Lions, Sharks, and Hippos…OH MY!

South Africa is a blast! It is very different from home in a multitude of ways, but it is also one of the most beautiful and incredible places ever. University of Cape Town is challenging but I am learning a lot, and getting a great workout walking to school everyday. Just imagine three sets of the Million Dollar Stairs— with no Maloney elevator.

I am taking Race Class & Gender, Social Justice and Inequality, and Industrial Change and Society, all of which are incredible interesting to learn about especially in the South African context. They all focus on social justice issues, which South Africa has a lot of. I have learned so much about these inequalities in the classroom as well as through volunteering where I witness the daily struggle of a lot of people. Many people lack access to basic necessities such as clean water, electricity, and adequate housing and the education system as well as the public health care system are in dire need for reform. There is still a clear racial divide in society even though it has been twenty years; class rather than race now drives this racial divide. Everything I learn in the classroom I see when I go volunteering, so I make real life connections to what I read and hear in lecture, which gives this learning experience a much deeper and significant meaning.

In addition to school, which takes up a lot of time, I have also done lots of fun activities and gone on many adventures as well. I have hiked Table Mountain and watched the sunset from the top of Lions Head, both give gorgeous views of Cape Town and the ocean. I still have to climb Devil’s Peak, but it will soon be checked off the list! We had spring break a couple weeks back (weird that the seasons are reversed, RIP Pumpkin Spice Lattes ) and I went to Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. We did many safaris and saw a plethora of animals— elephants, hyenas, lions, giraffes, zebras, hippos, wildebeests, water buffalo, crocodiles and more, went to Victoria Falls where I swam to Devils Pool and also did a head first Gorge Swing! So scary, but so cool. We went through the delta in Botswana, which is filled with diverse plants (I love plants) and animals. I have never seen stars so bright in my entire life because we were honestly in the middle of nowhere. It was incredible. In addition, I have been shark cage diving which was a struggle and a half because a bird pooped on my head, I was vomiting due to severe sea sickness, and I am also petrified of sharks, but it was still so crazy to see a huge great white right outside the cage (even though I choking on the sea water in terror). I also spontaneously went paragliding from Lions Head with a complete stranger (yolo? sorry mom) because he gave my housemate, fellow BC student, Yanyi, a discount! It was really neat and a great view but I again got real motion sick, but I think that just defines my life now a days. I have seen lots of museums, historical monuments, been to the Waterfront and have had the time of my life here! School ends in three weeks and then finals start two weeks after that so I have some more time to explore this amazing city!

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Jet Set London

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This is how excited I am to study abroad. My name is Ale (Aly), and I will be studying at University College London for the academic year. Why the full year? There’s no drawn-out explanation for my decision. Honestly, I just wanted to do it! I will be studying English and also taking courses in the European Languages, Culture and Society department at my host university. I feel a little unsettled considering that I haven’t selected my courses yet, and it’s strange to think that I initially will not have any pounds, a cell phone plan, or a friend when I land in London, but I know everything will work out. The first order of business is to get some pounds on me, monetarily and physically (fish and chips, fish and chips).

My flight leaves from Miami, Florida, in six hours and will arrive in London on Thursday at 10:30 am, after a connection in Lisbon, Portugal. I’ve been anxiously waiting for this flight since I feel like I’m the last one to leave for my abroad program. I guess I’m just anxious to get into the swing of being a student again. I honestly cannot wait to be settled in and have all the time in the world to explore London. I’m excited to meet up with some friends from BC, meet the people in my program, and meet the people I will be living with at UCL. My place is similar to an 8-man, but we all have our own rooms, which is more convenient I think. I’ll be cooking my own meals, and that’s also something I’m thrilled about because I adore cooking.

WIth that, wish me luck on my travels! Let’s hope I learn the language in London quickly. That was a joke. It was a bad one, but it was still a joke.

Cheers,

Ale

Paris, je t’aime

Bonjour, tout le monde! My name is Michelle Mackin and this semester I am lucky enough to be studying in Paris through BC’s ILCF program. I am a communication major, and since that area of study doesn’t exactly exist in Europe, I unfortunately cannot fulfill any communication credits. But I will be taking very interesting courses about French language and culture and an art history class (taught in English), all of which I am very excited for! When we get there, everyone studying in Paris has to take a 2-week intensive French course. I am extremely happy about that because I definitely need a refresher after having a break from French all summer; plus I’m going to be living with a host family who will be speaking to me in French (fingers crossed they’ll break into English if I’m seriously struggling). I will be living in the 7th arrondissement (a fancy word for the sections of Paris), pretty close to the Eiffel Tower, the Seine River, and my school! I’m so excited to get there, meet my host family, and really get to know the city of Paris.

I have two main goals for my experience in Paris. Firstly, I really hope to become fluent in the language. When I get back to BC, I want to begin a minor in French, and I know that staying in Paris with a host family will REALLY help me with mastering the language. In fact that’s really the main reason I chose Paris – originally, I was set on going to London, but when I started taking Intermediate French last fall, I realized that I really enjoyed it and that the only way I could perfect my French would be by going to Paris. My second goal is to really understand French culture. I want to open my eyes to their perspectives and just meet TONS of cool people who I wouldn’t meet at BC.

So now I’m just killing time at home in New York looking at blogs about Parisian food and activities and clothes, and shopping till I drop so I can try (and most likely fail) to be trendy while I’m there. I’m nervous but also super excited for my 3 months abroad and while I am sad that I won’t be at BC this semester, I still can’t wait to finally get my adventures started!

Say Cheese!

Hello everyone, my name is Mary Joseph and I will be studying in Parma, Italy for the next three months! I am majoring in English and minoring in Leadership and Management. I am a junior from Natick, MA.

The city of Parma is halfway between Florence and Milan. Luckily for me, Parma is home to both Parmesan cheese and Prosciutto. I am excited to start this adventure of my life, but also extremely nervous. I am a huge homebody. I love to see my family, hang with my siblings, and play with the love of my life, my 95-pound Golden Retriever, Wrigley. Going abroad is a life changing decision for me, but I know it will be one that I do not regret.

This program is an interesting one. For the first month, I am living in a hotel in Florence going to a different museum, church, or art gallery everyday in order to fulfill my Fine Arts core requirement. The 24 Boston College students in this program will accompany me to Parma at the beginning of October where we get to take a cooking class, live in home stays, and travel to different countries on the weekend. Doesn’t sound too bad right?

Although I will miss my friends, Summer SAPers, Heights Board, and family, I know that I will love my time in Italy. I will be rolling back to Boston in December (literally rolling from all the cheese I will consume) and will be there to cheer our Eagles onto victory in hockey.