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

The Last Few Weeks

Time May 3rd, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Ireland | No Comments by

The last few weeks of studying abroad consists of a whirlwind of emotions. From the happiness of thinking ahead to the warm embraces of my friends and family, to the sadness of thinking of leaving my best friends here and leaving the beautiful scenery of Ireland, I can’t seem to keep my mind straight.

But, with the days down into single digits, I’m just trying to cherish every moment I have. Within the last few weeks I have taken two day-trips in Ireland, spent lots of time studying, and been with all of the people I am going to be sad to leave.

Here’s a look at my day trips to the Aran Islands (Inis Oírr), and my day trip to Letterkenny, County Donegal with dinner in Derry, Northern Ireland, my studies, and some smiling faces :) Read More »

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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 »

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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

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It’s the End of the World (as bloggers know it)

Time December 14th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

…by which I mean, the Internet is down in my Residence complex. Horror of horrors! Which means I either have to hang out in the library or the Humanities cafe, both of which are a bit of a walk away and aren’t open 24/7, but I don’t really have time for that because I have Welsh to study. Hence the absence of blogging. And I really did want to write another post after my last one which was, admittedly, rather on the depressing side.

So what have I been up to? As much as I’d like to say I was living up my last weekend in Cardiff enjoying all the nightlife/social events on offer and interacting with my lovely fellow students, that would be completely inaccurate. I’ve mainly been sitting at a desk for the past week and a half. No, literally. I just move from desk/table to desk–Humanities Building, Library, Humanities, Library, my flat.

BUT I am more or less delighted to inform you that I have finished all my essays for my modules in the History and Ancient History Departments! As of 26 minutes ago, I have also completed my very last non-Welsh module here. It was a great lecture by the School of Ancient History’s very dynamic and engaging Dr. Evans, on the delightful topic of death in the Ancient Roman world (including a fifteen minute discussion about worms. Delicious).

Another thing to be happy about–the essay I mentioned a few posts back on Ancient Coins that I had such difficulty with and agonized over and thought I would fail–well I did NOT fail, far from it in fact! I was very, very excited about this, as Dr. Evans saw when I picked up my essay from his office yesterday (I think he was amused by my excitement, though).

It’s really amazing. I have learned so much from my modules here, truly; I was so scared when I got that assignment. All I could think was “I don’t know anything! I can’t do this!”…but with many hours of effort, I managed to figure it out all on my own. And I think that’s one of the great things about the academic system here, painful as it is at times–in cases like this, when you are thrust into an academic situation where you are given VERY little guidance at all and know almost NOTHING about the topic, YOU have to go and do the research, starting completely from scratch. I didn’t have any professor here giving me step-by-step instructions as to how to begin evaluating Ancient Coins. I had to figure it out myself.

So I think I get what people mean when they say that the academic system here is much more “self-motivated” than in the United States. And the interesting thing about this process (and probably part of the point) is that because nobody is pointing to reading/sources/etc. and saying “that’s what you need to read/do,” you end up doing a lot of sifting and reading of sources and things that may not be directly relevant, and you learn quite a lot from that in addition to whatever you discover about the topic.

I understand the British academic system! Maybe. Close?

In any case, the countdown to departure is now a mere three (!) days. I still have three Welsh exams, a Welsh writing assignment, and two Welsh lectures to get through, so it’s not over yet! That probably sounds dreadful, but I love Welsh so much, I’m going to try to enjoy it insofar as it is possible to enjoy yourself with your first major oral exam in a crazy foreign language looming.

Many thanks to Anjie, the IFSA Spotlight Blogger studying abroad in Chile, for her comment on my last post; she said “I have a feeling that neither of us are going to lose what we have learned nor who we have become in our semesters abroad” and I think she’s right–thanks, Anjie!

I allowed myself to wallow a little in that post, and I’m sure there will be other times when I want to (and perhaps will let myself) do so (briefly), but I think that what I must do in order to make the transition back to my American life easier is to approach leaving Wales with the attitude I tried to go into it with–a positive one. I have to leave; that is a fact. The only thing I can change is my attitude towards leaving.

I have gained so much out of this experience and I must always keep that in mind–imagine if I HADN’T had to courage to go?! I would have missed out on so much. I wouldn’t have discovered such a wonderful place to which I most dearly hope to return. I don’t know how I will go back, or when, but someday, I will.

So here’s to going out the way I came in–head held high, ready to learn from and take on anything and everything that comes my way. And if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from my semester in Wales, it is that I was living life a bit passively before I came here, and I don’t want to go through life that way ever again–because that’s no way to live at all.

 

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Honesty Hour: 2am Ramblings

Time December 12th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

In exactly one week, I will be back in the United States.

…and my heart is breaking.

I can’t think about this now; I have finals to content with. Essays due in. Welsh exams to revise for.

But it keeps ghosting back into my thoughts.

I Skyped my family tonight. My grandmother is so glad that I am coming home. I wanted to enthuse with her, but instead I just sat, paralyzed at the thought. Not of going home, really; I love my family. Home is home and it always will be, especially at the holidays.

But after that? What will I do then? Who will I be? I don’t want to go back to being the person I was before I came here. But how can I be the person I am here without being here? Without my Wales? My Cardiff? Fy nosbarth Gymraeg?  I have never in my college career been so happy as I am right now, as I have been these last weeks. I don’t dislike my school at home; it is a fine institution. But there was always something that never fully clicked. Something has always been missing. I’ve never felt totally at ease, totally comfortable; there’s always been something niggling at me, a feeling of waiting for something to happen, to find something…just waiting…

I didn’t know this would hurt so much at the end.

“Y drafferth efo breuddwyd, ydy bod chi’n gorfod deffo”
– Pobol y Cwm

“The trouble with dreams is that you have to wake up.”

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Goodnight, Oxford

Time November 29th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Good morning! GOOD MORNING! Look alive! You don’t know how lucky you are. You, who has two more years to sit in the Magdalene deer park with a steaming mug of coffee and idly reflect on whether you should eat dinner from the silver platters of Hall or the damp wooden slabs of the Turf; you who has two more years to wonder if you should take your work to the ostentatious green dome of the Radcliffe Camera or the cozy leather armchairs in the Foreign Languages Library beside the Ashmolean. You. You! I wouldn’t kill for those years, it’s not in my style, but I’d give a lot for them; I’d give up television, perhaps, or soda. I actually don’t drink soda, so that’s not too much of a sacrifice, but I would give it up, damn you, I’d give it up forever in exchange for a little more time. I know it won’t work. That’s not the way the world works. Instead we walk until we start to jog, and jog until we start to run, cause we’re late! We’re late! For a very important date! But there’s only one important date—ask Lewis Carroll, he’ll tell you—and I got to say, brother man, I’m not sure you can ever be too late for that one. But you’re right, in a way. We are too late, too late to slow down, too late to stop the motion; come here, William, faster! Come on, faster! Wait, what? Oh, I… my God, you had it right. You had it right all along! Slow down! Slow do… ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

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Splat! and before we know it we’ve gone past the point of no return and we’ve fallen out of the rabbit hole. If there’s one thing I don’t understand, it’s why everyone is so eager to be born. Hang out a little bit; you’ll look younger in fifty years. We weren’t born to run; otherwise, running wouldn’t make us tired. Which reminds me of a joke: why couldn’t the bicycle stand up? Because it was two tired! Ha! Now that’s what I’m talking about. Contra Mundum, Ryder? No way, the mundum had your back all along. It’s big ol’ Time that’s got your number, baby; he’s the one you should be worried about. Because when he catches up to you, there won’t be any revisits. What? What did you say? What do you expect? Brrring! Brrring! They’re calling for you. Wee woop, wee woop, wee woop. Pneumatic hissssss. Welcome back! How was the journey? And you think they’re going to follow orders when you say, “put me back, I like space?” Unlikely. Once you’re here, you’re here for good. So you better enjoy your time out there while you have the chance. I tried. I tried so hard. But I’m no golden bird, no dark tower, so the light’s gonna hit me in three days no matter what I do. I have three days in which to take my final pictures and condense my best memories, three days to crystallize my thoughts and emotions and feelings through words and images so that they don’t slip through the cracks of time like leaves down a gutter. It’s a daunting task. I won’t be able to do it. There are some things that will be lost, and it’s for the lost things I despair. Good thing I realized time was linear in one day instead of wasting the week looking for evidence that it’s not. That’s some consolation. And it’s not over yet. That’s another. WAKE UP! I set your alarm early because there’s so much to do. Even now my body is looking more like a shade. Why did I insist on getting nine and a quarter hours of sleep each night? Surely I could have gotten by on eight, and used the extra hour to walk around, to look at stuff, to touch things, to record another track of JWA’s Oxford Sessions. Did I say goodbye to the deer? Yes, that was yesterday, but I should like to do it again. Will there be time tomorrow? I’m not sure. I have to pack, and buy another bottle of Ben Riach, because I can’t get that at home, and I still haven’t been to the top of St. Mary the Virgin, which I’m pretty keen to do; I’ve heard the view is beautiful up there, even better than it is from the Sheldonian, and even though it’s more expensive I think it might be worth the price. I’ll have to compare it to the view I got from the Tower of the Five Orders—oh man, remember that? I thought that spiral staircase would never stop. I’d like to go back there, but I can’t, because it’s illegal, and I can’t go punting again, because they pulled the boats up for the winter, but that’s alright, because it will leave me time to do other things, like eat one more meal at Georgina’s or Pie Minister or Ben’s Cookies, that would be nice, an entire meal of cookies, one of every flavor, I’d eat one of every flavor that I haven’t yet tried. I want to try every flavor. I want to get it all in. I want to… ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

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See? My fall is just as long as yours. But you! Yours hasn’t come yet. That’s why I’m jealous. It’s petty, I know. You have all the hearts, stars, and clovers, don’t you, because you don’t need to despair just yet. You’re still deep in the dream. Bleh. It’s hard to be upset with you, because you’re so cute when you sleep. Enjoy the dreams. Enjoy them by waking up. WAKE UP! Wait, sorry, that doesn’t make much sense. No, sorry again (those are British manners), it does. Lucid dream. And learn to do it now, because there’s no use finding the fountain of youth when you’re one hundred and ten. Learn how to do it now, because one day you’ll wake up for real, and when that happens nothing can help you, nothing can help you, NOTHING, not unless you can make like T.S. Eliot and try to hold still in the flux. You know, stop time. But even he failed, and although I’m sure you’re smart, you’re probably not on the same level as T.S. Eliot—who was? Yeats maybe—but you’re not Yeats, either, probably not, at least; I mean, you might be, I’m not saying that you’re definitely not, but you’re most likely not, so what hope do you really have? Even if you are, what hope do you really have? Oh. I’ll offer you hope. Realize that you’re running, you fiery chariot, and slow your ass down. Goodnight, Oxford. Well, not goodnight. I’m waking up. Waking up for good. So goodbye. Oh! But to dream once again in a city of dreams!

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