To follow more recent adventures of UW Bothell travelers around the world, visit our new blog site, UWBGlobal.blog
To follow more recent adventures of UW Bothell travelers around the world, visit our new blog site, UWBGlobal.blog
It’s time to start applying for winter study abroad trips, with an application deadline of May 15th, so here’s some application tips! If you’ve already applied for Summer, Early Fall, or Autumn programs, I have preparation tips for you as well!
That’s all the advice I can think of for now, but feel free to leave a comment with any questions! I’d love to help answer them 🙂
Last August and September I visited Chile as part of a UW Study Abroad Exploration Seminar. It’s taken me awhile to get my experiences written up, but here’s a bit about the beginning of my trip.
I arrived at the Seattle airport at 3am, checked my bags, and made my way through security. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so nervous and also excited for anything in my life. Not only was this my first time traveling to another country, I was about to spend a month in a country with twenty-one strangers and a population whose language I barely speak. Despite my nerves, I was also very excited. An eternity of a plane ride later, I landed in Santiago and met up with the group in the airport, and the trip began!
Our hotel had very comfortable accommodations, with spacious rooms housing about 3-4 of our group in each room. I shared with two other girls, and we ended up staying up late often talking about the events of the day and attempting to journal all the things we wanted to remember.
Let me give you a basic overview of how each day went:
Morning: Departed the hotel to start the day’s activities, usually starting with more scholastic activities such as visiting universities, touring hospitals, and listening to short lectures from people working in healthcare
Afternoon: Each lunch somewhere as a group and get the chance to sample the local cuisine, then proceeding with the group on more “touristy” activities like visiting museums, landmarks, and shopping areas
Evenings: Return to the hotel, usually had individual free time to hangout in smaller groups, go get dinner where we’d like, or work on laundry or journaling or sleeping!
On the first full day in Santiago we started the morning at a university, where we learned about the basic structure of the healthcare system in Chile and also got to tour their “simulation hospital,” where they have situational setups of various departments of health. The instructors determine the disease, and students properly treat it, practicing their skills on a high-tech mannequins
Following our tour at Andres Bello, we visited a Catholic university in the area, where we got to hear from a young doctor who has worked in the army and extensively in rural areas of Chile. After these informative destinations, we continued into the center of Santiago to climb Santa Lucia Hill. This small hill marks the spot where Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia founded Santiago in 1541. The lookout was landscaped into a public park in the late 19th century to memorialize the historical event.
We ended the day on a delicious note with a group dinner at a delightful restaurant near Santa Lucia hill. I tried eel for the first time, which was thankfully delicious and just tasted like fish!
We found out that Chileans tend to eat dinner much later than your average American when we arrived around 6:30 and found the restaurant nearly empty! It wasn’t until about 8pm or so that traffic started picking up, and Professor Olavarria confirmed that this is pretty standard. By the end of the trip we’d all become pretty accustomed to eating dinner much later!
If you’ve ever contemplated any kind of science career, you should participate in field research in the forests of Peru in the Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainability study abroad program in early fall with Dr. Ursula Valdez. My experience in this program this August through September reinforced my passion for field work and ignited a curiosity within me for wildlife biology. Some of my classmates went into this trip thinking they wanted to pursue the medical biological field yet completed the program with a desire to conduct field research instead. One main reason I chose this particular program over the other one I was accepted to in Rome was that I could never recreate the experience offered in Peru. We ventured through treacherous winding roads for a day and spent two days traveling by canoe to the Cocha Cashu biological station in Manu National Park. Tourists are not permitted to travel this deep into the park so this experience was truly an exceptional one. When else in my life would I be able to study monkeys in the Amazonian rainforest in South America? As an individual who loves animals, conservation and nature, this trip was spiritually and educationally stimulating at all times. Following is a snapshot of my journal entries for travel to and time spent in Cocha Cashu.
28 August 2018
Our adventure on the river begins! I awoke to the sounds of more birds and bugs than I have ever heard in my life! The forest dominates the land. A massive stretch of natural beauty. Here, we go into the unknown, down the Madre de Dios river. This is heaven compared to our sixteen hour bus ride from Cusco. Grasses taller than I’ve ever witnessed upwards of twenty feet tall!! They resemble palm trees at first until you see the gigantic spikelets shooting from the top that must have been half my height! Sweeping valleys enveloped in all levels of succession catch my eye. I wonder what secrets this forest holds. This immaculate treasure tucked away from society. You need not worry about the world beyond your own two feet and the community you have built. We have a hunger, a curiosity for the adventure ahead. I am blessed to literally be with those who like to stop and smell the orchids, poke the slimy ferns and ponder over fuzzy caterpillars.
This is a great start to the journey ahead. We ease our way down the river, flowing with gravity and venturing deep into the heart of darkness (Conrad 1899). The rich copper tones drape down into the river, kissing the pale water. I am alive!! More than I’ve ever been. Each sense awakens and becomes more tuned with our Mother Earth. Through all the pain and suffering in the world (socially, spiritually and environmentally), I feel a sense of relief in the presence of a vast expanse of rainforest.
29 August 2018
We have started our excursion on the river with a vertebrate survey. Most of the species observed have been birds with the exception of a few reptiles such as Caiman or the yellow spotted river turtle. I witnessed a biodiversity hotspot right along the Manu river. We saw well over 50 species in a few hours, including at least three to four monkey species!!
Having arrived at Cocha Cashu, I am overwhelmed by the richness of species within the region. There are many researchers partaking in fascinating work. From bird banding to those aiming to research the family of ten giant river otters.I look forward to working in this place over the next ten days. Seeing all the monkeys along the river has me extremely excited to start our primate behavior and ecology research project! The class is split into six different research groups: bird ecology, primate ecology, mammal and camera traps, insect ecology, plant/fungus ecology (ended up pertaining to butterflies instead) and a qualitative project (the group chose sustainability as a focus). I also got stung by a wasp square in the forehead during introductions. Awkward turtle! This is definitely part of the experience and I am sure I will be stung by many other creatures.
03 September 2018
Day one of Black spider monkey (Ateles chamek) research
Lizzy, Katerina, Nico and I left the station around 6:00 four minutes after leaving, we spotted one individual leaping through the canopy. It seemed we were off to a good start. The trails we ventured down made a big loop, all the way past Cocha Tortura and back around to Cocha Cashu. Along the way, we encountered two groups of primates on separate occasions; squirrel monkeys (Saimieri sciurius) and Saddleback Tamarin (Saguinus fuscicollis). We took note and observed the troops for a bit but did not record all data because our research is focused on Spider monkeys. The total distance we ventured was around 3.5 miles. Our plan is to go out again in the afternoon but we are definitely exhausted. However, I loved seeing all the different primates. The most interesting troop was that of the Saddleback Tamarin because of how stealthily they moved through the canopy. If you did not spot them you would never know they were there. This extremely contrasts with the Spider monkeys who crash wildly through the palms, not making an effort to be inconspicuous. I really hope I have time to do some observations of the Pygmy Marmoset (Cebuella pygmaea).
Nico and I went on a canoe adventure after lunch to see if we could spot “monkeys zappa” from the vantage of the lake but this resulted in no success other than paddling in circles, literally. The researchers make canoeing look much easier but it takes time to warm up. I was about to give up on collecting data for the day when, after I utilized the compost toilet I spotted a single Spider monkey slowly climbing through the canopy within a few hundred meters of the biological station. I ran to wash my hands and get my research team. Lizzy and I followed the adult female and one juvenile for over an hour. The female appeared to be pregnant. After awhile of feeding, ‘Preggo’ rested 25-30 meters up in an unidentified tree. When it comes to chasing primates through the Peruvian rainforest, there is never a dull moment.
This snapshot of my time at Cocha Cashu reflects the mindfulness and presence one embodies when in the rainforest. The adventures of collecting research are never predictable but the process of creating a proposal and being flexible with your approach to data collection is a great educational experience that will provide one with a sense of accomplishment. This amazing experience can give one insight into the type of career to put energy into–work indoors or work outdoors. The value of experiencing biodiversity firsthand is priceless and I hope every aspiring environmentalist has the opportunity to extend their education into the field.
Today was a very hard day. I did not feel comfortable in the hospital at all, it was very upsetting for me to see. It might be that in general I do not like the hospital (hence why I do clinic work now) or I think that the conditions of the patients and the very little resources they had made me sad. There were no private rooms or even rooms for that matter. The halls were littered with gurneys that looked like they were hundreds of years old, all with body fluid stains and torn fabric. In the critical ICU there was one nurse for all the beds with a few nursing aids. The patients all looked so sick and miserable and they had to be all jammed into a room with others who were feeling the same impending death. One of the rooms we walked into there was a woman foaming at the mouth, a dead person that was covered with a drape, and a passed out patient who was on a cardiac monitor that looked eminent. As we made our way through the hospital, I kept feeling sicker and sicker. How could the healthcare system be in such a way that it seemed to be more dangerous for the patents to be in the hospital then out of the hospital? All of the doctors were super young, Juanita said it was because they made no money there and the older more experience docs had private practices.
Today we went into an area of Rio Dulce to do some education and training for the promoters of the villages that work for GVH. This day was a good amount of work. I helped translating for the group that was doing their project that day. I was more than happy to help; it was just a lot of work in a very hot building. I loved seeing the promoters and comadronas participate and take pride in their learning. Many great questions were asked and a good amount of teach back methodology was applied. It seemed that the village members all took great pride in their roles and were happy to be working alongside GVH. The thing that stood out to me the very most today was an interaction I had with a promoter from one of the mountain villages. This man was very knowledgeable about the need for contraception and family planning. He said he was also a teacher and ended up teaching in the school of his village about the importance of family planning and how it impacts the amount of money spent and stress on the family. He said that he wants to help with the contraception education and the family planning, but he doesn’t know what will change the fact that the country is very machismo based. I thought it was interesting that him being a Guatemalan man pointed out the issue of the machismo environment. I told Jennifer that this man was very interested in helping GVH and very passionate about his work. She then talked to Carolyn about the possibility of giving him a larger role.
We camped out last night in the school of the Chinachabilchoc village. Today we were all more than exhausted from not getting any sleep from the storm, roosters yapping, the hard cement ground, the heat, and the fear of spiders and scorpions; both of which we saw the day before. This village we noticed had a very bad outbreak of scabies and both children and adults were suffering from them. This was the first village that we really needed a lot of translating help because only 20 of the 250 people in the village spoke Spanish. I went down into the school to do the hand washing presentation. The middle schoolers were receptive and really liked the glitter demonstration. My group also was lucky enough to do our windshield survey in this village and we had a truly fabulous guide who was receptive to all our questions and really was prideful of his village. He said that almost all of the residents are born and die in the town. This was also the first town that GVH had built a latrine in, they also were undergoing a second latrine installation when we were there.
I could feel the sweat drip down my temple as we drove down the bumpy dirt road. I was thinking about how easily the dust entering the van through the windows would stick to my skin. We were heading to the village for our second day of teaching the 4th and 5th graders at Nirman, our partner school. The first day didn’t go as well as we had hoped but we had a more solid plan going into day two. Luckily, it did end up going much better than the day before, and for the most part this trend continued for the rest of the week.
A large part of our study abroad was about designing and then integrating a lesson plan for some Indian students. Kaylah, Dibbya, and I were assigned to teach 4th and 5th graders about keyhole gardens that can be used for composting. We were surprised to discover that most if not all the students didn’t know what composting was. As someone who is interested in environmental issues, it was a privilege to be able to work with the students on this project.
Although we began with a lesson plan for each day of the week, we ended up having to do a lot of revising and improvising at the end of every day. We found that often times, we didn’t get to doing some of the things we had planned for the day because we had to spend more time than anticipated on classroom management. For example, after Monday we always split the class in half, having some students working outside and some working inside, which worked really well since there were three of us. Another key thing we discovered was that educational games as a learning tool worked really well for the age group we had. After doing a “what is compost and what’s not” game with much success on Tuesday, we decided to incorporate more activities like this into our lesson plan for the rest of the week.
Creating the garden was really fun for both us and the students. Our plan for this stayed the same for the most part, although we had to move some things back due to lack of time. Fortunately we were able to complete the garden with seedlings planted. There is work to be done with the garden still, but for going in with so many unknown factors I’m happy with how it turned out.
Being able to introduce kids in India to one sustainable practice was meaningful in the fact that kids learning about these kinds of things can make all the difference in the future of the health of our planet. I’m so grateful I had this opportunity. In the end, I think the kids may have taught us more than we taught them.
Written by Emma Hattori
I was starting to feel at ease in my new home when something started to catch my attention. It was very subtle at first, but eventually became something that I could no longer overlook. During our conversations with Golu, I noticed that he was making very little eye contact with me and much more eye contact with my classmate Niko, who was a white male. I thought to myself that maybe I was being too shy and needed to exert myself a little bit more. Occasionally, I would make a comment or ask a question and Golu would look at me but quickly returned his attention back to Niko. As the night went on I started to noticed that Golu seemed to only ask Niko questions, which lead me to wonder if he simply forgot my name. When it came time for us to go to bed, Golu got up from behind his Tabla and said “Niko, let me show you to your room”. He lead Niko to a room across the hall as I stayed a little further behind wondering if my room was to be somewhere else in the house. I peeked my head into the room, which consisted of a computer desk, a cabinet and a twin sized matt on the floor. Niko and I exchanged glances, waiting for Golu to show me to my room, but that moment never came. We both set our belongings down reluctantly as Golu asked if the room was ok. Not wanting to come off ungrateful, we both said the room was fine and asked for another mat for us to sleep on. Golu and his mother returned shortly later with a thin matt and laid it next to the one that was already there. As Golu was about to head upstairs to bed, he poked his head through the door and said “Niko, if you need anything at all, anything, let me know”. That night, as I was laying 4 inches away from Niko sideways on a twin sized mat, I was so perplexed at what I had just experienced. My mind was ruminating, trying to find some logical explanation of this foreign feeling I was experiencing. Was it some cultural formality to address someone first? Did I come off rude and unwelcoming? Did he simply not know my name? I was trying to find a reason, any reason that would make sense of what I had just experienced. As I started to rule out each explanation one by one, I had to ask myself the question I was reluctant to ask, was I experiencing racism?
The next morning, I had a talk with Kara and she suggested that I have a talk with Irfana ma’am, the director at the school we were working with. The conversation was unproductive as I danced around the issue, as inquiring if my host were racist is well…a very awkward conversation. The only issue fixed by that conversation was that by the time Niko and I returned home that night, there was a much more comfortable mat next to the old one. It wasn’t until my homestay experience was over that we all had a conversation about the issue, as another non-white student experienced something similar during her home stay. Although I wouldn’t want anyone to go through such an uncomfortable experience, a part of me was glad that someone else had the same experience. Her confession validated my feelings, I wasn’t crazy. Nita ma’am and Irfana ma’am as well as the rest of the group had a really good discussion about the issue. Nita ma’am explained that the concept of racism doesn’t even exist in India, that the possible reason that our host family treated our white classmates differently is because they viewed us, people of color, very similar to themselves. She reassured us that what we experienced is in fact not racism and not a common occurrence. We also discussed casts in India and how wealth fits into that system, and the associations of Caucasians with wealth. Although the explanations did make sense, a part of me still feels like I haven’t found a satisfactory answer. This experience has definitely given me plenty to think about and has made me more aware of how my identity plays different roles in different cultures. This experience made me realize how “racism” is subjective and can mean different things to different people. This experience also makes me wonder that if someone doesn’t view something as racist in their culture, does that invalidate the feelings of the individual who experiences it as such?
Written By Tam Hoang
Blog By Lorena Andrea Marulanda, Community Psychology, Gender, Culture and Human Rights in India
This is my first time writing a blog in English, so I am so sorry if I make any mistake. However, at the same time it is a representation of me as an immigrant whose first language is not English. So here is the process that I wanted to have before and during my time in India.
Process before your trip…
This is a process that we should all enjoy, although it is stressful, once you get the congratulation letter everything will have a different face :).
For this I do not have much to say more than be yourself. If you do not know something it is okay to say it, you do not need to have a perfect answer. From this, you will learn (like I did) to be okay with who you are with your answers even if they sound silly sometimes. For a while I was worried that I was not going to be selected for the program because of some of my answers, but I got the good news and that opinion about myself changed…
…and if you are wondering about the picture in my congratulation letter, yes we took it while in India!
If you are like me and do not read the instructions, you are going to be very frustrated. For this, you will need:
I thought it was going to be easier, so please take your time to do at once. However, if for some reason you can not finish it when you started it DO NOT FORGET to write down your application ID number which is on the middle top of the page. It happened to me, and I had to start over again and learn the hard way.
These were the mistakes I did while filling out the application:
…and here goes your first investment on your trip $61.50 for you visa!
DO NOT WAIT TILL LAST MINUTE…
Go to the doctor as soon as possible so you will know what your insurance is able to cover. If you do not have insurance Bartell Drugs store and Walgreens offer the service of the immunizations that are required to enter to India. Bartell Drugs have an international nurse that will help you with the research and the decision with some the ones that are optional (malaria).
Hepatitis A $139
For me, my insurance covered the Hepatitis A, and with my doctor we decided that I was not going to take anything for Malaria. However, I paid for the Typhoid at the community clinic in North Gate and I paid $76.78, so it was more convenient.
DO NOT FORGET to ask your doctor for CIPROFLOXACIN for traveler’s diarrhea. Most insurances cover this. WHAT I DID TO NOT USE IT… I was really worried about getting sick during India, so my cousin who traveled to Nepal recommended to take probiotics as much as possible BEFORE and DURING the trip. I was eating two yogurts everyday, kombucha, and I bought some probiotic pills called “Pearls Complete” that he recommended. I got them through Amazon for $15.49…. and I never got sick of my stomach!