“It was about my fifth time I was rereading my host mom’s name, “Carmen”. I had waited weeks and weeks for the information about my host family to arrive. I quickly called my mom to tell her about the family. The months leading up to the trip I was eager to tell everyone I was going to Costa Rica but, in this moment it all became real. I was going to be traveling to another country by myself. I had limited information about what I was going to be doing once I got there, and I had very limited knowledge about Costa Rica. There have been a few times this week, where I could not even talk about leaving home without crying. I honestly have no idea what I am doing and who I am going to be with.“ Continue reading
Hey Marymount! It’s over a month into summer already but it’s only one week into my internship program in Dublin, Ireland, so the fun has just begun! This past week was jam-packed, what with flying into Dublin airport, moving in last Monday and meeting all of the other interns in the program, and starting work full time the very next day. It feels great to be settled in now and to be able to write and process my experience so far. Continue reading
My first final has come and gone here in Aix, and with it, a large portion of my stress. Because this week has been about the much-longed-for end of my grammar course, I haven’t had the time to do the same brand of over-the-top soul searching you’ve been subjected to in my last posts. I have, however, gotten to enjoy some significant developments and work through some rough spots, and hopefully, my sharing a few specific experiences from this week may enlighten any fellow students contemplating summer language programs and entertain those of you who are just here for the stories. Continue reading
It’s time to focus on some of the more “traditional” Japanese events that I’ve been attending. Seeing that my past couple of posts have had a bigger emphasis on cartoon characters and plastic fish, I think that it’s important to stray away from those topics for a while and touch on the older, more time-honored aspects of Japan. Continue reading
While abroad, I have stayed in contact with a few of my friend back at home. Coincidentally, one of my two friends I have kept up with is studying abroad this summer in Europe. When messaging in our group chat I jokingly asked my other friend, “When are you going to study abroad?” This joke quickly turned into a small debate we always have. She wonders why I would want to leave Michigan and accumulate debt, when I could simply stay at home in order to work to save up money to pay for college. I think the easiest way to justify my choice is to explain the importance of experiential learning. Continue reading
Stateside, I think we all have a vague conception of Europe as ancient, steeped in history. It’s older than our toddler of a country can hope to understand, and exists in some kind of mythic, beautiful other world. We accept this romantic narrative of lazy Italian villas in the summer, the age-old tradition of fresh bread from a local baker, and the ruins of a city playing backdrop while pining, gorgeous locals clutch a goodbye letter from their American lover, bracing themselves for that final, cheesy meet-at-the-airport-gate scene. And you know what, to some extent, that’s right. Well, parts of it. Continue reading
Part of the ISA program includes going on two excursions; the first being to a beautiful national park called Manuel Antonio. This national park has two beautiful beaches but, in order to get to the beaches, you must walk through a lush rainforest. Monkeys can be heard in the distance, little crabs dig holes in the dirt, and sloths hang in the trees. The second excursion is the Arenal Volcano. We did not visit the volcano, but the volcano could be seen in the distance. We stayed in a secluded resort 15 minutes from the nearest town. These two excursions were equally beautiful and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay during both weekend trips. While on these trips, I began to think about tourism. Continue reading
I like to be good at things. I think I can safely say that everyone likes to be good at something or other. We often build a sense of identity around the things we’re good at, whether you would define yourself as athletic, artistic, intellectual, funny, hard working, or charming, there’s some part of your personality that you lay claim to, and when someone asks you who you are, that thing is what comes to mind (whether you feel confident enough to say it or not). It’s a comfort object, like that favorite toy you had as a kid, and you hold it quietly in your hand or your pocket to run your fingers over it and feel safe when things aren’t going so well. You might have messed up x, y, or z, but you tell yourself that’s just “not your thing” and in your thing? In that you are a rockstar.
But what do you do when that fragment of identity is questioned? What comfort do you have? Continue reading
I’ve found that it’s difficult to write blog posts, despite having so many things to talk about. Usually, I don’t have enough free time to do it. When I do, I get writer’s block. I’ll partly blame the busy schedule to midterms, which are right around the corner for us, but there has been another, more recent factor also bogging me down with deadlines and due dates: cartooning. Continue reading
The number one problem I foresaw when studying abroad was making new friends. I am very selective when it comes to choosing friends. Friendship is one of the most important things in this life. Choosing to talk to or hang out with someone solely because you like who they are as a person is pretty profound and should not be taken lightly. Also, friends say a lot about you are as well. Therefore, I find myself being selective about the friends I make. When in a situation where I am meeting new people for the first time I simply just sit and observe in order to gauge the personalities’ of others. I realized this slightly judgmental approach would not fly when I left the country. There would only be a small number of individuals who are part of my program and an even smaller group of individuals in my classes. Therefore, I made it one of my goals to get off of my social high horse and be open to making a diverse group of friends. I was quickly reminded of this goal when I arrived in San Jose. Continue reading
It’s often said that the stories that stand the test of time are the ones that speak to us in relatable ways — they get right down into something gritty and human about our experiences, and this is why we keep them around. Now, I believe that’s a pretty accurate statement, but for the absolute life of me I’ve never understood how Homer’s Odyssey could make the list of “relatable” unless you’ve been in the very specific circumstance of returning from war and taking 20 years to do it (also recommended: fighting with at least one god and accidentally getting all your friends turned into pigs). Writing this blog, however, on the other side of a 3 day trip that, in its most practical form takes maybe 8 hours, I feel like I finally understand the primal humanity I share with Odysseus, the sorry guy who just wants to get where he’s going.
More often than not I find myself overestimating my abilities. This may have come to my detriment when filling out the housing questionnaire for my study abroad trip. On the questionnaire I emphasized my desire to be in a household that I was able to practice Spanish. In my mind I was going to be able to speak fluent Spanish by the end of the month long program. I mean I know how to conjugate -ar, -ir, and -er verbs, what more could you ask for? Another piece of evidence I used to justify my unobtainable goal, was then fact that while in Cuba I was able to order food on my own and asked for directions in Spanish. Of course, I failed to remember the strange looks on native speakers faces when I uttered grammatically incorrect phrases. I simply remembered the fact that I spoke Spanish, and I received an answer in Spanish, which I partially understood. Continue reading