Tuesday, March 30, 2010

J-Term 2011 Travel Study Programs Announced!

Where will you go next January? You could spend 3 weeks studying statistics or history, or you could spend next J-term paddling the coast of Costa Rica, engaging in service activities in West Africa, or competing in a race around the world!

Ghana, Costa Rica, and The Amazing Race are J-Term 2011's travel study programs. These programs offer alternate study environments, international experiences, and exposure to diverse cultures, and they count towards your degree. The programs have experiential learning as the focus and are typically three-weeks in length. Programs and destinations vary from year to year and there are options to suit most degrees. Past areas of trips have included, among others: China, Brazil, Cuba, Ghana, Vietnam, India, Malta, Southern Africa, France and Turkey.

  • Explore a new culture 
  • Fulfill the experiential component of the Maryville curriculum 
  • Two faculty members accompany a group of Maryville students 
  • Frequent discussions, readings, and journaling 
  • 3 academic credits

Programs are open to Maryville College sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Application forms along with $100 deposit and scholarship applications (optional) due April 6 to Kirsten Sheppard, International House. Forms can be downloaded here.

For more information, check the MC website's J-term study abroad page here.

Ghana- Travel Study and Service in West Africa
The purpose of this course is for students to experience the history, culture and present society of West Africa through study and service. The trip to West Africa will require careful preparation, active fund-raising efforts, cultural and religious sensitivity, extensive walking, patient living without air conditioning or familiar foods, scrupulous health habits, and self-confident poise, courage and creativity in the face of complexity, change, ambiguity and adversity. MC Website details

Costa Rica- The Blue Zones: Paddling and Surfing Along the Pacific Coast 
 Personal and environmental wellness and awareness are the two main goals for this experiential course. Students are expected to gain skills in developing awareness towards health and wellness issues. They will also get the unique opportunity to witness and take part in sustainability and environmental efforts. Costa Rica has protected more land than any other country, and is close to energy independence and a leader in eco-tourism. Being in this environment (vs. looking at this environment) is the best way to experience and understand these effort. MC Website details

The Amazing Race- Travel and Tourism
Students will spend the first two weeks of class learning travel skills necessary for international travel, and gaining an understanding of the tourism industry. Students will create sample overseas trips, and gain an understanding of the resources needed to effectively plan and implement travels.  The final week will put students into an “Amazing Race” scenario abroad, where they will compete in teams in a race around the world. The location which will not be disclosed to students until departure. There they will have to implement the travel skills learned during the first two weeks and explore different aspects of the local culture. MC Website details

Watch The Amazing Race promo video on YouTube here 

Zaragoza - Chrissy in Spain

March 30, 2010:

Before I begin my account of Zaragoza this past weekend, I want to note a few interesting kinds of vending machines I’ve noticed here in Spain:

1. Pizza and hot sandwiches. Just wait 5 minutes, and it will be hot! (But not fresh.)
2. Helados. Yep, ice cream vending machines everywhere; not only in the beachy towns!
3. Coffee/ espresso. You pick how much sugar and cream you want, and it comes out in these tiny plastic cups. Just be careful not to burn your fingers!
4. Cigarettes. While I’m aware that these exist in the U.S., I’d be willing to bet they are a LOT more common here.
5. Last, but not least, Beer. Yes, they have vending machines for alcoholic beverages. I’m not even sure how that’s legal!

Okay, so here’s a little bit about our trip:

Jane and I left Saturday morning and took a bus to Zaragoza. We bought our tickets early, so we were sitting in the VERY front of the bus. We thought this would be good as far as bussickness goes, but we were WRONG. It felt like we were on a roller coaster with this huge glass screen in front of us. We could see how close the bus driver was to running into the cars in front of us, and we could distinguish every curve clearly. Needless to say, I was quite glad to remove myself from the bus after three hours.

We spent the day with Brian, sightseeing and enjoying the gorgeous, sunny day. We went to a real, genuine CASTLE, which made me very happy! And we went to the famous cathedral of Our Lady of the Pillar. We spent the evening just walking around the city, and then we cooked dinner. (Taco night! Mmm)

Sunday, we headed out to find a church service, only to see that all the roads were blocked off and there were thousands of people everywhere. We accidentally stumbled upon one of the famous parade-journey things that go on during Semana Santa, or Holy Week. I enjoyed the celebration of Palm Sunday, but the costumes did make us a little bit uncomfortable, because they are equivalent to those of the KKK, white robes and pointy hoods with eye holes. Although we’re aware that there are no racial ties to those costumes here, we still couldn’t fully appreciate the religious aspect of the parade with the discomfort we felt from their dress.

Anyway, there isn’t much you can do on Sundays in Spain because everything is closed, so we just ended up talking a long stroll through town and stopping for lunch before heading back to Pamplona around 5. It was a short trip, but we had a great time. And now I’m preparing to go to Paris to meet up with my FAMILY and Grace and John this weekend! I’m super excited!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ariana Carmel | Costa Rica

these are some beautiful trees in the park where many of the art festival performances are. don't they look painted? i love them...
This week there is the Festival Internacional de los Artes here in San Jose so every day there are various theatre, dance, film, and music performances. Not this week but the week after is Semana Santa, which is a week where everyone has off school and work. I’m going for a few days to go visit a Bahá’í couple in Progreso, which is in southern Costa Rica close to the Panamanian border in an indigenous reservation. After that, I’ll come back and hang out here for a few days. Also, I’m going to visit Amy noodle in Puerto Rico at the end of April!!! Deciding to visit may just be the most spontaneous thing I’ve every done, but I’m pretty excited. So, yes, good things to come. In other news, I have nothing to take next year. Really, aside from Senior Seminar and Thesis, I think I’ve taken everything. I may be mistaken, but I went over it today and I think I’m done with major and GenEd classes. What do I take?? Well, I think you guys are just about caught up. Feliz Naw-Ruz!!

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Exporting Maryville College

My marketing and recruitment trip to Brazil and Argentina started well. For an unknown reason, I was upgraded to Economy Plus which meant ample legroom, nobody sitting next to me and quick meal service on my way to Sao Paulo. That made a 9+ hour flight as pleasant as it can be.

I first spent three days in Sao Paulo, visiting Education USA offices (which are U.S. State Department initiatives to promote U.S. education abroad) and a private high school. Most students had never heard of the concept of liberal arts and the ones who had, didn’t really know what was meant by it. So I spent time breaking down the concept.

Besides work, I had a little time to walk the streets of Sao Paulo and observe the people of this diverse nation. One day, I was walking back from a meeting and was standing alone, waiting to cross the street at a busy intersection. I was wearing high heels and a skirt and kept attracting attention from the cars driving by, honks, whistles, smiles. Hmm, I thought to myself, it must be a good hair day and the dress is sharp. That is, until I happened to glance down to my feet. It was a windy day and not one but two very noticeable, featherlight, colorful plastic bags had tangled up in my ankles as I was standing there. I must have been quite the sight!

Buenos Aires was next and it is here where I am writing this post. I was fortunate to have a weekend here prior to the workweek. It is Sunday afternoon and I feel like singing the Johnny Cash song I’ve been Everywhere. This is my first time in Buenos Aires but the moment I saw the city from the airport shuttle’s window, I know this was a city for me. A city built on a grid system with wide avenues and smaller side streets, grand old buildings and architectural gems, sidewalk cafes, parks, people selling flowers on street corners, what more could I want. The best I can describe this city is that it is a mixture of New York and Paris but with its own beat. So I tried to see everything in two days.

The 12 blisters that I had acquired walking the streets of Sao Paulo in heels did not get much better over the last two days but I’ve been everywhere, man. One of my favorite spots was the grand and spooky Recoleta cemetery where Eva ‘Evita’ Perone is buried in a relatively modest mausoleum. This is a cemetery unlike any that I have ever seen. It is rows upon rows of tall mausoleums that form a sort of a maze. Everybody buried there is somebody. Some mausoleums are so grand that they look like small churches. And curiously, there are a lot of cats there, lots. I overheard a guide say people sometimes abandon cats there. Someone clearly takes care of them though, as they are friendly and tranquil, basking in the sun, not feral. As I get back home, I will upload some pictures.

The next week will include our partner university visit, more Education USA visits and my trip will conclude with a busy a student fair back in Sao Paulo.

GCO Event---Chinese Lion Dance

Hello everyone! At the beginning of this semester, GCO hosted an event in school cafeteria--- Issac's on Feb 21st. The event was "Chinese Lion Dance", and it was once again a success. Here are some pictures of the event taken by Laila and Yilong. Hope you like it!!!
GCO Historian: Yilong

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Dear France, Let's Be Friends - Chrissy in Spain

Chrissy at the Beach

March 14, 2010:

I think I’m in love with France. Yes, it is a pretty certain fact. Although the forecast for Saturday in Biarritz was 80% rain, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky the entire day. It was amazingly beautiful! My friends Jane and Fernanda came with me and the group from Florida and several Spaniards. We very Americanly split into groups of 10-15 people and shared cell phone numbers and meeting times. On Spanish trips, they just say, “The bus is going back to Pamplona at this time on this day, so be here.” Haha.

We walked around and saw a lighthouse and lots of pretty coastline. There were tons of people wearing almost nothing and sunbathing, despite the fact that it was around 48 degrees. I was wearing a jacket and a wool scarf, but to each his own! We visited the chocolate museum, which was really interesting. We saw a video of how cocoa trees grow, and I remember seeing them and trying the chocolate seeds when I was in Brazil when I was younger. The chocolate samples were amazing, and I had to seriously restrain myself from leaving that place with 40 Euros worth of beautiful chocolates.

All in all, I enjoyed the day in France, and I hope to go back one day soon. Maybe when it’s a little warmer, say in the 60s or so, and I can actually sunbathe, too!

Chocolate Sculptures

Monday, March 8, 2010

Explore Melbourne

Hanging out on the Yarra River. Always good to know where the toilets are.

Melbourne by night
Melbourne is a great city...and even with a packed work schedule, it was necessary to make time to see what it was like to live in this stylish, event-filled city! Here are my favorite things about Melbourne.

1. Eating.
Ok - if you know me, then you know I am a foodie. If a little bit of a picky one. I love learning about cultures through food, and traveling is just better because I get to eat new foods. Last time I was in Melbourne I was pregnant, and as a result, I didn't have fond memories of the food. How sad I am now that I missed out the first time around. Things you need to try in Melbourne:
  • Cookie - a restaurant/bar with yummy asian food, and also a great spot to socialize after work or school.
  • dumpling place in Chinatown - no idea what it was called, but go down a side street in Chinatown and there are millions of good places to eat. Don't eat on the main drag. You'll miss out.
  • Chapel Street - not only great for shopping. Lots of eateries, bars and coffee shops. For great Thai Food, try Patee Thai or Thai Lemongrass (I know...I left Maryville, and went to eat at Lemongrass in Australia!)
  • Little Creatures - ok, so this is a Brewery. Little Creatures is a microbrewer in Melbourne. But the food was awesome. Lots of traditional Aussie fair, like the Kranski (it is a sausage with cheese in it. I know. Fabulous.)
  • Meat Pies - there are lots of places. But Williamsons' Pies & Pasties on Chapel Street is phenomenal. You can get traditional beef pies, or pies with spagetti bolognese in them....you see where I am going? How can you go wrong? I also liked Pie Face (a chain) which had a pie that had mashed potatoes on it.
  • For Breakfast: Toast with Avocado & tomato, drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice. Heaven. Speaking of which. Go to The European, across from Parliament for Sunday Brunch.
  • French Fries with sweet chili sauce and sour cream to dip them in.
Tell me you don't want soup from here (on DeGraves)

2. Places.
St. Kilda's - view of Melbourne
  • St. Kilda's. The only beach in the city. I'm not sure I would swim there, but there are beautiful views of the city. And Penguins. That is all one needs.
  • Yes. A Live Penguin.
  • Federation Square. Ugly at first site, but a nice meeting spot, and kinda artsy.
  • DeGraves Street - I already wrote about it. No where like it anywhere else in the world.
  • Queen Victoria Market - fruit, fish, food, and cheap goods. I wish I lived somewhere with a good market. And right in the CBD!
3. Events. Melbourne is known for events.
  • Etihad Stadium - home to AFL (FOOTIE!), concerts, cricket
  • Australian Open - I was told I could play on the Australian Open Courts. Unfortunately, ther was an event and it wasn't possible. But I tried.
  • Moomba Festival. Ok, this isn't the best example of festivals in Melbourne...and there are events of all sorts. But it was on when I was there, and it represents what is great about this city. There is always something going on.

4. Footie.
Footie Fans. No explanation needed.

It deserves a category of it's own. Who knew I would love Australian Rules Football? Sadly it was the pre-season, but I still got to go to a live footie game, and it was amazingly easy to fall in love with. Next time I am going to pick a team and learn their fight song. We cheered for the NAB cup winners the Western Bulldogs (Cmon Doggies - pronounced KARN DAWGIES!) Then we took a plane to Brisbane with the Brisbane Lions. Very Tall. I'm going to pick a Melbourne team though. AFL is a Victoria sport at heart!
Monsterous Oval Field. Guys in short-shorts.

Well, you get the idea. Lots to love. Definitely come here!

Oh wait -one more thing....HYBRID TAXIS! I'll share a pic in future blogs. Tired of the formatting!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Study in a High Rise? @ Victoria University

The View of Flinders Train Station @ Victoria University

MC doesn’t have an agreement with Victoria University, but if you are interested in Sport Science, this is the place to be in Australia. They are a global leader in research and engagement in the interlinked areas of sport, exercise science and active living. It seemed odd to hear about this from their high-rise campus in Melbourne that didn't have any sport facilities...BUT...Their new state of the art building in this field will be completed in September 2010. In the meantime, it was interesting to visit their campus in a high-rise building on the Yarra River in downtown Melbourne.
Their library was quite interesting. Since it is in a high rise they need to worry about space, and also about weight. All the books are located in the core (center) of the building, and are squished. By squished, I mean there is a wheel that opens up the stacks so you can get at the books. Maybe MC needs this??

They also have a well-recognized engineering program that is focused on Problem Based Learning. From the first year of study, their students are given real world problems to solve as part of course work. For example, civil engineers might be given a problem related to traffic controls, and ensuring the flow of traffic in busy areas and intersections. Undergraduates would have the opportunity to work on the devices that keep cars moving smoothly around the city.

Friday, March 5, 2010

La Trobe - a street or a university?

...A University... La Trobe University has a couple of campuses, but neither of them are located on La Trobe Street in the Melbourne CBD...in fact, RMIT is located there.

STILL - Check out La Trobe University – it is one of our ISEP partners. ISEP Exchange spaces may be available in the future, but this is always an option as an ISEP Direct program. This campus is located in the neighborhood of Bundoora, which takes about 45 min on public transportation to get to the city center of Melbourne. It is a very pretty campus, with lots of open 'park-like' spaces, and a community feel. Their goal is to “deliver socially responsible, inclusive, relevant and radical teaching, learning, and research.” They are known for their services for students, and offer programs in five faculties: Health Science, Humanities and Social Science, Law & Management, Education and Science, Technology and Engineering. They actually have 3 campuses, and outdoor education students might want to look at their Bendigo Campus to learn about their Outdoor Education and Adventure Program.

Interesting Fact: they have three residence halls that they recommend for international students. In each of these halls, you have your own cafeteria, and student organization. In this way, each hall becomes its’ own little community
. [this is one of the residences at LaTrobe]

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Swinburne University of Technology

Maryville College does not have an agreement at this time with this University. 45% of their students study in the fields of science and technology. They focus not only on higher education courses, but vocational training as well. They offer many of the regular courses that any university in Australia would offer, but also have specialized programs like a program in the Circus Arts. Are you a cheerleader, dancer, or athlete who has always dreamed of joining the circus? They have a short-term summer program for you to try it out! But you have to be ready for about 10 hours a week of serious training. Swinburne also has a special program in Indigenous studies focusing on the Wurundjeri Tribe. While focused on sciences, they also offer programs in Business and Social Sciences. They focus on “real world education” and offer internships and research opportunities to all students. Swinburne has a few different campuses, but the main campus is in the neighbourhood of Hawthorn, which is about 10 min from the Melbourne CBD. It is easily accessible by tram or bus.

Interested in Boomerangs? Just so you know, for them to actually come back to you, the curve needs to be at a 90 degree angle. These ones are beautifully decorated with indigenous art...but they won't come back.


The University of Melbourne is one of the many universities in Melbourne. It was founded in 1853, and is known for teaching and research excellence. It is not currently one of Maryville College's partners, but I am exploring partnership opportunities there. Thinking of Grad School abroad? This would be a great one for the sciences!

It has 94 different programs at the Bachelor, Master and PHD level.

It is a campus that is pretty close to the CBD (central business district...aka downtown) and actually has a campus feel to it. They have a lot of really advanced research facilities (this is where recaldent was invented...the ingredient in sugarless gum that makes trident good for your teeth). They also have an institute called AsiaLink where all the studies related to Asia take place. They teach all kinds of languages here from all over Asia.

All the institutions in Australia are trying to make their graduates "work ready" and partner heavily with industry. The U of Melbourne is partnered with companies like IBM, Celera, for example.

There is lots to do in Melbourne. I highly recommend eating & drinking in De Graves Street. It is a narrow street in the middle of the CBD. DeGraves Espresso is a famous coffee shop on this street. But you can't really go wrong with any of the small cafes and restaurants through here. Famous photo-artists have highlighted this street, particularly the graffiti in their art.


Ariana Hakiman
Costa Rica

Things I miss (from home):

- pancakes! mom's pancakes in particular, made from freshly ground barley flour, whole wheat flour, coconut flour, nuts, etc. yum.

- dad's homemade yogurt

- cardigans

- freely wearing havaianas. costa ricans are serious about their shoes...old navy/havaiana flip flops just don't cut it

- not being yelled/whistled at on the street

Things I will miss (from Costa Rica)

- the Baha'i community

- public transportation

- exploring

- speaking Spanish

- the enthusiasm of my professors

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010


A quick note: to avoid looking like a total tourist, the first thing you need to get right in Melbourne is how to pronounce the name of the city. It is NOT Mel-Born. It is also NOT Mel-Burn. Start practicing now: it is pronounced Mel-Bin with the emphasis on the first syllable.

[buildings are numbered at RMIT - see the sign on the right]

RMIT (the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) is one of the schools that Maryville College students have access to through ISEP Direct. This program is about $11000 per semester, and students can study there for either a semester or a year.
As you might imagine, RMIT is great at a variety of technical programs like Computer Science, Engineering, Sciences. But it also has great study options in media and communication, art and design, & Business. In particular, you might consider this option if you have a particular interest in Entrepreneurship. RMIT is the #1 school in Entrepreneurship in Australia and 12th in the world. In Media and Communication, Writing and Communication students would find coursework in journalism, media, photography, public relations, publishing, & writing. One of their strengths is Asian Media and Culture
. [buildings at RMIT are modern, and yet fit into the city-center. It feels like a campus since all buildings are within a couple of square blocks]

What is the best thing about RMIT? It is located right downtown in the CBD (central business district). The buildings offer wireless internet access, group study spaces, the best technology, and cool Melbourne architecture. You can’t beat the location for convenience to the Queen Victoria market, local restaurants, transportation, shopping or nightlife. The main campus is within a few city blocks, and accommodation is student housing within walking distance, in the heart of Melbourne.

Maryville College sent a student here a couple of years ago, so send me an email, and I can put her in touch. One of their buildings is an old city courthouse, and one of the courtyards on campus used to be the exercise yard of a prison. Now it is just a fun, relaxing hangout for students!

A Weekend of Grace

March 2, 2010: So last Thursday night, Grace McCord was coming all the way from Sweden to visit little ole me! I was super excited until I got her e-mail that because of one of millions of French air strikes, her plane was severely delayed. Alas, she would not make it to Pamplona before Friday. What could I do?

Well, I hopped on a bus to Madrid to meet her, that’s what! I couldn’t leave her stranded in this country without a translator. Plus, I didn’t have anything else to do on Thursday if she wasn’t going to be there. So, we met up in Madrid and had a spontaneous adventure! We stayed in a nice hostel, thanks mom and dad :) and Friday morning, we went to STARBUCKS. We may have spent a lot of money there, but we left feeling like we’d won the lottery. We were SO HAPPY to have real Starbucks Coffee! After our amazing caffeine boost, we wandered around the city taking pictures and taking advantage of the blue skies and the heat wave. It was like 63 degrees! We went to their huge park and walked around and we went to an art museum and we just generally had a wonderful, touristy day. Friday night when we got back, we just cooked some dinner and went to bed.
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Monday, March 1, 2010

Australian Education in General

The Australian Higher Education Seminar got off to a busy start, as we delegates got to learn about the Australian Education System both from a Government and Institutional Perspective. Representatives explained how Australia is working to increase participation in higher education, believing that the more people who study at a higher education level mean a more productive economy. Australian education officials have studied the US system (to learn both what to do and what not to do). Australia has 37 public and only 2 private universities. In case you don’t know, Australia is a much younger country overall, and the oldest universities are only around 100 years old.

[this first picture is of the Yarra River in Melbourne. Our hotel is right on the Harbour in the Docklands. On a warm day you see people walking along the pathways and rowers or kayakers down the river]

One of the most interesting things about the Australian higher ed system is related to their student loan program. It is called HECS-HELP (aka FAFSA of Australia). So the interesting part is that loans are deferred until you hit a certain income level (approx $43,000). …so if you don’t hit that level of income, the government absorbs that cost. Australian students can also get an additional $2,000-$5,000 in student loans for overseas study (OS-HELP) that get rolled into their regular loans. Australia wants to get 40% of all 25-34 year olds studying in university by 2025.

There is also a push for Australian universities to provide what they call “Dual Sector Education” which basically means those universities provide both vocational and more traditional university education.

International Education

Australia has been known to be very good at marketing and recruiting international students. In fact, that was the main emphasis for “international” at universities until relatively recently. Australian international educators complain that Australians don’t study abroad, but like to do a “gap year” before they start university or after they graduate. That being said 14% of undergraduate Australians study abroad…which is much higher than the US percentage (1%)


What is a GFC? Aussies shorten everything…so this stands for Global Financial Crisis. Maybe we say it too, but I haven’t heard it before. Apparently the Aussies have been “buoyant” through the GFC, and Canadians recovered quickly as well. This is particularly the case for the education sector, because many who lost their job went back to school, which in turn helped the sector.