Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Touching the Dying Lion



Have you ever written an extensive research paper about a specific place, monument, or memorial? We have all gotten used to putting hours on end into a word document, drinking loads of coffee, and walking out of our bedroom for the first time in a week with a completed masterpiece. Ever ask yourself why put so much effort into something you will probably never see in person? But you do know if you ever had the chance to see such in person, the experience would be magical. I got to experience just that. In the Spring of 2015, I wrote a historical paper on the significance and meaning of the sculpture and memorial of the Dying Lion of Lucerne located in Luzern, Switzerland.


The Dying Lion of Lucerne

Welcome to Glacier Garden
After writing fifteen pages of well-crafted ingenuity, I knew just about everything about this lion. When it was built, why, the small and hidden aspects deep within the work itself and what it stood for. This lion as I argued represented the emergence of Swiss democracy as an opposition to the French Monarchy. Birthed in 1821, only 6 short years after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, the Congress of Vienna had enacted the rebirth of European monarchies. The Swiss wanted no part of this and although a war memorial to the Swiss Guards killed in the French Revolution at the Tuileries Palace, it evolved into something significantly more. With its paw trapping the French fleur de lys, the dying lion is crushing the old monarchy as the Swiss shield of democracy stands untouched behind him. The Lion itself symbolizes revolution and is a revolutionary himself. I presented the paper I produced at the Phi Alpha Theta Conference in Hawaii and won runner up for best Undergraduate paper. So you can see how attached I am to this topic. Shortly after I arrived in Germany, I was offered a chance to travel to Switzerland and see the majestic lion in his cove myself. I would not pass this up. I will take you on my journey as I entered the gardens of the Löwendenkmal. 


The Gang ready to take on Luzern
The sun was shining. It was warm and the city streets of Luzern were busy. Farmers’ Markets control the bridge and everyone was smiling and happy. It almost seemed like a dream. I approached the gates to the garden where the lion slept. The trees shaded the alcove and the atmosphere was calm. Tourists from all over the globe were there to witness the majestic lion just as I had intended. So many people, but so little noise. A small hill stood between me and the lion himself. I climbed to the top and there he was. Within his cove, a spear through his abdomen, sad, but courageous, dying, but strong. A tear fell from my face into the crystal pond beneath him as I exclaimed: “Finally, finally I got to meet you.” Having the opportunity to see something you researched for over 3 months in person is just a spectacular feeling. You feel the history. You breathe the history. Hell, you become part of the history. What an opportunity!

The funniest part about this experience you ask? I strolled into the gift shop to buy my own personal lion monument after my visit and presented my paper to the cashier. She gave me 50% off!!! :D

I concluded my paper with some fine words that I would like to share with you. Below is Mr. Mark Twain’s interpretation of the Dying Lion of Lucerne. His comments sum up exactly how I felt as I entered the garden.

The Lion lies in his lair in the perpendicular face of a low cliff—for he is carved from the living rock of the cliff. His size is colossal, his attitude is noble. His head is bowed, the broken spear is sticking in his shoulder… a clear stream trickles from above and empties into a pond at the base, and in the smooth surface of the pond the lion is mirrored, among the water-lilies…The place is a sheltered, reposeful woodland nook, remote from noise and stir and confusion—and all this is fitting, for lions do die in such places, and not on granite pedestals in public squares fenced with fancy iron railings. The Lion of Lucerne would be impressive anywhere, but nowhere so impressive as where he is.” ~ Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad 


Monday, April 17, 2017

SPAIN "Some call it cheap, I call it SMART".

Blog Post by: Michelle Manganello

Some call it cheap, I call it SMART.

​​SMXLL
Do you LOVE travel?! Are YOU ballin on a budget?! Are you also cheap?!
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then boy do I have news for you!
For just five EASY payments of $19.99 I will share with you, yes YOU, all of my handy dandy travel tips.

No, didn't sell ya? Yeah I didn't think so.* I will still share them with you though.

​​SMXLL

Enough funny business**, let's get down to it.

​​SMXLL
·         Book with budget airlines. Always.
·         Read their fine print. A lot of times they will nickel and dime you for EVERYTHING. For example, Ryanair will charge you 70€ if you don't print out your boarding pass.
·         If your trip is over four days Ryanair won't let you print out your departing pass until you are actually at your destination.  To avoid trouble, once you get where you are going, or just before you leave, go to the closest fancy hotel. They have free printing for non guests*** just go to the computer area and print it out there. Or put on your biggest smiley face and just ask the people at the front desk.
·         Have smart phone because I am about to throw some life changing apps your way.
·         Skyscanner. What a beautiful app. It searches EVERY SINGLE search engine out there. You can even type in "anywhere" and\or "anytime" and it shows you the CHEAPEST flights to and from anywhere in the world. I could give you more flight apps but this one searches through all of them.
·         Blabla Car: This is the safe and the nonfree way to hitchhike. But it is still pretty cheap. Cars will check in to the app and say hey hello I have this many open seats and I am heading here to there. And you pay a small price and Voila. It's basically a carpooling app.
·         Couch surfing. I swear by this app. It's amazing. I have used this everywhere. It's amazing. It's exactly like Airbnb. But free. This way you get to know real locals and meet people from all over the world. It works like this: Hey! I am_____! I am traveling here! I am from here. This is what I love. This is what is really cool about your profile. I will be there on these dates. Would it be possible to stay with you with my friend. It would be so appreciated and if you are ever here. You have a home with me. Thank you so much. And don't worry. People have hundreds of reviews and you can read them all, good and bad. Everyone is also verified. Great app. Sometimes it can be competitive so be sure to give a really nice message and lots more personal than that example haha.
·         Map.Me: This is an app that you can download maps of any city in the world. So you then can map yourself around with out using wifi.
·         Google maps: Fun fact: this app will still keep mapping you with out data if you start mapping in a wifi area.
·         Airbnb: people rent out rooms in their house, sometimes even the whole house. You can even rent out bungalows, tree houses, castles, igloos, and so much more.
·         Are you bored of apps? If not message me for more and I have tons. But these are the go to's.
·         CLEAR YOUR DANG COOKIES BEFORE YOUR BOOKING. Computers track what you search so it will always have a higher price if the airline sight knows you are interested.
·         Get on Facebook. Join so many groups. Girls love travel is great. Just type in travel, the place you are going, or backpacking. The help you will get from people is astonishing.
·         Sandeman Tours: These are some of the best walking tours EVER. Did I mention they are free? (But don't forget to tip your guide my people)
·         (In Europe) the train is not always the cheapest way to get somewhere. Try looking for busses to get places. Flix Bus is great
·          
·          


*Donations and affirmations are still accepted. I can be reached at mmangane@im.totallykidding.tnks

**There is actually never enough funny business.


SPAIN...CONTINUED

Blog Post by: Michelle Manganello


You WILL get there

Let me start off by telling you that I am reporting live from my bed, in my wonderful host family's home, in MADRID, ESPANA.
Now, let me also tell you this. It. was. Hell. And. A. Half. to get here.

My advice to you:
​​SLXLM
-KEEP WITH IT.
-Keep some sort of faith that all will work out...even when shit hits the fan. It's going to hit the fan...accept it now.
-Stay ORGANIZED.
-Keep in touch with your Study Abroad advisor. Because you will forget that thing that you weren't supposed to forget.
-Make lists. Make so many to do lists.
-PERSISTANCE PERSISTANCE PERSISTANCE.
-One more time for the homies in the back, DO NOT GIVE UP.
-BREATHE
-Have a folder on your phone of the place you want to go, make it your phone background, give yourself a beautiful reminder of what you are working towards.

There are going to be so many things go wrong. But it is going to be worth it I promise you.
​​SMXLL
PICKING. THE. CLASSES.
I don't even know how to open this can of worms. But here goes....
First, you pick a country, then you pick the school, fall in love with the school, fantasize about eating Crepes outside your first period classroom, hype your mom up about how perfect the school is, and then find out that not all 5/5 classes will work. Back to the drawing board. Rinse. Repeat.
Don't worry. My drawing board went from Melbourne, Australia, to Ecuador, to Costa Rica, to Granada Spain, to Madrid Spain.

STUDY ABROAD PRO TIP:

If you are working at trying to fit this puzzle piece in where it just does not fit, its probably because that is not the right piece in the first place. Let me tell you, I tried for 6 months to get Deakin to work out for me, and you know what, it just was because that is not where I was supposed to go. And now here I am. In Europe for goodness sakes. Not that it was easy to get here, but it just wasn't a new struggle every day, ya know.  If it is not working out, and I mean REALLY NOT WORKING...then try something new, don't give up, but just try something new.
SLXLM​​
Most recently, I, Michelle Anne Manganello, did not have a confirmed place to live until January 2nd. I left on the 4th. The company I was going through took their sweet time on the email game, let me tell you. IM TALKING ABOUT YOU ADRIAN. I had to wake up at 4 am to talk to this company to have a misely 5 minute Skype call that had NO useful information whatsoever. Everything that was covered in this Skype call at that ungodly hour, was the same bologna information that I knew way back in October (now being the beginning of January). I did not get any word from this company until January 2nd. TWO DAYS BEFORE I LEAVE. Do you understand the stress of having to answer all of your relatives' questions, NO AUNTIE I DO NOT KNOW WHERE IM LIVING YET, YEAH STILL DON'T HAVE MY VISA YET EITHER OKAY COOL EVERYTHING'S FINE EVERYTHING IS GOOD. Things were not good. Lol I digress. Thank the Lord...... my friend found a homestay that I could go in on with her.

F'REAL GUYS: www.homestay.com

YOU WILL SAVE SO MUCH DINERO I'M TELLIN YOU.

SLXLM​​
Back to the fun stress.
There was this really fun point in time where the Consulate General of Los Angeles (I live on Oahu, and fun fact, the closest Spanish Consulate General is in Los Angles, California.) WELL. The CG of LA thought they could play a real fun joke on the poor study abroad kids. It goes like this: If you are a STUDENT of Hawaii, you need to report to the Hawaiian district of Consulates. ($800 trip to San Fransisco) BUT San Fransisco wants to play that "we don't have any appointments for two months, and it takes a month to process" game.
Love it.

I am from Connecticut, so even though I live in Hawaii, and should report to the SanFran Consulate, there was a CHANCE that I could just try the New York one. BUT these consulates need IN PERSON appointments. So if you are like me, and live in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and cannot afford a $1,500 weekend trip to the Big Apple, then here we are, in THE BIGGEST PICKLE I'VE EVER BEEN IN *read in Brian Dobson's voice* {for those who lived under a rock in the 90's, Brian Dobson narrated The Sandlot.} ANYWHO
So here is what you do.

Here is the number of the New York Spanish Consulate. +1 212-355-4080
You are going to need to call them about 77,646,309,326 times within these next few months. I would memorize it now, folks.
You may need to whip up a few tears. I'm sure it won't be too hard because at this point it is probably mid term week and you have had it up to here with the issues that have come up in trying to get abroad.
Now, just explain the situation. And BAM! They are cool with you sending all of the paper work to them via MAIL. AND if you send a prepaid self addressed envelope, then you can just have them mail it back to you.

EASY PEASY LEMON SQUEEZY.

Can we just have a really quick round of applause for The Spanish Consulate General of New York (THE REAL MVPs LET ME TELL YOU). *
​​SMXLL
Your mom is going to worry. Or maybe your dad, who ever your primary designated worrier is. They will freak out. At least once. Mostly because until you are actually in the country of choice, calling them saying you arrived to a stable place to live, and the school part of Studying Abroad is all worked out......... until then basically something will be up in the air.
And you will want them to tell you that it's going to be fine, and they will. If not, find someone who will, hell, I will tell you that it will be fine.
                                                       IT WILL BE FINE.



*There is a really great anecdote about my trip to New York to get the Visa, but it is most definitely not anything I want to blog about. But if you would love to know, feel free to message me for the inside scoop.


SPAIN

Blog Post by: Michelle Manganello



XL
You see this picture. Doesn't it look so simple. It looks so easy. It looks like that man is a thousand miles away from any worries. Don't you want to be there. But, you know, I bet theres more to this picture. I bet there is a whole lot more. There is so much more to a picture, like what is happening before, or after it was captured. No on puts up their hard times up on their social media. Everyone makes it seem so much easier. They don't tell you that when you travel you don't just magically arrive at these amazing places. They do not tell you that it was not smooth sailing to get there. They do not tell you that the backpack hurt their shoulders, or that every street sign was in a different language.  They do not tell you this.
But I will.

It's hard. It is not glamorous. Travel is the most magical, life changing thing you can choose to do with your time. I recommend it, I urge each and every single one of you to go somewhere you have never been, to see something moving, to help someones life change, to make a difference, whatever calls your heart; go. But I am not going to lie to you, not now not ever. You kind of have to walk threw some sheep poop to get there.

I have been traveling my entire life. It is so ingrained in who I  am I can't help but pursue this passion. I thank the Lord every day for the life I live. The blessings are endless. I am eternally grateful. But damn. Sometimes I have to wonder; am I doing this right?

If you, like me, only book with budget airlines; they only leave at six in the morning. This means spending a night in the airport a least three times a month if not more. The floor is cold, dirty, and hard. I don't know who decided that fluorescent lighting was a good idea, but let me tell you, it was the worst idea.
There is never seating, if there is, by some cold hearted design flaw, the seats are separately bared off so you cannot lay down across them. Breathe.
Getting there is hell. I mean you can cough up 30€ each way for a taxi, but who has that kind of dough? So your only choice is to take two trains and a bus to the airport, because the T8 is under construction the entirety of your trip.
Breathe.
Sometimes, you are on you way to the airport and you miss the last train and you have to pay the 30€ anyways because if not you are royally screwed out of you mind.
Sometimes, your budget airline isn't so cheap. Sometimes, they charge you 70€ if you don't print out your boarding pass, and twice that much if your bad is over the sizing chart.
Sometimes, you lock yourself out of your rental car. Breathe. Sometimes you arrive to a new country with no plan and no phone so your only option is to make six pretty signs to hitchhike your entire way down the country before your flight leaves.
Sometimes, you have really solid plans but Mother Nature legitimately down pours on you and your plans. Sometimes, you get brutally sick and your average joe insurance doesn't care that you have doctor bills, it will tip it's hat, send its best and tell you "tough luck". Sometimes, you don't have anywhere to live and it is already dark, so you sit in McDonald's until you get confirmed in couch surfing, as per you can't afford actual housing. Breathe.
Sometimes, your diet solely consists of sweet potatoes and carrots because your funds are too low for a proper meal. Sometimes, you back up into lava rocks and dent your rental car. Sometimes, you just want to go home but it will take an extra $250 to get there, and you do it because you miss your bed and the people you are staying with are dicks. Sometimes, your host cancels on you two hours before you get to the country and so you will try to roll with it but all of the hostels and Airbnbs will cost you 200€ just for two nights.  Sometimes.
You get homesick. You get lonely. You can't talk to your family when you need to talk to your family because it's 3AM where they are and when they wake up you are busy, out of wifi, or sleeping. Breathe.
You will feel an overwhelming pressure to look like you are having the best time ever, every single day because you were somewhere magical, because you worked so hard for it, because it is the time of your life. (And it is) You will feel so much pressure to do everything that this person and that person did, because if they found a way to make it work so should you.

They don't tell you.

I am telling you, things go wrong.
I am also telling you, it is worth it.

I cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye....it's worth it. Boy, will it all make for a good story. I promise you; you will be sitting on that flight home, looking out your seat 13A window, and will sit there knowing you milked every bit out of your time abroad.

So don't worry. When things go wrong, roll with it as much as you can, because it happens. You aren't doing it wrong. I think we all just missed the life brochure that life doesn't go according to the way we thought it is supposed to be.  Just breathe, breathe in really, really deeply, let it all out, and just know it will work out.

Stay wild,
Even when it gets windy.
X
Shell

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Updates and Poetry

    Since my last blog post, I have travelled to Seville and Cordoba, Barcelona, and Morocco. I have had  a birthday, my midterms and fought a small cold. I have been homesick, enchanted and everything in between. And here we are in March, already halfway through my semester abroad!
    The truth is I have started and stopped this blog post many times since our group trip to Seville. Why I had such a massive writer's block escapes me, my topic of interest kept changing and even my poetry wasn't coming together. Now, I feel I've given myself more than enough time to get my thoughts out there for you all to read. This post will consist of my poetry and meanings of said poetry. [Disclaimer: I know my posts so far have come from a sociocultural perspective instead of a traveler's perspective. I'll be sure to include a post about AIFS and different dos and don'ts for those who are considering studying abroad in Granada come next week. Spoiler: would definitely recommend AIFS...to be continued ;)]

Now for those who decided to stick around, some poetry!

Still-life--
I see the food and flatware.
Ah, now I understand the why--
A country's culture framed;
off of the canvas
  see the pomegranate,
     bread and wine stains.
Still life,
  preserved to this day.

    This poem I wrote today, after my trip to the Granada Museum of Fine Arts. There is a fine collection of 16th century to 19th century art that depicts Granada's history and culture. I noticed a progression, seen throughout western art history in Europe. The Gothic and Medieval work included the depiction of Christianity through the lens of Catholicism. I first saw wood-work and paintings of Madonna and Child, Christ's crucifixion, narratives of the life of Christ on Earth.  
     Looking for the resurrection of Christ, I did not find it. Instead, the gallery led me to the beginnings of the recognition of Saints, which did not surprise me. Huge, wooden, polychrome statues of monks and saints; and paintings of their accomplishments. Leading me then to the 17th century works, away from the Bible, away from "piety," and to an exhibition of still-lifes.
     For so long, in my experience with art history, I never fully understood the point of still-life paintings until today. For some reason it clicked in my mind why paintings of food and silver dishes on a table played a role in western art outside of it being just "something to paint."
     What these seemingly mundane portraits of pomegranates and onions, "bread and wine stains," and meat hanging in butcher shops showed me, was a symbolic preservation of not only Spanish gastronomy, but what the people of this country continue to hold dear to. What was depicted in these still-lifes is still a facet of the Spanish lifestyle today. Selling silver was the trade of my Spanish mom, she cooks with most if not all the ingredients depicted in the paintings, and the pomegranate continues to be the symbol of Granada.
     What baffles me most, is how hundreds of years of influence from the Arabs, from the Romans, from the Greeks, and from the Phoenicians is so clearly seen today in Spain. I've yet to experience that in the United States and probably won't in the same way I have here in Spain.

    Just a quick side note, throughout my trips that I mentioned earlier, I have visited museums telling a similar story and have written corresponding poetry that I will feature in my Study Abroad promotion project.

    The following poem is an expression of my take on the Catholic influence in the art and history of Spain. It was clearly a vehicle for the expulsion of dissenting beliefs, the conquest of the Americas, and the rise of Spanish rule in the 15th and 16th centuries. Being a Protestant, I have felt inclined to comment on the representation of Jesus Christ in the art I viewed today.

From the Gothic roots
I saw a progression
  of the Christ-child,
beloved, in mother's embrace
to crucified,
to mini statue of crucifix 
  in the hands of an oversized saint.
What happened to the empty tomb?

Thank you for reading. I would love to hear your thoughts :)

"Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal." John 6:27

Friday, March 10, 2017

Host Families!

Hey everyone!!! My name is Britney and I am studying abroad in Madrid, Spain. For my first blog post I wanted to talk about host families and home stays!

Before coming to Spain I was really clueless on where I wanted to live. The idea of living with a host family really sparked my interest, but I had heard from a couple people that they had had some weird experiences.

Regardless, I decided to choose the home-stay route to get the full Spanish experience!! I contacted my university in Madrid and asked them if they would help set me up with a family and they agreed. I filled out an application for what I was looking for in a family, sent it in, then waited........Weeks passed and I didn't hear back from the university. I sent out more emails and still received no response. After MONTHS I finally received an email telling me that my options were very limited and that I needed to pay a fee first before even being able to see those options. Well to that I said, NO THANK YOU, and took matters into my own hands. And I can honestly tell you I am so so so happy with my decision.

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT saying this will happen to you or that this is something that occurs often. I just wanted to share my story and let people out there know that if your university is not helping you, it may be better to just figure out accommodation yourself.

I used homestay.com and found that it was cheaper, easier to pay, and had a WIDE variety of options and families to choose from.

It was on this site that I found my amazing host family. Not only are they the sweetest people, but their house is clean, I live with other really cool exchange students, and their home is a 5 minute walk from the center of the city. You can't get any better than that am I right?! I am also paying a significantly less amount of money than I would if I went through the university! Bonus!

For anyone that is studying abroad and wondering where they should live, I would without a doubt recommend living with a host family...10/10. There are endless amounts of benefits that come with living with a local. You have advice about the city at your fingertips. You get to see what kind of food they make and even learn how to make it for yourself. You have the opportunity of learning another language if your chosen country does not speak English. You feel like you have a home, and so much more. The list goes on and on! I couldn't be more grateful for my host family and how they have helped me adjust to living in Spain. They really are my Spanish familia.

With that being said, I wanted to share some stories and memories that I've had with my Spanish dad while being here in Spain. I hope you'll take time to read it and it might convince you to live with a host family when you go abroad! Here it goes:

Every single night Michelle & I come home from school & prepare dinner with our host dad. We take about an hour to make a 3 course meal which includes dessert always (: the meals are always SUPER healthy, have absolutely no salt added, & the dessert is always some type of fruit (pears, bananas,apples) or occasionally honey & cheese. While eating dinner we are only allowed to talk in Spanish & we sit for about 3 hours having the funniest conversations about random things until it's about midnight. Most of the conversations include Michelle & Miguel making fun of my terrible Spanish (lol). The other day Miguel brought his friends over for dinner & one of them brought a bag of Lay's Salt & Vinegar chips. Michelle & I were so excited to eat some but when Miguel saw us eating them he was mortified. He took them away from us & said were not allowed to eat that crap in his house. Only HEALTHY & NATURAL food hahaha. He also makes his own soaps & face washes & teas from all natural ingredients & makes us try them.

Last night we made a dish that is famous in Spain called Tortilla de Patata, also known as the Spanish omelette. The dish is so simple and usually only consists of eggs, potatoes, and onions, but is SO GOOD. When I first tried this dish my first thought was "Oh my gosh this is amazing, and it doesn't contain cheese OR salt?!" Crazy right, us Americans are so used to those two ingredients on everything. We loved it so much that Miguel taught us how to make our own. He always says that you have to put time, love, and care into whatever you're making: It's an art, he says. We turned on some Enrique Iglesias music and danced our way through the kitchen putting all our care into this dish. Later to find out Miguel knows Enrique Iglesias and can get us his autograph (say whaaaat). This was the first dish Miguel let us make ourselves and after coaching us from behind, it turned out delicious. I can't wait to bring this recipe back to California and share it will all my friends and family!


All in all choosing to stay in a home stay was seriously one of the best decisions & I can't tell you how amazing it feels to have someone in Spain that I basically call my dad & to feel apart of a little family. Not to mention my Spanish is slowly (& I mean slowly) coming along ! (:


Friday, March 3, 2017

Top 75 Study Abroad Blogs

  This is awesome!

Feedspot has selected our Student's Abroad Blog as number 60 of the Top 75 Study Abroad Blogs on the Web!

We're so grateful to all of our students who are sharing their wonderful experiences abroad, this one is for you! Read more about it here:  http://blog.feedspot.com/study_abroad_blogs/