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

Rooftop Islands and Raging Oceans

Time March 12th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

My house here has a terrace on its roof, and sometimes when I find the time (which is never because between classes and errands and cafe time with my new friends I don’t even have time to call my family (sorry, Mom)), I like to sit up on the roof and look out at the world around me. Up high, on my rooftop, I feel like I am a sole inhabitant of a lonely island amidst a vast cauldron of noises, smells, and light.  Buenos Aires is an ocean of sensory overload that swirls around me, and I sit on a wooden stool and take it all in (here are some pics that I took while scuba diving with my digital camera)

.  Yet while I may be the only one on my island, I am not alone in being an islander.  All around me is an archipelago of other terraces on other rooftops, and from my vantage point I can see them going about their lives just as I go about observing theirs.  There is a father with his small son, teaching him how to kick a soccer ball through a 2-foot high goal.  There are a group of young men who come out to bring Quilmes and make bawdy conversation.  Their is an older woman, face wizened by age but her body showing no signs of it, who hangs her laundry on the line.  She waved at me once, and as I waved back I realized something weird: I was just as much a periphery character in her life as she was in mine.  She probably had her own little moniker for me in her world, and our lives certainly had no reason to ever overlap.  This woman has hopes, dreams, memories, and stories that consist of many people and many places, yet for a few brief moments, our respective narratives interacted.  It was a pretty cool feeling to be able to have this sanctuary from the tumultuous ocean of Buenos Aires on my little rooftop island, and to be a part of the lives of those on the islands around me, albeit in a minor way.  I enjoy my moments of sonder.

But enough about figurative oceans; this past week I went to a real one!  It was in a town called Mar del Plata, which is about 6 hours south of Buenos Aires (check out  “My Journey” to see where we specifically went) by omnibus, which is a type of giant bus that many people here use to travel instead of flying.  These buses are typically double-deckers, and the seats fold down into beds and they give you yummy complementary snacks and basically are vastly superior to most US travel buses in almost every way.  But anyway, Mar del Plata was right on the ocean (our hostel was about 4 blocks from the beach!), and it was, in a word, gorgeous.  I have always loved oceans, and having never really lived by one other than in 7th grade, I am consistently drawn to their vastness, power, and beauty.  My group (consisting of my new and awesome friends named Trevor, Morris, Christine, Stephanie, Henry, Catherine, and Ricardo) met up with some other students from my program and practically sprinted to the beach nearest us.   W spent all of the first day at that beach, and I took a lot of pictures

 and went swimming a bit too.  The waves were awesome, the beach art was fantastic, and the sun was to wonderful for words.  It was a good day.  That night, we headed back to the hostel with plans to imbibe in certain legal beverages (which can be picked up at corner stores for unbelievably cheap prices) and then head out for a night of shenanigans and tomfoolery.  It was Carnaval weekend, after all, and the city was bumpin’.  However, after a few valiant efforts to inspire the group to go out, we realized that we were all too tuckered and sunkissed to leave the hostel, so instead we headed up to the roof (yay rooftops!) of the hostel to play guitar, sing songs, and generally have a chill evening of camaraderie.  The hostel put on some cumbia music (link here) and some of us (naturally I was one of them) danced away.  It was a good night, that one.

The next day, we rose around 10:00, enjoyed (?) some complimentary hostel breakfast food, and headed off for another day at the beach.  This time, instead of sticking to the beach near us (which was lovely but crowded), we piled into a colectivo and shipped off down the coast for about an hour until we reached a beach that was (supposedly) the best one in Mar del Plata.  Well, upon first glance it wasn’t too bad, but as soon as we tried to find a spot on the sand to lay down our stuff, the lifeguards shunted us away.  ¿Um, perdon?  Yeah, turns out this beach was private, and we had to walk all the way down to a windswept point until the lifeguard deemed the beach a “public area”.  Not even our best efforts (in both Castellano and English) could sway the beach officials.  Yet despite this beach clearly not seeming the like best one in Mar del Plata (we learned later that the beach we were looking for had been about 5 more minutes down the bus route from us), we had a blast.  The waves were even better than they had been the day before, and my body changed color from marshmallow-esque pasty to slightly-cooked-marshmallow.  We left the beach a little earlier that day due to wind, and since our bus back to Buenos Aires was scheduled to leave the next morning at 7:30, we decided to would emulate the Argentinians, and just stay out until then.  It was a raucous night.  After a delicious pizza and beer dinner at the hostel, we went out to a boliche called Tai-pan, which overlooked the bay and was generally super cool.  Many hours of dancing, a few cab rides later, and NO SLEEP later, we were suddenly on the omnibus back to Buenos Aires.  Most of us slept like boulders, although my nap was cut short by a cute but godawfully loud baby near me who kept crying and screaming like his sole purpose was to undermine the much-needed rest of a terribly sleep-deprived American traveler (mission accomplished, baby).

It was lovely to get back home.  I had missed my host family already during my time in Mar del Plata, and they were very accommodating to my immediate desire to sleep before I told them anything about the trip.  After my nap, we chatted for a while and they told me that Anderson (a Brazilian PhD student who had been staying with us for a while), had left the day before.  Anderson is a wonderful guy, and though we had only known each other for a few days, he had been such a pleasure to converse with.  This last picture is of all of us, and Anderson is in the front on the left next to my host dad.

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Thanks for reading, and I know this post was a doozy.  Stay wonderful, everyone.

Besos,

Dylan

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Flores y animales

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

Here are some pictures of our trip to INBioparque, a zoo in Heredia featuring all of the ecosystems of Costa Rica.

Featured here are just a fraction of the flowers and animals that we got a chance to see, both wild and caged.

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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Home Again

Time January 29th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

“We are torn between a nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.” – Carson McCullers

So I’ve been back in the US for a while now.

Being back is possibly the strangest feeling in the world. When I first got back I was exhausted. I was so happy to be home to see my family and my friends and celebrate my 21st birthday the American way, celebrate Christmas and New Years with people I love and hadn’t seen in months. And it was especially bittersweet as I had only recently found out that my family would be moving in a few months, so I was trying to soak in every moment in Memphis that I could. It was normal being back, or as normal as going home for the holidays is when you’ve been away at school.

But now that I’ve been back at college for a couple of weeks, I’m realizing just how strange being back is. I don’t exactly know how to explain my experience abroad. I loved traveling, seeing new things, meeting new people, forcing myself to be more confident in my abilities, creating deep friendships in short periods of time. When people ask me, “How was it?” all I can say is, “Amazing, life changing.” I don’t know how else to describe it in a short, conversational way. I don’t want to dominate the conversation with all my tales, which I could easily do with the amount of things I experienced.

A lot of people go abroad at my school and most of us live in a building together, so it’s nice to be able to compare experiences or commiserate, whichever we feel like. But I miss the group I went abroad with. I miss feeling like every moment was a treasure and you couldn’t waste it because you never knew when you’d be in that place, in that moment, again. I miss the feeling of adventure and mystery. And I know that I can travel here, meet new people here, see new places, try new things. But I guess it just doesn’t feel the same. It has inspired me to want to be more involved at my home university in an effort to get that feeling back. And I’m hoping that I won’t miss Ireland, and Europe, and all my friends so much as time goes on.254857_4374867528855_1012273642_n 246497_10152144752640089_301287136_n 281458_10151221655944417_124949117_n 335162_10152144749030089_453677619_o 374028_10151221654114417_1931392003_n 534582_525007824179103_1293993088_n 536548_10151271779475879_46586729_n 32383_10151221676354417_632995287_n.

But for now I just flip through all of the pictures and videos I took of all the beautiful places I visited and all the amazing people I met and hope I can travel again soon, even if it’s just across the country.

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My travels have kept me away…Sorry!!

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

Hello Everyone!

I have not updated everyone in awhile, I am so sorry for that!! Things have been crazy since my last post but I will now update your thoroughly.

Two weeks ago I went to The Lake District in England with IFSA on Adventure Weekend. Let me just explain to you how I fell in love with this place, it is so far away from the city, and there are mountains everywhere, and you don’t have cell reception, and there was nature and lush fall colors everywhere, needless to say it was the perfect getaway! I did not think about Colchester at all really, and if I could have stayed I would have. My recommendation to anyone who is coming to England at any point in their life, go to The Lake District! It is worth the trip. London is great, but it is always hectic. The Lake District is very peaceful, and sometimes that is what you need in a vacation. It is my favorite destination in England next to London.

My second trip, which was a week ago, was to…Warsaw, Poland. I have mixed feelings about Warsaw. The best part about Warsaw is that I met up with Victoria Busse, one of my best friends from school!! She is studying in France and was on Toussaints break and came to travel with me. It was great to see her and made me miss home a little less. Now back to Warsaw. It is not the prettiest place but there are pretty aspects to it. It was cheap which was really nice! The food was good. It snowed which in normal cases would make this Alaskan girl happy, but this time I was not happy to see snow. The wind was piercing so it made the snow hard to appreciate and Alaskans are such warm people, even in winter, the Polish however, are not. The nicest Polish people we encountered were at the hostel and on our walking tour. Finding things in Warsaw was close to impossible because we cannot pronounce anything in Polish. This made our activities limited so we only walked around Old Town, which was very beautiful, and saw The Palace of Culture and Science.

This past weekend we went to Oslo, Norway Andrew Stegman, a friend of mine from Essex and a fellow IFSA participant. This is one of my favorite destinations in the world! I went to Oslo when I was 11 with my dad and I always wanted to go back, so I did. Unknown fact about me: Oslo was actually the first place I ever drove a car and it was a Mercedes…I did not crash it! This time I did not get to drive, but I did get to traipse around downtown Oslo. The only downside to Oslo is how expensive it is to visit there. The exchange rate will fool you into thinking it is cheap, do not buy into the lie because here is a little known fact about Norwegians, they are either very well off or they are not, so unless you have an American Express Black Card or you know a parent with you, shopping, eating, heck staying in Oslo will be very, and I mean VERY, expensive to you. However the experience was worth it. We saw Parliament, City Hall, The Statue Garden, the harbor, The Palace, The Icebar, and The Opera House. All together this was a fabulous trip!

As you can see, I am not just neglecting my readers/watchers. I have been gone and in school when I am at Uni, so I am sorry. This week I am going to a Bluey Robinson concert in London on Thursday staying until Friday, and then to Manchester on Saturday staying until Sunday. I will come back on Monday and update you again, I promise! But until then…

Cheers,

Dominique


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

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