Tag Archives: Study Abroad

AHA International wrap-up

I said my goodbyes to Sue Crust today, the wonderful AHA site director who has been a terrific host. She had to head in to Paris for meetings, so after my morning Intermediate French class, she had her assistant, Annika, take charge. I was able to track the professor in the French class very well, so I was quite pleased with that. 🙂 Sue will mail me six or so surveys that weren’t yet finished, so she really has gone above and beyond what I expected. Below are some photos of Sue’s space, as well as one of the two of us. I hope our paths cross again!

Croissants + Poptarts = Research Success

Today I visited two schools connected with the AHA International study abroad site in Angers, France. There are many wonderful opportunities for students here – I hope I can help to recruit some from Concordia! After a breakfast of cheese, croissants, and coffee, I went to Ecole Supérieure des Pays de Loire and spoke to two tourism classes. They are expected to be fluent in English, so thankfully I was asked to speak with them en Englais. I must say that it felt good to be back in the classroom. We discussed various topics of interest to them, such as American college life, tourist attractions in the US, sports, food, and my perceptions of France. A Trailblazers’ fan was present, and he was pleased that I have been to the Moda Center and know of Batum, who is from Le Mans, not far from here. Students completed my research surveys on meaning in life as they enjoyed Poptarts that I brought with me, a novelty here.

Next I visited Ecole Supérieure des Sciences Commerciales d’Angers, an impressive business school here. I got to enjoy lunch with two ESSCA directors, and then I had a great tour of their substantial facilities. Angers is their headquarters, and there are additional sites in Paris, Budapest, and Shanghai. Of course business classes are their primary focus, but they also have classes related to the EU, politics, and history, as well as French (bien sûr!). Many classes are taught in English, so a non-French speaking student could easily attend. Between what AHA and ESSCA offer, our Concordia students could easily fulfill the new language requirements in as few as 4-6 weeks!

I have found Angers to be a delightful city, and I’m so pleased to spend a few days here. I hope students consider coming (check out these sites for AHA: http://ahastudyabroad.org/europe-northwestern/angers-france.html and ESSCA: http://www.essca.fr/en/you-are/international-student/exchange-student/) as I am certain they would have a wonderful experience too! 


Warm Wednesday

Wednesday was our warmest day so far (upper 60s) with lots of sunshine. I even got to sit on a sunny bench at Trinity and read for about an hour! It also was fun to watch the people and magpies around New Square, the green in front of our apartment.

The four of us ventured out after a late breakfast to walk to Christ Church Cathedral, about 15 minutes from Trinity. I had read that you can pay one entrance fee for both the cathedral and “Dublinia,” which is a Viking and Medieval Dublin experiential type of attraction next door, so that’s what we did.

The cathedral was quite impressive; Jackson had learned about that type of architecture, so it was neat to have him add to the conversation (can’t wait till he sees Notre Dame!). I especially liked the stained glass windows, particularly a room with various saints, including Patrick (of course). The tree of Jesse is depicted in the large window grouping at the end of the cathedral; it was spectacular to behold. Jackson and I lit a candle of remembrance for Uncle Bruce in a reflection room. After we saw all the features, including the spiral stairs up to the impressive organ, we headed downstairs to the crypt. It was kind of spooky between the below-ground dungeon feel and knowing there were bodies in the walls. It was good to get back into the sunshine. 🙂

Dublinia was next…you enter what looks like a Viking ship to begin the story of how Vikings invaded what is now Dublin (settled in 841). We learned lots about Vikings’ customs, weapons, houses, trading practices, etc. A highlight was going inside a typical Viking home and imagining what it would have been like to live back then. The portrayal of a Viking bathroom was humorous, complete with sound effects. Did you know moss was the toilet paper of the Viking world? And, Vikings didn’t actually have horns in their helmets – who knew?!

The next level focused on Medieval Dublin and what it was like to live in that time. Again, not an easy way of life. The traditional home was more advanced and there were interesting discoveries that had been made, but living conditions were hard and death rates were high. The final part of Dublinia was an exhibit about archaeology and how discoveries are made through hard work, patience, and science. It was quite interesting and I think we all departed thankful that we had spent the time and money on our excursion.

We walked back to Trinity, stopping for lunch at Pizza Hut on the way. The rest of the day was spent reading, playing games, and hanging out with our students. Reed held a session for the seminar he is teaching while here: Cultural & Political Psychology through the Lenses of Self & U2. It is a very interesting combination of Irish history, intergroup conflict, and application to self. They have been at their service placements for two days and they are good overall. Hannah is volunteering at a watersports school working with (adorable Irish!) children. Jamieson is serving at a facility for intellectually impaired individuals (complete with cat!). Jamie and Kayla are at a rehab & residential setting for people with brain dysfunction (zoo field trip next week!). We will visit their placements so we can get a better sense of what they’re doing. The students are seeking out a lot of additional cultural experiences…they are truly taking full advantage of their time here! As one of the students eloquently put it, “Dublin, I love you.”

Tomorrow morning I will head to the airport fairly early to fetch my parents. We are very much looking forward to their arrival and hope their journey is a smooth one. Tomorrow night we get to see “Riverdance” at the Gaiety Theatre; something I have been waiting for with great anticipation! Hopefully Reed and Jackson will be pleasantly surprised. 🙂

 

Tuesday’s Happenings

Tuesday was a nice family day in Dublin. We departed for lunch around 2:00 after gaming (kids) and blogging (adults) in the morning while enjoying coffee and tea. Speaking of blogging, we are also posting Concordia updates that will show up on our Team Mueller page (in addition to the Concordia Psychology Department FaceBook page). Sorry if you were confused by different, yet similar, posts from the same day.

For lunch, we headed to The Duke, one of the many (MANY!) pubs in our neighborhood. Reed and Abbie had gone on our first night in Dublin and wanted to share it with Jackson and me. We had a reasonably priced lunch for about €30 (yes, that seems to be reasonably priced for here!). We got sandwiches, salads, and our go-to Dublin drinks (R=Guinness, E=Kilkenny, J=Coke, A=ginger ale in cute little green bottles). Next we headed to a place we learned about from our tour guide, Sean, to get Italian hot chocolates for the kids and espressos for us. It didn’t quite live up to our expectations based on his hype, but oh well.

The boys returned to Trinity and the girls had a lovely afternoon exploring Grafton Street. If you “search it up” (as Abbie says), you will find images of the over-crowded pedestrian street lined with high-end shops and street performers. Abbie LOVED it. (It sure doesn’t take much to entertain that girl, a characteristic we really appreciate!) We did a little souvenir shopping, though I kept it brief as this is NOT the place to find good deals. We spent some time in a tourism office looking at all the information…again, Abbie loved it. I’m sure the girls will have to do this another day as it was a very pleasant way to spend a few hours. We ended with a cold drink from Burger King, mostly to make change to use at the Trinity launderette, where I sit as I write this (€4 for a wash!). We heard from three students that their service placements went well today; we will get more updates tomorrow. Reed will hold class in our apartment tomorrow evening, so we are looking forward to touching base with them.

Exploring the sights, sounds, and tastes of Ireland

As I write this, our students are at their service placements for the first time. Can’t wait to hear how their experience is! (More on that tomorrow. )

Yesterday was a very fine day indeed! We met up and made our way through the Book of Kells exhibit in the Old Library at Trinity College. History within history within history. The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript of the four gospels that “represents evidence of a scholarly and artistic culture of the highest achievement.” (Killeen, 2012) There’s more on it here. After that we were led on a walking tour of Dublin by Sean Finnigan, a Dubliner of many years. On that tour we learned about the history of the south side of Dublin, passing through Trinity College (where we heard some anecdotes about Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker, as well as a few other former students at Trinity).

From there we walked through the city soaking in what we could about Irish history and culture. Perhaps the most interesting point of the tour came at its end (2.5 hours into it!) in the old House of Lords. It was there that Mr. Finnigan exlored the political and religious divisions here while invoking William of Orange and his father-in-law James the II,  the hoi palloi, the Protestant ascendancy,  and, eventually, Bill Clinton and the peace process in Northern Ireland. Certainly well worth our time.

We wrapped up our day at Oliver St. John Gogarty where Jamieson impressed us all with his ability to down copious amounts of food! All in all, a great day.

Our arrival & first full Dublin day

We arrived midday Saturday after an easy journey, and our American Institute of Foreign Study (AIFS) guide, Tony Langan, was at the airport to meet us. All but one of our students was on our 10-hour flight from San Francisco, and the other one was waiting with Tony when we arrived. Tony sent the students in one taxi to their home stays, which are in a suburb of Dublin, about a half hour or so from city center. He rode with us in our taxi to settle us into our accommodations at Trinity College, right in the heart of Dublin. We have a nice apartment  and feel quite lucky.

Sunday we ventured out for a stroll through the Trinity campus and Temple Bar, a neighborhood of cobbled streets (complete with shops, bars, & LOTS of tourists) for lunch and groceries. The weather is lovely, a mix of sun and clouds and mid-60s. Here’s a recap of what we saw and did…

Films and family (finally!)

There are surely many relevant films out there addressing issues of global concern, humanity, et cetera. As promised, here is a list of films that I recommend; I use them in my Global Psychology class. Don’t worry if you’re not into psychology…they are not psychology films per se (though all of them are relevant as they deal with the human condition). If you read about them online and find you’d like to watch any, I have them on DVD and you’re welcome to borrow them.

Beat the Drum (HIV/AIDS in South Africa)
Beyond our Differences (humanity’s connection through faith)
Cry, The Beloved Country (Apartheid; read the novel first)
Dear Francis (HIV/AIDS in Swaziland)
God Grew Tired of Us (the “Lost Boys” of Sudan)
The Human Experience (homeless in US, abandoned children in Peru, lepers in Ghana)

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Finally…my family arrives today!!! We have been apart for 40 days…aren’t there a couple of good stories in the Bible that take place over 40 days? 😉 I can hardly stand waiting these last few hours until I get to greet them at the airport. It is sure to be one of the sweetest reunions of my life, perhaps only second to the first time I met each of them.

Reed, Jackson, and Abbie, I love you so very much, and I am deeply grateful to God for blessing my life with you. Also, thanks for putting up with my hair-brained idea to do this!!! The photo today is of you three…it was the last time I saw you (at the Portland airport on May 12).

I am even more blessed as I have some “bonus” family members coming along with my sweet little family: my parents, Dave & Becky, a niece from Iowa, Tess, and a nephew from Oregon, Connor. Tess and Connor graduated from high school last month, so we thought it was the perfect time for them to tag along to South Africa and Swaziland.

We will stay in Cape Town until Monday, and then we’ll travel north to Kruger Park for a safari. I have been dreaming about taking our kiddos on a safari since I experienced my first one, over six years ago now. I can’t wait to see the amazing animals through their eyes! To end our trip, we will go to Mhlosheni, Swaziland, to visit our sponsored children – all 12 of them across the 8 of us! This, too, has been a dream of mine since I first met our sponsored children.

After 40 days of great moments and lots of life lessons, amazing blessings are surely in store. Of course, all of our days – even those average and below average days – are blessings. But then there are those amazing, once-in-a-lifetime days that fill our sails and warm our hearts. My prayer is that I can appreciate all of the days God gives me, no matter what they hold. Still, I must say a big “THANK YOU!” to the man upstairs for carrying us all through the past 40 days apart.

So…as I am able to locate wifi, this blog will shift to a travelogue of our family adventures. Tune in (or out) as you please. Thanks for going along on the ride thus far…

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Good-bye girls…now global citizens

Our program here in Cape Town has not officially ended, but with one early departure, yesterday we had to say good-bye to our group of girls as we have come to know it. Kym will be leaving Thursday morning, so she finished up the requirements for the Global Psychology class Tuesday. The others will take their exam, etc. Thursday morning. All will wrap up their volunteer experiences by week’s end.

It’s hard to end such an experience…there is always much more to be said; much more to learn. We watched a wonderful film together (I will post some film recommendations tomorrow). We also had a few minutes to debrief and pray. I shared some of their “pre-trip” expectations, hopes, and fears that they had written about waaaay back on May 2. Thankfully, the only fear that was realized was buying too much stuff to lug home. 🙂

The hopes and expectations were fulfilled for the most part. It hasn’t been a perfect experience…I can tell there is a lingering desire to be in rural parts of Africa (i.e., as opposed to this modern urban environment). Perhaps that will happen in future trips, whether through volunteering, mission work, leisure travel, or even studying or working (or living!) abroad. Still, much was experienced…much was learned.

So, when these young women return home, be sure to ask them to tell you stories from their trip…to show you pictures and videos. We can’t really answer the commonly asked question, “How was your trip?” There is too much to say to have a simple response; stories must be told. You can ask this older woman too, for I also have learned a lot.

The only photos today are the before and after pictures of the group…I think they held up very well, and they even look like now they have become true global citizens!

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“Cross quickly.”

I don’t have a very big “report” to file today (though I will get my “preach” on below). Yesterday morning during class, I enjoyed the girls’ reports on shark-cage diving (yikes!, Kym & Kjersten) and cheetah petting (purrrr, Crystal & Jennifer). Courtney and Kelsey were off at Miracle Kidz (way to go holding those babies!). Yesterday afternoon, the girls took the train to Muizenberg/St. James to the beach to enjoy a nice “winter” day collecting seashells and soaking up some sun (& I’m sure doing some homework too). 😉

Today, the seven of us will gather to do a bit of debriefing, including discussing our time here of course, as well as completing some questionnaires (i.e., an evaluation of the program from our partner organization AIFS [the American Institute of Foreign Study], and some research surveys from me…they did baseline surveys before we left; I am interested in the impact of this type of experience on one’s level of ethnocentrism and views on meaning in life).

The only photos today are of two signs: (1) the crosswalk sign we’ve all become accustomed to here (with both Afrikaans & English) and (2) the street sign of Good Hope Studies on short and sweet Mariendahl Avenue Lane. I haven’t asked what’s up, but street signs have two types of categories with the name, such as both avenue and lane; oh yeah, and “weg” is short for some sort of street but I have no clue what. That’s all I’ve got to say on the street sign…I just thought it was a nice shot with the winter flowers in the background.

I have a bit more to say about the crosswalk sign, which cracks me up…here are its directions: “PRESS BUTTON – WAIT TILL TRAFFIC STOPS – CROSS QUICKLY.” I like the tip on waiting until the traffic stops (duh!), and I love how it makes no mention of the pedestrian light that is supposed to change from a little red person to a green one. Maybe that’s because that little green man is seen for only about 3 seconds before he goes away, hence the third directive, “cross quickly.” That third command should be accompanied by a jillion exclamation points for emphasis…or maybe ginormous lettering with red glittery paint and little white flashing lights (ok, point made; I will stop now…not weird, just different [see prior post by that title]).

I took the picture of the crosswalk sign on my walk to church Sunday morning, so I’ve been thinking about it a few days. “Cross quickly.” Yes, that is an important rule for crossing these Cape Town streets, as well as streets, avenues, lanes, and “wegs” (?) in most bustling cities around the world. Yes, I want my children to know that rule when there are cars on the road, a locomotive on the tracks, or crocodiles in the river.

However, that is the opposite of what I want my kids to know – what I want my students to know – what I want to know – about the people and experiences we encounter throughout our lives. Crossing quickly may result in missing out on what is waiting to be discovered, whether in a new (or old) relationship, an orange-red sunset, a warm cup of coffee, an honest conversation, a dish of creamy gelato, the laughter (or tears) of a friend, the magnificence of the ocean, the pain of another.

Crossing quickly works well in some circumstances; it even keeps us alive. But what if we cross through our lives more slowly, savoring the moments God gives us…appreciating the daily gifts all around us? For it is these moments that nourish our minds and nurture our souls. This, too, keeps us alive and truly living.

I am thankful we did not cross quickly during our walk through Langa Township last week. Today the students turned in reflection papers on that experience, so I know how deeply they were impacted by it. We did not cross quickly in the barracks-style apartments; we did not cross quickly in the shanty-town shacks. We did not cross quickly by the sangoma (the traditional healer), even though we kind of wanted to at the time.

By crossing slowly, we were able to better understand the circumstances and people of Langa Township. By crossing slowly we were able to show we are interested in them and care about them, despite being uncomfortable “touring” their homes (this was no street of dreams). By crossing slowly, I can tell you that each young woman was forever changed…

She will tell her friends and family about what she learned; she will show them pictures and share stories of Langa and its people. She will be spurred on to get involved in issues of social justice that touch her heart. She will not be complacent or say, “that’s too big of a problem; too much for me to tackle.” Instead, she will ask herself, “what can I do at this point in time for this one?”

Let’s cross slowly today…let’s find the meaning in each moment, and experience it as a gift. I think we’ll all have a better day – a better lifetime of days – if we do.

Super-host-mom, Sabine

Well, I finally got a quick pic of Sabine (say “Sa-bean-a”), the host mom of Courtney, Jennifer, Crystal, & Kym. As you’ll see, she has a twinkle in her eye and a warm smile…every time I’ve seen her she has shared her friendly expression. She often is zipping around in her little car, delivering girls here-and-there, including her own two young daughters. Courtney and I were walking from the school to the main shopping area yesterday when – *poof* – out of nowhere, there was Sabine, ready to take Courtney home. Perhaps she also has angels’ wings.

Today the students are at their practicum sites. I will do some grading and head in to the school for awhile. I’m also on a quest for a large wall-map of South Africa. We’ll see if I get lucky and find one. I may return to a street vendor I talked with a week or so ago and purchase a SA flag he has for R50 as well. I’m not sure what I’ll do with either a map or a flag, but they seem like good souvenirs of my time here. I had been to SA several times prior to this trip, but with such an extended stay this time around, I have learned much about this lovely country, and I think I would look fondly upon a map and flag of it (& they’re easy to pack!).

This is the last weekend before our program ends, so the girls are free to make plans to get in the remaining site-seeing they’d like to do. I have heard talk of seeing butterflies and sharks (though not concurrently), so I am already looking forward to hearing the stories on Monday. Tomorrow I will take in the rugby match with Sheila and Binci, and go along on whatever other local outings are planned.

By the way, my wifi hot spot at the mall didn’t work the last time I tried, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to post again before Monday. If not, I’ll “talk” with you then…

P.S. Five days until I am reunited with my family…after 35 days apart, 5 sounds pretty awesome! Jackson & Abbie, I’ll see you very soon and give you the biggest hugs ever (you too, Reed)!

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