Living and Learning Abroad Annie Weis '08
Monica Stoney '17
I spent the fall of my junior year studying at Bogaziçi University in Istanbul, Turkey. Istanbul is both breathtakingly beautiful and geographically exceptional; it is the only city in the world that spans two continents, for it sits on the banks of the bustling Bosphorus, a strait that creates a natural border between Europe and Asia. As is fitting for a metropolis that serves as the meeting point between East and West, Istanbul is a cultural melting pot in the most fundamental sense: equal parts traditional and cosmopolitan, religious and secular, sensationally exotic and surprisingly familiar. At first I was incredibly intimidated by the city-- by all the new sights, sounds, and smells, by the language that I didn’t speak nor understand, by the traffic that seemed to never lapse and made getting from one end of the city to another an hours-long affair. In all honesty, Turkey never fully ceased to be overwhelming, but it became a point of pride that, by the time I left, I could successfully navigate the five different modes of public transportation it took to get me from my apartment to the Blue Mosque, was well-versed in the art of kahvalt (i.e. enjoying lengthy, gluttonous Turkish breakfasts), and possessed a rudimentary understanding of Turkish which allowed me, among other things, to finally be able to correctly pronounce the name of my school (Bo-ah-zee-chee). For me, the greatest value of my abroad experience was rooted in those simple victories, in the self-affirmation that came with the knowledge that I could create a life for myself, that I could come to feel some sense of belonging, in a place that, at first, could not have felt farther from home.
My family decided to spend a year in Panama, and I’ve had lots of fun experiences since I’ve been here. One that has really stood out is going to a Panamanian school for a year. Academia Internacional Boquete (AIB) is a private, bilingual, international school with over 450 students, grades pre-K through 12. About 80 percent of the students are Panamanian and the rest are international. Since Panama’s school year starts in March, I entered my new school mid-year. On my first day at AIB I had mixed feelings about starting school. I was in a new country, new school, with a new language. I remember feeling excited, but also a bit nervous. The day started out with the acto civico (an assembly held every Monday). School administrators and teachers made announcements on a loudspeaker, and everyone sang the national anthem, all in Spanish. The day progressed, and I went to my classes, mostly in Spanish, except for English, Science, and Social Sciences. Looking back on that first day of school, I probably understood about 20 percent of what was being said. After a couple of weeks I was more familiar with the school and now after 10 months and having learned Spanish, made friends, performed in the school musical, and represented my school by marching in the community parade, I can say that I no longer feel like a new student, but a part of the school. I love Panama but there are some things that I miss in the U.S., like my friends, Crane’s amazing campus, and the great teachers. There are so many differences between my school in Panama and Crane. I only have two months left here in Panama, and I am looking forward to returning to Crane in the fall.
Erin Griffin ‘08 Arriving in Córdoba, Spain this past January for my semester abroad was both a drastic change in my life and one of the most comfortable transitions I’ve ever made. I was lucky enough to live with an incredible host family in a beautiful, traditional house, with one of Córdoba’s iconic patios. My semester was life changing in many ways but mainly so since my family spoke no English and all of my classes at the University of Córdoba were in Spanish. This type of immersion also meant adjusting to Spanish time where nothing starts when it’s supposed to and meal times are all pushed back. Eating a large lunch anytime between 2:45 and 3:30 in the afternoon and a small dinner around 10 or 11 at night took some adjustment, but the famous Córdoban tapas, such as fried eggplants with honey or salmorejo made meals well worth the wait. To say I experienced culture shock these past 5 months would be an understatement, but having the opportunity to live in a city as amazing as Córdoba with countless outdoor cafes and new sites to explore made it impossible not to take advantage of every experience. I fulfilled my goal of becoming as involved in Spanish culture as possible from learning to dance Sevillanas and play mediocre flamenco guitar, engaging with Spanish students in our conversation program, and most of all by jumping completely into everyday life here. I will always treasure this experience, and I don’t doubt I’ll find myself back here in the near future.
Violet Cheverez '11 Once I returned from my year abroad, people constantly asked me, “How was Italy? What was your favorite part about going abroad?” My response was always, “Learning to be independent,” which often resulted with their heads tilting with confusion as though I should have answered with something different like “walking past the Coliseum everyday” or “the pizza, pasta, and prosciutto diet.” Yes, of course I enjoyed both of those things, but most of all I enjoyed a learning experience that can’t always be taught in a classroom. I learned how to survive and thrive on my own. When you move to another country entirely on your own, independence isn’t something that’s recommended, it’s required. I learned how to communicate in Italian just by listening and watching my surroundings. I taught myself how to navigate through Rome just by jumping on a metro and exploring. Each adventure I went on became a learning experience, whether it was spending a day at a museum or a night lost in one of the many historic piazzas. By the end I was able to carry on a conversation in Italian, point out the name, date, and period of any Bernini statue or Caravaggio painting, and navigate my way through Rome by using each monument as a map. Not only did I learn the culture, but I learned how to adapt, which was an experience that has proved to be valuable and memorable.
Living and Learning Abroad Sheridan Spivey '08
Nicole Feshbach '08
For the fall of my junior year at Duke University, I studied in Bologna, Italy. Bologna, in the region of Emilia-Romagna, is known as the food capital of Northern Italy and home to the oldest university in the world, the University of Bologna. As a huge foodie myself, I was thrilled to be surrounded by some of the best food and wine in all of Italy. Bologna is a small city, relatively unknown by students in the United States especially because the majority of abroad programs in Bologna require that you speak the Italian language. Taking courses taught in Italian and living in an apartment alongside Italian students at a university, which was attended by some of the most famous scholars and artists in history, such as Dante and Mozart, was an indescribable experience for me. Riding my bike through the cobblestone streets to my contemporary Italian literature class, exploring the hidden beauties in the city, and trying new restaurants and food shops each day give you just a glimpse of the typical way I spent my days in Bologna. My full-immersive experience gave me real insight into the life of an Italian student living in Bologna. I was additionally fortunate that the flexibility in the class schedules allowed me to travel all over Italy as well as to many other countries during my time there including Spain, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, United Kingdom, and Croatia. Overall, living abroad not only solidified my Italian language skills, but also encouraged my passion for travel. My semester abroad also greatly developed my coping skills, teaching me independent thinking by learning to adapt and manage daily decision making while living on my own in a foreign culture. I hope to have many opportunities to visit Italy in my future!
I would say that I mainly live inside my comfort zone. Studying abroad for the semester was a big personal jump and a huge change from my normal life at Williams College. However, taking that leap was undoubtedly beneficial to me as a student, athlete, and person. After much deliberation, I decided to study in Amsterdam. With its centrality, food, culture, and squash opportunity (I play D1 squash at Williams), it seemed like just the right city to make my third home. I studied at the University of Amsterdam in the School of Social Sciences - again trying something different since I’m majoring in math. In conjunction with my classes, I learned firsthand from the museums and history right in my backyard. I also used weekends to travel throughout Europe to visit friends and family, and explore on my own! Amsterdam paralleled Santa Barbara with its fresh produce and love of good food, so I felt right at home. However, the local goat cheese and homemade appeltaart met slagroom (apple pie with whipped cream) were second to none. Following my daily latte, or lattes, I would ride my bike (a necessity in Amsterdam) to Squash City. Amsterdam is the training home of Nicol David (the female world #1). While I was there, I trained with her coach and even got to play with Nicol! I could continue on about my love for Amsterdam and my semester for many pages, but in short, I believe every college student should try something outside of their comfort zone. Going abroad is an experience unlike any other. To all students reading this: go abroad! And go to Amsterdam!
Raquel Sanchez ‘08 Paige Gribb '06 I just finished up a year of teaching English in Marseille, France. As an assistant in three different public schools, I taught weekly classes to over 250 students, ages eleven to nineteen. Sometimes we worked on grammar, but mostly we worked on conversational skills or talked about Anglo-American history and culture. I was there to teach, but more than that, I was there to make it fun. To bring English class to life. To go beyond the textbooks. The love of language and culture I’ve been trying to instill in my students is exactly what’s been driving me to travel, to spend long stretches in foreign countries, and to settle into foreign cities. What I’ve found, three countries later, is that anywhere can be home. Both times I lived in Italy, I fell in love. I developed a relationship with the language, with the people I met, with the cobblestone roads and old city walls. Upon moving to Ireland, I learned to relish traditional Irish music, breakfast fryups, and the occasional sunny afternoon. (I tried to love stout, but I couldn’t quite do it.) So when the opportunity to teach in France popped up, I went for it. I’ve fallen in love again. I love the wine, the cheese, the polite disbelief when I tell new friends that I’m a vegetarian and that no, I don’t even eat fish. I could spend hours at the Old Port of Marseille, just watching the water. Most of all, though, I love seeing my students’ faces light up when they see pictures of the Grand Canyon or hearing them giggle when they get a joke in English. I hope that one day, some of them will remember the joy of language learning, take the leap, and fall in love with a new place themselves.
Having the opportunity to study abroad has changed my life in a tremendous way. This past fall I took classes in Spanish at the University of Granada and lived with a Spanish host family. It really challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and open up to another culture. Adjusting to the culture and different lifestyle was a challenge at first, but by the time the semester ended and it was time for me to return to the US, I felt as if I was once again leaving my home. Life in Spain is nothing short of magical and amazing. Typical afternoons consisted of a nice mid-day siesta, traditional foods like paella, and ending the night with Churros con Chocolate. The city itself is beautiful and unique and holds so much history that being able to see it all was really breathtaking. The city is rich with culture and tradition, which really sets it apart from other cities in Spain. Not only was I spoiled with the Spanish culture, I was also able visit other countries as well. While abroad, I travelled to England, Portugal, France, Morocco, Netherlands, and Italy. One of my favorite experiences was learning about art history in the classroom and then going to see it in real life the next weekend. I have left a piece of my heart in Spain and cannot wait until I have the opportunity to return and visit. Studying abroad is something I would highly recommend to other students!
Living and Learning Abroad Sophie Massey '17
Charlotte Weis ‘18
I have been living abroad in London, England this year. One of the many things that is different about living here is my school, especially the independence I feel riding the public bus to and from school every day. My class is full of different cultures, just like the rest of London. My class has students from France, Germany, Japan, Canada, Libya, and me from California! Since singing is my passion, I love being in the Girls’ Choir at school. Another difference is that we have a long school day (8:00-5:00), but we get extra long holiday breaks to travel and have fun! My family and I have travelled to so many different places. Our first trip was to Italy. At Christmas, we were in Amsterdam where we stayed in a little apartment looking over the canal and visited the Anne Frank Museum. It was so inspiring to be in the tiny space where Anne and her family had to live while they were in hiding. Then, my family ventured down into Cornwall. Our recent trip was to Spain and Portugal. In Lisbon we stayed in a lovely hotel that was an 18th century palace. Our last day in Seville was filled with exploring the city in a horse drawn carriage and climbing a thirtystory bell tower! Living in London has given me many opportunities to both see and perform in musical theater. I am in two different acting groups. I've studied Shakespeare and played the part of Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet and I am so excited to have been chosen to be in a showcase in June on the WEST END in a big London theater!!! I have appreciated my time in London very much. The experience of being immersed in different cultures in a big city is so very different from Santa Barbara, even though I do miss the quaint calmness of my hometown. I have found that I love the hustle and bustle and new adventures of everyday London, and Europe in general. Because of my passion for the theater and music, I feel like this is the perfect place for me to express myself through the arts, now and possibly later in my life. I do miss everyone back home but I have made some great friends and I have discovered so much about myself being in Europe. Pip Pip Cheerio!!!
Last year I spent half of the year in Cape Town, South Africa with my mom and dad. I went to school at St. George’s Grammar School. I had a lot of fun learning native languages, Afrikaans and Xhosa, and making new friends. I started school in their fourth grade class, but soon realized that fifth grade would be a better fit, so I moved up. My fourth grade teacher’s name was Ms. Maistry, and she was great. She reminded me of a teacher from Crane. She was really supportive and I shared lots of my great experiences with her. In fifth grade my teacher’s name was Ms. Baragwanath. She was also really kind and helped make the transition from fourth grade to fifth very easy. I always felt that I could go to her with any problems that were academic, social, or personal. I really enjoyed my time as her student. The academics at St. George’s weren’t as challenging as the ones at Crane. Going to school at a different place made me realize what a privilege it was to be a part of a community like Crane. I now have found that Crane is a very special place and I am so lucky to be able to get an education from it. I know that the teachers that I have met here, the students that I shared special time with, and the experiences that I have had will be with me for the rest of my life. At Crane we are not only privileged with the academics that we get to be a part of, but also the social experiences that impact our futures, and the valuable people that we meet and make connections with that we know will last a life time! Going to a different school made me realize just how lucky I am, and I now know that I will never take Crane for granted again.