Marquette Global
28. September 2014

So I’ve been in Paris for a little over two weeks now, and everything is going great! When I called my dad, he immediately asked if it was everything I had dreamed of and I’m happy to report that it is and more!

My first three weeks of school are an intensive French learning program. It has been a great way to brush up on my French and learn a little more about Paris. It’s also been different in that I’m taking this class with people from different countries and who are in very different phases in life. For example, my class is a mix of American, Brazilian, Italian and Chinese students and a few other places the world. Most of them are also older and taking this class to learn French for jobs or came to Paris with their spouses. Usually in my French classes back in the U.S., if I didn’t know a word I would say it in English and everyone would know what I’m trying to say. But with the diversity of my class, I can’t rely on my English and have to focus more on only using French to communicate with others, which has been good for me.

Unfortunately, with my class being small and with my classmates being so diverse it has been harder to make friends, especially since our school doesn’t provide an orientation program to help us get to know other international students. Luckily, my roommate Kate and I have another friend from Marquette who goes to Sciences Po, another school in Paris with a great orientation program. Thanks to her we have tagged along on a couple of their outings, like to Versailles this weekend.

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26. September 2014

Two weeks ago I found myself standing outside of John Felice Rome Center with a suitcase as big as my ten-year-old brother and a backpack stuffed to the brim. I was outside my comfort zone, not knowing a single person and suddenly a wave of panic washed over me.

Hundreds of thoughts rushed through my head as I stood there, looking at the forest green gates that separated me from my home for the next three and a half months:

“What was I doing here? I don’t have ANY friends here. I want my own bed back. I want my Milwaukee back. I want a hug from my mom and dad. I want to walk down Wisconsin Avenue and see familiar faces and I REALLY want a burger from Sobelman’s this very second.”

But I had made it this far and my taxi driver had sped away at this point. It looked like my chances of heading back to good old Milwaukee were slim. So instead I clutched onto my suitcase and walked through the forest green gates, ready to start orientation at John Felice Rome Center.

The start of orientation was like freshman year at Marquette all over again. I was learning about campus, getting around Rome and meeting a lot of really welcoming and kind people at lunch and dinner. But just like at orientation my freshman year it was awkward making friends, remembering names and building friendships.

But this all changed the third night of orientation thanks to a doughnut.

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25. September 2014

Upon my arrival in Manila, Philippines, Casa Bayanihan staff and students welcomed me with open arms.  I appreciate that each Casa member shared their hopes and fears with the group and that many activities helped students to acquaint themselves with a new culture and with new people.  As part of the Casa program, all of the students spend two days of the week at a praxis site—- a community in the Manila area that faces a particular social issue such as informal settlement or disability services.  The Casa pedagogy emphasizes the practice of accompaniment—- walking with the people in our places of immersion and truly being present to their experiences.  Forming relationships and learning about stories and daily realities form the basis of our discussions in the classroom, our reflections in the Casa community, and our overall growth as people for and with others.

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Casa Bayanihan crew visits my praxis site San Damian Center during orientation.

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23. September 2014

Taking a test on the first day of school when you’re in a foreign country is never fun. Especially not in Spain. But the huge group of Erasmus students (international exchange students studying at the University of Deusto in San Sebastian) had to do exactly that. Part of the two-week intensive course, this test placed us into our appropriate levels of Spanish to prepare us before school officially began.

There are roughly 22 other students including myself who placed into the highest level course. The minute that we stepped foot into our classroom was the beginning of our immersion at school. After the many hours we have spent in class, not once has our teacher spoken one word in English. In fact, we learned today that she barely even knows the English language. It has been a pretty eye-opening experience sitting in class and speaking a different language almost fluently meanwhile learning from someone who doesn’t even know English—the language that everyone else in the class knows.

In class, I find myself switching the way I think from English to Spanish as I try to stay fully concentrated for 4.5 hours straight. Even after I finish class the other students and I continue to speak in Spanish to each other. Being able to communicate with others in a different language other than your dominant language is a truly fulfilling experience. In many ways, these first few classes at Deusto have strengthened my love for Spanish and my desire to continue to implement it in my daily life here in Spain, when I continue with my minor at Marquette, and in my career after school.

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23. September 2014

On our way to the airport in Johannesburg en route back to Cape Town after our ten-day mid-semester trip around South Africa (not even going to touch on the anxious feelings that come with the phrase “mid-semester”), I realized something awesome: I was feeling homesick and craving my bed. Except I wasn’t craving my coral colored comforter on my bed at home in Racine, WI, or even the orange and white chevron fuzzy blanket from my bed in my dorm room at Marquette, I was craving my twin sized bed in the sometimes cockroach infested room that I share with Tess in the first hallway of K House (the friendly nickname given to our twenty-person house on Kimberley Road).

My cozy bedroom in K House, probably the cleanest it’s been in a while…

I was homesick for my Cape Town home! Though I had a wonderful trip full of adventures like throwing myself off the bridge of the world’s highest bungee jump and seeing families of lions and elephants on safari, it has felt unbelievably refreshing to get back to “normal” and learn that I do actually have a normal life here.

Free falling off of Bloukrans Bridge was the most incredible, unreal, peaceful feeling. I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

 

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15. September 2014

Let me preface this post with the following: Byron Bay was awesome!! 

We left Friday morning about 9, and had a quick hour bus ride to some of Australia’s surf outlet malls. There was Billabong, Quicksilver, Roxy, and all those stores we could shop in and had some pretty good discounts. That was cool and all, but I was ready to get to the beach. 

We drove another 20 minutes and stopped at the Gold Coast to see the beaches and ocean. It was absolutely breathtaking. 

 After going on a short little hike, we hopped back on the bus and headed to Byron Bay. Some people got dropped off to go skydiving (which I haven’t done..yet…), and my group got dropped off to go snorkeling. 

We then got on wetsuits hopped in a shuttle bus that drove us to the beach. Our captain, Dennis, got us all in his little boat with 2 100HP motors on the back. Needless to say, we were flying through the ocean (literally, we caught some good air on a few waves). After a 10 minute cruise across the ocean, we got dropped off by this little island and we could swim around it and see all the fish and turtles and sharks. Yes, we did see a few Nurse Sharks swimming along the bottom. They looked mean, but I guess they don’t attack! 

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12. September 2014

I went to another Brisbane Broncos rugby game! This game was a blast, as the Broncos actually won 48-6! We were sitting only 12 rows up from the back of the end zone, and they scored most of their points at our end too, so that made it even more exciting! 

To make it even better, I also caught a footy ball! (That’s the name of the ball they play with). After they score, they kick through the goalpost, similar to an extra point in football, and I caught it as it came through! I was really excited, but I had to give it back. As I threw it back like a football, some of the Aussies in my section joked and said that I must be a true American. 

Anyway, I really love going to these rugby games. It’s exciting and it’s just fun to hear all the sports talk and slang being used around me. I look forward to going to another Broncos game! 

 

 

I also went to my very first AFL game. That’s the Australian Football League. It was a mix of rugby/American football/soccer. It was very entertaining to watch.  I went with a group from ACU, so the game was free, which makes it even better! The Brisbane Lions played the Adelaide Crows. Pft Crows, what a stupid name…

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11. September 2014

Traveling to Rome to begin this experience abroad has really taught me how exhausting airplanes and travel days can be. Monday and Tuesday of my first week abroad began with a long day of travel filled with running through the Philadelphia airport (literally) to catch my connection flight, only to arrive at the gate with a delayed flight. It was comforting to know my athletic abilities would have prevailed had the flight been on time. But even better to know that I could stop running and take a second to breathe. This burst of energy was followed by restless sleep on the plane, and a long day of orientation and unpacking once I arrived at the apartment.

I’m living in an apartment in the Trestevere neighborhood, which is about 1 mile away from the actual campus. It’s a beautiful walk down neighborhood and city streets really adding to the experience of living as a resident in the city instead of just being a student on campus. This extra experience was something I was looking for and chose, instead of living in the dorms on campus. I have connected really well with my seven roommates, and we have already started planning trips and adventures for the weekends that we are here.

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Culture shock did not kick in for a while since most of the residents in this area speak English as a second language. However, this provided me with a different kind of culture shock. Instead of having difficulty communicating, I felt guilty communicating in my first language because I did not want others to assume I saw my language is superior and therefore had no regard to learning Italian before coming to live here. I still struggle with this, but I have learned some Italian through class and just experience and that has helped me to communicate to a certain extent in Italian.

I feel so grateful to have arrived to a beautiful apartment with great roommates in the center of the eternal city, Roma.

10. September 2014

Well, I just finished up my first week of school! I have to take a 30 minute train ride and then a 5 minute bus ride to get to school, since it’s out in the suburbs and I’m right downtown. The campus is relatively small, but has about 5,000 students who attend it. 

I have one 2 hour lecture for each class, then an hour “tutorial” which is a small group discussion of the lecture material, totaling to 12 hours of class per week for 16 credits. I’m taking a psychology, theology, ethics and an Australian culture class. 

My theology class is really interesting in that it’s a video conference. The main lecturer is in Melbourne, and the lecture is broadcasted via Skype to Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney, and Strathfield. Each class can go around and answer questions and make comments and that sort of thing. 

I’m mostly the lone American in most of my lectures, which is kind of cool because then I get to meet more Australian students. Also, we’re expected to call our professors or “lecturers” by their first name. So my psychology teacher has a PHD and a bunch of other degrees, but we call her by her first name, which is a bit different than back home. 

And I’m officially an Australian student:

 

All right so enough of school talk, let’s get into some of my random thoughts…

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9. September 2014

​It’s been a week. A stunningly beautiful, overwhelming, confusing, rewarding week in Galway. I’ve found myself on this Sunday morning in need of some quiet reflection. If there’s one thing Galway is not, it’s quiet. All hours, all locations, noise permeates through the cobblestoned streets and the hole-in-the-wall pubs.


​But I finally have some quiet in a little coffee shop, and this has been my favorite morning thus far. In need of a sense of community and comfort, I looked up mass times online and spent earlier this Sunday morning among [or amidst] the songs, prayers and atmosphere I didn’t know I’d memorized by heart. I couldn’t help thinking as I walked into Galway’s grand cathedral that it pays to be Irish Catholic—these are my people. Having this immediate familiarity is something I have never appreciated until it became an effort to find it again.


​After mass, sipping on an Americano (my staple European coffee order, because they have it everywhere and it’s cheap), I feel relaxed and for the first time in a week, confident. After arriving in Galway last weekend, I was two days earlier than any other Marquette student studying here or any other study abroad Americans for that matter. I was very much on my own, and completely freaked out by that concept. But last weekend turned out to be an exceptional introduction to Galway. Being on my own, I made my own rules and determined my own activities. I knew the longer I stayed in my empty apartment, the lonelier I’d feel.  So, last Saturday morning I woke up and went to the St. Nicolas farmers market I’d read about in Rick Steve’s guidebook.

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