Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

November in Galway

Time December 1st, 2015 in 2015 Fall, College Study Abroad, Ireland | No Comments by

So instead of jet setting like I’ve been doing for many weekends here, I’ve spent the last 4 weekends in Galway. The first picture you’ll see is that of my late umbrella — it became that sad little pile of cloth and metal after a walk to campus one day. Everyone warns you about the rain in Ireland, but no one prepares you for the wind! Some days it just comes out of no where, and your umbrella just isn’t up for it. (Update: I’ve bought a new umbrella since the demise of this one).

The next you’ll see is that of my friend up on stage. She’s one of the Irish friends I’ve made here and she has an incredible singing voice, so we were out supporting her at a competition!

You’ll then see a few from the Galway Christmas Market — one of the actual market, one of the amazing cheese stuffed bread I had for dinner, and one of the candy stall (I stop here every time I’m down by the market).

After this you’ll see my friend and I holding matching drinks. This is another Irish friend of mine, and we were out celebrating our friend’s 21st birthday! Even though turning 21 doesn’t mean anything special here in Ireland, the Irish still make a big deal out of it.

After this is a photo of my friend buying his daily coffee from the Coffee Hut. The owner uses the small opening below the billboards as a small cafe and gets loads of customers.

The oysters in the following picture are local Galway oysters, and they were delicious! I’m always a sucker for oysters, so I had to try the most famous ones in Ireland.

After this are some photos of our Thanksgiving dinner in Galway, which we called “Friendsgiving” (I made that stuffing from scratch). Our two roommates from France shared their first Thanksgiving experience with us, and said they hadn’t eaten so much food in very a long time. We explained that that’s what Thanksgiving is all about!

There is also a photo of a few of my friends and I trying on some hats — there is a little vintage store in Galway that we love to visit.

In the gallery you’ll see an updated picture of the foal up the road that was born at the beginning of our semester here. We’ve watched him grow up!

Last are some photos from our breakfast at Dungeons and Doughnuts, a local shop that sells both board games (e.g. Dunces and Dragons) and some very creative donuts! They were perfectly sugary and definitely worth sharing.

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Celebrating my Birthday Abroad

Time March 30th, 2015 in 2015 Spring, College Study Abroad, Sharjah UAE, United Arab Emirates | No Comments by

This month I was able to celebrate my birthday abroad. I turned 21 earlier this month and had the opportunity with many of my friends I have made the last couple months. Celebrating my birthday was a moment that made me feel a little homesick. Birthdays are something that everyone is used to celebrating with family and their close friends, but when you are abroad you don’t have your family or your old friends. I can’t deny that I did feel a little homesick, because I did miss my family and friends, but new friends here didn’t let it get bad or let the feeling stay around too long. Read More »

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3 weeks

Time June 4th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This past week was a nice transition back to Mendoza from Peru (a post on that later). For one thing, I had two friends from Brandeis visit me on their way to Buenos Aires (both studied abroad in Bolivia and Peru). I can’t even begin to explain how nice it was to have familiar, Brandeisian faces in Mendoza! We caught up over cena (empanadas and pizza with mucho queso, surprise surprise) and helado. We also talked about the differences between Northern and Southern South America that are extremely interesting. I think I’ll also dedicate a post on that later, as well.

Then last night, one of my non-program friends had her birthday. Attending the party made me think of how easily we came together…..all of us were scared and nervous for our experience abroad, and somehow, we quickly formed friendships and a ‘foster family’, to replace the ones we have back home. I also met a couple of Argentines and I surprised myself by blabbering away in (perhaps incoherent) Spanish, and it seemed that the other person understood me. Yay.

When it was time for cake & candles, the song was recited in Spanish, then Portuguese, French, and calls for Korean (me) and German were made. It was a moment that made me think of how much I’ll miss this semester. And how much I’ll miss being able to practice Spanish, meet friends from other cultures, and the fact that an occasion involving two people can multiply to include the entire exchange (and others) network.

While I sort through the hundreds of pictures I have from Peru, I also leave you with some pictures from the wine excursion that IFSA took us in April!

malbec grapes

beautiful alta vista winery


Sigh. Three more weeks in Mendoza. Someone tell me where the time went?

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more surprises

Time March 21st, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Today roughly marks the date when I set off for Argentina a month ago. WOW. I remember days before leaving, how extremely nervous I was, and in my anxiety, I was questioning whether I should actually leave home since I wasn’t very confident about my Spanish. I was also worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle homesickness; after all, I’d lived in the Boston area for 10+ years AND Brandeis is only minutes away from my hometown. And yes, I’ve traveled before, but this would be the longest and farthest I’d be away from my family and friends. I kept wondering how I would make it five months. BUT looking back now, I can’t emphasize how extremely relieved I am that I’m here. And while I’m at it, I’ll stress again how Mendoza is the place to be :) It’s essentially the outdoor lover’s dream. The weather is beautiful, palm trees line up the sidewalks, gorgeous parks, inviting flower gardens, and best of all, everything is walking distance! (So far I’m refusing to take the micro/buses until it gets cold. And I’m proud of myself for not needing my map anymore!) With all these things, it’s impossible to feel homesick or stressed out. And that’s another point I want to make (although I think I’ve emphasized it before): I haven’t felt this relaxed in so long. The culture is to live and enjoy life; and so, I’ve been able to shed the stress I’ve always accumulated during the past semesters.

This past weekend was my 21st birthday and St. Patrick’s day, so needless to say, there were celebrations :) The streets were so packed it was hard to find a place to sit down!

On a different note, I went to my first class at UNCuyo yesterday. My friend and I each wrote down the times and names of five classes we wanted to check out before committing to a set schedule. Once we got to the building of the first class, we had to locate the wall that contained information regarding professor names, class hours and locations, and office hours. We were slightly frustrated that the times of all five classes had drastically changed. Furthermore, the classrooms were hard to find (we wondered if there were multiple classrooms with the same number), and I felt more unsure about what my schedule would look like….for example, I wanted to take an art class but every art class is around 16 hours a week. Since I only want to take it for fun and not as an art major, I’m not quite sure I’ll follow through. Anyways, we entered a class about 10 minutes late (oops), and I could immediately sense EVERYONE watching. Which was weird to us, since there was a continuous stream of students coming in the room (AND leaving, darting right past the professor!)! Someone even came an hour and a half late to the class (I wondered why she would bother coming). We tried to blend in with the class and take notes, but it was hard because the professor proceeded to ask us where we were from, and any time US was mentioned in conversation, he pointed toward us. As if we needed more attention….-_-  I thought I imagined the stares, and the curious glances, but my friend confirmed that we actually weren’t. Maybe it’s because we were wearing bright colors. No se.

But I can honestly say that I was relieved. First off, the professor told us he had experience with international students and spoke pretty slowly, so we were able to understand roughly 80% of the lecture. Second, the material was interesting and the other students seemed pretty nice/interested in the class and in us. So I guess it was okay…..but after class, we were told to buy photocopies of the syllabus (programa). Seeing as we had 2 hours until our next class, we went to the photocopier, but the cashier told us there weren’t any syllabi. Confused, we then went to find the professor, and when we couldn’t, we decided to just recover from the class outside, but just as we were about to leave, a Johnny Depp look-a-like professor quickly approached us and INSISTED (VERY STRONGLY) on helping us and wouldn’t leave us alone until he located our professor. So basically, our professor walked us down to the photocopier, reassured us (at least, that’s what it sounded like, at this point I was so exhausted that my brain was refusing to operate at 60mph translating and spitting out Spanish), and directed us to a (very cute) classmate who spoke English and helped us out. It was a long day. 

To be honest, the experience made us miss the school system in the US. Yes, they don’t take attendance here and in a lot of ways it’s easier to get away with things and not to be studious, but in the US, powerpoints would be posted online, all registration and academic information would be easily provided, and everything is very organized. I think I wasn’t expecting myself to have to exert so much energy in finding classes, figuring out my schedule, and operating on my own…..since everything in the US is a lot easier. Don’t get me wrong; I am very capable of acting independently, but it was hard to be independent with no information available, if that makes sense. But complaints aside, I’ve only been to class once, and it can only get better, right?

*Fall is coming to Mendoza! The air is definitely getting slightly chilly, but I’m still loving the weather! I had to keep telling myself it’s FALL, not SPRING, since I’m in the southern hemisphere.

from top to bottom: San Martin Park/acequias, aka “gringo traps”/lake/beautiful sky

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Oxford and Alleyway Pubs, Birthday Celebrations, and Lots of Sheep

Time March 16th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hello again!

If you recall from my last (vlog!) post, I mentioned that March was already shaping up to be quite an exciting month. Two weeks into it, I’m already having the time of my life.

When I last left you, I recently completed three essays and was looking forward to a nice easy week before diving into the next set due March 30. Well, after my cozy week, I ventured out to Oxford on a Saturday day trip with IFSA. Unfortunately, in my ‘taking it easy’ week, I forgot to charge my camera batteries. So apologies for the lack of Oxford pictures. We had a wonderful tour from a student at one of the many colleges and his anecdotes about the university’s traditions and rituals really emphasized my love for local knowledge about these cities surrounding London. For lunch, we followed his suggestion of a pub down a few alleyways and had, again, fantastic food. Apparently, an alleyway is a key feature in the local pubs with fantastic food I’ve visited outside of London. (Remember Winchester?) Anyway, after a satisfied appetite and a pint of a local bitter beer that was phenomenal, we visited Blenheim Palace, the residence of the Duke of Marlborough and his family about eight miles from Oxford. The palace, also the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, was magnificent on the inside. There were many French touches and the state rooms were all matters of extravagant. Personally, however, I fell in love with the gardens and grounds outside the palace. With the lack of pictures, you’ll have to take my word for it, but the gardens (against the sunny backdrop we were lucky to have) were breathtaking. I wish I had the day to wander around the grounds, with the flowers beginning to bloom in the first tastes of spring and the sculptures decorating the grass. It was truly amazing.

Upon return to London, I geared up for my 21st birthday. That week was the most homesick I’ve been since first arriving, knowing that 21 is rather important in the U.S. and my closest friends would not be here with me. However, with the never-ending enthusiasm from my flatmates in London, the slight homesickness quickly subsided and they organized a spectacular birthday party for me, complete with tons of sweets, candles, and a wonderful card. It’s fantastic how quickly they’ve become good friends in the short time I’ve been here. Sweets and Friends Flatmates

I additionally lucked out because the IFSA Adventure Weekend coincided directly with my birthday! I adored spending the weekend in North Wales, where we kicked things off correctly by winning Oran’s Friday night pub quiz. (My team gave me the trophy for my birthday and it sits next to my computer in celebration.) Pub Quiz!

Saturday I hiked into the old slate quarries and had a tremendous view of the Welsh countryside, complete with the vast amount of sheep commonly found in Wales. I also visited Caernarfon Castle, which was designed as a palace by Edward I after conquering Wales and offers a fantastic view of coast and town from atop the towers. To get up the towers, there are about four flights of steep, narrow, winding steps that are equally hard to navigate in both directions but completely worth the view. Slate Quarry Miners Countryside Caernarfon Castle Tower View

Before returning to London, Sunday morning featured a trip to the coastal town of Llandudno, along the Irish Sea. This town had the perfect coastal feeling that reminded me of Cape May, NJ (for those of you from that area) and the fish and chips surpassed anything I’ve ever imagined! The beach itself was actually rocky- no sand at all. (Not that I minded the lack of sand everywhere for the bus ride home!) There was even a pier reminiscent of the boardwalks down the shore and against the backdrop of the mountains, I would make this my summer home in an instant! Llandudno Llandudno Pier

After the excitement of Adventure Weekend, I settled back into the study part of study abroad. Though, with two great friends from the U.S. coming for their spring break and participating in King’s Musical Theatre Society’s production of Hot Mikado at the end of the month, this brilliant month is just getting started. See you in two weeks before I head to the continent for my spring break! Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Happy British Mothers’ Day (March 18) to my wonderful mom, my fantastic Nana and Mom-mom, and my amazing aunts, cousins and family friends who are mothers!

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