Friday, February 28, 2014

Maryville College Participates in Study Tennessee China Delegation

On March 6th, the Study Tennessee China delegation will arrive in Beijing ready to meet prospective Chinese students and their parents. The University representatives will travel to Beijing, Kunming, Harbin, Weifei and Qingdao to promote studying in Tennessee Universities. Key faculty and staff from Maryville College, The University of Tennessee, Pellissippi State, Roane State and Austin Peay will represent the state of Tennessee during the trip.

Several events are planned for the visit including school visits, admissions interviews, appointments with key education professionals, counselor training workshops, seminars for students about the admission process and also several small university Expos featuring Tennessee universities.

Because some Chinese people are not familiar with the state of Tennessee, the most important goal of the trip is to inform as many students, schools, education advisers as possible about Tennessee universities. As a result, more people are learning about the educational opportunities, affordability and the quality of life in Tennessee. For those Chinese students who have studied in Tennessee, the experience has been very good. Chinese students enjoy the life in Tennessee, and Chinese families like the safe and supportive environment available at Tennessee institutions of higher education.

Meet Maryville College of East Tennessee
Students and parents are invited to meet Brian Todd, International Admissions Coordinator at Maryville College at one of two events on Saturday, March 8th. The American University Opportunity Seminar is being held at the Wenjin Hotel near the front gate of Tsinghua University at 9:30 a.m. This event includes a seminar on "Preparing to Study in America" and the opportunity for an admissions and scholarship interview. Students should bring their transcripts and exam results to the event. To register, students should contact Mr. Chen Xulong by phone or text at 15901184436. 

A second event is scheduled for the Beijing Education USA Office at 2:00 p.m. A lecture entitled "Preparing to Study in America" will be offered. Following the lecture, students and parents are invited to meet the representatives of the different universities from Tennessee.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Planes and Birds: Welcome to Argentina

by Ben Munger
Universidad Blas Pascal, Argentina

I've had a few moments in my life where I've woken up and had completely forgotten where I was for a second or two. I can't tell you the reason why it happens—whether it be from sleeping in new places or being extremely tired—but I can tell you that each time it happens there's a small period of chaos and confusion followed by an adjustment period. Maybe you know the feeling, maybe you don't. If you know it, congratulations on being able to understand what stage I'm in on my study abroad trip to Argentina. If you don't know it, leave…

Alright fine don't leave.

The beginning of my trip was the start of the chaos. I left saturday from my house at 6:45 a.m. The overall travel, lack of sleep, and unnecessary fear of being denied at the border was enough to completely drain me. Nonetheless, I arrived to my new home at 2pm the day after I departed. 

I made a cool friend named Carlos on the flight to Buenos Aires. He took this picture of me before we went to Córdoba. Don't get used to seeing me in the picture unless there's some SAWEEET landscapes in the background. I'll give you this one though…. you're welcome mom.
After being in awe of the initial arrival, I started to feel lack of energy I had from sleeping 3 hours over a span of 28 hours. It's safe to say that there was only one thing I wanted to do in that moment…SLEEP!!!

Not really. I went to the lake. I had been in Argentina for MAYBE 3 hours and the opportunity to go to Lago San Roque in Villa Carloz Paz presented itself. No way I was about to start my trip off by saying no. As you can see from the picture, it turned out pretty well. I already have waaaaay too much to blog about, so I'm pretty determined to focus on the nature side of things in this particular blog; it helped me relax a ton. 

Such a pretty view of Lago San Roque. I've never sailed before and I found it to be super difficult… Mainly because sailing in Spanish requires vocabulary that I hadn't used before BUT now I know it.
We spent the day sailing on the lake in the best weather ever. I was super psyched about pretty much everything at the time, and then I started seeing the birds… THE BIRDS!!!!!!!!

First, I saw this guy:
This is my favorite so far I think. Its called a Lechuzita. It's basically a super small owl, but it's around in the DAY. Let that sink in for just a minute. I got this picture off the internet because I'm still trying to figure out a way to NOT have the title "the American with the camera."
a few minutes later, I saw a bunch of these guys:
Parakeets, Parrots, Loros.. whatever you want to call them, they're here, they're loud, they're awesome. I got this picture off the internet too.
Finally, I saw this group of studs TODAY!!
These guys were super funny. I accidentally spooked em off of a cactus when I was walking home. They're called Carpinteros Blancos (White Woodpeckers). I didn't take this picture either.. I'm SORRY.
There's obviously a lot more going on here than mountains and birds, but seeing the differences in the nature started my adjustment to the disorientation of being in a new place. There's plenty more blogs to come about things other than nature (I type that hesitantly), but for now it's something to keep you savages* entertained for a bit so that I can try and take some pictures that REALLY show what I'm seeing down here. I'll try to post soon, but taking pictures can be a birden**… especially when time flies** by like this. 

*By savages I mean people who care dearly about me and who enjoy reading about my time in Argentina.. you're not savages. I actually kinda like you guys.

**If you don't understand these then you can't read anymore of my blogs.

¡Nos Vemos!


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Applying for a Travel Study Program? Check out the Sustainability Airfare Grant!

If you are applying for a 2015 Travel Study Program to Costa Rica, India, or Switzerland, you may be eligible to apply for the Sustainability Airfare Grant. The scholarship will cover the cost of airfare for a travel study program.

  • The applicant is applying to or has been accepted into a Maryville College Travel Study program during the 2014-2015 academic year
  • The applicant must be studying abroad in India, Costa Rica, or Switzerland, and be returning to Maryville College for at least one semester following his/her term abroad
  • The applicant agrees to complete grant requirements including the project proposal, sustainability project, an online journal during the travel study program, and a written report and presentation upon return
  • Students from ANY MAJOR may apply
If you are interested, please stop by the International House to pick up an application. Applications are due back to International House MARCH 7

Travel study program applications are due MARCH 3

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Adventures in Accra, Ghana

By Evy Linkous
Study & Service in West Africa Program

A little over a month ago I, along with 13 fellow classmates, was taking my first step off of the plane and onto Ghanaian ground. A wave of heat and humidity greeted us all as we left behind what was familiar and prepared to embark upon the unknown. When I signed up for this trip at the end of the previous school year, I had no idea what to expect.  To be honest, Ghana was not my first choice. I had no particular previous interests in the country, but the desire to travel anywhere and everywhere propelled me forward. Home sickness and culture shock has never been a problem for me, but I was skeptical about my ability to cope in a place so unlike my home. As the trip grew nearer and nearer, I became more excited about the prospect of traveling to Africa. I viewed the trip as an opportunity to diversify my travels and culture myself.

So here I was, close to half a year after applying, actually standing in Ghana.  Suddenly it all became real. Our trip consisted of several sections - the first of which took place in Accra (the capital of Ghana). Accra offered us the opportunity to experience what Ghanaian city life consisted of. I was taken aback by how much more advanced the city of Accra was than I expected. When you hear about Africa, the focus is on the poverty and harsh conditions; however, it became obvious that Ghana is a quickly developing country. Our time spent in Accra was largely focused on acclimating us to the culture and history of Ghana.

Accra holds many fond memories and firsts for me. My first sip from a coconut bought at a roadside stand, my first view of a shantytown, my first time salsa dancing, and my first taste of authentic Ghanaian food are just a few of many.  Of my time in Accra, my favorite night was not one of the designated group activities but was instead a side venture embarked upon by only those who wished. This excursion was primarily to experience the night life of Ghana. We went to both salsa dancing and a reggae concert on the beach. Needless to say the experience was surreal. I was blown away by the talent of almost everyone salsa dancing. They effortlessly moved across the dance floor like they were born to salsa. I was also very grateful for the patience shown to us by the men as they attempted to teach a handful of Americans how to dance. It made me wonder why dancing is not valued in America. In Ghana, dancing is enthusiastic; it is a way to show that you are thankful for your life and your body. In the U.S., there is no national love for dance, and aimlessly swaying our hips is about as far as most of us get, which I find somewhat sad.

After departing from salsa, we were transported into the entirely different world of reggae. Dancing here was quite a bit easier for us since all it required was moving like you loved life with every ounce of being, and at that moment, I believe we all did. The entire time I could not stop thinking, “I am on a beach, in Ghana, dancing to reggae music. Is this even real?” That was the highlight of my time in Accra, but there were many other enjoyable times. Such as our farewell dinner on the rooftop of a hotel where we danced the night away to the music of African drums and bid farewell to many amazing people and the country of Ghana.

I owe a lot of my fond memories of Accra to the people I was with and the long conversations they were willing to have, the adventures they were willing to go on, and the overall excitement shared by us all.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Let's Talk About Feelings

by Emma Slaymaker
University of Sharjah, UAE

Just a fair warning that this blog post sheds light on the less pleasant parts of studying abroad, but it is by no means meant to deter anyone from the experience or to say that I am not enjoying myself.

Homesickness is something I have experienced before being the homebody that I am, but I have only experienced it from distances much, much closer than 7,550 miles away from home. When I'm at my home institution I am only 30 minutes away from home, and it's not a problem to go home on the weekends if I feel like it. I feel like it pretty often... my mom likes to bake cookies, my cat snuggles with me, my dad plays his infinite music collection over the stereo, and my dog wags his tiny nub of a tail when he sees me. But I digress. Obviously I'm homesick right now, and it is impossible for me to go home on the weekends.

This homesickness that I am experiencing from across the Atlantic Ocean is unlike any other homesickness I've ever felt. The distance feels like a looming weight, and it's accompanied by an extremely inconveniencing time difference. I am 9 hours ahead of everyone back home (EST). Right now it's 5:30 pm,  and I'm realizing that I have put off homework and laundry much longer than I had intended. In Knoxville and Maryville Tennessee everyone is just starting their days, so, whereas at Maryville College I could go home on the weekends if I wanted, even having a decent conversation with people back home is a challenge.

Before I left I was in a study abroad prep course, and one of the assignments the class had to complete was a blog on how to cope with homesickness. I thought I nailed it. I thought, "Yeah I'll feel homesick, but it won't be a big deal. I'll be able to handle it just fine." But last night I was made abundantly aware of how overwhelming my homesickness can be. I went shopping with a a couple of friends, and I couldn't find anything I was looking for. I ended up looking around H&M for what felt like two hours. When I tried on the clothes I'd picked out, only one thing fit right, and by this point I was already really frustrated and upset. I just wanted my mom because she has always been my shopping companion, and I wanted my cat to snuggle with and cheer me up. So I ended up breaking down in the middle of this massive shopping mall. This was not something I was prepared for. My friends comforted me - they were very kind, understanding, and supportive. I'm thankful they were there.

It was a really unpleasant experience, but I understand that it's a part of being this far away from home and taking this huge leap to study abroad for a semester. I'm learning more about how to cope as I go.

All this being said, I do love it here. Studying abroad is not only about learning from an academic perspective. A lot can also be learned from experiences, and this contributes to personal growth.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Dubai and Sharjah: The Abbreviated Reader's Digest Edition

Emma Slaymaker
University of Sharjah, UAE

Time flies and it doesn't while I'm many timezones away from home. I feel like I've been here for at least a month now just because of how much stuff I have been doing. It hasn't quite been a month yet, but at the same time I'm shocked that three weeks have already passed by. Starting class has made things feel like they're passing quicker.

Like I said, I have been doing a lot of stuff, but really, I've barely even seen the tip of the iceberg. That's a term I doubt anyone here is familiar with... The point is, I have only been exploring Sharjah and Dubai so far.

You can see how close they are to each other. Sharjah is a big emirate. It is the only emirate that has coastline on the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. 

A bit of interesting trivia, depending on who you are around or where you are in the Middle East, you will refer to The Gulf as either the Arabian Gulf or the Persian Gulf. It's safest just to call it The Gulf. 

Anyway, I have seen a lot of Dubai, and some of Sharjah. Both are beautiful cities, but Sharjah is known for its museums and culture while Dubai is known for luxury and nightlife. Again, I will post pictures instead of trying to describe in words everything that I've seen and done. 


At the Dubai Mall there is a parking area at the main entrance of the mall called fashion parking. It is specifically for really fancy cars. There's valet parking even though the parking spaces are just along the sidewalk. This was my favorite car that I saw that night. It's a custom blue convertible Rolls-Royce probably worth more than my college education. 

Inside the mall there are more stores than any avid shopper could ever dream of - even designer stores for little, spoiled, but well dressed children. This is Baby Dior. I also saw a Burberry filled with children's clothing. While my friends and I were exploring the designer section of the mall, which is called Fashion Avenue, we searched for the most expensive items we could find.
Here's what we came up with: 
Porsche Designs pen: $4,619.57 (AED 17,000)
Hermes saddle: $13,043.48 (AED 48,000)
Chanel dress: $26,000 (AED 96,000)

This is Mike the camel who we met on a Wednesday (exciting if you've seen the obnoxious GEICO commercial). He was in a little pin close to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding in Dubai. We had a wonderful breakfast there... seriously the best food I've had here so far. I didn't get any pictures there, but of course I got one of a camel... The Cultural Center guide told us (the IXO students) about the culture in the UAE and some misunderstandings that Americans have. He encouraged us to ask a lot of questions. It was really fascinating and insightful. I'll post a link incase anyone is interested in checking it out instead of trying to reiterate everything I heard.

We took a one dirham boat ride over the Dubai Creek to the Herb and Spice Souk and the Gold Souk. A souk is a traditional market place where you walk down a gauntlet of shops while all the shop keepers try to finagle you into buying something. It's actually a lot of fun. You can haggle with them to see how low you can get the price. I bought a ring at a souk in Sharjah, and got the price down from 20dhs to 10dhs.

This is a picture from the Gold Souk. It was like walking through Eldorado. If I were a financially savvy person, I would have invested in lots of gold over here and sold it for a profit when I return to the US. Gold is cheap in the UAE, comparatively at least.

And this is the Burj, the tallest building in the world, which was pictured in my last blog post. I haven't actually been to it yet, but it's on my list. 


This is a Persian mosque. You can tell because of the tile detail. It was next to a place we (IXO students) stopped at to get some cheesy bread much like quesadillas. It was only a dirham (about 25 cents) for a piece bigger than your face. 

This is the Blue Souk in Sharjah. We didn't explore it too extensively, but it's pretty! We did go to the exotic birds and animals market, the fish market, and a produce souk. I don't think those were a part of the Blue Souk. The exotic birds and animals market was exciting, but a little sad because the living conditions for the animals were poor. We saw peacocks, falcons, grey parrots, turtles, roosters, fish, rodents, but my favorite were the cats. They were normal, domestic house cats, but I loved them. 

This is the Sharjah skyline next to The Gulf. 

The Eye of the Emirates is a famous ferris wheel just like the Eye of London. It costs something like 35dhs to ride. 

We fit seven people in one little pod. 
It got really hot and stuffy in there really fast (I lifted this picture off of my friend's Facebook).

We walked around Sharjah for the lights festival. This is just one of many mosques that were lit up by hovering drone projectors. The patterns changed on them. It was a lot like President Snow's estate in The Hunger Games Catching Fire... you know what I'm talking about? Well, I didn't think that was something that could be done in real life, but I saw a lot of buildings that night that looked like 3D kaleidoscopes.

Everything I've seen so far is just like an abbreviated version of everything there actually is to see, and this post is an even more abbreviated version of that. It's slightly overwhelming, but I look forward to exploring even more. So much to see, so much to blog! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Interested in the 2015 Travel Study program to India? Check out their blog from last time!

For anyone considering the 2015 J-Term program to India, click on the image below to check out the blog created from the 2013 program!

An introduction to the course from 2013

India’s Identities is a course that travels to Kerala and Tamil Nadu, two states in Southern India. This course emphasizes the diversity of contemporary Indian Identities, devoting particular attention to religion, caste and gender. Once the course has begun we’re going to be visiting religious spaces associated with Hindu, Jain, Muslim, Christian and Jewish traditions. We’ll be coming into contact with Indians from all different caste backgrounds, education levels and occupations. We’ll be looking at the cultural expectations attached to gender, seeing to what degree caste matters in modern India, and analyzing the complex interactions of tradition and modernity in the world’s largest democracy.

During the last few months we, the Elon students, have been participating in a one-credit course to provide us with the background necessary to fully experience the beautiful and bustling country we’ll be visiting. We’ve done a series of readings about religion, gender and caste. Not only have they been informative, we’re also learning information that will appear at least in part in our site and issue papers that will act as our textbook on the course. The Maryville students, while they don’t have a set pre-departure course, have been learning a great deal about the issues as well and will be writing the other half of our course readings that will help guide our class. We’ll be posting about our adventures as we travel, so look forward to relatively frequent posts!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I hopped off the plane at DBX...

Emma Slaymaker
University of Sharjah, UAE

I wasn't sure how I was going to make it 7,550 miles - across an ocean and through two sunsets - all the way from Tennessee to the United Arab Emirates. But I made it! After saying tearful goodbyes to my friends and family, I walked through security, and as I did the aloneness struck full force sending me into 7,550 mile tunnel vision. I had never traveled alone or been out of the country. I was terrified.

I left at 6:40 pm from Tyson McGhee Airport in a tiny plane to the Atlanta Airport, and at 10:30 pm I left from the Atlanta Airport on a 12 hour flight to the Dubai Airport. The plane to Dubai was enormous! In the front was the business class, which costs $9,000 from Atlanta to Dubai. Each passenger in business class gets their own little cubby and a cushy recliner chair with a side table and a TV. They probably get bottomless free drinks too and maybe a private toilet made of gold.

I sat in economy comfort (affordable comfort is what that means) thanks to my wonderful mother, an experienced traveler, who got my plane tickets and made sure they would be comfortable for a 12 hour flight. I wanted a window seat so I could look out at the sky whenever I wanted, but since it was a night flight the shades were closed for about 11 of the 12 hours that we were on the plane. I managed to get a great picture when we flew into Dubai, though.

The flight didn't seem like it took 12 hours. It felt long, but not as impossibly long as I thought 12 hours would feel like. I still can't get over the feeling you get when the plane takes off. It was, at least for me, a bittersweet feeling.
The plane accelerates at some ridiculous speed, and all of your insides struggle to keep up with your body as it's held in place by the seat. At this point it's impossible to turn back, and before you know it you're soaring through the air at 10,000 feet and saying a silent goodbye to all the people and places beneath you.
And then there's getting off the plane. That is also a bitter sweet feeling, but for very different reasons. On the one hand, you've finally made it! On the other, you feel more disgusting that you ever have in your life - even more disgusting than you felt when you came back home from that week-long music festival without showering. It's a strange phenomenon. Then you also have to deal with finding your luggage, getting your visa, getting your visa and passport stamped, and getting cash exchanged.

I've been here for two weeks now (I'm behind on a blog post. Please forgive me.), but it feels like so much longer. Not because I haven't been enjoying myself, but because I have been so busy! There's so much to say, but rather than write so many words about it, I'll share some pictures. They're more exciting than my words.

This is a picture of me and one of the International Exchange employees at the American University of Sharjah (AUS) with the tallest building in the world behind us! It's called the Burj Khalifa. Sorry I cut the top off of it! 

Here are some photos of the gorgeous campus! Yes, the entire thing is tiled. It's really slippery when it rains, which has actually happened twice since I've been here. I think that's abnormal because this is the desert... I hope it doesn't keep raining regularly because walking around campus becomes pretty hazardous.

Here are a couple of photos from our day out in Sharjah. It's a really beautiful city. I may actually like it more than Dubai. In Sharjah, or at least in downtown Sharjah, there is a lot less development than there is in Dubai. It's very clean, and there are beautiful park areas with cafes by the gulf. 

*Behind the scenes* This is a group of the other exchange students taking photos of downtown Sharjah. 

Before this post gets much longer I'm going to end it, but I am going to post more very soon! I have a lot of pictures from orientation week! Stay tuned, those of you who made it to the end of my first blog post. :)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Khaaw Pat Kai Noi, Korp Khun Khrap!

Tyler Jones
Thammasat University, Thailand

Hello from halfway around the world....

I can't remember if I discussed it or not in my last blog, but the food here is incomprehensibly good.

I mean THOROUGHLY good.

What is so amazing about Bangkok, is that I can at any point in my day, no matter where I'm at in the city, I can find incredible, cheap food on any street corner. The vendors are everywhere and they are GOOD at what they do.

Watching them toss the noodles with their giant metal spoons or chop up fruits and vegetables in quick, dangerous strikes is an art form! It's absolutely moving.

And the street vendors are so friendly. It feels like they really love what they do, and that's reflected in how they treat everyone that comes up to them for a bite to eat.

And that friendliness is evident in the majority of Thai people.

When you look up anything about Thailand on the inter-web, you find that the land of the Thais has been dubbed "The Land of Smiles."

I don't think, however, it means what you think it means.

At least it didn't to me until I came here and experienced the raw humility abound among the people.

Before I left, I thought "Land of the Smiles" meant that all these people had super cheesy grins because they thought they saw a white person coming and wanted to keep up appearances (an incredibly simple-minded and offensive thought that I know feel very ashamed for thinking).

But I learned very quickly that this is not the case at all.

A few nights ago, a few of my friends and I had the honor of going out to eat with a group of Thai kids that go to school with us. We were all talking and get to know each other and Thai culture got brought up. They were just explaining things like relationships and the current political situation, etc. I mentioned to one of the guys [(Pete) apparently, Pete's name in Thai is a curse word in English, so he goes by Pete instead] (He declined to tell us what it was...)

But anyways, he told me something that I think sort of describes Thai people accurately.

They're shy.

No one yells at you when you're walking down the street, no one bothers you, no one is overtly against you in any sort of sense.

You usually have to initiate the conversation with a Thai person.

And smile at them.

As soon as you smile 9 times out of 10 they will light right up.

As soon as you smile, they are on your side.

The other day, I asked a lady at the school for directions to where I could get my picture taken for my student ID. She took time out of her day and walked me all the way to the place.

That's just one out of HUNDREDS of encounters I've had so far.

But I've got to get going. Gotta go to class. Hope all is well with whoever reads this.

Until next time,
Goodbye and Godspeed

Monday, February 3, 2014

Travel to Costa Rica, India or Switzerland in 2015 with MC’s Travel Study Programs!

How would you like to go surfing and study biology and outdoor adventure in Costa Rica? What about going to a tiger reserve and learning about gender and the various religious traditions in South India? Or how about going to Switzerland for spring break to experience various aspects of the Swiss education system? All of these opportunities are available to you through MC’s 2015 Travel Study programs. 

Application Deadline: MARCH 1

Download application

Engage in outdoor adventure fitness and learn about the unique biology of Costa Rica through hands-on work with plants and animals in field research settings with Costa Rican and international scientists.

  • Surfing, snorkeling & rafting
  • Rainforests & cloudforests
  • Rivers, waterfalls, oceans, volcanoes, & more!

Information Session: Monday, February 17 @ 12:00 p.m. in PDR

For more information, please visit

Traveling to beautiful South India will introduce students to the diversity of contemporary South India and address global issues of social structure, class, religious identity, and gender.

  • Learn about Indian religious traditions, including Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism & Jainism
  • Homestay with a host family
  • Tiger reserve, overnight houseboat ride, dance performance, & more!

Information Session: Monday, February 10 @ 12:00 p.m. in PDR

For more information, please visit 


This is a spring 2015 3-credit class with a spring-break travel component. Students must enroll in PSY 349 for spring 2015. This course will fulfill the experiential general education requirement. Experience the array of Swiss educational opportunities and their centuries old traditions contrasted with cutting-edge technology and innovation.

  • Learn about specialized multicultural curricula, special needs, learning disabilities & giftedness through several site visits
  • World Health Organization & UNICEF
  • Mount Titlis

Information Session: Wednesday, February 12 @ 12:00 p.m. in PDR

For more information, please visit