Mental Planet

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My latest obsession or habit would generate the same reaction from my father. He would tell me, “Mili, you are an alien to this planet.”  He went through countless teenage transitions of mine (from making balloon animals to my aspirations of being a professional dog trainer to writing about my survival of a zombie apocalypse) that I now realize where all his hair went.  We were quite different people and communication was not as great as it was with my mother. When I moved to Argentina language barriers were not new to me, since my own father did not speak English himself.

Having parents whose second language is English is nothing new in United States, especially in Miami, Florida- even Delaware, Ohio has a strong Hispanic presence. But my mother raised my siblings and me as English speakers and she also adopted the language quickly. My father, however, never fully grasped the English language in the 12 years we spent in the States. We spoke to him in English and he answered in Spanish; I cannot begin to explain how complicated heated arguments were with him, at the height of anger, the ensuing confusion of asking the other to repeat or translate what they just spat out did not maintain the bickering mood for long. 

In Miami, he would ask us to translate almost every time we spoke to other people. He knew just enough to get by and we didn’t have a problem most of the time. As a child, I did not fully register how his struggle with living and working in an English speaking country. It was not until we moved to Argentina that I knew how he felt. I had a great difficulty adapting to this new environment, but as a young teen, I did so faster than an adult would have been able to. Any impatience I felt for the lack of communication between my father and I disappeared, since I spoke more Spanish as time went on and understood what his experience in the United States. My mother is Argentinean, so most of my memories consist of me relating to her as I went through high school in Buenos Aires.

In Argentina, my father and I were both Aliens. The loud and brash personality of the Kurepas (Buenos Aires residents) contrasted our soft and patient attitudes toward life. It wasn’t until we moved to Paraguay that our relationship strengthened. Suddenly, my father became the ‘go to’ guy for any and all cultural information I need to know. Being born and raised in Asunción, he knew the answers to my questions, and I asked him for advice when it came to Paraguayan life. Relying fully on Spanish discussion, we talked a lot more than we had in both Argentina and Miami.

            However, during their return to South America my parents did not settle back into their previous lifestyles. It was not at all like sliding into an old pair of jeans, but instead, it was as if someone had sewn the pockets shut, tightened the belt area and we noticed tears we did not know existed. A lot of change comes in a decades’ time and I could see my parent still felt alien-like, even on their home planet. In Paraguay, my fathers’ frustration took on another challenge. Instead of language, there were other issues he faced upon returning to his own country. Our new lives provided problems such as poverty, corruption and family conflicts.

After 5 years abroad, I am back in United States, much less of a time gap than what my parents went through. However, my jeans have gone through minor changes and it has been easier to mend or get accustomed to those modifications. When we separate ourselves and view our lives from a foreign perspective, we are all capable of being aliens to our world. It isn’t necessary to move away physically in order to feel out of place.  We have the choice and tendency to settle in the place we feel less alien-like. I know that sensation will never fully disappear but being with others that understand makes the feeling a good one that can be shared and joked about.

My habits have become less varied and more developed as I settle back into the country and language I fit best in. I value my parents’ advice as I enter adulthood- a process that makes everyone feel like an alien now and then. Having recently showed my father my latest hobby, his reaction was different from previous speculations.  When he saw the product of my work, he said to my mother “Nuestros hijos son un orgullo.” Our kids are to be proud of.

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A Trip for a Lifetime

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Story by: Elizabeth Riggio

 

Elizabeth Riggio is a senior, and a close friend of mine here at Ohio Wesleyan. I knew she had studied abroad, and I heard the crazy stories, but I wanted to know more. Her experience after going abroad is one that personally motivates me to want to study abroad, and I thought her story should be shared:

 

I think the most common question I received upon arrival back to the United States this summer was, “How was your trip?” There are a few things that bothered me about this question, and not because I didn’t know what to say, but because to me, it doesn’t feel like the right question.

This past spring I traveled abroad for the second time in my life. The first time was a week vacation with my family to Costa Rica which was fun, but not anything like the experience I embarked upon this past year. I have always dreamed of traveling since I was a kid. It’s been one of my deepest desires to learn about other cultures, people, places, and to explore, to get lost, to be on my own.

As part of this journey, I studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain for four months after which time I came home to the States to work for a couple months before returning to go to a program in Lisbon, Portugal for two weeks. After, I met up with my family in Spain, my friend in a different part of Spain, and lastly my soccer team in England for a ten day trip through England and Scotland. Never before this year would I have guessed I would have been experiencing all that I did in just seven short months. It was incredible and I feel truly blessed.

Everyone expects people who have been abroad to have crazy stories to share. Trouble they got into, people they met, places they saw, things they learned. And while I could easily go off into stories in each of these topics, the hardest question for me to answer is “How was your trip?” As I said before, this question doesn’t feel right. Traveling abroad for such a long period of time isn’t really a “trip.” It was my lifestyle for months. I had day to day responsibilities, homework, and times when it wasn’t always an “adventure” or fun. Being abroad isn’t only about seeing new things and having a good time, it’s also about learning to be on your own, in an unfamiliar place, doing the day to day things that come so easily when you are in a place where you understand the culture and language completely. Things that come so easily for me in the United States, like buying a bus ticket, asking for directions, writing an email, buying shampoo, the list could go on, became much more difficult and stressful. My mind was constantly in overdrive. There was no time to be lazy or relax in the mundane nature of something I do all the time. Every task took concentration and a willingness to look stupid in front of others because I had accidentally said the wrong thing. In so many ways, I was pushed to limits I didn’t know I had. Now I’m not trying to say study abroad was only difficult and there was no fun because that would certainly be a lie, but it wasn’t stress free. It was hard. It was a daily process of learning, and not just about the culture, but about myself.

When people ask how my trip was, I want to tell them that it’s not over yet. It wasn’t a past event. It’s part of my life right now, even as I type. In one of my workshops in Lisbon, the professor said that our past travels travel with us. They become a part of who we are right now, in this moment, just as any other event in our life. Travel is not only an external journey, it’s very much internal as well. Even though technically speaking I have left the places I visited, they have helped shape who I am. And I can draw from my memory an experience I had at any time if I want to be back in that moment. What I do in the future has been partially decided by what I have already seen and done. Going on a journey somewhere doesn’t have to end when you leave the place. It lives on in your heart and mind and soul, as cliche as that may sound. Those places and the people I met there hold a special place in my heart. It’s something no one else will be able to fully understand. This is what is so special to me about travel; it is unique to the individual. It opens our life to new possibilities, hope, relationships, and the security in knowing that all I need to do is recall those memories to be right back in those moments once again.

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Worldly

Story by Milagros (Mili) Green  Story By: Milagros (Mili) Green

Where does a student fit when he or she does not belong to one sole nationality? What document measures the experiences of an individual in certain countries? Who is that student, an international or American? The term that many universities across the United States use to define such a person is Global Nomad.

A Global nomad is a person who lives a “mobile and international lifestyle.” As an example of one such person, not only is my life international, so is my family. My mother is Argentinian, as am I; my father and older brother are Paraguayan, while my two younger sisters were born in United States (It’s easier to think of it in twos). Although, we are not constantly on the move, OWU places me under this classification. 

I was born in Argentina and, at the age of two, my family moved to United States. We spent 12 years in Florida, during which we obtained citizenship. My childhood did not consist of an average American lifestyle, since growing up in Miami allowed me to maintain a bicultural personality. In the middle of my eighth grade year, we moved back to Argentina where my father was asked to work. We spent about three years in Buenos Aires before deciding to try out a neighboring country: Paraguay. I graduated high school there and applied to colleges in the United States, eager to return. I now attend OWU as an English major and International Relations minor.

No two global nomad lives are alike. Our reasons for moving are just as different as the places we have lived in. Our identities do not fall in one place, but in a pot of varied cultures. Coming to OWU I was able to meet other Global nomads and I discovered we can still relate to on a different level, despite how diverse our lives have been. I have friends who range from having lived in 8 different countries in all parts of the globe, to just staying in one country while holding a US citizenship. Students also differ from what type of school they went to: International, American, British, Multi or Bi-lingual, and more. This has a big impact on the cultural experience one has in a foreign country, since belonging to a familiar community helps in adapting.

Being a global nomad doesn’t mean you have important people as parents. Some of us simply have family in different parts of the world, regardless of our parents’ jobs. Children of ambassadors or military stationed parents are just a few types of Global nomad students here at OWU. Traveling has its good and bad things and moving around gives us the ability to pick out and adopt the good of each culture we encounter.

            I hope this blog will welcome other global nomads, as well as provide a new perspective on what being American means. We may culturally identify to certain countries, but in the end we are all American citizens globally representing an already diverse country. 

If you have any questions at all (from academics to social life) please do not hesitate to ask! 

Memories from Germany

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    Student Profile

Peter Mandych ’13

History & German majors

Studied German since high school

Studied abroad At Freie Universität, one

of the three main universities in Berlin for

six months

Why Berlin?

In high school I won a trip with my German class that allowed me to visit Berlin for a couple of weeks, and ever since I had hoped to spend a more substantial amount of time in Germany’s capital city.

In the classroom

In the German university system, students have much more independence. Classes typically meet no more than once a week, and grades are based on in-class discussions and presentations, as well as a large final research project. While this applies for most social sciences, courses in the natural sciences may also have final exams. The courses I took required a large amount of historical research, and students are expected to use not only the various campus libraries but also the more expansive state libraries and archives. It was exciting to have access to such a wide range of sources.

Outside the classroom

“Campus life” is a foreign concept to German college students. Everyone I met lived either in an apartment (often shared with other students) or at home. Many students still take advantage of on-campus dining, where great food is available at very low prices thanks to government subsidies. Although secret fraternities exist, German colleges do not have “Greek Life” in the American sense. Also, German universities do not have collegiate athletics—for those interested in sports, there are numerous private clubs and leagues of varying skill levels, but playing “for your school” is virtually nonexistent in Germany.

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Memorable experience

The best part of my study abroad experience was without doubt my host family. My host mother and two host brothers were especially helpful assets when I first arrived in Germany and began adjusting to life in a foreign country. Although they all speak excellent English, we spoke German almost exclusively. This was valuable preparation for my university courses, which would otherwise have been rather intimidating. Despite a few humorous instances of miscommunication, my host family facilitated a smooth transition to a new culture and education system.

Tips for the next Traveler

No matter what your major, or what country you would like to visit, I strongly encourage every student to study abroad. Not only will you encounter many new ideas and ways of life, you will also come to appreciate and understand your own culture from a different perspective. The connections you make abroad will also prove valuable later in life and in your career—I personally plan to return to Germany next year or in the near future, possibly to teach English to host families. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience abroad, and I encourage you to apply to a program as soon as possible!

My Social Media World

 

Every time I sat down to work on the next blog entry I found myself

procrastinating on Facebook. Frustrated, I decided to write about that instead.

 

    Facebook allows me to connect with old friends from places I have lived in-

but it also does more than that. My timeline describes my journeys, as well as my

interests, throughout life. The most diverse source of media is from my youngest

days where I was still discovering myself. I receive notifications from Miami

friends and family about Telemundo, an American Spanish Language Television

program, to Chinese drama recommendations; from parties going on states away

from where I am and even to the occasional Neopets notification from a page I

never got around to unliking.

    Argentina provides another view of the world. Make up, fashion, young

business, and art pages from dedicated ex-classmates and family members

pursuing their passions in life are commonly notifying me through likes. As a

high school student in Buenos Aires I also developed my creative style in art.

Watching the progress of my classmates, along with sharing my own, on

Facebook never fails to keep me in awe of what we are capable of.

    Paraguay is most active in my newsfeed when it comes to night life, comedy

and cultural products. I instantly warmed up to the humor in South America,

and love to scope out unique pages, like Paraguayan Phrases. Being the last

non-US country I lived in (so far!), I did my best to enjoy the cultural

environment of Paraguay specifically through shopping and eating traditional

dishes- all of which end up on my newsfeed.

    Finally, as a college student in Ohio the countries have expanded with the

increased number of international students I have as friends. I see photos of

traditional foods and restaurants I bookmark to try out some time later,

specifically Indian, Vietnamese and Pakistan places. In addition, I get

notifications from all over the country, like The Paraguayan Student Association

in Kansas University, and top priority being food I like to follow restaurants like

El Campo, Authentic Argentinian Empanadas and more.

    Facebook is definitely not the only social media that holds a bounty of cultural

treasures. Tumblr, twitter, Pinterest and more provide worlds of different

variations of the global Earth. Creativity and imagination inhabit the internet in

every corner, along with stories, history and endless information within the click

of a button.

    In this interconnected world we live in, Facebook is more than just a neglected

pile of used to be friends, sort of friends and random acquaintances. It is the

product of your travels and living time line. There are many reasons to dislike

this technology era, when your face is rarely far away from a screen, but this is

not one of them.

Beating Stress (as an International Student)

Hi, all! I hope everyone is keeping warm and not holding too many grudges

against the school for lack of snow days.

So I thought I would try to put together some ways I cope with stress, along with

what my friends and family have advised me. I tried to stay away from the typical

Eat well and exercise advice. Anyone, not just international students, can take

this advice!

1) Dance for ten minutes

     On a meditation trip my mother dragged me to, designed to boost the immune

system, we were given the task of full on non-stop dancing for ten minutes

straight. And I am not talking about Zumba or a choreographed workout- We

just went nuts! Argentina is famous for its night life, so this tip has kept me sane

(though my roommate often questioned that sanity) through the worst of

deadlines and exams. Even if you don’t know how to dance, jumping up and

down and singing to your favorite song is definitely a good energy boost.

               2) Eat food from home or teach others how to make food from home (results may vary)

     The joy of seeing a waiter or waitress walking toward you with a platter of

mandioca frita, empanadas and milanesa is better than Christmas. Being away

from home means having to adjust to a whole new diet, so treat yourself to a nice

meal now and then!

     If you lack transportation, you can also cook your own food. Personally, I am

terrible at cooking- it usually does the opposite of relaxing for me. But if you

enjoy cooking, find some friends who love food and show them how it’s done!

Oh- and make sure they are delighted to try new food, there’s nothing like the

disappointment of a picky eater.

3)      Get a part time job

     This one may not be completely true for every job out there. I personally

love mine. I work at the Early Childhood Center. Spending mornings with 3-5

year olds is a ton of fun. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t an easy job. You need lots of

energy, as well as patience and love to do well. My job allows me to take my mind

off studying and writing and just enjoy the valuable role I play as a student

teacher. So instead of getting any part-time job, number three should just say:

you should work for the ECC.

4)      Find your culture

     VIVA, a Latin American Club, has been an amazing support system for me.

Being able to speak Spanish with people who know about where I come from has

been so comforting. I leave each meeting with a warm feeling inside. I also love

meeting and speaking to students who are interested in Argentina or Paraguay.

5) Skype with family and friends (in small doses!)

     This is really important, especially if you have a little sister back home who

misses you just as much as you miss her. Keeping in touch with your family and

friends back home is important, but try not to spend too much time on the

computer in your room- you’ll miss out on other great people and memories!

6)     Do nothing and do everything.

     This is a bit like meditation. I like to be in quiet places and just blank out my

thoughts for a bit (the library’s third floor is amazing). After a while, even I get

tired of my lame jokes, so I try to silence my thoughts and connect to my inner

being. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle helped me tons with stopping anxious

thoughts.

     As an adrenaline junkie, I need to satisfy my need for adventure. Luckily, Ohio

is home to one of the greatest amusement parks in the world: Cedar Point. If that

is too pricey, join the Ski club for a cheap trip to Mad River Mountain. There are

tons of other options, look for them!

7)      Stay Silly

     Life is serious enough, that doesn’t mean you should be, too! I am guilty of

having a “don’t even think about speaking to me” face during the day, especially

in my 9 am class. Being silly by cracking jokes or comments to whoever is

[un]lucky enough to be around to hear them breaks the grim mood of being a

full-time student. Make time for non-competitive games, like bubble shooter or

jacks. Choose games that don’t make you frustrated- they especially work as

study breaks!

8)      Don’t think twice- just do it!

     This is a valuable piece of advice one of my closest friends gave me. Doubt,

fear and insecurity affect your health and performance. By focusing all your

energy on the tasks at hand, you will find the To-do list gets smaller and smaller

each day. If you are worried of a paper or exam, don’t think of it in terms of

doing well or badly. Instead, think of it this way (and I quote): “The worst thing

that will happen is you get less sleep for now.” That’s it. Trust yourself and work

hard until the task is done and you’ll find improvement.

Being stressed is something you should not be ashamed of. Life is not meant to be

easy! If you have any questions or are wondering about other tips to combat

stress or anxiety OWU provides support systems. You are also very welcome to

contact me with questions, as well!

Have a great week!

Year of the Horse, Unlike Any Other

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Jan 31. January 31 was an exciting day for me. To others it might seem like any other Friday, the end of the week, a chance to relax, or maybe even catching up on some sleep. But this year, Jan. 31 represented the start of the Chinese New Year Celebration. I remembered getting up earlier that morning to call my grandmother and wished her 新年快乐 (Happy New Year). I remembered rummaging through my closet to find my only red sweater, but coming up empty handed. Instead, I wore a magenta knit shirt. I went to all my classes like everyone else and I had dinner with my roommates like we usually do.

But I still can remember the celebrations we had at my grandparents’ house. Before moving to the United State, my family resided in a city where all the corners of the city is surrounded by tall mountains and flourished with giant trees. That was the scenery I was greeted with every morning. I would wake up to smell of roasted duck, fish, and dumplings as my aunts and grandma slave away in the kitchen. A faint tinge of cigarette smoke would mingle with the delicious smells as my grandfather takes his morning smoke. This was the one rare occasion where my family and extended family would come together and eat together.

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My dad would deliver his annual speech but it was the same broadcast every year. I would often bet with my siblings to see who can best shadow and recite the speech since it followed the same theme, “Our family has worked hard so that we can be united. You [and he would point to my siblings, cousins, and I] must make something good out of your life.”

However, now that my siblings and I are in college in the US, it is impossible to go home for the New Year celebrations (since Chinese New Year usually fall between late Jan and early Feb). I wish that I had actually taken the time to enjoy and truly absorb the familial traditions. But OWU Chinese Culture Club (CCC) had done a great job trying to bring a sense of warmth for members that might be missing home during this holiday.

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This year, CCC celebrated Chinese New Year at the Andrew’s House. Starting at 2pm, the members prepared ingredients for dumplings and hot pot. Washing vegetables, mincing ingredients, and mixing recipes! The whole process took over 3 hours before the first dumpling was cooked and ready to eat. However, during this whole process, I watched and observed the atmosphere. Some of the girls were playing the piano. Some members were permanently capturing a beautiful moment on film. And some even showed non-Chinese members how to wrap dumplings. In some ways, this environment was like the one I felt so many years ago. And I hope that for the current members who are far away from home, that this celebration felt like home as well.

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Overall, my New Year experience was unlike any other. We had good food, good company, and good friendship. And luckily, no one complained about food poisoning later. XD This was truly a great way to celebrate our traditional holiday (which is equivalent to Christmas in the States) when we are so far away from our real family. Go OWU! Go Bishops!

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Memories

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       When you lose count of how many houses you and your family have lived in,

it is hard to have that one place that stays the same, that refreshes old memories

and comfort. Since our homes do not provide us with old memories, usually cars

end up serving that function.  No matter where we go, cars do not change their

interior setting drastically. They basically stay the same and no matter where I

go my most homely memories are car rides with either my mother or father- or

both.

        I remember admiring the ease and gentle dexterity of my fathers’

movements maneuvering the manual automobile. The Paraguayan heat did not

stop us from having the windows down. Driving in my father’s car was peaceful,

and it usually meant we were going for a jog in our favorite park: Ñu Guazú, one

of the greatest treasures found in Paraguay’s public services: A giant park

containing a bike path and miles of grass and trees. During the drive, it was just

us. We would drink Tereré* and talk about family, friends and life experiences.

He drove and I poured ice cold water into the tea leaves and passed it to him as

he balanced the wheel with one hand and drank with the other. Against the

loosely held laws of Paraguay, he answered phone calls, speaking loudly, while I

listened absentmindedly, laughing or groaning at jokes he made to his

associates, business partners or friends. At stoplights a child motioned to wipe

the windows and he shook his head. I opened my window to give the children

watching me spare coins. We drove on and hanging up he would reach out and I

would respond clapping my hand into his. He would ask: “¿Que contás, Mili?”

“What can you tell, Mili?” as I passed the guampa** filled with water seeping

into the yerba, and nothing would come to mind but thoughts of the moment we

shared in a vehicle.

       My mother’s driving was daring. She would urge her car into a quick turn on

a busy street, usually releasing a cheer in triumph. The drives with my mother

had a purpose, a schedule to follow, and were rarely without hurry. Phone calls

were answered quickly and the cellphone was tossed to me whenever she spied a

police officer whose eyes were only on potential bribes. The manual car would

groan and signal impending bills. The smell of traditional food Chipa guazu or

mbeju*** could be detected, common dishes my mother loved to share. The large

van bumped over potholes and skidded away from possible threats to our

wheels. Our car rides included singing and long discussions among the two of us.

At stoplights, an uncomfortable silence replaced our dialogue as my mother

reached into the car door’s pocket and passed Sugus candies to the boys and girls

waiting. Our thoughts would swim with privilege and injustice, until we drove far

enough, distance allowing a new topic. We came up with ideas, understandings

and observances in these rides. We created together, and held on to respect and

hope for the country we intruded in. When we reached our destination my

mother would always ask: “Vamos, Militas?” “Let’s go, Militas?”

       I find it funny that of all my memories of child- and teen-hood, car rides

would be one of the memories that stand out most. The world made sense in

both of these travel bubbles, and seeing as I commonly travelled, it is not

surprising that I would be most fond of these moments. Watching the world

from inside out was something I became used to. I now better understand the

circumstances of the small country and the reasons for the overwhelming

poverty. I also realize that the stability of the actual house does not make a

home. The consistent willingness to listen and advise is what made the car a

home to me no matter the country.

*Terere= A typical Paraguayan drink that is similar to mate, but is served with cold water instead of hot.

**Guampa= A container that holds the yerba tea and water

***Chipa guazu= A cheese and corn souffle.  Mbeju= a starch cake made with manioc flour.

If you are interested in more traditional Argentinian or Paraguayan food (or anything else), don’t hesitate to email me or say so if you see me around!

Holidays

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Welcome back!

After three weeks of sleep, food, and more food, students are back from the

holidays with foggy memories of the terrors of fall semester finals. I reenter

OWU with a lingering desire to stay in bed and use my (borrowed) Netflix

account, just as I did those three weeks. The holidays are meant for quality

family time, but for many international and global nomad students, this isn’t so.

We are all well aware of the sacrifices we may put ourselves through when we

decided to study abroad. I hope to lend a few words on making the holidays

more relaxing while we “foreign” students recharge in a temporary home away

from home. This Christmas break was much harder to get through than the last.

Freshman year was an exciting year that provided new distractions to avoid

thinking of home.

 

Spending the holidays with a different family means landing on an entirely new

planet. Each family has their own lifestyle- different food, speech, and

traditions- opening your eyes to cultural differences. I was lucky to stay with a

family that was eager to share typical American meals, church service and even

drives across country roads explaining the history of their town. If it wasn’t for

them I wouldn’t have celebrated Easter weekend, one of the most important

holidays of my faith. But as crazy as your family may be, other families also have

their ups and downs. As international students we learn that American life isn’t

an episode of Full House or other American TV shows and movies portray it to

be. And although it is uncomfortable spending nights in an unfamiliar house, we

are so grateful for the time and welcome these families dedicate to us. And no

matter how much the family may deny it, we will always feel like we are

imposing. We truly cannot thank you enough.

 

If you have had the chance to stay with relatives, like I have, you get to know

distant family members who may possess similar traits and habits as your own

parents. And- if you’re lucky- they become just as close. I have stayed with

cousins and an aunt whom I adore forever and beyond, and staying with them

brought up a sense of familiarity and shared norms. However, it is important to

remember to be patient. When it comes to it, it is not your home nor are they

clone replacements of our own families. They are their own person, with

different habits that if stuck in a house together for too long, start to get on each

other’s nerves. I learned that having some alone time to avoid annoyance

stemming from shut in boredom is useful in keeping the peace.

 

Being alone for the holidays is something I have also had to do during New

Years- it is not as bad as it sounds. I admit I became miserable when the thought

of spending New Year’s Eve alone popped into my head, but I suffered more

thinking about it at the time than actually experiencing it. In college it is hard to

get any alone time- with roommates and friends and library study sessions

everywhere you go- that when faced being alone, you realize the true value of

privacy. I am not sure how it is for the extroverts out there, but my inner hermit

and adventurer was awakened when I spent the New Year’s week on my own.

You can do anything and no one is there to say otherwise. On my own I also had

the chance to explore Washington DC, and ended up discovering a horse stable

in a park in the middle of the city. You’d be surprised at how privacy becomes a

gift you learn to appreciate after so long without it and what you are capable of

accomplishing by yourself.

 

The anxiety of nearing holidays and uncertainty of where to stay for the break is

one of many worries international students have. My advice would be to plan

ahead, and ask the international office or other support groups on advice for

where to stay. Many faculty members are happy to help and even more students

are interested in the culture we can share with their families and traditions. I

recommend cooking up some yummy traditional meals as thanks and remember

to relax until the next semester comes- you’re going to need it! Happy New

Year!

International Student Ambassador 2013

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Vrinda Trivedi ’15 with her poster about India

The International Student Ambassador Program (ISAP) was created 8 years ago as a means to connect the international students at Ohio Wesleyan University with the Delaware community. ISAP volunteers make presentations about their own cultures to schools and other organizations in the community at an attempt for cross-cultural exchange.  This program has made colossal progress in the past few years, recruiting many volunteers and bridging a lot of gaps between students and their surrounding community.

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The ISAP has a head student coordinator every year whose position is to primarily help run the program. It includes recruiting and training volunteers, marketing the program around campus and the community, and scheduling events with schools and organizations.

For the academic year (2012-2013) there were 2 main ISAP events scheduled, one in the fall and one in the spring. The former event occurred at The Early Childhood Center (ECC) on 61 S. Sandusky Street and the latter took place at the Woodward Elementary School on S. Washington Street.

The first ISAP event of the year took place at the ECC on December 5th 2012. Senior Yushan Hayman and Freshman Hoa Pham were the two ISAP volunteers for the event. They presented in front of a group of 4-5 year olds on Jamaica and Vietnam respectively and had short power point presentations set up for them with lots of pictures and colors to sustain their attention. Hoa was dressed in traditional Vietnamese clothing and Yushan had a Jamaican flag passed around in the classroom to add to the authenticity of the program. Both had maps to show the location of their countries and also covered basic topics like traditional food, clothing, and music. I think one of the best parts of this presentation was when Yushan taught all the children a short Jamaican dance and they all (including the teachers) danced together to Jamaican music! Some of the children had questions to ask at the end and the volunteers did a great job answering them and getting them involved.

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Hoa Pham ’16 talking about her home country, Vietnam

The second event took place at Woodward Elementary School on March 21st 2013. Junior Priyanka Venkataraman and Sophomore Vrinda Trivedi were the volunteers for this event. Instead of general presentations, this was tied in with the annual Traditions Night event that takes place at the elementary school. At this event, held in the gym area, different volunteers set up tables representing various different countries and had activities associated with that country. The children were given small passports that they take from station to station and apart from taking part in the activities, they also got stamped in the passport as they visited the different “countries”. The two volunteers represented India. They had facts about the country displayed, besides having a bunch of different templates of things that represent India like the national flag, the map of the country, India’s national bird- the peacock, and henna designs. The children were given colors and had the liberty to either follow the samples provided or color at their own will. All in all, it turned out to be a great night for both the volunteers and the children.

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Elementary students engaged in the coloring activity

For students studying at OWU, Delaware is a part of our home away from home and it is only fair that we extend our gratitude to those outside of the campus and give them a chance to get to know us as well. The ISAP attempts to do just that, one volunteer at a time. With the 50 different countries represented on this campus this program can only grow further with more volunteers willing to share their cultures to the Delaware community and act as student ambassadors who help bridge the gap between the students and the community in their own small way.

*Photos credited to Priyanka Venkataraman and Hoa Pham.


Doing research in Germany through the Theory-to-Practice Program

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Brad Turnwald ’13

From Ottoville, OH

Pre-professional Zoology  major (with a minor in Chemistry)

Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay: a summer biomedical research experience in Germany

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Why Germany?

I had begun working on a research project in the Markwardt RNA lab at OWU during my junior year. As I was going through the primary literature, a lab at European Molecular Biology Laboratories in Heidelberg, Germany, caught my attention with all of the high-impact manuscripts that they had published on the topic of nonsense-mediated decay (the topic of study in the Markwardt lab at OWU). I knew I wanted to write a TPG (Note: Theory-into-Practice Grant) and I started to think about the possibilities of working in this lab over the summer to really immerse myself in this field of RNA research. This lab was such a good fit for matching the research interests, and it just so happened to be in Germany.

Did you live with a local resident?

I lived independently in a studio apartment just outside the medical center campus. Despite not living with a local resident or host family, I was able to interact with other students living in the compound from all over the world. I made a concerted effort to stay out of my room as much as possible so that I would maximize exposure to German culture. Every day after work I tried new foods in the city center, took new routes to exercise/run on, and picked different parts of the city to explore and observe. This cultural immersion was an important complement to my practical experience in the lab during the day, and the evenings in the city are what comprise most of my fondest memories from the summer and of German culture.

What were the most positive aspects of studying abroad?

I wanted an international laboratory experience. I was able to be a part of science in a setting that was distinctly different from research at OWU, giving me a new perspective on how research is conducted in a large university hospital as well as in a culturally diverse and multilingual environment. The lab in Heidelberg was diverse, including members from India, Italy, Portugal, and all over Germany. I was the only American. The experience really showed me that science is universal. Though there were some differences in the ways research labs are run in the U.S compared to other parts of the world, it was empowering to experience research in an international setting and realize that scientists all over the world are working together and collaborating on tough biomedical problems for the benefit of people everywhere.

What was the most challenging aspect of studying abroad? How did you face it?

The most challenging time for me was when I had to learn a new lab technique from a fellow lab member who did not speak any English. She only spoke German and was partially deaf. I had been studying German on my own for months before I went over and had enrolled in a German language course during my time in Heidelberg, but this was a very tough situation using jargon that I had not yet encountered. It was important that I learn the techniques properly and do them exactly according to protocol because I was using costly lab equipment and limited samples. It was quite a frustrating few days and we exchanged many confused looks (as well as laughs) along the way, but I finally learned the technique, using only German to communicate. This was one of the most rewarding instances of my experience.

Luckily, this was not my first time in Germany, and I have a very good friend that lives in Germany that I was able to send questions to when I didn’t understand how things worked which was very helpful. I didn’t really have any instances of cultural shock, and I found most Germans helpful and welcoming.

Did you have an opportunity to travel elsewhere in Europe?

I was able to travel quite a bit on weekends to explore Germany and the surrounding area. One of my favorite weekends I was able to visit a fellow OWU student and close friend who was in Paris at the time, Dasom Yang. In addition to seeing the city with her, I was also able to wiggle my way into Center Court at the French Open Tennis Championships to watch Rafael Nadal play a match on the famous Terre Battue. Another weekend I met my long-time German friend, Anna Schenke, in Berlin and we explored the city together. My final weekend of the summer, I went hiking in the heartland of Switzerland and saw the Swiss Alps. I also visited nearby Strasbourg (France), Bern (Switzerland), and Dusseldorf (Germany) for the city festival.

How do you see this experience impacting your future goals?

This experience has already paid dividends in developing my career as a biomedical scientist. It was a fantastic research experience and strengthened my decision to enter a career in academic research. This experience was a vital component in the fellowship I received from the Stanford University Bio-sciences Graduate Program where I will begin PhD work this fall.

What is the most important piece of advice you would give to other students considering Germany as their destination to study abroad?

Germany was a relatively easy and welcoming place to live for a summer experience. Most people are helpful and friendly, and a large majority can speak English or other languages. It is also a very easy country to travel in because the Deutsche Bahn rail system is vast and affordable.

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