Last Week in Panama

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

This was my last full week in Panama! We spent three days at Las Aldeas, which is a shelter for children who are orphans or victims of abuse. It’s been so cool to spend time there and talk to the children! We play games with them and spend time with them for a few hours. It’s such a cool organization and the kids are so sweet, I’ve loved playing with them and talking to them! I think they are some of the people that have taught me the most about the culture, as I’ve learned a lot from watching them interact with each other and talking to them! This week, I also learned about the Chinese culture in Panama. There are a ton of Asian markets and restaurants here! My friend and I shopped in the stores and ate in a restaurant. It was cool to see a new culture in the country we’ve been in for almost a month. I’m very sad that my time in Panama is ending soon.

Waterfall in Valle de Anton
Selfie with classmates at Cerró Ancón
Sunset at the Cerro la Silla hike
Cerró Cara Iguana hike in Valle de Anton

 

Chile: Awe Inspiring!

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

Water and nature are so beautiful. These falls in Torres del Paine contained the most beautiful colored water of shades of turquoise and looked like silk. But what they don’t tell you about bodies of water in Torres del Paine is the closer you are to the water, the windier it gets. This view almost blew me away, literally! To get close to the water, you have to fight against the wind that’s knocking you over just to take a peek, but it was worth it! Rain with this wind was not a good combination.

Driving to Torres del Paine for the first time we stopped along the way to take a picture of this beautiful view!! Besides the prickles that collected on my socks immediately, I knew the sites I would see this weekend would be once in a lifetime. Torres del Paine is a part of Patagonia or aka the end of the world because it’s the closest point to Antarctica! Surprisingly, it was not very cold except for the wind that reached almost 60-65 km that day. Other than that, the sun was warm because it is summer for Chile right now. This view will forever change my life. This is Lago de Grey in Torres del Paine and contained the first glacier I have ever seen in my life (not pictured). You can drink the lake water and eat the little red berries. The trek to this point was a view out of a movie, but this lookout point was breathtaking. I stood in the same spot in awe for a good five minutes at least.  I would also not mind being proposed to here.

 

 

Brazil: Group Excursions

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

My third week in Brazil has been spent visiting many tourist attractions and getting a better sense of the culture. We visited Christ the Redeemer who looks out over the city of Rio. We took a bus up to the top of the mountain and then climbed 200 steps to reach the base of Christ. The whole group was in awe as we saw how big this statue actually is. The views from the top were surreal and it was a clear day, showing off all of the special beaches Rio has. When we got back from the excursion, a small group of us departed for Maracana Stadium, home of the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2016 Rio Olympic games. I have been a sports fan my whole life and thinking about how stars like Michael Phelps and Alex Morgan walked on this turf was just incredible. We had a tour of the stadium and started research for our final project which focuses on the environmental impacts in Rio before and after the Olympic games. The following day, we went to Sugarloaf Mountain which is 396 meters tall! We hiked up to the first peak which was the hardest hike I have ever done! At this stop there was a gondola which we then took up to the tip on the mountain which looked out onto Christ the Redeemer and the beautiful surrounding water.

On Thursday, we left for Tiradentes which is a town directly north of Rio about four hours away. This town reminded me of older towns in the United States with its old cobblestone roads and horses. During this weekend excursion, we visited Inhotim which is an enormous interactive park/garden/museum. The bus ride was packed and long, but it was definitely worth it for this bonding and informative excursion outside of Rio. Saturday was our free day in Tiradentes, but we still ended up going on an excursion as a class. This impromptu day ended up being one of my favorite days on this program so far. We got up and walked about 3 miles to a waterfall. I had never been swimming in one before, but there were several pools at different heights of the waterfall that you can hike up to. We spent about 4 hours here just swimming, talking to locals, and enjoying time with one another. To top off this experience, on our walk home we stumbled upon a carnival parade. We were finishing lunch and walking home when tons of bands, clowns, singers, and street performers flooded the street getting ready for their parade. Carnival is such a huge production in Brazil and despite truly starting in late February, the celebrations start way before then. Being in the middle of this cultural event was amazing and it was great to see all of the locals come together.

Finally, as our two classes continued, we learned about the importance of plants from studies in hospital rooms and kids with ADD. Plants can go a long way and act as a soothing and calming device aside from just decoration. For field sketching, we practiced drawing one point perspectives while looking into the old cobblestone streets of Tiradentes.

Chile: The Beauty of Torres Del Paine

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

This past weekend, we traveled to Torres Del Paine, which is considered by some to be the eighth wonder of the world.  I have been excited about this weekend for months and I could have never imagined just how amazing this experience would be.  While hiking, outdoor rock climbing, exploring the flora and fauna of Patagonia, and learning about the environment, my love for the outdoors and nature was reignited.  I felt so incredible the entire weekend because the nature that we were seeing appeared to be untouched which is beautiful to me.  It also was eye-opening to see just how stark the impact of climate change is in Torres Del Paine which is very close to Antarctica.  The glaciers have receded due to global warming which is horrible to see.  This weekend was so beautiful and amazing, but also reminded me of the effects that humans can have on nature in a negative way.  Therefore, I am grateful that I was able to both appreciate what nature has to offer, but also remember that we need to work hard to protect it.

View of the famous Torres Del Paine
Bridge to Lago de Grey in Torres Del Paine

Argentina: Contemporary Art

Submitted by Margaret Costello on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Argentina sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures…

This week, I spent a lot of time going to see modern and contemporary art. Buenos Aires is one of the biggest capitals in Latin America for contemporary art. The first museum that I visited was the MALBA, or the Museo de Arte Latin-americano de Buenos Aires. This museum was really cool because it had a lot of famous artists that really define Latin America. For instance, I was able to see the famous Frieda Kahlo with the monkey and the Parrot on her shoulder. The second place I went to see modern art this week was not a museum, but it was the Cultural Center Recoleta. This place is super cool and it is free and open to any and everyone. This place is filled with lots of contemporary art that changes every month. One of the exhibits this month was a feminist one with lots of political art. This was really cool because it is very reflective of the time as women are trying to legalize the right to abortion. If I lived in Buenos Aires, I would be at this place every day because it is a great place to meet other people my age as well as just a place to hang out and study in an open and free environment.

The Cultural Center Recoleta

Argentina: Shopping Like a Local

Submitted by Sara Bixler on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Argentina sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures…

As our last week in Argentina comes to a close, I have come to realize just how unique the culture of Buenos Aires is. This past week, we have had free time to explore the city and visit some of the more “touristy” attractions that the city has to offer. On Sunday, we visited a popular market in a neighborhood called San Telmo. This market spans many blocks of the neighborhood and local artists and residents sell their artwork and other creations, as well as antiques and other small things. There is also a large food market where you can buy produce and other local delicacies. We also visited a museum of modern art, as well as local gardens. I really enjoyed these experiences this week because I felt more like a local. Particularly when we spent the day at the market, I felt as though it was a part of my daily life just like other locals. Looking back over the past month, I am very grateful for the experiences that I have had. I am looking forward to returning home and sharing my experience with my family! 

Argentina: San Telmo Market

Submitted by Adamari Rodriguez on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Argentina sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures…

This week, the program allowed us to have a free weekend. My house decided to stay in Recoleta, Buenos Aires to be able to explore some famous attractions before we leave. We had the opportunity to go to the famous market of San Telmo to get some souvenirs for my family. San Telmo is known for its extravagant market that stretches for miles and goes through the entire town. I began at the heart of the market and walked my way to the end of the line.  I could best compare the market to a flea market in the United States. However, this was much different because it was divided into different categories. For example, the indigenous tribes had their own street with their own crafts. Then there was a section of only antiques and then clothes. When people want to go shopping, they go to the market because everything is handmade. I spoke to someone at a stand and he said that he painted everything individually by hand and that it took him hours to do. When I think of the United States,  I think of mass production and everything being fast. Here, they really take pride in the products and they really rely on the market as a part of their income. That is why it is so massive. San Telmo is a poor neighborhood, but they rely on this market as a tourist attraction. I was disturbed because as a tourist I was drawn to this market, but on my way, I passed a mind-boggling amount of homeless families. I was glad I was able to contribute to their individual products because it really makes a difference in their lives.

San Telmo Market, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Chile: Torres del Paine National Park

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

Last week, we spent five days in Puerto Natales visiting the Torres del Paine National Park. This park is located in southern Chile close to Antarctica. We spent our days hiking through various terrains and rock climbing. Lakes and rivers that we saw had unique colors ranging from grey to a light turquoise due to the melting of the glaciers. Initially, I was a bit nervous because I did not know the itinerary each day until the night before. However, I trusted our fantastic tour guides and just enjoyed the events that each day brought. The trip exceeded any expectations I had beforehand and I learned how going with the flow can result in a great experience.

My friend Carly and I enjoying the view of the mountains and icy blue lake

Unforgettable Weekend in Panama

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

My third week in Panama ended with one of the best weekends of my life. With every experience here, I am reminded of how friendly and generous people are and how beautiful the country is. After the last class of the week, I met a Panamanian student at our university and talked with him quite a bit. The student enthusiastically offered to give me a tour of part of the city and I didn’t think twice before accepting. During the tour, we talked about pretty much everything, comparing our two different cultures and expressing our feelings about the world in general. He practiced his English and I practiced my Spanish and we both helped each other. The experience was amazing and I think he will be a good friend going forward.

On Friday, I visited the canal with the group and afterwards took a bus to another side of the country, Santiago in Veraguas. There, I met up with a friend who I had met when he studied at the ELI in Delaware in the fall. We drove to David in Chiriquí and met up with another friend from the same group at Delaware. The two showed me some of the best hospitality that I have ever experienced. Not only did they let me stay in their homes, but they drove me around all of Chriquí and paid for all of my food. They were proud to show me their country and I will never forget their generosity. I saw mountains, waterfalls, and rivers. This region truly showcases the natural beauty of Panama. We picked tangerines from trees that my friend’s family owns and ate lunch in a tiny family restaurant in the middle of the mountains. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking and every person I met was extremely kind.

I will never forget this weekend in Panama. Before, I felt like I only really knew the city, but now, I feel like I truly experienced so much of the country. For the next weekend (our last in Panama), I think that I will return to the region to meet up with my friends. I can’t wait to explore more of the country and talk with even more people!

The beautiful mountain scenery in the province of Veraguas
Picking tangerines in the province of Veraguas. The family that I stayed with owned some land in the mountains that has about ten trees with the sweet, delicious fruit.
The delicious fruit and the breathtaking scenery of the mountains in Veraguas
A natural rock wall outside of Boquete in the province of Chiriquí
An absolutely beautiful waterfall in the province of Veraguas. In the water below, people relaxed and cooled off with the cold waters of the mountains.

 

 

 

Panama Canal

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

This past week was probably the busiest one yet, but I enjoyed every second of it. At Aldeas, I helped out more with the art activities and also played games like charades with the children. This was great because it gave me the opportunity to talk more with the kids and learn about their situations and how things are different in Panama. One day, we talked a lot about how our school systems differ and how they learn English compared to how I learned Spanish in school and it was really interesting because I have never heard that perspective. We also played charades, which was really fun and helpful because it taught me a lot of vocabulary that I don’t use on a daily basis. It was also funny to the children when we got confused over words that we didn’t know because they were so basic to them, but we never learned them in our classes so we had to explain how hard it can be to learn a language just from a class versus speaking it at home. Bonding with the kids at Aldeas is always a fun way to end a tiring day. It’s hard to believe that I only have a few more days with them.

On Friday, we finally got to see the Panama Canal, which I had been anticipating since before I even arrived. Every single day, the canal is mentioned in my classes here, so it was neat to actually see it in person knowing how much it has impacted the history of Panama. After watching the boats pass by, we walked through the canal museum to learn more about its influence on literature. It was really interesting to see why and how so many people came to work on the canal and how much it has influenced Panama and the rest of the world. There were also sections of the museum that talked about the different animals and insects that were around when the canal was built so that we could get a more realistic perspective.

After the canal, a group of us went to Valle de Antón for the weekend and it was genuinely one of the best weekends of my life. We hiked a lot, went to the hot springs, jumped off of waterfalls, and went to a butterfly exhibit. This was also really interesting because I do a lot of outdoor activities at home, but they were completely different here. Activities like cliff jumping were a lot less regulated and there were a lot of different plants and animals, especially butterflies, in the nature exhibits that I had never seen before. Overall, it was a great week and I am excited to see what the rest of this trip brings!