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In Retrospect

I’ve been back for a month now; it hardly feels like I’ve spent 28 nights in bed in Medford, but the calendar doesn’t lie I suppose. I’m standing on a crowded Monday morning T (subway). Its the usual clutter of professionals on their way to work, reading books and papers, listening to their ipods, and glued to their kindles. Of course, the T is delayed this morning, causing a bit of a silent panic, and you wouldn’t realize the tension unless you watched people’s legs fidgeting from my view in a valued seat among the standing train-goers. Read more

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Olympic Spirit

One year from today, the 2012 Olympic games will begin in London! Preparations for the games started in London years ago, as soon as the city won the bid to host the event. The updates made to the city for the games will last long after next summer too. Parks, arenas, and new roadways will transform London‘s East End. To top it off, a new Eurorail station will bring visitors in and out of the East End to and from Paris and Brussels!

In the heart of these exciting changes is Interstudy‘s partner university, Queen Mary, University of London. Queen Mary will be housing athletes on their campus during the games, and local students will have the opportunity to volunteer at the event. Study abroad students who are interested in volunteering at the games should complete their application for Spring semester as early as possible with Interstudy so you have time to arrange for housing after the semester ends, and to apply for a Tier 4 Visa. Please contact Interstudy if you have any questions. To start your application for Queen Mary, University of London, or any of Interstudy‘s other program locations in London or beyond, visit www.interstudy.org and click on Apply Now!

Looking Beyond What I Know

Study abroad is one of the most, if not the most valuable experience I have had to date in my academic career and personal life. My expectations have always been exceeded in a positive way, although adjusting to a foreign environment and new cultures can be challenging at times. However, this IS the unique opportunity of study abroad, writing one’s own survival guide to life, looking beyond the constraints of what one knows and allowing oneself to be pleasantly surprised. Having visited South Africa on two occasions, for volunteer work in Cape Town in 2008 and Johannesburg for the 2010 World Cup, I am of the opinion that this country, its history, politics and cultural melange are mired with paradoxes. I am fascinated by the entrepreneurial spirit and progressive thinking of the city of Johannesburg where races appear to have transcended the legacy of apartheid as opposed to the palpable sentiment of separation one feels in Cape Town. Read more

Goodbye for Now!

So here I am. It’s a full six months after my first post and settling in to write my last blog entry. A day doesn’t go by when I don’t think about my time in Belfast. It’s funny because I can distinctly remember dropping off a friend at her car the night before I left for Belfast and the sinking feeling I had as I drove away. I was absolutely petrified of leaving my friends and family behind and going to a country where I knew no one.

However, that feeling didn’t even compare to what I felt as I rode in the cab to the Belfast airport. While I love the city of Belfast, the manageability of its size and the multitude of pubs and bars, that’s not what I was sad to leave. The friends I made, from all over the world, are what I cherish most about my experience abroad. That is something that I wish someone would have told me before I left and just maybe I would’ve saved my energy getting upset over leaving the friends I would see again in six short months. Read more

Hamba Kahle, For Now


I’ve been home for three and a half weeks now, and sometimes I think that the five months I spent in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa was all some wonderful kind of dream. I mean, how could I have squeezed so much into so little time? Student teaching in a township, making tons of ceramics (which, by the way, were great gifts for friends and family) hiking into Lesotho, cage-diving with the Great Whites, doing the world’s highest bungee jump, hiking Table Mountain (twice) trail rides on horseback – this could not have been my life. But every now and then I wake up and think I’m back in the dorm at UKZN, or try to text a South African friend, and it dawns on me that it really did happen…I really did just have the most incredible experience! Read more

Pre-Departure for South Africa

The departure day gets closer, and my anticipation rises like the sun on a perfect summer day. Who knows what to expect, I just can’t wait to get there.

I wish to meet local South Africans and have memorable experiences with them. I intend learn a lot from the town of Pietermaritzburg and from classes taken at the university. For the most part, in my time overseas, I hope to gain new and valuable skills to bring back to the US. Skills that will help the pursuit of a successful career. South Africa will help me build more confidence in myself and my abilities.

Challenges and opportunities might revolve around differences in culture and language, and aspects of the everyday life. All specific opportunities and challenges will become clear over time after arrival in the city. A friend who had studied abroad gave me a good tip upon to her return to the US. She simply said to sit back and enjoy the ride, and on it there will be good and bad. This is the beauty of the traveling experience. With that being said, I am prepared to put my plane on autopilot and open myself to this intellectual and emotional journey.