Friday, September 16, 2016

Abigail and Finny in Finland!

So far Finland has been great. I have not even been here a month but so far I have had many adventures. I arrived here August 15th  and the first week was basically settling in time. I actually went to Kemi and Helsinki the first. My mother got the opportunity to come so we visited a near by town and went to drop her back off in  Helsinki to catch her flight. Since the first week was so crazy I forgot to bring my dragon Finny along but I have included a couple photos of Kemi and Helsinki.

 Since being here I have made many friends. I actually have two American roommates and one from the Czech Republic. They are all extremely nice. We got the opportunity last weekend to go and stay in a cabin in the woods. We hiked 20 miles in just two days. The paths weren’t the best either, a lot of fallen trees and muddy areas. Finny did get to tag along during this journey. The sights were beautiful from the lookout. We also got to see reindeer!

This past weekend we got the opportunity to go to a small town just 30 min north. The towns name was Ii. It was very small but filled with history and art. It was also quite beautiful. Finny got a chance to go to the beach here in 50 degree weather.

My time in Finland so far has been great. I have learned so much about different cultures and how to use a map. Not a lot of people speak English well, mainly because it is their third language to learn, so it is difficult to speak and figure out things. But as long as there is a will there is a way!

Abigail Kidd
University of Oulu
Oulu, Finland

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Cory and Bean in Tanzania

Jambo from Tanzania,

I was able to spend the last month exploring the beautiful country of Tanzania, all while taking part in archaeological excavations at Olduvai Gorge. Olduvai gorge is an important site for those interested in human evolution because it is home to some of the earliest fossils that belong to the genus Homo, meaning it is one of the few places in the world where we can study the remnants of our earliest ancestors and the cultural material they left behind. 

My dragon Bean with a collection of bones at the campsite.

A view of the Olduvai gorge from the museum on site.

Bean hanging out on the top of our tent.

Bean at the BKE preparing to excavate.

The entire trip wasn’t just digging up fossils and stone tools, however. We were able to hike the quartzite outcrops near our camp, such as Naibor Soit, go on safaris so we could view the stunning diversity of wildlife that lives in the region, and even witness the (re)unveiling of the Laetoli footprints, which provide evidence of hominins walking on two feet 3.7 million years ago. We also had the opportunity to interact with some of the people native people to Tanzania, the Maasai. The Maasai were kind enough to invite members of our group to take part in many of their rituals, such as dances, markets, and even a circumcision ceremony, which occurs when a Maasai boy transitions into a warrior.

Water buffalo in the Ngorongoro Crater

Vervet monkey just moments before breaking into our truck looking for food.

A giraffe peeking at me from behind a bush.

A picture of my Massai friend Samson, taken on a hike to see an abandoned lion's den.

Lemagerut, a volcano positioned to the south of our camp.

Zebras we saw on the way to our site.

If anyone is reading this and considering taking part in a study abroad experience, I can’t urge you more to take the opportunity to see more of the world. This has been my second time leaving the country thanks to the study abroad program at UNCG, and these experiences have not only helped me to learn more about the vast diversity that exists within the world today, but to catch a glimpse of how much we have changed over the course of our evolution. 

Bean and I collecting rock hardness samples for my research project.

Best of luck,

Cory Henderson

The Olduvai Paleoanthropology and Paleoecology Project

Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania

Monday, August 1, 2016

Allison and Jamie in New Zealand!

Kia ora!

It is crazy to think I’ve been living here in Palmerston North, New Zealand, for three weeks already! I have already created plenty of fun memories in Palmy (I haven’t made it outside the city yet!) and I have had plenty of opportunities to get to know my flatmates. While I have adjusted pretty well, there are some things that have required adjusting. The biggest change from the US I have experienced is the weather. With New Zealand in the Southern Hemisphere, I arrived in the heart of winter. It took a bit of adjusting to board a plane in 100-degree weather and then get off another plane in 50-degree weather.

Jamie (named after James Cook) was excited for classes to start!
The biggest tool I have used to get to know my flatmates is a pretty simple one: Pokémon Go. We’ve spent many cold nights walking around campus catching Pokémon (Team Instinct, because we’re all about the underdog!). We’ve balanced our Pokémon catching with movies and TV shows during the rainy days since I’m pretty movie illiterate. (Rest assured, all professors reading this, I have been doing my schoolwork!)

This sign lights up at night and during one of our quests for Pokemon I had to stop and take a picture!

I love how naturally beautiful campus is.

I am so content with choosing Massey University’s Manawatū campus as my new home. Palmerston North reminds me so much of Greensboro in so many ways. It has a bus system that is free to students, campus is a manageable size, campus is beautiful, and some of the activities are similar! The first Wednesday of the semester was known as “Club Day,” so for a couple hours all the clubs gathered in the concourse so people could sign up (sound like fall kickoff to anyone??). I’m also not missing any of the food trucks from home either because there are food truck festivals in the town Square!

Town is just as beautiful as campus.

The sun setting with the clock tower in the Square (once again we were out catching Pokemon)

I know everyone who posts becomes an advocate for study abroad, and that’s exactly how this is ending. DO IT! You will regret nothing – I’m a solid 3 weeks into living here, 2 weeks into classes, and 1 week away from my first adventure outside of Palmy. Within a week, this place felt like home and it’s hard to imagine having to leave in four months. Don’t be afraid to go somewhere new and unknown and try something you normally wouldn’t! 

When it gets dark, the clock tower in the Square lights up and changes colors.  Its is probably one of the coolest things about town.

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” - J. R. R. Tolkien


Allison Smith

Massey University

Palmerston North, New Zealand

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Elaina and Emily in Siena!

Ciao from Italy!
From John F. Kennedy Airport in New York to inside the medieval walls of Siena, we have jumped in and embraced the Sienese Italian culture, traditions, and languages. Embarking on this journey in order to learn our third and fourth languages while in Siena, we have grown so much both academically and individually. While studying at the Siena School for Liberal Arts we were able to learn LIS (Italian Sign Language – Lingua dei Segni Italiano), Italian Deaf Culture and History, and Italian spoken language. The two new languages we learned afforded us the opportunity to not only communicate with shop owners and locals but also with the local Deaf Community! We were really challenged to use our new languages on a daily basis.

Gi and Alfie meet Richie from RIT.

Our home for three weeks in Siena

Apart from local historical traditions such as il Palio, the Sienese horse races dating back to the 12th century, we have gained knowledge on the history of the Deaf community in Italy and the educational, cultural, and social changes that have occurred in the Deaf community since the 19th century. The building where the Siena School is located is rich in history itself. We learned about one of the pioneering Deaf Educators, Tommaso Pendola, who founded the School for the Deaf in Siena Italy in the 1800’s. His work in Deaf Education flourished in Siena until the 1980’s when the school unfortunately was shut down. We learned how the historically influential professionals in the American Deaf Community, such as Thomas Gallaudet, worked alongside the international Deaf education Pioneers. Learning about the history of the Deaf in Italy and being able to compare it to what we are learning about the history of the Deaf in America has been a wonderful and eye opening experience.

Piazza del Campo during the Palio

Palio horse and jockey

If studying abroad is something you are thinking about, GO FOR IT! When fellow students say that it is an eye opening, life changing experience, they hit the nail right on the head! Plus you and your dragon get to meet amazing people!

Elaina and Emily and Gi and Alfie arriving in Rome.

Elaina Gasparino and Emily Katella
Siena School for the Liberal Arts
Siena, Italy

Monday, July 18, 2016

Melissa in Hull!

Cheers from Hull, England!
Tribute to Graham the dragon, who got lost amidst all the packing.

Traveling overseas has always been a dream of mine, and now I don’t want to leave! Study abroad is one of the best decisions I ever made. Though I miss my family and teachers back home, this opportunity to make new friendships and connections has been invaluable to me.

Hull City Centre
View from my window

William Wilberforce statue
Big Ben at night

Hull is a small port city in the northeast side of England. Despite its size, Hull contains loads of history and little-known facts, including the home to abolitionist William Wilberforce and being the second most bombed city in England during WWII. The City Centre in Hull is chock-full of unique pubs, shops, and museums, making for fabulous weekend trips!

Tower of London

As a music student, I chose the University of Hull because of the performance opportunities it offered—and I was not disappointed! Besides performing solo works and collaborating with other musicians, I was also given the amazing chance to work as pianist with the cast of Urinetown the musical, a production which has spanned throughout most of my time here. Also as it happened, all of my classes fell on Tuesday (class once a week whaaaat), so most of my free time is spent practicing my instrument and traveling!

You can't tell but I'm holding my breath-these things smelled so bad!

Sherlock Holmes museum in London. I really wanted that pipe!  
I absolutely loved riding the London Underground!

Speaking of travels, I have enjoyed many of these outside of Hull! My first trip was a week getaway to visit one of my best friends studying abroad in Toledo, Spain. Though not my major, I have been studying Spanish since high school; I loved getting to apply this learning! I also made several trips to London. There I not only met friends for travel, but I also got to visit my aunt who happened to be in London on business at the same time! My most recent trip was to Edinburgh in Scotland, which is easily the most breathtaking city I have ever seen. For my three week spring break, my beautiful mother came to visit and travel with me! Together we made it to London and Bath in England, Amsterdam and Haarlem in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Paris, France. Navigating all the different transportation systems was incredibly challenging, but the experiences were totally worth it!

"The Hiding Place" for Jews in Haarlem, Netherland
Chillin with this hottie in an art museum in Madrid

Toledo, Spain

To those of you who are debating study abroad in the future, stop hesitating—say yes! You won’t regret a moment of it, and your time there will fly by way too fast. Step outside of your comfort zone and simply go on an adventure; I know I’m glad I did!

View from Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland

Melissa Sultan
University of Hull
Hull, England

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Abbigayle and Little Red in Siena!

Ciao Tutti!!

Welcome to Siena, Italy!
Pretty blue Vespa and my apartment!
Social in an Italian garden with my fellow students!
This week is my THIRD week of studies, and also my last here in this amazing city! I have experienced an incredible amount of history, culture, language, and new faces during my time in Siena, and I'm not sure that I will ever be ready to leave.

The director of Siena School explaining the geological significance of Siena's buildings, and our lovely ASL interpreter!
Sunset views of Tuscany!

The Contrada of the Aquilla feasting and celebrating together before the Palio!

Street artists in action!
I am here at the Siena School for Liberal Arts, taking three classes in the Deaf Studies program. I have completed the Italian (spoken & written) portion of my program, but am still taking LIS (Italian Sign Language) as well as Italian Deaf Culture and History. Italian was taught verbally, but my other classes are taught in Italian Sign with a little bit of American Sign Language. Every day I am interchangeably using four different languages, which is a welcomed challenge! I have some wonderful instructors who are passionate about their culture and language, and learning from them is so enjoyable!