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April 24th, 2017 in Scotland | No Comments by
Glasgow School of Art exchange students Eric and Rachel meet up with the Ifsa kids from Glasgow University, St. Andrews, University of Edinburgh, and University of Stirling to attend a bus tour to the Isle of Skye! Experienced demonstrations in sheep herding, a hike up the Old Man of Storr, and some faces were dunked into the fairy pools for 7 seconds to obtain Eternal Youth™.
The sprawling Scottish Highlands, with its towering snow-peaks and glimmering valleys, are sure to make one step back and consider their gratitude to play even a small part as an individual in history and on this beautiful green planet.
April 19th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
During the month of April I went to England and Northern Ireland. My first stop was London, England. I was meeting a friend who’s also studying abroad this semester; the same friend that I traveled to Amsterdam with! London is a very busy city with a lot of people in it! At times it was a little overwhelming. It was nice that the public transportation was so easy though. It was also nice that it runs 24/7! That can be something frustrating about Scotland’s public transportation. Although the public transportation was pretty intense in London, it was relatively easy to navigate! Of course I was with somebody who knew where they were but I think it would have been fine if I wasn’t. On the first night we went to a play! It was called “A Comedy about a Bank Robbery”. It was pretty funny and was about exactly what the title says! The humor was just silly and didn’t require much thought! It was nice to just relax and watch a play for pure entertainment.
The next day we went to Westminster, which is the main tourist site! It was interesting because I had been there about 11 years ago and once I walked off the tube I had this overwhelming sense of nostalgia. I was transported back to my 9 year old self. It was such a wonderful and exciting feeling! I’ve never experienced something like that before. The power of nostalgia was so strong! At this moment I captured a picture of Big Ben, which I’m really proud of! I feel like it came out so well! Read More »
April 17th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
The flatmates and I eat chicken, discuss our Argyll adventure weekend experiences, and uncover the mystery of “quince.”
April 3rd, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
The middle of March was the halfway point of my program and my time abroad! It’s a bitter sweet moment. I think about how I’ve had such a great time here and how I’ve made such wonderful friends but, I do miss things about home.
So far I’ve experienced wonderful things in Scotland! I’m so happy that I chose the University of Stirling for so many reasons. The campus is really great and the scenery is beautiful! My favorite thing about Stirling is how the campus is removed from the city. I like that it feels secluded. The campus really is it’s own little town in a way! My home university is a commuter campus and I live at home, so being able to live on campus has been a great new experience for me. I enjoy being able to cook for myself and having freedom to have my own schedule! I’ve been able to grow in ways that I can’t describe. Having independence abroad has made me feel more like an adult. Before I left, I felt like I was in between an adult and a teenager but, coming to Scotland has made me feel like a capable adult! Read More »
March 16th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
Our first big excursion organized by IFSA was to the Argyll Forest, one of the oldest national parks in Scotland. We left on a Friday afternoon by taking a private bus into the highlands, including a ferry ride over the Holy Loch from the town of Gourock to Dunoon, our destination. According to our driver, we were accompanied by dolphins on the ferry ride back, but none of us could spot them.
Once arriving at our home for the weekend, the Benmore Nature Education Center, we met IFSA students from the other Scottish universities (Edinburgh, St. Andrews, and Stirling) for the first time. We spent Friday night exploring the impressive nature surrounding us through an exhilarating night hike through the gardens in the pitch dark with no “torches” (flashlights) to guide us. Read More »
March 16th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
For the first ifsa-butler trip we visited the Argyll Forest! We left University of Stirling at 2:00pm and then headed out to pick up Glasgow students! After we picked them up we drove to the coast and then took a ferry across the water! It was crazy that the coach bus fit on the ferry! I had never been on a ferry that was able to hold an entire bus so it was an interesting experience for me! Once we made it to dry land again we had to drive to the hostel that we were staying at. It looked more like a castle than a hostel! Finally, we were able to unpack our things and get settled in our bunk beds. We proceeded to have dinner and then went on a night hike! The night hike was interesting because it was so dark so you didn’t even really know who was next to you! It was nice to be outside in pitch black and have to experience through senses other than sight! I was very happy that I brought my rain boots on this journey because most paths were pretty muddy. After a long day of travel I laid down to sleep! The next day would be action packed! Read More »
March 7th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
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The city of Inverness in the Scottish Highlands is quiet and quaint, a must-see for those choosing to study away in Scotland. A classmate told me it's the rainiest city in Scotland, but the freezing rain and forceful winds didn't stop us from enjoying as much of the city as we could. I would advise leaving early on Sunday, the town is pretty sleepy and most shops and attractions are closed.
March 6th, 2017 in Scotland | No Comments by
February 23-26 I was in Amsterdam! I have a friend from back home studying abroad in London and we met up for the weekend! It was nice to be with somebody from home! It made me forget that I was abroad for a little while! I was glad that I was taking on a new city with someone familiar! It made things easier because we could both tackle the new city together!
My friend and I
The city was so much more than I expected it to be! To my surprise there were a lot of museums! If anyone was to visit Amsterdam I would suggest booking tickets online to avoid waiting in line. I was only able to visit the Anne Frank house and the Moco museum. The Anne Frank house was truly life changing. I had never been in a country that was directly effected by the Holocaust. It made the event so much more real. Of course I’ve read about the Holocaust, but to be somewhere that will forever be impacted was an intense experience. It’s challenging to even describe the way that I felt going through the house. It made me realize that nothing is guaranteed and your life can change in an instant.
The Moco museum contains rotating exhibits! When I visited they had works of art from Banksy (the street artist) and Salvador Dali. I had only ever seen the famous painting of the melting clocks, but I quickly learned that Dali did much more than that! I also didn’t realize he was making art in the 1970’s! I thought his work was much older than that. I also didn’t know that Dali would make furniture that were works of art! Meanwhile, the Banksy works of art were very modern and he’s known for being political! Often his work is painted over because he spray paints on the side of buildings. Banksy also uses the repeated image of a girl holding a red, heart shaped balloon in much of his work! The image is supposed to symbolize hope! I really enjoyed his works of art because he’s an artist that is living the same time as I am! I usually think of world renowned artists as being in the distant past! My friend and I were planning on visiting the Van Gogh museum, but in the long run we were much happier that we went to the Moco museum!
A piece done by Bansky
I was nervous about being in a country where I don’t even remotely speak the language! Luckily, almost everyone spoke English and most signs had English as well as Dutch; other than the train system. The first night my friend and I arrived we were told that the trains were very easy to figure out. Well everything was in Dutch and the side of the train doesn’t display where it’s going! So we pretty much had to guess which train to take! We ended up getting pretty lost, but eventually we made it to our hotel room! After that, all the other public transportation was easy to navigate! I also felt that it was a safe city! There was never a time when I felt unsafe! Overall, Amsterdam was a wonderful city and I really enjoyed my weekend there! I would highly suggest it!
My favorite picture of the weekend
February 16th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
Anyone who has studied in Great Britain knows how central Tesco, a popular supermarket chain, is to everyday life. With decent prices and locations at what seems like every corner, it is every university students go-to. I pass two on my walk home from the University of Glasgow and I usually stop in every day to pick up whatever I need for that night’s dinner. However, the smaller Tesco Metros don’t always have the selection I need, so I make the 10 minute trek to the huge Tesco nearby. To get there, I walk along a beautiful tree and apartment-lined canal, which makes every trip special.
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You can expect to see lots of wildlife while walking along the canal. Doves, ducks, and squirrels are all very common, but some have even seen foxes! In Scottish Gaelic, Glasgow means "dear green place," which still holds true given the many parks and waterways that host these lovely animals.
February 10th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
February 8th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
January 20th-22 I stayed with a Scottish family! This is one of the many cool aspects of studying abroad with ifsa-butler. I was very excited for this adventure! It brings a unique aspect to studying abroad. One of the main reasons I chose to study abroad was in order to be fully immersed in the culture. Seeing an average weekend of a Scottish family is the perfect way to experience the culture!
On Friday I was picked up and the family provided a wonderful pasta dinner! It was so nice to have a home cooked meal! I was also greeted by the most adorable kitten named pickles! I have two cats back home and it was great to actually pet and hold a cat. Surprisingly, it made me a little less homesick. After that we sat and talked with the host mom for several hours! She was engaging and had a lot of great stories to tell! We were up until 1am talking about all sorts of things! There was never a dull moment in the conversation. It felt like being at home with my mom! It was comforting to feel at home in a foreign place.
pickles the cat Read More »
February 1st, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
Studying and living abroad was a dream that I’ve had for as long as I can remember, but as my date of departure for the University of Glasgow crept closer, I found that my excitement for living in Scotland was overtaken by my worries about leaving. What classes will I take there? Will I make any friends? What am I going to do when I inevitably miss home? How am I supposed to fit my entire winter/spring wardrobe into one suitcase??? For me, the best way to combat these haunting questions was to make the most of my time with my family and friends, who provided me with the comfort and support that I needed to keep cool.
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January 30th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
January 23rd, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
There is beauty everywhere you look in Scotland — the stunning hills surrounding Stirling, the architecture of Glasgow, and the historical sights of Edinburgh are all breathtaking during the day, but Scotland truly comes alive at night. These pictures were taken mostly on the first few nights of orientation in Edinburgh. I definitely recommend walking along the Royal Mile at night; it was surprisingly calm and it was nice to be able to explore Edinburgh Castle up close without crowds!
Edinburgh Christmas Carnival
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Even though we arrived in Edinburgh on January 2nd, the Christmas Carnival was still in full swing! There were lots of rides and food stands to celebrate the holidays and the new year.
January 23rd, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
My first week abroad was mixed with so many different emotions! I honestly think that I felt every emotion possible this week. I was excited to move into my dorm and see how everything was set up. I was surprised to see that I had my own bathroom and shower right in my room! I was so happy to finally unpack my bags! Living out of a suitcase was really drag and it was starting to get to me.
The day after I moved in I got to meet my flatmates. I was very nervous about this because I really hoped that I would like them all. I was so delighted because all of my flatmates were wonderful! It was amazing how all of us just clicked and instantly got along! One of my biggest fears before studying abroad was that I would not get along with my flatmates. Luckily, all of my concerns went away after meeting them! I must say that I feel lucky to have been placed in such a wonderful flat with amazing people.
Unfortunately, on Sunday night I started to feel regret. I began to feel as if I had made the wrong decision to study abroad. I kept thinking that it would just be easier if I was home in my usual routine. I could be at home with my family and friends enjoying life the way it was. I was feeling so down that I even looked up how much it would cost to fly home. I had only been in Scotland a few days and I was already missing home. Even though everything was going right, I felt that my decision to leave was wrong. I went through this inner struggle most of the day on Sunday. Then I was watching the sunset and my feelings started to change. I was walking outside and the sunset had been perfectly placed behind a tree. The branches were lit up by the sun and in that moment I felt complete peace. I knew in my heart that studying abroad was the right thing to do. In my life I will never get to experience anything like this again! I felt a type of tranquility that I’ve never felt before. It was like something was telling me that I had nothing to worry about.
Here’s the image of the sunset behind the tree
Once I actually started classes my week started to get even better! I’ve always liked school and part of studying abroad is learn things that I may not learn any other way. In my classes I was even happier with my adventure whilst studying abroad! I felt that my life began to be structured which was missing from the trip so far. Now that things were starting to get settled I’m very happy with my decision to study abroad! Even though I struggled to be where I’m at now, it was worth it.
January 11th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Scotland | No Comments by
Fall semester came and went faster than I could blink. I told myself that I would not focus on studying abroad so that I could enjoy the fall semester! Once the semester ended, I decided to wait until after Christmas before focusing on study abroad. Since most of my gifts were focused around travel, I was forced to think about the drastic change that’s going to happen in my life. I started to think about the fact that I need to try and see everybody before I left. My schedule began to fill up. Looking back, I think I only had one day where I didn’t have plans with somebody or some type of appointment. Part of me wishes that I would’ve had more days to myself, but in the long run I’m happy that I was able to say goodbye before I left. In some ways it was easier to cope with leaving since I was able to see everybody!
I have traveled internationally for my whole life, but I’ve never done it alone. Something just seemed so ominous about doing it all on my own. Nobody to watch my things if I need to go to the restroom or quickly buy something to eat. There will also be nobody to comfort me if I get stressed out. There’s something about being with my parents that makes me feel safer. Even if they’re in an airport they’ve never been to it’s like they know their way around. I’m going to airports that are quite large and I’ve never been to them! I’m hoping that I can navigate my way through effectively.
Even though these thoughts go through my head I know that studying abroad is the right choice. I know that even though everything before seems scary it will be worth it in the end! I’m excited and ready to start my adventure abroad!
January 9th, 2017 in 2016 Fall, Ireland, Scotland | No Comments by
After officially being home for two weeks, I decided that it was time to write my final blog about coming home. There were many things I missed while I was abroad. The number one thing, of course, was my family. Christmas was even sweeter, especially after missing Thanksgiving. Funnily enough, the second was Dunkin Donuts iced coffee! During customs and baggage claim, I was lucky (and spoiled) enough to have my parents get me my normal Medium Iced Coffee with Caramel Swirl and Cream from the Dunkin at JFK. Thirdly, I’ve missed my friends. Many of them I kept in constant contact with during my semester away but others it had been awhile since we had talked. Either way, we fell back together like we always do and it was comforting. Read More »
December 12th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, LGBTQ Correspondents, Scotland | No Comments by
Last week I went to my first ever gay bar, and boy, what an experience (so no this isn’t about ‘camping’ but a different type of camp).
This night was a highlight of my trip; I love the idea of my favorite moments either revolving around the scenic, nature sights or the late-night neon of queer Glasgow.
I was able to know all the songs they played because I mostly listen to queer artists anyway, so it was such a treat. I’m so used to not getting any of the heteronormative youth culture, like at all, especially at parties. I just don’t feel ‘with it,’ in a way that is hard to explain a lot of the time.
My friend and I went out to one of the drag shows and it was a small show with local queens, but it was such a joy to be a part of something like that, especially since I love drag and its artistry. I was so happy to be able to dance to my favorite hits. Especially all the RuPaul songs. What a euphoric experience when I knew the “Purse First” song, having (not obsessively haha) watched Bob the Drag Queen’s music video on repeat when it first came out after season 8 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s not often that I get to gush about my love for camp and butch aesthetics besides in a classroom environment, and even then I’m surrounded by people that don’t really fully understand the reasons queer subcultures are so important to our community. People usually boil down ‘gay bars’ as being oversexual which is pretty homophobic in itself. A lot of people look down at gay bars, but these are the places in history that prompted hidden discussions about gender and sexuality, and allowed for a community during times when that was extremely unheard of or condemned.
In that way, it was a soft relief to open up to my friend (who is queer as well) in such a historically symbolic way, and ramble about drag shows, pride, and my girlfriend. (There was still a straight guy who ruined a bit of my evening, as he tried to flirt with me even after learning I was lesbian.) That annoyed me as usual, but I didn’t let that stop my night. It was a solid experience, being social for once and dancing underneath a ‘love trumps hate’ sign with a world I could grasp, like I was something significant in the timeline of queer culture.
Before I visited Scotland, my school had us enroll in a study abroad class as a way to prepare us for some of the larger, internal issues like culture shock and anxiety that would occur. One of the projects we had to do was on our interest in the city we were traveling to. I chose LGBT culture, especially the night culture in the 80s because that era really personally affects me, as it might to any gay person. To be able to insert myself, for even a night, into what I had studied, and also to feel so ‘in’ with a hisotry that I can call mine was a worthwhile experience.
December 5th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, College Study Abroad, Ireland, Scotland | No Comments by
Since Scotland does not have the Thanksgiving marker to kickstart the holiday season, Christmas markets started in Edinburgh on November 18th. The markets are full of amusement park rides, Christmas music, festive beverages, and crafty shops. My Colgate friends, Sarah and Liz, visited me that weekend and kicked off the Christmas season with me. Liz and I had an incredible view of the city on the Ferris wheel. Sarah and I shared donuts covered in chocolate sauce.When my cousins visited, Madelyn and I braved the most intimidating ride of the markets. The “Flying-Star” were swings that went as high as the top of the Walter Scott Monument, or about 200 feet high. It was terrifying but we prevailed and celebrated this feat with Bailey’s hot chocolate and mulled cider. The Christmas markets are paradoxical in the sense that they induce a sense of homeyness and homesickness at the same time. I enjoy them but they also make me look forward to Christmas with my family.
December 5th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, College Study Abroad, Ireland, Scotland | No Comments by
November 24th was like any other day in Edinburgh. The grocery stores were not flooded with people picking up forgotten instant stuffing mixes, or that additional can of cranberry sauce, in case one wasn’t enough. Thursday classes were on schedule as normal at the university. No “turkey-trots” were closing the streets in the morning. However, for American students, November 24th meant Thanksgiving (most likely his/her first) away from home. IFSA Butler, my abroad program, threw an American Thanksgiving get-together the Wednesday night before. We had a Ceilidh, with a Scottish band and traditional Celtic dances. I got to reunite with many American students who I had not seen in awhile. However, when I got home, the worst wave of homesickness rushed over me. I come from a huge family of fifty-three (!!!!) cousins and the idea of not seeing a majority of them over this holiday was tough. I missed my parents and of course the many “dad jokes” that surface around Thanksgiving. I called my parents and they comforted me by reminding me that I was lucky enough to have two of my cousins flying in the following day to help me celebrate the holiday.
On Thanksgiving, I met my cousin Madelyn for brunch following her red-eye. We walked around the city a little and then grabbed an “it’s five o’clock somewhere” pint in true Thanksgiving fashion. When Roman, Madelyn’s brother, landed, it was time for me to go to my last seminar of the term. We met back up for dinner and although it was not a turkey with all of the trimmings, it was still an incredible feeling to be with family so far from home. After dinner, I Facetimed into my Aunt Rose’s Thanksgiving party and was promptly circulated around the gathering of roughly thirty of my family members. I even made it into a few pictures through the screen of my cousin’s iPhone. Afterward, Madelyn, Roman, and I celebrated with my American friends in our favorite pub. I am SO happy that they were able to come and spend the week with me. It was a Thanksgiving I will always remember but of course, I am looking forward to next year’s gathering surrounded by my whole family.
November 16th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Scotland | No Comments by
This past weekend, I traveled to Amsterdam with Norah, one of my IFSA-Butler friends. On Friday, we started at the Anne Frank Huis. We waited in line for almost two hours but it was undoubtedly worth it. I felt that the museum was presented so well. Otto Frank insisted that the rooms be unfurnished, leaving only items authentic to the Frank family and their helpers to be showcased. There was a reverent atmosphere, especially in the annex of the top floor of the house.
Following the Anne Frank Huis, we walked down Prinsengracht, a scenic street along a canal towards our hostel. After checking in, we had dinner at an Indonesian restaurant and splurged on a
Rijsttafel, a rice table of appetizer-size portions of meats, seafood, vegetables, egg rolls, satays, nuts, and fruits. Amsterdam is known for its Indonesian food due to colonisation, and it did not disappoint. Following dinner, we walked through the Red Light District, the hub of legal prostitution in Amsterdam. It was a surreal, thought-provoking experience that led to good ideas and conversation.
On Saturday, Norah and I started the day with an hour-long canal ride through the city. We learned about the city and saw some of the historical sites. Next, we went to the Van Gogh Museum, my favorite part of the weekend. I loved this museum so much because it displayed Van Gogh’s pieces in chronological fashion. I absorbed his evolution as a painter and as a human. There is a room devoted to letters Van Gogh wrote to his friends and family. I watched Van Gogh dive into the world of modern art and eventually into his manic last stage as a painter. He painted 70 paintings in the final three months of his life. These paintings, showcased on the final floor of the gallery were the most poignant to me. I felt connected to his story and found them to be beautiful. I have seen individual Van Gogh works, but it was especially meaningful to see over 200 consecutively.
The rest of the weekend was spent walking around the city in different restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops! It was a much-needed break from the emotional stress of the United States election and a weekend well spent with a good friend.
November 16th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Scotland | No Comments by
At Colgate, I go home for a long weekend during October. This weekend gives me the perfect dose of home, filled with parents, apple cider, and radical foliage. It’s the thing that gets me through to Thanksgiving. Of course, I could not go home this year. So on Halloween, I got a tinge of homesickness thinking about all of the fond memories I have had with my brother and parents over the years. As I look forward to Thanksgiving, I can already feel the oncoming sadness of missing my loud, loving family. This is an indication of how blessed I am to have a family that I love coming home to. Additionally, I am even luckier to have two of my cousins arriving in Edinburgh on Thanksgiving to visit me for a week.
To combat my homesickness, I have been video-chatting many friends and family. I have attached a few snaps I have taken of our conversations.
October 31st, 2016 in 2016 Fall, College Study Abroad, LGBTQ Correspondents, Scotland | No Comments by
Oh boy have I been gone a while. Before I get into how mentally exhausting abroad can be if you’re living with mental illnesses, I wanna pump up this blog with a couple fun, exciting things I’ve done while in Scotland.
Firstly, I ventured to the Highlands with my study abroad group from IFSA-Butler and traveled to the emerald greens of hidden waterfalls to the rocky mountains up north. I discovered what whiskey smells like while distilling, and how it blackens the trees in contrast to the white of the stony factory. I watched a shepherd hand-sheer a sheep with the little squad of sheepdogs parading around him like puppies ready to pounce on each other.
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October 17th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Scotland | No Comments by
As a part of the IFSA-Butler program, I spent this weekend at a homestay in Maulds Meaburn, a small village outside of Penrith, England. Anne and Charlotte, my host mother and sister, graciously welcomed me into their home. I ate the best food since arriving in the United Kingdom, including homemade Moussaka and a roast chicken dinner complete with Yorkshire pudding. On Saturday, Anne and Charlotte took Sophie (my fellow classmate) and I into the Lake District, where we hiked a small mountain. From there, we wandered into Keswick to look at the markets, have lunch, and walk alongside the lake. Anne’s two dogs, Isla and Daisy Lou, accompanied us during the day and provided company and entertainment. I very much enjoyed walking and playing with them for a whole weekend, as it had been a long time since I spent time with animals. On Sunday, Anne and Charlotte gave us a short walkthrough of the village amidst impending rain. Maulds Meaburn epitomizes a traditional English village, with old buildings, small streams, and abounding character. After the walk, we visited Kennedy’s Chocolate Factory, where I purchased locally revered chocolate that lived up to expectations.
The area surrounding Maulds Meaburn, is agricultural land filled with sheep, cows, horses and other livestock. The fields were framed by cobblestone fences with rolling hills on the horizon. While driving through these areas, I admired the beauty surrounding me but was also drawn back to my home in Northern New York. I realized that perhaps I take for granted the area where I grew up. I fondly remember driving to dance practice on backroads with my mom, taking my brothers to our cider mill, and spending time with my family in the Adirondacks. When looking at the lake district, I could not stop thinking about spending time on Lake Ontario watching sunsets and drinking wine with friends back home.
Oftentimes, we must go away and admire beauty elsewhere to be reminded of the beauty that has been right in front of us. This weekend provided a step back from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh. It was a time to reflect on my time abroad, but also a time to reflect on home and the friends and family in Watertown and at Colgate. A homestay is mandatory for my program and for that I am so glad. Cultural immersion is important because it provides perspective and garners empathy for those who live differently than ourselves. More importantly I would argue, time out of our immediate comfort zones also shows us how similar we are to others and how we generally share more things than we differ on. I feel connected to my host mom because as she was sharing her life with me, I continually linked her experiences and relationships to mine. I am so grateful for this weekend and the hospitality of my host family; it was a meaningful and relaxing weekend.