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Arcadia's semester program in Townsville, Australia
I spent this last weekend playing around in what almost anyone would consider to be paradise. I know, my life is rough. ;)
Orpheus Island Research Station is located on National Park land in the Great Barrier Reef. Only the small station and a resort where guests fork over $2000/night are on the island. And at this point in time, the resort is closed for renovation... leaving my academic group the island to ourselves.
The boat ride over to Orpheus was AMAZING. It was, without a doubt, one of the most intense experiences of my life. The boat was small and fast, and it catapulted itself over the wave crests. If it hadn't been for the death grip I was exerting on my seat, I would have flown in the air and landed again on the bottom of the boat with a thump.
As we pulled up to the island, the only thing that could have made the experience more perfect was the Jurassic Park theme song playing in the background. The lush, green forested hills fell seamlessly into the calm, teal waters below. The only dent in the background was the low-lying dive house and the sign that said, "Orpheus Island Research Station, James Cook University." We all hopped off the boat, grabbed our stuff, and went and made ourselves at home in our new rooms.... followed by breakfast number 3.
By the time the final boat arrived, it was 10am. We had a quick meeting, and then went on a hike around our corner of the island - Pioneer Bay. At one point, we went and climbed a very large boulder that looked out onto the endless ocean, and I had one of those life moments where you feel really insignificant in just the right way. The picture I've included in no way does that view justice.
After the hike, but before dinner, I got to go snorkeling. I had just stuck my mask in the water when, BAM!, a massive stingray swam right underneath me. And I do mean, massive. The rest of the snorkel was cool, despite the poor visibility. I saw little electric blue fish and aqua colored corals. Even though I only had one eye!
We came back and had a dinner of burgers, hot dogs, steak, and ice cream. After which, most people went straight to bed. I tried, but to no avail. I had only 3 hours of sleep that night.
Most of Saturday we spent profiling the Bay. I saw black-tipped reef sharks, crabs, a spider conch, and lots of microatolls. I also got roasted... again. At least it was only the very tops of my shoulders this time! After we got done with our work, we went for another snorkel. This time, our professor took us over the clam beds, which I didn't know at the time. But as soon as I started snorkeling, I swam over top of clams that must have been hundreds and hundreds of pounds, and 1-2 meters across. And some of them had up to 10 clams in each bed. It was amazing to swim down and run my fingers along the insides of their "lips", which were fluorescing green, purple, and blue from their zooxanthellae. They felt soft, yet firm. It was absolutely incredible.
That night, after a dinner of Coconut curry made with fresh coconuts from the island, we got to work on our paper. We were there for school, after all. My small group was perfectly constructed with 2 city planners who knew everything about dumpy leveling, and 2 biologists (the other girl marine) who could handle the biological data. At the end of Saturday night, we were leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else.
Sunday morning started beautifully. The sun was shining... everything was hopeful. We took the small aluminum boats over to Iris Point on the side of the island. We went on another hike through the forest to check out some rocks.
The next part involves me rock hopping for a half hour to get to our transect point, where it started to rain and became ridiculously dangerous for us to be doing the work we were doing. I honestly can't believe no one broke their ankle on the slippery-as-ice boulders. There were lots of awesome biological moments to make up for the hard work, though. We saw a thousands and thousands of sea cucumbers everywhere in the shallow tidal pools. There was a huge conch, about a foot long, that was slugging itself along the algae that plagued the intertidal area. Crabs scurried everywhere. The coral that lived on the microatolls was highlighter colors. Blue, green, fushia, pink, purple. Clams fountained water everywhere. Polychaete worms were slithering around in the sediment. We found an electric blue sea star at the main reef's edge. I'm absolutely positive my eyes lit up like a child's at everything. There is no doubt in my mind now that I'm going to move to a tropical environment once I have the option.
That night, I feasted on lasagna. It was one of the best meals I've had since I've been in Australia. The joy of the dinner was short-lived, however, since I had to then go and write an essay to turn in before the next morning.
*Insert section where I talk about writing an essay until 2:30 in the morning*
We woke up at 5 on Sunday, and cleaned until just right after the 1st boat left at 7. Naps on the beach and a marathon of Cougar Town followed until our boat left at 9:30.
Before I knew it, I was back to reality in Townsville. Of course, nothing finished off a great weekend like sleeping for 10 hours Monday night. I have a refreshed love of Australia, that's for sure!
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Arcadia's semester program in Perugia, Italy
Hard to believe that midterms are only a couple of weeks away. I’ve been here for over a month now, and it keeps getting better. The weather this week has been great: sunny every day and very comfortable temperatures. I can only imagine how it will be when springtime comes around. Classes this week were demanding and intense, and it’s going to be nice having these next three days off. Today was pretty much a day off too as my Roman Empire class got cancelled this evening. I was a little stressed yesterday in preparing for a presentation for my Italian cinema class. My group and I were discussing a 1953 Italian comedy called “Il Ritorno di Don Camillo”. It was pretty funny at times, and it made our presentation a little easier because we didn’t have to be serious the entire time. After my travels in Venice last weekend, I’m going to relax a little bit this time around. Tomorrow I have a field trip for my Early Christianity class. We’re going to the nearby town of Spoleto for some firsthand experience with material from class. Sunday I plan on checking out my first AC Perugia soccer game. They are a third division team so the tickets are cheap, but the atmosphere is still great. Other than that, should be a quiet weekend in Perugia.
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Arcadia semester program in Ireland
It is apparent that the academic side of this trip will be more of an adjustment than the semi-language barrier. First of all, I have six classes that meet two hours per week each. Back at Bucknell, I have only four classes that meet for three hours a week each. That fact, in addition to my month-long spring break, the final exam study week, and the three-week final exam period, means that the time spent in each class is much shorter than it is back at home. I like the idea of learning a wider variety of material, but we obviously won't be able to go into as much detail in the subject matter.
Another distinction: Rather than having one or two required text books and weekly readings and homework assignments, the professors in Ireland give you a huge list of "Suggested Books." You are not expected to buy all the books (you can, but a few copies are usually in the library) and there are no assigned readings. You are free to pick and choose what books you want to read, and what areas you want to focus on ... independent from any instruction from the professors (or lecturers, as they are called here). All the classes are grade-based on one or two criteria (any combination of essay tests and papers). Obviously, students have more freedom to study what they want, which I think is a good thing. However, preparing for exams with this style of teaching will be a challenge for me.
Lastly, registration for classes is quite different here. Classes (which are called modules) started on Monday, Jan. 7. Official sign-ups for classes aren't due until Jan. 16, however. This gives students the opportunity to try out multiple classes and professors until they settle in on a schedule they are happy with. Back home, we have to pick classes months in advance, and changing a class requires you to get about 250 signatures (your old professor, your new professor, your advisor, your advisor's advisor, eight different department heads ... well not quite, but you get the idea). So far this week, I have attended nine different classes in an effort to find the ideal schedule. I feel a system like this is better for both students and educators, and would be beneficial to a liberal arts institution like Bucknell.
In any case, even with all the adjustments occurring in my life right now, I'm doing my best to reflect on this experience and take it all in. I feel like I have been here for so long and so much has been going on, even though it hasn't even been two weeks yet. So I guess the expression "time flies when you're having fun" does not apply here, because, with my adjustments going smoothly, the trip thus far has been brilliant.
Arcadia semester program in London
This will be a quick post, but I wanted to write about the lecture Laura and I went to on Monday night. One of the requirements for the Arcadia program is to attend one of the free lectures held around London and write a brief essay about it. They'd given us a list of some likely lecture places, including a few museums, but nothing caught my eye until I went to the Web site for the London School of Economics and found a lecture titled "The Post-American World." I realize that it's sort of ethnocentric to come to London and then attend a lecture about the U.S., but it sounded so interesting that I got Laura to go with me. Good choice, as it turns out. The speaker was Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International. He'd written a book titled, predictably, The Post-American World, and has actually appeared on The Daily Show several times to discuss it and other books.
The lecture focused on the global implications of the economic rise of large countries like China and India. These large nations, once essentially paralyzed by poverty, economic stagnation and political turmoil, are now expanding faster than an American at a Waffle House. They're not alone, either: last year, 124 countries were growing at a rate of 4%, and 90 countries were growing at 5%. The United States, meanwhile, grew by 1.2% – and that was entirely thanks to foreign trade. If this continues, Zakaria sees the world becoming decentralized, with nations everywhere having the potential to bring vast amounts of talent and resources to the world market. Unfortunately, in the United States, the boat's about to leave without us. While American multinational corporations have largely succeeded in getting on board and adapting to this shift, Washington has not taken the necessary steps to adapting politically. Change will mean persuading Washington to begin to regard these countries as economic, political, and cultural equals. It will also mean relinquishing some of the United States’s policing power and accepting the structural changes that other rises in power will inevitably cause.
For years the United States has been attempting to establish a world economy. Now it seems as though it might actually happen, and the United States needs to figure out how meet it. "It would be a pity," Zakaria finished, "if the United States finally succeeded in globalizing the world, and along the way forgot to globalize itself."
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Arcadia's semester program in Otago, New Zealand
It's been a while since I was able to post last. I would have liked to make a separate post for when I did the Otago Central Rail Trail, but sadly I couldn't get to the library in time to write one before it closed for the holidays. I did the rail trail on the 18th, 19th, and 20th of December. I drove to the little town of Middlemarch and rented a bike there and then got taken with the bike to the railhead at Clyde by a van. Then I spent the next 3 days biking the 150km back to Middlemarch. I stayed at an amazing bed-and-breakfast type place the first night and had a glorious home cooked organic lamb dinner with the guy that owns the place and a couple other guests. The second night I spent in a pretty standard backpackers in the little town of Ranfurly. The trail is totally flat because it follows the old rail lines. It was a real cool time and actually turned out to be one of the top trips of the semester. It was also interesting doing that trip totally by myself — lots of good time to clear my mind and prepare to leave my New Zealand world and come back to reality.
So then I just had a few days until my family came to NZ on December 22. So for the next two weeks or so we traveled around the country and tried to fit in as much NZ stuff as possible for the short time that they could be there. It was really cool. We spent the first day in Dunedin — did the Cadburry factory tour and the Speights Brewery tour as well as some other sites. Then the next day we spent a little more time in Dunedin before we left for Christchurch. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Akaroa, a little town on the Banks Peninsula, which is about an hour outside Christchurch. That was really nice there we did a harbour cruise and got to swim with dolphins (Hector's Dolphins, the smallest and rarest dolphins).
After another night in Dunedin we headed to Queenstown for a couple days. From there we did a Milford Sound tour, which was really sweet. After Queenstown we flew to Wellington from Christchurch and spent New Years there. The next few days we traveled from Wellington to Napier, then to Hamilton, then to Auckland. We did lots of different things and stopped at tons of different scenic and cultural attractions: Mt. Cook area day hike, Otago Peninsula wildlife tour (saw seals, sea lions, yellow eyed penguins, etc.), Mt. Bruce wildlife center (saw Kiwis), Waitomo caves, saw the oldest winery in NZ, One Tree Hill in Auckland... plenty of other stuff. Anyway, the specifics don't really matter I guess. It was really nice to be able to spend all that time with my family and to be able to show them at least some of the country. So we flew out on January 4th... and because of the time difference got into LA earlier in the day on January 4th.
We stayed the night of the 4th in Chicago and on the 5th I got back to Rock Island. I've seen lots of my friends and family and still have plenty more people to see. It's only about a week now until I go back to Chambana for my last semester. This last 6 months flew by. It was an amazing experience — trying to describe it's full effect would probably take much more time and space than this blog post will cover, and I guess I don't really even know to what extent my time abroad has affected me yet. Maybe I'll notice something- some way it changed me, maybe not. I don't know... it's kind of self reflection overload right now. All I know is that it was an excellent decision to study abroad, whether is was New Zealand or just the being away from home experience in general, I definitely recommend it to anyone/everyone. I'm definitely glad to be home now though and I'm truely looking forward to my last semester at Illinois. And after that, who knows... (Insert touching, uplifting, and inspirational life reflection ending here).
-Wandering vagabond Pat out.
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Arcadia's semester program in Christchurch, New Zealand
In a moment of sudden thought, I looked at my calendar in consternation, counted, was surprised, counted again, and sat back in a stunned heap. I had now been in New Zealand more than eleven weeks, which meant that only eight weeks remained until I returned home. The thought that more than half of my time is now gone is something of a shock. True, everyone who goes abroad says it, that one needs to take advantage of every moment because the trip is over in the blink of an eye, but still, they couldn’t have meant this fast, could they?
And yet...I know I’ve already accumulated a lifetime of memories here. There have been adventures, embarrassing moments, sure, but…it’s the quiet days I’ll remember, reading in the flat, looking out of my window on occasion and seeing the odd person sunbathing on the roof. Music drifting from ten different windows, the chatter of the flatmates downstairs, the rustle of my jacket as I slip it on because it’s colder in the flat than it is outside. These reminiscences are the ones that will resonate most strongly in the years to come, because they will have been so real, so full of hushed joy that even the dullest moments have a subtle euphoria about them.
So to me, it’s the everyday that makes for a spectacular adventure. It’s in those little things, a walk down the street, the simple laugh of a child, so different-sounding; and yet espying that little bit of familiarity, the same jokes, the same problems, the same yellow sun shining down under the same blue sky. It’s all that that makes me feel, if only for a moment, that I’m part of something bigger, something encompassing all of us, somehow, and at that moment, it’s difficult to feel lonely, no matter how distant my separation from another human being. It is those moments, above all, that I cherish in this lifetime, and have found in abundance these few weeks.
Right here, right now. Those words have driven me relentlessly forward during my journey throughout New Zealand. This is one of those “once in a lifetime chances,” right? Yes, of course, but…my time here has made fully real that concept that it’s all a once in a lifetime chance. Our whole life. Whether or not you believe in an afterlife, or a deity, or reincarnation, or nirvana: who you are, what you’re doing, right now is only going to happen once. No matter what, you’ve got to make the best of it, whether you’re around the world or around the corner.
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Arcadia's semester program in Auckland, New Zealand
The past few days have been quite the experience here in Auckland. I don’t much remember doing anything particularly crazy on Friday night, and Liz doesn’t either so we’ll start with Saturday. In the morning time I got up early to go down to Queen St (a major avenue here in Auckland) to do a homework assignment for my geography class. I ran into a great street market on Queen and so procrastinated for a bit as I wondered through the tents. The hw mostly involved looking at buildings and determining the change that’s taken place on the street over the past century. It turned out to be interesting, especially after I ran into two other girls in my class. We were all about adventuring around the area and we ended up finding some cool things as we explored several of Queen Sts older buildings.
I left the girls and walked home to meet Liz by noon. The plan was to walk to Mt. Eden to get some field hockey stuff for my practice the following day. It’s about a 3km walk to the store, which turned out to be refreshingly nice (but uphill as always.) Something I may not have mentioned about Auckland is that no matter where you’re walking it will inevitably be up the biggest or longest hill you could imagine. Makes for nice leg muscles I’m hoping. After playing around in the store for a while, we walked back towards Unilodge. Liz branched off to Queen street to find a new pair of sunglasses since she’d lost her first pair.
Soon after this escapade, Charlie texted us about the Blues game at 5:30. For those of you who aren’t completely engrossed in the rugby scene, the Blues are Auckland’s home team. The plan was to go to their game, but this soon changed when Liz lost her credit card. Liz, Alex G, and I searched the apartment entirely (found her old sunglasses in the process,) checked to make sure no money was gone, and finally figured out that the card was at a store she had been to the previous day. So all ended well on that end. The three of us headed to a local pub on Queen to watch the game on a big screen since it was far too late to head to the stadium to join Charlie and Alex.
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Check out Dave Kelbe's slideshow video of his experience in Otago, New Zealand
Arcadia's semester program in Otago, New Zealand
Welcome to my first post as a Glimpse Photo Correspondent. My name is Dave Kelbe and over the next 20 weeks I will be traveling the countryside (and going to class when I have the time), to try to learn as much as I can about this beautiful country. I will regularly be posting photos and text, so keep an eye out for the latest entries on all of my adventures.
For a little bit about me, I am currently enrolled at Rochester Institute of Technology, and am studying Imaging Science. I love to travel, love the outdoors, and most importantly, I love my camera. I will not go anywhere without it.
I came to New Zealand looking for something different. That's not to say that I was sick and tired of things at home. I love my family more than anything else in the world, I love my friends, and I love my home. But sometimes you just have to get away from it all, to see things from a new perspective. New Zealand was that new perspective for me. With a population less than half that of New York City alone, a GDP smaller than that of the state of Kansas, and only 8,998 active military personnel (compared to our 1.38 million), New Zealand definitely provides an interesting contrast to the economic and military superpower-mortality that I am used to at home.
I think Americans, myself included, often take for granted the many opportunities and luxuries we have at our disposal. Granted, with such power and influence, it is easy to take these things blindly. But to forget about the rest of the world, and to look down on cultures and customs that are different than ours means to turn away from a kind of "moral obligation" to effect change for the better, when and where we can. Thomas L Friedman, in his national bestseller, The World is Flat, comes to some powerful conclusions about the globalization of the 21st century, and the necessary adjustments that we must make as human beings and economists, as scientists and engineers, to keep up with the rapidly changing times. Now, more than ever before, it is critical that our education is not limited to the narrow horizons of one discipline or one university. If we are going to solve tomorrow's problems such as global warming and marine habitat destruction - common threats that plague us all, we must have a deep cross-cultural awareness and an international understanding. Because in the end, we all must work together to tackle these pressing issues. No one scientist or nation alone can solve the many growing global crises.
So if you want to do your part to further international understanding — if you are keen to take a look inside the daily realities of life in New Zealand — bookmark this blog and check up on me as often as you like. 'Kia ora,' as the Maori say, from Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud.
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Arcadia's semester program in Toledo, Spain
My first class starts in 10 minutes...
Just a quick update - living with the family is getting easier and more comfortable with every passing day. I have finally gotten my body back to equilibrium as I have slept a lot the past two nights. I have spent a little time with my parents walking around the barrio and going to run errands around town with my father. We went to get cat food yesterday and talked about how expensive it is to rent apartments in Spain as compared to the US.
My friends and I went to a bar last night to watch part of a fútbol match - Barçelona v. Seville. Everyone here is really nice . . . and it should be a fun semester. I have some pictures on my flash drive which I plan on uploading to the internet pretty soon . . . . I would now but I don´t have time. Toledo is a beautiful place, small enough to walk around but big enough to not get bored. I´ll try and update more frequently once I settle into a class schedule and figure out how to live here. ¡Hasta luego!
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Arcadia's semester program in Arusha, Tanzania
Yesterday the graduate class went to an ICTR (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda) judgment summary it was, to say the least, an interesting experience seeing the tail end of the Tribunal justice system. In a building reminiscent of the 1970s the ICTR is a maze of hallways and protocol that often sends you back through the hallways for a visitors pass only to then walk through the maze once again to sign your name and finally take your seat (according to our illustrious leader the name taking is a ridiculous act, since they don't check our IDs, and he refuses to sign his real name based on principle, this time using the name of his cousin). Sitting in the glass box that is the public gallery playing with our headphones adjusting the station from French to English to the sounds on the actual floor of the court it takes a moment for us to notice the dignified old man in the nice suit and red tie standing apart from the men and women in judicial garb who would soon be sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for acts of genocide. However, at the beginning of the judgment summary reading he is still only the accused, looking around smiling at his lawyers, 68 years old, it is hard to feel any strong feelings toward the man who was a low level official charged with taking care of around 25,000 refugees and who instead took men to the hill, site where the refugees were staying, who ended up killing from hundreds to thousands to all of them, it is not completely known because there has never been an investigation of the actual site. The reason why it is hard is because, as Roland says, the truth will never be known the circumstances under which he acted are a part of the past that can no longer be understood, however, since he was charged, I believe, he deserved the sentence he received, however it is difficult to cheer because in the end is this truly justice? In the judgment summary, the judges kept throwing out witnesses and different pieces of evidence, and yet a sentence was laid, two judges in favor one dissenting. Afterwards, we learn that if this case had been thrown out or if he hadn't been convicted of anything, a previous judgment would have come into question because that defendant and this one were being charged with the same crime because they were both at the site where the people were killed. In the end, he was charged he was there he was responsible, however to ignore the whole sphere of circumstances is to be ignorant and the more I study international law the more hopeless it seems for a world with only good guys and bad guys, instead it seems we are all shades of grey.
Blog posts originally appeared on student blogs. They are used with the permission of the author.
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