Preparations and the Days at Home

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It's hard to believe that my African adventure is just around the corner. After I arrived home from my summer of surveying birds (Southwestern Willow Flycatchers and Yellow-billed Cuckoos) in New Mexico, I immediately began spending time with my family and friends. Over these last few weeks, I've spent my time relaxing, spending time with my family (especially my niece), catching up with some members of my Penn State family and some high school friends, hanging out with mother nature at my favorite state park in Pennsylvania, attempting to get things done at home, and packing for my trip. It's been a great past few weeks, but I am excited to begin my three month journey in Tanzania. I am just about ready to go. I am mostly packed now. The main thing that I am worried about is making it to the airport on time. My family and I are definitely planning to leave pretty early, but I am worried about the drive to the airport. I am just hoping all goes well with traffic, etc! 

And So It Begins

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Hello everyone! It has been quite the week for travelling for me.  Last Tuesday, I set off for my study abroad and arrived in Vienna early Wednesday morning.  But, before I could move into my apartment in the city, IES Abroad took all of the students to a family Hostel in Mariazell, Austria for a three-day orientation.  Mariazell is a small city three hours away from Vienna in a region called Styria.  It is mostly known for its winter sports and beautiful basilica.

Thankfully, there were no name-games at this orientation.  IES wanted the students to meet the staff and each other, grow comfortable with being away from home, and learn a little about what it's like to live in Austria.  We had a traditional Austrian night (so, so many lederhosen) and we were taught to dance the Viennese waltz.  We also had day trips to Erlaufsee, a beautiful lake with a hiking trail, and into the city of Mariazell to tour the basilica and a schnapps factory.

After barely getting any sleep at orientation, everyone packed up their stuff and we were shipped off to Vienna to finally move into our apartments.  And, wow, it was totally worth the wait.  I live in Vienna's 6th district, only a 20 minute walk from the center of the city.  There are a ton of things to do, like the naschmarkt, various types of restaurants, and stunning parks.  I have only lived here two days, but I know this place will grow to feel like home.

IES warned students there might be some ups and downs while we're abroad.  According to them, I'm still in the first phase of being in a new country, where everything is new and exciting and culture shock just hasn't hit me yet.  I recognize that European life is very different from what I'm use to in the United States, but I am so open to everything I have experienced so far that I think I will be very willing to adjust myself to assimilate to the Viennese lifestyle.   Isn't that what study abroad is about? I want to push myself to see what I am capable of and learn from mistakes I will inevitably make while I'm here.  I hope to gain a new perspective on the world and on my inner self. 

And So It Begins

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Hello everyone! It has been quite the week for travelling for me.  Last Tuesday, I set off for my study abroad and arrived in Vienna early Wednesday morning.  But, before I could move into my apartment in the city, IES Abroad took all of the students to a family Hostel in Mariazell, Austria for a three-day orientation.  Mariazell is a small city three hours away from Vienna in a region called Styria.  It is mostly known for its winter sports and beautiful basilica.

Thankfully, there were no name-games at this orientation.  IES wanted the students to meet the staff and each other, grow comfortable with being away from home, and learn a little about what it's like to live in Austria.  We had a traditional Austrian night (so, so many lederhosen) and we were taught to dance the Viennese waltz.  We also had day trips to Erlaufsee, a beautiful lake with a hiking trail, and into the city of Mariazell to tour the basilica and a schnapps factory.

After barely getting any sleep at orientation, everyone packed up their stuff and we were shipped off to Vienna to finally move into our apartments.  And, wow, it was totally worth the wait.  I live in Vienna's 6th district, only a 20 minute walk from the center of the city.  There are a ton of things to do, like the naschmarkt, various types of restaurants, and stunning parks.  I have only lived here two days, but I know this place will grow to feel like home.

IES warned students there might be some ups and downs while we're abroad.  According to them, I'm still in the first phase of being in a new country, where everything is new and exciting and culture shock just hasn't hit me yet.  I recognize that European life is very different from what I'm use to in the United States, but I am so open to everything I have experienced so far that I think I will be very willing to adjust myself to assimilate to the Viennese lifestyle.   Isn't that what study abroad is about? I want to push myself to see what I am capable of and learn from mistakes I will inevitably make while I'm here.  I hope to gain a new perspective on the world and on my inner self. 

A Taste of Argentina's Roots

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Before I launch into my experience in Argentina's countryside, I want to clarify my last blog post. There are two places you can take classes through IES--at the IES center itself and at local Argentine universities. My last post was referring to my trial run of classes at a local Argentine university (USAL). While I will not be taking classes at USAL, I will be taking a full semester's worth of classes at the IES center--all in Spanish. I'm not just taking an incredible four-month hiatus from the real world.

Now that that's out of the way, I've got to tell you all about my taste of Argentina's roots at La Estancia--a ranch in the countryside. First, a little background: Argentina has a blended identity--one part "civilized" immigrants and the other native cultivators of the land. The gauchos are, in essence, the quintessential cowboys that lived along the frontier. Two weeks ago, we got to experience this more serene side of Argentina.

It was great to escape the smoke-filled airs of the city for a day and relax in the sunshine at La Estancia. We watched the animals roaming around the farm, listened to traditional gaucho music, and sampled the typical Argentine "asado." The music was passionate and melancholy, and seemed to evoke the national sentiment of the gauchos. The food was...an experience. They had a lot of bread, of course, and A LOT of meat. There was chorizo, chicken, beef, pork, and the one I had been waiting to try...morcilla, a.k.a. blood sausage. Three years ago, I wouldn't even have allowed that to touch my plate. But, I turned over a new leaf a few years ago, and now I'm on a mission to taste (almost) everything once. I apologize to anyone who likes morcilla, but it was definitely one of the most disgusting foods I have ever eaten. It tastes a lot worse than it looks in this picture. Bleh! The texture was like paté, and the taste was indescribable. I'm glad I can check that off the bucket list, because I don't intend to repeat that experience.

 

To close out the day, we watched the Doma India, who is, in essence, a "horse whisperer," do acrobatics with his horse. It was very intimate and intense--the connection this man had with his horse. Apparently, he's world-renowned, so it was a privilege to see a private performance.

 

While the day trip was wonderful, I continued my string of embarrassing touristy mishaps that night: It was 11 PM, and my friend and I were hungry. We just wanted a quick, cheap dinner, so we decided to check out a cute little Italian place near her apartment. We sat down, opened the menus, and then immediately looked at each other wide-eyed--"Uh-oh." Thinking that we were grabbing something cheap, I had only brought about 150 pesos--the equivalent of $15 in the states. Everything on the menu had three (Argentine) dollar signs. But, we couldn't just get up and leave--that would probably be a faux pas. We were stuck, so we ordered one meal and one water bottle to share (yes, you pay for the water here), and laughed our way through dinner. I'm pretty sure our faces were as red as the sauce by the time we left. Stupid Americans. Naturally, we drowned our embarrassment in delicious gelato and retreated to our beds.

 

Sorry that this post was so long, but there is even more to come! I finally started my  internship and spent a wonderful weekend by the waterfalls of Iguaz IMG_0599.JPGIMG_0621.JPGIMG_0613.JPGIMG_0627.JPG




Vienna Waits for Me

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Hi! My name is Amy Tizio and in almost 24 hours I leave for my study abroad in Vienna, Austria.  I've waited for this day for so long, I can't believe it's almost here.

Before I get into all the details of my soon-to-be great adventure, I'm going to introduce myself a little bit more.  I'm a junior studying Public Relations with minors in Spanish and International Studies and I was born and raised in New Jersey.  I am involved with the Penn State Thespians and No Refund Theatre (miss you guys!) and absolutely love doing anything creative.  I've dreamt of going abroad ever since my brother went to Italy for a semester and had the time of his life.  Now it's my turn!

My study abroad is run through IES Abroad and my program is called European Society & Culture.  I picked Vienna because from all my research (which I did A LOT of, trust me) I figured it would be the best place for me to experience Europe.  I have not been to Vienna, but I have heard it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  It offers amazing art, food, and culture, and is rich with fascinating history.  It is also centrally located within Europe, making it extremely easy to travel, which I plan on doing a lot of on the weekends.

I look forward to using this blog to document my journey and share my experiences with other students. I hope my time abroad will inspire others to take a chance and see what the world has to offer.

Out of my league...

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Woah. I attended my first classes at a local university this week--at Universidad del Salvador, to be exact. They were rough...

 

I tested the waters with an Informative Journalism workshop and what I thought was International Business, but was actually International Negotiation. "Negocio" means business in Spanish, so I assumed that "negociación" fell under the same umbrella. Nope--it's different.

 

The journalism class seemed promising. I understood the theory discussion, and I loved the professor. He was engaging, easy to understand, and would probably receive a chili pepper on Rate My Professors (which doesn't hurt). But then, he told us to write...and that's when I probably looked like a deer in headlights. My Spanish writing level is probably closer to 4th grade than the required 8th grade level for print journalism. So, you can imagine how well that assignment went.

 

Next, came the International Negotiation class. This class is for fourth year students studying International Relations. From what I could understand, there was a lot of background knowledge I was lacking, so I crossed that class off the list.

 

Even with all the aforementioned blunders, these classes gave me a great glimpse into the life of a 20-year old Argentine. While there are many similarities between Argentine and United States universities, there are some distinct cultural differences worth mentioning:

 

1.     "Only God deserves an A" here. The emphasis is not on achieving a perfect GPA--it's on passing the class and understanding the material. On a grading scale of 0 to 10, a passing grade of 5 equals success.

2.     Professors aren't expected to be at a student's beck and call. On the contrary, many run out of the classroom as soon as they're done teaching. And--they arrive after all the students--usually late.

3.     While some professors back in the states like to foster a laid-back atmosphere, here it's extremely informal. The two professors I observed didn't prepare a colorful presentation with interactive clicker questions. They wrote a few things on the board and talked to us about the topic, with students interjecting throughout the lecture.

4.     If your professor provides you with a notes packet, take the time to thank them. In Buenos Aires, you fend for yourself. Here, students bring a notebook and pen and write down everything, because this will become their bible for test prep.

5.     Students aren't expected to spend their life-savings on books here, either. They can pick up a photo-copied text in the student center for FREE. I'm 100% in favor of this custom.

 

Thus, instead of killing myself to try to measure up to an impossible standard, I'm going to try my hand at some competitive internships and local dance or music classes. Maybe I'll master the tango after all! Next week, I have a series of interviews with both Argentine and American companies, so I hope to find a good fit and really get a taste of what it's like to work abroad.

 

I'll keep you posted! ¡Ciao!


P.S. The above picture is from the USAL website, because I forgot to take one when I was scrambling toingreso.jpg find my class.

 


A Few Weeks Ago

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Our flight out of Amman, Jordan left a little before one o'clock July 25th. It was a relief to finally get on the plane. It seems the closer you get to departure the more you long to finally be home. Yet, the second I stepped on the plane I realized how much I had missed while I was there. Due to the conflict we weren't allowed our trip to Jerusalem, which in all likelihood would have been the highlight of the trip, at least for me. Then while we were in Jordan, we never saw more than the hotel. I would have loved to explore the city and of course see Petra. I found myself longing for one more day in Akko, the possibility of one last field trip to another place of which I never heard and one more look from the tel out over the Mediterranean.
I have so many stories to tell about my first adventure out of the country. Every moment felt brand new, in some ways it felt like a dream and in others I was reminded of the harsh realities of the world in which we live.  In any case, I have no regrets in my decision to travel to Israel. More importantly and with a firm stance, I have no regrets about becoming an archaeologist. With my first archaeological experience officially over, I can't help but look forward to the next one. I would love to come back to Akko next year, at the same time I would love to visit Egypt, Peru, Mexico, Jordan once again, and any other place with a historic and ancient past. I have so much more to learn and I am ready and up to the task. I have accomplished much and I hope that this is only the beginning of an exciting, enlightening and adventurous career as an archaeologist and so much more

"El tango es uno"

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"El tango es uno" translates to "the tango is one" or "there is only one tango," and it's one of the most well known sayings about the Argentine dance. Essentially, it means that there is a certain way to dance the tango, a certain feeling, a certain characteristic that sets it apart from all other dances. I finally got a taste of that this past week!

Another common saying is "para bailar bien el tango, hay que aprender a caminar bien," which translates to "to dance tango well, one has to learn to walk well." Our instructor kept repeating, "You're just walking. Don't think too much." That explains why I wasn't the star of the class today... He said that tango is another language, and you have to learn to feel and trust it--no  translating, as he put it.

With that being said, I think I did pretty well for my first try! Tango truly is magnificent both to watch and to dance. It's an important flavor of the Argentine culture--my favorite next to dulce de leche. After this trip, I'm either going to come back a master bailarina or 20 pounds heavier.

Fingers crossed that the first one comes true ;)

P.S. Sorry that it's taken me so long to post--the Wifi in my homestay is very spotty, so I haven't been able to post to my blog. I'm on a mission to find a go-to cafe where I can enjoy a little cup of café con leche and access the Internet much faster!IMG_0473.JPG

Jordan goes to Jordan

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                The universities decided to cut our trip a few days short due to the ongoing tensions in Israel and while many were sad to leave I'm sure we were already to go home.   So early yesterday morning we boarded a bus and were escorted to the border which was about two hours away. Once we crossed the border we spent a few hours getting through customs and border control then we met another escort who traveled with us to Amman where we are to catch our flights. Jordan has a much harsher desert climate than Israel does, as we traveled through the towns and small cities we were surrounded by mountains of sand and at times it would cover the roads for kilometers. It took several hours before we reached our airport hotel, which is easily one of the best hotels I've ever stayed in. Our rooms are great and for dinner we were treated with some of the best Middle Eastern foods and desserts we've had since our arrival. Sadly, after dinner some of us were scheduled on early flights some of which left around midnight. There were some emotional goodbyes but those who stayed hung out one last night before our trip finally comes to an end. 

Ready. Set. Let go...!

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Off to B.A. copy.pdf

I'm sitting in an international airport alone, waiting to get on a flight that will take me to another CONTINENT. Wow. That's pretty incredible.

 This trip is two years in the making, and it's finally here. I'm about to study in another country, live with two strangers, and intern for a foreign company. ...Sorry if I'm sounding redundant... I just can't wrap my head around it.

 Somehow, I managed to pack my life into two suitcases...overweight though they may be. Now that I've handed them over, I finally have some time to reflect on how I ended up here.

 Coming to college, I didn't know what I wanted to major in or even what student org.s I wanted to join. The only thing about which I was adamant was studying abroad. 

 I've always seemed to have an affinity for other cultures. Just take a look at the beautiful rainbow that comprises my friend circle, and you'll know exactly what I mean. I'm passionate about connecting with others, and I think the fundamental way to do so is to speak the same language and experience their culture. 

I've been studying Spanish since 8th grade, so this journey is a leap toward my middle school goal of fluency and understanding. While my language skills are a bit rusty, my determination is stronger than ever. 

For a delayed introduction...I'm a rising Junior double majoring in Marketing and Broadcast Journalism with minors in Spanish and International Business. I'll be participating in the Advanced Spanish Immersion program in the hope of honing my Spanish-speaking skills. When I'm not dreaming about adventures around the world, I'm either singing, acting, or... planning. I'm kind of a control freak, so this trip is completely out of my comfort zone!

I don't know exactly what classes I'll be taking or even when I'll be returning to the states, but I'm actually excited by that. For once in my life, I'm ready to relinquish control. 

So, without further adieu, it's time to say:

Ready. Set. Let go...!

 


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