Final Reflections & Endless Thanks

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Final Reflections & Endless Thanks

I’ve been back in Philadelphia for over a week now. Since the start of June, I had been counting down the days until I would return home–not because I didn’t love England, but because I missed Philly so much. Being all across England gave me a new appreciation for my hometown, because there’s really no other place like it!

Still, despite my joy of being home, there is the sadness that always comes with returning back to reality. Of course, my experiences in England were as real as anything that has happened to me in the U.S.; there were plenty of challenges that I had to overcome. It was the nature of those challenges however that made my 5 months in England enchanting. Being on the edge of the famous, 300 ft. White Cliffs of Dover… traveling across a foreign country by myself with only the company of the strangers I crossed paths with… these were literally the opportunities of a lifetime!

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One of my favorite moments from my journey captured by my awesome flatmate!

There are many things that only Philadelphia can offer me, but by the same token, there are many things that only England will be able to offer me. Not just in terms of the unique places I visited, but also the people and the spirits that I encountered along my many journeys. I’ve heard a saying before that once you travel, you leave a piece of yourself in the places you’ve visited. It’s a feeling I only know for the first time in my life after my past five months abroad.

Thankfully I will always be able to relive my fond memories from this experience through my documentation of my trip through these entries and my photography, but the best way to retrieve those pieces of myself will be to return to the place I’m so proud to consider a second home. Thank you Norwich and UEA for embracing me, and I hope to see you again someday!

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Home sweet home! Though listening to my favorite band is much different now that I’ve been to their home… in the best way possible!

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SEPTA? I Don’t Know Her

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SEPTA? I Don’t Know Her

WOW. Almost two weeks in and it’s unbelievable how natural life feels. Of course, there are issues every now and then with language or cultural barriers (once I’ve had more time to mull them over I’ll fill you in), but the mechanics of getting around the city have become muscle memory at this point. Which brings me to one of the greatest parts of this city: The Metro.

What an experience, travelling daily by public transportation that is meant to be user-friendly. Even though I have a 45-minute commute every morning and I regularly use the Metro to get around the city to all kinds of sites, I have never had an issue understanding how to get somewhere or travelling there.

The Metro operates on a simple system: every named station has two tracks (with almost no exceptions). Every 2-3 minutes (and 1-2 minutes during rush hours), a train comes on each side of the track, and you just get on the side going in the direction of your destination. For regular users of the Metro, purchase a Troika Card for 50 rubles (less than $1 USD) and enjoy rides for 36 rubles (~$.50 USD). With each convenient swipe, you are graced with unlimited free transfers between stations, which are EVERYWHERE, and make it possible to get literally anywhere in the city from any starting point. No more taking the Broad Street Line to City Hall just to transfer to get to Fishtown. Plus, the subway is being constantly updated, and as a wholly public transportation system, as compared to SEPTA’s pseudo-private services, the Metro is meant to accommodate the people (which includes free Wi-Fi on every car).

The best part is that there are no real downsides to this system, though there are a few quirks to note. First, the Metro runs impressively deep underground. The station local to me, Aviamotornaya, has an escalator that takes 2:15 to go up or down. Yes, you read that correctly, and no it is not slower than American escalators. Second, on the subject of escalators, there is a strict, mutually understood policy of standing on the right side of escalators, in order to allow those in a hurry to walk (or sprint, as I saw someone do this morning) on the escalators. For those not rushing, the metro stations downtown feature spaces for artists (typically on classical stringed instruments) to play music. Unlike the New York style subway musicians, these are typically solo artists and they must play in specified areas, which always manage to have the perfect acoustics for the massive tunnels of the Metro. You also might happen to catch yourself slowing down to appreciate the grandeur and detail of the stops. Most major stations are dedicated to historical figures or events, and each station has its own unique flair dedicated to these ideas. At Ploshchad Revolyutsii (Revolution Square), detailed bronze statues of revolutionaries line the platform, and most have detailed ceiling work (gold-leafed, textured, you name it). It’s also home to mostly untouched Soviet remainders: their insignias, cosmonauts, and icons detailing almost every station. This is a pretty stark difference between American subway systems which typically only have advertisements and graffiti (which isn’t necessarily worse, just different.

Until I go to St. Petersburg in a few weeks, these tunnels will be a permanent fixture in my daily commute. Every morning I get the chance to compare them to our local Broad Street Line stations, and while I’ll be happy to see them again, I think I’ll always know which reign supreme.

The Highs and the Lows

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Sometimes when you’re studying abroad, especially for a whole year like myself, you’re reminded of everything you’re missing back home.

For example, I just missed my little brother’s high school graduation. Every part of me wanted to be there, but the reality is I couldn’t. And that’s okay. Even though I couldn’t make it to his graduation, and I won’t be there to help move him into his first dorm, or there to help him through his first scary semester of college, it’s okay. The fear of missing out on things like this and, even the less important things like parties and birthdays, is something that I’ve been trying to deal with, reminding myself that, in the grand scheme of things, it’s okay.

I think that this is especially difficult in today’s world with everything on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter; it’s even harder to avoid that feeling of missing out. Everyone looks like they’re having such a good time and they’re always with people and it makes you sad. It makes you wonder if you did the right thing leaving all your friends and family. It’s not to say that you don’t make new friends along the way by studying abroad, but it’s always hard not to compare things to home.

I think, like many students, I skimmed through the pre-travel material that you have to read, not really taking any of it to heart. It’s the feeling of invincibility that tricks you, telling you that of course you can do this, it’s not that hard. But sometimes it can be really difficult, and that’s okay. You just have to endure and put yourself out there and, in the end, it’s still an unforgettable experience. I’m loving my study abroad experience, and getting through some of these not-so-picture-perfect moments has definitely made me stronger as a person.

The bright side of this all is that is has also made me appreciate all the good parts even more. For everything that I’m missing, I’m receiving a different experience in return. Sometimes it’s a freshly-fried empanada filled with the perfect combination of spinach, tomato, corn, and cheese. Other times it’s enjoying yet another beautiful Valparaiso sunset, featuring every shade imaginable.

Despite a couple low points during the semester, I am beyond grateful that I’m staying for a full year down here (that’s right, I have another whole semester left!). At this point, I can’t imagine leaving Valpo. It’s really become my new home, and I’ve definitely been putting off buying my return ticket home, knowing that buying that ticket will make my departure feel even closer. In the meantime, I plan to take advantage of the rest of my time down here and enjoy my last semester in Chile.

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Week 3 in Ghana: Patience is a Virtue

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Week 3 in Ghana: Patience is a Virtue

It is now my third week in Ghana and the excitement still lingers. The country is jammed pack with history, which I’ve been exploring through lectures and Twi class but also the excursions CIEE takes us on for our program. The only problem, however, (or perhaps one of many) is the WiFi. The internet here is not very good and being from a very technology-developed country, one can assume that I am spoiled or ungrateful for wishing the Internet would work a bit better. However, frustration really does kick in when you have multiple reflections and research papers due, the library is too far away, and you are left debating whether to use your last 20ghs (Ghanaian cedi) on data or jollof rice. Nevertheless, the internet is manageable and can be overcome with the right amount of persistence and patience. Patience, a word repeated to me by my mother and many Ghanaians since I arrived defines my experience here. Patience signifies the Ghanaian way of life, that things do not need to be rushed and there’s no need to hurry. I immediately saw the relevance. Traffic is thick in Accra and throughout Ghana. Where it may take two hours to drive to the beach, the traffic may push that commute to 4+ hours. If you’re from the U.S., this congestion will frustrate you. You are used to timeliness and consider it rude that people are not on time, but here in Ghana, it’s ingrained in the culture. “African time,” where time is relaxed. Work is relaxed. The people are relaxed. If you are an on-the-dot type of person, you will not survive in this country–but, if you learn to adapt and assimilate, you, too, will see the need for “African time.”

I’ve also learned that family defines you. It expands beyond the immediate family. Your father may be your agya and your mother may be your maame, but your father’s brothers are also your “fathers” and your mother’s sisters are also your “mothers.” Ordinarily, your aunt’s/uncle’s children are your cousins, but in the Ghanaian definition of family, they are your sisters and brothers as well. Each aunt or uncle assumes the role of father or mother to take care of you, whether your parents are present in your life or not. Similarly, your grandparents are very much present in your life and even live with the immediate family. This concept is not as common in American life, though but it’s clear its roots were derived from more extensive African family structures. The amount of compassion the family exuberates is new to me. Even if you are not “blood,” the relationships that are cultivated through the Ghanaian definition of family are special.

I’ve talked about patience being an important trait to have here in Ghana and so is vulnerability. Vulnerability is another nuanced aspect of Ghanaian life. Transparency is the key to connections with each other and the community expects a certain level of vulnerability when asking about home life and family. Small talk is not “small” talk, but is genuine inquiry about how you are. It takes certain emotional prowess to speak about personal matters especially relating to family. This was apparent when we made our way to the Central Region. This past weekend, I visited the Cape Coast Slave Castle and Kakum National Park with CIEE.

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Cape Coast Castle

Driving up to the castle, seeing European structures and the livelihood of a fishing town, I immediately felt queasy. I did not want to see a crucial element of slavery. I didn’t want to imagine it. We slid out of the van after a 4-hour car ride to the castle and walked through white stone walkways through the fort. The forts are historically significant, and I couldn’t believe I was experiencing it in real time. Our tour guide, Francis Kojo, took us through the dungeons that housed male and female slaves, and through the “Door of No Return.”

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“Door of No Return”

I had only heard about the “Door of No Return” in books. Although I am a history minor and strong advocate against racism and slavery, the concepts seemed like a dream, only tangible upon touring the site. We finished the tour in the Governor’s office. The experience was incredible, almost indescribable, and I felt vulnerable. I had been lucky to know where my family is from, but many African-Americans don’t. My ancestors did not pass through the “Door of No Return” but I can’t help but imagine what it must feel like to be asked where you are from, without a clear answer to give. The experience humbled me and is something I will never forget.

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Kakum National Park

 

Vlog 2: My experience with Irish culture, cuisine, and colleagues!

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Dia dhuit everyone! (It’s “hello” in Irish language!)

I can’t believe I have been in Ireland for almost a month, which also means that I am HALF way through my summer internship. Isn’t it crazy?

Over the past few weeks, I visited some cool places in Dublin and learned about the history of Ireland. My friends and I also took a school trip, which UCD kindly organized for us, and visited a traditional Irish farm. We learned how to make Irish soda bread (it was delicious!) and tried to learn some Irish traditional dancing moves. Looking back, I think going on a school trip is a ton of fun. I got to be more involved in Irish cultures, and I shared special memories with my friends on the trip, especially the bog jumping part which I laughed at my friends when they all got mud on their faces.

At my internship, I became friends with Josie, the other intern at Nova UCD, and I enjoy listening to her stories every time we have lunch together. I really like what I am doing so far. I learned newfound knowledge and had an opportunity to test out the skills I developed through classes at Temple. I also learned to make my own decisions and work independently with little guidance, which will greatly benefit me in my future.

In this vlog, I have invited some of my friends to share their stories about their internships, as I think this will give you a better overview of the business and working environment in Ireland!

My second vlog is below. Check it out and feel free to send me an email at nhi@temple.edu if you have any questions.

From the Sahara to Scandinavia: Reflections on Two Summers Abroad & What I Would Change

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From the Sahara to Scandinavia: Reflections on Two Summers Abroad & What I Would Change

As my amazing summer in Denmark comes to a close, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting. These reflections range anywhere from all of the academic knowledge I’ve gained, what I’ve learned about myself, how I’ve acclimated to Danish life, and (naturally) how my two abroad experiences compare.

A pretty regular observation for me this summer was related to language. I was in Morocco last summer for the primary reason of studying Arabic–my minor at Temple. My experiences with using my second language to navigate life in Rabat weren’t necessarily easy, but there is also a lot to be said about the advantages I gained through knowing the language, even if it was a slightly broken version.

By using Arabic in daily life, I practiced my conversation skills, connected with my host family, gained a tool to explore Moroccan culture, and earned the respect of locals (which was mostly useful for haggling in the sooqs and calling taxi drivers out for trying to scam me). Even though the Darija (Moroccan) dialect was incredibly different from the FusHa (Modern Standard Arabic) that we learn at Temple, baseline knowledge of the language opened so many doors for me, and for that I will always be grateful.

I came to Copenhagen without knowing a lick of Danish. I googled some common phrases the night before leaving and ended up just laughing hysterically at how silly the my poor pronunciation of the language sounded instead of actually absorbing the information. Pretty much everyone in Denmark speaks English–my Danish flatmates said that they started learning English in 4th grade! For this reason, I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about learning much Danish at all. Even after six weeks, I think my Danish can be boiled down to just a few words: hej, ya, nej, tak, and undskylt (“hello,” “yes,” “no,” “thank you,” and “excuse me”).

At first, not knowing the language stressed me out. Trying to use Google Maps to get around (basically no Danish words are pronounced the way they’re spelled), reading instructions, and trying to figure out what I was even buying at the grocery store all became daily inconveniences. But as I’ve spent more time in Copenhagen, I’ve found a strange sort of resignation in relying solely on English. I don’t experience any of the language nerves I did in Morocco – Will I mess up Darija? What was that word again? Did I say that number backwards? It has definitely been easier to navigate language barriers here, where such a large percentage of the population speaks my native language.

For me, thoughts of language are directly related to thoughts about culture. In Morocco, I was immersed in a culture totally unfamiliar to me. I arrived early June and immediately got a crash course in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan from my professors and host family. I was able to live in a Moroccan household, which allowed me to observe all sorts of customs, eat homemade Moroccan food, and of course practice Moroccan Arabic. My program organized cultural events for us to learn about Gnawa music, traditional dance, and cuisine. By the end of my time in Rabat, I had learned so much about Moroccan culture, and I could even pour a near-perfect cup of traditional mint tea.

Cultural immersion has been a much different experience in Denmark. Danish culture is already similar to American culture, so there weren’t a lot of adjustments to make. Most of the adjustments I had to make were actually pleasant. For example, people here don’t really jaywalk! I live in a flat in the Fredericksborg neighborhood of Copenhagen with two Danish flatmates, and while getting to know them has been an amazing experience, it’s nowhere near as immersive as living with my host family last summer. They are super helpful for quick questions about Danish culture and the occasional translation, but they’re full-time students! Unlike my host family, their main objective isn’t to introduce American students to Danish culture; instead, it’s to be students themselves.

I could go on and on about the differences between my experiences, but I actually summed it up pretty well when talking with a friend today. Each summer has been invaluable in its own right. I wouldn’t trade either of these experiences for the world, and each of them came with their own unique advantages. While my summer in Morocco presented a whirlwind of cultural learning and language practice, my summer in Denmark provided me with a low-stress environment to explore my own identity in the context of being abroad. I think that if I could do it again, I would only change one thing: the order.

When choosing to study in Morocco, I was determined to have an off-the-beaten-path experience. I wanted to challenge myself to explore an unfamiliar culture using a language that I had only studied for two years prior. It was certainly challenging, as Moroccan customs weren’t phased into my life, but immediately brought on all at once. At times, it was overwhelming, and I became frustrated with my own determination to seek an experience outside of the traditional European study abroad summer that so many students opt for.

In Denmark, I haven’t been so culturally challenged. Adapting to Danish life isn’t difficult when many of the customs align with your own and nearly everyone on the street speaks English. Because there’s a lot less pressure in this context, I have been able to understand exactly what I want to get out of the experience and take the right steps to get there. I’ve learned more about who I am as a traveler and as a student. I’ve really come closer to understanding exactly what being abroad means to me and exactly what I find so valuable about it.

I wish I had all of that knowledge going into Morocco. Last summer was still an incredibly important two months of my life, and my own inexperience abroad was an inseparable part of that. It was still an amazing time, but I’m glad that I have had this time in Copenhagen to really solidify my own understanding of the transformative powers of travel, which I’m sure would have benefitted me in Rabat and I’m sure will benefit me in my future escapades abroad. Now that I have a better understanding of my own identity abroad, I’m excited to see where it will take me next.

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Akwaaba!: A Ghanaian’s First Time in Accra

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Akwaaba!: A Ghanaian’s First Time in Accra

Akwaaba was the first Twi word that greeted me when I touched down in Ghana, a saying that was repeated multiple times. Akwaaba is “welcome” in Twi, the most widely spoken language in Ghana, and it represents the friendly nature of the Ghanaian people. The airport immediately had a “welcoming” feel, small and intimate. The staff was available at all time to lend a helping hand. As I left the airport and made my way to the university, the new sights, smells, and tastes hit me instantaneously. The culture emulated the small Ghanaian gatherings back home and the person-to-person interaction was friendly, crazed, and ingrained within the people themselves, something I had experienced before, but I hadn’t seen the relevance until now. I was surprised to encounter a key element that was close to me and all too familiar.

Nevertheless, the first week in Ghana was filled with quick introductions, greeting, and exchanges, and explaining how I was Ghanaian even with a very prominent Nigerian name. The first day I arrived, I met a CIEE university pal. He introduced himself as Barnay, and we took a taxi to the International Student Hostel at the University of Ghana. The taxi driver was dressed in a polo and some slacks and I wondered how he could stand the West African heat. The traffic was thick. Cars lined the streets and vendors targeted the cars, balancing fruit, bread, and other items on their heads. Cars honked as we weaved in and out of traffic to get to the university. Yet, when we finally arrived I was taken aback. The University of Ghana is stunning. The red earth contrasts the green shrubbery and the red tin roofs decorate the white marble on the buildings. The university is huge as well, with a population of over 35,000 students. Most were not on campus when I arrived, but the campus has more than enough space to accommodate everyone.  After settling in, we took a tour around the university and visited landmark places. The Balme library oversees a spectacular fountain with flourishing trees on each side. The walk took us about 20 minutes from the International Student Hostel and although it was tiring, and though the sun beat down on us, it was worthwhile. We then visited the International Student House, which houses all the external programs that UG endorses. Here, we had orientation and our class, “Cultural and Reproductive Health through the Ghanaian Lens.” The class is very interesting and challenges traditional ways of viewing women and men in association with reproductive health. It took me out of my “American” mindset and is changing the way I view reproductive rights in Ghana. We also took a trip to the Night Market where students can purchase a variety of goods. Most of the vendors are Ghanaian women, yet they come from various tribes in Ghana. Women seem to make up a central part of the Ghanaian economy–the vendors balancing goods on their heads, working the Night Market, or even in the mall are majority women. This aspect was interesting to me especially since Ghana is a patriarchal society, yet in some ways, it seems more progressive than the United States.

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CIEE also took us on a tour of downtown Accra. We visited Jamestown, the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, and Black Star Square:

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Fountains at the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum

The Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum was made to honor Kwame Nkrumah, the first Ghanaian president after independence in 1957. He is buried on site and attended school at Lincoln University and the University of Pennsylvania. The structure of his burying ground is in the shape of a tree trunk to symbolize the unfinished legacy of African pride and his work when he was exiled in a military coup.

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Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum

The site is moving, representing not only Ghanaians but the strength and resilience of Africans as a larger identity. Although I only touched on a snippet of what I experienced in Ghana thus far, I’ve learned so much in such a short amount of time. Ghana has a rich culture and I am excited to immerse myself in it!

Food, prayer, and dance!

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Although I am back in the United States, I have not forgotten the many intricacies of daily life in Dhrangadhra.  We explored the culture of dance and communal gatherings.  Their religious practices helped us to understand other facets of their lifestyle including yoga and meditation.  The food was incredible (if you can handle the spice!) and tea time was always a highlight.

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We watched a traditional Hindu play and dance.

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Students participating in the fire ritual before prayer.

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A temple in the nearby town of Morbi.  The architecture was absolutely beautiful.

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We learned about the many gods and the different prayer practices.

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Gods displayed at the temple.

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The God of Ayurveda.  Ayurveda is a ancient system of natural medicine.

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A typical lunchtime meal usually includes lentils, rice and potatoes.

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A cup of very hot Chai tea.  It is usually made with milk and sugar with the addition of other spices including ginger and cinnamon.

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Yoga is practiced by many in Dhrangadhra.  Jayshree explains the sun salutations.

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We took a nighttime camel cart ride to a temple.

Saying Goodbye to UEA and “A Fine City”

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Saying Goodbye to UEA and “A Fine City”

This week, I say goodbye to the town that has so lovingly nurtured the already existing love of England I had before this semester. Norwich is a town I had very little knowledge of before I discovered Temple’s exchange program to the University of East Anglia. Consequently, I knew I was bound to learn new and interesting things about the country whose culture I’ve admired for so long. Still, this week I leave Norwich having gained so much more than I possibly imagined I could have. 

It will certainly be an adjustment to return to America in deeper ways than just the direction of traffic. In England, I experienced a level of independence that I never had before and I believe this is why I was able to make the strong and meaningful connections with people that I did. Sure, I was embarking on many of my trips alone– but once I had reached my destination, I always met people that I’m thankful now to consider friends and meaningful parts of my semester abroad. This couldn’t be truer of any other group of people than my flatmates at UEA. Whether through our common position as strangers in a new country, or as individuals simply curious to hear about the rest of the world, we all bonded together in such a way that, without them, I don’t think I could have thrived as much as I did at UEA.

In all the travels I made across England these past few months, there really was no city quite like Norwich. Though Norfolk is an incredible county on its own, with much of its medieval structures still standing tall, it’s the people and experiences I had with them that make it my home. My final days living in Norwich are especially important to me, as I have had to opportunity to explore Norfolk more intimately through the kindness of family friends I met up with in Leeds. Most special was having my mom with me, who is accompanying me during my final days in England. We drove to the beautiful wetlands referred to as “The Broads,” which are home not only to an incredible array of wildlife, but also to many medieval churches that have hundreds of years of history behind them. I even got to climb to the top of one church’s bell tower, something I regretfully feared I wouldn’t do before I left. I got one final look at the North Sea from Horsey Beach and also caught a glimpse of one of Norfolk’s many beautiful windmills.

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DSC_0775.JPGWhen talking about Norwich to natives, one of the most commonly referenced aspects of the town was how out of the way it is from the rest of England. Though it’s only a few hours away from London, its unique geographic location in the far east compared to the rest of the island has made it so that there are limited railways and major roads that lead directly to it. If I am to go back to England one day, however, I wouldn’t hesitate to go the extra mile, literally and metaphorically, to visit the place so appropriately known as “a fine city.” Hopefully, it will even be a reunion with the many people that made it so fine to me.

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Getting to This Point Wasn’t Easy: The Road to Moscow

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Getting to This Point Wasn’t Easy: The Road to Moscow

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably interested in studying abroad. I know this is where I went when I first became interested. I heard people talking about how it was the best decision of their lives, and had it recommended to me so many times I had basically prerecorded a response:

“Yeah I’d love to, but it seems like a lot of (money, work, distractions from my degree).”

For my freshman year I was content to repeat that line over and over again. Then, I started applying for scholarships and paid programs. I figured it was worth a shot, especially if I could do it for free or a reduced rate. Spoiler Alert: they didn’t work out.

I probably took a month off of applying to programs. I cleared my head, and rededicated myself to the task at hand. I began spending every moment looking for new opportunities. I combed through brochures, internship postings, and websites. Nothing was clicking, none of the programs felt right.

Then my professor emailed me about a program in Moscow. It was late March – everyone was preparing themselves for finals that were set to begin in a month, but I was spending my night furiously researching what it would take to get to Russia. Another Spoiler Alert: a lot more than I expected.

What started out as a four-page application turned into (collectively) over a hundred pages of paperwork for the Education Abroad Office, Temple University, the Russian government, and all of the little stops along the way. My list of the things that stressed me out until this week (but were totally worth getting through):

  • Applying to an external program – I had only heard of people doing Temple programs, so dealing with another university directly (language barriers, time differences, and other obstacles included) was daunting.
  • Russian Travel Advisory – The State Department issues travel advisories from 1 (the least dangerous) to 4 (the most) to different countries. Temple has a policy of allowing students to study in 1-2’s without much trouble, 3’s with a petition, and not allowing 4’s (at all). Russia, unfortunately, has a level 3 travel advisory (for the Crimean conflict, conflict in the Caucuses, and other likely political reasons), which meant I had to write a petition for Temple to even clear my plan.
  • Russian Visa – For expert travelers, there are a few well-traveled nations that pose significant visa trouble for Americans; Russia typically places among the worst. I highly recommend getting the help of a visa agency, unless you know you’re studying abroad several months in advance (I did not). Among the bizarre things you’ll need: a formal letter of invitation from your host university (must also be filed with the Russian government) and blood test results within the 3 months prior to applying that prove that you are HIV negative.
  • Travelling (generally) – I have never left the country. I’ve never even been out West. Not only that, but no one in my immediate family has left North America (ever). I can’t even remember distinctly what my last flight was like. I got a lot of winces when I told people I had a 9-hour flight taking off at 2:30 AM from JFK. I still don’t really know if that’s good or bad, but I guess we’ll see.

If you are interested in studying abroad, I want to make clear that my intention isn’t to scare you. My experience is not every Temple student’s experience. I made a lot of decisions in my location and timing that added a couple hoops to jump through, and because of my unique situation, I was honestly a little unprepared for what it takes to study abroad. My hope is that you see (well, read) my success, and let it inspire you to try it too. You might even surprise yourself with what you’re capable of doing. And if you ever need help, I’m here to talk, and so is the Education Abroad Office.

For the next eight weeks, I get to prove that all of that hustle was worth it. I can’t wait to share every step of it with you.