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Postcards from abroad: Julian Randall

in Arts/Campus Journal/Postcards from Abroad by

Julian Postcards 1

Dear Campus Journal,

My experience abroad has so far been unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced! As a few people back home and at Swat know, this is my first trip outside the country, so everything from customs, to inflight movies, to the cars going on the wrong side of the road, is all totally new to me. I’m currently at Goldsmiths, a branch of University of London, which is in a cool little neighborhood called New Cross, in the southern part of London. The college itself is really cool and has a very different feel from back at Swarthmore.

Currently, I’m taking two classes each in the Sociology and English departments and they give me lots of chances to explore the area. One of my classes has me doing a project taking pictures of cool street art and graffiti from the top level of London buses, which has been pretty awesome. When I’m not doing that, I go salsa dancing, and have been working on a submission for a TV show called Verses and Flow that I’m hoping to be on. So look for updates for that!

Love, Julian

 

Postcards from abroad: Sara Morell

in Arts/Campus Journal/Postcards from Abroad by

Hassan Tower

Dear Campus Journal,

So I’ve been in Rabat for the past two weeks and am absolutely loving my time here!I’m taking classes through a program called AMIDEAST with about 27 other American students. My host mom has promised to teach me how to cook delicious Moroccan food like chicken tagine and harira. The dad loves giving me lectures about history entirely in Arabic. He doesn’t speak any English, which has been great for language learning! He also loves Andalusian music, particularly when mashed-up with Western jazz!

So far I’ve gotten to explore Rabat, and also spent the weekend in Fes. Rabat is the political capital, and is a much newer city. However, it still has a very chaotic medina (old city ) that’s fun to explore. It’s also got fantastic pastries and mint tea. Fes has a huge medina and the streets are so narrow that cars can’t get in. The architecture is a mix of mosaic, stucco and wood-carving that manages to be lavish without feeling gaudy. Each medina has entrances called babs (doors), which are huge and often elaborately decorated. I’ve also visited Volubilis, which is composed of 2,000 year-old Roman ruins. Basically, I’m having a great time, even if I miss Swat a ton!

Love,

Sara

Athletes abroad: unique challenges and unforgettable opportunities

in Sports/Uncategorized by
Darrel Hunter and Joe Hagedorn competed in the Copa de España this fall while they studied abroad in Europe.
Darrel Hunter and Joe Hagedorn competed in the Copa de España while they studied abroad. Photo Courtesy of Darrel Hunter.

As many Swarthmore student-athletes know, when returning from summer and winter breaks, there is a high possibility part of the team will be missing. Each semester, the school sends students all across the world as part of the study abroad program. A good number of these students happen to be athletes.

Before deciding to study abroad, there is a considerable decision to be made on the part of the student-athlete. While a great cultural and academic experience surely awaits them if they choose to travel, it comes with the tradeoff of giving up off-season team activities and practices.

The way of life in other countries can be incredibly different from what we have here in the United States, and especially what we have come to know at Swarthmore. All students must adapt to new languages, foods and local customs. But there is more than that for an athlete.

It can be challenging for athletes to stay on top of their game when their whole world is different. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the new experiences that present themselves: meeting new people, traveling to various countries and trying to soak in the sights, all while balancing the course load of the program.

It is a true testament of passion for those athletes that maintain their athletic lifestyle abroad. On top of these distractions it can also be difficult to find a gym, a field or any sports venue, for that matter, in a foreign city.

But that is one of the unique and interesting aspects of Swarthmore and its athletics’ department. Most coaches leave the decision to study abroad in their players’ hands and some actively encourage it. Most surprisingly, perhaps, is the permission given to some winter athletes to study abroad for a semester. This is especially shocking because the winter sports season overlaps both the fall and spring semester. Inevitably, a winter athlete studying abroad will miss some portion of the season.

Even so, the Swarthmore swim teams saw six of its members choose to study abroad in the fall. This means these athletes missed the entire off-season training program as well as a few early season swim meets.

While head coach Sue Davis knows exactly what it means for her athletes to go abroad, she ultimately leaves the decision to them. Davis says, “To go abroad or not to go abroad is the decision of the individual alone.”

When asked about the challenges studying abroad poses for the coach, Davis didn’t seem overly concerned. “We had 5 women abroad and one man. Any time that people are abroad they are missed.  We have lived through it before and I am sure we will live through it again.”

Even the lack of training her athletes were going to get abroad had no impact on the way Davis went about her business. If the swimmers have a chance to train abroad or at home over break, the team will be better off for it, but either way they will be back in the pool hard at work once they rejoin the team.

Knowing she was going to get a handful of athletes back mid-season was no cause for worry. Davis says, “Getting athletes back mid-season is no different than returning students in the fall.”

With this opportunity put in front of them, swimmers Supriya Davis ’15 and Katie Wiseman ’15 made the decision to study abroad knowing they would miss out on some team activities. Not only are both winter athletes, but each has been formerly named to the All-Centennial Conference First Team.

Wiseman studied in Madrid, Spain with Hamilton College’s Academic Year for the semester, in part to help her complete her requirements for minoring in Spanish. Knowing she was missing out on training with her team, she made the effort to stay in the best shape she could.

Wiseman found a local gym that she tried to visit as much as she could. On the swim front, she did the best she could to try and swim 2,000 to 5,000 meters in a week. Knowing it posed too much of a challenge to keep up with the workouts her teammates were doing back home, Wiseman did enough “to keep a feel for the water.”

When she returned home from Spain, Wiseman met up with her club team to get some added workouts before the always-challenging swim team winter break trip in Puerto Rico. She admits she was initially nervous when rejoining the team on the trip because she didn’t know how her body was going to hold up.

Luckily for Wiseman the work she put in abroad and before the trip proved to be beneficial. “I knew I wasn’t going to be where I normally am in January. It certainly wasn’t easy to jump right back in, but I was able to do more than I thought I would be able to do.”

Much like Wiseman, Davis had a similar experience in balancing the excitement of being abroad with the focus of athletic training. Davis ultimately decided to spend her semester abroad because she viewed it as a must. She said, “I have been swimming my entire life, whereas studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Davis spent her semester at University College London. Similar to her teammate, Davis found a local pool and was able to swim for about three hours a week. Upon returning home, she also joined up with her club team to get as much time in the water as possible before Puerto Rico.

The 15 practices in nine days didn’t make returning to swimming very easy, but Davis was able to hold her own. Perhaps the most noteworthy experience of returning mid-season was the strangeness of going on the “training trip and meet[ing] all of the freshmen for the first time.”

In their first meet back, Davis and Wiseman both placed first in an individual event and Davis also helped propel her relay team into first.

One Swarthmore lacrosse student-athlete, Darrel Hunter ’15, was actually able to compete on a few lacrosse teams while abroad. The first was the Blues in the English Premier League. While Hunter noticed a big difference in the pace and style of play, the overall experience was still highly beneficial.

The talent level was surprisingly high, which helped Hunter stay on top of his game. He says, “I was lucky in that the club I played for had 6 guys who played NCAA lacrosse in the States, including former All-American Trinity midfielder Matt Cohen, and we were coached by the English national team coach Matt Bagley.” The combination of talent and coaching currently has the Blues at the top of the southern half of the Premier League.

Aside from the talent in England, Hunter noted the level of camaraderie amongst the teams that competed. After each of the games, no matter the result, the home team would always host a meal for the visiting team. At their respective fields, clubs had pubs they would use for these post-game meals. This was yet another way Hunter feels he was really able to immerse himself in the culture.

Additionally, Hunter had experiences playing for the Madrid Bears with teammate Joe Hagedorn ’15 in the Copa de España and trying out for the Spanish national team. While the talent level was substantially below that in England, Hunter took his opportunity on the Bears to learn about the Spanish culture.

Because Hunter’s mother was born in Spain, he was eligible to tryout for the national team. He said the idea of representing his country gave him the motivation he needed to work hard enough to make the team. With his success in Spain, Hunter will be representing Spain in this summer’s World Championships in Denver, CO.

Overall Hunter feels lucky that he was provided the opportunity to study abroad in the fall. His experiences in England and Spain not only gave him venues to play the sport he loves in a foreign country, but it enabled him to familiarize himself with cultures he might not normally have come to know.

All things said, Swarthmore’s athletics department certainly gets it right in letting students study abroad. The experiences of Hunter and Hagedorn, combined with the immediate success Davis and Wiseman enjoyed upon returning, validates the department’s liberal study abroad policy.

Postcards from abroad: Erik Jensen ’15

in Arts/Campus Journal/Postcards from Abroad by

erik-postcard-web-edit

Dear Campus Journal,

So I’ve been in Rabat for the past two weeks and am absolutely loving my time here!I’m taking classes through a program called AMIDEAST with about 27 other American students. My host mom has promised to teach me how to cook delicious Moroccan food like chicken tagine and harira. The dad loves giving me lectures about history entirely in Arabic. He doesn’t speak any English, which has been great for language learning! He also loves Andalusian music, particularly when mashed-up with Western jazz!

So far I’ve gotten to explore Rabat, and also spent the weekend in Fes. Rabat is the political capital, and is a much newer city. However, it still has a very chaotic medina (old city ) that’s fun to explore. It’s also got fantastic pastries and mint tea. Fes has a huge medina and the streets are so narrow that cars can’t get in. The architecture is a mix of mosaic, stucco and wood-carving that manages to be lavish without feeling gaudy. Each medina has entrances called babs (doors), which are huge and often elaborately decorated. I’ve also visited Volubilis, which is composed of 2,000 year-old Roman ruins. Basically, I’m having a great time, even if I miss Swat a ton!

Love,

Sara

Returning home from study abroad presents challenges for students

in Around Campus/News by

As the new semester starts many Swarthmore students who studied abroad last semester are back and ready to share their experiences. Swarthmore students have a choice of many programs and countries, ranging from China to France. Mayra Tenorio ’15, a Sociology/Anthropology and Gender and Sexuality Studies major, even studied in four different countries in one program. “My program is called Women and Gender Studies in Europe and one of the best thing about it is that it allowed me to study in Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic and Poland,” she said.

Even in such diverse programs, it is possible for students to keep up with their major requirements. Yet actually studying abroad is more complicated than one might expect.

According to returning Swatties, many procedures are necessary to make the study abroad experience both enjoyable and eligible for Swarthmore credits.

“Before I left, I talked to the department and got a pre-approval of the courses I will be taking in Peking University,” said Briani George ’15, a Health and Societies special major who is also learning advanced Chinese.

The same goes for Hannah Kosman ’14, who said that a pre-estimation of credits was required before she studied in Paris. Pre-estimation involves showing the heads of academic departments specific contents of your program and proving that they are eligible for Swarthmore credits. According to Kosman, the process can be strict.

“To get the credits, you have to take classes that are compatible with the ones already existing at Swarthmore,” said Tenorio, who spent two weeks negotiating with the Sociology/Anthropology department regarding to the credits she will receive. “It took me a really long time to negotiate with the head of my departments to approve the courses.”

Also, it is worth noticing that some classes abroad can be estimated to be worth less than one credit at Swarthmore. Christine Pham ’14, a psychology major who studied abroad in Japan, had classes that were estimated to be worth 0.75 credits at Swarthmore.

Moreover, having a pre-estimation does not ensure getting those credits. “I saved everything — handouts, notes, essays, etc.,” said Kosman, who had trouble bringing the materials back, “so I could give it to the departments I was seeking credit from.”

Proving that one’s classes are legitimate appears to be essential to the departments, as Tenorio and George also said that they brought all of their papers, notes and assignments back.

Other factors also affect how many credits students receive for their program. Kosman, for example, realized that one of her pre-estimated classes turned out to have a much lighter workload than expected and thus she will receive 0.5 credits instead of one for this class. She said she thinks this is reasonable. George, however, discovered that one of her pre-estimated classes actually consist of two sub-classes and she had to take both of them to complete the course.

“Fingers crossed,” she said about her plans, “I will get 4.5 credits. I’ll try to persuade them to give me the extra credit because in fact I took one more class than planned.” Tenorio’s case was even more interesting: one of her classes included content from both Sociology and Gender and Sexuality studies, and after negotiations, the Gender and Sexuality Studies Department is giving her 0.4 credits and Sociology/Anthropology is giving her 0.6 credits, leaving her with one full credit. This is different from her pre-estimation but she is content that she did get a full credit.

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