Practicing My Faith While Abroad

Today I rejoice in the first homily in Mexico that I could actually understand — it was about love being more important than power — and the first two Bible readings I was able to recognize during Mass. It was a neat outdoor church with a roof — una iglesia abierta, I was told — and we attributed the clarity of the priest’s voice to the absence of walls. It was a nice change from the other churches, whose roaring fans and echoes from the microphone were a recipe for frustration and not registering anything the priests or speakers had to say.

Before my trip, I had in my mind a specific pattern of practicing my religion while in Mexico. I would attend a Catholic university, so I would go to Mass everyday before class and I would check the Adoration and Confession schedules to try to make it to each at least once. Since Mexican towns have churches like a centipede has legs, I would have no problem finding Mass on Sunday, and my host family would take me.

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Me Encanta la Cultura de Mérida (I Love the Culture of Mérida)

Seven days and 24 picaduras (mosquito bites) later, I have fallen completely in love with El Centro, the main happening place in Mérida, Mexico.

Mérida has a culture of its own, symbolized by the white fabric and embroidered flowers of vibrant colors that make up the traditional dress. El Centro is kind of the downtown equivalent of Mérida, but instead of consisting of tall flashy buildings it features a spacious plaza and several street vendors and tienditas (shops) alongside where you can buy clothes and food, rent cars or un paseo by horse-drawn carriage — lo que quieras.

I have decided that if I ever move to México I want to live in El Centro and run a tiendita on the corner, decked out in beautiful Meridan flowers.

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A Cultural Illumination in Justice

The recipe of a successful study abroad experience typically carries a checklist of core requirements: enthrallment in culture and society, academic captivation and meeting the right people.

You can have two out of the three and still call it a wonderful experience — but my personal list can go on, filled with checks that have made my study abroad experience one of the most memorable trips in my short but fruitful college career.

As a result, I am coming home with an extra beat and note to add to the incessant rhythm and melody of my life.

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Tbilisi, Georgia: Women’s Studies Edition

To travel is to dive into the unfamiliar and the uncomfortable. We are left utterly vulnerable when we leave our comfort zones, so I decided to climb slowly down the ladder into the unknown, one rung at a time.

The first rung was studying abroad with the faculty-led program Issues of Gender Identity in Georgia. A city is much less daunting when exploring it with a group of 20 of your newest friends. Together we discovered a city painted in encapsulating murals and graffiti, a culture which survives on live music and wine and foods we will all be dreaming about until the next time we find ourselves in Georgia.

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Walking Through World History

I’m sitting in the airport right now, about to board my plane and go back to the United States in less than an hour. The past 3 weeks don’t even feel real at this point. Did all of that really happen?

Whatever that was, it was the best blur I’ve ever experienced in my entire 21 years of life. I studied abroad in Prague, Czech Republic, in a music and culture program, mainly focusing on Czech and old Czechoslovakian music and culture. I arrived in the Czech Republic a night before my program started and was hit with different words and accents.

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Coming Home; The Biggest Culture Shock of them All

I’m now back home after what was an amazing, life changing experience in Thailand. I know that the people I met will be friends when I come back to San Diego for school and the life lessons I learned will stick with me forever.

After starting the program in Chiang Mai, we spent the remainder the last 5-6 days in Bangkok. Bangkok is, as my former JMS teacher would say, is an “entirely different animal.” Bangkok is much more populated than Chiang Mai and a lot more busy.

Every night the city streets would be bustling with street vendors and tuk tuks and taxi drivers.

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Salida: República Dominicana

“I’m not ready to go back,” I confess while advising Juana, whose wizened hands masterfully craft the petrified cocoa seeds and emblem made from bullhorn I’ve selected into an artful, organic necklace. Yet, I’m not gloomy about returning. I’ve learned a lot about myself, my identity as a leader and the intersections shared between Dominican and U.S. American culture.

I just want to spend more time encountering daily life.

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A World of Differences

I spent 30 days in the wonderful city of London, and the experience has left a permanent mark on me and the way I view the world. This may sound like hyperbole, but rest assured, there is veracity in every ounce of that statement.

When I first arrived back home in San Diego, I was shocked by the immediate differences that I noticed between an American and a Londoner. (Yes, a Londoner and not a European. Most Londoners don’t like to be referred to as Europeans.)

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