Hello those interested in what I have to say! I have decided to give monthly recaps at the end of every month. Thus this would be the March version. All is well here in Chile. If you have any questions or want to hear more about something put a comment on my video and I will respond. Cool? Cool.
Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler
You are currently browsing the Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler blog archives for March, 2011.
The first week has been pretty amazing. It is orientation week and i must say I am really impressed with the group. Everyone has been getting along extremely well. I could definitely see myself hanging out with everyone of these people. Needless to say we have been playing soccer with local Chileans (and winning…beside the point)dancing traditional salsa and tango eating enough food in one day than I usually would in a week and overall having one of the greatest experiences of my life! And classes haven’t even started nor have I met my host family. Needless to say studying abroad has been one of the best decisions I have made in my entire life!
This weekend I’m finally taking my first big trip since I landed in Sydney. I’m heading to Brisbane and Fraser Island with one of my best friends from home, Jenny, who’s on the study abroad program with Boston University. We fly in on Friday morning, spend the day in Brisbane, and get picked up for a Four Wheel Drive tour of Fraser Island that’ll last two days. It’s going to be incredible!
Everything has been going really well here. It’s so crazy to think that we’ve been here for a month and a half – where has the time gone?! Last I wrote, I was about to celebrate my 21st birthday. My birthday was on a Monday, when I had a full day of classes, so we went to Hunter Valley to go wine tasting the next day. What a GREAT trip. We went to five different wineries, tasted some amazing wine, and had a really nice day out of Coogee.
Another big change since I last wrote is…I am officially interning at Rolling Stone Australia! It is actually a dream come true. I started last week, and I couldn’t be happier. So far, I’ve been doing research, transcribing interviews, and writing reviews myself that might get published in the magazine. Is this Almost Famous?
I’m off to bed before a full day of class and a jam packed weekend – I’ll be sure it update with some pictures of the tour!
Hi again Readers!
Just a quick point- I can tell you anything about my specific experiences here in England, but I don’t know if they can be generalized to fit everywhere. So, unless you are going to Lancaster University, be careful about taking my word as standard. And if you are going to Lancaster University, please ask me anything!
Now I’ll just do a quick update on what my plans are. Our Lent term ended last Friday, and my flatmates have been out every night for the past 5 days (I’ve graciously passed on that opportunity). Besides the increase in sunshine and the increase in alcohol related activities, the beginning of Summer term means that all of my lectures, tutorials, and seminars are done. Because of the weird way that Easter fell this year, right now, it’s the first week of the summer term, and the other 9 weeks will be after Easter Break, which is April 2-May 1. Not all places on campus do this, but for my building (The John Creed Building in County College), we get kicked out for break. I have to be completely moved out of my room by April 1, and store all of my stuff elsewhere. Many of my other study abroad friends here at Lancs get to stay in their rooms, they just live in different colleges. I’m not sure why the International Office would allow us to be housed in this building, because unlike my British flatmates, I can’t just pack all my stuff home for the break. I don’t know, some people are just planning on traveling the whole break anyway, so they don’t need the extra four weeks, but paying to store stuff? I’m glad I have good friends!
The first weekend of break I’ll be with my friend Kate from Manchester, at her house. Then I’ll come back to Lancaster Uni and stay in my American friend’s room in County South, which is right in front of my building. I’ll be here for a few days just finishing up my coursework, and then head south to Reading, where my boyfriend lives. I’ll be there for the second weekend, then I’ll head to Paris, where I’m meeting up with some of my friends from GWU who are studying in London. The next day, I get to be with my bestest friend in the whole world (since we were 12), and Meg and I will do a lot of European traveling. We’re doing more in-depth adventuring than a lot of people I’ve spoken to, because we’d rather spend a day in a city than a day on a train. But to each his/her own!
Meg and I will continue to be in France for the third weekend and then we’re heading to Switzerland to visit the church where my parents were married [they had been living in Germany, stationed there with the US Army, and Bern was where the closest LDS temple was located], and then we’re hopping over to Austria where we will be doing the Sound of Music tour. SQUEEEEEE. I’m so excited! Sound of Music is definitely one of my top five favorite movies of all time, and I love the music and the costumes and the accents and the scenery and I’m really really excited for that. In the fourth weekend, Meg and I will fly back to London and we’ll do the really big London touristy thing (though I have done that a few times already, there’s always something new to see, e.g. a Shakespeare play in The Globe!). She’ll then fly home and I’ll go back to Reading in time for me and the bf to drive back to Lancaster together at some point during the bank holiday (yayyy Royal Weddings!).
May 2 is the start of the second week of Summer term. I then must start “revising” (i.e. studying, specifically for exams) because I have exams on 16 May, 24 May, 28 May, and 4 June. Heaven knows I won’t actually spend 2 weeks studying for that first final, but I’m sure I’ll find loads of other things to do. I’m more used to 4-finals-and-a-presentation-within-10-days-of-each-other, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all of my time!
I have a month left in England at that point, which I plan on using to its fullness. My flight home is July 4th, which seems symbolic, but I won’t be glad to be independent from Britain, I’ll be heartbroken to leave.
I have been keeping a list of some of the things that I say differently. A lot of times, people give me the benefit of the doubt because Lancaster has a very diverse student population. Usually I don’t get corrected, though sometimes my friends find it funny enough to say something.
Lastly, I am contracting an accent, very slightly. I noticed it even in the first two weeks, because I had to modify the way I ask questions. It’s different here, just the intonation- which word of a sentence has the stress on it. I couldn’t tell you exactly which accent I’m speaking in, because my best friends are from Aberdeen [in Scotland], Morecambe [the next town over], Reading [which is wayy south], Manchester [about an hour from here, but Kate's accent is the thickest I've heard yet (besides the Liverpool accent!)], and South Africa. I probably speak mostly with a Northern accent though. I hope I don’t lose it too quickly once I’m back in the states!
No, my title doesn’t have any particular significance, but it is true. That’s why at night I take the long route walking back to the Beaches, because if I take the shortcut through the grass it’s like walking through a minefield of enormous cane toads. I don’t particularly want to feel their bodies squishing beneath my feet . . . especially since I walk barefoot a lot.
I’ve been really busy these past few weeks, and only realized today that I’m due for another blog post. Last friday I turned in my first assignment–or assessment as they call them here, which makes me feel as if I am being critiqued, rather than my work. My teacher was sick, so we didn’t get our essays back this week, so I need to wait till next week to learn if I did a decent job with my first Australian assignment. Here’s hoping for a ‘D’!
The grades are different here. ‘D’ means distinction. ‘HD’ means high distinction, though I automatically think high definition. There’s no possibility of me getting either HD here.
‘C’ means credit. Then I think there’s a ‘P’ which means pass, I think . . . or poor. I should probably figure out the difference.
Last weekend I went white water rafting down in Tully, which was absolutely ravaged from the cyclone. Think about if you take a fern, and run your fingers down it, so that only the tip of the fern is left and the rest is stripped. That’s what the trees here look like. Forests of nothing but treetops. It was kind of sad, but at least–according to the bus driver–the banana crop is coming back well. Chances are I won’t be able to buy a decently priced banana during my time here, though.
The rafting was awesome. Granted, I had to wake up at 4:30 am to be ready to leave for the Student Lodge at 5:30, and when I left it was still dark out. Hence, the cane toads were out. So from the lodge we took a van to Cairns, then took another bus to Tully. The difficulty of the rapids was level 4, which is pretty intense, and our raft almost tipped over more than once. There were some parts of the river we were allowed to swim in, and some parts that, had we swam in them, we might’ve become croc food. We got to go down the river twice, and a good part about being in front for a chunk of the time was that we got to watch all the other rafts try to navigate the rapids. Then, if anyone fell out, we went on the rescue to try to get them back into a raft before they floated to the next rapids.
Oh, I almost forgot. The day before the rafting trip I went on a field trip to Mossman Gorge with my Linking Indigenousness class. We took a Dreamtime tour, where our guide more or less told us that every plant surrounding us in the rainforest had the ability to kill us if we touched it. Then again, the indigenous people knew cures for almost everything out there, so I was confident that if I accidentally brushed against one of the stinging plants, I wouldn’t die. I’ve included some pictures of the trip on here.
Ever since Monday, I’ve been on an obsessive hunt for a bicycle. I think I’ve browsed through every newspaper, looking for bikes in my price range. There’s this guy at Rusty’s Market who’s supposed to be getting some in next week, but that means I’d need to take the bus to Cairns, then he’d have to give me a ride back, since you can’t take bikes on the bus. Every time I walked by someone on a bike this week, I just wanted to push them off and take it. There was a kid’s bike stuck in the water at the underpass, and I seriously considered jumping in and getting it. That’s how desperate I am.
Luckily, this afternoon the woman at the secondhand shop across the street got in some bikes. The one I tried out had no air in the tires, something was wrong with the chain, the front brake didn’t work, the back brake only sort of worked, and the gears were broken.
And I considered buying it.
My good sense kicked in, and I told her I’d wait for the guy to come by and fix it up a bit, or I’d wait for her to get some better ones. I mean, I want a bike, but I want it to be good enough that I don’t crash into a tree on my first ride because the brakes don’t work.
On Tuesday two of my friends and I went into Cairns for zumba. Of course, I assumed it was indoors, because nothing is held outdoors in Vermont, but this was on a big green right in the middle of the city. It was free, and people would stop and watch the whole time. The cool thing was that it was at 5:30, so all the bats were out. Theses aren’t little Vermont bats. These are bats the size of pelicans, and they fly around as though they’re birds. There are huge swarms of them, just flying over the buildings in daylight.
Now I’m waiting for my group partners for my Indigenous class to show up at the library, because we have a project due next week, and we haven’t started . . .
Better late than never.
Check It Out!
1. White Water Rafting (Don’t be a pansy and go for the level three rapids. Level four, baby!)
So the weekend before last was my trip to Uruguay (one of IFSA’s included excursions), but before I get to the details about that, I’ve gotta share what my day had in store for me today…
Of course I can’t go one blog without talking about food, so I’ll start off with lunch. I was walking down Corrientes and ran into a sandwich shop that sells pre-made sandwiches/salads/empanadas/tartas etc., so I decided to go in for a salad since I barely have the opportunity to eat something healthy for lunch. Anyway, salad and sandwich in-hand i scooped up a little lidded soufflé cup of caesar dressing to put on my salad when one of the workers came out with a load of others that were… get this… RANCH. I basically died right there, as I thought my month-long search for ranch was over. Welp, I was wrong. I got back to my apartment and decided I was going to dip my sandwich in the ranch and have the caesar on my salad. To my terrible disappointment, the ranch tasted like an unsavory blend of butter and mayo. So then I went in for my salad and the aroma of fish hit my nose. I remember looking on the back of bottles of caesar in the states and seeing anchovy at the bottom of the ingredient list, but this scent felt like it was penetrating my brain. I couldn’t even finish the salad; it was so disappointing! So, now that I’ve written a sizeable paragraph about how my quest for sauce in Argentina has failed once again, I’ll continue on with the rest of my day.
Figuring out classes here is terrible. Point blank. In short, I’m now only going to be taking 4 classes for a total of 14 credits (one short of my normal 15-credit load), BUT it’s only going to transfer as 12 credits at UVa because my school isn’t going to accept Di Tella’s strange 5-credit-per-class rule. I was going to take an art class to make it a total of 17 here and 15 at home, but then IFSA sent me my mandatory castellano schedule, and that plan died. So, in the end, I’ll be taking 12 credits (US… I feel like I’m exchanging currency), and they’re only Tues-Thurs. I’m not complaining about the schedule, I just feel like I’m a bit of a waste of life. Anyway, I got home from a run at the park to clear my head from the class nonsense, and Norma brought me into my bathroom and was telling me to pour half a gallon of bleach down the flood drain after I use the bathroom because there is some sort of infestation of bugs (of which I couldn’t understand the translation). So as we were laughing about how much she was freaking out, I asked her how to spell the insect’s name in castellano. Translation: scorpion. Apparently a neighbor downstairs walked into her living room to find her dog barking at a scorpion on the floor, claws raised, stinger pointed. I was actually a little taken aback, but as Norma ran around pretending like she had pincers snapping at Sebastian’s feet, I kinda forgot about it. Then my dad came in later and told me to wear shoes around the house, and when I get up I need to shake out my shoes to make sure none crawl inside because those “hijos de puta” (translate it for yourself) crawl into dark places. I’m still traipsing around in bare feet because bugs don’t bother me too much, but who knows what I’ll be thinking when I go to sleep in the dark tonight.
Okay, so now for Uruguay. If I could choose a few words to describe my trip, they would be:
Not a bad combo, huh? Anyone who makes their way to Buenos Aires for a week or more HAS TO make their way to Colonia, Uruguay. The only formerly Portuguese town in Uruguay, population ~26,000, is a truly amazing place, and I enjoyed every second I was there. The beaches are much nicer than those in Mar del Plata, you can get there on a 50-minute ferry ride (although of course ours was the 3-hour one), and it’s just a great place to relax and get out of the go-go-go mindset of BsAs. Although my friends joked that you could buy a sandwich for 1,000,000 pesos, which would equal $1, the exchange rate was 19-1. Even though I treated myself to some nicer meals, food was generally cheaper than in BsAs, the shady cobblestone streets were populated with a decent amount of mate-in-hand residents and tourists, and a lot of the IFSA kids were buzzing by on four-wheelers, vespas, and golf carts. A perfect setting.
The first day, we went for lunch at the director of the program (Mario)’s house for lunch. It was INCREDIBLE. His estancia was enormous, furnished with a pool, ponds, lemon orchard, fruit trees, and a 15-minute walk from the beach. From the moment that I set my foot down on the soil until I heaved my much-darker body back onto the ferry, I was relaxed and completely enjoying every part of the trip. Viva Uruguay! I’m definitely going back.
Two Balls, one on either side of Reading Week and a week plus’ worth of travelling throughout England and Scotland where my only guarantee was going to be little sleep; I was excited. The first up was the Music Societies Ball, which I would attend with a good friend from back home who was visiting me and Ireland for the week. All I had to mention to him was that we could go to a Ball, in a castle, and he was sold, the three-course meal and various musical groups playing for our entertainment were simply icing on the proverbial cake. Suited up in fine attire, or as fine as my friend could find; he mistakenly assumed he wouldn’t have any need for anything dressy while abroad so he was rather lacking, but we made due and excused it because we were Americans and who really cared.
The Music Ball was held in Clontarf Castle, to which we were taken to by a not-so-fancy-pancy bus. Nor were we immediately greeted upon entrance by a string quartet like we were promised. I, for one, was quite peeved. But this was made up for by the fact, which concluded to be the general sentiment of the entire group that evening, that we were in a castle, having a Ball, and regardless of anything else that was more than enough to satisfy. The string quartet eventually did play, followed by numerous a cappella groups, a jazz group with a most magnificent singer whose voice they ran through a speaker to give it that old 1930s or ‘40s radio-feel to it, and finally an eclectic group of student DJs. The DJs, I must add must have had some vendetta against music past the ‘80s, because apart from two Daft Punk songs, nothing made it past that decade, a fact I was not displeased about in any form.
The second Ball, mere hours after my flight touched back down in Dublin, was held in the illustrious Burlington Hotel by the Psychology Society, of which I was not a part of but I scored a date to it and I desperately needed an excuse to wear my tuxedo that I had shipped over from America in anticipation of a previous Ball that had gotten cancelled, much to my rage and fury. With friendly date in-arm, we entered the second Ball which, while not held in a castle unfortunately, was still pretty nifty.
This was more of the same, minus the live music, but instead replaced by a professional photographer. I’m sure many an American Prom had photographers present and whatnot, but from everyone I’ve talked to about it the consensus was it was always pretty lame and disappointing. Whatever this guy was doing at the Psych Ball was working though. Every picture I saw that he took came out fantastic and, well, professional, and all with three little clicks of the camera.
Honestly, there wasn’t that much of a difference between Prom and these Balls, but there was a more mature air about them, less of a need to impress or make one last stand before college. Everything was more relaxed, fun, and, even if it’s just because it’s called a Ball, more elegant and refined. What’s in a name?
I am in the middle of reports, projects, labs, and midterms are just around the corner. School is busy as usual. I am studying away and doing homework while at the same time trying to make time for friends and traveling. It is a tough balance.
Class registration was a very difficult process this semester. I had had very little difficulty with the process last semester; however, this semester was a nightmare. Registering for classes here requires that I be in constant contact with my advisors at my home university, the IFSA-Butler Staff here in Costa Rica, as well as the UNA exchange student advisor. In short, it requires constant emailing. There are other difficulties too. Official schedules change, the distributed packet of classes sometimes does not match up with the list of classes on line, classes are full, some classes are deemed too difficult for me, classes don’t transfer or fulfill requirements, and the list goes on. After nearly three weeks I finally was able to settle on a school schedule.
I have five classes this semester: Ecology, Spanish Sintax (a linguistics course), a literature class focusing on short stories and poetry, a ceramics class, and History of International Relations. It’s kind of an odd and broad mix of subjects, I’ll admit, but I am rarely bored. I also have a “taller” of Latin dance. These are no-credit, no-grade classes that meet once a week for roughly two hours.
I think it should be mentioned that there are many student groups and activities on campus too. For example, there are sports teams, competitive teams of dance, various volunteer projects, sports competitions between different university departments, cultural festivals, music and other student performances by the main “soda,” or cafeteria, every Thursday, film expositions, choir groups, music groups, theater, and so on and so forth. I am hoping to be able to attend more performances from these student groups this semester.
For me there has been a significant and wonderful lack of confusion this semester. Now that I am familiar with the education system, it is a lot easier to focus on my studies and not be preoccupied with understanding the system. My Spanish language abilities continue to improve as well. I still occasionally suffer from bouts of shyness and embarrassment concerning my level of Spanish. But as a whole, it is much easier to be an active part of group projects and class activities. It is also easier to converse and get to know the other students in my classes as well. There are several students in my Ecology class that were in some of my other science classes last semester. Having this little bit of familiarity amongst other students is wonderful; it makes me feel at home.