers alike seeking the attention of Marianne, who stood triumphant over the words Vivre Libre ou Mourir, “Live Free or Die.” The Pantheon of Paris lacks overzealous grandeur, despite its eclectic style; it is made beautiful not by its decorations but by the uniform message of cultural pride and remembrance that it presents. I was really moved by our visit to the Pantheon and it was an honor to be in the presence of the tombs of the people that France considers great enough to honor forever; of all the monuments and the places that we visited, the Pantheon was definitely one of the most moving.

The View

By Rosamond Hoyle

Rose AnnecyI grew up for a time in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and I visited the Andes in Peru when I was 11. I am familiar with the beauty of mountains but I had no idea just how stunning and subtly different the Alps in Annecy would be: the immense blue-green lakes winding their way through the valley, the far-off peaks still crested with snow as sunbathers spread themselves out over the beach, and the light blue haze haloing it all.

While the scenery is beautiful, one of my favorite parts of the Annecy leg of this tripRose 2 Annecy is the chance to see some different French culture. This was especially easy since we are staying with French host families. My host family lives up on the side of a mountain with an amazing view overlooking the lake and the town. It was very hard learning to live with them at first. Between the language barrier and figuring out the ins and outs of their household, I first thought that I would hate living with a host family. After the struggle of interpreting and then getting over all the eccentricities that come along with living with another family, something that accompanies living in a foreign situation and not just with a foreign family, I began to truly enjoy my time in Annecy.

Rose 3 AnnecyThe efficient bus system can take me anywhere I want to go in the city. In the end, this is not necessary because, each day after class, we wander the same scenic centre ville for hours; shopping in little boutiques, walking and swimming in the lake, and eating ice cream almost every day. Annecy is like something from a storybook. The old cobblestone roads wind their way around churches and canals, all leading the to lake cradled by the mountains.

As the days have passed I have gotten used to riding the bus, going to school, and living with my host family. The scenery however, I could never get used to. Even during my last week here, the view as I ride the bus down the mountain to school in the morning still takes my breath away.

 

Miners Abroad – Curry Spray

Curry Spray is a Computer Engineering major who studied abroad at the University of Western Cape in South Africa. At Missouri S&T he is involved in a fraternity and with Engineers without Borders.

Curry Spray with friends in South Africa

Curry Spray with friends in South Africa

I’m probably not the right person to be describing the wonderful, life-changing experience that studying in a foreign country, in a totally new environment, will be for someone, but I’m here to give it a try. I am a student at Missouri University of Science and Technology and I studied in South Africa during the Fall of 2013. The three keys to having a successful study abroad are patience, professionalism, and preparedness.

After several months of packing and getting ready to travel south, to the tip of Africa, I finally arrived at my residence for the next five months, Kovacs. I had forgotten plug converters, I had no way to charge my phone and get ahold of someone, the campus was isolated from the nearest town, and everyone was gone for the weekend. It was scary. I was not to be deterred though. My second day there I wandered outside of the confines of campus and caught what appeared to be local transport towards a destination that I hoped was Cape Town. After about 30 minutes the minibus came to a stop and all of the passengers got off. I would later realize that we were just switching minibuses, however, I had no idea what was going on and strayed into the nearby surroundings. As I began to walk a voice rang in the back of my head, the voice of Mr. Leonid Jackson, the director of International Affairs at the University of Western Cape, whom I had the pleasure of meeting before I flew over. A few kind words of advice he had told me came to mind, “Don’t get lost in the ghetto.” I was not in the most savory of environments. Needless to say, I left fairly quickly, and made my way back to the safety of University housing, my pride of being independent and able to fend for myself slightly wounded, but mostly feeling pretty good. The next day I was able to get in touch with a friend living in Cape Town and she took me to the mall where I bought converters and started learning how things worked in and around Cape Town.

I learned a little something about patience during my time in South Africa. In the first few weeks of classes there was a group project in my Information Systems class. Our group met weekly, on Tuesdays, in order to discuss our topic and break down the work assignment. People were very often late to these meetings, including the group leader. When we were asked to reflect on our group project at the end of the quarter, my classmate, Abonga, had this to say (copied straight from his reflection report):

“F. The time management approach did not work well because there is a thing that is called African time and that has affected our mentality. When you finally start to slow down you start enjoying so many more things.”

African time is a real thing, but it’s not a bad mentality. In this instance it affected our work timeframes, but it has so many other effects that are quite positive. Americans and Europeans and some cultures in Asia are so strict and work-oriented that we forget to enjoy the little things and we also strain our health. When working in the hot African desert, you have to take your time while doing things or you will succumb to heat exhaustion through overexertion. If you walk too fast in flip-flops or sandals, you will get rocks in them. If you just slow down you can begin to enjoy so many things: the sun shining down on you, the bustling wind at the top of a mountain, or the sound of the ocean at the  seaside. Patience helps you through the struggle of the day and it can help you get the most out of everything you do.

Taking time to enjoy the view

Taking time to enjoy the view

Professionalism is very important when going anywhere new. Always remember, if you travel abroad in the future, you are an ambassador for your country/organization/self. And make sure to respect and take in all of the new cultures you experience. You might find that you like them quite a lot. Most important though, is to have fun and better yourself from the time you have. I have many more stories to tell and if you’re considering studying abroad in South Africa in the future, I hope you will read them. For now, thanks for reading!

Ubuntu,

 

Curry

Studying abroad could give you an edge in the job market

(CNN) — When Ashley Blackmon sat down for her job interview for a marketing position in New York City, she didn’t start off by talking about the business classes she had taken in college or her experience working at a financial services company.
Instead, she talked about the five months she spent studying and traveling in Spain.
“When I left the interview, I felt amazing,” said Blackmon, 24, who studied at ESEI International Business School in Barcelona the year before she graduated Clark Atlanta University. She landed that marketing analyst job at a large food and beverage company and believes her study-abroad experience was the thing that set her apart. “I learned how to be a better businesswoman, critical thinker and relationship builder in a new culture,” she said.

Ashley Blackmon studied abroad in Spain.
Studying abroad isn’t a common experience for most U.S. college students. In fact, only 1% of students manage to study abroad.
Finances, time constraints and safety are some of the challenges U.S. students face when deciding to spend a semester or two overseas. But globetrotting during or after college could give recent graduates an edge in the job market, which continues to be one of the toughest on record for 20-somethings.
The potential benefits are prompting new study-abroad initiatives in the States. Organizations such as the Institute of International Education have launched programs such as Generation Study Abroad in hopes of doubling the number of U.S. students who travel internationally.
An international push from the White House
First lady Michelle Obama is also working on efforts to promote more international travel among Americans. She’s in China with her daughters and mother, speaking about the importance of education, youth empowerment and the benefits of studying abroad. The first lady conducted an exclusive interview with CNN iReporters on Saturday, taking their questions on studying abroad.
“The benefits of studying abroad are almost endless,” Obama said during the CNN iReport interview. “First of all, it is going to make you more marketable in the United States. More and more companies are realizing that they need people with experience around the world.”
Howard Wallack, vice president of global business development at the Society for Human Resource Management, has experience as a hiring manager and was an international exchange student. He says traveling abroad can introduce students to a host of skills.
“Living in another country, you learn to deal with a variety of people,” he said. “You learn to listen, be proactive, be patient, assertive. All those are translatable skills.”
Wallack’s experience working in a rural health clinic in Guatemala after a major earthquake helped him find compassion and resiliency within himself.
“If you just stay in your own country, you have a certain mindset about your own culture. When you step out of that, you challenge your experiences and find out about yourself, which can translate in the workplace,” he said.
The problem is students don’t always know how to illustrate those experiences on paper. But some colleges are taking steps to teach soon-to-be graduates how to leverage their study abroad adventures for job interviews.
Take the trip, land the job
Heather White is the director of the Career Resource Center at the University of Florida. With an enrollment of 50,000 students annually, she says the key to standing out with your travel experience is to be strategic about how you exhibit it.
“Some students tend to write on their resume, ‘study abroad France,’ and that is it. We recommend expanding on that experience. Did they volunteer, work, study?” she said.
Jennifer Grasz, a spokesperson for job-posting site CareerBuilder, says to write out what you learned and how it’s relevant to your professional performance on your resume.
“For example: Traveling abroad has provided me with a greater knowledge and appreciation of global communities and how to effectively navigate around communication and cultural barriers,” she wrote in an e-mail to CNN.
Ashley Putnam, a fellowship director for Idealist, an online resource for finding nonprofit jobs, is a bit more skeptical about the career benefits of studying overseas. “It depends on what they did,” she explained. Running a public policy program, she looks for applicants who are realistic about job expectations.
“I find that people who paid to volunteer abroad sort of just take pictures and hold babies,” she said. “It depends on your study abroad program, too. Just having studied abroad is good, but there is a whole other aspect to what you did while you were there.”
That’s exactly what Alexa Basile tried to keep in mind when she selected her study abroad program. The State University of New York at Potsdam student spent a year in Australia teaching social studies to a class of nine students.

Alexa Basile traveled to Australia for her study-abroad trip.
It was during that immersion with her students, many of whom had behavioral problems, that she noticed her eighth-grade students were reading at a second-grade level. That inspired her to focus on more critical reading lessons. “And that made me realize I wanted to be a literacy specialist,” she said, which she is now emphasizing as she interviews for graduate school.
Like Blackmon, Basile puts her study-abroad experience on her resume, but she also goes in depth about her trip in her cover letter. She’s candid with interviewers about her successes and challenges overseas.
“I had times with this class that were really tough, and sometimes frustrating,” she said. Her students routinely challenged her instructions, defied her and talked back to her.
“But my very last day, I walked into the classroom and they decorated it for me and they brought me treats and toys,” she said. “I broke down immediately. It really proved to me they were tough, but they appreciated me.”
Those frustrating and rewarding moments helped hone her classroom management skills. After Basile came back from Australia, she got her second student teaching job at an inner-city school in New York City.
It’s exactly that sort of program involvement that Idealist’s Putnam says will make hiring managers care about a study abroad trip. “Be self-aware as you are doing your job and take stock in what skills you are building. It’s not just ‘I go to a class and I teach the class,’ ” she said. “Be critical of the work that you are doing.”
Basile, who is interviewing for graduate schools, says to approach studying abroad with realistic expectations. “To get most out of your travel, you need to go with the mindset that you are going to do a lot of things and be involved,” she said.
“Get hands on and look for a program that has those experiences. You can be a tourist on a family vacation.”

 

Link to complete article and video from Michelle OBama about study abroad

http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/25/travel/irpt-study-abroad/index.html

 

 

 

Reflecting on My Trip

100_6698The month I spent in Europe was everything I expected it to be and more! While from the start I knew my trip was going to be an adventure I never could have guessed the impact that it had on my life. While preparing for the trip I was terribly excited and also quite terrified. This was my first time leaving the country and I didn’t know what to expect. In all my years of foreign languages classes we have talked about differences in culture and the concept of culture shock but I realized it was something better experienced that simply speculated.

 

2013-05-25 11.10.55When Claire and I decided to make our first stop Rome my fear was amplified but so was my excitement. We knew Rome was going to be a culture shock! And it was! The Italian people did not understand us. At first I found myself wanting to talk to them like you would to someone hard of hearing. Speak louder and more clearly. This method did not work. Luckily we managed to navigate Rome and communicate enough to enjoy our visit.

 

100_6565My month in Europe gave me a lot of confidence. All of the challenges I was able to overcome really amazed me. I have never felt so independent. As crazy or cliché as it may sound this trip really helped me to understand just exactly what I am capable of achieving. I feel empowered. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to spend the time I spent abroad. I tried new things. I met new people. I went outside my comfort zone. I experienced life like I never had before. Literally every day was something new and exciting. This was a great trip.

 

 

The American Cemetery at Normandy

 

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.'s grave site

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.’s grave site

On June 12, we visited the US cemetery at Normandy, which is located behind the Omaha Beach invasion site.  It was a very surreal moment seeing all of the white crosses and Stars of David all lined up.  The gravestones are lined up so that they are always in a row no matter which way you are facing them.  If you view them from the side, at an angle, or straight ahead they will always line up with the ones following it.

Gravestones of US soldiers

Gravestones of US soldiers

This is not unusual for an American military cemetery.  Anyone who has been to Arlington National Cemetery will find that the gravestones line up exactly like the ones at Arlington.

The area where the cemetery is located is very beautiful, especially with the ocean in the background.   Located in the center of the cemetery is a chapel. It is not a place to sit down and have service, but it is a place to visit that honors the sacrifices of these men no matter what religion they may have been.  At the front of the cemetery there is a giant monument dedicated to the Normandy invasion and the European theater on either side of the walls.  Just behind this monument is a wall with all of the men still missing from the landings at Normandy.

Fallen soldiers still protecting our flag

Fallen soldiers still protecting our flag

Many people come to visit the cemetery every year.  The people who visit are not just Americans, but they come from all over the world to honor these brave men who gave their lives for freedom.  One of the most visited sites at the cemetery is the grave of Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.  He is buried alongside his brother Quentin Roosevelt, who was killed during World War I.  His grave and his brother’s grave are roped off from the public to help keep them intact. Otherwise the grass around them would be destroyed due to the high foot traffic.

The whole experience at the cemetery was sad.  There were so many graves (around 9,000).

An unknown US soldier

An unknown US soldier

Not all of them are from the Normandy landings. Some are from other locations during the fighting in the Normandy area following the landings.  Many of the families had their relatives sent back home once they had fallen in battle, so the cemetery is not as big as it would be if all of the men who had fallen were still buried there.  Any American who is in Europe needs to go and see the cemetery because these men not only gave their lives for them, but for the people of Europe too.  They need to be remembered and honored by not just the Americans, but by the people of the world.

 

 

The Vel d’Hiv Roundup–by Will Hays

I was not sure exactly what to expect upon leaving Gare de l’Est Wednesday morning. However, after our morning activities and our break had passed, I found myself with the group at a particular monument next to the Eiffel Tower.  The monument was erected in memory of the disturbing events that occurred in July 1942.  This event was known as the Vel d’Hiv Roundup.  I soon learned from listening to Stephani’s excellent expert assignment and also by doing my own research that between July 16-17, 1942 over 12,000 Jewish men, women, and children were defenselessly arrested and taken from their homes in Paris and other parts of France.  These people were brought to police stations and perhaps the most disturbing thing was that it wasn’t even the Nazis that were arresting the Jews in France, but the French police. The Vichy government was very much influenced by the German leaders, and was forced to co-operate with the orders that would come from Berlin in order to maintain what sovereignty it could manage to keep. After the war, the roundup became known as a symbol of French guilt and shameful compliance in the Holocaust. The terrible conditions the many victims faced in the camps they were later taken to were far too terrible for most people to even attempt to grasp, in terms of the lack of food, filthy water, and no place for them to go the bathroom. The prisoners were treated worse than POWs in most camps.

The artistry that is portrayed by the monument does an excellent job of illustrating such an atrocity, to the maximum extent that a monument can portray. The artist portrayed the victims as all appearing as if they are all in a state of disarray, including a woman holding suffering children, and one laying down on a suitcase, which I believe symbolized how they were all forced to leave their homes with almost no time to pack, and the exhaustion experienced by all. The faces of the individuals on the monument represent all the victims of the Vel d’Hiv Roundup as a collective whole. Below the monument, there is a plaque, and part of it reads “We will never forget.” I find France’s history to still be extremely prevalently embedded into its citizens’ memories even to present day, and feel like this quote is both very appropriate and symbolic of the French culture today.