Tag Archives: #gilmanscholarship

Home Away From Home

I finally returned home to the U.S. after being in South Korea for nearly a full year and it didn’t take long for me to seem out of place in what is supposed to be home. I became so used to daily life and culture in South Korea that I’m sometimes confused as to where home is. When I arrived at my house I was excited to see my dog Pooka and after picking her up I set her down and told her “Pooka, anja!” three or four times. She stood there wagging her tail and I was confused as to why she wouldn’t respond. Surely she couldn’t have forgotten how to sit while I was away! My brother looked at me and with a laugh said “Pooka didn’t study Korean while you were gone.” I was a bit shocked at myself for immediately trying to speak Korean to everyone when arriving home. I’ve spoken English my whole life and now I find myself speaking Korean without thinking and at times having difficulty coming up with the right words or expressions in English. 

 

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A view from a street in South Korea.

 

It has been about a week since I’ve returned and it’s a bit more difficult than I thought going back to speaking English full time while trying to continue learning Korean. The time difference when messaging friends in South Korea always plays a factor and I also realized how difficult it is to try and communicate daily like before because we aren’t able to meet or live in the same place. I find myself not able to drop the Korean cultural habit of a slight bow when greeting someone and also holding my elbow when handing over something such as money.  My phone rings to a song by TWICE (Korean girl pop group) and often the reactions are similar to if my phone rang in a library! These things became so natural while doing it everyday in South Korea, however now I can only assume I look quite awkward or seem like a foreigner to others as I do these things in America. 

While the food in South Korea was amazing, there are always times when I missed comfort foods from home. Things such as cakes and pastries, Chipotle, a good cheeseburger, or my mom’s homemade meals. I also missed being able to meet with my friends every weekend for dinner or being able to play games with them. Now that I am back to meeting with my friends in Colorado, I often miss meeting with my friends in South Korea and picking a random area of Seoul to explore. One thing I found myself continuously complaining about is public transportation and how far things are from home. In South Korea the subway system was amazing and convenient, as you are able to get to any destination quite easily. I suppose I became a bit spoiled having a subway station always within a 5-10 minute walk and any type of food within walking distance as well. Now that I’m back in America, I am back to driving at least 30 minutes to anywhere I want to go.

 

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With friends in South Korea.

 

Some other differences I’ve noticed are how things like buildings are built. South Korea stacks 4-8 shops and restaurants in a single building while in America things are built outwards. In South Korea, things are very close in proximity which made it seem easier to get a bit of exercise and stay fit, while at home driving everywhere makes one become a bit lazy and drive-thru restaurants do not help at all! A final difference I noticed is in the meals. Here in America, there are certain foods usually eaten for each meal. For example, a typical American style breakfast consisting of pancakes, eggs, cereal, etc. was difficult to find in South Korea. In South Korea, I usually ate anything I wanted and breakfast often was kimbap (rice rolled with vegetables or meat, similar to sushi) or just fruits.

 

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Kimbap.

 

Now that I am back in America and thinking about my future, I realize just how much I miss and enjoyed my time in East Asia. My lifestyle and goals are different now than they were prior to studying abroad. I plan to finish my degree and continue learning Korean and Japanese. Once I obtain my Bachelor’s degree, I hope to return to Asia and teach English, as I have found a love for teaching. Perhaps in the future if my language abilities have improved to a high level, I can teach Korean or Japanese at schools or programs in America! Studying abroad for one year allowed me to not only learn about other cultures around the world but also learn more about myself and what I am capable of. Just a few years ago I would never have imagined I would go to South Korea for a year, play soccer for a foreign university, and learn Korean and Japanese, all while finding a passion for teaching. My year of studying abroad in South Korea has come to an end but I have so many great memories to keep with me forever. Thank you, Gilman Scholarship, for giving me this opportunity!

 

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Filed under East Asia, Jeff in South Korea

Coming Home

About a week before I came home from Huanchaco, Peru, my mom called to finalize some travel plans. She said she missed me and couldn’t wait to see me. I felt terrible when I couldn’t say it back. Of course it would be wonderful to see her again, but I was enjoying myself and learning so many wonderful things in Peru. I wasn’t ready to come home yet. It felt strange calling the U.S. “home” when I also felt perfectly at home in Huanchaco. My heart was divided between two places.

I never thought I could feel out of place in the United States. Nor did I think it possible that I could forget, after only a short time, the social constructs I have known all my life. Yet being back in the U.S., I have to constantly remind myself that I have the right of way as a pedestrian, that used toilet paper goes in the toilet and not a waste basket, and that it isn’t appropriate to kiss strangers on the cheek after only a brief conversation.

Aside from those few hiccups, my journey home has been full of reflection and introspection. I am realizing that there are many things I desperately love and miss about Peru. I miss the relaxed time-tables, the delicious locally-grown foods, taking siestas, the constant music playing in the streets, and the rich culture. The hardest adjustment is being away from the people I grew close to.  My peers and professor became my family. A group of kind, generous locals became my dear friends. I value the relationships I formed, so it is strange living without them. Before coming home, I recommend gathering contact information for anyone you wish to stay in contact with. And take pictures with the new people in your life so you can relive the amazing experiences.

 

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My professor, Dr. Michelle Grocke, and I on our last day of work in El Milagro, the town devastated by flooding. The people in El Milagro are so special to me, and Dr. Grocke became my dear friend during this field school. (Photo courtesy of classmate Gavin Whaley.)

 

Being back in the United States, I have become consciously aware of certain amenities that I sorely missed in Peru. It is really nice having garbage cans readily available in public spaces. It is also nice that bathrooms come stocked with their own toilet paper. Knowing that drinking water is filtered, safe, and free of disease is also a great comfort. Drinking fountains, too, are a pleasant feature. I also never realized how much I appreciate enforced traffic laws.

Now that I’ve returned home, I’ve been able to recognize some major differences between the U.S. and Peru. In Peru (currently) prices are very low and reasonable for foods, clothing, transportation, and artisan goods. The majority of foods and goods are locally produced. Coming back to the U.S., I have been frustrated by the comparatively high costs for the same items. I miss having organic foods, handmade products, and locally produced goods available at a reasonable market value.

Another difference is the state of security and the role of the police. Many Peruvian cities have a high crime rate. I learned to be hyper-aware of my surroundings at all times in order to keep myself safe. I don’t have to do that to the same degree in the U.S. The police have limited authority in Peru compared to the U.S.: in many instances, they are not permitted to intervene in violent crime or even make a traffic stop. I witnessed many crimes take place right in front of police officers, and they legally could not do anything about it. It made me appreciate the justice system we have in the United States.

Gender equality is quite different in Peru and the U.S. Peru is still a very patriarchal society, in which many women are oppressed and expected to maintain traditional gender roles. During my time in Peru, many men on the streets (or even in restaurants) would cat-call and make unwanted advances. I learned very quickly how to defend myself and how to avoid such situations. Of course there were also many men who were incredibly respectful to women, but they did not appear to be the larger norm. As a woman, I feel safer being back in the United States, knowing there are social and legal statutes to help protect me.

Access for people with disabilities is also quite different. I spent a lot of my time studying access as the topic of my ethnographic research. As someone with a disability, I was able to assess how accessible different spaces are (buildings, walkways, modes of transportation), as well as how feasible it is for people with disabilities to find employment. Access in Peru is not to the same level as in the United States, and the government has only recently begun to offer assistance. But there is an interesting cultural factor which makes life with a disability more manageable. Peruvians value the family unit, and are incredibly invested in caring for loved ones. When a person has a disability, they are cared for by family members and nearly always accompanied by a loved one to help fill in the gaps where places are inaccessible.

 

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A sign found in most buses, saying “seats reserved” for pregnant women, people with disabilities, people with groceries or large bags, and the elderly. Ironically, and sadly, there is no possible way for someone in a wheelchair to get onto a bus, and the buses don’t stop long enough for anyone with limited mobility to slowly climb aboard.

 

Reverse culture shock is a strange phenomenon. I sometimes feel frustrated that I am back in the United States, missing the host culture I left behind. It gets lonely knowing that my family and friends don’t share the amazing experiences I had in Peru. I do my best to share the stories, but there will always be a disconnect. It’s strange returning to my regular routine. I almost feel out of touch with myself. I feel as though a piece of my heart is still in Peru. Thankfully I can easily keep in touch with my Huanchaco family, which makes this transition much easier.

Something to keep in mind is that “home” can mean anything. Home can be the house you were raised in, or where your parents live. It can be your hometown, your college town, or where you currently live. Home can be a person or a group of the most important people in your life. You can have more than one home. Your definition of home can change at any time. I am redefining my concept of home constantly. My home simply expanded to a little corner of Peru. My home called Huanchaco. And maybe someday, I go home to Huanchaco again.

 

mckinley at the huaca del brujo archaeological site near magdelena de cao peru

On an excursion to an archaeological site called the Huaca del Brujo. The scenery in this part of the country is so beautiful, I had to take a picture with it! (Photo courtesy of classmate Gavin Whaley.)

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Filed under McKinley in Peru, south america

A Complete Transformation

I have roughly one week left in Riga, Latvia, and I am feeling quite unsettled about my departure. The friends and colleagues that I have gained from my time interning in Riga will not be forgotten. As I sit here today, partially wondering how I am going to fit all of my newly acquired souvenirs in my suitcase, I can’t help but feel like time has gone by so quickly. I understand that this is a cliché of sorts, but I am dumbfounded; It seems like I just arrived. But, I can tell that time has passed because my personality has changed dramatically since I first touched down in May.

I had been to Riga, Latvia before during my freshman year, and I had thought that the second time around would be more relaxed and straightforward. I found this to be an outrageous distortion of the truth. I have been challenged far more than I was when I came here at the age of 18. Undertaking an internship shocked my current way of living and thinking. I was tasked daily with assignments that were placed outside of my comfort zone where I was accustomed to classrooms and theory rather than the practical application of my education. Further, this was my first experience living alone. My previous times abroad and even back home in West Virginia, I am always accompanied by a roommate, a host family, or my own loving family. Solo living was more of an adjustment than I thought, and while it is nice to relax and find solace in being alone, it deprived me of a comfortable social setting that I had grown accustomed to maintaining.

 

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As I was walking back to my apartment I noticed a student painting the scenery over the Daugava River. After asking her permission for a picture, she proceeded to ask if she could add me to her painting, displaying me walking along the boulevard.

 

While there were inherent challenges, there were even more rewards. I feel for the first time in my life that I am an adult. In Riga this time around, I have greater responsibility and more expected of me. At my internship, projects were assigned to me with deadlines, which could not be avoided or pushed off like any other homework assignment, yet I tackled them head on. Furthermore, I discovered that some of your greatest friends can come from the office. Every day I looked forward to eating lunch with my colleagues, learning about their pasts, laughing at their daily blunders, and making plans together for the weekend. I also gained the capability to be flexible. As an intern, I was required to assist in the day to day operations of the office, and in my work at the Embassy, I was expected to change what I was working on at the drop of a hat to complete another assignment within a given time frame. While this was at first frustrating, it taught me the value of time management and planning to account for such shifts in operations when they occur.

Lastly, I developed a deep rooted understanding and connection to the culture that I have spent years studying. I interacted daily with my neighbors, friends, co-workers, pedestrians, etc. that added to my knowledge and passion for Eastern Europe. I have learned of the past through my host mother’s conversations with me about her grandparents. I discovered the hope for a brighter future from my friends looking to build on their education and start a lasting career in the Baltics. Most importantly, I learned the value of listening, attempting to understand and grasp the language, struggles, and stories of a population that has endured so much for their freedom and well-being.

Overall, I am lucky to have been able to return to Riga, and I am already counting down the days until I can come back.

 

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Filed under Eastern Europe, Garrett in Latvia

Then and Now

Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully you leave something good behind.       –Anthony Bordain

I never realized how little I knew until I studied abroad. My mind and my heart have been opened to a world I was only superficially aware of. It’s an entirely different reality to read about Peru and Peruvian culture and to actually live it day by day. A beautifully complex and exciting reality.

I have become intimately involved in the everyday moments of people’s lives here, that I feel as though I’ve known them forever. I eat every meal in Marita’s café and she makes jokes with me. Miguel, the night guard at the hostel, makes fun of me every morning as I stumble down the stairs to breakfast with my messy hair, and he makes his way to run his bodega across the plaza. Daisy, one of the adorable house cleaners, laughs as she tries to teach me Spanish. Carmen, a traditional healer, brings so much happiness into the hostel when she visits, always smiling and giggling about her latest adventures, always bringing bags of herbs to fix our latest maladies.

I’ve seen a lot of sad things, too, which made me incredibly aware of the harsh realities of the world and my place in them. I witnessed the painful effects of climate change. There is an ecological reserve on the northern end of Huanchaco beach, trying to preserve the totora reeds used in making the traditional reed boats (caballitos de totora). The rising ocean levels during the past several years have limited the places where the reeds can grow. This limits the resources and threatens to minimize and potentially eliminate a several thousand-year-old tradition and livelihood.

 

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A family plot of land on an ecological reserve that is trying to preserve the totora reeds.

 

I witnessed the travesties of living through a natural disaster. The site for my field school was a town which had been hit hardest by El Nino flooding earlier this year. The first time we visited, it was so somber. My heart felt like it weighed a thousand pounds as I saw rubble where homes used to be, shards of glass and unsafe debris where children were playing, tarps and tents now the only property demarcating a home. One woman pointed out the flood path saying, “it just took everything.”

 

remains of a home in el milagro

The remains of an adobe home in El Milagro after the El Nino flooding. Children like to play inside the structure, which unfortunately is covered in shards of glass, trash, and dangerously uneven concrete and rocks.

 

Thankfully, we were able to do something to help. We learned how to do a needs assessment and an asset/skills assessment. By talking with everyone in the community, we found out what the most pressing needs were on a community and individual level. We then talked to each person about what their skills were, and what they could do to get back up on their feet, to help their family, their community. We talked about their hopes and dreams, what they would like to do and become. We compiled the data and gave it to our in-country coordinator who is trying to get government help based on the needs assessment. We had raised money through a fundraiser before coming, so we applied that money to buying food, water, and supplies each week for the community. We also donated our own clothes and supplies to help fill the needs we were seeing.

I feel incredibly motivated to continue on my educational and career path. I feel like an anthropologist now. My ethnographic field school has taught so many skills, both in class and in “the field.” I’ve learned interview techniques, writing skills, how to do unobtrusive observations and engage in participant observations. I’ve drawn ethnographic maps, sketched, and photographed areas and people we’ve encountered. I have increased my skills in understanding and speaking Spanish and am excited to continue practicing. I am writing my own ethnography which will be published on a website. I learned how to do a needs assessment in a resource-poor area, such as one struck by a natural disaster. I now have the toolkit to go work for any variety of NGOs and humanitarian aid organizations. I have the drive to continue to graduate school and complete my MPH/PhD program and become a medical anthropologist!

Studying abroad in this ethnographic field school in Huanchaco, Peru is the best academic and personal decision I could have made. It still feels surreal to me to say that I am living in Peru. It is a dream waking up and realizing that I’m here. Every bit of me – my disability, my education, my family, my dreams and goals – are why I’m here. My family, the Gilman team, and my incredible professor/program leader/mentor, and a lot of hard work are how I’m here.

That has been motivating me every day of this journey: realizing that I am not doing any of this on my own. I think that is one of the ways I have changed the most is learning that I can always have a support network, and accepting that it is a beautiful thing to accept help. I have also learned that I can always make time to help someone else (even if I feel pressed for time). I am learning to balance my needs with the needs of others.

This has been the most incredible experience. I don’t want it to be over! But the skills I have learned and the connections I’ve made are invaluable. My study abroad will always be a part of me, and a part of my heart will always be in Peru!

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Filed under McKinley in Peru, south america

Coming Home

Going from suburban Southern California to suburban South Island, New Zealand was a relatively easy transition. I wouldn’t say I experienced “culture shock,” but there were some things that were strange. For example, shops in New Zealand are rarely open after 6:00 p.m., some foods have different names, and everyone walks and drives on the left.

Now that my semester is over and I’m back in the United States, I’m getting used to the way things used to be. It helps that I went through this once before when I returned from Afghanistan in 2012. My readjustment has been milder this time. Still, there are some things I miss about New Zealand, and some things I am happy to be reunited with here in the United States.

I miss my flatmates, who were considerate cohabitants and faithful friends. My positive experience with them is partly what motivated me to take a chance with roommates at Pomona College next year. Instead of living in a single room, as I’ve done each of the three previous years, I’ll share an apartment with three other students.

I got home one week ago. My flatmates are the only thing about New Zealand that I already miss, but I suspect others will follow with time.

 

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My friend says that only tourists are foolish enough to use umbrellas in Wellington. The city is notoriously windy!

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Civic Square, Wellington. I visited the city library (straight ahead) and the city art gallery (right).

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Inside the Museum of New Zealand, more commonly known by its Maori name, “Te Papa.” It’s a giant building full of impressive exhibits, and, like all public museums in New Zealand, admission is free!

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Another view of the Wellington lower down on Mount Victoria.

 

I liked how safe I felt in New Zealand. Violent crime is so much lower there, I could walk through any city at night without a care in the world. I didn’t see a single gun the whole time I was in New Zealand. Not even the police carry them.

Now that I’m back to running instead of cycling, it’s only a matter of time before pounding pavement starts to get boring. Once it does, I will miss the bicycle I had in New Zealand, especially the rush I felt when whizzing down hills at 50 mph. Before selling my bike last month, I rode through the last unexplored grids on my city map, and logged my 1000th mile.

 

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As a general rule, the more curvy the road the better!

 

The activity I thought I missed most about home was driving. Thanks to my years of racing with the Sports Car Club of America, it’s what I do better than anything. Dancing with my car on canyon roads still fun, but it’s not the nirvana-like experience I remember it being. The breakup I went through in New Zealand reordered my priorities and broadened my interests more than I realized.

 

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One of the things I missed about home was driving my favorite car on my favorite roads.

 

What’s been better than expected is reconnecting with family and old friends. I’m grateful for the new friendships I made in New Zealand, but they all had similar histories. Now that I’m home, I have easier access to the friends who have known me over many periods of my life, not just the last six months. This week I’ve been lucky to visit six of the people who have influenced me most: my parents, my best friend from elementary school, my best friend from middle school and high school, my best friend at Pomona College, and my ex-girlfriend, who is still a close friend. The perspective they offer is invaluable. It’s impossible to imagine the future without considering the past.

 

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 The first thing I did upon arriving home was prepare my car for a road trip to Northern California. I visited one friend who lives in San Jose, one who lives in Berkeley, and this friend who lives in Sacramento. Here we are inside the State Capitol.

 

I don’t know what the future will bring, except that I will continue to be cautiously optimistic and put my best foot forward. My semester in New Zealand was long and hard, but it had its share of highlights, and it taught me a lot about myself that I would not have learned otherwise. It’s an adventure I don’t regret.

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Filed under Oceania, Trevor in New Zealand

The Beauty of Singapore’s Subway System

My first time using the metro system in Singapore, which is called the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), was quite an embarrassing one. After getting off the train, I decided to position myself on the right side of the escalator in order to take a break and browse on my phone (you know… because I’m a millennial). Within seconds, I realized my mistake as I started to receive judging stares from people around me – the flow of traffic for escalators in Singapore runs opposite to that of the States. I quickly changed my position to the left of the escalator and instantly, the people who were behind me started to rush up the escalator. Because of this mistake, I learned the most important lesson: in the States, slower traffic pulls to the right, but in Singapore, it is to the left.

Besides that hiccup, the MRT here has been nothing short of amazing. I use the subway system here a lot in order to commute to my internship every day, and after three weeks of using the MRT, I can see why people call it one of the best subway systems in the world. I can’t even describe how much I love using the MRT here as it is so easy to use and so affordable compared to public transportation in the States. So here’s a list of the top five reasons why I absolutely adore the MRT.

It is so affordable.

  • A trip from my dorm to work, which is around 6 miles, only costs $1.80 SGD (about $1.30 USD). A trip from the east side to west side of Singapore only costs around $2.50 SGD (about $1.80 USD) as well. Yes, let that sink in. I can’t believe it either.

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It is so clean.

  • Singapore is known for being clean, and the same holds true for the MRT too. There are signs everywhere that tell you what to do and what not to do (no chewing gum, no durian, no smoking, and many more). Throughout my time here, I have not seen a piece of trash on the MRT trains. Furthermore, there’s just something about how shiny the seats are and how spacious the trains look that make the MRT system here feel so clean.

 

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It is so organized.

  • One of my favorite things about the MRT is that there are signs everywhere to let you know what to do and where you are. Inside the trains, there are signs under every door with LED lights that let you know where you are and where the train is going. That is so convenient because instead of having to look outside after every stop, you can just look at the sign to know where you are.
  • Furthermore, the lines are very organized due to many arrows and signs. Outside the trains, there are arrows that tell you where you should wait in order to let the people from inside the train go out first. I think this is such an easy but efficient way of making queues more organized, and I am actually very surprised to see a lot of people following it.
  • Furthermore, its efficient design (little seating and more hand rails) allows more people to be on the train. The ride is so smooth and fast that it is really not a big deal to stand.

 

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It is so efficient.

  • In the States, I go to school in the bay area, so I used BART a lot. Whenever I miss a BART train, the next one usually comes 15 minutes later. However, that is not true for the MRT. Trains usually come every three minutes, on average. Even during nighttime, it comes every eight minutes at the latest which makes is so convenient for me to use the MRT because I don’t have to worry about missing a train.

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It has such a cute card!

  • I don’t know about you, but I love kawaii stuff and the EZ link card design definitely delivers. The EZ link card is a stored value card that can be used for the MRT and buses in Singapore. The card is so easy to use as you just need to tap it onto the scanning machine, and it completes the transaction within less than a second. As a result, you can avoid the hassle of carrying change to use the subway system. Furthermore, the EZ link card can be used to pay for laundry in student housing and printing in the library. But the most important part is that it comes with various cute designs that feature super adorable cartoon characters.

 

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Filed under South & Central Asia, Tan in Singapore

I’m Back and I’m Better

When I first saw the chart titled “Stages of Culture Shock and Reverse Culture Shock” in the Gilman blog-writing syllabus, I have to admit that I was more than a little skeptical. Before my study abroad orientation, I had never even heard of reverse culture shock. My program was only for six weeks, not six months. I thought that it wouldn’t be enough time to change me in a significant way. I thought I already knew myself and what I liked. After all, I grew up in Pittsburgh around people of all backgrounds. I came to East Africa with the assumption that my background as a black woman would enable me to escape culture shock. I went to Tanzania with what I thought was a mind open to learning, but the reality is that Eastern Africa expanded my horizons more than I could have ever imagined.

Culture shock and reverse cultureshock graph

 

Even though I was learning in a completely new and fascinating way, I found myself becoming fiercely homesick during my program. In the second week, I was already ready to go home. I missed cheese, clear English, and talking to my family and friends whenever I wanted to. I began to count down the days until I would be on the plane back to the States. I found myself stuck in stage 3 of culture shock: depressed, homesick, and hopeless. But by the end of the third week, I wasn’t thinking about coming back home. I was thinking about my independent project, going hiking, and reading for class. I became so tied to my new reality that having one hour of internet access a day and taking cold showers quickly became a part of my normal daily routine. At some point, I adapted to Tanzania so much that I stopped noticing that I was in a developing country and started noticing the potential to keep in advancing sustainably.

At the start of the last week of studying abroad, I began to have a sinking feeling in my stomach every time I thought about returning home. I felt like there was more work that I needed to do before I could be satisfied with leaving. Leaving the Udzungwa Mountains Ecological Monitoring Center was like leaving the best summer camp I never got the chance to attend. I will never forget the phenomenal staff. Even with a language barrier, the amazing ladies that made up the kitchen staff managed to take care of us when we were sick, feed us three times a day, and teach the girls how to wear fabric like they did. The ecologists and field assistants in the National Park always had their doors open for questions. They would drop whatever they were working on to accompany us to villages or act as a translator when our Swahili failed us. Overall, I experienced and witnessed a genuine kindness and willingness to help other people, no matter what their race or nationality, that I want to pass on to whoever I can. The unparalleled work ethic and determination of the people (the women in particular) put my life and problems immediately in perspective. Never again will I complain about a class at Penn State after seeing a woman walk, talk on the phone, and breastfeed at the same time.

 

The view from my SanjayWaterfalls hiking trip

The view from my Sanjay Waterfalls hiking trip.

Our tourguide was roped into takiing a picture with me on top of the falls

Our tour guide was roped into taking a picture with me on top of the falls.

 

My goal is to make is to stage 9 on the reverse culture side of the graph: incorporating what I learned from my study abroad into my new life and career. I’m still adjusting to being back home in the States. For instance, I didn’t expect to feel so uncomfortable in a room full of white people. I notice how much water I waste brushing my teeth or how Instagram doesn’t have the same appeal that it used to. Fall semester at Penn State should be interesting! I know I will eventually get used to my normal life, but the experiences I had are still fresh in my mind. The lessons I’ve learned are not leaving me anytime soon, so I might as well learn from them and apply them to the future. Now when I look for internships, an international component is a must. Applying conservation in a developing country came with a whole other set of complex challenges. I’m inspired to see how other issues fit in as well. For example, what is the role of environmental justice in a second or third world country? Studying abroad came with the realization that I can weave multiple issues together into a cohesive career. Whether I end up in policy or in a lab, I will always be grateful for my experience in Tanzania for changing my life.

 

Me in Washington DC the weekendbefore I left for Tanzania

Me in Washington DC the weekend before I left for Tanzania

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Filed under Africa, Janelle in Tanzania