Adventures in Argentina

Submitted by Olivia Kerlin on the 2023 winter session program in Buenos Aires, Argentina…

Some of the art in La Catedral Metropolitana de Buenos Aires

This past week has been a blur for me. So much has happened in the span of six days that I don’t know where to begin. Buenos Aires has been such a welcoming city and I can’t wait to spend a whole month here! While I’ve been spending most of these first few days just getting adjusted to temporarily living in a foreign country, I also have been going out every day to explore different parts of the city. This Friday, I went with a group of friends to La Plaza de Mayo, a square in the center of Buenos Aires. There are so many places to go in the square. We went inside La Catedral Metropolitana de Buenos Aires, which is the main Catholic church in Buenos Aires. The art there is absolutely beautiful and I made sure to take my time to look at everything I could. We walked by the Casa Rosada, which is the office that the President of Argentina works in. It is named after the pink color the building is painted. After doing some sightseeing, we decided to take a break and sit down in the shade. It was relaxing to sit in the square and watch people go about their lives in the city. Before we went back to our hotel, we decided to visit El Obelisco de Buenos Aires, an extremely tall obelisk statue a few blocks away from La Plaza de Mayo. It was extremely impressive up close, and I made sure to take plenty of pictures of it. Afterwards, we began our walk back. I really enjoy walking in this city. There are many people here, but it hardly ever feels too crowded. There’s also so much to look at. I’m already planning to visit a few places that I walked by yesterday! Even though I was exhausted after the trip to the plaza, I had an amazing time and am looking forward to trying new things and exploring new places these next few weeks. (Submitted on January 7, 2023)

At the top of Iguazú Falls

For our second weekend in Argentina, the entire study abroad group took a weekend trip to Puerto Iguazú, most known for its famous waterfalls. We had to take a short flight to get there, and afterwards we took a bus to our hotel. The hotel is so nice! It also isn’t too far from Iguazú National Park. After everyone got settled into their rooms, we took a boat tour on the Iguazú River Friday evening. The river borders Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. It was so amazing looking just across the river and seeing an entirely different country! The boat ride itself was very knowledgeable and fun. I learned a lot about the river, and I also listened to good music and danced with friends. On Saturday, we took a day trip to Iguazú National Park, where we hiked to go see the waterfalls. I’ve never seen a waterfall up close before, and I’m so glad that this was my first experience. The weather was perfect: it wasn’t too sunny and there was a nice breeze. The walk to the falls was exhausting, but the view was definitely worth it. It was absolutely breathtaking. But the falls weren’t the only good part of the trip. On the walk through the park, I saw so many beautiful lakes, trees, and flowers. The wildlife was gorgeous too! The butterflies were so colorful and vibrant, and the lizards blended in so well with their surroundings that I felt proud when I managed to spot one. We were also lucky enough to see some monkeys high up in the trees. This weekend has been so incredible. Getting to see Iguazú Falls was a once in a lifetime experience, and I know I’ll be thinking about this trip for a really long time. (Submitted on January 14, 2023)

Visiting Gualeguaychú

This Saturday, I went with a small group of friends to Gualeguaychú to attend the Carnival. It’s similar to the Carnival in Brazil, but on a smaller scale. The main event isn’t until February, but they have a series of smaller events leading up to it every Saturday in January. We decided to go to one of those. We took a bus to Gualeguaychú from Buenos Aires. It was about a 3 hour ride, but the time passed by quickly. Once we arrived, we got a ride to the main city. Gualeguaychú is a lot different from Buenos Aires. It’s a much smaller city and is less crowded. We spent our time walking throughout the city and taking in the sights. Gualeguaychú is by a river, so we saw many small beaches while there. We spent a few hours sightseeing, and then it was time to get in our seats for Carnival. We got there about an hour early. Outside of the entrance, there were several vendors selling fun things like masks, flower crowns, masks and more. My friends and I decided to get in the spirit and get our faces painted and buy some flower crowns. Once we got seated, it was a while until Carnival started. The main event was absolutely incredible. It felt like one big party! It was similar to a parade, with floats and people in costumes. The music was catchy and the energy was infectious. Their was dancing and singing and it was so much fun. We stayed until around 2 in the morning, when we needed to leave to catch our bus back. The Carnival was still going when we left. It was around 6 in the morning when we got back to Buenos Aires. I was exhausted and immediately went to sleep when I got back to my hotel room. Going to Gualeguaychú was so fun. I’m so happy me and my friends decided to go! (Submitted during Week 3)

Carnival floats!

Acclimating to Life in Costa Rica

Submitted by Erin Lay on the 2023 spring semester program in Costa Rica…

Breakfast, including gallo pinto, a fried egg, ham, shortbread, a fruit bowl, and orange juice

As a picky eater, I normally have a hard time finding foods I like to eat. I have been a picky eater my whole life, whether it’s the flavor or the texture. I was very worried to come to Costa Rica for this reason. I had so much anxiety the night before leaving for Costa Rica about whether or not I was going to eat enough. I decided the best way for me to overcome this was to try everything. Since I’ve been here, I’ve tried almost 100 new foods and drinks. My favorite meal I’ve eaten so far, is the  chicken burrito that we had the very first night. We had a fruit juice, that my group determined was tamarind juice and a pineapple carrot cake for desert. Each morning, the cafeteria serves gallo pinto, also known as, rice and beans. I have never liked beans before, but I fell in love with gallo pinto. So far, I haven’t found too many foods that I didn’t like. I hope to continue to try even more. (Submitted on January 9, 2023)

In all of my education, I never took a Spanish class. I’m realizing now that it would have been more beneficial for me to take Spanish than Latin in high school. Costa Rica has been amazing and luckily most people know English, but there are a few times my friend has had to help translate. I found out after arriving in Costa Rica that my camera doesn’t take SD cards over 2gb. This became a problem when I had only brought 128gb SD cards with me. My friend and I left the research station we were staying at to try and find one at a local store. I was so lucky my friend went with me because I did not understand any Spanish. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find one, but I had one in my camera already. I just had to limit the amount of pictures I took. (Submitted during Week 2)

Every morning since we arrived at Palo Verde Biological Station, I have woken up early to see the sunrise. There is a dock that leads to a large marsh here. There are so many birds that hang around the dock. The sunrise is so beautiful and makes waking up at 5:30am worth it. At night, we can see so many stars. I like to go lay on the dock and look at them. There is less light pollution here than in Delaware so we can even see some planets. The dock here has easily become my favorite place so far. There is always new things to see and enjoy. (Submitted on January 21, 2023)

Enjoying the sunrise

Last Experiences in Panama

Submitted by Elise LaFramboise on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Panama sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures…

I have returned from Panama! We spent our last few days trying to squeeze in everything there is to do in Panama! We returned to Casco Viejo, the old part of town. I found that I liked it more the last time we went than any of the previous times! The previous times we went, I found it a little too touristy and “Americanized”. However, this time I appreciated it a lot more! I enjoyed the touristy shops a little more because they were owned by local Panamanians and I could talk to the owners. I also enjoyed the history of that part of town and learned more about it this time. We went to a restaurant on one of the last nights for our farewell dinner and I enjoyed seeing the more upscale food of Panama. It was also nice to talk to people’s host families and our professors. I enjoyed seeing the variety of host families that everyone had! I am sad to have left Panama and I hope to return soon.

Market in Casco Viejo

Streamers over the street in Casco Viejo

Me and my host dog!

An alley in my neighborhood

Flowers at the mall in our neighborhood


Panama: My Work at Las Aldeas Infantiles SOS

Submitted by Alyssa Thompson on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Panama sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures…

Working at Las Aldeas Infantiles SOS was about contributing to the lives and wellbeing of children who don’t have families to raise them. It took place at the Las Aldeas property in Panama City, where there were several houses for approximately ten groups of children. This project took place the entire month of January. The children there don’t have school at this time because it is their summer vacation. The purpose of us working at Las Aldeas was to give back to the community and support the children who live there.

During this service-learning project, I was responsible for facilitating safety at the center’s outdoor swimming pool. I ensured that the children were practicing safety at all times both in and around the pool area so that no one was harmed. My role for this project wasn’t only about managing safety, but also about building connections with the children. I made it a personal goal to leave some sort of lasting impact on the lives of the kids I interacted with. I built connections with them through playing fun pool games, making jokes, and having genuine fun with them. This made the children more comfortable around me, and they began opening up to me.

Preparation for the project was simple since my designated group was for the pool. I knew I had to wear a bathing suit everyday so that I could interact with the kids in the water rather than just watching from a distance. I didn’t bring pool toys, however, I actively planned for different types of water games we could play each day. I researched online pool games for kids and found many great ideas. I also prepared mentally and emotionally, meaning that I preplanned conversation starters so that I went into the day knowing I would be able to have smooth, appropriate, and meaningful conversations with the children. I wanted to keep conversation light, but also allow them the opportunity to open up to me if they wanted to.

I’m a beach girl, so I knew I would love being in the water with the kids at Las Aldeas. I grew up playing hundreds of different water games and doing tricks in the water, so I had a lot of prior experience to bring to them. I am also an upcoming teacher, and am already a para-educator, so I used my “teacher” skills to better understand the behaviors of the kids at Las Aldeas and also to be able to connect with them on genuine levels. Because of my teaching experience, I was able to understand the psychology and sociology of what it was like being children who had experienced traumas in their lives. I was also able to interpret the rationing behind some of their behaviors due to their past experiences, which overall helped me be better prepared for the experience and react well in different situations with them because I understood.

This biggest challenge I occurred was when the children didn’t follow directions, and deliberately broke rules in order to evoke a response. This was challenging because as a teacher I am used to managing classrooms and maintaining authority, however these children react differently to authority because of their adverse childhood experiences. I coped with this struggle by remaining calm, maintaining an open perspective, and reassessing situations that had gone south in order to find a solution.

While working at Las Aldeas, I gained insight into Panama’s culture. I noticed that even families who had absolutely nothing wanted to be generous to us and welcome us as if they had the world to offer us. The Panamanian culture is very friendly, welcoming, and generous to strangers which I found so interesting. I also realized that Panama values family, simply from the fact that Las Aldeas refuses to separate siblings in order to keep them together. I thought this spoke volumes because it is far different from the foster system in the United States which can sometimes be a brutal experience.

While I think our project contributed happiness and our respect to the children of Las Aldeas, I don’t necessarily feel that it left a lasting impact on the community as a whole. If we had been given more time in Panama then I think our work could’ve had greater impacts, however, we were only in Panama for four quick weeks. I do think we showed the community our kindness, appreciation, and put our best feet forward, but I felt like I couldn’t make the significant difference that I wanted to.

As far as myself, I learned that I love helping others. I love working with children and seeing children whose lives are earth-shatteringly difficult compared to my own made me realize how deeply empathetic I am, because it really did have an effect on me. I want to dedicate my life to acts of service for children, because I hold them very close to my heart.

This project taught me to be grateful for the privilege I have in the United States. It also taught me to be grateful for my family, especially since no one’s time on earth is guaranteed. It showed me the harsh realities of what some people go through, and I am always going to keep that in my mind as a teacher.





Chile: Off the Grid

Submitted by Michael Irwin on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Chile sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures…

This weekend, we visited the most southern part of Chile – a national park called Torres del Paine. It was by far the most beautiful place I have ever seen. We did several hikes throughout the weekend that led us to incredible views of the mountain ranges that left me speechless.

One of the hikes was a total of 16 miles to see the Torres (towers) which is what the national park is known for. 16 miles was a lot of hiking and it left us all drained, but seeing those towers made it all worth it.

Other than the amazing hikes we did, I really enjoyed being off the grid for a while. There was no cell service in the park so I was able to relax and really live in the moment, not having to think about other things going on in the world.

The famous “Torres”

Viewing the mountain range from the distance

Chile: Hike to the End of the World

Submitted by Alyssa Santiago on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Chile sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures…

This week, I took a huge leap outside of my comfort zone. If you know me, you know I am not the most athletic person out there. I like to keep myself busy so the gym does not always become a place I make it to in a day. But when I make the time, I do enjoy exercising especially nature walks. This past weekend, I went to Torres del Paine with my group for our free weekend and it was an experience I never thought I would have in my life. Torres del Paine is a part of Patagonia and called “the route to the end of the world” because it’s the closest point to Antarctica in the whole world. I trekked all 5 days for numerous hours on numerous different paths. Some of these paths were difficult for even experienced hikers. The weather conditions were brutal at times and the terrain was challenging. I was unsure about this trip until the first week here so my “hiking gear” consisted of a suede, over-sized, men’s jacket I thrifted, Reebok sneakers that are good for getting dirty, but are meant for dance and turning, two long sleeved shirts, a thermal, 2 sweatshirts (1 without a hood), a light turtleneck, and multiple pairs of ankle socks and leggings which are not the most substantial clothing items for the end of the world. On a normal day, we would hike for about 3 hours, eat a packed lunch, then hike another 3 hours, but on one of the days, we had to complete a 15 mile, 3,000 feet high, 8 hour hike with steep hills, slippery rocks, and lake water to get us by. This was a huge challenge for me and way out of my comfort zone, but I did it thanks to an amazing tour guide named Felipe that stood back with me when I was walking too slow, gave me a hand when I was slipping and falling, and replenished my water for me. My life will now be my life before that hike and after that hike. I was sore and in pain for almost the whole trek and even fell and scraped my knee during the first 2 hours, ripping my favorite pair of leggings, but I did it. Me. Pushing yourself way beyond your limits is how you grow as a person. I feel like that hike didn’t strength my muscles, but my mind. I am thankful that I am alive and well enough to even complete a trek like that. I met a woman on the way who was very sick for months and the first thing she did when she returned to health was that hike. I saw children of all ages on that hike as well as older people challenging themselves to complete it. You’re only as old as what you tell yourself. I learned a lot this day.



Panama: Feeling Connected

Submitted by Chloe Hundley on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Panama sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures…

Our final week in Panama was extremely busy, but an amazing end to the program. During our last few days at Aldeas, I spent most of my time making friendship bracelets with the kids and teaching them to dance. We also went around to all of their houses to see what they needed us to buy for them so that we could get them gifts before we left. Overall, I had an incredible time at Aldeas and really learned a lot from the kids there and had so much fun playing with them every week. Even though a lot of them come from tough family situations, they were always so respectful and excited to be with us every day and taught us a lot about their culture. A lot of them were curious about the United States since they don’t get to leave the country often, so it was fun to compare both countries with each other.

Since this was also the final week of classes, we took a field trip to Mi Pueblito, which is a sacred area, so that we could recite the poem Al Cerro Ancón by Amelia Denis de Icaza, a Panamanian poet, in front of her statue. All of our professors came with us too, so they could teach us about the culture and history behind the poem. After that, some friends and I spent the weekend at Playa Blanca, which was about an hour and a half away from Panama City. While we mostly went just to relax, we also had a great time making friends with locals and practicing our Spanish with them.

On Monday night, we had our farewell dinner with our professors and host families. It was an amazing night to reflect on this past month with everyone and be together for the last time. On our way home, I talked a lot with my host Mom about everything that had happened, and we realized how even though Panama and the United States are different in a lot of ways, the people are still pretty similar. Although I don’t typically eat beans, rice, and plantains at every meal or dance to salsa in the United States, everyone was always so welcoming that I never felt too out of place. This was one of the best months of my life and, while I’m sad it’s over, I will appreciate everything I learned here for the rest of my life.

The view from Mi Pueblito

A group of students and our director at Mi Pueblito

The view at Playa Blanca

Panama: Panama Canal

Submitted by Melissa Lewis on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Panama sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures…

This week I had a lot of opportunity to relax and talk. At the beginning of the week, I met a student named David and he studies at the Technological University. After that conversation with him, I found the music room at the university and had the opportunity to play the piano and talk to other students who were practicing at the University as well. Other people I met this week were Jaime and his mother. They are from the United States and are visiting their grandfather who lives in Panama. I went to the salsa night in Silena in Casco Viejo! I had the opportunity to practice my salsa. Over the weekend, I went to the Panama Canal with the other students and I have seen a lot. The best part for me was when I was in the museum and I read a lot about the construction and history of the Canal. There were many Spanish speakers there, too and I talked to many people. Finally, I had the opportunity to go to church and I was very excited because that is what I wanted to do in Panama. All the people were very kind, thank God.

In the Villages, I learned more about how to connect with children. I loved that some of the children remembered the songs I’ve written and they like to sing. In addition, the students like to jump rope and they only want people to play with them. It’s a little difficult to do things with them because I only have a little time with them.  The children listen to me more now than in the beginning. I don’t know how I am going to leave them, but I know that they are going to have a very special place in my heart. The children are very intelligent and funny. I love that all the time they shout my name and hug me.

Costa Rica: Talk to the Locals

Submitted by Isiah Hiatt on the 2019 winter session program in Costa Rica sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures…

Last week, I noticed something after being here for four weeks. The street signs that tell you this is Calle 1 or Calle 2 are actually attached to the buildings. That is kind of interesting because in the United States we have it at the end of the corner on like a pole, but here they have it on the building that is next to the corner. My time here has been great and I am very sad to leave. It has been great walking around with my friends and talking to the locals. If you ever go abroad, you need to talk to the locals because it really let’s you know what the culture is like and just let’s you get a better feeling for the country. Overall, my study abroad experience has been very interesting. Living with a host family is an amazing experience and as a plus you get to eat some amazing food. I highly recommend visiting Costa Rica on your free time because the locals are always down to talk. They will also always say good morning when you walk by them. When my friends and I were walking to school, we got so many Buenos Días (Good Days). Overall, my study abroad experience was 10/10 and I would highly recommend it to everyone. The only tip I have for someone who wants to go on one is to step out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to talk to the locals.

Picture of the biggest oxcart in the world, found in Sarchí.

Brazil: Memories to Cherish

Submitted by Meghan O’Brien on the 2020 winter session program in Brazil sponsored by the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences…

To start off our last week abroad, we tried a Brazilian jiu jitsu class. No one had ever done this before and we really had no idea what to expect. The master was very nice and excited that we decided to learn more about this part of the culture. We paired up with a partner and learned about 10 moves all about self defense. Like other major cities, Rio has safe in wealthy areas, but also there were some risky or sketchy areas. I really didn’t know much about self defense so this lesson was really important and something I will remember forever.

As I previously mentioned in some blogs, we spent some time learning about the landscape architect, Roberto Burle Marx. On Tuesday, we toured his property called “citio” where we saw his house, studio, gardens, and his huge acres of land. Wednesday morning, we had our last watercolor lesson and then a few of my classmates met up with my Mom and Grandma who were visiting and we went on a sunset boat tour. The views were incredible and the boat crew was really excited to explain more about the history of Brazil. Thursday was our last day of class, but we spent our morning in Lapa visiting gardens, the Cathedral, and the Selaron Steps. Friday was spent finalizing both our final montage for the field sketching class and our final presentation about the environmental issues surrounding the Rio Olympic games for the plants and human culture class. Saturday ,we presented both projects and finished with a celebration of accomplishing both classes and assignments.

Leaving Brazil was really hard and I would love to stay for longer. I could not have asked for a better group of professors or students. I will cherish these memories  forever. I am grateful that I have 14 new friends that I can hang out with at UD now, too! Unfortunately, we had to say good-bye to Cecilia which was extremely difficult and emotional. Cecilia is from Brazil, but went to UD for graduate school for landscape architecture. She stayed with us for the three weeks in Rio and I could not have asked for a better guide, friend, and mentor. She helped us with the classes, speaking Portuguese, trying new foods, going to new beaches and cities, and so much more. Carnaval has such a huge presence in Brazil and she took us to some night events with bands and people in costumes all celebrating their city together. When I think back about my time abroad and my memories, she really impacted my experience in a lot of ways. We are really hopeful that we will get to see her again.

Overall, I am really glad I was on this unique study abroad program and I am thankful that I was able to live in the beautiful country of Brazil. I will miss the wildlife, vegetation, beaches, music, food, and of course the warm weather. This program has helped me step out of my comfort zone and to appreciate the little things in life.

Selaron Steps in Lapa

Enormous cathedral with lots of stained glass windows

Final montages on display for presenting

Sunset boat tour

The beautiful view of Copacabana Beach which we will miss seeing every day