Friday, October 29, 2010

A View from the Afternoon

by Ashthon Irwin
Universite de Savoie
Whole Blog:

So, this is what I see from the window of my classroom every day. Technically this exact shot is from a bench outside the building where my classes are held, but you get the idea. Soon and very soon that will be covered with snow. It actually snowed up in the mountains a few days ago. It only rained cold, icy, wet rain in the valley, but the mountains did have snow.

It's been a while since I've posted any new updates. I think the last one was about my birthday, but very little has happened since then. I took a day trip to Italy with the ISEFE people. We're special. We're like Erasmus, but not because we're only Americans and Asians.

I think my expectations were a little too high. Maybe not too high, but maybe too different. When I picture Italy I picture Rome, the Vatican, Letters to Juliet even. I didn't picture industrialized city with a few nice old historical sites here and there. I realize now that I shouldn't go into things with expectations though, because if I hadn't then I really would have enjoyed it more I think. There is one thing that blew my mind far beyond my wildest dreams.

Italian pizza and gelato.

I've heard of the wonders. I've heard that pizza in Italy is the best and I've heard that you "just can't go to Italy without eating some gelato". But believe me when I say that I had no idea it was going to be like it was. First of all, it was the cheapest pizza I've had since I've been in Europe. We ate at this cute little Italian place that we finally found - believe it or not, it's crazy hard to find a sit down type restaurant where we were. I ordered the pizza margheurite...I'm not even sure if that's how you spell it because I've ordered that exact pizza and used at least 3 versions of that word in ordering it. So I'm no novice to this pizza. But when they brought that pizza out to me with my OUT OF THE TAP coke and I took my first bite I was expecting it to taste like every other marghajopoliseria pizza that I've eaten here. FALSE. It was the best pizza I have ever tasted in my entire life. Kudos, Italy. You rocked my taste bud's world.

Aside from that, very little else has been going on. I befriended this girl who loves Vampire Diaries as much as I do, possibly more. I then went on to turn two of my friends here onto the show. I'm making the world a better place, one vampire at a time. (Team Stefan, by the way). I also ate a kiwi for a boy. If you know me, then you know that's something I'd rather not do. I'd rather not try new things. Especially if they're good for me. But if I do, it usually means it's for something that's worth it...

Coming up: Trip to NICE! I'll get my bikini on, even if it's under a parka. We'll see how cold it gets. Also: PARIS for tennis! Get ready Nadal, I'm about to shake up your world. And then it will be time for my hips to speak truths at the Shakiraaaa concert.

I'm anxiously awaiting you, November <3

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

GCO Halloween Party!!!

Aside from the fact that we are all excited the weekend is around the corner, one more cause for celebration is the GCO halloween party. It's time to turn the international house into a den of witches, goblets and pumpkins from all around the world. One might wonder why they should attend. Well, for starters,there are a ton of great prizes and treats that await you. Furthermore, there are some events we have organised that will "blow your socks off" such as:
  • Halloween Scavenger Hunt
  • Halloween Costume Contest
  • Pumpkin Carving Contest ( BYOCP)
  • Apple Bobbing

*BYOCP- Bring Your Own Carved Pumpkin :)

Who is eligible to participate: MC Faculty and Students

Venue: Internationl House (building beside Sutton Science Centre)

Date: 10/29/2010
Time: 6:30pm-10:00pm
PS: There will be alot of halloween inspired cusine (scary but edible, I promise). Also remember to come dressed to scare!!!!!

See you then.

More homecoming

by Ashley Bell
Photos by Ayaka Ito
Marching in the Parade

Homecoming is a traditional time in which institutions welcome back past residents and alumni. While a popular tradition at many institutions across the United States, Maryville College homecoming is special one. With a week of activities prior to homecoming weekend, students have many ways to show their excitement for "being a Scot". During homecoming weekend, current students share the campus with faculty and alumni as they show their school spirit. On Saturday, October 23rd, in preparation for the homecoming football game, Global Citizenship Organization proudly represented our diverse community at Maryville College while participating in the annual Homecoming Parade. Students wore traditional clothing from around the world and carried the flags of some countries represented within our campus community this year.

Ayaka looking happy in the parade

Bryan and Arri representing Ghana

Max and Doan celebrating Vietnam

Elle almost didn't get a flag for Kyrgystan, but Thomas did a great job!

Getting ready took a lot of work

Everyone needed a picture with Donald

Beautiful ladies of International House

I'm not sure how they all stayed balanced up there!

Spain and Thailand!

Now everyone knows where Moldova is!

Micka wore traditional dress from Laos

Joey is our first student from Norway!

Anais & Ebrahim were stylin'

Monday, October 25, 2010


“I Said it’s Great to be a Fighting Scot!”-Donald
This past weekend was homecoming as most of you already know and GCO had an amazing time both in the parade and at the game! GCO’s float this year consisted of decorating our float with flags of the countries where some of our fellow members were from. If you saw people walking around in beautiful Asian costumes or unique traditional African clothes at the parade, then you spotted GCO!
It was so wonderful to be able to see everyone dressed up in the parade with traditional clothing from their home countries and really show pride in their identity. GCO is absolutely amazing at making people feel welcome and accepted, and I, for one, have experienced this firsthand and am not even an exchange student. Even if you were not an exchange student, but still wanted to participate, GCO made it possible so that everyone, international students or not, could dress up in elaborate costumes. Thanks to the wonderful support of the MC professors and even other GCO members lending costumes, everyone was able to participate equally and have fun in the parade.
If you look at pictures from the homecoming parade, you will see a smile on every GCO members’ face. Everyone really enjoyed getting a glimpse of the different outfits worn in other countries. Even the people watching the streets seemed to enjoy the pride GCO had in proudly displaying flags and clothing from around the world. The parade really helped us celebrate our cultural differences, yet through celebrating these differences, it helped bring members closer and made us united as one.
After the parade, the game was fun to attend. If you were there, then you heard Donald cheering on our team with his cheers and occasional songs that kept everyone upbeat. It was fantastic sitting in the student section with students from around the globe, all cheering on our football team. Everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves at homecoming and learning more about one another. Although homecoming is an American tradition, everyone seemed to have a blast and really enjoy the weekend by celebrating being an MC Scot! Stay tuned for upcoming GCO events!

The "crew" in our lovely attire.

They have their game faces on!

Ups and Downs

So, it's now October 25. I leave December 15. Over half of my time abroad has passed now. Australia has been a really cool place. Every day I notice new differences in the country and the culture. I would characterize this as culture shock. If you're going abroad, pay attention in your pre-departure meetings to the culture shock parts of the info you're given. I'm glad I did, because at least I recognize why I am an emotional rollercoaster recently and have experienced homesickness for the very first time. I'm missing family and friends like crazy, and my hamster at home just died and I'm pretty bummed out about that as well.

I suppose I kind of believed a lot of the stereotypes I learned about Australia before I arrived here. Now though, after reevaluating since I've been living here for a bit, I realize Australia is really different from what a lot of Americans think. Some in good ways, some in not so good ways. But that's part of every new cultural experience, and you should expect that so you aren't surprised when it hits, because unless you're a superperson and really dislike where you come from, it will hit.

Anyways, that's just some advice for those of you that are jetting off in spring and in later semesters. Study abroad is a great experience and you should definitely consider it and make the most of your time while you're living in a different place.

So, the semester is coming to a close. I have a huge group project due Wednesday, a short reflection due friday, and a long, professional semester-long reflection report due on Nov. 4. Also two exams. But besides those things, the semester is pretty much over. Now here's the big question: What the heck do I do with all that time? I know what many of you would say, and what I was planning on doing: travel. However, don't know if everyone is aware of this, but the U.S. dollar is falling drastically and the AU dollar is almost exactly on par with it. Which is bad news. Because prices here are two or three times the amount they are in the U.S. So, I'm trying my best not to touch any of my U.S. dollars in my bank account, because if I did in just several weeks I'd be completely broke.

However, good news does exist. While I make $8 an hour in the States, here I make $18. By the way, call centres are boring. I ending up quitting that job. Mainly because I was required to work evenings, and going back alone on the train at night is a pretty bad idea, especially since I live in a western, not-so-safe-at-night suburb, and it takes 25 minutes to walk from the station back to the campus where I live. So, with my few connections, I got a job with the Wilderness Society. It's great and I love it, because I get to work in different areas of Sydney every shift and have conversations with all kinds of different people. However, my job is to recruit members to join the society, which requires a monetary monthly contribution. I'm great at getting people to stop and talk to me, but not so great at convincing them to contribute money! After 5 shifts of no sign ups, I was ready to be let go, but somehow today grace alone saw fit to give me a sign up, so at least for two more shifts I have a job. Fingers crossed that this either continues on well or I find something new!

In great news, the weather is getting WARM! Today was super cloudy and rained a bit, but I still got a sunburn. The no ozone layer stereotype- that is no lie. Pure truth. My slightly burned chest can account for that!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

October Experiences

A Hogwarts Homecoming Dance @ MC

October has been a busy month. Everyone has been busy with their studies and free time has become rare. Luckily, I was able to get some friends of mine together to take a break from school and go have fun! Some of these pictures are from the corn maze in Greenback, Tennessee and others are from the homecoming dance at Maryville College. :)

At the Corn Maze

Maryville College Homecoming Dance

My corn maze group :D represented the USA, Korea and Spain!

FINLAND Arrival!

After 15hrs of flying and 6hr train ride I am Finally in Finland. Pensacola,FL to Wash. D.C., Wash. Copenhagen, Copenhagen to Helsinki and train ride to Helsinki to Oulu… When arriving in Helsinki, I was already surprised. As I looked out the window I couldn't stop wondering, if I was on the right flight. Helsinki is the capital of Finland! Where is the city… When I looked out the window I was landing in a middle of a forest nothing around but trees and more trees. Alright, I said to myself and got of the plane and went to  get my baggage. Moment of truth, did my bags make it all the way here? 5 minutes no bags, 10 minutes no bags, and finally the LAST bags where mine. Now, keep in mind I do not know Finnish. Now how do I get to the Train station. So, I went outside to the bus station and there was a sign in English “Railroad” So, I waited for the bus, when the bus got here 5 euros for the bus wow! It cost me 80 cents euro in France to take the bus. I heard that Finland was expensive, but come on 5 euros…
Furthermore, I am on the bus as I looked out the window going downtown to the rail station, I am noticing the buildings. The buildings are very colorful and made out of steel, very modern. As in mainland Europe old and artistic. Finally, I arrive at the train station. I walk up to the ticket room and I notice everyone is going to this machine. It is a number dispenser “take a number”, I thought this to be very strange as I have never done such a thing. Waited in line and got my ticket to Oulu,Finland. Once on the train I could rest and sleep, because of the 6hr train ride that was a head of me. However, I found it hard to sleep as I was always looking outside the window, but when I looked outside the window all I saw was a forest. The landscape was beautiful though, never have I seen so much nature. Once in Oulu I meet my student tutor at the train station at 9.00 pm and I was taken to my flat. When I got to my room, my flat-mates where in the living room drinking a beer, so I joined them and took a break after about 20 of traveling and went to bed…

A Rough Beginning to get to Finland

Its a week before leaving for Finland and yet, I do not have my passport nor resident permit to go to Finland. So, I called Oulu University (University that  I am going to for an academic year) and they said that they did not know why this visa was taking so long. I sent the application in the middle of July and its now end of August, my flight leaves Sept. 1st. So,the ISEP director in Oulu calls the embassy in Helsinki and they have already accepted me on July 28th and its August 20th…? Why have I not received my visa.?Moreover, I call the consulate in New York where I sent my passport. Turns out they lost my paper work and will send the passport and visa as soon as possible… Next day it was at my door step. I had never seen mail get to my door so fast. I wonder what would have happened if I never called the Oulu, the embassy, and the consulate…Nevertheless, I have my passport and ready to head out to Finland.

During the past Summer I was in France,I was told how different it would be from the States, but when I found out that Finland and the Scandinavian countries are different from mainland European I was  excited! I love to try new things! This is the reason why I wanted to go to Finland. I don’t know a single person (American) that has been to Finland. Its opportunity of a life time that I had to take and see it for myself.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Isaac's Birthday at I-House

by Ashley Bell
Photos by Ayaka Ito

Where did you celebrate your 24th birthday!?
As a student who has studied abroad, I understand the concerns one may have with leaving friends and family back home. However, a previous birthday celebration reminds me of how many amazing friends one can make during time spent overseas. Isaac Mbimi, from Cameroon, recently walked into the Maryville College International House to find his MC friends throwing him a surprise birthday celebration.

Maryville College students represent a diverse community with friends who come together for all sorts of occasions, including birthdays!

International House is the best place to celebrate a surprise birthday party with friends.  Who knew you could fit that many people into the lounge?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Twenty-one in France

I just turned twenty-one in France. Yes, friends, it's official: I'm a big girl now. It isn't that big of a deal in France as you can imagine. It isn't as though they have quite a high age restriction and this isn't as big of a landmark here. It was like any other Saturday night really, except the greeting I got instead of "Salut!" was typically "Happy birthday!". I enjoyed it.

My roomies and my adorable little landlady threw a little birthday party for me. It was precious and I loved it. I was caught totally off guard with it too. I gave them a good four hours to pull it together without me knowing since I took a birthday nap to rival all naps.

I'm starting to really miss my friends from home though. I think the fact that I didn't celebrate my birthday with anyone who has been in my life longer than a month and a half that made me realize how many people I left back home. I really just want all my friends to come here and just hang out with me a few days. I kind of wish I was going back home for Christmas just to reconnect a little. Nine months is a long time.

As far as classes go, I'm still struggling. My comprehension is getting a lot better, but I typically get stage fright as soon as someone speaks directly to me. It's like my brain shuts down and doesn't know how to process anything. I'm hoping that this is just a hurtle that I'll eventually get over. It's slightly discouraging.

My London trip has been cancelled, but has been replaced with a fairly decent substitute. I believe the first weekend of November we are going to Nice, Cannes, etc. I don't know which one we are actually spending time in or if we're hitting them all while we're there. Plans here generally fall in place as they're happening and never this far in advance. I may get the game plan while we're on the train.

Either way, it should be great. I'm excited about all of it! :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Covenant Ceremony

by Pongtham Khiaosakhu, Global UGRAD Exchange Student

Micka, Pimmada, Dr. Bogart, Ayaka and Doan @ the Covenant Ceremony

Before I attended this ceremony, Ms.Vandy Kemp briefly told my orientation group about the Covenant Ceremony, and I thought that it would be a neat ceremony. In Thailand, we have a similar activity for the newcomers that is very sacred and superstitious. In this ceremony, most students dressed up formally and the president of the Student Government Association made a speech about the mission and covenant of MC. I think it’s a great event as the newcomers gathered and felt like we are part of this college officially. Some of my friends did not go there because they considered this activity nonsense and silly to dress up and touch a stone. But I don’t think so. There are many benefits students can get from participating. For instance, not only we are MC students officially, but it’s also the event that makes students realize the duty to be a good person inside and outside the college in order to achieve success in study life. My international friends and I enjoyed this ceremony and we are proud of being a part of MC.

Helen, Micka, Pimmada, Dr. Bogart (President), Ayaka and Doan at the Covenant Ceremony

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Reflection and Redirection

by Ashton Irwin
Universite de Savoie, France

Reflection: I've been in this country for a little over one month now. I've gone to Paris, I've ordered food, I've conversed briefly with people in French, and I've developed a routine. I'm living the dream and I am well aware of this fact.


There was someone who told us that we would hit a three week mark and that three week mark would feel like rock bottom. We would feel like we would never learn this language, we would miss home, we would be depressed. My three week mark came about two and a half weeks late. I just started my classes yesterday and I'm drowning already. It isn't that there's a heavy workload or anything. It's just that I'm so overwhelmed by everything French. I have three professors and they all seem really awesome. One was the same professor who taught me for that 2 week refresher course and she's really cool. I even think the one who told me today that maybe I should go down a level or two is cool. The answer is not for me to go down a level or two, and that's decided. I've taken too much French in my past to not be at least at this level, it's just not clicking yet. I keep thinking maybe there's a switch in my brain for French and I just haven't flipped it yet.

So, Redirection: I'm going to focus even more on French language and learning to speak it. I'm going to show my professor that I belong in this level, maybe I belong in a higher level too. I'm going to get it, I'm going to master it, and I'm going to be French before I know it. Having her say that kind of hurt. That would make me the lowest level of all my American friends and I've taken more French than a lot of them. I've learned that all the French courses I've taken, however, differ greatly from the difficulty of their French courses. Anyway, this kind of lit a fire under my butt and now I have to learn it even faster.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

International Students - New Fee to apply for OPT

USCIS has recently published a new immigration fee schedule.  The fee that affects current international students relates to the application fee for employment authorization:

Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization - increase from $340 to $380

Please note that this fee change is effective immediately, so students applying for OPT this semester are affected by this change.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Changes to Summer Study Abroad Fee Schedule

The Summer 2011 programs are currently being revised and will be announced online later this fall. We have new programs and destinations so be sure to watch for updates. Due to the short time period between the summer application cycle and the program start dates it has become necessary to make adjustments to our fee cycle to improve our confirmation and placement process. Effective immediately, the Summer ISEP-Direct application fee and program deposit are now due together at the time students submit their summer applications. Thus, all 2011 ISEP-Direct Summer applications should include $560 at the time of submission. ISEP-Direct Summer applications received without the $560 payment will not be processed until payment is received.  Please contact us with any questions on these changes.

Summer Preview Flyer:

Watch this site for updates later this fall: