Going to a new place always requires an adjustment, but I was surprised by what felt completely normal and what I’m still getting used to here in Argentina. When I first arrived, Buenos Aires was in the middle of a heat wave. From my first step out of the airport until the miraculous day a week later when a storm hit and the heat broke, I could’ve sworn the climate would kill me. (Side Note: I should’ve packed more dresses. All the pants I have caused me to overheat.) After a week of normal temperatures, while my home in Minnesota goes from a tornado, to snow, to sun, I know I will enjoy Argentinian weather. Read More »
Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler
Life in Ireland, wow, it’s amazing.
Of course, it has its ups and downs, but that’s just life in general. The best part is, every low is “higher” than the lows at home, because I’m here!
The most notable thing about Ireland that differs from The University of Tulsa would be the daily life. Here, I live in an apartment with four other girls, have a 20 minute walk to class, cook for myself, and have to adapt to the weather at any given moment. But hey, I’m learning how to live on my toes!
The best advice I can give to a student who is looking to study in Ireland is to pack with the weather in mind. The Irish students dress up, for classes, but only under their coat and rain jacket! A big hood is a must, layers, a scarf, and although they don’t wear rain boots a lot, when it pours they’re needed. The rainbows are beautiful, the grass is green, the walk to class is reflective as we pass the Irish countryside. Learning to cook has been a bit of a struggle, but luckily the other IFSA students and my Irish roommates are phenomenal chefs!
Daily life of an Irish student involves waking up in a snuggly bed and having to get up out of the burrito, put on some fuzzy slippers, and shower in the morning while the water is still warm. Put on a couple layers, make some breakfast and pack a lunch, double check that my charger is in my bag, and head to campus for the day. As the twenty minute walk is enjoyable with nice weather, I always have my rain jacket and enough homework to keep me on campus if it starts to pour, because the weather changes every 30-45 minutes. Tutorials (larger lectures) and Seminars (smaller discussions) throughout the day, studying and socializing in between, and making sure to keep up with the weekly socs (societies, which are like our clubs) email! Campus is always lively, whether it’s the cafeteria, Smokey’s Cafe, the library, the Arts Concourse, or the campus bar, Sult. With coffee and soup a day, I’m starting to feel more Irish. Hopefully I’ll turn a little greener for St. Patrick’s Day!
But until then, stay warm (and dry)! Read More »
Weeks ago I was so jealous every time I opened Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook and was greeted by pictures and videos of sunshine, beaches, warm weather, oh did I already mention sunshine?!! All of my friends were on their spring breaks and from the looks of it, they all had so much fun! Now, don’t get me wrong, but how are the people in Ireland so friendly all of the time? Is seasonal affective disorder a thing here? Normally I don’t mind the rain, in fact, some of my favorite days are rainy Fridays. However, the rain is getting a bit redundant. Or at least it was when my friends were at the beach. Then, the week of Saint Patrick’s Day, the weather was gorgeous! And it has been for a few weeks now! (Natasha, is this where I pew pew pew?)
I think I’ve transitioned to studying abroad fairly well if I do say so myself. I was tired from traveling at the beginning so I don’t think I actually had jet lag (as for daylight savings, I’m struggling big time with that). It feels like I’m still just away at college, which I am, but instead of being an easy four-hour drive away, I’m a six/seven-hour flight across an ocean. I talk to my parents more frequently than I do when I’m at UVM, and just about the same amount with my brother.
So instead of jet setting like I’ve been doing for many weekends here, I’ve spent the last 4 weekends in Galway. The first picture you’ll see is that of my late umbrella — it became that sad little pile of cloth and metal after a walk to campus one day. Everyone warns you about the rain in Ireland, but no one prepares you for the wind! Some days it just comes out of no where, and your umbrella just isn’t up for it. (Update: I’ve bought a new umbrella since the demise of this one).
The next you’ll see is that of my friend up on stage. She’s one of the Irish friends I’ve made here and she has an incredible singing voice, so we were out supporting her at a competition!
You’ll then see a few from the Galway Christmas Market — one of the actual market, one of the amazing cheese stuffed bread I had for dinner, and one of the candy stall (I stop here every time I’m down by the market).
After this you’ll see my friend and I holding matching drinks. This is another Irish friend of mine, and we were out celebrating our friend’s 21st birthday! Even though turning 21 doesn’t mean anything special here in Ireland, the Irish still make a big deal out of it.
After this is a photo of my friend buying his daily coffee from the Coffee Hut. The owner uses the small opening below the billboards as a small cafe and gets loads of customers.
The oysters in the following picture are local Galway oysters, and they were delicious! I’m always a sucker for oysters, so I had to try the most famous ones in Ireland.
After this are some photos of our Thanksgiving dinner in Galway, which we called “Friendsgiving” (I made that stuffing from scratch). Our two roommates from France shared their first Thanksgiving experience with us, and said they hadn’t eaten so much food in very a long time. We explained that that’s what Thanksgiving is all about!
There is also a photo of a few of my friends and I trying on some hats — there is a little vintage store in Galway that we love to visit.
In the gallery you’ll see an updated picture of the foal up the road that was born at the beginning of our semester here. We’ve watched him grow up!
Last are some photos from our breakfast at Dungeons and Doughnuts, a local shop that sells both board games (e.g. Dunces and Dragons) and some very creative donuts! They were perfectly sugary and definitely worth sharing.
It’s kind of cold here, mostly because of the humidity. I’ve been wearing sweatshirts, or at least long sleeves, every day, but unfortunately, I only brought three sweaters/sweatshirts, and somehow I managed to lose one of them in my first week here. Also, I have only seen the sun three times in my three weeks here. That’s not an exaggeration either… the first time I saw the sun here was my first day, when one of the guys who as been here for longer pointed it out and was amazed to see it. The second time was during one of our orientation classes (which take place in this really awesome partially-outdoor brick courtyard thing) when somebody saw part of the courtyard become fully illuminated, a clear distinction from the shadows everywhere else. He alerted everyone in the class, and we all frantically got up out of our seats to run over and look at the sun, before it was gone. The third time was a few days ago when I went to an art museum with some friends. I should mention that all of these times, we didn’t have a clear view of the sun; we could just clearly see the glowing outline of where the sun was through an unusually thin layer of clouds, and only on one of those occasions did the sky look blue and like anything that could be considered something other than cloudy.
Even though this makes it sound bad, I actually really love the climate. It’s very comfortable as long as you have a light jacket or a sweatshirt to put on when you are cold.
I caught my first glimpse of real poverty in Lima when I went to the Chorrillos district on Sunday. My host mom invited to to come along to a family picnic with her daughter, her daughter’s husband and two kids. We were in a nicer part of Chorillos in a gated community connected to a country club, where we went for the picnic, but driving through parts of Chorrillos I began to see how many people in Lima live. There were stray dogs everywhere and looking up into the hills off of the main roads were densely-packed, self-built houses separated by dirt roads. I can’t wait to start working with people from these areas of Lima when we start the volunteering part of the program in Villa El Salvador next weekend.
The Art Museum
I went with some friends to the historical area of Lima to an art museum. Unfortunately, almost all of it was closed and being renovated, but one pre-Incan exhibit remained open and it was pretty cool, and the building itself was very interesting.
Pictures of Miraflores, Chorrillos and the Art Museum
I don’t have a whole lot of hope for getting Computer Science/Engineering credit while I am studying abroad here, so I decided to expand my horizons a little bit and take some random classes that interest me. In addition to the two IFSA required courses, both of which are basically Peruvian History/Culture classes that seem fairly interesting, I will be taking Bio-Huertos (which in English is something along the lines of ‘Urban Farming’), Actuación 1 (Acting 1), and Cine (Film).
Urban farming is something I have always been interested in, and I came here wanting to take an agriculture class or do something related to agriculture with my volunteer work, so Bio-Huertos appealed to me. Plus there is a lot of class work time in the gardens, where I will hopefully be able to make some Peruvian friends.
Film seemed like a good mix of a fun time and a cultural immersion class that involves discussion and watching films in Spanish. Our professor has said that he will be exposing us to films from all over the world from all different eras and genres. The first film we watched this week was the American horror movie, The Exorcist.
Acting has been interesting thus far… I was originally going to take it because I was having trouble finding courses and because there was a chance that it would give me credit for a public speaking requirement I have for Northwestern, but after I went to the classes, I realized that, not only is it pretty fun, its a very verbal-communication heavy class, and I am the only non-Peruvian student, so it has been great for my Spanish, as well as interacting with local students, and we already have a class Facebook group! If I can learn to act in Spanish, I’ll probably be able to do just about anything in Spanish. But the class has been unlike any class I’ve had before thus far… Through the reading I have learned things like ‘An actor must have an exceptional perception and sense of sight, hearing, touch, pleasure and smell’, or ‘Being an actor requires an insatiable curiosity for the human condition’, and that ‘Actors must be physically and mentally stronger than other people’. In class so far, we have mostly made verbal presentations and played games. We even spent about forty minutes one day ‘exploring the space’ where the class was held. It was awesome.
All in all though, I think Tobias Fünke’s portrayal of acting is pretty accurate thus far.
My Spanish is improving quickly. I can easily understand all of my professors, or anyone else speaking clearly. Speaking is much harder, but I’ve been able to make some impromptu verbal presentations that were slower than everybody else’s but still coherent and I said everything I wanted to say. The hardest things for me are vocabulary and understanding people at stores, on the street or in social settings when I am not initially devoting all of my attention to listening to them. Also, at the end of the day, I find I am much more tired than I would be if I were speaking English all day. English also becomes much harder when you are in that Spanish groove, and so I often find myself unable to communicate a complex idea in English or Spanish. tl;dr: My Spanish has improved a lot here but I’ve still got a long way to go.
So I have now been in Lima f or two weeks. Orientation is over but it was amazingly fun while it lasted. The entire group here is great and they are all very fun to be around. Through orientation we learned strategies to keep ourselves safe in life as well as interesting slang that is only used here. We ate lots of cool Peruvian food and also explored the closest place to get a decent Burger and Pizza. We traveled all around Lima, from the Plaza de Armas to El barrio Chino. All of which was very fun and interesting. A couple of days ago I was able to go down to the beach for the first time since arriving and that was really fun, we all just chilled and listened to music while the sun shone and vendors came around selling Inka Kolas (Peru’s national soft drink, also utterly delicious) and Churros.
One of the things that has been difficult to get use to is the traffic here. As a resident of New Hampshire I view any sort of traffic as inherently evil. In Lima traffic is hell. Riding around in the small, cramped and always full combis while stuck in rush hour (which feels like it always is) is torture beyond belief. Not to mention that in Peru textbooks are incredibly expensive so Professors just photocopy the text. This means that as a student we have to go to the Fotocopiadoras and ask for them to copy the required reading. This wouldn’t be awful if Peruvians believed in lines. But alas they do not and it is typically a giant mass of students yelling there class codes to get the texts they need. It’s incredibly inefficient and it is easily one of my least favorite aspects of being in Peru.
There are some very interesting aspects to Peruvian culture that either does not exist in the United States or is slightly different. Something that I have struggled with is the amount of public displays of affection. It is not uncommon to walk down the street or ride a bus and see a couple sharing a passionate kiss. Another thing is that Peruvians tend to disregard personal space, obviously not out of rudeness but because it’s just not a cultural thing here. The “personal bubble” is a very United States invention and it’s sometimes off putting when speaking with locals who will stand very very close to you. I have only experienced this once or twice and each time it came from none Limenos. Another thing that I have struggled to get use to is the besito, also known as the kiss on the cheek, when greeting or leaving the company of a woman. It’s very strange and can make you uncomfortable but it’s something that’s done here and something that I will have to overcome.
Lima is classified as a desert so it never ever rains. However, it is the most humid place I’ve ever been to in my life. The Summers here are much the same as the one in New England with a high in the 80s or so. The place where it differs is the humidity. In New England the humidity fluctuates day to day and some days are better than others. In Lima, it is always humid. Typically your average day is about 90%-98% humidity. This makes living here an absolute killer. There are days when just getting up from bed has caused me to break out sweating. It also makes me much more tired by the end of the day. But the weather is always consistent which is something to be said. Lets face it, New England can’t exactly say the same.
My time in Lima has been short but I can honestly say that I enjoy being here. There’s something to be said about living in a place that truly feels alive. I use to hate cities but this may change my mind about them. So far my experience has been a rather positive one, there will always be some things that may upset us as people in a new culture but for the most part I can look past most, if not all of them. Some days are obviously harder than others. Some days you miss your friends and family, while sometimes you just simply miss your culture, you miss the consistency of the things you know. In another culture you are always wondering what to do next. But I am happy and that is what counts and I look forward to sharing more of my experiences in future posts.
So it’s been awhile since my last post so I thought I should do some updating. I’ve been here just about a month now which is pretty hard to believe; it feels like I just got here. Part of this is probably because of how busy schoolwork keeps me. A major difference between college back home and university here is definitely the amount of time spent in the classroom.
I was warned that it was significantly different, but it’s hard to grasp how much “free” time you actually have until you’re here. I only have lectures and seminars for 8 hours on a full week and most of this is concentrated on Mondays and Thursdays with one seminar on Fridays (but even then it’s only every fortnight). Last semester I had Fridays off, but I still had 10 or 11 hours of classes every week which makes 8 hours seem like nothing. Now of course less time in the classroom does not mean less work (unfortunately). I’ve been busy balancing all the reading that inevitably comes with taking four English classes which comes out to about one to two novels or plays a week which is probably about what I was doing last semester, but it seems like a lot more when the professor isn’t telling you which chapters to read and instead saying “when we meet next week (or in two weeks) we’ll be talking about (insert play or novel).” This lack of set instruction is freeing in some ways, but pretty incompatible with my tendencies toward procrastination. I’ve been trying to correct these tendencies, but it’s a long process. I should be using my Tuesdays and Wednesdays to write my essays and read, but in addition to procrastination I tend to like sleeping in late (can I help it if beds are comfortable?).
Overall though, it’s been going well. While not exactly on schedule for today I did make it to the park and did some laundry. London has a lot of parks and I’m lucky enough to live about 10-15 minutes away from Regent’s Park which is pretty big and houses the London Zoo. Today was the first time I’d been there though so I haven’t seen all of it. What I was trying to do was set up a running route, but there was so much to look at that I got kind of distracted. Today wasn’t the greatest weather, a little chilly and rainy (though pretty good for February I think), but the park was still really pretty. There obviously weren’t flowers or anything, but the fountains were running and all the green trees and shrubs were a nice change of scenery from cars, streets, and buildings. Of course it started raining while I was walking around so I did get some running in, but luckily it didn’t last very long. I’m hoping to go back tomorrow and run again as well as on a nicer day when I can get some pictures.
While I’ve touched on the rain aspect of my title (to be fair it’s really not that much rain), I realize that I haven’t really addressed the rest of it. I guess the accents are a pretty obvious one, but it still feels really weird in a classroom or elsewhere when I start talking and my voice doesn’t sound like everyone else’s. At this point I’ve gotten relatively used to the different kinds of accents around me and for the most part I can understand what they’re saying (my favorite new word is chock-a-block). However, it then becomes really obvious that I’m American when I start talking and I’ve become really conscious of it. I mean it doesn’t make too much of a difference, people still listen and for the most part the understand what I’m saying, but I definitely know I’m the outsider. I do have 5ish more months though, so maybe it’ll stop feeling so weird. As for coins, that’s just something else to get used to: carrying more change. The UK has significantly more denominations of coins than we do in the US. While we have 1,5,10 and 25 cent coins in common use, they have 1,2,5,10,20 cent pieces (or pence if you like) as well as 1 and 2 pound coins. They’re really kind of neat though I’ve been forced to start giving more exact change to keep my wallet from getting too heavy. Consequently I don’t have pictures of all of them, but I did upload one of a few of the different kinds and I’m sure you could Google pictures of others if you’re interested. Despite all the different denominations, the coins aren’t actually that hard to tell apart or use. They’re all different shapes, sizes, and materials to better distinguish them from one another. For example, the one and two pence coins are both copper like the penny, but the two pence is actually twice the size. So overall, not that difficult once you get used to it. The paper money is pretty cool too since it’s so colorful (another way to easily distinguish between bills). For example, the 20 pound bill is purple (my favorite).
Well those are my impressions so far. We have a reading week coming up in two weeks and I’m hoping to use that time to explore all the sites of the city that I haven’t made it to yet so I should have some pictures and a new blog post then. I’m also going to see Wicked next week so I’m pretty excited about that too. Anyway, that’s all for now. Cheers!