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. :)

 

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…

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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Not “weird” but “different”

While living in South Africa, we have caught ourselves describing something new we’ve observed or experienced and referring to it as “weird”…we quickly catch ourselves and switch out weird for “different.” I thought I’d reflect a bit on this in today’s post, since I don’t have any exciting news to report or sites to describe. Students, please feel free to reply and post other differences you’ve noticed.

First, a few differences related to race…
For instance, isn’t it weird, I mean different, how many Afrikaaner (white) families have black maids? Isn’t it different how the term “colored” is not derogatory here, but rather descriptive of those who are neither white nor black? Isn’t it different to perceive racial tensions in the air, even though we are 18 years removed from the official end of apartheid? These differences cause discomfort at times.

Second, a few differences we like…
There are very few SUVs on the roads (now that is weird!). People here drive itty bitty, manual transmission cars for the most part. Generally speaking, people seem more conscientious about conserving resources, whether it is petrol (R11+ per liter…have fun converting to $ per gallon), water, or electricity (homes are not heated!). We like the multiple languages we hear every day, as well as the diversity of people that surrounds us. We like how inexpensive things are, for the most part anyway. We like how kids wear uniforms to school. We like the dinners our hosts make us each night…yum.

Third, a few differences we don’t like so much…
Pedestrians are not valued very highly here! Those itty bitty cars race down the streets, and I have yet to see one yield to a pedestrian…even in a crosswalk (I kid you not). The sidewalks are often in poor condition with quite a bit of trash alongside (despite the frequently placed green “zibi bins”). The only photo today is of the sidewalk that I walk down every day…there has been a huge hole in it the past three weeks. Today I was glad to see someone barricaded it off with some big rocks and wrote “please fix my hood” next to it. I feel safer already. :) We are not crazy about the minibus taxi drivers that yell, whistle, and honk (or hoot, see below) to see if you want a ride…they get annoying when you’re waiting FOREVER to cross a street.

Fourth, some different terms we’ve learned…
Nappy = diaper
Cot = crib
Pram = stroller
Bonnet = car hood
Hooter = car horn (we did convey what we usually refer to when we talk about hooters)
Robot = traffic/stoplight
Geiser = hot water heater
Esh = kind of like “good grief”
Comfort stop = potty/snack break on a road trip…we like that one
Toilet = restroom/bathroom…easy translation but we don’t like asking for the “toilet”

I’m certain there are many other differences yet to describe, but this is a start. Jen, Kym, Kelsey, Courtney, Crystal, and Kjersten can share more…

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Home stay switcheroo

A brief report this Saturday from my coffee shop hot spot at the Cavendish Mall…Jen and Kym had a few issues arise at their home stay this week that left them feeling unwelcome. :( The GHS staff supported us in switching their home stay Friday. I went along to oversee the transition, and I found their host mom to be a bit chilly, and even kind of pouty (probably hosting students from other countries isn’t the best fit for her, just sayin’).

I am happy to report that they now reside with Courtney and Crystal and the “home stay hostess with the mostest” Sabine (and her husband, Yul, two young daughters, the girls’ grandpa, Erica the maid, and two [?] dogs). I hope and pray this works out for the remaining two weeks…I think it will be far better than where they were. When I SMS’d them last night, they sounded good. My host, Sheila, has offered up her spare room too, so it’s good to know we have options and nice people here to help us. We appreciate your continued prayers…despite all the “girls” having very good coping skills, this is still quite a stretching experience!

The rain continued off and on much of Friday, but today is looking better, though still some showers. I went with Sheila and another friend, Donna, to the shops at Kalk Bay and lunch toward Simon Town…it was a nice outing. Tonight I will be watching the big rugby match between South Africa and England…go Springboks!!! I look forward to seeing the girls tomorrow for our Hermanus whale-watching adventure…

Cape Town rain

Wow, it sure can rain here in Cape Town! I think “downpour” is a more suitable term. Being from Oregon, we are used to rain and don’t mind being out in it, but this is beyond our typical Oregon drizzly showers. Wednesday night was windy and wet…I woke several times to the sounds on the roof and outside the window. Sheila was going to drive me to class, but her car wouldn’t start. So, I put on a rain poncho over my coat, backpack, etc. (it’s a great look…I’m such a fashion-plate), and headed out on foot.

I was late at this point (after being ready extra early), so I didn’t want to wait for Brenda who was looking for a ride for me. It wasn’t too bad initially, but then I turned a corner into the wind, got splashed (like over my head splashed) by two cars, and by the time Brenda found me, I was soaked everywhere the poncho didn’t cover…even through my boots! I guess it was my turn to experience what the students felt last week. I’ve included a picture and short video of the rain (sorry I don’t have more interesting material…the girls offered to take my picture, but I declined).

Thankfully, Kjersten and Kelsey’s “mom,” Beryl, brought them all in their safari-edition Land Rover (no joke…they do their own game drives in this vehicle and have been to Botswana, Namibia, and beyond, “dad” Patty told me when he picked us up). We had our class and tried to stay warm…without inside heat, it is challenging, but I guess that’s why there’s coffee and tea (and Port in the evenings). :)

We had good discussions once again. We talked about how we are all the same at some level – that we can see beyond our differences – and yet our very different cultures have a significant impact on our thinking, behaviors, emotions, etc. It is a delicate balance to hold…and to try to understand. We learned about how qualitative research methods tend to work better (than quantitative) when we study global issues. We talked about how psychology has much to offer to help address global problems, but often fails to meet this call.

The students are struggling a little bit with wanting to see the images of Africa we have in our minds…the mud huts and colorful, yet impoverished, communities. Cape Town is a modern city and, although there is poverty here, we are removed from it for the most part. I hope our township visit (which was postponed until better weather) provides a glimpse at this sort of urban community. Or perhaps our drive to Hermanus will give us a look at the rural communities such as these. It’s like we can almost see, touch, and help the dire situations we know exist here, but they remain out of our reach.

Even so, the six young women are making big differences with those they encounter, whether through their practicum placements, home stays, with one another, or by the impression they leave on the train. :) Like I said yesterday, I am very proud of them (& they did well on their first exam too)!

P.S. It rained hard Thursday night, but so far Friday morning is a bit brighter…here’s hoping for blue skies this weekend (or at least not downpours). FYI, our Hermanus tour has been bumped to Sunday to improve our chances of good whale-watching weather. Long live Gumby!

Quiet Tuesday morning report

Without having our excursion Monday afternoon, I’m afraid I don’t have much to report this Tuesday morning. After Monday’s class, we walked over to GHS to take care of a few miscellaneous tasks, including booking an additional excursion to Hermanus, a fishing village 122km southeast of Cape Town. My travel book states that it is “the best land-based whale-watching destination in the world.” Wow! And, we will also get to stop at another penguin colony at Bettie’s Beach. :) It only costs R300 (~$35) for the whole day, so we thought we’d give it a try this Saturday. GHS has a social planner, a guy named Marius, and we have all of the additional outings available to us at reduced prices. It is a pretty nice arrangement!

Today we have our first exam in the Global Psychology class for four of the students (the other two – our CU alums, Courtney & Kelsey! – already took the class from me at Concordia). Monday afternoon, it reached just over 80 degrees, so the students got some rays while studying. We all agree that this weather, though not perfect (a week ago was the downpour day) is pretty nice for fall/winter.

After our exam/class, we will have lunch and go (with Rashied) to the District Six Museum and Greenmarket Square. I hope to file a full report tomorrow, though it won’t be first thing in the morning as it is practicum day. I will be joining Kym and Jen at the Sarah Fox Recovery Hospital. I will do my best to post to the blog in the afternoon…as of this morning, the wifi at GHS was back in action (hopefully it will stay that way)!

Please continue to remember us in your prayers…we are fine but still need to feel the strength, support, and love from back home. Thank you.