Posts Tagged ‘photos’


Thomas: Mendoza (mas vino, por favor)

September 28, 2011

Words cannot describe how great this past weekend was. On Thursday night, me and four friends took an overnight bus from Buenos Aires to Mendoza (a 13 hour ride), a city located in the West-Central portion of the country and on the foothills of the Andes Mountains. About 110,000 people inhabit Mendoza, and upon arriving I was genuinely surprised by how nice the people were, and how well kept and quiet the city was. A pleasant change from the fast-paced and sometimes rude Buenos Aires.

The Mendoza Province is of course known best for their top industries, wine and olives. The Cuyo region, which includes the Mendoza province and two other Western Argentinian provinces, produces the most wine in all of Latin America and serves people all over the World. Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon are the top varieties of wine produced in the region.

Mendoza has been growing and thriving economically recently because of the growing popularity of wine tourism. My friends and I were added to the list of the thousands of tourists who visit each day to tour vineyards and taste the wine. Saturday was our vineyard touring and wine tasting day. With the sun shining and temperatures in the high 70s, it was a perfect day to be outside. Our group of young tourists became much larger when we merged with people from our hostel we stayed in. Our group now included twelve people from five different countries (Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Australia, and the U.S.). Besides being ridiculously affordable, the best thing about staying in hostels (instead of hotels) is that you get to meet all kinds of cool people from all over the World.

We decided the best way to visit the many vineyards in the countryside was by bicycle. After renting twelve bikes we rode several miles, visiting close to ten vineyards and tasting 3-4 different wines at each location (you do the math). Somehow we all managed to stay on our bikes. It was such a surreal experience, riding quietly along a rode lined with perfectly lined trees on one side and the beautiful Andes mountains in the distance, past the many rows of grapes. What a weekend, indeed.

Our Hostel for the weekend


Sarah: A peek at my Venezuelan life

September 2, 2011

A little bit more about my life here in Venezuela:

When I wake up in the morning, I shower, brush my teeth with purified water that’s been boiled for at least 15 minutes, and wake up my roommate, Jenni if she’s still sleeping. Then I choose one of the four t-shirts that I brought with me to wear with my favorite jeans. I slip on my black flats, pack my backpack, and let my hair air dry while I eat breakfast. When Jenni and I walk into the kitchen, Benilde, our 29 year old host sister, will already be there with two pots and two pans on the stove, all boiling or steaming or simmering with something different inside. She’ll greet us with “¡buenos dias!” and we’ll greet her back and sit down on our stools on opposite sides of the kitchen island. Benilde will set down two mugs of café con leche in front of us (a rich blend of milk, coffee, and sugar), and then put down our plates on matching orange placemats. Breakfast usually consists of arepas (a traditional Venezuelan pancake made of ground corn dough) which are sliced open when they are still warm and stuffed with ham and cheese or eggs.

When we are finished eating, we grab our backpacks and head out the door by 7:40 to make it to our 8:30 class on time. We walk along this path…

next to this lake…

to get to on this red trolley-bus.

And this is what I see outside the trolley window on my 15 minute ride to school.

I see the same colorful fences and houses and powder blue mountains on the ride home. And then I know I’m at the right stop when I see the sign on the corner that says “Museo de Ciencia y Tecnología”.

This is the museum that I live by. And this is what it looks like from across the lake.

On my way home I walk up a big hill, and this dog follows me.

I pass by the house with the crazy plant (which I always stop to look at), and the little store where I buy yogurt and apples, and I have no idea how much anything costs.

And then I walk three more blocks along the windy road until I see this gate.

Behind the gate is my house…

and this beautiful garden…

and a very interesting tree with very interesting flowers.

When I walk through the front door I pass through the livingroom…

and then flop down onto my bed.


Thomas: Out of my comfort zone

September 1, 2011

I’ve learned that the only way to grow as a person is to step out of one’s comfort zone. There’s nothing that reflects this notion better than my stay so far in Buenos Aires, Argentina. My host mother and host brother speak very little English. The downside of this is that we only converse if it is essential. The upside is that I will be forced to learn and practice Spanish, which was indeed a main goal of my study abroad experience.

Today the program participants took part in a very brief orientation over coffee and pastries. Since I do not have class Monday afternoons, I decided to walk home and explore the sites around my homestay apartment. After closely studying a map, I was able to find my way back to the apartment from the school. It is about a fifteen block walk, which, including waiting for traffic, took me about 20 minutes. The temperature in Buenos Aires is increasing after a cold winter, and to a cold blooded Minnesotan like myself, it is a nearly perfect 60 degree day, especially nice for walking.

My host mother, Mariana, guided me to school in the morning. After I accidentally slept in about twenty minutes, we got a late start. First we tried to catch a bus about a block away, but after one passed that was full of Portenos (B.A. residents), we decided to hail a cab. The cab ride cost about 17 pesos, or about four US dollars. I was a few minutes late arriving at the school, but so was over half of my other classmates.

Around midday, I arrived at my homestay to drop my bag off and I decided to find a place to have lunch. On my way around the block I ran into my host brother, Miguel. Surprised and lacking conversational Spanish, I couldn’t understand what he was saying and I forgot the word for lunch, Almuerzo. I will not forget it now. In my very first experience dining out, I chose a very nice restaurant called “Como en Casa”, loosely translated to “At Home”. I didn’t feel like home, but the food was very good. I enjoyed a salad that was topped with salmon, brie, roasted cranberries,  and avocados.

Having been very nervous ordering food and conversing with the server, I did very well until I finished my salad and made a terrible mistake, accidentally ordering dessert. Thinking I agreed to taking the bill, the server brought out the dessert menu. I know what you’re asking, how could you do that to yourself? Yes, the chocolate mousse-like cake was brutally tasty, and I got through it. Of course I received coffee with it. They drink it small and strong in Argentina. Muy delicioso.

As I spend each hour in Buenos Aires, I can feel the self-growth by stepping out of that ever so enticing comfort zone.

And finally, as promised, more photos of mi casa, the apartment I am living in. I have my very own bathroom! The second to last image is of the meal Mariana cooked for me Sunday night.

 IMG_0231 IMG_0232 IMG_0233 IMG_0234 IMG_0235 IMG_0236 IMG_0237 IMG_0239 IMG_0240 


Mark: Blood, Sweat, and a Pyramid

July 5, 2011

Last week a couple of us visted the town of Tepoztlán, about 45 minutes from Cuernavaca.  The town itself has its own rich culture, but the main draw is the pyramid of Tepozteco which sits on top of a mountian ridge 2,000 vertical feet above the city.

The pyramid is on top of this ridge.

We made the climb in 31 minutes.  The pyramid itself is not very impressive, but the view from the top is incredible.


Mark: La Fiesta de San Antoni0

June 15, 2011

A few days ago, we visted La Fiesta de San Antonio which takes place every year (one local told me for the past 400 years) in the barrio of, appropriately, San Antón here in Cuernavaca. The day-long celebration consists of about half a mile of amusment park rides, tiendas, fireworks and revelers. Young people also give twelve coins and pray to San Guadalupe to meet their soul mates at the church. The evening culminates in a giant close-and-personal pyrotecnic display and dancing. Last night we got the first significant rainfall in my nearly 4 weeks here, not that anyone let that snuff out the festivities.


Shawnda: A few photos

June 11, 2011
A local clinic where some of us will be interning at

Megan’s new husband

Student center at UB

Three Dikgosi Monument

Apparently Botswana has an Ikea

Taxi station


Kadie: Photo montage/short updates

May 3, 2011

I will never cease to be amazed at some aspects of Moroccan culture. The Spring Break was AMAZING, and I was able to see some of the finest beaches Morocco’s Atlantic coast has to offer. (And I have the sun burns to prove it!) Upon our return home, we were welcomed back to Fes with all the comments from men in the street that we’d been missing all week. The harassment here seems never-ending for foreigners, even after we’ve been living here for two months, but at least we learned that it’s not the same everywhere in Morocco, and that the men in Fes seem to have a special talent for cat-calling. But, coming back to our new apartment and the familiarity that is Fes was refreshing to say the least. It felt good to come “home.”

Unfortunately, my roommate, Kellen, and I got pretty sick the day we returned, and so missed our first Monday of the new term to go to the doctor’s clinic. THAT was an experience. The one-room clinic had one exam table, and our “examination” consisted of the doc taking our temps, blood pressure, and then pressing on our stomachs REALLY hard. Then she diagnosed us with stomach/intestine infections. The whole process took about ten minutes. And now, we’ve been on medication for about a week. A little frightening? BUT we’re feeling much better, and I’ve learned that sometimes, trusting in the local culture and customs is really the best way to go. Besides, the man at the pharmacy, who gave us Moroccan Rotary Club pins, said she was the best doctor in town.

And then we were back in classes and back to the “grind.” Arabic is still kicking my butt, and our first test of this new term was on Friday. It’s been a cold and rainy week here, and one filled with somewhat sudden realizations that our time here is going to be ending all too soon. FIVE WEEKS before I am going to have to leave this home of mine and return to the states. The nerves are definitely starting to kick in. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things I miss about Wisconsin, but, I also know that returning won’t be easy. Good thing there are other Badgers here with me that I’ll be able to meet up with whenever I have a serious need for some Morocco-reminiscing!

One such experience that I’m sure we’ll be reliving many times – this last weekend’s trip to the “night club.” We were invited by a friend’s host brother to go to a party. So, after arriving at 5 in the evening, we were ushered in to one of the most legit night clubs I’ve ever seen…well, for being during the day. It was fun, and we danced and laughed and had a general good time—until they turned all the lights on and ushered everyone back out again at 8pm. Apparently, that’s just too late for Moroccans? We were a little stumped, but, afterwards we went out to a nice dinner and had a “girl’s night.” All in all it was a great first weekend back, until we decided to start our homework Sunday.

But I’m excited for the next few weeks! And I’m excited to make the most of everything Morocco has to offer while I still can.  It’s incredible to me that April is over, but looking back on it, I’ve got nothing but memories full of laughter and smiles and sunshine. Bring on May!

And here’s a whole chunk of photos I’ve been keeping from everyone for far too long! Enjoy!

My girls and I looking out at the Atlantic on an unscheduled stop during Spring Break!

Kellen and I dancing on the rocks!

The boys being dare-devils during Spring Break

Some of my fellow badgers and I at our Moroccan-themed end-of-first-term party.

Me with my birthday flowers from the “Brits!”

A shot of the beautifully-restored riad some of my fellow students live in-we hang out here a LOT.

Our apartment! Living room #1.

Living room #2!

Our kitchen!


Amanda: A few favorite images of India

March 10, 2011
  • a dirty, homeless boy cradling a dirty, homeless puppy on the side of the road
  • colorful pants and shirts blowing in the wind, tied to a clothesline between mustard fields
  • trombone players donned in white, marching band-esque uniforms on their way to play at an Indian wedding
  • old men wearing puffy, fuzzy, pastel, glittery sweaters in 80 degree weather
  • graffiti in Hindi
  • the owner of a fruit or vegetable stand pulling his cart down a six-lane road
  • rows of blooming orchids, roses, and poppies in red clay pots at the flower market
  • adolescent boys playing cricket with big, flat bats in deserted fields
  • the folds of women’s patterned, semi-opaque saris



Michelle: Vineyard tour

February 22, 2011

While Bordeaux may be the capital of wine in France, Montpellier is the capital of viticulture and Bezier is the oldest wine producer. Montpellier is SE of Bordeaux on the coast.

Last weekend, I went to a vineyard just north of Bezier owned by my upstairs neighbor’s family. There, his brother in law gave us a little tour, so I’m passing that all on to you virtually:

First, the grapes are grown…

…then they go into this contraption to separate the grapes from the twigs and the leaves.

Then they go through the pressoir. In white wine and rosé, the skins are generally discarded. In red wine, they help give the wine it’s distinctive flavor and  color.

From there, the juice (and skin depending) gets transferred into the large barrels for fermentation. The three holes in the wall are the large reservoirs.

From the second story, you can look down into some of the barrels. During fermentation, it is essential that the juice is kept at a specific temperature. The temperatures are different for white and red. To accomplish this feat, les drapeaus circulate cold water within the barrels. When les drapeaus are removed, they are covered in a chalky, acidic residue. This is sold and used to make candy. (He’s holding a clean drapeau below.)

When opening the barrels, there is a lot of carbon-dioxide that builds, new viticulturists often experiences the sensation of suffocating.
After fermentation, the juice is transfered to smaller barrels for aging. This wine is only aged about 5 years. The date is written on the side of the barrel.

Cooking wine is aged in sunlight:

Quelle bonne journée!


Michelle: La Famille d’Accueil

January 16, 2011

Yesterday we had our first day of a week long orientation. We met the staff, some students, and got an informal tour of the city. Although I’m not yet confident that I know where everything is, I’m pretty sure I won’t get too lost. The best part part of the day happened around 6:30 that night; all the students met their host families.

My host family is the Zerr family. Caroline, my host mother, and Claude, my host father, have hosted 4 other students before me. Caroline reminds me a little of my mom. She is very artistic and enjoys Asian philosophy. It’s a little embarrassing how little I know about it compared to her. She is also a great cook, very social, and seems like she is friends with everyone in their small apartment complex. Claude is a manager at IBM and speaks English very well. That helps a lot when I don’t understand a word, but I told him that I am here to speak French. He is also very nice, but so far Caroline has dominated conversation (something else that makes me think of my mom). Caroline told me that both she and Claude have slight accents from Northern France. Hers is Parisian and his is from his home in Alsace. His hometown explains their German sounding name too. Their son is 23 and is studying Architecture in Stasbourg. I’m using his room now. Every room in the house has a different theme. The kitchen is Moroccan, the living room is Greek, my room is Chinese.

My room

My first French dinner was very simple. I’m sorry I don’t have photos, but bringing out a camera in the middle of dinner would have been a bit bizarre. Caroline made a vegetable soup with cream, celery, carrots, salt and pepper, and some other vegetables that I understood at the time but can’t remember anymore. We ate it, of course, with a baguette torn into small pieces and put into the soup.  I could have been done eating after that, but then Caroline served scalloped potatoes and bread-crusted fish. She said it was a certain type of fish specific to the region, but I don’t know the name in English. After that she brought out two different types of cheese, one was soft, white, and very mild in flavor. The other was hard, yellow, and somewhat sharp.

The next day, Caroline took me out and showed me how to get around. We drove to the tram stop and she showed me how to get to school.  The tram is very similar to Minneapolis’ Light rail except there are two lines and they trains look way more fun. The line that takes me to school is blue, but the other line is red with big flowers on it. She also took me downtown, which to my surprise was only about 10 min on foot and probably 3 min by bike. It’s less than a quarter mile from the Arc de Triumphe.

Caroline made me a map of the three most important places, Home, School, and Downtown

Arc de Triumphe de Montpellier 


Caroline and the Tram

Before coming to Montpellier, I was afraid that I would miss the freedom that came with my bicycle. It turns out, I have a bike here, complete with light and reflectors. The bike lanes over here a little different. Instead of being on the street, they are next to the sidewalk signified by a little bike icon and different colored brick.

Tomorrow I will meet the study abroad group at the University and we’ll start orientation. Hopefully I will get a chance to take more pictures too.

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