Monday, March 18, 2013

Inside Scoop on Studying Abroad - Part III

More exciting stories from around the world! This inside scoop is from Rob Bronstein studying in Rabat, Jennifer Johnson studying in Puebla, and Sarah Connolly studying in Manipal!


Life in Rabat, Morocco is very much like life in Washington DC. The coolest thing about life in the city is that I get to utilize my knowledge of Modern Standard Arabic as well as Darija (they are equally useful) on a regular basis. While its initially difficult to adjust to conversing with people who do not understand English, like my host mother, learning to think in Arabic has proven both challenging and rewarding. But what is even cooler than life inside the city, is life outside of the city. The beauty of the countryside is unlike anything I have ever seen in America and is truly breathtaking. While I may be away from my friends and family, the knowledge and experience I have gained (and the palm trees) have made it worth the while.


My experience studying abroad in Puebla, Mexico, has been without a doubt one of the greatest of my life. Every day is a new adventure in language and culture, and you never stop learning. It’s a country of harsh realities and deep inequalities, but also incredible beauty and hospitality. It’s such an amazing opportunity to finally be able to see and experience everything I’ve been learning about in SIS and through Global Scholars. My classes are fascinating, and I’m loving the opportunity for Spanish immersion. I have an incredible internship with Fundación Origen Nakú, a local NGO that works for sustainable development in poor, marginalized indigenous communities. We work for better education and opportunities for women and children in the communities. Several long weekends of the semester we travel 5 hours north to the village of Xaltipan, in the Sierra Norte of Puebla. Living, working, sharing and learning in the communities has been such an incredible gift and opportunity. I teach a class of precious 3rd graders, and spend a lot of time visiting with the people and learning about their way of life. I’ve become addicted to handmade tortillas (so good!) and fresh oranges and mamey, and I’ve even picked up a little bit of the local language, Nahuatl!

I’ve learned firsthand that studying abroad is such an incredible and enriching experience for broadening one’s horizons, seeing the world through other points of views, and learning about who you are out of the context of your nationality. I’ve fallen irrevocably in love with the culture and people of Mexico, and I can feel my understanding of myself and the world around me changing and growing each day, which is such an incredible experience. Thank you so much to American University, SIS, and the Global Scholars program for giving me such an incredible opportunity!


I am abroad in Manipal, India this semester, as a member of the Public Health & India studies program. While in southern India, I have had the opportunity to see the unique blend of Western and traditional culture. This is prominent in everything from very liberal university I am studying at, to the strict dress code we must follow. A major component of the Manipal program is a combination of health field visits and weekend cultural excursions. I have been able to do everything from assist with a Pulse Polio vaccination day and visit several levels of the Indian health care system, to observing colorful religious festivals at Hindi, Sikh and Buddhist temples. It has been truly an adventure. Having an Indian room mate and integrated classes with the Geopolitics and Public Health masters students create friendships that had led to attending weddings, daily yoga classes, wandering the backroads of India and learning how to cook traditionally.

The most amazing part of India is how hard it is to really describe being here. You can say that it's noisy and full of loud, honking cars and autorickshaws. You can feel the heat of 100 degree sunshine as soon as you step at the door, as you are hit by a wave of the most strange smells. English clashes with the local language of Kannada, while I'm learning Hindi and other students speak dozens of different dialects. It can be hard to focus on what's going on, but India is sensory overload in the best possible way. Being in Manipal has been a wonderful experience. Manipal offers the best of both worlds: easy access to the local beaches, daily fruit juice and normal college campus life, combined with the ability to travel by train and bus to national vacation spot Goa and religious ruins in Hampi. My time in Manipal has already been the adventure of a lifetime, and it's only going to get better. I'm spending my spring break this week on a program sponsored trip to Bangalore, Mysore, Ooty, Varkala and Fort Kochin - a whirlwind tour of five major stops in southern India.

You can find my regular travel blog at, though I have been unable to update it recently with my homework and the amount of travel we have been doing. You can pass along that address if people want to know more.

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