Monday, September 18, 2017

Lessons in Language Learning: Don't Laugh at Cancer

I hadn't slept in 24 hours, my energy tank for comprehending Spanish was running on fumes, and I'd already proven myself to be a mute sponge trying to soak up the language but petrified if approached for conversation. I was invited to a weekend cabin trip to celebrate a friend's birthday in dance class. THIS WAS IT. A chance to learn every swear word in the book and play "never have I ever" in another language without winning by default because everything goes over my head.

We had a blast and I got to know some super cool cats. A pink-haired design major and a curly headed male ballerina. An actor who had a show the next week playing as Jesus Christ himself to the tune of 80's rock music. A broken-hearted 18-year old who took on a dare to mimic a chicken on a dare worthy of an academy award. The birthday boy was spun around 21 times and thrown at a giant dinosaur piñata. Beyond the tree where the unfortunate dino was hanging, a small river was flowing through what looked like a makeshift landfill from the piles of garbage littering the banks. And that's how I discovered the reason people thought I was crazy for swimming in rivers and lakes my whole life. Even out in the countryside, the water was grossly contaminated.

In another context, this was a normal mini-vacation for a bunch of rowdy college kids, but for me it was over 24-hours of non-stop intensive social and linguistic experience. You can't imagine the terror that hit me when I realized I was surrounded by Spanish speakers with no internet connection (AKA a dictionary). Needless to say, when the 2-hour car ride back was over, I had exhausted my 5-year-old-level vocabulary and had learned enough new words to write an exam. So I'm solid if my teachers back home ever test me on the perverted double meanings of absolutely everything in Spanish and the context in which "no mames" applies.

So just before I laughed at cancer, I was having a very amicable conversation with the parents of the birthday kiddo about how they'd love to visit me in Tennessee. I explained to them in broken grammar that Tennessee has the most beautiful mountains for climbing and hiking. The mom went on to talk about her husband's pastime as an ice mountaineer and began to gesture to his stomach to articulate why he couldn't keep up the sport anymore. At this point, I already knew her to be an expressive and comical lady, so my brain put together that he could't climb anymore because he had a bit of a belly. A second too late, the thought processes that she said cancer and she was already holding up his shirt to show me an external bag on his stomach and the smile immediately evaporated from my face. I was laughing before and now I was clueless of what to say or do so I just nodded and took on a grave expression.

And this kids, is why learning a language is 50% body language and 50% of what they're actually saying so the wrong interpretation could result in you laughing in the face of a cancer survivor.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Who Am I? I'm {Wander} Woman!!

Hey, everybody!!

I returned from my semester abroad in France a little over three months ago, and time sure has flown by! Within that time, I have been preparing to take up my position as Study Abroad Ambassador Co-Chair, which is (by far) the most exciting title I’ve ever assumed! (Anything to do with being abroad is, am I right?!)

What I am most excited to share with you all is just a taste of my LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE about how I became a superhero.

My story takes place in a land far, far away (over 4,000 miles, to be exact). Can you guess where this place is? That’s right: FRANCE!

It was my last full day in France,
and I was spending time with my friend, Sandrine (you may recall her from my blog about my trip to London). We had a late lunch of crepes and cider, then went to rest in the gardens of Versailles. There, we discussed our plans for later in the evening. Sandrine suggested going to see Wonder Woman, and I, being all about strong, female protagonists, supported the idea whole-heartedly.

We arrived at the theater just in time for the movie to begin, and as the lights dimmed, we settled into our seats, ready to watch this iconic hero in action. By the end of the film, I was blown away by the plot, the characters, the one-liners, and the epic themes that were all interlaced within the 2 hours and 21 minutes of viewing time, but best of all, I came away feeling EMPOWERED.

As a woman and as a traveler, this movie gave me a small refreshing reminder of the capabilities of the human race, and I felt proud knowing, first-hand, the beauty of other cultures and languages. This was the value of my time abroad! The next day, I boarded the plan for the nine-hour flight back to the U.S. taking with me the memories, the souvenirs, and the STRENGTH I had developed from my time abroad.

So, now as I adjust back to life state-side, I am restless, tempted by the call of adventure. My experiences TRANSFORMED me from indecisive to independent, from timid to travel-loving. I realize that this change wasn’t caused by a radio-active spider or powers gifted to me from gods that did such a thing. It was the International House at Maryville College that provided me with the tools I needed to become a self-proclaimed {Wander} Woman, a person who possesses the heart of a sojourner, a passion for traveling, and the power to inform other Maryville College students of the possibilities that come from studying abroad.

If you are a Maryville College student determined to study abroad, or even the least bit curious about the powers of I-House, I encourage you to schedule a meeting with Kirsten Sheppard or another member of International House. Discover the study abroad SCHOLARSHIPS available to you, the PROGRAMS that align with your major, and the LOCATIONS all around the globe that will give you your own superpowers!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Lady Aurora

This weekend a group of friends and I went camping at a beach near Bodø called Mjelle. Along the coast there is a hike to a secret beach between two mountains. The hike there was quite an adventure! First going the wrong way, then climbing down the side of a cliff, all just part of the fun! Once we finally made it to the mountain to see the beach it was all worth it! The view is spectacular from there. This country is absolutely something I have never experienced before. We finally made it back down after some rock climbing. Food always tastes so good after a long hike and when you're camping. We had a nice fire and we were waiting for the northern lights to make an entrance. Just as we had given up, Lady Aurora danced above a small hill right beside our tents. We sprinted up the hill for the chance to watch the show. We had seen some lights on previous days but we had never seen anything like this! The sky was clear and the colors were vivid. Of course, we didn't have our cameras. I think this night really showed me that everything happens so spontaneously and there is no way to control it. I can't wait to see northern lights as many times as I can!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Week 2: Going on a glacier

By Chloe Kilpatrick


This semester I am taking a module called adventure knowledge. The first course is experience of nature. The class gets to travel around northern Norway and learn about the surroundings and geology. This week our class focused on the movement of glaciers and to finish off our study, we took a class trip to the svartisen glacier and went with a guide up the first small section of the leg, Engabreen. It was an amazing experience. I didn't know what to expect from the trip but I think it was better than anything I could have imagined! I have always enjoyed classes to pair hands on experience with learning in the classroom because it really helps solidify the information. The best part about these trips is that the university has funding for the course so students do not have to pay for the trips we are taking. I think by choosing to take this module of courses, I am really maximizing my opportunities here in Norway.  

Week 1: Beklager, jeg snakker ikke norsk (Sorry, I don't speak Norwegian)

by Chloe Kilpatrick, Nordland

I was afraid my first few days here in Bodø, Norway were going to be lonely and scary. I am so glad I was wrong! Most international students would not be moving in until 4-5 days later and I was sure I would be the only student in the dorm. Luckily, this was not the case. A Norwegian student was already living here and he was very open to showing me around to things that I was worried about finding. I think he could sense in some way that I was homesick and helped me stay busy to get through the first days which are always the most difficult. We went to the store, the mall, on a few hikes, played card games and watched movies.

 Before I knew it, I wasn’t homesick anymore and the other international students were moving in. There are people here from all over, even another student from the US! There are students from Pakistan, Bangladesh, France, Zimbabwe, Italy, Germany, Russia, Canada, Austria, Netherlands and the list goes on. It is so interesting to be in a room with all of these nationalities and everyone speaks English. I have always known that English is considered a “universal language” but you don’t really understand what that means until you are having conversations with people from 15 different native tongues but they are all speaking English. It always shocks me that every time I say “Oh, I’m sorry, I only speak English” the speaker immediately switches to English. I have yet to run into someone here that can’t speak English in some degree.  

I am most excited to be starting my classes this week. I have been preparing and taking large class loads for two years so that I could use mostly electives while abroad. I am so thrilled that I decided to do this and now I am getting to take some of the most amazing elective courses. The course module is called Adventure Knowledge and it revolves around learning about the culture and nature of Norway. Most of my classes are outside and we have a trip to a glacier that I am extremely excited about. I can’t wait to start documenting everything we get to do!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Week 1: How to break a toilet in Mexico

by Grace Costa

Hola a todos!!

I have been south of the border now for a week now and I have SO MUCH to share with you.

The first night I flew in from Nashville into Mexico City. If you can imagine someone taking all the legos in the entire known universe and dumping them from horizon to horizon, you might have idea of what Mexico City looks like from above. 23 million people. I stayed in a hotel that night where I finally acknowledged that the nagging soreness of my tonsils was not going to beat it like whip cream  so I started to wonder how horrific it would be to have tonsillitis in another country.

And I did what any intelligent adulting college student would do and called my mom. A couple ibuprofen later and some sleep, I was on a bus for Puebla, Mexico, two and a half hours away. Some guy sat next to me who said to his friend across the aisle "Si no hay droga, no hay vida" (No life without drugs). The bus was the kind your parents pay $300 for you to go to six flags with the choir in grade school. (It was really really nice.) Will be using for future excursions.

When I finally arrived in Puebla, I took an UBER to the college, stumbled around with my 4 months worth of luggage, and got directions from someone who noticed my obvious confusion. I met up with my host mom we took a taxi to our neighborhood, "Las Estrellas del Sur".

Let me start out by saying I LOVE love love my host family. It's only been a week, but already feel at home in our little house with two little white dogs. My host mom speaks a bit of English, but for the most part we speak in 100% Spanish. She's happy to talk for most of the conversation, knowing that I'm focusing as hard as I can to understand and react accordingly. What I mean by that is smiling, saying "Si, si, si" and butchering the Spanish language completely if I do try to make actual words.

This week was orientation and I was blown away by the number of internationals here. There are at least 140 of us. Probably 30-40 from the US. A lot of Germans, Colombians, and Chinese. And a few from other countries around the world. Making friends was such a breeze because we were all in the same boat, so we had already exchanged numbers, social media, and made whatsapp groups before the first day was over.

And without further ado, I give you the following steps for breaking a toilet in Mexico:

  1. Take a short shower
  2. Use the toilet promptly after showering
  3. Use TP
  4. Flush
  5. Congratulations, you broke the toilet

Here in Mexico, TP goes in the trash because it clogs the pipes. Also, many houses have a water pump on the first floor, so if you want to use water on the second floor (where my room is located), you have to be aware of how much water you're using in a certain amount of time. 

Now that I've roused your appetite with my pleasant bathroom story, here are some of the foods I've tried so far:
  • Guayaba (Guava)
  • Papaya
  • Tacos al Pastor
  • Churros
  • Horchata
  • Chiles Aquiles (if that's how you spell it)
  • Tacos rolled up really small with cheese sauce, tomato and lettuce
  • Camote (a sweet native to Puebla)
And I have SO MUCH MORE on my list to try. Will keep you updated ;)

Thanks for reading! Tomorrow I climb a volcano so stay tuned for more trailblazing in Puebla, Mexico.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Solar Eclipse on the 21st

Picture by National Geographic

Hello CIE blog readers-

We are trying to get this information out in every way that we can think of:

MC Eclipse Viewing Event
Football Field
Monday, August 21st
1:30 pm to 3:00 pm

Current students-
Please promote this event to new students so that they do not miss out! It is going to be incredible. From what I hear, it is a powerful experience and could be a wonderful way to bond with new members of the community.

P.S. If you know how to explain what a solar eclipse is, you'll be more likely to convince people to go! Check out this event if you want to learn more about how solar eclipses happen and why they are important:

Free Public Presentation by Dr. Guerinot
Clayton Center’s Lambert Recital Hall.
Tuesday, August 15th
6:00 pm

If you can't make that event, check out this straightforward explanatory video on YouTube:

Thank you for the help.

Cindy Columbus
International Programs Coordinator
Center for International Education

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Work at Maryville College

As a college student, many students experience a tight budget and may want to earn a little extra money by getting a part time job. Getting a part-time job is a decision that you should really think through. Some questions you should ask yourself is:

·    Does my visa status allow me to work at Maryville College?
·    Will I have time for a part-time job with my current class schedule?
·    Do I want to trade off time with clubs and fun activities for a part-time job?
·    Will I gain something from this job? New skills or competencies?

If you feel that working at Maryville College is right for you after answering these questions, here are some things to consider.

Students on F-1 visas and some J-1 visas may work up to 20 hours a week on campus during the school year. On breaks, students may work up to 40 hours a week. Many on-campus positions have lower limits to accommodate your school schedule. If you are eligible to work, you can try to find jobs through one of these methods.

a.      Handshake is where most campus jobs are advertised, including work study jobs.  They are usually posted late August. You must make sure that the work position is not a federal work study position, as you won’t qualify for any of those positions.
b.      You should check with Metz Culinary for student positions. Metz Culinary is the company that runs the dining services for Maryville College.
c.      Mountain Challenge sometimes hires students. Contact Bruce Guillaume and he can explain his hiring process. It involves shadowing events and pretty extensive training.
d.      It won’t help immediately but applying to become a Resident Assistant (RA) or doing other leadership opportunities that might give you spending money like becoming a Peer Mentor or MC Ambassador may be an option if you plan on spending more than one year at Maryville College.

What if you don’t want or can’t be employed, but want to gain skills and experience for the career world? You can still have valuable experiences without having a job. Join a club or organization and ask if you can help plan or organize events or initiatives. Some great organizations to develop leadership skills are the Student Government AssociationGCO or the International Education Week Planning Committee. Want to improve your writing and communication skills, check out the Highland Echo or one of the other great organizations. There are many clubs and organizations that you can join and strengthen skills and gain experience for the “real world.”

Monday, July 31, 2017

Maryville College Academics

As you know, Maryville College has very high academic standards, and you will be expected to keep good grades. Although you may have your system of education figured out and know how to thrive in that environment, Maryville College may be quite different, especially from schools in Europe. Some important benefits and other aspects of Maryville College classes include:

-       Small class sizes. On average, your classes will be with few other students, perhaps about 20. Maryville College has a student:faculty ratio of 13:1, meaning for every 13 students there is at least one faculty member;
computer lab in lamar library with students working
Lamar Library Computer Lab
-       Expectation of class participation. Often times, your grade is dependent on your class attendance and participation. So you will be expected to complete your reading and assignments before class, so that you can actively contribute to class conversations. It is also important that you develop your own opinions on course topics, rather than just repeating things from the readings and assignments;
-       High level of interaction between students and faculty. If you need extra help in understanding the class material or just have a question that you may not have had a chance to ask in class, professors encourage students to reach out during office hours and after class. Professors are used to being asked for clarification and help.They are here to help you learn as much as possible, and they take their role very seriously.
-       Intensive amounts of reading, writing and assignments over the course of the semester. You will be expected to have readings and assignments done by the specified due date. You will need to demonstrate your knowledge on the topics throughout the semester, rather than primarily on final exams.

This may seem overwhelming now, but if you plan your time appropriately and ask for help when you need it, you will all do fine. All students may run into road blocks in some courses and may need extra help. Maryville College has many resources to help you overcome those road blocks, but each student is responsible for seeking help out when they need it. If you need help researching a topic for an assignment, librarians at the Lamar Memorial Library are always willing to help. You can email or call them with your questions, or you can set up a face-to-face appointment. There is also an Academic Support Center on campus. This center sets up group study sessions and has writing and math help. We highly encourage students to take advantage of these resources.

Mountain Challenge Tower - You can do it too!
Learning at Maryville College also extends beyond the classroom. There is an emphasis on experiential education at the College. Experiential education is typically a guided activity of some form, typically in an unfamiliar location or new task. Performing these activities allows students to adjust their mental and emotional process to the task at hand and develop new tasks. Many times, students participate in Mountain Challenge programming for experiential education, which gives students the opportunity to explore themselves while outdoors. The Center for Community Engagement plays a role in experiential education. Students can reach out to them to help find volunteer opportunities in the surrounding community. Some examples are tutoring, adult literacy, work in social service agencies, environmental projects, and many other possibilities. These are just a couple of ways that Maryville College students get involved. To see more options, click here

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Maryville College Sports and Athletics

the mascot of the college is a scot, with plaid of orange and garnet
Maryville College Mascot

Maryville College loves sports! There's an option for everyone from the devoted athlete to the curious stander by. Sports events are also a great way to make friends and understand the culture of the campus, whether you're playing or cheering the team on.

Maryville College's mascot is the Scot and the school colors are orange and garnet. On game days, and especially during Homecoming on October 21, you will see students, staff and faculty alike wearing the school colors to support our teams.

Maryville College is home to 14 competitive sports teams. There are seven sports teams for women and seven teams for men. Games and competitions are often held at Maryville College, and you can go to support your friends on the team and also to learn about unique sports that you may not have in your hometown. You may have seen many TV shows or movies that feature American Football teams and cheerleaders, but you can learn about the real thing here at the college. You can find the schedule for all sports here.

Intramural Sports

If you want to try out a sport during your time here, there are teams on campus that are for anyone. Nearly two-thirds of students at Maryville College participate in some sort of sport or intramural during their time here, so its a great way to spend time with existing friends and meet new ones. Maryville College has recreational teams for students on campus in several sports, which are open to any student. Intramural teams play various teams on campus to become the reigning champions of club sports, such as flag football, sand volleyball, softball, and table tennis among other things. In past years, I-House has even formed some teams in various sports and competed.

a group of students on paddle boards and kayaks
A group of students enjoying a Mountain Challenge event. 
Mountain Challenge

If your not sure if intramural teams are right for you, you can join Mountain Challenge on any of their adventures or activities. On many Saturdays, they organize a trip or outdoor activity that students can participate in. Find the schedule here and be sure to sign up for trips one week in advance. On Wednesdays, they've started the initiative Camp 4, which is a designated time for students, staff and faculty to have access to Mountain Challenge fitness equipment, classes and the bouldering cave. (Bouldering is a form of rock climbing where you are close to the ground and climb freely without ropes or other equipment.) Each Wednesday, there is a Group Fitness Class from 4pm to 5pm, followed by a yoga class from 5:15pm to 6:15pm. These services are available free of charge to MC students. They also have many other opportunities, so stop by Crawford House when you get to campus to learn more!

Student climbing in Mountain Challenge's bouldering cave!