Life in Kruger

Submitted by Meg Deming on the 2024 Winter SOCI program in South Africa

The only word I can use to describe our visit to Kruger Park is surreal. Luckily for us, we had two incredibly knowledgeable guides who took us on our game drives during the four days we were in Kruger. Almost immediately upon arrival we were taken on one such drive were we saw groups of elephants and an amazing view of the surrounding mountain ranges. The diverse collection of trees in the area was also a sight to behold, with each species seeming to have their own unique story and purpose. 

Our first drive was only a preview of what we were about to see in the coming days. On day two we saw elephants, water buffalo, and a duo of lions blocking one of the many dirt roads. These animals make up three of the park’s Big Five, and I look forward to seeing the remaining two, leopard and rhino, during future visit. Still, seeing any of the Big Five was an absolutely incredible experience and being so close to such big animals almost felt too good to be true.

Later that same afternoon, we were able to ride some ATVs down a section of the dirt paths. While on one of the larger roads, we drove through a group of about twenty giraffe, some zebra, and countless impala. Seeing so many beautiful animals up close was indescribable. Despite the loud roar of a dozen ATVs, the animals continued to graze as we drove past them as if we were not even there. I can confidently say that I have never felt so immersed in nature and would highly recommend the experience to anyone who gets the opportunity. 

On our third day, our guide Sidney followed lion tracks for very many miles hoping to see some in the dirt path. Being in the front row of that particular excursion, I got the privilege of asking him many questions. I learned that lions typically stay in their den during the day, but emerge into the dirt paths later in the afternoon before going on the hunt. Our search for the lions during the first half of our drive was unsuccessful, but during the second half a radio message came in saying that the pride of thirteen lions had emerged and was traveling one of the dirt paths. We were able to quickly locate the lions, and just in time. We watched on as three adult lions and ten cubs walked down the dirt path and headed into the bush for their late afternoon meal. 

As interesting as it is to read and write about the South African bush, it is nothing compared to experiencing it for yourself. It is difficult to convey the sense of freedom and connection with nature that one feels while they are in Kruger National Park. There were many instances during our game drives that the group was too stunned to speak. I fully intend on making my way back to Kruger in my lifetime to relive the experience I had during this portion of our study abroad trip. (Submitted on January 23, 2024)

A Week In Cape Town

Although the entirety of my trip to South Africa was amazing, our final week in Cape Town truly blew me away with its scenery and atmosphere. As soon as we arrived we could see an absolutely stunning view of Table Mountain, one of Cape Town’s most famous landmarks. It was so refreshing to see the ocean from where we were staying, and nightly walks to watch the sunset became our norm.

There are so many different sights to see in and around Cape Town, but my favorites would have to be the Boulders Beach Penguin Colony and the Clifton Beaches. The penguins we saw were absolutely adorable and there were so many in such a small area! Unfortunately, we couldn’t have a beach day with the penguins, but Clifton Beach more than made up for it. Behind us, there was a view of Lions Head, a neighbor to Table Mountain, and in front of us was an ocean filled with boats and large rocks that you could swim out to. There were also paddleboards to rent, and while chatting on a paddleboard my friend and I had a school of dolphins swim under us. That felt like a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it really sums up the incredible experiences that are to be had in Cape Town. 

On one of our free mornings, a friend and I decided we wanted to hike Lions Head because how hard can it be? It’s much smaller than Table Mountain. The answer is very hard. About 45 minutes in it started to feel like less of a hike and more like scaling a mountain. The view at the end made all of that hard work worth it though, and next time I’m in Cape Town I’m willing to try and climb Table Mountain, but I may need to get some practice in first. 

The best activity I did while there had to have been paragliding over Cape Town. The views are incredible on the ground, but they’re even better from up above. I was able to see everything South of Table Mountain. Off in the distance, you could see Robben Island, an island once used as a prison. Nelson Mandela was held there as a political prisoner for much of his life. Below me, I could see the waterfront and the port as well as buildings that spanned for miles. Behind me, I could see an incredible view of Table Mountain just behind the hill we had used for takeoff. 

Cape Town is an absolutely gorgeous beachside city with sightseeing and adventure that appeals to all. I have traveled to some pretty incredible places, but Cape Town definitely takes the cake. It is so hard to articulate just how beautiful of a city it is, so I would highly recommend that people go and see it for themselves. It truly was the trip of a lifetime. (Submitted on February 5, 2024)

Third week in Brazil

Submitted by Ben Sekowski on the 2024 Winter PLSC program in Brazil …

After being in Rio for a week I started knowing all the ins and outs of the area, from restaurants, laundry, banks, and pharmacy. On Wednesday we woke up early to have breakfast at our hotel and then we headed over to our third and final watercolor lesson. Throughout our watercolor lessons I learned to be patient and you can still fix your mistakes, for they are not permanent. At the end of the day everyone went to a Brazilian Steakhouse, which was really fun and plenty of good food came around. I got to try new foods like chicken hearts, which were pretty tasty. 

      The next day we took a van ride to Petropolis to visit an Imperial Palace, which was cool to see. We also saw the Santos Dumont House Museum, which was an inventor’s house. I learned that Santos Dumont invented the first plane to fly by self propulsion. We then rode about six more hours to Brumadinho to stay at a hotel. The next morning we visited Inhotim, an art museum. There were many cool art pieces and displays to see at Inhotim. After Inhotim we headed back to Rio. 

       On Saturday we had a free day so I went to Copacabana beach with a few friends. We then had dinner at a poke place. Then on Sunday the class went on a bike ride around Rio towards Flamengo Park. Flamengo park was a cool area for it had recreational activities, a beach, and plenty of shaded spaces to sit. Unfortunately we didn’t get to stay there long. The bike ride to Flamengo park was fun, however the ride back was against the wind and the streets started to get crowded, which made it not so fun. On Monday though we had a fun hike on a mountain. Overall, this week in Brazil was full of good weather and great times with friends. (Submitted on January 23, 2024)

The Last Few Days

The last few days have been such fun, but as the days flew by the more it was hard to let go. On the 23rd we took the metro to the city and then a tram to Santa Teresa. It was a very rainy day. On the 24th, another rainy day, we went to the Museum of Tomorrow, which had some cool exhibits. Then we took a ferry to an art museum, which I think was cooler than the first museum that we went to that day. There were some cool art displays and for one of our sketching assignments we had to draw a display. 

   On the 25th I woke up with a cold, so I stayed in for the day. The next few days we did some last minute shopping and worked on our final projects. We also went out to some fancy lunches and dinners to celebrate our amazing trip. On the last day we went to the Hippie Fair for the last time and hung around the hotel’s rooftop pool until our flight home at midnight. This study abroad trip was truly an amazing experience. (Submitted on January 31, 2024)

Turtle Boat Adventure

Submitted by Eddie Sollazzo on the 2024 Winter CIEG program in Barbados

This week we had the opportunity to ride on a glass bottom boat captained by a man named  Kenrick. Before meeting Kenrick and the boat, we met Marvin on the beach, and he was the person in contact with our captain Kenrick. Marvin was wearing a Minnesota Vikings jersey and a vibrant bathing suit. Marvin led us on a short walk down the beach to an area where our boat could pull up right to shore to board. It was time to go! 

While on the way to our first destination, Kenrick had told us that he has been living in Barbados and driving his turtle boat for 50 years. The boat was a medium-small watercraft with an upper deck, it fit our group of 18 just fine. What was special about the boat was the see through glass bottom panels. There were two plexy-glass panels that we could see through and sure enough just as we got to our first stop we spotted a turtle through the boat. Kenrick told us that many of the other glass bottom boat tours did not know of this spot and that it was a special secret. 

Kenrick fixed us all some snorkel gear and encouraged us to swim with the sea turtles. It was an amazing experience. I couldn’t help but think about the fun sea turtles in Finding Nemo, a favorite movie of mine.  

The group had a lot of fun taking pictures and jumping off the top deck. My second favorite part of this adventure aside from swimming with the turtles was learning facts about the estates located on the water. Kenrick told us stories of where Rihanna used to live and currently stays when she comes. It was crazy to imagine that the nearby town that we are staying in is where some of the rich and famous come to vacation.

Community day and East Coast!

This Friday was community day, and we got the opportunity to meet the children of the local St.  James Primary School. We were accompanying the kids for a tsunami drill where we marched up a hill and got to a higher elevation in the case of a tsunami. It is wild to imagine the threat of a tsunami while living on an island but of course it is important to be prepared. After the trip up the hill, we embarked on a 5-mile hike with the children of the school around the town and then back to the beach located near where we are staying. The children were so fun to hang out with. Some people in our group hit it off with the kids and ended the hike carrying their backpacks and holding their hands. It was adorable.  

I hung out with a boy named Sheldon Thomas who had me cracking up. Some of the kids told me that I looked like a YouTuber they watch, but I couldn’t make out the exact name. I am very grateful to have the experience of spending time with the kids and making some new friends. 

Saturday, we had a bus tour planned to explore some of the beaches on the east coast. The water was very interesting to see as the courses we are taking are related to coastal engineering. The east coast of Barbados is facing the Atlantic Ocean, and the waters are much more rough and violent in comparison to the west side which faces the Caribbean Sea. The views were amazing, and we got to take some great pictures. Descriptions would never do the landscape justice, so I’ve included some of my favorite pictures! (Submitted on January 23, 2024)

Service Learning Experience Abroad

Submitted by Olivia Sheetz on the 2024 Winter Nursing program in British Virgin Islands

My third week in Tortola has been full of new experiences and fulfilling opportunities. My highlight of this week was when we visited the local elementary school where we presented the Purple Hands Pledge to the students. The Purple Hands Pledge is used to encourage conversations about using your hands and words for good, not to hurt others. I loved being able to spend time with the students and see how much they enjoyed having us visit their classrooms. We helped the children create their owns hands with the pledge inside of them so that they would hang them up as a reminder each day to be kind to others. This was an amazing experience that I will definitely remember! (Submitted on January 23, 2024)

Final Thoughts

This past week was my last week in the BVI. As I reflect on my time abroad, I am filled with so many emotions. I am extremely grateful for my time spent in Tortola as I met many new friends, experienced other cultures, and learned so much about myself and the world around me. One thing in particular that stood out to me while I was abroad was the sincerity of people in the BVI. Everyone was extremely welcoming and quickly embarrassed us into their everyday lives. We got to know many of the locals and spent countless hours together each day. Our taxi driver, Buckle, became like family to me and the rest of the group. Our relationships with so many others were just like this as well. It was very nice to be accepted so easily by everyone, especially being so far from home. I am going to miss the warm and inclusive personalities of those I met throughout my trip! (Submitted on January 31, 2024)

Snowy adventure

Submitted by Riley McAvinue on the 2024 Winter SPAN program in Granada, Spain

Hola desde Granada!

Week 2 was as memorable as the first! As I mentioned in my first weeks review, my study abroad has been fueled by adventure. That didn’t change one bit during this week.

Attached is me skiing in the Sierra Nevada. This is home to the highest point on the entire Iberian peninsula. We were approximately 7000ft above sea level. I had a lot of fun carving down the slopes. The runs at Sierra Nevada were a lot different from the ones I am used to on the east coast. The snow was fluffy and the routes took anywhere between 10-15 minutes to fully ski down the mountain! 

Heading into my final full week here in Granada I hope to find another adventure. We have a trip scheduled to Cordoba and Sevilla. I am excited to see what treasures these cities hold. Until next time, adios! (Submitted on January 23, 2024)

New Experiences

Submitted by Ashley Cooke on the 2024 Winter Nursing program in BVI

Our second week in the BVI was filled with new experiences. We started our clinical rotations this week in Peebles Hospital. As my first clinical rotation of nursing school, being in the maternity unit gave me a great opportunity to gain exposure to a specialty that I’m interested in. The nurses there were very welcoming and considerate of us and began showing us how their unit is run. In addition to this, we had a great tour of Her Majesty’s prison and learned more of the history of the BVI. On another day, we walked around Road Town and shopped local vendors and small businesses. I wanted to try more local foods, so we went to a little “hole-in-the-wall” bakery. Not that I was surprised, but I really enjoyed the coconut pastry I tried! Taking a hike to the Bubbly Pools and exploring the beaches of Jost Van Dyke was certainly a highlight of my week. Already, I have learned so much and gained so many new experiences and unforgettable memories. I can’t wait to see what the rest of this trip has in store! (Submitted on January 22, 2024)

The Learning Continues 

The third week in the BVI was definitely busy for us nursing students! The beginning of our week was dedicated to clinicals, assignments, and learning more history of the BVI while touring the Old Government House. In the second half of the week, we had the incredible opportunity to take a trip to Necker island, owned by Sir Richard Branson. There, we took a tour of the island learning about their extensive renewable energy sources and the animal conservation efforts that take place. These animals included tortoises, flamingos, lemurs, and more. Learning Sir Richard Branson’s story and how he was able to become so successful was definitely inspirational for all of us. That day was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. On the other hand, in our free time, I spent a good amount of time reading “Island Queen,” the book we are assigned to read where we meet for book club to discuss. This book is based on a real story about the life of a woman born into slavery in the Caribbean. It voices her life journey through both her successes and failures, but most importantly how she always fought for her family and her unconditional love for all of her children. I was able to finish the book a couple days ago, and I can confidently say that it has changed the way I now view family and race. I am so glad I had the chance to read this book, as I don’t know if I would have picked it out myself, but I feel as though it offers valuable life lessons. (Submitted on January 22, 2024)

Spreading Kindness

This week has definitely been one to remember. We had the opportunity to do so many great things. One of the highlights of my week was attempting to surf for the first time. Our group headed down to the surf school here in Josiah’s Bay. We were able to receive some pointers and help so that almost all of us were able to stand up and ride a wave in. We also visited the Baths on Virgin Gorda, where we were able to hike through the rocks and take some great pictures. However, one day in particular really stood out to me this week, and that was when we visited one of the local elementary schools with the goal of spreading kindness. It was a small school with only about 60 students, so we broke into groups and went into each of the classrooms. I had the opportunity to work with a wonderful group of fourth graders. While at the school, we talked about the Purple Hands project, whose mission is to educate about the right to live free of abuse and violence. We led a group discussion and created a craft with them where they traced their hand with purple ink and wrote their name and the Purple Hands project pledge in the middle: “I will not use my hands of my words for hurting myself or others.” I loved being able to spread that message to the students and the kids all seemed to really enjoy our presentation. When we would even see some of them around town for the rest of the week, they would run up to us and talk to us for a little bit. This was definitely an unforgettable experience for me! (Submitted on January 29, 2024)

Learning About Barbados

Submitted by Jocelyn Juliano on the 2024 Winter CIEG program in Barbados

After my second week in Barbados, I am definitely starting to settle in and getting used to living here. The workload has also started to pick up, but I am making sure to balance my schedule with still getting to enjoy the island and making the most of my days. My usual day here consists of getting up early for class, which is from 8-11am, and then I usually do homework for a couple of hours, and then I go to the beach, or I will go to the beach right after class and then come back in the afternoon to do homework. Either way, it has been so nice to get to go to the beach on most days while we are here. I also have enjoyed getting to experience the food in Barbados. A lot of us have been going to dinner a lot to get to try the food of the island, as well as getting to experience more of the culture here. Some of my favorite dishes have been blackened tuna at a restaurant called the SeaCat, which is across the street from where we are staying, as well as some of the local beach restaurants that have very good food for an easy dinner on the beach. I think a major part of living somewhere is getting to try the food, and I have definitely been trying a lot of new food. 

Some other things that we have been doing have been going on field trips around the island. This week, we went on a field trip to the west coast of the island. We got to see a lot of the different beaches on the west coast. We are staying on the west coast, but it was really cool to see the other beaches. We also related a lot of it to coastal engineering and things that we have been learning about in class, so it was really informative and interesting. The picture I added was from one of the beaches on the west coast tour that we got to see. We also stopped at a restaurant at the end of the trip and talked to fishermen about their experience fishing here and to learn more about the coasts, and about sea level rise that has been happening on the island. Overall, I have been learning so much about the island, and I am so excited for the next few weeks here! (Submitted on January 22, 2024)

A Busy Week in Barbados

The past few weeks have been so fun and such a great learning experience in many ways, from learning more about coastal engineering and Matlab, to also learning a lot about the culture and how to live in another country.  It feels like I have been here for a long time, but it is also flying by, but each day is different and exciting.  

This week was very busy but a lot of fun.  We had another field day, this time to the east coast of Barbados.  It was so cool to see the coast line and the different beaches since they are so different from the west coast which is where we were staying.  The beaches on the west coast are calm and very swimmable, but on the east coast, there are a lot of cliffs, rock formations in the water, and rough waves.  I added pictures below of one of the cliffs that we got to see, as well as a popular location called Bathsheba, which is known for the large rock formations that can be seen in the pictures.  We also went to a lighthouse and toured the site, which was on a cliff and had incredible views of the island.  It was amazing to see and a great way to learn about the coast while also exploring the island.  Another day this week, we got to go to a local school and go for a hike with the students.  We first participated in a tsunami drill with them, which consisted of walking up a very steep hill towards the interior of the island, and then we went for a 3 mile hike around the island and on the beach.  It was a very rewarding experience and helped me to learn a lot about the culture on the island.  Other than that, we had an exam this week, and we have also been busy with school, but we definitely make time to explore the island and experience the culture, and I am really loving the island of Barbados. (Submitted on January 29, 2024)

Last Week in Barbados

I can’t believe it is already time to leave Barbados.  I had such a great experience and learned so much over the past month about the culture in Barbados, and what it is like to live in another country.  During the last week of our trip, we had a few fun things planned for the group.  On Saturday, we went on another field day and went to Harrison’s cave, Animal Flower cave, Andromeda gardens, and a few other places around the island.  Harrison’s cave was the first stop of the day, and we got to take a tour of the cave.  It is a popular tourist destination in Barbados, and it was so cool to see and learn more about the cave and the island.  We went to the gardens next and walked around for a while and got to see a lot of native plants and beautiful gardens.  Animal Flower cave is another popular destination, and I added a picture of the cave below.  The cave is in a cliff and overlooks the ocean once you are inside of it.  Sometimes, you are able to swim in an area in the cave, however, the waves were too rough the day that we went.  Some other things that we did this week include going to a popular farmers market, where I bought a few paintings to hang up in my room.  There were a lot of local stands with paintings, jewelry, food, and other handmade pieces.  We also tried out a different beach on the island which was fun to explore. Other than that, the last week consisted of doing homework, presentations, and an exam, as well as a few group dinners to spend our last few nights together with everyone.  I really had the best time in Barbados and made great friendships and memories that I will never forget.  I learned a lot about myself in the process too, and I am so grateful for the experience, and would definitely recommend doing study abroad! (Submitted on February 3, 2024)

Village Ventures to Cityscapes 

Submitted by Mia Volpe on the 2024 Winter FINC/ENGL program in Italy…

During the second week of my study abroad trip, my classmates and I embarked on a journey to the cities of Florence and Venice, departing from the quaint town of Volterra. The transition proved to be a substantial one, in the most favorable manner. While Volterra exuded its own charm and beauty, the allure of Florence and Venice was incomparable. 

Florence distinguished itself with a sense of normalcy, marking a return to civilization that contrasted with the simplicity of life in Volterra. The city’s dynamic pace and beautiful attractions offered a stark contrast, leaving an unmatched impression. The culinary delights,  particularly the paninis and pasta, were a gastronomic experience unlike anything I anticipate having back home. 

Venice, akin to my native New York, epitomized a bustling metropolis with a perpetual whirlwind of activity. However, its aesthetic charm surpassed that of my hometown. Navigating the city’s waterways by boat was a novel and extraordinary experience, with gondola drivers demonstrating an impressive blend of skill and diligence. The daily site of gazing out from my window onto the water became a cherished routine. 

The city’s culinary offerings, especially the abundance of seafood, exceeded expectations,  contributing to its status as my preferred destination thus far. While Venice claimed the top spot in my preferences, I would wholeheartedly recommend exploring both Florence and Venice to anyone venturing to Italy. (Submitted on January 23, 2024)

Exploring London

Submitted by Janaina Lima on the 2024 Winter ENGL program in London, England…

Museums, Cathedrals, and Oxford… oh my!

The Royal Palace

This past week has been filled with so much personal reflection and connection to what I’ve had the pleasure of viewing. London does a spectacular job at holding some of the most valuable art in its museums. The week started off at the Virginia & Albert Museum which I would recommend to anyone visiting. You could spend days there and still need more time! I had the pleasure of experiencing the DIVA exhibition, which featured the redefinition of the word diva throughout history by countless prominent figures. Taking a term that some may use to be diminishing and making it a symbol of empowerment. In addition we traveled to the Museum of London Docklands, learning all about the history of the River Thames. The interactive museum allowed me the opportunity to really understand the growth and development to London through the docks while also analyzing and critiquing the history of the Atlantic slave trade. 

A trip to St Paul’s Cathedral brought about a new level of appreciation for such historically captivating buildings. Next to its rich history, the cathedral is so beautiful it’s almost glamorous. From the columns to the artwork on the ceilings and the gold embellishments. 

We finished off the week heading to Oxford University. Which was just as illustrious as I’d always imagined! Getting to learn the lore of the university while also admiring its pristine architecture was incredibly exciting! It was really strange to think about how different the experience is for students at Oxford versus my college experience at Delaware. I think it would be funny to trade places for a day with a student, but that would definitely be enough for me! (Submitted on January 22, 2024)

Last Week in London

You don’t realize how fast 21 days will go by until you’re on your flight home reminiscing on the life changing experiences you’ve had in the last 3 weeks. This final week has been filled with so many exciting excursions and so much reflection on my time abroad! This week I finally got to venture over to Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. Getting to see the royal residence was exciting, specifically thinking about the illustriousness that is within the palace walls. And big Ben was of course a sight to see in all its glory! A trip to Churchill’s war rooms took us through what it was like to be Winston Churchill during WW2. It was eye opening to take a look into his life and we even got to see the bunker in an almost completely unchanged state from the moment they had gotten the call that the war was over. Our class took a trip to the Globe Theatre where we had the opportunity to also see Shakespeare’s Othello. The theater company put on a phenomenal show that had us all captivated by their talent. And of course being in London I had to journey over to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour to see the set of all 8 Harry Potter films. As a lifetime fan it truthfully took my breath away! Getting to see the action behind the magic was something I never thought I’d get to see but was so glad I had been able to. Even if Hogwarts was just a tad bit smaller than I’d always imagined! (Submitted on January 29, 2024)

Hogwarts at Warner Bros. Studio

Reflections on Art and the Reef

Submitted by Kayla Haynes on the 2024 Winter ENGL program in Australia…

Last week, we visited the Museum of New and Old Art in Tasmania. Different than the museums in the United States, the Mona has a way more provocative vibe, showing a special perspective on what we would usually consider inappropriate. Our trip to the Mona proved to be an eye opening experience, especially given the low number of tourists in Tasmania. That  allowed us to engage with the locals and learn more about the different cultures. 

Photos taken in the Mona

The art venture was basically a mix of us and Tasmanian residents. Conversations with locals provided us with their perspectives on Americans. One museum-goer launched us into political discussions, suited with follow-up questions and facts unknown to many of us. Another was curious about the specific location of my residence in New York, showing a knowledge of the different boroughs without having ever been. 

Interestingly, a Tasmanian local revealed that they really only watch American shows and movies. This keeps them well-informed about our side of the world. That fact was a weird one to digest, as here we found ourselves surprised and unknowing in their environment, while they had a considerable knowledge of ours. (Submitted on January 22, 2024)

Great Barrier Reef

When you search for The Great Barrier Reef, the images you see are stunning. The coral is vibrant and the water is a brilliant turquoise. That was what I expected when we booked a trip to Cairns and a boat ride to the reef. 

Don’t misunderstand me; the reef was incredible. But, it was impossible to miss the dull colors that have seemingly infected the beautiful place. This is true worldwide, as many reefs, including the GBR, are expected to disappear by 2050. Seeing with my own eyes this phenomenon, this dying, was eye opening. It was not just me who felt this way. After our group of 14 left the excursion, we discovered that we all had this feeling of dread. 

Still, I am thankful for the experience we had. The Great Barrier Reef has lost some of its luster, but remains otherworldly. The turtles we saw and the sharks below us made the trip an adrenaline rush we did not want to lose. I would tell everyone to go see it now while it is still itself, before time and humans take away what is left of it. (Submitted on January 28, 2024)

My friend and I snorkeling and a shark that we saw.