Month: October 2015 (page 1 of 2)

Ireland – The Past, Present, and Future

In the summer of 2015, I received the amazing opportunity to study abroad for two sessions through the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). The first session was in Prague, Czech Republic and the other was in Dublin, Ireland. As it was my first time in Europe, I wanted to make sure that I made the most out of my experience. I spent a total of 10 weeks in Europe and I managed to travel to the following countries during my time abroad: Denmark, Italy, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Spain, Germany, Turkey, Ireland, Northern Ireland, The Netherlands, Switzerland, England, France, and Iceland.

My goal of visiting as many countries as possible countries caused me to go beyond my normal every day habits. I was able to reach out to local community members to learn more about their culture, make friends with people from all over the world, eat foods I never thought I would try, travel and navigate by myself, and make spontaneous travel decisions. These instances added to my personal development. In addition to acquiring typical travel experiences, I also had many moments where I had to step back and reevaluate my perspectives on culture.

What I had initially thought about when someone mentioned Ireland were the typical associations: friendly people, Guinness, St. Patrick’s Day, and Leprechauns. While those associations may be accurate in some way, I also learned about Ireland’s conflict with Northern Ireland. My class and I had traveled to Northern Ireland for an academic excursion; the weekend included a tour of the city of Belfast, a tour of the Titanic center, and a short trip to London-Derry. Northern Ireland is well known for its history of violence and it had been declared ‘unsafe’ for citizens of the Republic of Ireland to visit until the past decade. As dangerous as Ireland and Northern Ireland had been in the past, it was incredible for me to learn how far these two areas have grown since the 1970s.

The most memorable moment of my study abroad experience was when my class and I traveled to London-Derry. We learned first-hand about the conflict that took place between those who declared themselves as Protestants or Catholics by speaking to locals who witnessed the unfortunate mass-murder events. When I entered Northern Ireland, I could pick out the stark differences between the two territories – the North uses the British Pound instead of the Euro, they use miles instead of kilometers, they have officers that carry large amounts of ammunition and drive around in a bullet proof car, there are tall walls that separate Protestant or Catholic communities, and last but not least, every section of Northern Ireland is covered in flags that declare which political and religious side is welcomed.

Prior to studying abroad, I had not even known that Ireland and Northern Ireland were considered to be two separate countries. While abroad, I was often reminded of how Europe has had centuries of conflict and violence, with all territories having different reasons for engaging in warfare. My time in Northern Ireland inspired me to think critically about human rights issues. Not only did this experience allow me to delve into Ireland’s history, it also allowed me to understand the culture and society of Irish people today. It was truly a moment that I was grateful to receive.

– Marilyn Pikovsky, Dublin, Ireland

Summer in Kyoto: an Abundance of Belief in Adventure

4.  Stone Statues, Southern Sado Island, near Ogi, JapanLiving in a 14th century Buddhist Zen temple in the heart of the incredibly culturally rich city of Kyoto was a surreal experience — sleeping on tatami mats, raking the pebbles of the gardens in the morning, eating native cuisine while sitting cross-legged in a circle, hearing the monks ring the bronze bells to signify that it’s time for meditation, seeing the ancient hardware-free wood joinery of my new home’s construction, being careful to not step on the entry threshold, removing shoes before walking onto the sacred floors — the authenticity of these five weeks were filled with wonderment, mindfulness and endless pleasant sensory surprises — everything was so new to me.  Before arriving, I was a little worried I might feel a bit uncomfortable in a place so geographically and culturally distanced from the rural Appalachia in which I grew up.  Instantly, though, I felt as though I was fully meant to be exactly where I was.

Dipping my feet into the goodness of Japan via this study abroad program was the most appropriate first step I could have imagined for preparation of the next chapter of my Asian adventure.  I said my see-you-laters to my fellow UO classmates, packed my panniers, and spent the next seven weeks of my summer vacation pedaling north.  A solo bicycle tour — my first of (anywhere near) this length, and in a country which I can only speak a handful of words of its 5. Sun Dried Squid, Northern Honshu, Sea of Japan Coast, near Ajigasawa, Japanlanguage.  Setting out with books and paints in tow, my expectations were to spend a summer keeping myself entertained — self-work and inner-reflection were on my to-do list as was meditating and practicing yoga daily.

Not long after parting ways with my American friends, I began to hear the Japanese language surrounding me.  And not long after leaving the upper edge of Kyoto’s city limits, I saw nearly no one else who appeared to share my European ancestry, (with the exception of just a couple of touristy stops along my route.)  As the mid-rise buildings disappeared in the clouds behind me, so did the populations who were versed in speaking English.  I wasn’t sure what sort of interactions I was headed for, but I felt ecstatic and as liberated as could be — I had no route in mind, no schedule to adhere to, no one’s rules to follow — just a tent, a sleeping bag, a camp stove and an abundance of belief in the thought that adventure fulfills all the soul’s needs.

After a couple hours on the road I pulled over for rest number one.  Barely half way through munching on a carrot, a local farmer rolled to a stop beside be and handed me two fresh, bright green cucumbers.  I grinned from ear to ear, bowed a few times and repeat the only phrase I’ve mastered — arigatou gozaimasu.  What kindness!  And from a perfect stranger!  Cherishing this moment, I headed onward through the cryptomeria hills and to the shore of Lake Biwa where I spent my first night.  Only ten miles or so into my second day of cycling, I realized that the cucumber incident was not a fluke.  I stopped by a small market to charge my phone and I was promptly greeted by an employee who offered to share a watermelon with me — I graciously accepted and proceeded to offer slices to other visitors as well.  One of these customers happened to be on his way to a nearby beach to practice windsurfing in the day’s ideal conditions.  He invited me for a lesson.  By the end of the evening, I was cooking a traditional communal stew, nabe, with him and his friends.  I was invited to stay at their house.

6. Circum-Pedal Mt. Yotei, Southern Hokkaido, near Makkari, JapanThis only brushes on a sliver of the generosity I was shown in the first 48 hours of my tour.  And, without exaggeration, this was typical for the entirety of my 48 day journey.  I was overwhelmed with the kindness and hospitality consistently poured in my direction on a daily basis.  I didn’t know what I had done to deserve it, or how I could ever repay these miracle workers, but I didn’t want to turn down any opportunities to bond with such lovely people; I didn’t want to miss out on a story that could make this adventure all the more enriching.  I found myself falling more and more in love with life with every shared smile and laugh.

All along my 2000 mile meandering route up to and around Hokkaido, I had hardly made it through two chapters of my novel and I still had three times as many blank pages in my sketch book as filled ones.  (And most of the pictures I had drawn were for the purposes of communication.)  I had a few yoga sessions from time to time, but not nearly as often as I was unexpectedly invited into someone’s home.  Places to sleep, hot showers, delicious homemade meals — these were certainly gifts to be grateful for, but it wasn’t the crux of it.  People were incredibly patient — the language barrier posed its challenges, but speaking with pencils and hands proved to be surprisingly effective, even if it took 45 minutes to say what could have, under other circumstances, been said in three.  I couldn’t believe how willing people were — willing to take me in, to trust that I wouldn’t cause harm, willing to share so much time and energy for a cause with no direct physical return, willing to reach out to a foreign stranger who is simply passing through.

My goals were accomplished but not in the form I’d envisioned.  In discovering these qualities of these new friends and acquaintances, I discovered something which I will forever strive for — to be a caring citizen not for the sake of feeling 3. Tojinbo Cliffs, Sea of Japan Coast, near Awara, Japanobligated to, but because it brings so much mutual joy.  I hope to always feel that there’s room and time in my life to share it with those who pass through it, even if I realize that they might not extend identical offerings in return, but solely because the universe aligned us at a certain time and place.  Japan restored my faith in the goodness of humanity, and I intend to carry this mantra with me wherever I may go or wherever I might be.

– Halley Anderson, Landscape Architecture in Kyoto

Exactly How Bad is it to Teach English in a Developing Country?

AE_04             I arrived at my village energized and bright-eyed, enamored with the Nepali culture and language I was just beginning to learn. I had arrived two weeks ago in Kathmandu and from there hiked up to 2,000 meters, to the base of the shining Annapurna Mountains that would watch over me every day of my internship. I started this internship with next to no formal training in how to teach, but was confident that my enthusiasm would indefatigably carry me forward.

When I actually got into the classrooms, however, I was amazed that conditions could be so bad. Students often lacked pencils, erasers, and notebooks, and usually sat elbow-to-elbow in dark, crowded rooms with hot tin roofs. Floors and furniture were uneven, filling the rooms with constant rattling sounds that easily drowned out my voice, which was echoed and dampened as it bounced off the rock walls. The English schoolbooks were riddled with errors. I ran into cultural differences as well. The English education of Nepal was so poor that even the other teachers of my school, who had taken University-level courses in English, didn’t recognize or understand how to correct the errors. The books’ content was poorly organized and ill-explained. Teachers would hit students if they didn’t behave, fostering oppositional relationships without real respect.Digital Camera

My teaching failed miserably at first. Without speaking much of the native language, I couldn’t explain to students what I wanted from them. Refusing to use the textbooks, I drew some ire from other teachers. Refusing to hit students, I couldn’t force them to do anything at all. I wanted to be a fun teacher, anyways, who earned the love of my students, but without much experience in the classroom I was at a loss to even do that. It only took my first day of teaching to realize that I seriously needed to change.

I started rigorously planning lessons, critically reviewing those lesson plans to determine which teaching techniques worked and which didn’t, and searching for teaching techniques and materials I could use in the classroom. The only way to hold student interest was to make my lessons intrinsically interesting and enjoyable, so I did my best to do just that. I studied the Nepali language so that I was able to better connect with the children and tell them what I wanted from them. For two and a half months I taught, worked on teaching until I was exhausted, slept, and taught more.

Digital Camera          And at the end of it all, during my last week of teaching, I had one perfect day in the classroom. I held every student’s attention for every class period, completed my lesson plans precisely, and found upon assessing the students that they’d all had learned what I was trying to teach them. I’ve never felt more proud or joyful – a teacher’s pride, felt for the students, not at all for oneself, and a teacher’s joy at pure, successful cooperation. As I’ve continued my work as a teacher, now in Japan, I’ve often held that memory before me as I would a crystal prism, casting illumination all around, pushing colors into dark places. I won’t let it, or Nepal, go.

– Adrian Engstrom Von Alten, Nepal

Entering the Professional World

IMG_20150731_213330760I was offered an internship at Chang’an Bank in Baoji, Shaanxi Province, China.  I was supposed to rotate through their banking divisions and learn how banking is conducted in China such as help determine and provide credit ratings to banking clients and customers, help determine loan rates, provide services regarding foreign currency current accounts and fixed deposits, and learn how to conduct business with state-owned and private companies in China.  They were job procedures that would not only enhance my Chinese proficiency and help start my business career, but they would also satisfy the requirements of both of my majors at the University of Oregon.

IMG_20150425_154728479_HDRIn mid-July, as I was about to embark on my internship in Baoji in Shanxi province, I get a call from the head of Chang’an Bank informing me that the public security bureau would not approve my internship.  He explained to me that the procedures and administrative formalities in order for a foreigner to get into banking in China are extremely problematic, primarily due to the fact that banks in China are state-owned enterprises.  My summer vacation was coming to an end, my term at Nanjing University had already finished, my apartment lease was about to expire and because my internship fell through, there was a chance that I would not see any of my internship-related scholarship funds successfully go through.  I had literally hit rock bottom.

With my back against the wall, I was able to use my network of connections from both school and traveling in order help me find affordable housing on such a short notice and most importantly, find an internship in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China at 立信会计师事务所(Torch CPA) working as an accountant.  I started officially on August 10, and so far I have been learning the basic foundations for audit accounting.  Over the past few weeks I, along with other Chinese coworkers, have been looking hundreds of pages of files regarding a company’s past year revenues, taxes, expenses and audit reports and transferring/filing them into excel spreadsheets, as well as analyzing and evaluating the firm’s financial statements.  This was one of my most memorable experiences because I believed that it not only helped me grow as an individual, but also help me realize how far my Chinese has progressed while I have been in Nanjing.

Just when I was about to think, “Enough’s enough, I am ready to call it a day and go home,” I started to recall and think back on all of my previous challenges and how I was able to persevere through them.  IMG_20150327_184346607When faced with adversity, I carried on, never accepted defeat and never merely settled for good, but the very best I can. Those sorts of actions I truly believe define me as a person.  When life throws you curve balls, all that matters is what happens afterwards is how you react and make of the circumstances that are given to you.

– Henry Lawrence, Nanjing, China

La Vida Ecuatoriana

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1563.During my three weeks in Ecuador this summer, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet amazing people, see some incredible places and things, and experience a different culture firsthand.  All of the memories I made in the little city of Bahia de Caraquez are ones that I’ll always be able to reflect fondly upon.  However, looking back now, one memory in particular stands out from among the rest.

The tiny hostel we stayed at was owned by a local family that our group got to know really well, and their son was around the same age as all of us students.  He introduced us to a lot of young local people and on one of the last nights we were there, we got together for a bonfire on the beach at the tip of the peninsula that the city was located on.  They picked a beautiful spot, overlooking where the Pacific Ocean meets the Rio Chone, next to a little red and white DCIM101GOPROGOPR1963.striped lighthouse on the point.  We all sat together around the fire on giant pieces of driftwood and talked, laughed, and danced into the night.

My Spanish isn’t very good, but I did my best to communicate with the friends we made.  Their English wasn’t very good either, so we met halfway with a humorous mix of English and Spanish words and lots of hand motions.  I learned how to play the bongos and how to dance salsa barefoot on the beach.  The tide was out, exposing almost a quarter mile more of beach, and we walked down to the edge of the water and looked out into the darkness, which seemed to go on forever.  I was so content that night, so happy in my surroundings.

There were so many things that happened over the course of my trip- but I always come back the way the simplicity of that night made me feel.  I felt included in the culture, not like an outsider looking in like I did for most of the trip.  I felt connected, alive, and in awe of the place where I was and the people I was with.  I think that night may have captured the essence of the entire trip, and it makes me smile every time I think about it.

– Sullivan Schuster, Ecuador

Studying in Russia

My time in Russia is hard to narrow down to a single meaningful moment or experience to do a SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESshort blurb about. I studied there for an entire school year, and having never previously left the country, I was trampled with new and foreign experiences (both good and bad) the moment I landed. The experiences ranged from going to The State Hermitage in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg and seeing literally millions of pieces of priceless and original artwork from seemingly every artist ever born, to the small, rural town of Pskov and the area Pushkin was exiled: to the huge, looming, infinite skyline of Soviet era architecture of Moscow, plus everything else in between, including all of the Russian friends I made. I am undecided as to which to write about, and could not say which one is the most significant. But, taking a step back and looking at it all, one of the big events that stands out for me is my trip to Moscow, and seeing Red Square, the Kremlin, and Lenin’s Tomb.

Standing in THE Red Square, in Moscow, at the base of the Kremlin’s wall, with the tomb of Lenin to my side is when the realization hit me: how important the place I was standing and how pivotal of a role it had played on world history. From when Moscow was first founded a little under one thousand years ago, to its impact on WWII, and shortly after, through the decades of the Cold War. The man who had dissolved the Russian Empire and created the SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESUSSR, the Communist himself, was embalmed fifty meters to my left, at the base of the Kremlin and across the square and the high end shopping center located there. It was humbling.

Fast forward several months to my last day in Saint Petersburg, I climbed to the top of St. Isaac’s Cathedral to get one last great glimpse of the city. The nine months of winter had ended, and there was actually a bit of sunshine, so the view I got of the rooftops and city scape was incredible. Sitting at the top of the Cathedral’s dome, which had survived the siege of Leningrad, looking at the word “ЗАПАД”, Russian for “west”, and looking straight ahead, to the 12,000 miles to the west coast in the USA, I was again humbled by how large and important this city was.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

My time in Russia was a fantastic adventure, and was one of the best learning experiences in my life, and not only for developing my Russian language skills. The two experiences above though stick out to me particularly well, as they encapsulate how different and far away Russia is from what I was used to, and how they made me realize the importance of the area I was studying in.

– Josh Forrey, St. Petersburg, Russia

Exploring Nicaragua

Burns, Emma 3One of the highlights of my study abroad, in Nicaragua, was my trip to the Caribbean coast. It was one of the program’s planned activities, all the students and coordinators  in the group travelled to the coast. We went for a long weekend so that we could have 3 days for exploring and learning about the culture in that part of the country. The people in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, consider the Caribbean coast to be a completely different culture and experience. I agree with them because the coastal people speak a mix of English and Creole and have different traditions and festivals. The journey, the people we met, and the landscape all made this experience one of the most memorable of my time in the country.

The journey, to the coast, began with a 10-hour bus ride from the capital, continued  through the middle of the country to Rama, a  port on the river. We caught a panga, which is the Spanish term used for the local boat, to Bluefields, the capital of RAAN. The bus ride was an overnighter that took us up into the mountains and then back down to the lowlands of the eastern part of the country. During the bus ride the student cohort bonded and grew closer, and we also met new people. We arrived at Rama at one o’clock in the morning and waited until sunrise to catch the panga, because they do not drive the boats during the night. The panga ride was the first of many panga rides that we took during our trip in the Caribbean. That ride took us down the river through plantain plantations, towns, and beautiful forests that demonstrated the beauty of Nicaragua. The ride ended in Bluefields, where we then took another panga ride to Pearl Lagoon a town where a mixquito tribe was located. We stayed with the leader of the tribe for a night and he told us the history of his people.Burns, Emma 5

Pearl Lagoon was a gorgeous area that is a protected turtle habitat. The spot is surrounded by palm trees and mangroves, which help protect the area from hurricanes. After our time in the town, we took yet another panga to Bluefields, where we caught a plane to Big Corn Island for the next leg of our journey. We had to go to Big Corn Island so that we could take a panga to Little Corn Island, where we spent the next 2 days exploring and doing activities. The panga ride to Little Corn Island was one of the most exciting experiences that I had in Nicaragua, because we crossed the Caribbean at night in a boat similar to a motorboat. Water was splashing all over us and waves were crashing as well, as we motored across the channel to Little Corn Island. By the time we touched down on a beach, we were soaked and exhausted from holding on to the boat, and from the amount of laughing we shared during the ride. On the island, we went snorkeling, visited the priest of the island, and tasted the amazing cuisine that is traditional to the Caribbean coast. Local fare includes, lobster, gallo pinto, which is a mixture of rice and beans with coconut milk, and other seafood preparations. The people of the coast were all really welcoming and willing to tell us the history of their people and to Burns, Emma 4show us the beauty of their culture.

This trip was an experience that I will remember forever. It gave me the pleasure of learning about another culture and seeing the traditions from an insider’s perspective. The bonds that I forged with my fellow companions are, in my opinion, lifelong because they grew from phenomenal experiences. I am so glad that I took the time to study abroad and allowed myself the opportunity to participate in another culture. I have already applied the knowledge that I gained from these experiences to my classes, my family, and my friends. I enthusiastically tell everyone I know the importance of a study abroad experience.

– Emma Burns, Nicaragua

A Day Just Outside Dublin

My study abroad experience was amazing, and picking just one moment to write about was hard. I studied in Dublin, Ireland at Dublin City University. The program was through CIEE and was about Irish culture. My four week stay went by in a flash, but luckily I took some great photos to remember it by.

IMG_4253One of the best days I had while studying abroad, was a trip to Howth I took with two other girls in my program. Howth, a small fishing village just a 20 minute train ride outside Dublin, was a huge contrast to the bustling city centre of Dublin. We arrived in the morning, and ate breakfast at an adorable farmers market. While the food was delicious, and the handmade jewelry intriguing, the real highlight of the trip was the seven mile cliffside hike.

About two miles in, the girls and I found the perfect place to sit and enjoy the views of the perfectly blue ocean. The sunny, 65 degree weather, which we found to be a rare occurrence in Ireland, made this hike that much sweeter. We sat on the edge of the cliffs, taking in the view and watching as Irish families had picnics and enjoyed the beautiful Saturday. To me, it’s unbelievable how sharing a moment like that with IMG_4018 (1)two girls I had met only days earlier, makes you feel so much closer. We finished the seven mile hike, not without getting lost of course, and stopped for a beer before heading back to the city.

Thinking back on this day, I think I learned one important thing from all of the local people around us. Even though they live in such a gorgeous environment, or very close to it, they don’t take it for granted. They spent their Saturday very similarly to how we spent ours, in awe of the beautiful scenery around them. There’s no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to Ireland given the chance. The land is breathtaking, the people are incredibly generous and love to chat, and the Guinness isn’t bad either.

– Madison Raines, Dublin, Ireland

A Weekend in the Mountains

One of the most quintessential moments which P1080369describes perfectly the amazing experience I had in Norway is the weekend cross-country skiing trip I took with the mountaineering club in November of my year abroad. I had only attempted skiing the very first time about a month before, but I had skied every weekend (and a few times during the week) in that month, and while the description of the trip stated “some experience on skis required”, I decided to chance it. After all, I was among friends.

The trip began about as expected, a quick 45minute bus ride out of town (included with our regular student passes on public transportation,) and we were at the trailhead. The trail began with a steep, dramatic hill, which I managed to ski through like a pro. My confidence boosted, and I knew that I was prepared for this whole grand weekend adventure. Then, we continued. Kilometer after kilometer. As spills increased, and tiredness increased alongside, I began to doubt. But I had no clue what was in store.P1080376

The trail we were skiing along dead-ended into a lake. A frozen lake suddenly appeared out of the trees ahead, and there was no way around. Even the ski tracks, which we’d been following in coordination with our map, disappeared directly into the surface of the solid water ahead. We had a choice: turn around, and in so doing, abandon our trip, or plunge ahead, and trust the ice to hold all of us.

We went forward, and for the next 5 kilometers, we skied on smooth, silky ice.

It was terrifying. One of the most scary experiences I’ve ever had abroad. See, I’ve never been the strongest swimmer. I tend to avoid deep water when I can. But when your path goes directly over the P1080358center of a lake over 15 meters deep, you just hold your breath and hope.

Although I did wait until every other person in the group had successfully skied out a little way, and first verified that no massive cracking or strange shifting of the ice was occurring, sensibly. The trip was a thorough success. We stayed in a wonderful cabin in the woods, with heaps of snow outside making us truly appreciate the warmth of the wood stove and the deliciously fresh-baked bread and stew. I will forever cherish my entire year in Norway, but that trip was one of the finest weekends of them all.

– Paul Stanphill, University of Oslo Direct Exchange

El valor de la Amistad – The Value of Friendship

My life changed in Rosario, Argentina. The outlook I have on the world, the way I approach new challenges, and my passion for traveling and understanding new cultures grew and evolved 3immensely. I am incredibly grateful for the support I received before, during, and after my study abroad trip. This support has ranged from receiving generous scholarships from GEO Study Abroad and the Mills International Center, to extensive support from my friends and family, and to my host mother and Rosario program staff for making my experience unforgettable. While what I’m saying may sound cheesy or cliché, it’s truly an emotion I’ve been feeling an awful lot of – grace and gratitude. AHA Rosario –now GEO Rosario—taught me how to grow more in five weeks than I would in a year.

Writing this essay is difficult because it is exceedingly hard to pinpoint any moment during my study abroad trip as more special or impactful than another. However, the specific day that I believed captured my entire trip was July 20th,  día del amigo, which translates to the Day of the Friend. Día del Amigo sounds like one of those unimportant national holidays we have here in the USA like ice cream day or coffee day, but this is certainly not the case in Argentina. Weeks before, we all began noticing signs posted in restaurants and bars urging patrons to make their reservations for día del amigo now, or else they would be without a place to celebrate the occasion. 1After asking the handful of local friends we had made about the reservations and what even the día del amigo is, they had informed us they already made reservations for our study abroad group and all their friends to eat and go out.

Día del amigo felt like Christmas Day. Walking to school that morning, more people would smile and say hello to me. More people would offer to hold the doors for each other, and you would see strangers picking up each others’ tabs. Each of our professors were blissful, even in our early classes, and groups of friends could be seen spending time together in the parks or along the streets more so than usual. You could feel the happiness in the air. As the night approached, every restaurant, bar, and club was absolutely full, including the restaurant we spent our evening at. We shared laughs, stories, and jokes in the best version of Spanglish I’ve encountered. Though at this point the trip coming to an end, at that moment Rosario truly felt like home.

What made Día del amigo such a substantial moment during my trip was what led up to and followed after it: some of the most cherished friendships I have. Programa Internacional in Rosario partnered each of us up with a Law student at the university, and these students quickly became our very good friends. They were ecstatic to be around us, show us Rosario, and welcome us into IMG_4244their lives in a way that was well above and beyond what was expected of their participation in the program. They truly became our good friends. My conversation partner, Agustín, quickly turned into my closest friend in Argentina. Along with Julieta, another law student, those two shaped my experience. On the Día del amigo, these two made themselves very clear of how grateful they were to take the chance to meet us all; making each of us feel very, very welcomed in Rosario. I will never forget this about Argentina, and urge others to visit the country to experience its welcoming community for themselves.

– Alex Bellizzi, Spanish Language and International Justice in Rosario, Argentina

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