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

Saying Goodbye

Time May 16th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Ireland | No Comments by

When Ashley, our IFSA-Butler Ireland representative sat us down for our Welcome Event, she mentioned how fast this semester would go. Through the ups and downs, the cold showers, the studying late nights, the friendships, the traveling, and everything in between, I never thought Ireland would really become my home in such a short time. And I never realized how fast the semester would really go.

Luckily, I didn’t have to do it alone. With the other 15 IFSA-Butler students, and a few honorary members, we became a group of strangers to a family. I hope you enjoy my last few photos in Ireland as much as I do.

They say that some memories can make you happy, and some can make you sad, but the memories that make you the happiest looking back years later are the memories of travel. I’m so lucky to have traveled throughout Ireland during this semester, and am so thankful to IFSA-Butler for helping me through this crazy change in my life! Read More »

Share

Saying Goodbye

Time November 23rd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

There was no way to describe how I felt when the plane landed back on American soil in Los Angeles on Sunday. Looking back it all seems like a blur. I woke up in my bedroom the next morning almost confused as to how I wasn’t back in my apartment in Adelaide, as if flying home was all a dream. That’s how the past few days have felt being back on Long Island, dreamlike. It’s as if nothing has changed but at the same everything has. When I first arrived in Australia I remember a similar feeling. When I said goodbye to my friends and family it felt so unreal, as if I would just be seeing them the next day. That’s how it felt when I left Australia, but it a way that’s comforting because I know I’ll see it again one day. Read More »

Share

Leaving Long Island

Time July 11th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

Leaving Long Island1

Leaving for college each year has never been easy, but usually it just means a three and a half hour train ride to good ol’ Lancaster, PA. This time it’s a bit different. Choosing to study abroad was something I always knew I wanted to do. It was just a question of where and when. However, I don’t think the impact of that decision will truly hit me until I get off the plane in Sydney, or maybe even when I land back in New York months from now. Over the past few days through the frantic shopping for last minute items, the packing, and the last goodbyes to friends and family, people have been asking me if I’m scared to go. Of course I’m scared, in fact I’m terrified, but I’ve also never been more excited.

Choosing to study abroad was something I always knew I wanted to do. I think what’s become the most difficult reality to face is that it’s actually happening. It’s fun to fantasize about the places you’ll go or the kind of program you’ll choose. It’s thrilling to see other people’s pictures of Facebook or Instagram of their own adventures, but only today it’s truly hit me that soon I’ll be the one doing that. Soon enough it won’t be a fantasy any longer and I can only take the sudden queasiness in my stomach when I say those words as a good sign. It’s good to be nervous. Anyone who wouldn’t be afraid to travel across the world for the first time would be insane as much as I would like to believe that I’ll keep my cool. I’ll have moments of doubt, moments of homesickness, and moments of loneliness, but I’ll also have moments of wonder, moments of joy, and moments that will last me a lifetime. I think accepting that all these emotions are valid and inevitable are an important step in seeing that fantasy I’ve pictured in my head become a reality in front of my eyes.

Leaving Long Island3


So I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’ll miss you Long Island. Probably more so than when I leave for Franklin and Marshall each semester. I won’t be leaving my home and family to see my close friends or the campus I’ve come to love. Instead I’ll be leaving you in all your summertime glory to go somewhere entirely new. Perhaps this place won’t have your great bagels or the convenience of having a Whole Foods every 5 miles, but it will have adventure and things I’ve never seen before. It will have people to meet and places to see, and believe me I will see it all just so when I come back I can tell you all about it. I was scared to go to F&M at first. Part of me wished more than anything that I decided to go to a college closer to home, but now I couldn’t imagine my life without the people I’ve met there (truly the greatest people in the world) or the home I found in its buildings. I leave you Long Island with the hope that I’ll find the part of you, that I found in F&M, a home. See you in Sydney!

Leaving Long Island2

Share

Bidding goodbye to my home, and a couple of reflections

Time November 15th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Nov. 15, 2013

Tomorrow I’ll be on a plane to Miami, and from there, to Newark, N.J.

And that’s that. That will be the end of my 4-month life in Costa Rica. No more Spanish, no more amazing mountains, jungles and beaches, no more delicious tico food.

No more hometown. No more host family.

No more study abroad.

It’s all a memory. And I’m OK with that.

Read More »

Share

The Chicas Take Chile

Time February 11th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Today I’ll be talking about:

I.            Chile at a Glance

II.            Santiago

III.            Valpo again

IV.            Reñaca

V.            Concon

VI.            Life After Chile

VII.           Vocabulario

VIII.        Previous Posts

 

I.                   Chile at a glance

 

My friends had been planning to visit Chile in November all semester. As much as I wanted to be with them, I resisted for a while because I was afraid of missing out on other travel opportunities. I was dying to travel north to Salta and Jujuy. Unfortunately, I never had the chance. Weather and conflicting travel plans meant that I’d probably die of heatstroke and be doing it alone, so I decided to shelve that trip for another day. I finally decided that Chile was probably worth revisiting, especially because I hadn’t had a chance to do everything I wanted to do the last time. It turned out to be a very, very good choice.

 

It felt really nice to go back. I’m glad that I was able to spend enough time there that I understand a bit of the culture and slang and I can laugh at the jokes that Chileans and Argentines make about each other.

 

After spending a decent amount of time in Chile, I feel like I can say a few things with confidence:

 

-Chileans are terrible at giving directions. Just terrible.

-Chile has cuter cafes than Argentina…but less outdoor seating.

-It has better bread than Argentina, but fewer varieties of alfajores.

-The buses are easier to use

-Clothing is cheaper and more “Americanized”

-It’s a pretty neat place.

 

Someday in the future, I’d like to visit Atacama and Patagonia as well. But for now, I had some fun adventures where I did go.

 

II.                Santiago

 

 

First stop was the capital.

 

I think if I had to live in South America, I’d like to live in Santiago. It’s surprisingly clean for being so large, and it’s got nice parks. It’s got a little of everything, in fact.

 

A week earlier, one of my friends had a piojo mishap (it’s much more common in this part of the world), so we decided that we needed to visit the (in)famous bar, La Piojera. They’re best known for a drink called the terremoto, which is wine + pineapple ice cream. (We also had grenadine in ours.) Worth trying. Even if you don’t want a drink, La Piojera is worth visiting just for the atmosphere. It’s dark and crowded inside, bodies pushing up against you from all sides, and the furniture is vaguely reminiscent of a medieval pub. But the cool thing about it was that you were equally likely to see, a group of preppy girls, a pair of novios, kids who were barely legal to drink, and someone’s grandma all in this one place.

img_3561   img_3563

On the way back to our hostel after exploring the city, my friends and I caught the after-work rush hour. Unlike Mendoza, there is no siesta in the middle of the day, so the work day ended much sooner than we were used to. The result was being jammed like sardines onto the subway—and I was very nearly smashed in the door! Luckily, we all made it with all of our limbs attached. Call it part of the adventure.

 

Valpo Again

img_3565

Returning to Valpo was another kind of homecoming. It was the coolest thing to be able to show my friends around and explain how things worked—I really had learned a thing or two on my last visit! Even better, I loved that my chicas, those crazy girls I love, also loved the city I loved.

img_3582

We attempted and failed to go to La Sebastiana—the only one of Pablo Neruda’s houses that I didn’t visit. We got distracted by the city and by each other. It was a fair tradeoff, I think.

img_3608

One night, we indulged in a luxurious seafood dinner (as opposed to the cheaper version) in Valpo. Quote of the night:

“What’s in this cake!?”

“..MAGIC.”

img_3684

 

IV.             Reñaca

In Reñaca, we went sand boarding. I think it was 2500 Chilean pesos ($5 USD) an hour to rent boards, but that could be completely wrong. It was cheap—I remember that much. And it’s no small wonder: there’s no “board rental establishment,” of course. There’s a lady with a truck and boards in the back. The dunes themselves are plenty big—we were higher than the ocean fog, so we look like we’re in the clouds in all of our pictures. The bottom of the biggest dune was rimmed with old tires—you know, for safety. (Right…)

31628_10152616459355355_1642889916_n 559822_10152616476375355_1045973606_n 14202_10152616474180355_705953258_n

One thing you should know: the sand is really, really hot going up. Don’t be tempted to go up barefoot.

 

If you’re expecting snowboarding but with sand, don’t even bother. We had a blast because we were being goofy and laughing at each other, and for us it was very worth it. If you want real adventure sports, go hang-gliding or something else.

 

After that, we bused back down the coast to Viña for lunch and the beach.

 

When we asked people for directions for good places to eat, they directed us to the piers along the coast. …Silly. What restaurants we saw were way too expensive (there were tablecloths and the waiters wore ties, man). There were also churro stands (dipped in chocolate, full of dulce, or both), but that didn’t do it for us either. We ended up walking about 8 blocks inland, where we found the absolute best empanada stand.

 

img_3705 img_3707

 

The dough was delicious—fried or baked were available. The fillings included everything from corn to mariscos to beef and back. One of mine was full of machas, clams.

 

img_3708

 

Then we did beach things.

 

img_3711 img_3716   img_3723   img_3738   img_3740

 

When we arrived on the beach, we met up with my US roommate and some other friends from the program that had come with us. Our program friends were getting to know Chile’s alcohol selection. (We did our own thing, being amused at them from afar.) That was all fine and funny until
1) The drunk folk got sunburned
2) Someone’s backpack was stolen

 

It was obvious we were Americans and that they were drunk, so it was an easy target for one Lucky Chilean who made off with $200 USD, an American passport, a photocopy of the same passport, an Argentine visa, and our friend’s ego.

 

Everything worked out in the end, but I think it never hurts to have a few WARNINGS AND REMINDERS on that front:

 

-Never carry important documents in your backpack

-Don’t leave your important documents unattended (or in the care of drunk people)

-Keep your passport and the copy of your passport separate

-If you do any of those things and something bad happens as a result…don’t panic

-Contact the program director

 

V.                Concon

The next day, we went back up the coast to Concon beach to search out a horseback riding excursion. We found the stalls but no horses. Apparently it happens every day of the week…except the day we chose to go. Doh. I feel like it was a Monday or a Tuesday. Try to check beforehand with the hostel, and good luck.

 

We still had a nice time soaking up the sun and talking about our lives. And then, before we knew it, it was time to leave for our next adventure…

 

VI.             Life After Chile

 

Chile was more than just a beautiful place to visit or another adventure for us. It was an anchoring point in our friendship in a very Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants kind of way. For a weekend, Valparaiso was ours.

 

On the bus to Reñaca, with a world of color and chaos whizzing past us, we made a promise to ourselves to return someday to this beautiful part of the world. Together. We decided what we want to do with our lives, that we are unstoppable, that we really do mean that much to each other.

 

I won’t even try to explain, because that moment belongs to us, but it was a big deal.

 

Back in Mendoza, finals came and went like the blink of an eye. Then it was time for me to pack my bags for Buenos Aires…and for the chicas to go our separate ways. Lorri and Ale would be meeting me in BA for a few days, but Lisa was off to Chilean Patagonia for a few weeks of backpacking with her sister. Before we split up, there was one last thing we had to do. There’s a bridge in Parque San Martin, and we closed a love lock around the rail. One key we kept, and the other we tossed into the lake. The lock will remain in Mendoza, one of many tiny symbols of our life there that we left behind, until we return together to reopen it. To end with a bang, we had a party on Lisa’s balcony with the last of our pisco sour from Chile. It ended with us sobbing, of course. Beso’d Lisa goodbye and her tears were on my face. And, because we’re the cheeks, our crying turned to laughter as we made our way down the street back to my house, arms locked.

 

Separate, but connected.

 

img_3759

 

For all the Chile pictures (because I took approximately TOO MANY of almost anything that held still long enough), look here and here.

 

  1. Vocabulario

 

Botilleria – convencience store

Macha – clam

Cabalgatas – horseback riding

 

  1. VIII.       Previous Posts

 

1. Antes de que me voy  (Before I Leave)

2.  Host Families and Fun with Public Transportation

3. “Are You the Girl with the Blog?”  

4. Playing Tourists in Buenos Aires

5. Looking Good, Mendoza!  

6. A Detailed Guide on All Things Micro 

7. Trip to Las Termas

8. Daily life in Mendoza

9. Habia una vez en los Andes… 

10. Night of the Soccer Game 

11. Road Trip! 

12. My Mate for Life 

13. Ringo vs. Chuck Norris 

14. Pros and Cons 

15. CHI CHI CHI, LE LE LE, VIVA CHILE!

16. Philosophical Moments in Neuquen

17. Cordoba and Oktoberfest

18. Some tips about Hostels 

19. Student Life in Mendoza

20. Trabajo Voluntario

21. San Rafael

 

Coming Soon:

The Return to BA

Mar del Plata

Goals Revisited

Culture Shock and Life After Study Abroad

Share

My delayed sign off… I’m sorry!

Time January 22nd, 2013 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

Hello Everyone!!

I am so sorry about the delayed goodbye, maybe I just did not want to let it go. I happy to announce I am finally back in the US and at Memphis. I moved into my apartment, and I am finally getting settled in, though we do not have internet which caused this delay in my post. It is freezing here, like colder than Europe, which makes me miss England a little. I am finally in with money again thank goodness because broke did not look good on me. For the past week I’ve been home I’ve taken two very long road trips, one to Raleigh, NC and the other all the way from Charleston to Memphis. Being in my own apartment makes me feel so much older than last semester. Living in a flat with 14 people sharing 2 bathrooms and a kitchen makes you love but hate dorm life.

I miss my flat family so much though. We shared so many laughs, meals, clothes, make up (not the boys), and tears. I will never forget those days! The irony about leaving is I left with the first person I ever met in this program, Matt Roddy. We joked about meeting each other first at the airport and then we rode the bus all the way to Heathrow when we left. It was bitter sweet but really I couldn’t ask for a better person to start and end with. The one thing I did notice when I left was the fact the it felt dream like. I went from living with a lot of people to traveling with my best friends and then back to Memphis. It is still a surreal feeling that I was gone from my normal life for a semester, so you could say I’m still adjusting.

I learned a lot while I was abroad, not really in the academic sense, other than I like the American system better, but in the bigger picture kind of way. I will now share what I learned in hopes that some aspiring study abroad students find these experiences helpful.

  1. Stay true to yourself. If you don’t want to get into what everyone else is, don’t. But do try to get involved with your flat it is an instant group of friends.
  2. No one cares if you don’t drink. If you get offered drinks but don’t want them say, no. You can still have just as much fun with everyone else.
  3. Life is way more expensive overseas like everyone from transportation to food is probably third higher in England so plan and budget wisely but don’t forget to still have a good time.
  4. If you plan to travel at the end make sure you don’t travel over the holidays unless you are 100% sure. I had a great time traveling but money was very tight, you miss home (meaning your family), and you have all your stuff and if you didn’t all ready know traveling with a 52lb suitcase and then a like 8lb carry on is hard especially if you are walking and only taking public transport. (Yes right now my arms look good!)
  5.  Your creativity will flourish because you are out of your element. I read and wrote so much while I was in England it was so refreshing. I know I will keep writing and it has a lot to do with how much I wrote overseas.

Overall I would not trade this experience. Was it perfect? No. But was it worth the all the hassle? Yes, because I can say I am a better and stronger person because of that trip. Flat four of Tawney Tower I miss you and hope your new students are as awesome as your last!!

Love Always England,

Dominique

Share

The End.

Time December 14th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

“Never say Goodbye, because Goodbye means going away, and going away means forgetting…” – J.M. Barrie

Well this is it.

The end.

And I feel completely unprepared for it.

I feel like there are so many things I didn’t get to see or do or enjoy enough. But then I also think even if I were here for a few years it wouldn’t be enough time. But 4 months is definitely not enough time; that I know.

I don’t think I can adequately express how much I have loved the past 4 months of my life. All of the amazing people that I have met and who I know will be my friends for the rest of my life. All of the breathtaking sites I have seen. Every note of music I’ve heard. Every interesting taste or smell that I know I won’t find at home. Even little things like just walking through town or experiencing the disorganization of a Ryanair flight. Hearing different types of Irish accents around me at any given time, or hearing people speak Irish at the Tesco down the road. Digestive biscuits, fresh doughnuts (emphasis on the dough), mulled wine, pints of Guinness, street performers, the Citylink bus to Dublin I took more times than I care to admit, crappy instant coffee, the 20 minute walk into town, all of the construction on campus, tiny showers/toilets, paying for public toilets, train rides through foreign countries, getting lost in foreign cities and discovering beautiful gardens and buildings. I’ll miss it all.

Yea, some of those don’t sound so great and I’ll probably miss some things more than others, but with the ever-growing-closer date of departure looming a mere day ahead of me, I feel nostalgic for it all already. I went Christmas shopping today on Shop Street and looking at all of the Christmas decorations, which in DC makes me a little homesick for my family, made me incredibly sad to think that I wouldn’t be spending Christmas here, in Galway, in Ireland, in Europe.

I am, of course, beyond happy when I think of seeing my family, my friends, my house, my own room, my dog. I will soon be able to go to the grocery store and recognize every brand, I will spend money without doing conversions in my head all of the time, I will drive a car, I won’t have to walk to the store, I will eat some of my favorite foods and get delicious home cooked meals. I will celebrate Christmas with my loved ones, as well as my 21st birthday and New Year’s. Even with all of that though, and even with one last daunting final to complete, I really, really, REALLY don’t want to leave what has come to be my home, Galway.

Galway Girl

With a broken heart and a ticket home.

Share

mendoza (this is my last post)

Time July 20th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I’ve been back home for about a week now. While I feel slightly bombarded with a mixture of excitement, sadness, relief and confusion, there is one consistent question in my mind: “did I really live in Mendoza for five months?” I’ve been looking at my pictures constantly, unable to believe that I ever called such a beautiful city my home for an entire semester, and that I traveled to Bariloche, Iguazu, Chile, and Peru. But pictures don’t lie! 😀

The whole process of getting from Iguazu-Buenos Aires-hostel-airport-Miami-Boston was a huge blur because I was so worried about meeting bus times & travel schedules, making sure I had all my luggage, etc. On the flight I immediately passed out from exhaustion and even when we landed in Miami, it didn’t really register that I arrived in the US. Hearing Spanish everywhere still made it seem like I hadn’t left. It wasn’t until the plane touched down in Boston that I finally saw the city skyline and my parents for the first time in five months, that reality gradually started to sink in. But even now, it hasn’t completely sunken in yet. I haven’t left Mendoza mentally and it’s hard to describe the state I am in right now. As much as I love being surrounded by my family, friends, and familiarity, I’m definitely not ready to accept that I actually left Argentina! After getting into the work and internship schedule this past week, I miss the excitement of traveling and exploring a new city.

A few things currently freaking me out right now: peanut butter, (REAL) spicy food, understanding EVERYTHING (signs, conversations, music, etc), talking & responding in English, getting excited when I understand snippets of Spanish I hear from people when passing by them, the lack of acequias & siestas & packs of dogs, free refills, how stores are open pretty much 9-5, eating dinner at 7pm, how organized Boston drivers are (haha…). It feels nice to be at home, but I’m ready to hop on a plane and start my next adventure, as cliche as that sounds. I’m already feeling restless!

It’s without a doubt that I learned so much from this semester. I am immensely grateful that I had a supportive host family, and the fact that I got to have an amazing opportunity to delve directly into the culture and improve my language skills. I’ve made friendships with the most incredible people, where Spanish is required to keep in touch (a good way to practice, no?). I definitely feel more independent and better at stepping outside of my comfort zone. This experience has made me more appreciative of the comforts, services, and support I have in my personal environment (online academic information and printers, for example).

And……I am extremely, extremely glad I came to Mendoza (sorry Buenos Aires!). As much as I love Buenos Aires, the big ol’ city doesn’t have what Mendoza does. I can go on and on about how much I love Mendoza. For one thing, the small city is absolutely beautiful. The Andes mountains, palm trees, and friendly rays of the sun (not the scorching rays like we’re getting here in Boston right now) will be wherever you are. You’ll learn to set your schedule around the siesta and figure out whether shopping for your needs works better before or after the siesta. (fyi, siestas are amazing and necessary). When you’re walking, you’ll learn to quickly step around acequias, smile at the packs of dogs that can be found in any street, and develop a system so that you can efficiently cross the street without waiting a lifetime. Importantly, you’ll learn to love free time and to enjoy & truly live life. You’ll also fall in love with wine and go on numerous wine tastings and tours. Since Mendoza is the perfect location (by bus: 6-7 hours to Chile, 14-15 hours to Buenos Aires, 17  hours to Bariloche, relatively close to Bolivia, Peru, and Paraguay) you’ll probably venture out to San Rafael, Puente del Inca, the hot springs, Potrerillos, and Las Lenas to ski……just to name a few places. On days where you feel lazy, you’ll stretch out on one of the many parks to take in some sun, and read. Part of Mendoza’s charm is its versatility. Mendoza is stunning, peaceful, and has a small-town vibe. But at the same time, restaurants, bars, and boliches stay open all night and you’ll  fall in love with the nightlife. Go to calle Aristedes. Check out the boliches in Godoy Cruz. And anywhere you are, talk in Spanish, regardless of whether it even makes sense. When in Mendoza, you should definitely take advantage of everything it has to offer!!

Lastly…..part of the reason why my Spanish improved so much is because many people I met in Mendoza could not speak English, which forced me to constantly converse in Spanish. And not to mention, everyone is friendly! Anyone you ask for help will not let you go until they know you’re good to go on your own. So there is no need to be intimidated 😀 I am not always the best in expressing my thoughts in writing, but I hope my blog was a little helpful in preparing for your semester! I hope to return to Mendoza/South America soon.  Don’t be scared to talk to your host family before leaving and get pumped for the most incredible time of your life! ¡Hasta proximo viaje!

P.S. If you have any questions, I’d love to help! Email me: brl91@brandeis.edu

 

 

 

 

Share

despedida

Time July 2nd, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Yesterday was the goodbye lunch that marked the end of the program. The restaurant was on the top floor of a ritzy building with an incredible view of the city (I’m going to miss seeing the Andes every day!). Minus the fact that it was weirdly hot out that day (70 degrees!), the rooftop was perfect for lounging and siesta-ing 😀

The lunch was absolutely delicious. Probably the best steak & empanadas I’ve ever had.

There were also presentations from professors who handed out mini-diplomas and a group picture of all of us. Everything about that lunch made me feel super sentimental…..where did the time go?

Share

Farewell Australia

Time November 16th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

My final vlog from Australia. A top 10 and a small tribute.

Share