Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Sarah in Northern Ireland!

Hello fellow Spartans! My name is Sarah Shackelford. I am a Nutrition/Dietetics student with a concentration in human dietetics. This semester I am studying in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. I have been in this small, quaint, Irish town for about a month and a half. It is one of the most beautiful places to study, I can look out my window and admire rolling hills spotted with sheep, or take a walk into the nearby town, grab a coffee and a bag or two of groceries (don’t forget a reusable bag!). Walking down cobblestone streets, I am still look around in awe of the fact I am in another country for entire semester.
Why Northern Ireland? Well, why not? Yes, it is not the most popular destination such as England, Germany or France, but in my time here I have come to see it is equally as historic and beautiful. When many individuals think of Ireland, they may imagine a rainy, dreary place, with a pub in the middle of nowhere, or they may automatically think of St. Patrick’s Day and a pint of Guinness. Only a few things out of that list have some truth. Northern Ireland has its’ perks and I would love to share a few with you! I made a small list of some interesting facts about my host country:
  1. The national color is not green nor is it orange, it is actually St. Patrick’s blue. But the shade of blue may differ depending on if you speak to someone who states they are “British” or “Irish.” There is a distinct difference- not everyone here considers themselves to be Irish, some are still very loyal to the crown.
  2. Yes, St. Patrick’s Day is a thing here, and yes, schools do let out for an extra day to celebrate the holidays. I can assure you many people will have a pint or two of Guinness to celebrate the occasion.
  3. It does rain here, but it does not always pour. Around this time of year, I have seen (and walked through) rain, sun, sleet and snow within the span of a few hours. But, we do have glorious days of sunshine, that one takes full advantage of.
  4. The manner of speech is quite different from The States and even Britain. Many individuals will use words (for lack of a better term, slang) throughout everyday conversation. For example, “bap” means bun, “grand” means lovely, “craic” means fun. I applaud my friends who speak English as their second language, because I would be completely lost coming here if English was not my native tongue (and even then, I am lost).
  5. Tea is almost, if not more, popular than coffee. Many time you will be offered tea or coffee, and there is only one type of tea served-Teatly Black.

A group of the International students in front of the town hall when we visited Belfast for the day. Fun fact: Belfast was where the Titanic was built!

A panaroma of the infamous Giant's Causeway where all the rocks are shaped as hexagons. This was the day we walked in wind, sleet, and rain, and then the same finally came out. 

The Northern Irish landscape is not complete without its' sheep. So, we decided it was a must that we take a picture with them. (Not pictured: the sheep running away from us)

One of the sunny days that we had, we visited the nearby coast and took some pictures at the coast in a nearby town called Portstewart.

I know many of you reading either will, have or are thinking about studying abroad. I am not going to sugar coat the fact that there will be difficult moments, or the fact that you wonder how you were brave enough to get on a plane and travel half way across the world for four months. These thoughts will come up, but you will never, ever regret the decision to get on the plane and explore a new place. In the past month I have made friends with people from all over the world, learned how to say “goodnight” in Greek, and learned things about myself and my faith that I may not have seen if I stayed home. So, if you even have a little bit of interest, I would encourage you to go, the experience will change your life!

Tristan in Denmark!

Hej from Odense, Denmark,

My name is Tristan Johnson I am a Sophomore and I am currently spending a semester abroad at University of Southern Denmark in Odense, Denmark. Studying abroad has given me the chance to not only learn about another culture but also to step out of my comfort zone. The most important fact about Odense, Denmark everyone needs to know is that it is the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen and his fairy tales. The second most important thing to know is how to bike. Everyone bikes everywhere here. Most people do not have cars so that was the most difficult thing to get use to. Thus far, my semester abroad has been an amazing experience. It has also given me the opportunity to meet and become friends with Danish students and other exchange students from around the world. I would recommend studying abroad to anyone who has the opportunity to do so. I would also recommend study abroad at University of Southern Denmark.

Greetings from Odense Denmark

Hans Christian Andersen

Middle of the City Center in Odense

Main entrance to the University of Southern Denmark

Streets of Odense, Denmark

Studying abroad gives you a chance to travel and also find friends who want to travel with you. (Photo taken in Copenhagen)

Monday, March 5, 2018

Cheyenne in Northern Ireland!

Magnificent white waves sucked at the large hexagonal stones, splattering them with seafoam.  Gentle rumbles of the ocean echoed in my ears. As I scanned the scene before me, I could feel my jaw begin to go slack. The was sea so vast and thick with creamy foam, it was reminiscent of a fresh latte. In fact, glancing at the shimmering black stones lining the ground, I couldn’t help but smirk at the piles of accumulated sea-fluff playfully dancing in the ocean breeze.  This place…how could this be real? In my life I had only dreamed about taking grandiose adventures, but now I stood half way across the world.
                Twisting to get a look behind me, my gaze became met with yet another picture-perfect scene. Luscious, supernaturally green grass spanned across awe-inspiring mountains, as ocean spray hung like fog. Thousands of years of natural history towering above me. I had heard time and time again that Ireland was an extraordinary place, a land filled with awe-inspiring views, and castles straight from your childhood fantasies. But nothing could have prepared me for this. Back home I was a nutrition major, a junior who was trying the best she could to get things right despite the circumstances. Here, I was free. As I stood atop my slippery stone tower admiring the Giant’s Causeway, I couldn’t help but feel as though I was in a fairy tale.

Since arriving in Northern Ireland, something inside me had changed. Perhaps maybe, a part of me felt more grown. Stronger. Or maybe it was the realization that once my journey here would come to end, I could never be quite the same again. Either way, It was surreal. Not only that, but this place was only one of several adventures I had already experienced since landing here. I had stood at the exact location of the tragic bloody Sunday massacre in Derry-Londonderry, and witnessed tremendous cathedrals that were thousands of years in age. I had trekked the capital city of Belfast for an entire day, stopping to explore the marketplace, and eat traditional food in the oldest pub in the city. Heck, I had even sat in an ancient throne inside the historic town hall! The best part about it all, though, is that even though I had already done so much, I still had 3 more months to go. Although I couldn’t know exactly what the rest of my time would bring, there was one thing I could be certain. As the locals like to say, I was going to be having a lot of “craic.”

Town hall at night, Derry-Londonderry 

Sitting in the Lord Mayor's chair, Belfast city town hall

Irish food in the oldest pub in Belfast city

Famous leaning clock in Belfast city, Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway Coast as depicted

The famous St. Columbus Cathedral, Derry-Londonderry

The famous St. Columbus Cathedral, Derry-Londonderry

Famous church wall of Derry-Londonderry


Giant's Causeway Coast as depicted

Famous natural hexagonal shaped stones of Giant's Causeway

The beautiful mountain scenescape of Giants Causeway from the coast, as depicted. 

Giant's Causeway: Giant's Gate

Giant's Causeway Coast with distant mountain backdrop 

Little Groose enjoying the supernaturally green hills of Northern Ireland

Friday, December 15, 2017

Arianne and Little Lloyd in Cape Town!

Howzit! (Cape Town greeting)

My name is Arianne Ouedraogo and I study political science and business with a pre-law concentration. I am currently studying at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town South Africa. Being able to study here in Cape Town has truly been an enriching experience for me thus far. Cape Town is a lively and beautiful city that I will never get tired of!! During my time abroad I have really been able to challenge myself to engage in experiences that I would not dare do at home, and that has allowed me to gain both academic and personal growth. I am excited to take everything that I am learning in Cape Town and sharing it with other Spartans once I return to UNCG!

University of Cape Town Upper Campus

Tierra Morre and I during our first week in Cape Town posing with one of the Drum Cafe leaders.  The Drum Cafe is a local drumming group that taught the exchange students about African drumming.

There is such a variety of delicious foods in South Africa in general.  This is some lamb curry I had in Johannesburg at a restaurant called Pata Pata.  It was the bomb!!

Cape Town is characterized by beautiful views from both the mountains and the beaches.

Little Lloyd and I relaxing at Clifton Beach.

Demonstrator at the UCT student and faculty forum regarding the Fees Must Fall Movement.  The Fees Must Fall Movement is a student-led protest movement that has happened across South African universities since 2013.  Students protest with the goals of acquiring free education, decolonization of education, and policy change regarding mental health on college campuses.  UCT's student body population is very politically active and very vocal when it comes to expressing their political views.

Me learning about South African apartheid history.  In the picture I am sitting next to someone who lived through the implementation of apartheid.

Arianne Ouedraogo
University of Cape Town
Cape Town, South Africa

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Mercy in Toledo!

Hola a todos!

My name is Mercy and this year I am a Senior double majoring in International Global Studies and Communications with a minor in Spanish. I just (well in July but it feels like it hasn’t been that long) got back from spending my Spring semester in Toledo, Spain studying Spanish. From the moment I got off the plane, I felt like my brain was being punched over and over as I tried to understand what people were saying to me in a language that I had only learned in a 50 minute setting. Accents, double cheek kisses, SPANISH ALL THE TIME, I felt like someone had flipped me on my head and told me to walk normally. But God is good and gave me two sweet roommates from UNCG who were bilingual in English and Spanish which aided in help me adjust at a gradual pace. My classes were in Spanish, which was definitely a challenge, but forming relationships with my professors definitely helped a lot. 

Some sweet friends from Khazakhstan and France.
Not even going to lie to you all, Spain was hard. But I left there with a greater appreciation for things. I learned to appreciate using my brain to push myself when it came to language comprehension. Learning a language is no easy thing, but when you do, you feel more connected with the world as well as proud of yourself when you thought you wouldn’t be able to do it. Spain taught me to go out and dance, to make friends to get out of my comfort zone because studying abroad means you’re already ready to exit that comfort zone. 

My visit to Freiburg, Germany

 I miss it so much. The sangria, el reggaeton, speaking/developing my Spanish, the ancient buildings and the little community I had there. But one day, I will go back and I cannot wait until I do! People are always on the move and being an intercultural person means understanding that wherever people come from, they are individuals who want friendship and to be respected and appreciated just like you and I. Having an open mind, understanding that you all may not agree on everything, but you are part of the human race and should love and respect each other is something I definitely had to remember while I was there. Spain helped me to listen more and talk less because, to take each day as it comes understanding that there is always something to learn. Studying abroad changed my life. It helped me to distinguish what line of work I want to go into (Foreign Service through the State Department, Lord willing) and I cannot wait until the next time I am able to get on a plane and go!

Mercy Woods
University of Toledo
Toledo, Spain

Monday, November 6, 2017

Grant and General Artigas in Uruguay!

¡Hola desde Uruguay! My name is Grant and I am a Junior Information Systems and Supply Chain Management major, Spanish minor. This semester I’m studying at La Universidad de Montevideo, a university in the capital city of this small South American country, tucked between its much larger neighbors of Argentina and Brazil. As my first time outside of the United States, my term in Uruguay has been full of new, sometimes amazing, sometimes exciting, sometimes stressful, experiences that have left an unforgettable impression upon me.

A pleasant surprise in the Piedmont Triad Airport as I prepare to board my first flight.

My first dinner in Uruguay was a chivito, a Uruguayan staple made of thin-cut steak with ham, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayo on a non-sesame seed bun.

US Embassy in Montevideo, one of the largest embassies in the country.
I will say the first few days were rough. My “what the heck am I doing here” moment occurred when I arrived at my hostel. It was an unusually mild weather Saturday for the Uruguayan equivalent to late January. The adrenaline rush from arriving at the airport, clearing customs, and seeing the city for the first time from the inside of an airport taxi had worn off. I had checked into my hostel a little earlier than originally planned and was directed to the parlor while the staff flipped my room. As I sat there, I began to think about things lying ahead I had yet to do: line-up permanent housing, readjust my class schedule, seek out the local stores and street markets, and most importantly, learn the 30-minute walk (one-way) to the university before Monday, in a country with a different language. All that piled together would make anyone’s head spin. Ask anyone relatively close to me and they will also tell you that I am naturally “wound tight”, so you can imagine that calmness wasn’t exactly my forte in that moment.

This is Sopa, the very loving dog found on the streets of Montevideo by the owners of the hostel.  He keeps things lively as he barks at passing people and dogs, protecting the hostel and his family.

My LIHC dragon, General Artigas, and I at the International Student reception at La Universidad de Montevideo.

Me behind the newly installed Montevideo sign.  One must wait in a queue for 10 minutes to get a picture here because it is so popular.
While I had intended to stay at the hostel only long enough to find somewhere else, the manager of the hostel and I struck a deal for a monthly rate. Because Uruguay is in the Southern Hemisphere, I arrived in the middle of Winter, leaving the hostel relatively empty. Though we had guests come through, it was nowhere near the numbers seen during the summer. That left many nights where it was the hostel caretakers, another monthly guest, and myself. I came to really enjoy those quiet evenings, as us four would talk and laugh about cultural differences, world politics, or any number of things, in a very mixed up version of Spanglish, as the fireplace crackled in the corner and Sopa the dog tried begging for somebody’s after dinner leftovers.

The Ombu tree, a rare tree half a block from the hostel.  There are only two of these trees in the city, so they are used with giving directions because everyone knows where they are.

Sopa asleep on the couch across from the fireplace as the rest of us hostelers engaged in our "fireside chats."

An Uruguayan asado (barbeque), complete with steaks (on platter) and Uruguayan sausages, during an Independence Day party at the hostel.

It’s a joke in Uruguay that with its small population, somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.44 million, you’ll always run into someone on the streets that you know. Furthermore, Uruguay is known for its tourism in South America; so much so that not only did I learn about Uruguay, but also about Argentina, Brazil (while I can’t speak it, I can now identify Portuguese), and Chile. Maybe both explain the friendliness of the culture. In my experience of Uruguay, almost everyone has been very friendly and open, always willing to explain directions, give suggestions on places to visit, even if you are still learning Spanish. My friends at the hostel were prime examples of Uruguayan friendliness. Should I have any question about anything at all in the country, they would go above and beyond to help me in any way they can. It was through the hostel that I learned, on a side street around the corner from the hostel, a group of vendors would set up and sell fruits and vegetables in a government sanctioned, Sunday market known as a feria. Supplement that with the supermarket two blocks down, my worries about getting meals were done. I do not regret staying at the hostel, both on the personal growth and financial sense terms.

Me, Mar, and Lucia (the hostel managers) after they baked me a dulce de leche cake for my birthday.  It was a very tasty one at that!
A photo from my room window of the first of two holistic health fairs hosted by the hostel.  A very fun and informative festival that I enjoyed both times.

The statue of General Jose Gervasio Artigas Arnal, a Montevideo-born military figure who is know as "the father of Uruguayan nationhood." The statue, and the adjoining mausoleum, are major tourist attractions and national landmarks in La Plaza de Independencia in the Ciudad Vieja neighborhood of Montevideo.  General Artigas is the namesake of my LIHC dragon.

Of course, I cannot forget the university. La Universidad de Montevideo is well known in Uruguay for its amount of international exchange students. I met students from Germany, France, United Kingdom, Russia and many other countries. The Uruguayan students at the university were always welcoming towards us international students, knowing we were all figuring things out as we go. It was a terrific thing to be in class discussing the issues of today, with opinions and theories from all over the world, whether it be about politics, the economy, or pop culture. In comparison to UNCG, UM is very small (no more than 2000 students in total); it doesn’t take long to meet people and make new network connections.

The Uruguayan national soccer stadium, built in the 1930s, located 4-5 blocks from the Universidad de Montevideo.

The Montevideo sign decorated for the Spring season.

The Presidential Building facing La Plaza de Independencia, the Uruguayan equivalent to the White House, except it serves only as an office building, not a residence.

General Artigas on the sidewalk of La Rambla, a street that runs alongside La Rio de La Plata.  Pictured in the background is the neighborhood of Pocitos.  The World Trade Center Montevideo and BBVA Uruguay buildings are in the skyline.

I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed myself and my only regret is that I don’t have more time to explore this small on population, big on personality country. It has been the time of my life learning how to live in a new country and discovering the multiple ways one may live their life. Uruguay’s very progressive democracy provides for the opportunity for many walks of life, such as holistic and alternative medicine, but also the traditional Roman Catholicism that Latin America is famous for. Uruguay is a crossroads of many cultures, with a special twist that makes it special. If I had to choose where to go to study abroad all over again, I would choose Uruguay without batting an eye. I cherish my memories from my time here so far and I am excited for the ones yet to come.
If you have any questions about Uruguay or La Universidad de Montevideo, feel free to send me an email: gvharris@uncg.edu.


Grant Harris
La Universidad de Montevideo, Uruguay