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Volume II, Spring 2008

survival guide edition

study abroad office magazine

abroadly transport

stop for directions

Christian Acevedo p. 10-11 writing, photography William Bacon p. 27 photography Peter Bouck p. 16 photography Kenneth Burkhalter p. 28 photography Nikki Davenport p. 27 photography Courtney Dudley p. 29-30 photography Kent Frankovich p. 27, 32 photography

THE STEPS p. 1-4


! IDENTITY p. 9-14


Nicole Gelsomini p. 21 photography Stephanie Elizondo Griest p. 23-24 photography

SURVIVORS p. 21-24

Damian M. Gonzalez p. 32 photography Suzanne Habermann p. 1, 3-4, 16-17 writing

Tommy Ward Study Abroad Advisor


Colleen Hippe p. 28 photography Katherine Hussey p. 18-19 photography Alondra Johnson p. 14 Lisa Johnson p. 7-8 photography writing

I studied abroad in Spain and in Brazil, I love music from other countries and play the accordion in a band. I am also the staff coordinator for the freshly started Study Abroad Co-op student group.

Eddie Contreras Program Coordinator I grew up in El Paso, studied abroad in India, and today I spend most of my time stressing out in my cubicle about the study abroad programs I coordinate throughout the world. Working with the abroadly speaking staff is the best part of my day. Ostensibly, I mentor and guide the staff in their efforts to promote study abroad to under-represented students, but in actuality, they mentor, guide, teach and inspire me!

Pat Monroe

David Garlock

4 Dennis Darling

Diana Dawson

May-Ying Lam Fernando Lopez Aditi Kale p. 18-19 p. 20 p. 8, 26 photography photography design, graphics

Art Perez p. 30 photography

Elisha Perez p. 31 photography

Jazmine Ulloa Editor, Designer, Photographer, Writer, Co-founder of mag I am a walking publication, a mini publishing empire. I’ve studied documentary film-making in Prague and have interned at an indie rock music magazine in London.

Leslie Ann Esparza Photo Contest Co-Director, Co-founder of mag I come from Harlingen…yep I’m a valley-girl as some like to call me. I enjoy hanging out with friends, watching movies, driving, dancing and listening to music. This past summer I recently studied abroad in Cordoba, Argentina and had one of the best times of my college experience.

Lisa Khan Photo Contest Co-Director, writer I still haven’t quite gotten up the courage to go abroad yet. It’s because I can’t eat alone. I feel really foolish just munching on something by myself, looking all a loser. I am trying to change this, so I really believe that if I can study abroad and eat by myself, you can too!

Bryan Turnbough Web Master of the Universe There’s nothing like letting your emotions go to the rhythm of music after a long day. As far as studying abroad goes, I have been to Korea and hope to go to Taiwan and Japan before I graduate. George Sylvie

All the great SAO SAP’s, including Miguel, Robyn, Robert, Mayra, Amadita, Eddie and all the SAO staff

Our parents for making us

Alejandro Chaparro Communication and Marketing Rep. - Your flair for the creative takes an important place in your life. - A conclusion is simply the place where you got tired of thinking. - My life fits inside a fortune cookie.

Alejandra Zamorano Study Abroad Advisor Hola! I am originally from Monterrey, Mexico but have lived in Texas for a good part of my life. I got the travel bug at the young age of 16, and have since studied abroad three summers in Spain, a semester in Paris, and worked in China.

v Brenton Riley Jess Robinson p. 32 p. 31 photography photography

Welcome Note The Abroadly Speaking editors are happy to welcome Heather Barclay Hamir to Austin. Heather is the new director of the Study Abroad Office and joins us from Central Washington University. We hope we can help her adjust to the culture shock of being in Texas!

Meagan Thomson p. 21-22 Stavana Strutz writing p. 25-26 photography Christopher Soliz p. 26 Melissa Sconyers photography p. 30 Heather Schilling photography p. 32 photography

Tina Yu p. 21 photography

Jennifer Willoughby p. 28 photography Mark Wendorf p. 31 photography Paul Weddie p. 1 photography

Key to lines contents staff contributors advisors special thanks under construction


v !



Before you go

k Planning to study abroad is similar to packing a suitcase. You have to think ahead for a well-rounded wardrobe and wrinkle-free trip. Following the recommendations of advisors at the Study Abroad Office helps take the guesswork out of the application process and dispels the myths about studying abroad. Here’s what you need to do before you start packing:


the steps


photography: Evil Cat on Moped/Spain/Paul Weddie

myths about going ABROAD

There are three major myths students have about going abroad: It costs too much money, it takes too much time and the language barriers are too great. While there may be some truth to these, there are ways to overcome all three. First, get it in your head that studying abroad isn’t as simple as spinning a globe and going wherever your finger lands (although this may help you decide where to go). If you want your experience abroad to be worth it, and to count toward your degree, and to be the cheapest adventure you’ve ever taken—it’s going to take planning and research. So let’s tackle the myths.

1I don’t have enough money.

Flip over to the Money Matters section, and you’ll find there are plenty of financial resources out there to fund a trip abroad. The Study

Abroad Office has also compiled a new website that includes all study abroad scholarships called Global Assist.

2 If I go abroad, I won’t graduate on time.

This one is a tough one, especially for majors with inflexible coursework in their degree plans. Engineering, for example, is a very sequential degree, says Laurie Berman, international program coordinator for the Cockrell School of Engineering. “Students get worried about their courses not counting,” she says. “If they miss a couple courses one semester, it can throw them off for a year.” But ALL majors have room in their schedules for at least one semester abroad. The key is to plan and to plan early. Students should meet with their advisors early, sometimes even up to year before their intended travel date. The Study Abroad Office, headquarters for

by jazmine ulloa all international programs on campus, is also aiming to boost the numbers of all students going abroad. The office is in transition and advisors are moving towards advising by college not geographic region. This change will meet a great need, advisors said.


I can’t take classes if I don’t understand the native language of the country I am in. Don’t let your fear of language barriers stop you. There are plenty of places a student can go where they will be taught in English. That’s not to say the obvious either, say England. Argentina, Singapore and India all have programs taught in English. Other programs, such as in Mexico and Russia, have language programs accompanying coursework taught in English. Another option is attending a UT faculty-led program taught by UT professors. abroadly speaking 2

the steps

k k k

Plan your budget



Begin here

by Suzanne haberman



Do your research



earn about countries and the programs offered by checking out travel guides, exploring the database of study abroad programs on the Study Abroad Web site and attending an information session. Let your level of interest in the daily life, political circumstances and history of foreign countries draw you in or turn you away. In your search, you will get an idea of what program, whether it is a summer traveling with a UT-faculty led program or a year-long exchange at a foreign university, suits your needs. Emily Scheinfeld, a senior in the college of communications who studied in France this summer says, “I would recommend narrowing it down to what country you want and then what courses you need.”


lan ahead to calculate a budget so you can begin saving and applying for financial aid. To put the expense of a semester abroad in perspective, Thomas Ward, a Study Abroad Office advisor, says students should compare it to the cost of living a semester in Austin. “It usually isn’t a whole lot more depending on the program and country.” The estimated cost of living a semester at UT is $9,000, while studying abroad usually falls between $9,000$14,000. The interactive budget calculator on the Study Abroad Web site is a good starting point for students to categorize their main expenses; after that, an advisor will compute a detailed estimate to submit to the Office of Student Financial Services. Be sure to fill out a FAFSA too. OSFS can not award financial aid without one.

Ask other students

I See your advisor




dvisors provide details and help connect you to the right program. “It’s not that one is better than the other,” says Lia Haisley, an international programs advisor, “There is always a perfect match.” Matches are based on factors such as area of interest, language skills and degree requirements. For example, if you don’t speak a foreign language, the advisor can help you narrow your search by courses taught in English. Or, if you need credit in a certain area to earn your degree, the advisor can help incorporate your time abroad into your degree plan so you won’t delay your graduation date. Haisley recommends bringing a degree audit to the advising session. It’s also a good idea to apply for your passport as early as possible.


f you’re still not sure where to go, “Ask someone who has studied abroad,” says Schienfeld. Students who have studied abroad are eager to share their experiences. Get in touch with them by browsing a file cabinet of student surveys organized by country and program in the Study Abroad Office office. “The students who have been there are really the experts,” says Haisley. The extensive evaluations offer students’ opinions of the programs, draw up mock budgets according to actual expenses and even include students’ e-mail addresses.


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the steps


Apply for program


reasons TO GO ABROAD


fter you get approval from your advisor, you can apply. Processing the applications takes time, so start early. Ward says the route is purposefully long. “The idea behind that,” he says, “is it is a serious process.” Gathering all the required documents can take more than a semester. You will need to fill out the online applications; obtain a passport, letters of recommendation and official transcripts; and write a personal essay explaining what you hope to accomplish abroad. Other reasons to start early are that delays in processing passport applications are common and some countries have certain medical requirements that take time to fulfill. You’ll also need to start applying for scholarships early (see our money section).

k the checklist

! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Know your country


ow that you know where you are going, it’s time to learn as much about your destination as possible. You’ll take more from your experience if you take the time to read about the country’s culture, history and customs before you actually go, rather than trying to research while you are already there. Reading up on the culture can also help you adjust to culture shock more quickly. Also, don’t forget to attend your program’s predeparture session at the Study Abroad Office. Advisors will provide more insight into the roller coaster ride culture shock can be and help you make sure all the final details of your trip have been finalized.


Do research Set up advisor appointment Apply for a passport Ask other students

1. Because you want to travel before you’re caught in a 9-5 job with 2 . 5 children and a dog 2. Because it gives you a competitive edge when you do have to look for that 9-5 job 3. Because you can prove to the world not all Texans wear cowboy hats and boots 4. Because you’re ready to discover what’s beyond your own country 5. because you want to learn more than what’s in your textbooks 6. because you want to experience another culture, learn a new language, dance to the beat of a different drum 7. because you want to challenge yourself in entirely new ways

Calculate a budget

8. Because it’s not as expensive as you think it is

Apply for program and scholarships

9. because you’ll be glad you did

Attend pre-departure session

10. Why the hell not!?

Read about your destination

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MONEY MATTERS Before you go

k Yens, pounds, riels, or pesos? How many of each is in a dollar? This will be your quick math soon enough, but until then, can you solve this: How many professors, essays, and advisors does it take to finance that trip abroad? While you figure it out, here are some tips for getting it all together:

money matte rs


photography: World Coins/Tommy’s desk/Jazmine Ulloa

a word from the scholarship guru

by bryan turnbough


oney is a big issue for a lot of us. Some of us even make our decisions about where to study abroad primarily, if not only, depending on how we are going to be able to afford it. Finding money to go abroad is not an easy venture and requires searching for scholarships not only from the university but also from outside resources. Don’t get discouraged, however, because in the end, all that work really does pay off. Last summer, I studied abroad in Seoul, Korea for three months. I received $6,700 in scholarships plus another $500 teaching English. The amount I received in scholarships was more than enough money to pay for my airfare,

housing, food and other miscellaneous expenses. But it definitely did help having the extra job. So always look for other possibilities aside from scholarships. Use your ingenuity, but also be sure to check the requirements for work permits of the country of your destination. When it came to the scholarships, this is what I did. In general, the more scholarships you apply for the more likely you are to receive a scholarship. So I applied and I applied a lot to increase my chances. Destination, in addition to grades and scholastic performance, is also important to the scholarship process. Those going to Europe will generally have a harder time acquiring certain outside scholarships versus those going

to Asia or other underrepresented locations around the world. In the end, it also came down to my efficient time management in applying for the scholarships and meeting the various deadlines, as well as effort I put into each one. Remember, there is an art to applying for scholarships. It’s like interviewing for a job, except it’s all on paper. Your scholarship essay may be your only chance to impress the committee. So make sure to take time on the essays and to write from the heart. Apply to many, apply early and apply with heart. That’s the best advice I can give. An application poorly done is no better than one that wasn’t done at all. abroadly speaking 6

money matte rs

MONEY MADNESS Before you sell your soul on eBay to go on that study abroad program you’ve only dared to fantasize about, consider this : When it comes down to it, studying abroad costs are about as much as it costs to live and study in Austin and sometimes even less. So don’t give up on your wanderlust, instead take a few notes from reporter Lisa Johnson.


Where to look

tudying abroad doesn’t have to be as expensive as you think. There are plenty of resources out there—you just have to do a little research. According to a report compiled by the Study Abroad Office in March 2007, over 50 percent of the university’s students who study abroad receive some kind of UT financial aid or scholarship. Students can qualify for many different kinds of funding offered for study abroad programs, including scholarships, grants, fellowships and financial aid. Heather Thompson, assistant director for the office, also says “money and programs go hand in hand” and students should start seeking money at the same time they begin looking at countries. “They’re a package deal,” Thompson says. “There are often scholarships that go with a specific country, so that could influence where a student would want to study.” $


tudents who are trying to find out whether or not they qualify for financial aid must fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid online. Any student participating in a UT-approved program, exchange program or a program run by a UT faculty member is eligible to have their financial aid package transferred to cover the cost of studying abroad. Financial aid packages are also adjusted according to the price of each program and the cost of living in that country. For example, a student studying in an expensive place like London, where the exchange rate for the American dollar is weak, can have the amount of financial aid they usually receive increased to cover the extra expenses of living there. A student on financial aid then ends up paying for the same amount for college as they would if they were to have studied in Austin. $

quick cash tips "Search for scholarships 6 months prior to travel "Find destinations that are affordable to you "Apply to many scholarships "Be aware of the deadlines "Take your time on essays "Beware of using the same essay for multiple scholarships "Make sure you answer the essay question "Get the essays proofread "Leave a personal touch to your application


Financial Aid



he University Co-op has donated several thousand dollars in Co-op Global Opportunities in Education scholarships to students at UT who intend to study and research abroad. The International Education Fee, Institute of International Education, National Security Education Program, and the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program are also prominent scholarships offered to UT students. Information and deadlines for these scholarships can be found the Study Abroad Office website. Over the course of the 2006-2007 school year, 210 of the 431 UT students who applied for these scholarships were awarded an amount to help cover the costs of studying abroad, according to the Study Abroad Office statistical report compiled in March 2007. $

Essays are key


ssays are important so take your time on them. Also be aware that there are many scholarships offered by affiliate programs that are not reflected on the Study Abroad Office website. In addition to the tips provided, it is crucial that you research the goals of the organization giving out the scholarship. Learn from this research. It will help you write the essay so that it is tailored to fit the desires of the organization from which you are hoping to receive funding. $

money matte rs


photography: Chilean Dancers in Independence Festival/Chile/Aditi Kale

Trading places is often less expensive


andace Coffey, an international business junior, studied abroad in Spain in the spring of 2007 and utilized the resources at the Study Abroad Office and UT’s Office of Student Financial Services to find a program that could best suit her budget. “As long as you do research, you can find a program that fits,” Coffey says. “I chose an exchange program instead of studying abroad through a third party because I found it cheaper to find my own housing and use my UT financial aid while abroad.” UT exchange programs are usually the cheapest way to study abroad. Through this kind of program, students pay their normal UT tuition but are responsible for finding their own housing and paying for things like food and transportation. Affiliate programs are all-inclusive and conducted through a third party. They are also often more expensive. “The reason affiliate programs cost more is because they’re doing the legwork for you. They’re the ones finding your housing and families for you to live with for you,” says Alejandra Zamorano, one of the Study Abroad Office’s international programs advisors. Zamorano, the advisor for Mexico, Central America and many Asian countries, says that students who are searching for housing on their own in these countries while studying through an exchange program will find that prices abroad are much lower than those of apartments around the UT campus. While some apartments in Austin cost upwards of $600 or more per month, students can find housing options in places like Mexico, Korea and Chile for a fraction of that price. Mexico often places students in homes with host families, which dramatically lowers the cost of living. Xalapa is a popular study abroad destination because of its low costs and proximity to the beach. “Xalapa has a program where exchange students can live with a family and enjoy three meals a day for only $715 a month,” Zamorano says. Prices of housing are even lower in some parts of Asia. An exchange student studying at the Seoul National University in Korea pays only $475 per semester for housing. And while there aren’t currently any exchange programs being offered in China, it only costs about $2,000 for housing while studying with an affiliate program. This ends up costing a student roughly $500 per month, which is comparable to the costs of living in Austin. Prices drop even lower in Chile, Zamorano says. Students only pay $100-$345 per month to live with a host family and study with an exchange program, while the housing costs through an affiliate program in Chile are about $2,200 per semester. “When a student says that they can’t afford to study abroad, I tell them that anyone can afford it,” says Heather Thompson, an assistant director at SAO. “To put it into perspective, I tell all of those students that there are a lot cheaper places to live and study than in Austin, Texas.”

there are three main kinds of study abroad programs you

should know about. Affiliate programs happen through a third

party in collaboration with UT, UT faculty-led, are taught by UT professors abroad, and in exchange programs, students from different countries switch places,. here’s why exchanges are usually cheaper.


by Lisa Johnson.


abroadly speaking 8



Before you go

r k

My name is ___________. While the phrase may be in a different language, that blank will never change while you are abroad. You are you, but what happens when you’re in a different environment? A new setting may cause you to re-evaluate your standards, beliefs, and viewpoints. How do you cope? We don’t know either, it really depends on you, but maybe these students’ stories can help:



photography: Carnival in Stiges/Spain/Christian Acevedo

don’t be afraid of change by christian acevedo


hange is a word that tends to evoke a sense of fear and avoidance---it is something that many people attempt to circumvent so that they may stay safe within their comfort zone. It is said that when you go abroad you change—the way you think, the way you act and the way you look at the world. I studied in Barcelona, Spain for 4 ! months in the spring of 2007 and can honestly agree. I would definitely have to say that the one aspect of life in Barcelona, and of Spain really, that I came to love was the open-mindedness. The lack of provincial thinking within that city and country was absolutely amazing. The one facet of Spanish life that I came to enjoy was the ease and nonchalance of being who I am, of not worrying if people are going to judge me for being gay. Spain is a country in which homosexuality is not a crime or something of which to be ashamed. After the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco people were finally able to come out of hiding (the pun is

sadly intended) and be themselves. The Catalonians could speak Catalan in public and fear of being shot for defaming Franco was not a worry among the Spanish—but just as important, the homosexual community was able to express who they were. After all of my time abroad I came back to the U.S. and told a friend of my travels and thoughts of the great continent of Europe and its wonderful peninsula, Spain. While being in Barcelona, Sitges, Madrid, and Paris, I came to realize that being gay is not a crime or anything to feel sorry or bad about. I saw men holding hands with each other and kissing and hugging, and it just made me long for people like me to be able to do the same thing just as freely in America. Guys sitting together on the Metro and just talking to each other, one sitting on the bench waiting for the Metro while his boyfriend rested his head on his lap. I honestly miss that and will forever wish that to exist here in the United States of America.

But I know first that a Metro system will never be constructed throughout all of the major metropolitan cities of the U.S., and secondly that gay rights and acceptance is just too big to be dealt with at this point in time. I made a realization while abroad that part of the reason why so many of these European countries are so accepting is because they are so old. Spain has origins back to the occupation by the Romans and Moors. The United States is really young. When compared to other countries, we are not even 300 years old, and we are trying to battle and do things that countries in the East have been dealing with since, as it almost seems, forever. What can we really expect? I know not to expect anything drastic, I know that I can try and fight, but I really will not be disappointed when nothing comes out of it. Now is that settling, or is it simply realizing that some things in life just take time to be accepted and dealt with? I think it’s impossible to go and live within abroadly speaking 10


I think it’s

impossible to go and live within a community that is completely different from the one in which you spent the majority of your life and not change in some way.






! !


a community that is completely different from the one in which you spent the majority of your life and not change in some way. You come to absorb the culture, customs, ideals, traditions and, above all, the mindsets of the country you are in. They are all facets of a different world into which students should come to submerge themselves. If you don’t, then you really are not gaining the experience of living abroad–you are not taking a chance, you are not taking a risk. When I would go out in Barcelona and even in other cities throughout Spain, the students within my program were not very open-minded as far as their desire to experience Spanish life. When in Barcelona they chose to go to an English-style pub because the bartenders were English and therefore spoke English. When in Madrid they chose to go to a club by the name of Kapital because they played Beyoncé and Kanye West. When in Sevilla they chose to go to the Irish-style bar because, once again, there was no language barrier. I was not sure, but I had figured that when you go abroad the point was to immerse yourself within the country’s culture—the point was to learn a language and experience new things. I thought that when you went to a store, you were supposed to try to ask for things in Spanish, not ask if the sales associate spoke English—obviously I was mistaken. Being scared and frightened and nervous are all feelings you are supposed to feel when you are in whatever country you desire to study. You are supposed to take a chance and take a risk while abroad that way you can come to realize how the denizens of wherever you are at feel. The height and peak of the experience of living in a different country is when you are able to go out into the street and listen to a conversation and understand; when you can go into a store and ask for whatever you want or merely have a short chat with the cashier; but most of all the zenith should be when you realize that you can come to call whatever city you are in your ‘home.’ My time abroad was probably the best time of my life—I got to see so many things that a lot of my friends and family will only see in Art History 301 and images from Google. com. I got to watch flamenco in Sevilla and eat the famous oranges and paella of Valencia. I got to “hold up” the Leaning Tower of Pisa and see the Royal Palace in Madrid. But what

! r


is even better and what made those experiences even richer was being able to interact with the residents and natives of the country while doing all that I did. Having a conversation with a young couple in Sevilla is probably one of my most memorable moments while I was abroad—not holding up the Tower of Pisa. Having dinner with my host-mother and watching las noticias and Allá Tú is something that will forever be etched in my memory. In essence, to study abroad is not only to change, it is to recognize the many things in the world that we never saw prior, it is to dare to try something, even if scared or nervous. !

LGBTQ resources "Be aware that cultures vary in terms of what’s considered appropriate behavior when interacting with someone from another society. Cultures also vary in terms of how sexual identities are defined and understood. Research country-specific information before you go abroad. "Learn as much as possible about the culture-specific norms of friendship and dating for relationships between people of any sexual orientation "Attitudes and tolerance toward LGBTQ issues vary from country to country, Some countries are more welcoming and legally protective than the US, while others may be less accepting and more restrictive "Consider the implications of being identified as LGBTQ in the host-culture and how coming out might affect the host-family relationship. " Information compiled from NAFSA website, for more info visit: lesbigay/student.htm


Identity: deeper than the gene pool bryan turnbough’s story as told by bryan and jazmine ulloa

While growing up, I moved around a lot. I was born in New Orleans and lived there until I was 9 years old, when my parents divorced. My parents’ custody battles threw me back and forth between Atlanta and Houston until I was 13, and when I was 17 I ended up in Dallas. Finally at 18, I came to Austin. All that moving around made it hard for me to make and keep many friends. But I did meet a friend in high school whom is still a close friend of mine today. His name is Paul, and he is Cambodian-Chinese American. There were so many things I didn’t understand about Paul back in high school, like what he said when he spoke Chinese. But further than that, I am black and the majority of my life up until that point I had spent around other black people like me. I had grown up surrounded by the idea of Asian Americans as the “model minority,” that stereotypical conception that Asian American students are superior to all other minorities—that they excel at math and science. I wanted to know, beyond the stereotypes, what made Paul so ridiculously smart, what his driving force was. I wanted to know why he took of his shoes before entering his house, to learn more about Buddhist tradition I wanted to understand Paul. I wanted to understand our differences, to know more about Asia, to figure out why I had breathed that stereotype of Asian Americans for so long. So in high school I began taking Chinese and Japanese language classes, while on my own I studied Korean. By the time I arrived at UT, I knew I wanted to study abroad in Asia. I picked Korea because I still didn’t know the language as

much as the other two, and I wanted a challenge. There was a minor problem, however. While I was used to moving around a lot, my extended family in New Orleans has been cemented in the city for generations upon generations. I am very close to my extended family, and they just couldn’t understand why I wanted to go so far away. That’s kind of the sentiment of New Orleans, family-oriented, very close knit. People just don’t move around a lot. “For what? It’s not safe,” they would say. But I knew I couldn’t let their fear hold me back, and by the summer after my first year of college, all my plans to study in Korea had been set. I had never in my life felt so much like a minority until the day I arrived in Seoul, Korea. There I was a super minority. I remember when I first got off the airplane and entered into a sea of people—not one who looked anything like me. At my Korean university in the city, I felt like the only black person around for miles. I also felt like the sole representative of my entire race, and

abroadly speaking 12

i had gone to Korea because I wanted to

study the language and

its culture. i ended

up studying myself as well. Living in

Korea made me

think more about

who i was, what

there were plenty of stereotypes I dispelled for my Korean friends almost instantly. I am not tall, and I am terrible at sports. Nearly all of the friends I made, would ask me why I wasn’t good at basketball, why I couldn’t sing a certain way, or why I didn’t know how to rap? So do I think the media has a part in spreading stereotypes and discrimination? I absolutely do. I had gone to Korea because I wanted to study the language and its culture. I ended up studying myself as well. Living in Korea made me think more about who I was—what makes ME. My grandfather is white, so my dad is half-white, half-black. When asked about my ethnicity, I never knew quite what to say. While abroad, I realized Koreans have a strong sense of who they are. Korean identity, the way the people say they are Korean, has not much to do with what’s in their bloodline but what they believed in as a unit and that unity they would build as a community. For a long time in Korea, blood has been the basis of defining their people in what is considered the “minjok.” Korean blood was thought to be pure and untainted by foreigners and therefore reinforced their legitimacy as a people. However, Korean people, regardless of their blood and probable accounts with their neighbors in the past that may have tainted the so-called pure bloodline, have a unity ingrained in their community. This unity comes from their shared struggles and common goals as nation. What is shared in their culture, although adjusted to the modern era, is unique and makes them stand out in the world. In country’s history, the three kingdoms period brought division to the peninsula and even then, being Korean was

makes me.

central to each person before considering themselves citizens of their divided states. Despite the division between North Korea and South Korea, “Koreaness” is still what it always has been. South Koreans may say they are South Korean in nationality, but the emphasis is on “Korean” part of the phrase. On the South Korean Independence Day, Taegukki or the South Korean flag, would be flown on every light post in the streets. This was a truly spectacular sight to me. However, looking at it still didn’t, at least at first, give me any real emotion as to the meaning of the celebration. Yet, every Korean knew the flags represented freedom and a clash of old and presentday ideologies of what is uniquely Korean. For a foreigner this is hard to truly understand because what is Korean is not only skin deep but so central to one’s being. It would be like asking Americans what exactly makes us American or furthermore, what makes us African American, Asian American, Latin American or Anglo American. Although we can say that because of our roots we are one of these descriptions, how can a mixed person say they are just one? We all have struggles and identifying with one ethnic group often gives us pride and strength to get through those struggles. People have festivals and times to celebrate their heritage and come together as seen with black history month, Asian heritage month, and Mexican Independence Day for example. But what to celebrate when one is only half of one race? Most times mixed people with white blood fall into the minority status, for example a half black and white person is considered black and not white. On my father’s birth certificate his race was not printed as mixed, and to further show the complications of race relations at his time, my grandfather’s race was not listed as white but black or “Negro,” as they said then. In the end, it hit me hard that I was just American. I also learned that I don’t have to identify with the white community or the black community or what’s in my genes; today I frankly am more comfortable with the Asian community. No I don’t fit the nationalist concept of a people based on race like the Koreans, but like the Koreans I do have sense of unity in the community and share many of the ideas of what is American as they do with what is Korean. While my exact identity does give me some confusion, I am unique because of the perspectives I have gained from both sides leading to a broader perspective of the world. Within me is a combination of cultural ties that also gives me the ability to be able to connect to the world. Now I know how to respond when someone asks me who I am: I am American. I am Bryan David Turnbough Jr. !


photography: Korea/Bryan Turnbough


Knowing your stuf f in Mexico by jazmine ulloa After three years spent reading and studying and learning as much as possible about Mexican history and her heritage, as a Mexican American studies major, senior Alondra Johnson wanted to finally see Mexico. “Going to Europe would have been fun, but I wanted to know my own country first,” she says. “Plus, I don’t like it when people emphasize our ‘Spanish’ connections but not our ‘Mestizo’ [Spanish-indigenous mix] identity.” Johnson is “biracial, bilingual and binational.” While her mother is of Mexican origin, her father is African American. She has dual citizenship in Mexico and the United States and can speak both English and Spanish. But dealing with her own identity while studying abroad in Guadalajara last summer was easier because she had studied her identity, Johnson says. “It was interesting to see how identity worked for and against me. I think people were more accepting of me because my Spanish wasn’t choppy,” she says. Johnson was born in Ciudad Juarez, which is located in the state of Chihuahua in northern Mexico and borders El Paso, Texas, its sister city across the Rio Grande. She moved back and forth between the cities until she was 8 years old, when she moved to Austin. While as a child, she spent a lot of time at her aunt’s house in Juarez and even learned to read and write Spanish with her cousins,

she says life on the border is an “entirely different world” from the interior of Mexico, where she had never been before. People living along the border are a product of two cultures, one from Mexico and the other from the United States, Johnson says. “The border is a very in-between place to live in,” she says. “I don’t mind being somewhere in between. I get the best of both worlds. But I did learn it’s hard to cross back over. When I went back, I was ‘Americana’ even though I am Mexican.” Being an educated American made it more difficult, she says, because she didn’t want to be “a type of ethnocentric observer or a judgmental ‘foreigner,’ watching ‘natives.’” Her “feminist thoughts” often got the best of her, such as her “extreme frustration” with “piropos,” or young men’s catcalls, which seemed sexist and degrading, Johnson says. “I had to understand people in their context not mine,” she says. “I wanted to experience Mexico along with the people, not judge it based on my criteria but understand it respectfully. I accepted what I saw and experienced whether I liked it or not.” Waiting until the later part of her undergraduate coursework to go abroad deepened this understanding, Johnson says. Her experience allowed her to put into practice all she had learned in class. “I appreciated my experience that much more in terms of what I’m passionate about intellectually,” she says.

photography: Mexico/Alondra Johnson


abroadly speaking 14


k Boyfriends, girlfriends, significant other, B.F.F., booty call. Call them whatever you want, but we know you care about them. There’s no need to blush. There’s a reason that there isn’t world peace. It’s hard to maintain cross-cultural relationships. These students’ stories can give you some insight:


photography: Will and Adrienne/France/Peter Bouck

keeping in touch by suzanne haberman


ou’ve heard the clichés both ways: Some claim that distance makes the heart grow fonder; yet others say that out of sight is out of mind. If you’re wondering which one to believe as you or your significant other studies abroad, then consider the importance of keeping in touch from lessons in the history of letter-writing. Communication style has constantly changed through time, but the idea behind it has remained steady, serving the same purpose as the traditional letter. “A letter is a dialogue with someone who is absent, a written conversation that should have an aim and take into account the character of the person to whom it is addressed, using the same expressions that one would use if that person were present,” according to Roger S. Bagnall in “Women’s Letters from Ancient Egypt 300 B.C. to A.D. 800”. “Letters should be composed in one of a number of styles according to the specific cir-

cumstance of the writer,” says Bagnall. Communicating with someone from a distance has always been a crucial aspect of maintaining a relationship. Allen Lambert, a licensed clinical social worker and mental health counselor at The University of Texas at Austin, says separated couples should maintain as personal a level of communication as possible. “The closer the method of communication,” he says, “the more likely it is to be effective.” Effective communication is easier today with technology. Unlike the early Egyptians who scribed impersonal letters on papyrus, modern couples have the advantage of being able to make sensory contacts. Phone calls and online conversations through Skype allow couples to hear each other’s voices. Applications such as Facebook and MySpace allow them to see pictures. Nancy Rosenthal, a photojournalism major at UT, maintained a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend David Pink while they took

turns studying abroad. The couple opted not to write letters, but relied on online conversations, which better suited their style. She says, “Skype is like the best thing for us.” She explained that with Skype a call is placed through the computer, costs only pennies per minute for long distance calls, and when both people have it, it’s free. “All you need is the internet,” she says. Neither Rosenthal’s semester-long excursion to Spain nor Pink’s summer term in Costa Rica dampened their five-year-long relationship. On the contrary, she says, “In the end, it made our relationship stronger.” Lambert says that weathering the time apart is a challenge that “depends on how long the couple has been together and their level of commitment.” He recommends gauging that level before separating, so resolute couples can grow and, if need be, uncertain couples can take a break. For Rosenthal, who says studying abroad was one of the best things she’s ever abroadly speaking 16


i miss you

and love you and more

lovey dovey stuff


done, the time away from Pink allowed her to create her own memories, which she, in turn, shared with her boyfriend. As she told Pink in one long-distance conversation, “We live our separate lives, together.” Long-distance correspondence didn’t become personalized enough to reinforce a relationship such as that of Rosenthal and Pink until the 1st century A.D. in Rome when letter-writing penned a freer form. Authors R.V. Young and M. Thomas Hester say in their introduction to “Principles of Letter-Writing” that Marcus Tullius Cicero, a politician whose life corresponded with the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, popularized whimsical letters. They say he preferred letters be like written conversations. A conversational communication style helps keep couples up to speed with the other’s life. Lambert explains that sharing day-today details even if they seem mundane and describing the challenges faced can help sustain a relationship. As Rosenthal says, “The more you talk, the more it’s a shared experience.” Abigail Adams, first lady to President John Adams during the late 1700s, wrote hundreds of letters to her husband while he was serving as Constitutional delegate, oversees diplomat and president. Her detailed and personal style followed the fashion of her era: “Letter-writing in the late 18th century was a more deliberate process,” says Joseph J. Ellis in the forward to “My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams.”

With speedy and convenient technology, communicating becomes deliberate in a different way. Getting in touch for an instantaneous conversation over the phone, through Skype, or by instant messaging may still require some foresight. Lambert recommends scheduling times at regular intervals to hurdle the obsta-

As she told Pink in one

long-distance conversation,

“We live our separate lives, together.”

cles of time differences and busy schedules. But if the timing doesn’t work out, he says “it’s necessary to be thoughtful and understanding and lenient.” So if you’re wondering how you can keep yourself fresh in the mind of your significant other while making his or her heart grow fonder, take Lambert’s three-part advice while reflecting on the history of successful long-distance communication: make a commitment to talk, share intimate details of your day and allow for spontaneous communication. As history has shown, the process of keeping in touch may be demanding, but as Lambert says, “It’s not an insurmountable challenge.”

by Katherine Hussey

n t quite reality


photography: Katherine Hussey/Japan


t was another ordinary summer day in Tokyo as I walked down the neon-lit streets of Ikebukuro with my impeccablydressed model boyfriend. Noticing a McDonalds, I stopped in my tracks, my eyes lighting up with excitement. “Hiroto, I’m hungry. I want a hamburger!” “Again?” he asked me, shaking his head. “But you just had one yesterday. You’re always eating hamburgers!” I flipped one of my perfectly styled curls. “So what,” I said, pouting as convincingly as I could. “I want one again!” But Hiroto wasn’t amused. “Why can’t we eat sushi for once?” “Sushi?” My pout quickly turned to disgust. “Isn’t that, like, raw fish? Ew! Not happening.” We rock-paper-scissored. He was rock, and I was scissors. I looked towards the sky as he began to pull me down the street, letting out a dismal – but still adorable – wail. “Cut. That time was perfect!” Chibasan, our director, shouted merrily. The

crew began packing for their hasty move to a sushi restaurant, our next filming location. As my makeup artist scurried over to give me a quick touch up, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. After that scene, I knew that the narrator would explain what a hard time Hiroto and I – just another comically stereotypical American – had while dealing with our cultural differences. Maybe it would be followed by a scene in which I’d nervously try to eat sushi while Hiroto looked on. The scene in which I was too affectionate in public – Americans are, after all, always getting it on in the street – had already been shot. I looked toward Hiroto, now posing for pictures with a group of girls. While I knew that they were just another bunch of fans, I couldn’t help but feel a small

abroadly speaking 18

twinge of jealousy. Even though it was just an act, Hiroto was still my boyfriend when the cameras stopped rolling. But it was all supposed to be real – even my constant desire to eat hamburgers. The plan for this episode was for me to invite the Aichteru camera crew to follow me around for a day, getting an inside glimpse of what “really” happened in the private lives of an international couple. Of course, there was a script. A highly inaccurate script. Until now, I had been able to handle the American stereotypes. I portrayed them in dramas, thinking that they were just part of acting. But this was Aichteru, a show that consisted of famous Japanese comedians, celebrity guests, and a panel of ten foreign women, each fluent in Japanese. The audience wasn’t supposed to think that we were just acting. If I wanted to judge my performances, I could just wait until my train ride the next morning after an episode aired to see how many random old women would lecture me about how 19 abroadly speaking

to treat my boyfriend and “respect the Japanese way.” Unfortunately, my contract prevented me from telling them that I was actually majoring in Japanese and Japanese culture. I was only doing what the script had told me to do. Sure, there were forums where conspiracy theorists raged about how the show was scripted, but the majority of the Japanese population saw me as the quintessential American: blonde, blueeyed, loud, selfish, and meat-eating!

fees, even though they couldn’t read lines written in English without a prompter. I was often selected over other candidates not because I had acting experience or fit the part well, but because my Japanese was better. I was easier for the director and crew to handle, even if all my lines were English. I was never asked if I could use chopsticks, enjoyed sushi, or was blatantly affectionate in public. These assumptions ran rampant and unchecked, even more so than they did in my own country. While working on a different show, a friend of mine had been removed along with all other foreign actors because the director thought that the show needed to be “more Japanese.” The foreigners were “distractions.” Having experienced Japan, the United States was far from xenophobic. I could only imagine what would happen here if members of a specific race were fired from a show because it didn’t seem white, black, or Hispanic enough. I found myself for the first time admiring the own countries culture and ethics. That’s exactly what I think going abroad does. In addition to learning more about the country you’re in, your own home gains a new perspective. I waited my whole life to live in Japan, and still plan on going back after I graduate. But living in Tokyo for three semesters gave me something I never expected: a whole new respect for American culture.

"I had assumed that a production team would have researched my role highly before ever auditioning me . I couldn't have been more wrong ." Before going to Japan, I had always been irritated with how Hollywood had portrayed foreigners and their cultures. Most of the actors in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift weren’t even Japanese, and Ando from Heroes is actually Korean, and speaks mediocre Japanese at best. But the Japanese were known as an extremely intelligent, internationallyminded culture, and I had assumed that a production teams would have researched my role highly before ever auditioning me. I couldn’t have been more wrong. My “American” friends on The Gyoten News were played by Russians because they generally worked for smaller

photography: Katherine Hussey/Japan


B est f riends fo reve r... by Lisa khan and jazmine ulloa. Remember your first year of college? There was that hectic new rhythm of classes, exams and parties you were eager to jump into even though you weren’t quite tuned in. If friends from high school took the plunge with you, you might have been caught in a balancing act. While you may have still wanted to spend time with those old friends, you wanted to make time for new ones. That’s a little of what the abroad experience can be like for close friends, and keeping the careful balance can put a strain on your relationship. But while it can be tough, it’s definitely doable, says Helena Wilkins, a program coordinator for the Study Abroad Office. It simply requires keeping yourself in check. “It’s very helpful when you go with a friend because people that may be hesitant to try new things may be more adventurous with that support system,” Wilkins says. “But as an advisor, you also have to tell them that while it’s great to take that great leap of faith with someone, you have to venture out of your circles.” Before you go abroad, try sorting out your priorities and letting your friend know what they are. One of you may have mastering the country’s language as the top priority, while the other may be more interested in experiencing the nightlife (to put it loosely). Learning a language can be tiring, and taking breaks is important. But while you’ll appreciate having a friend to take a break with you, keeping up with your priorities may require some discipline on both your parts. Wilkins suggests making a pact that everyday for half a day you will only speak the country’s language, make friends with the locals, and talk to each other only when needed. Spending time apart can also help keep the relationship healthy. Remember that college experience scenario again and perhaps that small dorm room? If you didn’t take time away from your roommate, you might have had more arguments. Deciding to go abroad together was a last minute choice for friends Hadyn Jobe and Charlotte Brown, students at the University of Texas at Austin. “We had our fun together, but when someone said they didn’t want to go out or didn’t want to talk, the other would give her space,” Jobe says.

photography: Italy/Fernando Lopez

B EW A R E o f g o in g a b ro a d Also remember that sometimes plans to study abroad together don’t always follow through. A common occurrence at the Study Abroad Office, Wilkins says, is two friends coming in to arrange to go abroad together, then the friend with the initial idea pulls out. “The braver ones will go by themselves anyway and come back saying that although it wasn’t theirs, it was the best idea ever,” Wilkins says. Studying abroad with a friend doesn’t just have the potential to be bad. Wilkins says a friend can help you research the country before you go or plan independent excursions elsewhere in the region during or after the program. Having a friend to share the study abroad experience can also lead to memories only the two of you will ever fully understand, Jobe says. In the end, studying with or without a friend is your choice. Regardless of your decision, make your study abroad experience the one you want. The outcome really depends on you, and realize that while going with a friend could provide a great support system, going by yourself can open up an entirely different door.

Studying abroad can be a bit challenging if your going with close friends . While it may be comforting to have someone you know, you also have to take time away to experience the culture and meet new people. the key is balance. here are some do's and don’ts so that you don’t end up at each others’ throats.

abroadly speaking 20

sur vivo rs

sd f g h

[Mis]adventures in China

Alejandra zamorano and a friend thought they were traveling to china to teach English, but they were in for a few a surprises. by meagan thomson.


photography: NightIife of China/China/Nicole Gelsomini

Imagine traveling overseas to work. You arrive to find your new boss is a liar who fails to uphold your work contract. You are left in an unfamiliar, communist town, hiding out from law enforcement, having no work, no visa and hardly any cash. Most people would hop on the next plane home just as fast as they could. Alejandra Zamorano is not most people. Although she now works as a study abroad advisor at the University of Texas at Austin, Zamorano has learned many of her travel lessons the hard way. After graduating from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, in 2004, Zamorano says she wanted to work overseas teaching English in a small town where she could assimilate with the local culture. So she and a friend, Jessica Rivero, flew to China in October 2005, thinking they were traveling to jobs as English teachers in Lanzhou, capital of the Gansu province in north central China. photography: Westlake at Night/China/Tina Yu

But after arriving, they were taken to the remote town of Xigu instead. “We had no idea where we were,” Zamorano says. “We were laughing and crying at the same time.” Speaking just enough Mandarin Chinese to order food, Zamorano was a long way from her home in McAllen, Texas, where she was raised since she was 7 years old. But the petite powerhouse stubbornly refused to go back. She says her attitude was, “I’m here, I came for an experience and I am going to get one!” Mr. Lee, the man who hired Zamorano and Rivero, had told them their work visas would be provided in China and that they didn’t need to bring much money because they would be paid upon arrival. All lies, Zamorano says. Mr. Lee didn’t have the authority to obtain work visas, and there would be no money. He had lied to everyone, she says, including her American contacts at, an online job bank for English teachers in China and Taiwan. After three days, Zamorano finally met a few other recruited teachers, whom Zamorano says told her, “You need to get out of here,

this guy is crazy. He took our passports. Just leave, you need to leave, you need to get out of here!” So she did. In the middle of the night, Zamorano and Rivero skipped town, leaving all of their luggage behind to avoid attracting unwanted attention, and boarded a bus to Lanzhou. Having just a two-minute calling card, Zamorano and Rivero were only able to speak to their parents briefly, “At first I was so worried, but I knew Alejandra would keep on going,” Margarita Zamorano, Alejandra’s mother, said in an e-mail. “I just prayed for her … she is quite the stubborn one. I just support her all the time with her dreams and goals.” In Lanzhou, Zamorano and Rivero met Tony Jia, the owner of Ladder English Training School. “He was our savior,” Zamorano says. A Canadian English teacher whom they met in Xigu introduced them to Jia. Jia paid for their food and hotel stay while they attempted to obtain work visas. The scariest part of the trip, Zamorano says, was finding out from Jia that their original boss, Mr.. Lee, had a brother in the Chinese police force, and he was on a mission to find Zamorano and Rivero. Though she chuckles with ease about her nightmarish situation now, it wasn’t so easy to then, she says. “We would move the couch against the door, we didn’t want to open the door for anybody,” Zamorano says. “We couldn’t leave, and we were just really worried. “We thought, if somebody were to take us, our family doesn’t know where on the map we are, we don’t where we are,” Zamorano says. “If they take us back to Xigu, no one will ever find us.” Eventually, Zamorano, who was born in Monterrey, Mexico, decided to contact the Mexican Embassy in Beijing, but only after she and Rivero were kicked out of their hotel for being foreigners. They were unaware that the hotel was only supposed to serve Chinese citizens, and the visa office they visited while in Beijing had told hotel management they weren’t Chinese. They camped out for a week in a vacant, shower-less apartment, failing to obtain work visas on their own. “When I contacted the embassy, they told me, ‘We don’t even know where on the map [Xigu is], you need to come to Beijing,’” Zamorano says. With Jia’s aid, she and Rivero traveled the 738 miles from Lanzhou to Beijing. “I was really upset because I didn’t want to go to Beijing, I didn’t want to be in a big city,” she says. With a population of 13.8 million in 2000, Beijing had a population more than one and a half times that of New York City. While Lanzhou and Xigu are desert-like, mountainous, cold and dry, Beijing is a cold, huge city. Just the differences in climate and terrain make it evident how huge China is, Zamorano says. She didn’t have much of a choice to not

photography: Streets of Hong Kong/China /Alejandra Zamorano

visit Beijing, but once in the city, the Mexican Embassy helped Zamorano get an apartment, a work visa and a job. She spent her last three months in China teaching English in the small town of Beihai, just north of Vietnam, a 28-hour train ride from Beijing. “That’s where I had the experience I was looking for the whole time,” Zamorano says. “It was very tropical, the beach was amazing, the people were super friendly, super nice. It was the only English school in that city. It was run by a local, she was amazing.” Since returning to the states from her seven-month adventure in China, Zamorano

I never wanted to

leave, there was never a point when I was like, ‘I need to get of here..’

says she still encourages everyone she meets to go abroad. “Immersing yourself in a different culture and experiencing culture shock is something that will change the way you think and who you are, really,” she says. Zamorano would know. “I had been here [in the United States] for over 10 years and it took going to another country and living there to realize that I had never fully assimilated to American culture and that I felt more at home somewhere else.” Over the summer, fourth year Chinese major Sofia Avila studied abroad in Beijing. “‘Oh my gosh, you’re going to love it,’” Avila says was Zamorano’s advice. “Seeing how excited she was made me feel more confident. She told me, ‘Have an open mind and don’t

expect anything. Take it as an adventure and enjoy it.’ That’s what I did.” One might be surprised to hear Zamorano use the word “love” to describe her feelings for China and even more surprised to hear her say, “I never wanted to leave, there was never a point when I was like, ‘I need to get out of here.’” But Zamorano has been seeking adventure and culture shock since she first traveled to France with her high school class. “Traditionally in Mexico when you turn 15 you have a big sweet 15 party called a Quinceañera. I was like, ‘I don’t want that, I want my trip,’” Zamorano says. “From then on out I was kind of hooked.” The first question she says she asked during her admission interview at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas was, “When can I go abroad?” She spent every year in college working on campus to save up for a total of three summer trips to Salamanca, Spain, where her finances were literally “down to the penny” by the time she returned, Zamorano says with a laugh. “Sometimes things don’t go right, you know? Like in my experiences,” Zamorano laughs at her own understatement. “There’s something that always goes wrong, but it’s always those things that are memorable and that make the trip even that much better in the sense that you get to see what you’re made of, you get to challenge yourself to be in a place that’s different.”


sur vivo rs

photography: Mexico/Stephanie Elizondo Griest

STEPHANIE ELIZONDO GRIEST Learning russian in college was her ticket out of south texas and the beginning to a life as a story-telling nomad by jazmine Ulloa


The Russians have a word for it. Zhiznenradostny. It describes a wild energy shown by a person with a clear connection to life. “That’s kind of it,” says associate professor Thomas Garza when describing his former student, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin turned world-traveling author. “There is so much energy there. She just loves to live. She loves life, and this is the word Russians use when talking about her.” Garza remembers Griest on two levels: her lust to know the world and her ability to speak very quickly while still making sense. “She was always up on life…Energetic,” says Darrell Rocha, assistant dean for the College of Communication. “That word, it keeps coming back, energetic.”

Griest must have had the energy to venture around the world, visiting more than 80 countries since graduating in 1997 with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and PostSoviet and East European studies. Not only did she survive her study abroad experience in Moscow back in 1996, she conquered it. “I wanted to be that kind of person who bought her funky jewelry from its country of origin instead of a booth at the mall,” Griest says. “I wanted to travel far, far and wide.” Her experiences in Russia made the beginnings of her first book, “Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing and Havana,” which made it on the Mayor’s Book Club List in Austin last year. Griest has been polishing her art of travel and writing ever since. Around the world, she has worked as an activist, performed as a belly dancer and

penned countless of freelance articles plus two more books based on her travels, one expected to be released in the summer. Ticket to Russia Escaping Corpus Christi, her hometown, depended on learning Russian, she says. As a senior in high school in 1992, she attended a journalism convention in Washington D.C. A revered CNN foreign correspondent gave the night’s keynote address. “He had seen the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall,” Griest says. “He’d seen riots and revolution and coup d’etat, and the entire time he is talking I’m thinking, ‘Whoa, I want to go where this man has been.’” As the correspondent finished his speech, he looked up and asked the audience for questions. A fascinated Griest quickly stood up and said, “I do. I want to be you. What do I do?” “Learn Russian. Next Question,” he says he replied. “I thought, ‘Que?’ I am Mexican, but I can’t even speak Spanish to my abuelita,” she says. “How in the world can I learn a language like Russian, why would I want to?” Growing up in sunny South Texas, Griest had lived a “mittenless” childhood, she says. Russia stirred inside her thoughts of cold weather and communism. “I was just thinking communism and Lenin, and Reagan used to call it the ‘Evil Empire,” she says. “But I recognized it’s not so often in life you get such specific advice. From UT to Moscow Garza first encountered Griest, or “Styosha” as he calls her, the closest Russian name for Stephanie, in his Russian Youth Culture class. Through their double backgrounds, they share a special affinity, he says. Both are half Anglo, half Latino, growing up on tamales one night and fried chicken the next. Both were raised in Corpus, graduating from the same high school 20 years apart, and both have engendered a keen interest for the idealistic political systems of communist and post-communist nations. “Growing up in the United States, there is a white population as a majority,” he says. “Others around the edges— the indigenous and immigrant populations, minorities—along the way have ended up playing two roles. They keep up with two cultures at the same time and in many ways become more receptive.” The receptiveness that comes with being part of the minority community may have also gravitated Griest’s interest to the liberal socialism of “red” countries, Garza says. By January 1996, Griest along with 15 other students traveled to Moscow as part of an exchange program. Garza, chair for the Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies, traveled with the students as an advisor for the program. “Stephanie went to her classes, then she was out there, visiting people, talking to people,” says Garza. “She wasn’t just

a student that studied abroad, she was a student that studied abroad well.” Griest stayed with Muscovite friends after the study abroad program’s end date in May until August. Eight months spent wandering through the country shattered her pre-conceived notions about the “Evil Empire” and fired the curiosity that lead her to ramble across a dozen communist and post communist nations, she says. “That [1996] was such a crazy year in Russian history,” Griest says. “It was five years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The mafia had infiltrated every aspect of society, from Beggar’s Road to the Kremlin, everything in between, including my boyfriend.” Nomad Writer After her return from Moscow, Griest received the coveted Henry Luce Scholarship and upon graduation was sent to Beijing, China to work for the China Daily, the English mouthpiece for the Communist Party. “My official title was foreign expert,” she says. “My unofficial title was propaganda polisher.” In China, she gathered the stories for the second part of “Around the Bloc,” while in the final part she visited Cuba with a friend by traveling through Mexico. Last March, her second book, “100 Places Every Woman Should Go,” written from experiences throughout the world, also won the mayor’s award. “I was going to be a militant vegetarian, Chicana, feminist,” she says. “That was my goal in life at UT. I lost all of these identities once I started traveling. My militant vegetarian drowned in a bowl of yak penis soup in China. My Chicana eroded when I couldn’t speak to anyone in Cuba because I didn’t know Spanish. My feminist label wasted away when I realized I let men treat me badly.” Return to the “Motherland” Raised in Texas, she never had any sense of what it meant to be Mexican, Griest says. A violent treatment of Mexican Americans in the 1950s and 60s made Spanish an undesirable language to know as Griest’s own mother was treated like a second class citizen while growing up and once had her mouth washed out with soap for speaking it. Needless to say, Griest didn’t learn Spanish. Her travels in Europe and Asia, however, leaded her to explore her own heritage. Living in Queretaro, Oaxaca and Chiapas during the People’s Revolution in 2005, she made friends with persecuted gay artists, one of whom was suspected to be murdered by Mexican Police for owning a safe sex shop. His story and many others will make up her third book, “Mexican Enough.” Now the self-described, “nomad, activist, wander, writer, but above all storyteller,” says she will keep traveling, hoping to inspire other women to take on their own sola adventures. “I honestly believe if you stay true to your heart, money will follow, it may sound cliché, but its true,” she says. “I’m doing exactly what I was put on this planet to do.”

photography: Stephanie Elizondo Griest

Inside Stephanie’s suitcase an alternative list of what to take abroad "Earplugs: The world is a noisy place, plus they are good for outdoor activities, like camping " Headlamp: You could bring a flashlight, but sometimes you may need both of your hands "Money belt or a thigh belt: It’s always good to remember never to put all your money in one place "Show and tell photo album: Take pictures of all the things in your life, like your house or your room, even your closet. You may find them nonsensical and pointless, but to friends in another country, they will be interesting. You never know, some of the most interesting conversations you may have abroad can be over photographs "Gym bag full of school supplies to donate: This really depends on where you are going, but you can always try to give back to the place you are visiting



photography: Love in the Air/France/Art Perez

photography: Romani woman/Czech Republic/Courtney Dudley

photography: Windows/China/Melissa Sconyers

a memory to treasure

c n r f

photography: Walk Around Beauty/Nikki Davenport

photography: Temple at the Summer Palace/China/William Bacon

photography: Burning of Falla Plaza del Doctor Collado/Spain/Kent Frankovich

photography: The Guard/Korea/Bryan Turnbough

photography: The Colors of the Market/Morocco/Colleen Hippe

photography: Coastline at Cinque Terre/Italy/Kenneth Burkhalter

photography: Dance/Czech Republic/Jennifer Willoughby

a glimpse into a new world

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photography: Construction in Shanghai/China/Mark Wendorf

photography: Gondolas/Italy/Jess Robinson

photography: Arbol de Vida/Argentina/Elisha Perez

photography: Chairs in Athens/Greece/Heather Schilling

photography: Windmills in Holland/Holland/Damian M. Gonzalez

photography: Fire Dancer at Mirador/Spain/Kent Frankovich

photography: Lorikeets at Luncha/Australia/Brenton Riley

all you need is your CAMEra

when I took this photo....

I was out on assignment for the Prague Post, following a hopelessly labyrinthine map of Old Town, when I came upon this bizarre scene of two men loading two wooden mannequins dressed in their opera finest into a taxi. Although my Czech was on the 3-year-old level of pointing and saying “hello,” the men didn’t get upset as I started giggling, then outright

Larissa Mueller Words and Images UT-Faculty led program Prague, Czech Republic

belly laughing. Although we couldn’t communicate through language, we had a lot of fun together. They carefully arranged the mannequins in a variety of salacious poses, then settled on this one, with the lady mannequin’s arm draped casually out of the taxi window. This picture, like so many others I took in Prague last summer, felt like pure theatre when it happened in front of me. Without language as a distraction, everything in a new country becomes visual. Without advertisements and snippets of conversation demanding your attention, it is easy to open up to the world and become all eyes.

FACULTY-LED Maymester Abroad courses are four and a half week study abroad programs that take place immediately following the spring semester. Maymester Abroad courses are intensive three or four credit hour courses taught by UT faculty members for in-residence credit. Maymester Abroad courses are open to all UT students who meet course prerequisites. Students must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and be in good academic standing to participate.

VISIT THE MAYMESTER WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION: abroad/mm.html For additional Study Abroad opportunities please visit the Study Abroad Office website at: abroad/ Or stop by our office located on the second floor of Wooldridge Hall.


SW 460K Ghana - Community & Social Development Taught by Dr. Dorie J. Gilbert


MNS 352D - Marine Botany - Mexico Taught by Dr. Kenneth Dunton


BME 353 - Transport Phenomena in Living Systems Taught by Dr. Kenneth Diller


J349T/J395 - Reporting China: A Foreign Correspondent’s Workshop Taught by Professor Tracy Dahlby


BIO 337 - Natural History and Field Ecology in Australia Taught by Dr. Mary Poteet


SW460K London - Roots of Social & Economic Justice Cross-listed as, SW495K, and WGS 440 Taught by Clinical Professor Ruth Rubio


ART 355 - Design in Context: Milan Taught by Professor Kate Catterall


GOV 312 - Popes and Presidents: Catholicism in an American and Global Context Taught by Dr. Sean Theriault


ADV 334 - International Advertising Taught by Dr. Sejung M Choi


ART 355 - Advanced Italian Cultural Photographic Documentation Taught by Professor Lawrence McFarland


where will you go? International Office, The University of Texas at Austin

AMS 315 - Vienna, Memory & The City Taught by Dr. Steve Hoelscher

i miss you

and love you and more

lovey dovey stuff

ABROADLY SPEAKING abroad/abroadlyspeaking/

Abroadly Speaking Volume II, Spring 2008  
Abroadly Speaking Volume II, Spring 2008  

I helped found Abroadly Speaking with three other students our first year at the University of Texas at Austin. The student-run magazine was...