Marquette Global
2. September 2014

It’s all paying off—the past months of planning and panicking, of frantic emails and endless to do lists. I’m off to spend four months in Galway, Ireland, and I can’t believe I’m really sitting in Boston Logan Airport about to embark on my highly anticipated adventure of a lifetime.

As I sit in the very Euro-chic international terminal (don’t worry, I totally blend in with my black nail polish), I can’t help but feel restless. Not because of my upcoming exploit, but more because I’m struck with how very much alone I am. Granted, I’m in a busy airport, but I haven’t had a substantial conversation with someone in hours. Hours. I realized how pathetic I felt after I couldn’t even sit by myself and finish a sandwich without feeling the need to call my friend from Marquette. While it was so wonderful to hear this person’s voice, that type of communication should be complimentary, not fundamental, to my airport experience.

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2. September 2014

I’m writing this from however many miles up in the sky I am right now over the Atlantic. I’m really good at doing things last minute and I figured writing this would give me something to do during my nine-hour flight to Madrid.

I can’t believe it’s finally time to go. I’ve thought about this moment so much that it doesn’t really feel like it’s happening. I’m not sure it’ll hit me until we land.

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31. August 2014

South Africa has 11 national languages. Yeah that’s right, ELEVEN. I felt pretty pathetic admitting that I struggled through Spanish classes after learning that most people here speak 3-4 languages. (Thank goodness at least one of them is usually English.) It seems so crazy, but that idea of diversity is the perfect illustration of culture here in Cape Town.

When Archbishop Desmond Tutu called South Africa the “rainbow nation,” he wasn’t kidding. There are people here of every color, ethnicity, background, appearance and situation that you could imagine. With so many different languages being spoken, people’s accents when they speak English also vary greatly, which keeps us constantly on our toes. It makes me think that compared to the proper way most people here speak, we must sound so nasally and weird. (ESPECIALLY us Wisconsin kids who get made fun of in the house for pronouncing bag like bayg.)

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Our RA in the K House, Kholeka, teaching us a Xhosa lesson and laughing at our awful attempts at pronunciation.

Another language we’ve encountered plenty here in Cape Town is a traditional African language called Xhosa, pronounced “Kosa.” Well, that’s the closest way I can think of to phonetically type out how to pronounce the word Xhosa because to say it correctly involves a click. Imagine the way you would click to encourage a horse and then proceed to say “Kosa.” In the Western Cape, where we are, we hear Xhosa from most of the people we work with at service, plenty of our classmates at UWC, and random strangers on the train and in the grocery store.

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30. August 2014

My friends indulged me with Portillo’s for my last meal in America.

Unlike many other students studying abroad this semester, I left the United States a month before my program started to travel parts of Europe with my family. Packing was chaotic as I tried to convince myself I needed eight pairs of shoes (they all didn’t make the cut) and became a professional at making the most out of a compression bag. Although chaotic, I managed to fit everything I need for the next few months into one large suitcase—an accomplishment that made me prouder than it should of had.  

While traveling with my family has been incredible I, like other students still at home, have been counting down the days until my study abroad program begins. I am ecstatic to visit sights I have only seen in books, eat too much gelato and try my best at the Italian language. Studying abroad will be a fabulous experience that allows me to immerse myself in another culture, live in a new country and meet new people.

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29. August 2014

​Ireland. South Africa. Germany. Norway. China. Holland. Within just a few hours of arriving at the San Sebastián campus in Spain, I have already met students from some pretty amazing countries (and I haven’t even met everyone yet!). Although different, we each have something in common—the desire to travel and explore. And the real reason we are all here—to take classes that will assist us in fulfilling a business degree.

The jet lag and the seven hour time difference didn’t stop me from wanting to explore the small yet perfectly picturesque city that is San Sebastián on my first day of arrival. Having been told that it is one of the most beautiful cities in the Basque country of northern Spain, I couldn’t help it. Needless to say, it is hard not to admit that I completely love it here already. And being within walking distance of three beaches is a major added bonus.

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Playa de la Concha

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29. August 2014

            Well in true form I waited until the last minute to write my pre-departure blog post; I leave for Paris tomorrow! Today has consisted of trying to fit my life for the next three and a half months into a suitcase that has to weigh less than 50 lbs, which for a champion over packer like me was not an easy task. I am stretching the carry on limit to the max while contemplating whether or not to bring a jar of peanut butter.

            So what does a girl do to prepare for her Parisian adventure? Well, I watched one of my absolute favorite movies, Midnight in Paris. This movie was one of my biggest inspirations in deciding to go to Paris; it really captures the beauty and culture of both Paris’ past and present. In my opinion, the main character may have babbled a bit much, but he got it right when he said, “For all we know, Paris is the hottest spot in the universe”.

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            Packing is never easy but packing for almost 4 months in one of the most fashionable places on Earth was a whole other story. How was I going to fit in with the women of Paris with their high heels and effortless style? A Parisian packing list includes neutral easy to layer pieces, lots of skirts and dresses, and you can’t go wrong with black.

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28. August 2014

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You would think that with all of the excitement that surrounds studying abroad, I would have begun packing months ago. However, procrastination has gotten the best of me and packing has taken a back seat to all other preparations. It’s hard to decide what to pack and because of this I have simply avoided it altogether! However, since it’s getting down to the wire and I have less than a week before I leave, packing has quickly become my number one priority. The biggest tip I have used through this packing experience is to focus on the necessities, and to keep in mind that I would rather under pack than over pack. The way I see it, is I would rather forget something at home that I can purchase abroad rather than over packing and having to worry about how to bring home all of the new items and souvenirs I plan on purchasing while I’m abroad.

With packing aside I will finally be able to focus on all of the adventures that I will be experiencing these next few months. I have high expectations as far as being able to travel not just inside of Italy, but throughout Europe as well.

This is the longest I will go without seeing my friends and family so it will be very nerve-wracking. However, all of the nerves have been tempered by the excitement I feel. So, in other words, leaving home will be hard but I know that once I am in Rome and settled in to this new semester all of the experiences and stories I am able to bring home for my family and friends will make it all worth it in the end! It is normal to feel excited, scared, and uneasy at the same time. I just keep reminding myself that it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, and part of the preparation for it is realizing that I can never be fully prepared for such an amazing adventure. It will be unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and I can’t wait to see the multitude of unforgettable moments it will bring!

28. August 2014

After finishing my Marquette summer course, I returned to my hometown in Peoria, IL for a day and a half to prepare for my departure for Manila, Philippines. My wonderful Illinois home was like a rest stop on my journey toward a new dwelling. The name of my study abroad program, Casa Bayanihan, references the teamwork involved in moving a person’s or a family’s house. This process requires a larger community coming together for the sake of a smaller unit’s goals. While I didn’t collaborate to actually pick up my house and move it, I did rely on the generosity and support of others to transition from the USA to the Philippines.

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photo credit: Casa Bayanihan

Friends in Milwaukee helped to celebrate my upcoming adventure with gatherings and exclamations of “Mabuhay!” – a Filipino term that is similar to “long live!” (as my lovely friend Emily D. thoughtfully researched). Texts and messages from friends of good wishes and prayers mean so much to me (despite my lack of responses, largely due to limited wifi access during orientation). Marquette and Casa staff helped ease my nerves and fears by providing me with valuable information and with answers to my many questions as I attempted to physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepare for a voyage halfway around the world.

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27. August 2014

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The sun was rising as we touched down to refuel in Dakar, Senegal, more than halfway through our journey to Cape Town.

It took the plane landing for it to begin sinking in. There is something so symbolic and absolute about a plane landing. It’s like, yes hello you’re here. I brought you all this way, and there is no going back. As we began our descent, my stomach dropped like I was on a roller coaster. We zoomed down the runway as the plane was still trying to come to grips with being on the earth instead of its domain of the skies. I couldn’t help but finally think - this is happening. I knew that the feeling in my stomach was from more than just the drop. It was a rush of all the feelings and anxieties that I had no idea how to even acknowledge before.

Up until that point, the idea of moving to Cape Town did not seem real. No matter how many previous students I talked to or pictures I looked at, my brain could not wrap its arms around the idea that I would be living on another continent. All of the familiar was going to be kicked out by the unknown, and I didn’t know what that even meant. It took the adrenaline rush of the airplane landing for the realities to catch up with me. Yes, hello? This is your life, I told myself. You are here. You came all this way, and there is no going back.

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21. August 2014

Throughout this summer, time flew by. For so long August 13th registered as just that - a date and destination. Months turned into days. Days turned into hours. Tomorrow will mark the beginning of the adventure of a lifetime as I embark on a study abroad experience in El Salvador. 

 Throughout my semester abroad in El Salvador, I will be participating in a service immersion program called Casa de la Solidaridad. The Casa program offers students the unique opportunity to couple rigorous academics with “la realidad” of the Salvdorean people. An integral component of this experience is a semester-long field placement at what Casa refers to as “praxis sites.” By integrating learning both inside and outside of the classroom, I hope this semester will further push me to learn and grow in a new environment. Whether it’s the new language or the new faces, the lessons I have learned from people and experiences at Marquette will propel me to be open and engage the world around me. 

Needless to say, I could not ask for a better place to call home. A home that challenges me each and every day to do more, to think deeper, and be more open to sights, sounds, and experiences.  Today was full of goodbyes, a scenic drive through Milwaukee and some awesome conversations. What’s amazing about a home is that while it challenges you, the people who make that place special will forever be the small, clear voices in your heart. Thank you, Marquette! I can’t wait to keep in touch with you all!

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My best friend Hannah Morin, also a Marquette student, and I at the gate right before our connecting flight to Atlanta! It’s no coincidence like the ad says that the journey began at Marquette - the place we both have come to love with our whole hearts!