Viva Bolivia!


March 28, 2017

Lauren Reynolds: Today was a beautiful day because I got to pick what we ate and that was salteñas! I love salteñas. If you’re reading this, you probably read my introduction, which mentioned that I had been to Bolivia before, so knowing how wonderful this Bolivian dish is I could not bear to not have it on this trip. They did not disappoint. After lunch we went back to the hotel and waited in the lobby because the Bolivian national fútbol team was staying in our hotel! They were playing against Argentina. Latin America has the coolest fútbol atmosphere. Fans crowd around the doors of the hotel to get pictures of the team getting on the bus, and those that can get into the hotel race to get pictures with their favorite players before they have to leave for the game. We then embarked on the longest walk ever to the stadium in the rain. The altitude is around 12,000 ft above sea level in La Paz (the altitude in Denver, CO is under 6,000 ft), which makes it very difficult to breathe when trying to walk anywhere. Once we got near the stadium there were people lining the streets selling Bolivian and Argentinian gear. Of course, I had to get a scarf! Something I thought was interesting was that since it was raining, there were people outside the stadium selling pieces of styrofoam for you to sit on to. The game was amazing! What a totally different atmosphere than any professional sporting event I have been to in the States.

At the Bolivia vs. Argentina soccer match

Connor Yarnall: Thousands of people were surrounding the stadium. It was a Bolivian tailgate with people cooking, banging on drums, and selling merchandise. I was able to talk to a native woman and buy myself a Bolivian flag. I was feeling the excitement to root on the home crowd. As we approached the stadium, the Argentinian team bus pulled up, receiving loud applause from the Argentinians. But I told myself I was on Bolivia’s side today; as a guest in this country I have been treated great.

The game was electric. Bolivia was able to take the win 2-0, which made being in the crowd even better. I felt like a Bolivian, joining in on the crowd chants, applauding the goals, and sitting in the packed stadium. It was truly an experience I’ll never forget.

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.

En Route to La Paz!


Before Arrival—by Connor Yarnall

My First Meal in Bolivia – Argentinian Beef with French Fries & Rice

Today is the day I travel to La Paz, Bolivia. I have never been to La Paz and I am extremely excited to learn about the people and their way of life. I hope to find a culture that is unpredictable and completely different than my own.

I am like any other traveler who wants to experience the atmosphere of a city with its architecture, food, and history. However, what I expect most out of this trip is communication. I have studied Spanish too long, even though I loved every minute, to not have a better grasp on speaking the language. I hope to share my thoughts, opinions, and background with the Bolivians in Spanish and receive from them the same. I hope to find a sense of accomplishment in my study of Spanish during my stay in Bolivia for being fluent in another language as always been a dream of mine.


Arrival Day—by Jordan Pryor

The thick fog made it seem as if we had landed in the pitch black at about 4:30 in the morning. Immediately, the city of La Paz was a culture shock. I felt as if I knew what to expect when I got here, but no extent of research can really compare to experiencing something in real life.

View of La Paz from the teleférico

Obviously, the air here is pretty thin, at least too thin for my liking. I think that the excitement of finally arriving kept me from noticing the lack of oxygen immediately, but after standing in lines and carrying bags around the airport, it was noticeable. We were all split up into cabs and were rushed down from El Alto to our hotel. After all of the excitement of arriving in a new country, it was impossible to fall asleep right away. Lauren and I are sharing a room, and we were so excited because we got a corner room with double windows that we started jumping around. After maybe ten seconds of this we were out of breath, and this was probably the first time I really felt the effects of the altitude…

Come on, Vámanos! Everybody, Let’s Go!—by Lauren Reynolds

One of my favorite parts of traveling is the flight itself. I love airports and the cramped cabins and all the different people that flying introduces you to. On Saturday, the group and I flew out of St. Louis in the afternoon and landed in Miami. Next, we got on our final plane to La Paz, Bolivia! It wasn’t a full flight and we spent the first twenty minutes trying to find window seats to move to (with no luck). The plane ride to Bolivia was a cultural experience, as most of the people on the flight were from Bolivia. Upon descending into La Paz our plane was struck by lightening, which was the scariest but coolest part of the flight.  Landing in La Paz at 4:30 a.m. was quite the adventure. Not to brag, but I was the only one who filled out my forms correctly. Going through customs was way quicker than I expected and before I knew it we were on the way to the hotel. Once we got there we had the luxury of having a few hours of sleep. We woke up at 12 p.m. to meet for lunch with a professor in Bolivia and his family and they were very welcoming and invited us to their house after our meal. The first day, I had some altitude sickness but I was able to get that under control by drinking a lot of water and some coca tea. I think we all spent the first day groggy and under the weather, so we called it a night rather early.

Mission Accomplished—by Connor Yarnall

I arrived in Bolivia around four in the morning. I was in a hazy state and I could not remember much of the taxi ride through the town of El Alto but I could remember the mountainous terrain. As the ride continued toward my hotel, I became aware of the ever-changing elevation from street to street. From this simple taxi ride, I started to gain an appreciation for how the landscape had shaped the lives of these people.

I woke up in my hotel hours later around lunchtime. The highlight of this day was talking in Spanish to the wife of a UMSA (Universidad Mayor of San Andrès) professor. She did not speak English and was gracious in slowing down her speech and complexity of language to interact with me. As we continued to talk over lunch, I became more confident in my ability and was accomplishing the goal I set for myself. She gave me a good introduction to Bolivia and I could feel the friendliness of the people around me.

Meet the Bloggers: Bolivia 2017

This spring break, four S&T students are traveling to Bolivia to study Spanish, visit cultural sites, and meet with faculty at the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés in La Paz. Their trip is sponsored in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, via the Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language (UISFL) Program. Students received additional scholarships from the Department of Arts, Languages, and Philosophy and the College of Arts, Sciences, and Business. Dr. Jorge Porcel (Arts, Languages, and Philosophy) and Dr. Joe Guggenberger (Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering) are accompanying the students, who will be posting information here about their experiences. Meet the bloggers:


Hello! My name is Jordan Pryor and I am from Springfield, Missouri. I am a freshman here at S&T and I am studying engineering management with a minor in Spanish. I traveled to Costa Rica two years ago, which is where I fell in love with the culture of Latin American countries. Obviously, the cultures vary greatly throughout Central and South America, but I have found that they all are very vivid and exotic, which is fascinating to me. When this study abroad opportunity was first brought to my attention, I immediately knew it was perfect for me. I have always known that I wanted my career to be something that makes a difference, no matter how big or small of a change I can make. After college, I hope to be able to carry out this dream, along with living out my passion for Spanish-speaking cultures by helping in some of the underdeveloped areas in countries such as Bolivia. I hope that this trip will only open my eyes more to the culture as well as some of the issues that exist outside the bubble of the United States.



My name is Lauren Reynolds and I am a sophomore studying engineering management, Spanish, and French. I am from Wildwood, Missouri, and transferred to Missouri S&T from another university, where I was studying to get a Spanish major and a French minor and was considering being a Spanish teacher. There, I also played softball for the university. Now, I have given up softball and am very involved in Zeta Tau Alpha and Engineers Without Borders. One of my biggest passions is to travel and I have had the chance to study in France for a month and a half last summer and to visit Bolivia for two weeks the summer prior. Some of my hobbies are spending time with family and friends, traveling, and drinking coffee (yes, I definitely consider this a hobby). I decided to participate in this study abroad because I think Bolivian history and culture is very interesting, so having the opportunity to research it and go back to Bolivia for a class is awesome. An interesting fact about myself is that my favorite animal is a cat and I adopted a kitten named Chester last fall. Something cool about this picture is that it was taken last time I was in Bolivia in one of my favorite cafés, “La Vainilla.”



My name is Connor Yarnall and I’m a sophomore majoring in geological engineering and minoring in Spanish. This is my first opportunity to study abroad with Missouri S&T but not my first time abroad. I have been to Italy and it was there that I started to fall in love with experiencing other cultures. I have been studying Spanish for eight years now and I believe I am in a position to start utilizing my language skillset. Bolivia has a rich history and I could think of no other place begin my journey of exploring Hispanic culture.

I’m extremely excited for this trip. I love the mountains, and the city of La Paz sits at twelve thousand feet of elevation. I am also a long-distance runner and the higher the elevation, the harder exercising becomes. I have never run at an elevation at that level, and I might try to, just to see how it feels!

I hope to gain an eye-opening experience by travelling to La Paz, Bolivia. It’s so easy to get caught up on our own small worlds that we forget how big the world is around us.



Hello, my name is Anna Meyer. I am currently enrolled in my fourth semester at Missouri S&T. The degree that I am seeking is in environmental engineering. Ever since I was a kid, I have cared so much for this planet that gives me a place to call home. I would love to give back by learning as much as I can about our environment and using that knowledge to benefit the world. I am from Sullivan, Missouri, which is a small country town not far from Rolla, Missouri. My favorite thing about home is going to the Meramec State Park and also lounging around with my cats. At Missouri S&T, I spend my free time going caving and hiking in the surrounding areas. I am currently working on my minor in Spanish, which I will have upon completion of this semester. I have never been out of the country, so this trip to Bolivia will be a treat! I plan to study abroad in South America next semester in hopes of bettering my Spanish-speaking abilities. I dream of becoming fluent in Spanish and moving to South America permanently to find more solutions for environmental sustainability.


Traveling, in Retrospect

By Rosamond Hoyle

I would be lying if I did not say I was scared for the majority of this trip. I was scared when I got on the plane in Kansas City, I was scared when I got separated from the group on the Paris Metro, I was scared when I arrived in Annecy and my host family swept me off to a party and vigorously interrogated me about my life in French. This fear led me again and again to question if I was doing the right thing. Why had I spent all this money to go on a trip that put me in positions in which I was uncomfortable, nervous, and home-sick? [Read more…]

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.

Exploring Lyon


The smellier the cheese, the better it tastes!


The Miners study abroad program took a trip to spend a day in the city of Lyon with other students from our IFALPES school. This is the second biggest city in France and is very different from other places we have visited. We were able to see a big street market for antiques, visit a variety of shops with cheese or pastries, enjoy a cultural festival, explore two beautiful religious establishments, and check out some Roman ruins.

A focal point of the city is two religious buildings that are in eyesight of each other. The photo 1Cathedral Saint Jean is at the bottom of a steep hill, nestled in with the rest of the city. The Basilica of Fourvière graces the top of a cliff in a very spectacular way. The climb up to Fourvière was intense but worth the visit. The basilica has beautiful mosaics, and since it is at the top of a large hill, it gives one the chance to get really familiar with the layout of the city because the views are spectacular. Our tour guide spoke only French, but the longer I am on this trip the more I understand. He explained some interesting information about the basilica’s architecture and art. Later during our visit of Lyon, we walked though the narrow streets with interesting shops in what seemed like complex medieval mazes. We got to see and hear the inside scoop on the city—tagging along with a local guide leads to the best surprises.

The longer I stay in France the more amazed I am about the gorgeous churches. I was able to hear a mass in French at the Fourvière Basilica. I was stunned by all of the mosaics, paintings, and even just the floor plan of the basilica.

IMG_5560Walking across the Roman ruins of an ancient amphitheater is truly remarkable. Step on the stones, climb on to center stage, hike up to the very back, and imagine the grand Roman productions that took place there. Those Romans knew what they were doing with architecture and planning because our group tested how one could simply talk at center stage and others can hear what is being said fairly high up into the amphitheater. The aisles and seats in the amphitheater have clearly stood the test of time for centuries. I can only imagine seeing a stage production and hearing people sing in this ancient ruin back in the day.

What has been wonderful about this whole study abroad excursion is that there is structure but at some points we have some time to explore on our own. Ashley and I partnered up to walk around Lyon. While on a journey back to the bus to take the group back to Annecy, we were side tracked by a huge cultural festival. People from all over the world dressed up in their finest and truly painted a picture of how diverse Lyon is. Many beautiful faces and costumes with dynamic music were parading through the streets. Various art objects, food, and goods were onIMG_5633 display to reveal a colorful feast for the eyes. My particular favorite was the Chinese dragon diving through the crowds and some women dressed up in huge gowns.

All in all, Lyon was a great sample of yet another diverse city in France with excellent food, culture, architecture, and museums. It was a perfect Saturday well spent, away from language class in school. Getting French taught on site, using local dialect and slang, leads to great leaps of learning. It is an excellent aid to the grammar lessons at IFALPES and very beneficial.

Here are links to the IFALPES school we attended and to the IFALPES Facebook page that has all kinds of fun anecdotes.


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.


A Whole New World

By Darci Graefser

20150602_120215This morning I was reminded that today officially marks the halfway point of my France study abroad experience, and honestly, it is very bittersweet information. I do not think that anyone could have accurately warned me about how much I would miss home: my friends and family, a language that I am fluent in, and just the overall comforts of being in the culture I know. However, at the same time, I wish I could have more time to learn here. I feel like my French is improving immensely with each day that passes, and even beyond that, I believe my sense of cultural appreciation is continually growing.

My first night in Annecy was very difficult for me. I arrived at the train station and within minutes was whisked away, taken to the home of someone who was a stranger to me. At first, my brain had a very difficult time processing all the French that was20150603_151555 coming at me in rapid-fire mode and I was overwhelmed. I quickly learned that my homestay mom spoke no English, only Italian and French, and realized, just as quickly, how difficult a language barrier can be. I was lucky to be paired with such a wonderful host who is very patient with me when I struggle and is helping me to understand by explaining things in different ways until I comprehend them. However, it can be very frustrating at times when you are asked a question, have many thoughts about the topic, but lack the words to be able to convey that message. For the first few days, I found myself limited to yes/no answers and felt like I could not express the real me.

20150602_115812Thankfully, since I have arrived in Annecy, communicating has become a lot simpler. I am not sure if it is from becoming more familiar with the language through my classes, my host mom speaking slower, or some mixture of the two, but it is definitely a breath of fresh air. While I am here, I am taking a language intensive course at IFALPES and in my opinion, this is an incredible school. There are students in my class who are from all over the world (Japan, Ukraine, Germany, Libya, and Venezuela, just to name a few) and have come to learn French here in Annecy just like me. Since none of these countries share a native language, the only way we are all able to communicate with one another is through French. To me, this is amazing since we are continually putting our studies into practice with others whose French is at the same level as our own. Also, I think it is wonderful to be meeting friends from all over the world who are going through the same experiences as me and to learn how the culture here in France varies from the culture of our various home countries.

When the train started going through the outskirts of Annecy, I began to wonder if I had accidentally dozed off. I would not have been surprised if all of the sights around me were just a dream. The green mountains and sparkling blue lake made me feel like I was living in a fairy tale. Even now, nine days after I have arrived here I cannot get over the lakefront view with the mountains in the background. If you look towards the peak of the mountains, you can see snow. This is such an unbelievable contrast from the gorgeous 85-degree weather we have been having here. Since I have arrived in Annecy, I have made sure to walk to the parks in front of the lake each day and just take in everything around me. There is something magical about walking through the ‘centre ville’ with the multicolored buildings, gorgeous flowers, and sparking canals surrounding me that leaves me no doubt that Annecy is the most beautiful city I have ever seen.