Diego in Brazil: Final exams at PUC-Rio

December 3, 2013

Yesterday I had my first final exam at my host university. I would not say that my time in Rio de Janeiro simply flew by, but I certainly feel that the second half of the semester was somehow much shorter. It seems as if just two weeks ago I was writing my mid-term exams. Yet here I am, about two weeks away from closing this experience abroad. As with my post about mid-term exams, I am posting pictures of PUC-Rio’s campus. This time I took two pictures right outside the main campus entrance.

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The main entrance to PUC’s central campus. Several public buses either go through or end their routes right in front of these doors, making the campus quite accessible.

This week I wrote my Portuguese final exam. It was incredibly short and I suppose PUC simply wants to test how much its foreign exchange students are learning. Rather than bombarding us with fifteen or twenty exercises on the same topic, my professor asked us to complete about twelve sentences in total that tested whether we can use different tenses and conjugate verbs. She also gave us a short reading and asked us to answer two short questions. Tomorrow we will have the oral section of my exam in which we will discuss racism in Brazil.

All of my other classes (Geography of the Contemporary World, Political Economy of Latin America, Brazilian Foreign Policy, and Poverty and Social Inequality) are mainly based on academic readings. Final grades in each class heavily depend on how students do in final exams, so I suppose my professors will be asking for two or three long, essay-type answers for each exam.

Interestingly enough, my four classes (or maybe my four professors) have different approaches to tests. Today my Poverty and Social Inequality professor distributed six essay questions for us to prepare at home, each relating to a particular text we read during our course. For our exam she will choose three of the six questions and ask us to develop a relatively long response for each. While this may seem rather simple, she expects us to incorporate our in-class debates into our responses, turning our exam into quite an interesting exercise.

My Brazilian Foreign Policy class will also have a “traditional” exam. We will be given three essay prompts that ask us to compare different authors, theories, and historical periods. This will certainly be my heaviest exam in terms of the amount of content I will need to prepare and study. Luckily, this has been my favorite course at PUC-Rio and it will be quite interesting to look back and realize how much I have learnt about Brazil and Latin America through this class.

The exciting moments of my next two weeks will most likely come during my Geography and Political Economy exams. These two professors have a very interesting approach to final exams. They both believe that having students simply reproduce what they have already read in academic texts does not show how much they have learnt. Instead, we will be given a newspaper article (or an image in the case of Geography) to analyze using the theories and arguments we have studied so far. My professors’ objective is to determine whether students have developed the skills to put new knowledge in practice.

This was probably not the most entertaining post of my semester, but I wanted to give you an idea of how different academic systems may be abroad. About 60% of my final grade for each class will be based on these exams. My experiences at the University of Richmond and at PUC-Rio have been different in this aspect, yet I am confident both systems have allowed me to learn immensely.

I will definitely let you know how my exams go!

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Step outside PUC’s campus and you will find several options for a quick lunch or even some Acaí (a highly popular “drink” made from the fruit of a particular palm tree.)

Mel in Chile: A lot of time in a few places

December 3, 2013

Last week I went back to Valle Elikura, the location where we engaged in a home stay about a month ago with my study abroad program.

I went back this time because of two main reasons. My research project is an analysis on the experience with community-based tourism in the area. I gave some interviews when I was there with the group but as my research developed and I had a better grasp of the topic in question, I naturally developed questions that were more analytical. Ready with my informed consent forms, I walked down to the bus station as if I was walking to my deathbed, to buy tickets for the overnight nine-hour bus ride to Cañete. My journey would not end there; from Cañete I needed to take another hour-long bus ride to Valle Elikura.

Nevertheless I arrived in Valle Elikura early Sunday morning. Silvia was my host mother when we traveled with my group and I had called her prior to my coming to ask if I could rent the cabin again. She cheerfully agreed and told me she would also provide all three meals. Silvia had left the house early to come meet me at the location where the bus form Cañete dropped me off.

I arrived at the cabin fourteen hours after I left my home in Santiago.

I took the rest of Sunday to rest. Valle de Elicura is an incredibly peaceful place. My room in Santiago faces a very busy street so I was more than happy to trade in the noise of 8 am traffic for the chirping of birds.

I began Monday by starting my work right away. As I greeted familiar faces in Valle de Elicura I felt more and more comfortable every time I spoke with someone I had previously met. This is when I suddenly and pleasantly realized that coming back to visit a place for the second time is an entirely new experience. I enjoyed going back to the river where I ran by on my first visit. After some exploring I found a beautiful meadow. As I lay in the grass, tranquil, away from noise, distractions and other people, I could not help but feel as though I was inside my own conscience. I allowed myself to bathe in this beautiful solitude.

I stayed in Valle de Elicura until Wednesday. I ate all of my meals with Silvia, Lautaro, and Kata (Silvia’s husband and granddaughter). I enjoyed staying with Silvia’s family the first time, but this was even better. It is precisely what I referred to in the above paragraph. I went to visit the people I had interviewed a month ago. The feeling of familiarity, of “Hey! It’s nice to be here again. Nice to see you, how is everything?” is something that feels incredibly warm for me.

Many people have a thirst for constant travel; to hike through as many beautiful mountains as possible, to visit vibrant cities, to jump around countries and see different cultures.

I imagined I would have the same mentality during my study abroad semester in Latin America.

I can assert with confidence that I belong to the other group. I found that I subscribe to the spend- a- lot- of- time- in- a- few- places  philosophy of travel.


Silvia’s cabin in Valle de Elicura

Rhiannon in India: Missing Life in Hyderabad

November 22, 2013

Right now, I am on a plane on my way to Kochi, Kerala. As I wrote in my last post, I am spending the next two weeks travelling through the southern states of Kerala and Karnataka, known for their coastlines, mountains, and coconuts. As soon as my Hindi exam ended today, I rushed home to pack my things and headed to the airport, eager to finally escape school life and being an amazing adventure. But this excitement came at a price. I have been so engulfed by exams and planning for this trip, I had not realized that I would be seeing many of my friends for the last time today. When we left the exam room this afternoon, many of my friends and I realized that our end-of-semester travels would be separating us until it was time to go home in December. We said our goodbyes, but it seemed so rushed and unexpected that it left me feeling strange about leaving for my trip. I know I’ll see many of my American friends again, whether it be in India before we leave or once we are back home, but these goodbyes made me realize something even worse. Even though I’ll be in India for a few more weeks, I will never be in the daily routine that I developed earlier this semester. I may never get to experience the little things that became so normal and part of my everyday life, like being greeted by the familiar auto-wallahs in our neighborhood, riding my bike to class with two flat tires, or eating a pound of rice at my favorite canteen on campus. So although I am thrilled to start my two-week trip, it is a bittersweet excitement.

I know I’ll miss every experience, every interaction, and every person at some point when I get home, because it is often the little things that come to mind first when I am reflecting on my stay in India. Nevertheless, there are a few people that I will really miss having as a part of my everyday life once I am home.

The first is my host family – Nivedita, my host mom, and Prerna, my host sister. Looking back on the semester, I feel so lucky to have been placed with this host family. Nivedita and Prerna were always so kind and patient with us when we would ask endless questions about Indian culture. Nivedita would always let us crowd around her in the small kitchen while she was cooking dinner to watch and write down recipes. She would also spend hours after dinner telling us the religious stories about different gods behind all of the holidays we were celebrating, and was the primary source behind many of my blog posts this semester. Prerna was also a very good source of information when it came to understanding the ins and outs of Indian culture. We really got to bond with Prerna when she came with us on a long weekend trip to Mumbai. She had never been to Mumbai before, so we all went together to explore the big city, see some sites, and go shopping for “western” clothes. My favorite part about hanging out with Nivedita and Prerna was when we go on trips with them. Last weekend, Nivedita’s sister and her two kids, Sanskar (12) and Isha (5), were visiting us from Pune to pick up Nivedita’s mom, who we called Aji (grandma in Marathi). While they were all staying with us, we went for a day trip to a town to the north of Hyderabad called Warangal, known for its farmland and historic temples. We spent the whole day hopping from site to site in the taxi while we had the best time hanging out with the family, especially the two kids, Sanskar and Isha. Everyone welcomed us into the family and treated us like we were one of them, especially Isha, who attached herself to Jennie and me the whole day.

Family at Warangal

Our host family at a temple in Warangal

Jennie Sanskar Isha rice field jumping

Jennie, Sanskar, Isha, and I jumping in a rice field near Warangal

I am also fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet the neighbors in our apartment building. One of the first people we met when we moved into the apartment was Moulali, the watchman. A middle-aged Telugu man, he knew very little English (and I knew even less Telugu), but somehow we always managed to communicate about where our host family was, what he was having for dinner that night, where we were going, and when we’d be back. Every time we came into the carport, where he and his family lived in a small room, he would yell, “Namaste!” and fold his hands dramatically. He was always extremely energetic, and my best memory of Moulali was when Jennie and I gave him a flower for him to give it to his wife, Narasimha. He took the flower, then sang and skipped all the way across the carport to his wife to give it to her.

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Moulali and Narasimha, the watchman and maid for our apartment building

Throughout the semester, we formed a close relationship with the other family on our hall, spending many afternoons or weekends hanging out in their apartment watching TV, or eating lots of snacks, and playing with their two kids Binnu (9) and Quiny (5). Madhu and Sandiya, the parents, were so kind and welcoming to us, and now seem like an integral part of our host family. We also became really close with the family living in the “penthouse” apartment on the roof. They also had two kids, Lalith (14) and Spandana (9), who we also spent a lot of time with. Lalith, a super smart rubix cube master, would always hang out in our apartment and tell us about the things he was learning in school. Spandana loved to come over to color or learn English songs from YouTube on our laptops. As the semester went on, our three families spent more and more time together, sharing meals, going to the park, and even doing sunrise yoga on the roof.

Binnu and Quiny Diwali

Binnu and Quiny in their Diwali outfits

There are many other people I will miss as well. I will miss spending evenings with Jennie doing homework, making cookies, and watching old episodes of Disney channel shows. I will miss traveling to new, exciting places with my friends from CIEE. I will miss meeting with my peer tutor Rajini twice a week to attempt at speaking Hindi. I will miss going to dinner and concerts with my friends from Hyderabad. And the list goes on.


My peer tutor Rajini and me at our normal meeting spot in front of the library

Of course, I could list just as many, or more, things that I miss from home right now too, and I’m excited to go back to my family and friends in America. But now that my time in India is coming to a close, I wish that I could stay here for a little longer and prolong the end to these wonderful experiences I have had this semester.

Rhiannon in India: Ending the semester on a great note

November 19, 2013

I starting to dawn on me that I only have few weeks left in India, and what’s worse, only a few more days left in Hyderabad! All of a sudden, I am scrambling to spend as much time as possible with my friends in Hyderabad, the other students in my program, and my home stay family and neighbors. To add to this busy schedule, I am hurrying to find gifts for my family and friends at home, plus attempting to study for finals and plan for my end-of-semester travelling. Because of all this craziness, it has been hard to find time to blog about my recent experiences, not to mention stopping to reflect on my semester and going back home. Nevertheless, I am happy that, in the past few weeks, I have been able to spend time doing the things that I will miss most once I am back home.

It may sound strange, but one thing I will miss most about this semester is sitar practice. Twice a week, five of my friends and I spent at least an hour in the evenings learning sitar from our wonderful teacher Vinoj, who only knew a few words in English. We learned mostly by watching and repeating what he played, but he would always say, “very good, very good” accompanied by a pat on the head, if we played something correctly, or “WRONG” if we messed up. Although we couldn’t communicate much through language, our teacher was always enthusiastic and supportive of us, and it provided a lot of hilarious moments during practice. Last week, we finally performed in the SIP Cultural Show, playing two songs on sitar that we have been practicing for three or four months now. It was really nerve-wracking to perform in front of a large auditorium full of UoH students and professors, but we were all proud of ourselves for performing only a few months after starting to learn sitar from scratch. As soon as we started playing our second piece, a popular Bollywood song, the whole crowd erupted in applause, and afterward, some of my Indian friends said we stole the show!

Sitar class

Sitar class with our teacher and tabla player

Here’s a video of our performance:

Another thing I will miss a lot is hanging out with the little kids in my apartment building. A few weekends ago, Jennie and I were missing home, so we threw a Halloween party and invited all the families in our building. We decorated the rooftop patio with orange balloons, paper pumpkins and bats, and tissue paper ghosts. We bought tons of candy, a pumpkin, and some art supplies and planned some activities so that all the kids could participate. When the kids showed up that night, they were all decked out in full costumes, masks, capes, and face paint! We wore costumes, turned on some music, and played Halloween-themed bingo, pin the spider on the web, and musical chairs. The biggest hit among the kids was the “brain bowl,” a pumpkin full of noodles with prizes in the bottom that kids had to find by reaching their hands in the “brains.” Usually, we are constantly asking questions about Indian traditions, so it was nice to share a little bit about our culture in return, while getting to spend time with our neighbors too.

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The kids in their costumes for the Halloween party

Halloween weekend also happened to be Prerna’s birthday and Diwali, so the whole weekend was full of celebration. On Saturday, Prerna decided to celebrate her 15th birthday at an orphanage in Hyderabad that she had visited before with her school. We loaded up the car with toys and headed to the orphanage with our host family and some of our “extended host family” as well. Going to the orphanage was one of the many eye-opening experiences I have had while being in India. When we arrived, I thought it was a girl’s orphanage because almost all of the children I saw were girls, ranging from infants to pre-teens. However, I realized that it is only because many families in India can’t afford having daughters that the orphanage was so overwhelmingly female. It is illegal in India to determine the sex of a child before birth, so many baby girls are abandoned after they are born. To add to this problem, the social stigma around having children out of wedlock and the discrimination of children with divorced parents causes many mothers to abandon children regardless of their gender. This was a sad reality to witness firsthand at the orphanage, but while we were there we met a few of the children that had been adopted, including one girl who would be leaving the orphanage with her new family to live in London in just a few weeks.

The next day, we celebrated Diwali, one of the biggest and most widely celebrated holidays in India,with our host family and neighbors. We feasted all day on white rice, lemon rice, curries, daal, roti, vada, peanut chutney, and tons of sweets like laddus, gulab jamin, and kheer. Then we spent the evening setting off fireworks and playing with sparklers. There aren’t many regulations on fireworks here, so it was actually quite frightening how many explosions were going off in the small alleyways and streets between the apartments in our neighborhood. Apparently Diwali is one of the most dangerous days of the year in India, and we even saw an apartment building on fire in the distance. We went up on the roof to watch the 360-degree view firework show going on for miles around us, but as the night went on, we all got headaches from the booming noises and smoke inhalation. Overall, my first Diwali experience seemed like a mixture of Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July, and Blitzkrieg.


Our Diwali feast

In just a few days, after I finish exams, I’ll be heading to South India with my friends to explore the backwaters of Kerala, tea plantations in the Western Ghats, and the luxurious palaces of old kings in Karnataka. I’m anxious to start these adventures, but the excitement is bittersweet. When I leave for this trip, I’ll be saying goodbye to Hyderabad, the wonderful city that I’ve called home for the last five months.


Diwali decorations – rangoli and diyas


November 13, 2013

A good friend of mine from the University of Richmond is also studying abroad in Chile. His program is in Valparaíso, a coastal city about an hour and a half away from Santiago by bus. I mentioned in an earlier post that Neal came to visit me in Santiago so it was only natural that I traveled to Santiago to return the favor!

I set out for Valpo (an affectionate nickname for Valparaíso) this past Saturday. My plans to arrive early went awry so I did not reach the city until it was midday. I know I talk a lot about traveling in Chile in my posts but believe it or not this was the first time I traveled by myself. If you have noticed, all of the destinations I have mentioned in blog posts have been excursions with the study abroad group. The program was a bit rigorous in that we could not miss any classes. Travel time was strictly allotted to weekends but when you are living in the longest country in the world, you don’t get very far in a weekend. I am now in my month of research without any class obligations so I am much more flexible to travel. In fact, this weekend I am going back to Valle Elikura to visit my homestay family in the south and conduct some interviews that are relevant for my research. I also have not done traveling on my own thus far because I wanted to avoid becoming a tourist. All my travels so far have been, and will continue to be, for a specific purpose. I think this is a way I have personally tried to step away from typical ecotourism or ethnic tourism.

Anyway, Valparaíso is close enough for a day trip. I was really happy that I was visiting Neal in Valpo and not simply going to sightsee. Neal is also someone very aware of social and political dynamics in Chile and I knew I would “experience Valpo” through a particular lens. The first thing we did was hike up to a neighborhood in Valpo that is known for murals. Valparaíso in itself is known to have a lot of murals. Some carry particular social commentary and others are simply beautiful works of art. World-renowned artists have also crafted beautiful murals in the city. You can imagine the street art makes Valparaíso an incredibly colorful city. The neighborhood we visited is known as the most famous area for public art. The murals are simply drawn outside of private homes with the permission of the homeowner. Many times the mural engulfs the entire outer wall of the house.

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Examples of the many beautiful murals in Valparaíso

Valparaíso is a port city that is spread out almost entirely on hills. Any activity from going to the cemetery to the small neighborhood coffee shop five minutes away is a full-blown hike. One would go mad if they tried to orient him/herself around the city using street names. Those are arbitrary. I learned if you want to get somewhere, you pick out a reference point close to your destination and you head towards that direction. As you are walking, you have to constantly check your position in relation to the reference point and adjust your path accordingly.


The city has many stairs like these that people can use to “climb up” to other streets. They can get pretty steep!

Overall, I enjoyed Valparaíso. I think I would have been extremely happy to live there as well. The city isn’t too big to be overwhelming and cold, but it is big enough represent a lot of socioeconomic diversity. It isn’t too small where it may be “boring” or monotonous, but small enough to exude a strong and particular character.

I will definitely return for another visit.


Colorful Valparaíso

Diego in Brazil: It began as a class presentation…

November 13, 2013

Some minutes ago I finished my first in-class presentation on Brazilian Foreign Policy. I could feel all of my Portuguese vocabulary just flying away from my mind minutes before my presentation. I’m the only exchange student in my class and even my group seemed a little nervous not knowing how I was going to do. “What’s the summary of what you’ll present?” asked one of them. I suspect she was somehow testing my Portuguese…

But enough of that. The presentation went incredibly well and I’m happy to feel capable of improvising and analyzing Brazil’s involvement in Latin America during the Cold War in front of a large group. How did it happen? I’m still not entirely sure, but the topic is so interesting that I decided to share with you some history that has traditionally been ignored.

Read any history book on the political landscape of Latin America during the late 60s and early 70s and you will most likely be led to believe that Brazil played an almost-insignificant role in other countries’ politics. Historians and political scientists have typically pointed at the US for its involvement in the region as a hegemonic power interested in sabotaging any left-wing political victory in Latin America. A different language, culture, and history of colonization are all factors that have led us to conclude that Brazil hasn’t really focused its Foreign Policy on Latin America.

While most of the above may be true, it turns out most books won’t be precisely teaching you what really happened between 1965 and 1975. Brazil’s former president Médici – military dictator between 1969 and 1974 – believed that the ideological war in Latin America at the time was an internal conflict, consequence of the poverty and inequality that have historically characterized the continent. Médici concluded early in his time in power that any solution to the region’s ideological war would also have to be internal. During his administration Brazil participated in the overthrow of a democratically-elected leftist president in Bolivia, the weakening of Uruguay’s most important leftist coalition, and the training of military forces that would eventually overthrow Salvador Allende in Chile.


Attack on the Palacio de la Moneda in Santiago de Chile on September 11th, 1973. Source: http://filosofiacr.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/salvador-allende-vida-y-muerte-la-cia-y-el-golpe-de-estado-del-11973-video/)

In 1971 Médici visited former president Nixon to motivate him to get even more involved in Latin America. Records of the meeting show that Médici left Washington quite unhappy about Nixon’s decision to not drastically increase the economic and military aid given to Bolivia’s and Uruguay’s right-wing regimes. It turns out that between 1970 and 1974 Brazil took the lead in the “fight against communism” in Latin America and constantly tried to get the US to pay more attention to the region. In September 11th of 1973, Salvador Allende suffered a coup d’état in Chile and this meant that, according to the Brazilian Foreign Minister at the time, the Southern Cone’s revolutionary “snowball had been reversed.”


Médici, Nixon, and Kissinger meet in Washington in 1971. Source: http://impressao.wordpress.com/tag/nixon/)

A number of internal and external factors led Brazil to shift its attention away from the region after 1974. Pinochet in Chile and Geisel in Brazil would lead, respectively, the two countries on different paths towards a harsher military rule and more relaxed policies. It wasn’t until the 1990s that Brazil would regain such strong interest in Latin American politics.

Next semester I will start writing my thesis back in Richmond. I have decided to give a more historical touch to my examination of the Brazilian-Peruvian international border in the Amazon region. As it turns out, Brazil’s involvement in Latin America has been much more important than what I once thought. Among all of the academic lessons I have gained while studying abroad in Brazil, this may be the one that will have the greatest impact in years to come.

If you are interested in reading more about Brazil’s involvement in Latin America between 1970 and 1975, you can follow this link (http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14682745.2011.641953) to the article by Tanya Harmer (2012) that was the basis of my presentation and this blog entry.

Alyssa in New Zealand: The end

November 12, 2013

It seems that I’m constantly on the move. I never run out of things to do no matter where I am. And it’s saddening to think that this will all come to an end very soon. The day I fly out from New Zealand is going to approach quickly and I won’t realize this until the actual moment comes.

The past couple of weeks have progressed much quicker than I thought. It felt liberating to finally finish my last exam because from that point on, I did not have to worry about schoolwork anymore. All I had to think about was what I was going to do with my remaining time in the country. I took advantage of my free time right away. I had made plans to leave after my exam to travel the north part of the South island, which was a 900 kilometer trip from Dunedin.

As my three friends and I drove in the northern direction, we made stops along the way. After five hours of driving, we ventured out to Castle Hill, which had been named the “Spiritual Center of the Universe” by the Dalai Lama. The location seemed to be at absolute peace and serenity. As we walked towards the entrance, we were greeted with vast green land which was completely occupied by several limestone boulders. Each stone varied in size, for they ranged from 8 to 40 feet. The area was the epitome of New Zealand’s climbing scene. Every corner we turned, there was a new bouldering opportunity that we were drawn to. It became our glorified playground and my favorite place that I’ve visited in New Zealand.


Castle Hill


The ideal location for climbing and bouldering

As we proceeded north, we drove through Arthur’s Pass National Park, a scenic highway route. The further we immersed ourselves into the valleys, the more impressive and vast the mountains became that surrounded us. Just when you thought you couldn’t imagine anything bigger, something even more immense came along. Such remarkable scenery reminded me of how much I haven’t seen, and I became more than grateful to find myself venturing out to places that I had never thought about encountering.

Abel Tasman National Park was our final destination, for we wanted to tramp one of the Great Walks, the coastal track. It is located in the northwestern part of the island. The weather was noticeably different from the weather in Dunedin. The temperature was warmer and the sun wasn’t constantly hiding behind the clouds. The track as a whole was fairly easy mostly because there was very little elevation. As we hiked the track, we came across several different accesses to beaches, which made it even more enjoyable. One could almost say that it was more relaxing than a strenuous activity for us.

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As we drove through Arthur’s pass, I captured this shot when we were crossing over a bridge


Arthur’s pass

Once we finished the track, we traveled east to Picton so that we could start another tramp, the Queen Charlotte track. Since we didn’t have the time or stamina to do the entire track, we decided to start in the middle where we would get the best views of the Marlborough Sounds. As we reached to an elevation of just over 400 meters, we concluded that we could have not picked a better spot to be on the track. Out of 71 kilometers, we chose the perfect place.

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Marlborough Sounds

After six days, we made our way back to Dunedin. The thought of leaving has finally become a reality now that my packing has begun. My flight to return to home is November 21st and I leave Dunedin with my flatmates on the 10th. For those remaining 11 days, we will be traveling the entire North island. It will be our last and final stretch of traveling in New Zealand. The Auckland airport will be where we depart back to our home countries.

Tonight is my last night in Dunedin. The town has become not only the place where I reside, but it has also become my home. Traveling around in New Zealand would not have been the same if I had not been with the people that I have met here. As I’ve gotten to know them, they have become an important aspect in my life as we have all supported each other regardless of the fact that we are all from extremely different places and cultures. We all came to New Zealand for our own yet similar reasons, all of which have naturally forced us to make the experience much more meaningful in a way we never imagined.

Expectations are never met. We can never be absolutely certain about anything until we have experienced it for ourselves. Thus, it is best to go in without any expectations or set plans. Keep an open mind. You never know what changes and occurrences will present themselves, for it could potentially be for the better in the end. If you knew everything that was about to happen to come, to what degree would you actually enjoy it?

Seeing that this is my last blog post for the semester tells me that the journey is finally coming to an end. I highly enjoyed writing about my study abroad experience. It has been recorded and now I have something to always look back on to reflect the entire semester. Thank you for providing me with this opportunity, Richmond; you have helped me make my memories and experience permanent.

With my last words, I will say that if you have any desire to study abroad, do it. Some inconveniences may present themselves, but they can be solved. As cliché as it sounds, the experience as a whole is unlike anything you could ever imagine and there is no reason for anyone to miss out on that. No one should be deprived from seeing the world.

To consider myself lucky is an understatement. Thank you to everyone who has made my time more than enjoyable over here in New Zealand. As for all the other study abroaders, it will soon be time for us to go back home and return reality back at school.

Not all those who wander are lost.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

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