August, 2013

This is Tahiti

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

 By Midori Ng

Island of Moorea

“Bonjour”, “La Orana”, and “Hello” surrounded us as we disembarked the airplane and into the overwhelming humidity. Since I only speak English, I was immediately culture shocked with the French and Tahitian languages. The LePendu’s were our host family who warmly welcomed our UW group of 22 students with flower lei’s, shell necklaces, and friendly kisses. This marked the beginning of my Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity (OMAD) study abroad journey in Tahiti for one month, exploring the towns of Punaauia, Fa’a, Papeete, and Moorea.

A small island with an even smaller population, Tahiti is home to natural wonders of sandy beaches, exotic flora and fauna, and clear blue ocean waters. To the outside world, it is known as paradise. However, many people never truly experience the aspects of Tahiti that make the island so alluring and captivating.

Our journey focused on making connections within the Polynesian community and learning about the Tahitian culture beyond the stereotypes and pre-perceptions. We spent weeks studying the traditional Tahitian canoes Polynesians used to voyage across miles of ocean during migration through guest speakers, readings, and discussions. Afterwards our group canoed in open water, swam with stingrays, and learned to how to paddle board with the LePendu kids. This type of active learning was applied to multiple aspects of the Tahitian culture.

Heiva Dance Festival

Heiva Dance Festival

During our second week, we attended the Heiva Dance Festival in downtown Papeete to watch an entertaining Polynesian show full of chanting, dancing, and singing. Afterwards, we got to partake and create our own Heiva festival, learning four dance routines, two songs, and a traditional chant within 48 hours to perform for the Punaauia community.

Volunteering at a kid’s camp and elementary school were the most rewarding experience of the trip. We spent all day with the children learning about their culture by weaving handmade baskets, making coconut milk, and preparing the dish E’ia Ota (Tahitian lime-marinated tuna). I also loved sharing parts of the American culture by playing basketball, soccer, and football with them. We also attended an American Football game between two local high schools to support the students the UW Athletic Football Department helped coach in June 2013. The football team performed the traditional Hakka dance for UW showing their appreciation of our support.

This was my first time out of the country and first time studying abroad. Through this program I realized the importance of slowing down and enjoying the moment being presented in front of you. Only staying for one month, every day was a new adventure and memory that would pass by too quickly.

Tahiti was an eye-opening study abroad trip that has no doubt changed my life. It is a destination that offers the greatest of simple pleasures rooted in a culture that values community, nature, and diversity. I found I am genuinely happy with Tahitian lifestyle of minimal accessibility to technology and materialistic items. More importantly, the LePendu family taught me a lot about living with a positive outlook, big heart, and open mind. As I am settling back into my life in Seattle, I am extremely grateful and humbled to have experienced the trip of a lifetime.

CHID Study Abroad to Munich

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Written by: Antonio Ortoll

It would be extremely difficult to resume my study abroad experience in one page. However, there were a few things that really changed the way in which I originally perceived the German culture. One of them would be the differences between Bavaria, and the rest of Germany. Germany is advertised to tourists in a very distinctive way. As a tourist, I expected to see most German people wearing a tracht at festivals, eating oversized pretzels, and drinking large amounts of beer. While this was true for Munich, places like Berlin were not as traditional in that aspect. In fact, not only the overall costumes were different, but also, there was a bit of a language barrier between Germans from Berlin and Munich. When our program director communicated to waitresses and waiters at restaurants in Berlin, a few things had to be repeated or clarified.

Germany, Antonio blog

Aside from that, I had the opportunity to interact with many locals. And for the first time, I experienced a low-context culture, where communication is usually taken at face value. Throughout my life, I have lived among cultures where non-verbal cues are subject to multiple interpretations. Learning about these differences will help me cope well in multinational businesses in which I intend to work in the future. Along with that, it was interesting to learn about their views on customer satisfaction. I had always believed that most people had the same customer service expectations, regardless of what part of the world they were from. I was wrong, Germans don’t value or identify with a charismatic server, but instead, they expect efficiency and perfection.

This sense of efficiency and perfection is very-well projected and the way German cities are constructed and organized. The public transportation is simple to use and extremely punctual for departures and arrivals. This punctuality in transportation, always allowed us to visit many places in one day, despite the fact that we were travelling long distances. Throughout the month, I had the opportunity to visit many holocaust monuments, which transported me back to times of political conflict and hardship. And also, I visited King Ludwig’s castles that transported me back in time just by looking at their well-constructed medieval structure. Every day spent in Germany was unique and exceptional. Travelling abroad has definitely changed my outlook on life. I’m very grateful to have been welcomed to be part of this incredible program. I couldn’t have asked for more.

Travel Tips

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Written by: Jennifer Bullion

Overall I loved my trip abroad and learned a lot but not every situation was a great one. I have some tips that will hopefully help you from making the same mistakes and maybe save you an uncomfortable night.

RSM, Jennifer Bullion 3

Les Caves- A club in a cave, it’s an experience.

Double Check last train times.

I spent the night in the Brussels train station because I check frequency of train assuming they went all night or until midnight.

Train Stations do not close.

With a ticket the police will not kick you out of the train station. I was approached by a man who said he was a taxi driver and that the station closed and I would be kicked out on the street. That was not the case.

Don’t bring purses into clubs or hold them.

While walking through a crowed club I was pickpocketed and they got everything in my purse without me noticing at all.

Paris: My Home Away From Home

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Written by: Jennifer Bullion

RSM, Jennifer Bullion 2

 

 

I visited my friend in Paris early in my trip and fell so in love with the city and people that I went back almost every weekend.

The bus systems in Europe make it really easy to get to other countries for cheap. By bus it was around $35 each way to get to Paris, but using Megabus you get to places for $12 but they only go to Amsterdam not Rotterdam. You can also get very cheap tickets for the train or Frya (high-speed train), the train is really comfortable and a lot quicker than buses.

 

RSM Housing

Monday, August 5th, 2013
RSM, Jennifer Bullion

This is the pond on the walk from the metro station to campus.

Written By: Jennifer Bullion

I stayed in the F – Building on campus; it was perfect for me because I did not have a roommate. I have never lived on my own so it was something I wanted to experience. The campus was under construction throughout the entire time I was there, but it wasn’t an inconvenience. There were about 12 students studying at RSM that came just for Spring Quarter, I was the only one staying in the F Building all the other students stayed in the Student Hotel or the other student housing. The other student houses are on a main road close to bars and I think it is easier to run into other students because they have community areas. The F – building did not have an area that made it easy to meet your neighbors. You can walk to the bars from campus but it’s a hike, if you take the tram it is only 3 or 4 stops. It is not very far, but since the last tram that stops at campus is around 1:15 am a lot of nights I did not go out, but I did not go to Erasmus to go to bars. Depending on the experience you want choose the right housing, it will probably make or break your trip.