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

Experiencing a Wonder of the World

Time June 22nd, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Argentina | No Comments by

This blog is supposed to be about my experiences with the program and explorations around my host city, but with the end coming near I hope you all will indulge me. Here is a blog about one of the natural wonders of the world. It’s the one place all Argentine students must visit – Iguzaú.

Iguazú Falls holds the world record for largest series of waterfalls. That should be enough to convince any person who has the opportunity to go, to go. If that doesn’t, here’s my honest opinion: Iguazú is one of the most breathtaking visions I have ever seen in my life. I have seen a ton of waterfalls, including Niagara, but this moved every bit of me.

When my travel buddies and I arrived at the National Park, we first went up to La Garganta del Diablo. The Devil’s Throat sits on top of the falls, billowing mist and allowing for a spectacular view of many falls. It was a cold day and the mist seeped through my rain jacket, but I couldn’t have cared any less. I spent so long taking photos that I had to tell myself to put the camera down and enjoy the view.

Me in front of Garganta del Diablo   Garganta del Diablo

After a quick tram ride back to the main area we set off on the Lower Trail, which led us to a series of falls and a magical view. The waterfalls all in a row with a mystical island in the center. I wish we had been able to visit the island, but it was such a full day, we wouldn’t have had time.

From all the students who had visited before we had heard about a boat ride into the falls. We took a short trail down to the edge of the water, towards the boat launch. After putting our bags in drypacks and taking off our shoes, we were off. Seeing the falls up close was amazing. I could barely keep my eyes open with all the mist, but I fought it. This was to cool of an experience to miss. After the boat ride was over though, I really wished we had visited on a warmer day.

Falls from the boat

Our last bit of the trip was to hike the upper trail – a path that let us see another inspiring view and the tops of more falls. We sat and watched as the sun hit the tops of the trees. As we walked away from the falls we encountered our one and only monkey. It was unfortunately too quick for me to take a good photo.

A view from the upper trail

This experience was so fantastic. If you visit Argentina or come to study, you must go see Iguazú Falls. It’s worth the trip.

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La magia del sur

Time May 24th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Chile | 1 Comment by

My ten-day adventure hiking through the Patagonia mountains in the extreme south of Chile and Argentina was without a doubt the most physically-challenging, but also the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. We started with the W trail of Torres del Paine national park outside of Puerto Natales, Chile with three nights and four days of hiking through every type of terrain imaginable and camping in freezing temperatures. Due to poor planning, we ended up embarking on our trip at the end of high season, and going into the low season, which starts on May 1st. In the end of April and beginning of May begins the transition into the winter months in the Patagonia and, for this season, the park has much stricter rules and regulations for hikers because of the added danger (and liability) of the more volatile weather. Although this made things significantly more difficult from a planning perspective, it was totally worth it to be able to experience the trail during the fall season with the colors of the changing leaves. The combination of the white snowy peaks of the mountains against the black rock of their bases, the translucent blue of glacial ice in the distance and the blazing oranges and reds of the trees left me feeling dizzy and drunk on the incomprehensible beauty around me.

I went into the trip with the intention of writing in the tent every night so that I could capture every memory, every feeling at it’s very freshest point of expression. But after we set up camp and made dinner at the end of each day, I could barely keep my eyes open long enough to zip up my sleeping bag, much less express my thoughts in a coherent and appealing manner. Conversations amongst ourselves and the other backpackers that we met in the communal cooking areas of the campsites were an amusing jumble of obvious statements and delirious, winding stories tumbling from exhaustion-clouded brains. Luckily, the basic introductions usually carried us over until we could get food in our stomachs, which helped immensely with the amount of brain power available to donate to conversation. Most of the people we met on the trail were around our age, many of them also students, and within our interactions existed a kind of raw, childish excitement, like we were all just a bunch of overgrown kids running around splashing in creeks and looking for adventure. The adrenaline high we rode through the trees formed bonds of shared incredulity, bonds I won’t soon forget. Read More »

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Searching for Nature

Time April 10th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Argentina | No Comments by

One of the things I miss most about home is nature. There are plenty of wonderful parks here in Buenos Aires. They’re open with lots of places to lay down and relax or trails to bike and walk on. It’s easy to get to them and they are enjoyable, but they are city parks. The nature in them was designed and landscaped to create a perfect urban resting place. While they work great for chatting with friends or doing homework, they don’t fulfill my need to be outside enjoying nature.

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Warm Climate Conundrum

Time February 27th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Argentina | No Comments by

“Should I bring three dresses?”

“What about another pair of sandals?”

“Will I really need a sweater?”

These are the questions I ask myself as I pack to live in a warm climate for the first time in my life. I’m Lily Frenette, a girl from Minnesota, who goes to school in New York. While both places have their warm seasons, most of the time it’s cold, bordering on Arctic. But this semester I’ll be living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, studying with the Argentine Universities Program. While I’m very excited to be studying Spanish in a Spanish speaking country, I have no idea what I’ll wear on a regular basis in a place that averages between 76 and 53 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year.

I end up keeping the dresses and a sweater, but leave out the sandals. I have a pair of flats and hiking sandals, as well as hiking boots and my trusty pair of converse high tops – that should get me through the semester. I have other packing issues though. I’m unsure of how much of my hiking gear and clothes I need to bring. Hiking is a passion of mine, but I currently have no idea of my schedule and so don’t know how much time I’ll have to go explore. I’m also unsure if I’m bringing too many notebooks and cameras. At school I concentrate in writing and photography, which means I always have four different notebooks and three cameras on me at all times. Even though I know I would regret it if I leave one at home, I still worry that I won’t end up using them.

My flight leaves in two days. I believe I’m as ready as I can be, but with a new place there’s no way to be sure. It’s almost guaranteed that once I get settled into Buenos Aires, I’ll realize I left something important behind. As awful as that feeling is, I just have to accept it. Once I’m in Argentina, I can’t have my parent mail me items like they used to bring me my gym clothes when I accidentally left them at home. Plus, there’s an upside to this. If I find I’ve left something in the US, maybe I’ll realize it’s not necessary at all.

When I write next, I’ll be in Argentina – wish me luck!

— Lily Frenette

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A Great Camping Trip

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

We don’t actually know exactly where we went, but it was west of the city of Lima, and probably still in the province of Lima.  We got it in our heads that the place was called “Huarochiri”, but I’m almost positive that’s not true.  One of my friends (Koby) had met a part-time adventure guide that invited us along with him, his brother, and his brother’s friend as they went for a weekend trip to climb mountains, repel down waterfalls, and hike around a bit.  We subsisted almost entirely on crackers for the weekend.

After a four hour drive out to wherever it was that we went, and a good amount of searching around, we eventually found a place to make camp in a small grassy area above a dusty soccer field next to a corn field near the mountain we planned to climb the next day.   We pitched our tents and built a fire.  The campfire that night was a great time.  Four of the five people there knew how to play guitar and sing and we just passed the guitar around the circle taking turns singing the song of our choice; the guitar made it around the circle at least four times before we finally decided to go to bed after a long day.

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A weekend in Glencoe

Time October 15th, 2014 in College Study Abroad, Scotland | No Comments by

Last weekend I went on a weekend hiking trip to the highlands of Scotland. I went with Breakaway, which is the hill-walking society at St. Andrews. They organize hill walking trips to different parts of beautiful Scotland, and it’s quite popular amongst international students.


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Flying through Monteverde

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

Monteverde is known for three things: quetzals, cloud forests and ziplines.

I only got to enjoy the last two.

Ziplining was first on my to-do list, and it was a blast. One line is billed as being the longest in Latin America, soaring over a valley for over 1,500 meters.

With that out of the way, I hiked around Reserva Biologica Monteverde (Monteverde Biological Reserve) looking for the famed quetzal bird, with no success (closest my guide and I found was a nest). Found a couple of other critters, though.

Finally, I spent my final morning there rappelling down waterfalls, the tallest about 40 meters. Quite the adventure, and quite the workout.

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Follow the rest of my adventure throughout Costa Rica here at IFSA-Butler’s blog, at my blog, on Twitter or even on Facebook.

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PHOTOS: Parque Internacional La Amistad

Time October 21st, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Lonely Planet: “The 4070-sq-km Parque Internacional La Amistad is an enormous patch of green sprawling across the borders of Panama and Costa Rica (hence its Spanish name La Amistad, ‘Friendship’). This is by far the largest protected area in Costa Rica.”

Most of our time on this 4-day program trip in early September was spent in and around Asoprola, a small community of organic farmers and craftsmen. No, I didn’t see Panama. It was too cloudy.

This was the same trip I used to unplug from technology. Great trip, overall.

Crossing Crocodile Bridge

Picture 1 of 82

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Follow the rest of my adventure throughout Costa Rica here at IFSA-Butler’s blog, at my blog, on Twitter or even on Facebook.

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El Cerro Chato – The hike that almost killed me

Time August 26th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Maybe it was the heat. Maybe it was the sun. Or the weight of my backpack. Or of my clothes. Or a combination of them all.

Either way, one part of this journey to the top of Cerro Chato (literally, “Flat Hill”) involved lying down in the middle of the path hypervenilating.

This hill was anything but flat. 8 kilometers round-trip at a very steep incline. I was clammy, sweaty, and ready to give up and head right back down the mountain to the hostel.

Lucky the bottom half of my pants could zip off. Lucky that I could take my shirt off to prevent overheating. Lucky I brought enough water to keep me hydrated.

And I’m very lucky to have two good friends to share the literal load on my shoulders and take as many breaks as we needed to make it to the top.

And boy was it worth it.

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Follow the rest of my adventure throughout Costa Rica here at IFSA-Butler’s blog, at my blog, on Twitter or even on Facebook.

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Día de al Virgen de los Ángeles

Time August 23rd, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I meant to post this a while ago but lost track of the time.

My family drove to Cartago one evening to pick up other members of my family. They had just walked from San José to Cartago (no easy feat) to celebrate El Día de la Virgen de los Ángeles.

And we weren’t the only ones making the trip.

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Follow the rest of my adventure throughout Costa Rica here at IFSA-Butler’s blog, at my blog, on Twitter or even on Facebook.

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The Blue Mountains Tour

Time February 25th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

A beautiful view of the incredible Blue Mountains.

Find more videos like this on Institute for Study Abroad – Butler University

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Manuel Antonio!

Time August 6th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This weekend I got to go to Manuel Antonio, one of the places I was really looking forward to seeing while I’m here in Costa Rica. We had a short week of classes this week, due to a Thursday holiday. I have no Friday classes, and I left with some friends really early on Thursday to head down to Manuel Antonio. We wanted to limit how much money we spent, so we found a hostel near the beach that only cost $10 per night. We spent Thursday afternoon on the beach, and Friday walking through the national park and swimming at a park beach. It was really beautiful, and I took some pictures so that I could post them here:

 

This is one of the rooms that we stayed in. This is also my friend Julian, who is part wolf.

While I recognize that this picture does not show much of the beach, I felt the need to include it, mostly out of respect for the dog. He remained sitting in exactly that position for a large portion of the afternoon. I think he might have been a lifeguard.

Friday we spent a lot of the day hiking through the national park. I took a bunch of really poor pictures of the trail and decided not to include them, although the trail involved substantial amounts of mud and multiple crossings of small bodies of water. This was what we found at the end of the it.

Naturally, I climbed the waterfall. And took a picture of Shannon. Notice, if you will, her left hand, specifically it’s lack of any sort of laceration. This will be important later.

This is the beach that we found in the park. It was beautiful, and very resort-ish. The water was clear and the waves were not as big as the beach outside the park. It was very relaxing swimming there.

This is what happens when you don’t respect the “smaller waves” at the beach. They sneak up on you and get all your stuff wet. This is the aftermath of that situation. The biggest casualty was Julian’s camera, which no longer functions. Also, Karina’s phone seems to have drowned. My camera survived. Obviously. On that note, I would like to give a brief shout out to the Lowepro camera case, which, to my surprise, kept my camera dry. Also to Carmen, who dove into the water to throw the bag with my camera to safety before the wave could drag it into the ocean.

This is a sloth, or “oso perezoso” in Spanish. For those of you who do not speak Spanish, that translates to “lazy bear”. This one was near the beach and I waited a long time for it to turn its head towards the camera for this picture. A long time.

One of my friends who went on this trip is Shannon, and she is an artist. We were talking about whittling on the way down to the park and Shannon decided to give it a go. She is making a turtle and it is not done yet. I will keep you updated on the turtle progress.

The bottom hand in this picture is Shannon’s and represents a twenty second lapse in concentration while whittling. It looked a bit ugly at first but a friendly man at the beach gave us Neosporin and a bandage. It did not deter her from turtle carving. The top hand is mine, and represents a chronic lack of forethought, which in this case led to the storage of a razor in the bottom pocket of my backpack. I would advise my fellow shavers not to do this. Or to look inside backpack pockets before reaching in there. My finger looks goofy in this picture but it’s fine. The bulge is a cotton ball, not something more sinister.

 

Despite the wounds, the weekend was a lot of fun and the park was beautiful. If you are thinking of going I would definitely recommend it. We went the cheap route and had a great time, so I don’t think you have to spend a lot of money to have fun there. The hostel had cheap rooms and breakfasts, and backpackers are generally pretty cool people. That being said, there seemed to be some cool options that were a bit more expensive as well. Also, if you don’t have a car, be prepared to take a lot of buses. I took five today on my way back to the house. Overall a fun weekend, and I still have Sunday to get my homework done.

Peace

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A Loch With a Different Kind of Monster

Time May 18th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

The end of April, generally, isn’t the best time to visit Scotland. When I ventured there three weeks ago, there was snow on the ground the week before I arrived. Yet, when I finally reached my host parents’ home in the village of Kincraig (near Kingussie) after an interesting commute, involving a replacement bus service due to a landslide on the track, Peter (my host dad) assured me the weather would be splendid for the weekend.  Splendid turned out to be a bit of an understatement.

On Saturday, we hit it off right away by having the best porridge I’ve ever had. Granted, I don’t eat much porridge as it is, but now that I’ve had Sarah’s (my host mom), that’s the version I’ll be making for myself from now on. Good thing that breakfast was deliciously hardy because we spent the day biking through forest around Loch Inch and canoeing on the actual lake itself. While Eunji (the other student with me this weekend from Brighton) set off with Peter, Sarah and I created rumors of a new monster in a Loch, with my helmet decoration, while biking through the woods. We stopped for lunch beneath the base of the Cairngorm mountain range and headed back to the house for a canoeing afternoon on Loch Inch. Of course, that resulted in being completely soaked through and we ended our day quietly reading in the sun room that had been heated throughout the day. Eunji, Sarah and I Biking with my awesome helmet Canoeing on Loch Inch

Sunday was an even better day! Eunji and I started off with a walk around the loch on our own, just taking in the absolutely beautiful sights of Kincraig. Obviously, the pictures describe it better than I could, but it was wonderful to have to time to appreciate the view. In the afternoon, Sarah and Peter led us up a hill across the way from the house. I could actually see the hill from my bedroom window and when we reached the top (very self-satisfying after the steep ascent), the house was directly beneath us. On this walk alone, we saw ospreys in the nest, an eagle, red squirrels and a herd of deer seeking shelter from the approaching storm that night) in the forest. We also came upon the stone ruins of what was once clearly a village on the hill on our descent. Quick rest on our Sunday walk View from my bedroom window Eunji and I at the top View from the top!

It was honestly amazing to spend the weekend in Kincraig; my hosts were very welcoming and gracious and the landscape was a wonderful alternative to London. After my weekend, I rushed back to London to get ready to welcome my own parents to London, which you’ll hear all about next week!

 

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