Jet Lag Day 2

My name is Justine and I am a junior this year at Seattle University. I’m majoring in strategic  communication and minoring in Italian. I’m so excited to be headed to Florence, Italy this fall to study abroad! I’ve had this goal since I started high school, really since I shared a dream with Lizzie McGuire, so it is hard to pin point the exact reason Italy was the place for me. Falling in love with the language was stage one though. Although I am so fortunate enough to be taking part in such an experience, it was not an easy decision financially. It is only through the Gilman scholarship program and the other scholarships I applied for that this was a possibility. I am so very lucky, and I recognize what a privilege it is to be a part of the program, as a result, I will not be taking this for granted and plan to make use of this time to grow and learn. My family and friends have been very supportive and have encouraged me along the way, especially on the days where it would have been so much easier to back out, and have a fine experience staying in Seattle. Although driven, I too need a push once in awhile to validate my goals and see that what I am doing and hope to accomplish is worth it.

-Justine

London bound and pretending like I know how to blog about it

IES-Study London Program

Hey all!

For those who don’t know me, my name is Ian Hajnosz (don’t try and pronounce the last name, it’s hard I know) and I am a Junior here at SU. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to many different places, particularly in Europe, so hopefully some of those travel chops will pay off in my first truly long term solo excursion. Here follows an account of my time heading to the UK-specifically the capital and cultural hub of the British Isles, London. Where this little blog of adventures goes I haven’t got the faintest clue, there could be anything ranging from trips, visits with old and new friends alike, to little observations from a street corner. I admittedly have no idea but hey, that’s why I’m trying this British adventure and, possibly, the reason why you are reading this blog post right now. Topping that off I have never written anything remotely close to a blog before so I’ll probably be breaking some unspoken rules of internet writing (if that’s even a thing- I mean, it is the internet). So in essence, expect everything and nothing from this written record of my time in the UK. So, let’s give this thing a go shall we?

Alright, so here we go then, the pre-trip organization of thoughts. I’ve been in the UK once before, I spent part of a summer in high school with a few hundred international students at the University of Oxford. Because of that I have an odd variety of friends speckled throughout the UK, most are international students who have chosen to attend “uni” over there. For that reason alone I am beyond excited to see them again after three years. So I have some grasp on how the place works. Well, the small city of Oxford at least. But I know a few things I swear! A pound is the same as a quid as well as being that weird measuring system those ridiculous Americans decided to adopt. A stone is roughly 14 pounds and is also that thing people chuck at the opposing team’s fans. A line of people is also the letter Q. Telephone booths are the easiest way to spot tourists. Regardless if it even has blood in it or not, everything can be bloody if you say it loud enough. Football is that sport that involves kicking a ball with a foot(…simple enough right?). “Lift” is a noun now (not a verb) and not used in a questionable, dubious fashion to ascertain if somebody does or does not work out. So no matter how much I weigh, I can use my pounds to buy a ticket to an non-confusingly named sport so that I can throw a measuring system at the annoying visiting fans but only after I’ve spent enough time sifting through the alphabet for a single letter so that I can use a verb to get to my seat. It is an English speaking country so that shouldn’t be a problem (they literally developed the language for Pete’s sake)….right?

In any case, I’m actually still working out academic coursework still so that’ll be revealed later but I will be dabbling a lot into the social sciences and humanities it looks like. But that’s enough for this intro, I haven’t even left yet! So in the meantime, keep on smiling for me and I’ll see you in the next post!

Cheers,

-Ian

To Ireland!

Top o’ the mornin to ya!

Live from American Airlines Flight #92, en route to Dublin, Ireland! This is the beginning of my Irish immersion; soon I will be cartwheeling through the moist rolling fields of the little island that is Ireland. Who am I, you ask? Victoria Renee Derr, San Diego native, currently in the process of getting a BA in English Literature/Creative Writing at Seattle University. This trip is a part of that process.

Ireland is a place of astonishing beauty, a place of speakers and writers, a place that has sprouted as many creative voices as fields of barley. The Writer’s Workshop in Ireland guides students through poetry, fiction, and our own writing to gain a sense of place while in a foreign country, to better enrich our own experiences through the written works of other Irish writers, and to hone our own creative voice. We’ll be visiting places such as the Martello Tower (the setting of the first chapter in James Joyce’s Ulysses), the Aran Islands, and the beautiful Galway near the sea. We’ll be studying Irish writers such as James Joyce and Seamus Heaney who are notable in the way their writing engages the place in which they are in their life. For example, Joyce’s relationship with Dublin is so intimate that walking around the city today, you can find brass plaques marking places or things Ulysses character Leopold Bloom comments upon.

Our focus is to gain a sense of dinnseanchas, a Gaelic term which translates to “place wisdom.” Poet John Montague translates it as a “sense of the historical layers and legends which give character to an area.” Ireland abroad-ers will be peeling back the layers to find what’s underneath, slipping into our work boots to dig into the rich earth of Ireland (possibly encountering some bog people on the way! click here to see what bog people are all about). With our guides, James Joyce, W. B. Yeats, Seamus Heaney, and Paula Meehan, we, as students, travelers, writers, hope to explore the place that holds these rich layers and create a layer of our own.

And so it begins.

-Victoria

Little Trips, Big Impact

During my time in France, I had two week-long breaks, but I also had long weekends every weekend. The week-long breaks were good for spending extra time in one place (Paris) or for traveling a little further away (Italy and Greece). But even though I enjoyed the longer trips, I found that going away somewhere for the weekend is really fun. My three favorite short trips were: Montpellier and Marseille, Paris, and Arles and Avignon.

Though I spent less than 48 hours in Montpellier and Marseille, I feel like I got a lot of this trip. In Montpellier, my friends and I discovered that just because you look up directions online doesn’t mean they’ll make sense when you get there and that sometimes relying on the kindness of strangers is the best option. In Montpellier, I saw the Mediterranean for the first time. In Marseille, I only planned to be there for a day, so my friends and I wanted to make the most out of it. We’d heard of these things called calanques, so we thought we’d check those out rather than exploring the city. We went to the end of a bus line and were dropped off in a parking lot, and we just started wandering, and we found our way into a hiking trail. We thought for sure we’d gone the wrong way until we came up to a clearing, and we looked and saw the water and knew we were where we wanted to be.

Marseille
I went to Paris three times during my time in France: once for my birthday, once for the first week-long break, and once again to play tour guide for a friend. That third trip was by far my favorite. By that time, I thought I’d seen everything in Paris I could possibly want to see, but being there with someone who’d never seen any of it made all of it seem new to me. I found that it is still possible to rediscover something you love.

The Arles and Avignon trip was a trip for all the SU students, which was convenient because it meant I didn’t have to plan anything myself. We drove to Arles on Friday, stayed through Saturday, and then spent a few hours in Avignon on Sunday. In Arles, I got lost in a market, but I found some delicious-looking strawberries. We all went to La Camargue together and had a picnic on the beach, and I discovered that the strawberries tasted as good as they looked. In Avignon, I lost myself in history at the Palais des Papes and on the bridge made famous by the song “Sur le pont d’Avignon.” I learned that being lost can be a fun experience.

While studying abroad is helpful in the obvious way of helping earn a degree or helping improve language skills, being abroad is a learning experience on its own. Learning to travel and learning about myself have been invaluable experiences that I would have never had if I’d never studied abroad. I hope to remember what I’ve learned – both in the classroom as well as outside of it – to help me in my future.

Maura

Paris is always a good idea

Paris is always a good idea.” – Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina (1954)

Before coming to France, I wondered if Paris is actually as incredible as Americans claim it is or if we’re just romanticizing it. Now, after spending a weekend and another week there, I understand the hype: Paris is absolutely beautiful, and there’s always something to do.

I’m a big list-maker, so I looked at these two trips as opportunities to check monuments off of “must-see” lists. Among the list items were typical tourist attractions (the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower at night, Versailles, Notre Dame) and slightly less well-known or less popular tourist attractions (the Catacombs, the towers of Notre Dame, Pont Neuf). I took a 9-hour tour of Versailles and the other two houses on its grounds, the Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon, as well as the miniature village built for Marie Antoinette (the Queen’s Hamlet). I wandered around the inside of Notre Dame and went up in its towers, which is a great way to get gorgeous views of the city (and the Eiffel Tower). I went underground to see the stacks of bones that are the Catacombs. I watched a friend add a lock to Pont Neuf, AKA the bridge with the love locks.
Paris

In the process of checking these things off my list, though, I found that getting lost and discovering something new can be incredible. What I found while exploring – or while lost – included Point Zéro, Shakespeare and Company, and various food stands and cafés serving delicious food. Point Zéro is a spot outside of Notre Dame that is the official (though certainly not geographical) center of Paris. Legend says that if you step on it, you’re bound to return to Paris. (Naturally, I made sure to step on it.) At Shakespeare and Company, I was in book-lover paradise…until I remembered that airlines have weight limits and buying every book I wanted wasn’t a good plan. Additionally, I found souvenir shops and great little cafés that were surprisingly inexpensive.

I discovered that waiting in lines can be totally worth it and that cemeteries on sunny days are basically parks with weird statues.

As much as I’ve enjoyed my visits to Paris, I think the desire to be there might be out of my system for now. I’m ready to explore some new places and find out what other cities might always be good ideas.

Until next time,

Maura

Settling In & Château #1

What a busy week and a half it’s been! I’ve lost a suitcase, gotten a French cell phone, learned to navigate the tram system in a new city, found a few favorite cafés… All summed up, it might not sound like much, but to me, it feels as though I’ve been here for a month. I still can’t quite believe that I moved in with my host family just over a week ago. Then again, I didn’t quite believe I had arrived in France until I saw Maria at the bus station, so maybe I’m not the best judge of time.

This past week and a half really have been packed full of activities, though. We arrived on January 3, and the next day, we went up to the Bastille in the little red gondolas. They day after that, I got my cell phone, and our program director (not Maria from SU, but Marie from API) took us on a tour of Grenoble and pointed out lots of good places to eat – though I’m not convinced there are bad places to eat here – and we went home with our host families that night. Since then, we’ve had class every weekday, and most of us usually spend our lunch break downtown, shopping or going to cafés, and after our afternoon class, we tend to do the same. I’ve already been to the mall twice (they have an H&M), Monoprix multiple times (it’s like a French Target), and a few good cafés multiple times as well. I’m only just starting to limit my budget: this isn’t a vacation!

IMG_4594

One thing that does make it feel like a vacation is how absolutely beautiful it is here, both in Grenoble as well as in France in general. Last weekend, Maria took us to the Château Vizille, and it was breathtaking (though that tends to be my reaction to all châteaux). It was a beautiful day, and the light was gorgeous. We took a walk around the grounds, and I couldn’t stop taking pictures. We saw swans, heard ponies, and scouted out some spots for future picnics. We also went inside because the château houses the Musée de la Révolution Française, which had a lot of gorgeous art in it. It was incredible to be walking around in a building so full of history. I definitely think I’ll be returning there, because it’s so beautiful, and it’s also relatively close to Grenoble. (It was only about 30 minutes away by bus.)

À bientôt!

Maura

A Brief Bonjour & Woes of an Overpacker

Bonjour! My name is Maura, and I am a junior majoring in French and Interdisciplinary Arts. I will be spending the next 5 months in Grenoble, France, and two weeks in Morocco as part of the French in France program, which is an SU-sponsored program for French majors/minors.
I’ve been studying French for as long as I can remember, so to be able to study it in France is a dream come true. Even so, I am super nervous about it. All of my classes will be in French, I’ll have to speak French with my host family…talk about immersion. It’s a little intimidating, but I know it will be worth it.
As I haven’t actually left yet, I can’t speak to what Grenoble is like or about traveling or anything, but I have a lot to say about the preparation process, especially in regards to packing.
Packing is incredibly stressful. I have to fit everything I need for six months into 2 suitcases (it’s possible to bring more, but it’s really expensive), a carry-on, and a personal item. To give some perspective on how hard that is for me: I filled the bed of a truck with everything I “needed” for fall quarter. Three months, one truck vs. six months, a few bags. Needless to say, it has been quite a challenge. I got a lot of advice about how much I should bring – “pack the bare minimum you think you can live with and cut it in half”, “pack light and buy stuff there”, etc. My problem with this advice is that if I think I packed the bare minimum, how am I supposed to cut that in half? And why would I buy stuff there when I already have it here? I probably still packed too much, but I did try to follow this advice, so I packed a lot less than I started with. Also, I packed a smaller suitcase inside of one of my checked bags, so I’ll have more space on the way home. We’ll see if that pays off.
Until next time, au revoir!

Maura