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

5 Months & 50 Pounds: Packing for London and the UAE

Time January 26th, 2015 in 2015 Spring, College Study Abroad, Sharjah UAE, United Arab Emirates | No Comments by

5, the amount of months I’ll be away from home.

50, the amount in pounds I’m allowed to pack in my checked bag.

It’s midnight Monday morning and I have finally finished packing. It took me and my mom a few tries and a break for dinner to finally fit everything thing I think I need for five months in to 3 bags. Pictures are in the gallery! (I need to figure out how to add to post!) Over the past few days the realization of my decision to study in the UAE has really sunk in.

A few things about myself before I begin my adventure

  • My name is Tom Fisher, I’m from Bettendorf, Iowa (part of the Quad Cities, right on the Mississippi River).
  • I go to Drake University, a small (4,000 undergrad) liberal arts  school in Des Moines, IA.
  • Hobbies are soccer, cycling, watching documentaries and eating.

More to come when I can intertwine them with what I am doing during the semester.

The adventure will begin in London. I will be staying with a friend until Saturday when I fly to Dubai! I will have another post before that adventure comes to an end

I hope to keep you entertained and coming back for more. I look forward to sharing my experiences and thoughts during this semester.




Back Home

Time January 5th, 2015 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I’m back in the US now (and have been for a little over a week).

I was repeatedly warned about “reverse culture shock” and about how difficult it would be to reenter my life in the US after being gone for so long, but I honestly feel in a bizarre way like I never even left.  Living in Peru feels like a dream. Some of this might be because my life is pretty relaxed right now because it’s winter break, but the transition feels very natural.  Everything in the US is much more familiar than I expected it to be after being out of the country for five months, which I guess is how it should be considering I’ve lived here for almost my entire life.  I’m kind of worried that Peru feels so much like a dream that I might forget it like one, but I think that at the very least, the way I grew as a person in Peru will be with me forever.

As far as my Spanish speaking abilities, I would say that I am “conversationally fluent”; that is, I can get around, order food, and talk to people on the street pretty effortlessly in Spanish, but sometimes I run into circumstances that make Spanish hard again: a new situation that requires vocabulary I’m not familiar with (How do you say “rake” while gardening?  How do you say “fret” while teaching guitar?), a really involved philosophical conversation that requires long and complex sentences, or a person that’s hard to understand.  I was kind of expecting to be fluent after this, but I think that would be almost impossible after just 5 months.  I had a headache and was really tired for the first two or three weeks of the program from the mental strain of thinking in Spanish all the time, so at least that’s gone.  I spoke a good amount of English during the past 5 months as well as Spanish, and maybe it would have been possible to improve a little more, but I am pretty comfortable with the level of Spanish that I achieved.  I also think that Spanish abilities are heavily dependent on mindset.  If I went one or two days without speaking much English, I found my Spanish to be better, but I would lose that quickly as soon as I started to think in English again.  Then the next time I went a long time without speaking English, my Spanish would be a little better than the last time.

It was a great experience, and I would highly recommend studying abroad in Peru with IFSA.  Our program director did a great job helping us see the many different parts of Peruvian society, and Peru is an interesting and geographically diverse place.  I really want to travel abroad more now.  More than anything, studying abroad in Peru taught me that I can make my home anywhere, and the value of new and different experiences.  And that Chile sucks.



All’s Chile in the Windy City

Time February 5th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

The purpose of a blog is not something I ever fully understood; the act seemed masturbatory, a production of oneself for oneself. The direction blogs tend to take are those of old anthropological travel writings, that is they are an emphasis of difference, and establishment of paradigms and binaries. In discovering the heart of both “us” and “them” the blogger is able to re-conceptualize the world, to carve out a space for spiritual growth not at the blogger’s expense but of the subject matter:

I grew up and I learned from them

The entire world is simplified in the face of the tremendous rebirth. Fictionalized stories would do just as well ––perhaps their effect would be even grander, left to the imagination of the blogger surely the tropes would be reified and the revelations more spectacular (not to mention the adventures). But do these stories, fact or fiction, have to be at the expense of others? WIll these sacrifices always be a bad thing? And does the blogger need to come away unscathed?

Chile is a distant visage whose whispers are tucked away in the violent winds of Chicagoland, a warm memory on the horizon. I’ll wander the streets here now, for Valpo is not present.


Pre-Departure: AAAAAH!

Time January 24th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

Hello there. :)

I’m Cassi and this is my blog/vlog. Welcome, welcome.

I’ve already left home (Troy, Illinois), beginning my journey in Chicago, where I am visiting a friend until my flight out of O’Hare tomorrow afternoon. (It’s much cheaper for me to fly out of O’Hare rather than Lambert in St. Louis, so why  not visit someone while I’m here?) Tomorrow, I’ll fly to Boston for a layover and then out again to London for orientation.

I leave in about 12 hours and find myself overcome with many different emotions. I’m excited to go, yet apprehensive about leaving home for such a long time. However, I won’t let this get to me! I know that this is the greatest opportunity I’ve been given and I can’t wait to get started and make the most of it!

I’ll be posting videos of my experiences, for myself and for others, so feel free to check back in or subscribe to my youtube! :)

I’ll see you again from the other side of the pond!