Posts Tagged ‘University of Minnesota’

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Lindsay: Why do I want to go to India?

January 2, 2012

When I was a freshman here at the University of Minnesota in 2009, I had no idea what I wanted to major in.  I enrolled in the Swahili language because I knew Spanish was full and I have always liked studying languages but I didn’t realize the University offered so many. I took Swahili for a single semester and realized that I enjoyed learning about other cultures, but Africa wasn’t the region I wanted to study. Immediately I thought about becoming a Global Studies Major with an emphasis in South Asia.  I had always been entranced by the culture and society of India, as well as the Hindi scripture.  Therefore, beginning my sophomore year, I began taking Hindi classes and have completed one full year of Hindi so far and am enrolled for the upcoming semester.

Currently, I am majoring in Sociology of Law, Criminology, and Deviance and am minoring in Family Violence Prevention, and I have extreme interest in domestic abuse and international violence.  I would really love to intern in India and work closely with advocates and other townspeople on the issues of violence at hand in their region of India.  I have taken courses such as Gender Violence in Global Perspectives, Intimate Partner Violence, as well as an Indian Feminisms course which has taught me how to deal, analyze, and respond to different issues relating to violence and discrimination.  I was first interested in these issues when I was a freshman and I enrolled in a Freshman Seminar where we were able to choose our own topic of interest and create a research project about it.  A group of two other girls and me decided to research Sex Trafficking.  We realized it was a harsh and not widely known topic, but it think that was what intrigued us the most.  Researching this topic really sparked my interest in violence occurring in other countries across the globe, not just in the United States.  Since then, I have always been interested in getting into the Criminal Justice field or Law Enforcement. I would love to gain hands-on experience, especially in the Criminal Justice side of things when it comes to these issues, and especially on how India, in particular, responds to violence.

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Lindsay: Program and plans overview

December 16, 2011
I just thought I would give you all an general overview of the program I am in and what my plans are when I arrive in India:
The program I am in is called MSID or Minnesota Studies in International Development.  I will leave on January 15 and I’ll get back on May 20.  I am going with a group of about 15 other college students, most from the U of M but a couple who are not.
I will first be arriving in New Delhi, which is in the north west part of India.  From there we will drive north about an hour as a group up to Jaipur (located in the state of Rajasthan), where we will stay for the remainder of the program.
I will be taking classes (taught in English by Indian professors) for the first 6 weeks of the program.  At this time, I will also be staying with a host family from India.  Throughout this time, my group will travel to places on the weekends such as the Taj Mahal, the slums, and bazaars (or malls for shopping, but they are more like the style of flee or farmers markets).
For the last 6 weeks of the program, I will be interning in Jaipur.  At this point in time, I am not sure where or what my internship will be because it is developed alongside people from the city when I arrive.  However, I will have a different host family during this six weeks.
The program itself ends on the 22nd of April.  From then until about May 20th, a small group of girls from my program as well as myself will be traveling around India.  We hope to make it to the the Himalayas for some hiking, the island of Goa, and hopefully to Mumbai.  At this point, we do not have anything set in stone as far as destinations and approximate times for anything.  It is so cheap to get around in India, we are going to take our time and explore everything and anything we want to. 
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Max: About me and this blog

November 15, 2011

I’m a student from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities studying at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) through a one-year international exchange program.

I have a strong connection to Germany because I was born in here, lived here until I was six years old, and frequently visit the half of my family that lives here. When I was six I moved to the USA and went through the American school system. I eventually decided that, after spending a year in an American university, I would spend a year as an exchange student in Germany to gain a more complete perspective on life and study in the two countries, as well as improve my german language skills.

My study program here started in October 2011 and I’ve been collecting observations about the similarities and differences between life in the USA and in Germany ever since. I hope I will be able to offer a unique perspective on these similarities and differences and that someone, whether they’re a student planning an exchange program, a person with interests in German life and culture, or an American interested in what other countries’ perceptions of the USA say about our culture, will find these interesting and helpful.

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Sarah: Fútbol

September 29, 2011

In Venezuela, fútbol is like the mountains, the plants and the storms….

WILD.

And very different from the U.S.

I went to my first “soccer” game ever in South America on Sunday, and I definitely got a taste of the latin american fútbol scene. The passion these people have for the game of soccer is incredible. My favorite example of this is the huge sign I saw hanging from the fence surrounding the soccer field. It said “pasión y locura” – passion and craziness.

This is what a fútbol stadium looks like in Mérida, Venezuela:

And this is what a football stadium looks like in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

It is an amazing feeling to be sitting in the stands on a beautiful, warm, Venezuela evening gazing at the mountains that seem to be swallowing you up from every direction.

And it is an entirely different feeling to be freezing your butt off at TCF Bank Stadium with your friends, watching the Gophers play and smiling when you look up at that oh-so-familiar skyline in the distance.

But they are both exhilerating and give me a rush when I think about them. One makes me realize how lucky I am, how far away I am, and what an incredible experience I’m having.

The other makes me nostalgic, proud, and greatful to have the best family, school and friends in the world waiting for me when I come home to winter in Minnesota.

Needless to say, it would be impossible to forget either one.

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Jon: First weekend in Jordan

September 10, 2011

It is my first Saturday here in Jordan, and it has been quite a journey. From planes being delayed, to the craziness that is driving in Jordan I’ve been seeing a lot, and yet I am beyond anxious for more. Tomorrow I start my area studies classes at the University of Jordan (Jordanians week goes from Sunday to Thursday). 

Clock tower at University of Jordan
Library at the University of Jordan

Hopefully by the end of the week, I will be replacing one of those with an internship though leaving me with just one class about water in Jordan and the middle east. We also start reviewing Arabic tomorrow and take our placement test Monday. I am trying to study for it but I have no idea where to begin. For credit reasons back at the U of MN I am really trying to be placed in Intermediate Arabic but I would love to start over. For those that don’t know, the Arabic educational system in regards to the classroom is a bit different than the US. Professors are regarded as the fonts of wisdom and are not to be challenged or questioned. Critical thinking is something left to the professor and students are there to memorize. Also, the memorizing is done mostly at home and the student is expected to figure out what is important and what should be studied. Now as some of you may know I occasionally have some issues with authority but I feel confident I can still learn here. Now that I understand and know the culture a bit that is.

As far as things that have happened from my last post there hasn’t been to much. There is a wedding going on next door which is an event that lasts a few days it seems. Friday night was the bridal party we believe and today they have been playing music on and off for a while with a large amount of guests. It is interesting to experience, and I’ve really come to like Arabic music. I did go downtown and bought my first Sheesh (hookah). For everything needed to use it it cost a total of 14JD which is about $20! It is smaller but we plan on using that one till we can learn a bit more about Sheesh’s and construct our own. In many shops around here you buy the components individually and they are quite impressive. It does seem like that is a major part of the culture. Probably every other night I am ending up at a cafe smoking Sheesh with others chatting. Once we get our peer tutors I hope for it to be a Jordanian I am sitting with but for now this is nice. 

The only other thing is now that we are in our apartments cooking is left up to us. And while I do think I am a decent cook I am struggling here because I do not know how to cook any of the sauces, or use the spices here. I am signing up for a club to help with that but again I hope with a Jordanian peer tutor they can suggest a few recipes.
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Margaret: 机器人 – jīqìrén – robot

September 10, 2011

I survived hanyu!  I felt much better about it today, although it is still extremely challenging.  The tough part is that everything is explained in Chinese. The trouble is that many Chinese grammar patterns are entirely nonsensical in the first place, and some can be difficult enough to understand in English as it is. My laoshi also loves to tell us other words that mean the same thing, oh but they can’t exactly be used in the exact same way. Here’s five words and how they are the same and how they are subtly entirely different.  It’s chabuduo (almost) impossible. You can’t miss a beat in hanyu!

I realized at my tutor session that the University of Minnesota did not teach me how to speak Chinese. Every speaking opportunity I ever had gave me the prompts ahead of time so I could rehearse what I was going to say. Helpful in the real world? Absolutely not. However, what they did teach me how to do was to understand grammar patterns and become really good at taking exams without actually having a real grasp on the material. As a result, my laoshi gave us a minute to complete a few sentences using a new, confusing grammar pattern and when he came by to check my answers, “dou hen hao,” or they’re all perfect. Today was a mixture of pride (because I think I may actually be able to survive hanyu if I study six to eight hours a day), frustration (because there is still so much of lecture that doesn’t make any sense to me either because I don’t know the vocabulary being used or because everything is being explained in Chinese), and disappointment (because after two entire years devoted to this language, I can’t speak it!).

What I really want to talk about is the dinner I had at the kuai can, or fast food (it’s really just a dining hall). My friend invited a Chinese student she met in line to sit down with her and I. I haven’t had too much direct interaction with Chinese students, and it seems the university has tried their best to keep us separate, so I was excited to chit chat with him.  He seemed very nervous to be sitting with foreigners and was eating speedy fast, even faster than the crazy fast speeds that everyone eats in the dining halls, presumably in order to get back to the books. He said he is a physics major from Shanghai. He takes thirty (yes THIRTY!) hours of class per week of physics, which he finds “interesting.”  When he is not in class, he “rests” for one or two hours, spending the rest of the time studying or “doing exercises.” Must be some kind of magical powers or an insane amount of caffeine…  When asked what he would like to do after graduation, he replied, “It depends on my mark.” Basically, if he scores high enough, he will get to go to graduate school. He feels lucky to live in a dormitory where there are communal showers because in some buildings, students must walk outside in the dead of winter to go to another building where they have large gym locker room-style shower rooms. These, he complains, have no place to dry your hair.  I cringed at the thought of just how many girls have their hair freeze every single night on the way home before bed. He told us he lives in a room with three other people. When asked if his room is large or small, he said the most distinctly Chinese thing I’ve heard since I’ve been here: “It is enough for four people.”

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Shawnda: A transition into reality…

August 3, 2011

I’m back to the real world…as if being in Africa was surreal or fake.  It felt like such an adventure that it couldn’t be real.  

Even after being back, my time there is such a blur yet set so vividly in my mind.  I was welcomed by what seemed to be the most comfortable temperature Minnesota has reached within the past few weeks; weather seems to make dramatic changes in my presence.  My jet lag is just beginning to hit me.  I woke up at 3am; it took me a minute to figure out where I was.

Mochudi? no

UB? no

Airplane? too comfortable for that.

U of M? possibly…

Home? oh yeah, right.

I was finally able to make pancakes; my deprivation was silenced.

The familiarities of home are hitting hard; it’s slightly too overwhelming.  Just as I began to feel at home in Gabarone, I’m thrown back in Minnesota.  My apprehensions of school, work, and my future are hitting even harder.  Deadlines are already coming up at the end of this week, emails are filling my inbox, and loans are still ever present in my life.  Adventures come at a price.

I wouldn’t trade in a single second spent in Africa, but my mind can’t possibly silence itself with all of these pressing thoughts.

And how do I even begin to explain how it was in Africa? What do I say to “How was it?”? I could spend hours detailing each and every day there; “amazing” suffices.

I think I can use a few days of relaxation.  Let’s just see if life allows it.

Back Home. Hello Lake Minnetonka. 
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