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The Story Wall

Where: St. Andrews, Scotland, UK

"Cold salty air, single malt whiskey, a statue of William Wallace that bears an uncanny resemblance to Mel Gibson, and deep fried everything."

— Dr. Eric Abbey, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Where: Zaire, Israel, India, and Singapore

"We thought it would be both challenging and fun to teach abroad for two years, however our journey lasted 19 years! Why? Because our time serving in American international schools in Zaire, Israel, India and Singapore gave our family the opportunity to engage in diverse and lifelong relationships that continue to enrich our lives. Our international experiences enabled us to see the global landscape and view world events with a deep respect and understanding far beyond what we could have imagined if we remained only in the US. As an EWU professor, I know that my experiences beyond the US strengthened my classroom interactions with students and, I hope, facilitated the free flow of ideas."

— Dr. Harvey Alvy, Department of Education

A Gift from Ghana

Where: Ghana

In 2009 I went to Ghana which is in West Africa. I was a graduate student at Michigan State University in the African American and African Studies Program. I always wanted to go to the motherland, and an opportunity through the School of Social Work allowed me that opportunity for a month in the summer.

Ghana is the first sub-saharan African nation to gain independence from colonialism. And as the Gold Coast, it was a major port for the middle passage and the transporting of African people into the west. This is where my people originate. The most influential place I visited there was Elmina Castle. This is where future slaves were housed up to 3 months as they waited to be shipped across the Atlantic. Do not be confused by the name, it was not a castle for the Africans imprisoned there.

I loved the PEOPLE. If you visit Ghana the locals will ask "how do you see Ghana?" I always state that the people are what make the country great. There is just joy amongst everyone. You are family. You are loved. You are welcome. Akwaaba!

The greatest gift Ghana gave me was/is my husband of 4 years. I met him on that study abroad trip and I have been back there 4 more times. I will always return to Ghana, and it has become my home.

13 Countries by Euro Rail

Where: Europe, and more

"At the age of 18 I traveled Europe on an American Heritage tour. We had backpacks and Euro rail passes. Thirteen countries and thirty cities later we were exhausted, but we had had a life changing experience. Experiencing such a vast variety of cultures was eye opening. Learning how others live, work, eat and transport themselves is fascinating. It became clear to me that the USA is not the center of the universe, that people elsewhere are not frightening or strange, but loving, kind, interesting and generous. I also learned how to travel and investigate; how to solve complex problems in unusual circumstances. This experience was a stepping stone to a lifetime of international career travel that has been the most wonderful adventure ever!"

— Roberta Brooke, Director of MBA Programs

Harmony in a Greek Amphitheater

Where: Greece

"In October 2010 I traveled to Loutraki Greece (on the Gulf of Corinth) to participate in a conference on Oncology and Molecular Medicine. I met other researchers from all over the world, and it was great to share research I performed with EWU students with such a diverse audience. I met some German researchers who had rented a car and we went to Epidaurus, which was fitting as it was a healing center in the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. There is an ancient Greek amphitheater at the site with incredible acoustics. I was treated to the full acoustical effects as a group of tourists broke out in song! A few days later the conference organizers took us on a bus trip to Olympia. I enjoyed sharing the countryside views of the Peloponnesian peninsula with my new found friends from other continents. Seeing the site of the original Olympics was incredible. Our tour guide was excellent and told us what each structure on the site was used for in the process of preparing and participating in the Olympic events. I feel fortunate to have witnessed these structures of antiquity, see efforts to preserve them, and learn about the culture of ancient Greece as I networked with researchers from around the globe."

— Dr. Nicholas Burgis, Chemistry and Biochemistry Department

Goats, Swahili, and Geometric Probability

Where: Tanzania

"I spent most of 2010 in Tanzania as a Fulbright Scholar, teaching and doing research on statistical literacy, and my favorite memories are of things unexpected. For example, watching a tethered goat in a field paired with a wise old saying in Swahili gave rise to a delightful question involving geometric probability. Playing a game outdoors at an orphanage ended up in a lesson about random walks, and a discussion about the prevalence of albinism in the country led to a study about sampling. In opening myself up to the people and culture of Tanzania, both my personal and professional lives were immeasurably enriched in ways I'd not even imagined. It was truly a remarkable experience."

— Dr. Daniel Canada, Department of Mathematics

 

A Passion for Languages and Tapas

Where: Granada, Spain

"I studied in Granada Spain in 2014. Granada is a small city, it's perfect for the new adventurer. In Granada I fell in love with the language, and the culture. Living in Spain has created a passion in me for learning languages. One great thing about Granada is the food. For every drink you order you receive a tapa with it. I fell in love with this lifestyle, and can't wait to go back."

— Jared Dineen, Study Abroad Alumnus

 

Music in Kristiansand

Where: Norway

"I traveled to Kristiansand, Norway, to study music. It was a small city located at the very southern tip of the country and the landscape reminded me a lot of the Seattle area. The mountains and the fjords were stunning, and completing a 10 hour hike to Trolltunga (a rock jutting out over a 2200 ft cliff next to a fjord) was one of the highlights of my trip abroad. It was awesome to make friends with other exchange students, as well as perform a final concert with very talented Norwegians who helped me become a better musician. Such an eye opening and growing experience even though I was only there for 5 months!"

— Aimee Dursma, Study Abroad Alumnus

 

Meeting Sara and Luis

Where: Oviedo, Spain

"I studied abroad because my best friend was going to France so I thought, I might as well go overseas, too! I loved, most of all, my host family, a retired couple named Sara y Luis, who were communists during the civil war and the Franco era. Luis courted Sara during the war by climbing the tree outside her bedroom window; they could tell things were getting really bad in the war because Luis got so skinny that he could almost reach the top of the tree. Sara fed me wholesome meals of tortilla, puré, occasionally a seafood paella, jamón serrano, or my favorite, fabada asturiana. Luis (y también Sara) talked with me for hours on end about Spanish politics and history. I will never forget how I cried the first week I was there because I couldn’t understand their Castilian Spanish, but how they welcomed me back several times in years following with open arms to their small flat."

Where: Copenhagen, Denmark

"I loved, most of all, riding my bike all over the city: from my apartment on Frederiksberg to the downtown area, or to Nyhavn, or anywhere: the entire city is nearly flat, with some beautiful bridges and parks. Everyone rides bicycles in the bike-lanes, which are as well connected and well signed as any street: women in business skirts, men in suits, schoolchildren, kiosk-working immigrants from Bosnia or Somalia, construction workers in those ubiquitous orange pants that are characteristic Danish style. I loved the late summer nights and the lightness that came with living in this youthful, peaceful, sea-oriented city where income inequality wasn't so noticeable, elderly people walked without fear both day and night, and men would cart their pølsen (hotdog) stands down the street late every evening, to be pulled back downtown again the next day."

— Dr. Kristin Edquist, Director of International Affairs Program

 

Helping Guatemalans and Each Other

Where: Guatemala

"In 2009 I went with a dozen EWU Honors students to Guatemala for two weeks. We spent our first week helping Peace Corps workers and their Guatemalan friends address air and water-quality issues and the second week backpacking in the western highlands of Guatemala. We all ended up helping some Guatemalans and helping each other. Afterwards students told me it was a life-changing trip."

— Dr. Dana C. Elder, Director of University Honors

 

Discovering Fears and Dreams

Where: The World

"I have always wondered why some people are more inclined to travel than others. Exploring and learning from other cultures is about discovering ourselves: our fears, our dreams and our feelings. Some people, unfortunately, ignore their potential."

— Dr. José García-Sánchez, Department of Modern Languages

 

The Scholar Gardens of Suzhou

Where: Greece

"Greece is one of my favorite places to travel. I have been there 5 times and I’m currently planning a sixth visit for this summer. The museums and ancient ruins are always incredible! Yet, I have also found Greece has much more to offer than just its ancient history and past greatness. It is very much alive with tremendous passion, hospitality, and an earnest hope for the future. During my first visit in 2005, I made many new Greek friends who welcomed me into their homes for amazing food, wine, and conversation. These are friendships that are still strong today!"

Where: China

"During spring break of 2012, I travelled to China with a handful of Eastern honors students. We saw all of the major sites… the Great Wall, the Summer Palace, the Terra Cotta Warriors, just to name a few… and they were all amazing! But, my favorite part of the trip was the time we spent in Suzhou, the canal city, a place of amazing beauty and tradition. We visited the famous scholar gardens there (on which the Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland is modeled) and we also took a tour of a nearby tea plantation. The Dragon Well tea we enjoyed there has been grown for generations by the same family. They are truly tea-growing gong-fu masters!"

— Dr. Christopher Kirby, Philosophy Department

 

Buses that Don't Stop

Where: Nicaragua

"I travel to Nicaragua on a regular basis to teach English and carry out qualitative research. It is the surprise of Nicaraguan culture that keeps my mind fresh and young--buses that don't stop completely, with potential riders running after them and jumping on through the back emergency door; people politely asking 'con permiso?' before entering a room; constant fireworks to celebrate what feels like everything. But, it is the getting to know people there that keeps me coming back. When I first traveled to Nicaragua I noticed the poverty; with each subsequent trip among close families and committed communities, I no longer see theirs but only see my own."

— Dr. Gina Mikel Petrie, Modern Language Department

 

Bonds that Transcend Distance

Where: Thailand

"I lived and worked in northern Thailand for a total of nine years. For five years I taught at Chiang Mai International School in Chiang Mai. After four years back in the U.S., I returned to serve as the foreign head of the same school for four more years. My children still think of Chiang Mai as their true home. We loved eating Thai food in the local cafes for around a dollar a plate, the colorful Thai festivals, traveling into the surrounding mountains, and especially our vacations on the beautiful Andaman coast of southern Thailand. What we value most from our time in Thailand, however, are the friendships and relationships we developed with people from all over the world, not just Thailand. We now have friends from Australia, Japan, Korea, India, Pakistan, China, Scotland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Singapore and other parts of the U.S. We look forward to seeing them whenever we get the chance as we now share a timeless bond that transcends the distance we currently live from each other."

— Dr. Lance Potter, Director of Educational Leadership Program

 

Crushing on Bourdain

Where: Fiji

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a crush on Anthony Bourdain. His first major TV show, No Reservations, hit me in the face like a brick. In his rendition of a travel show, Bourdain challenged traditional and nontraditional portrayals of culture through food and cuisine. Though self-admittedly crass at times, Bourdain has an unbelievable capacity to offer critical perspectives of people, politics, and place. As I personally began expanding my international travel radius, I continually found myself influenced by shows like No Reservations as well as newer concepts such as the CNN blockbuster Parts Unknown. I deliberately sought the out “non-Lonely Planet” style experiences recommended by Bourdain that were off the beaten path and sometimes even questionable, at least through the eyes of my mom.

On one trip to the South Pacific islands of Fiji, I once had the opportunity to go on an interior jungle wild boar hunt, not exactly the sand and surf that has made Fiji famous. These hunts were the traditional Sunday afternoon activity, similar to football in America. Growing up in a rural Midwestern town, I was an avid hunter and was very excited for the opportunity to harvest a boar. Little did I know what I was in for. The jungle of Fiji is just that—a steep, rainy, treacherous place with a reputation to be very unforgiving. Wild boar hunting in Fiji basically consists of setting a pack of dogs on a scent trail and then running at full speed in pursuit of the boar. Once the dogs caught wind of a boar, they don’t stop at anything until they get to their goal. The trick is to keep up with the dogs so they don’t damage the meat when they get to the animal. Oh and by the way, your only weapon is a knife.

I made it about a mile before I couldn’t take any more. It was just too much for me. The Fijians I was hunting with were much faster and stronger than me, all the while not wearing any shoes. It was a truly humbling experience for me to get so physically destroyed so quickly. The Fijians kept on with their hunt as I skulked back up the trail to the village.

When the hunting party returned with a wild boar in tow, they were all smiles, laughing and telling stories of the hunt. Their humor was beautiful. It was a moment of gratitude and good fortune, not accolades and competition. They had showed me an unabashed view of Fijian pig hunting without ever worrying about getting a trophy to brag about.

 

In the end, I know this would not have been an experience that Bourdain himself would have enjoyed, for he is not the biggest fan of physical exertion. However, it was his encouragement to make myself vulnerable that allowed me to partake in such an adventure. As we roasted the boar for the community to enjoy at the end of the day, I couldn’t help but think I of how much I enjoyed the Fijian manner of harvesting wild boar, despite receiving quite a beatin’ from the jungle.

— Jeremy Schultz, Recreation Management

A View of the World Changed

Where: Australia

"Australia was my first time going abroad and it is one that I will never forget. My first day there, I met a really cool Australian guy named Anthony. He kind of took me under his wing. He showed me around the school campus, introduced me to his friends and helped me buy groceries. The thing that I remember is waiting to get financial aid so I could buy food and things he loaned me 50 AUD to just get by until my money came. I think from this point my whole view of the world and its people completely changed."

Where: Ireland

"This was my second trip abroad and it was amazing. I lived with 7 other people in a 6 bedroom house. I met people from France, Germany and Italy. We became very close in a matter of months. Always going out together and hanging out. The food in Ireland was very good at your traditional Irish pub. I got to see pretty much all of West and North Ireland. I did a 6 month Internship/part-time job at a coffee company called Insomnia. They were the best company to work for. I worked with people from Poland, Lithuania, Brazil, Czech Republic and Ireland. They were very nice and even gave me a gift basket after I finished my internship."

Other Countries Visited: New Zealand, Norway, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Turkey, United Kingdom

— Adam Stewart, Study Abroad Alumnus

 

Always Leave Wanting More

Where: Lima, Peru

"I have traveled to Lima, Peru four times since being at EWU. From traveling, to taking classes at a local university, to working for an NGO, I have done it. I am so drawn to Peru because it has everything to offer. The industries of healthcare, gastronomy, and tourism are forever booming. I have gained so much from each experience that it always leaves me wanting more. I can’t wait to see what adventures lie ahead!"

— Alex Troyer, Study Abroad Alumnus

 

Blessing Cars and Building Friendships

Where: Guanajuato, Mexico

"As a business student who was trying to acquire proficiency in Spanish, I took the opportunity to participate in a yearlong study abroad program to the 500 year old colonial city of Guanajuato in Mexico.  I thoroughly enjoyed the rhythm of life in my adopted community where it was about learning to relax into whatever happened along your path.  I discovered a richness in my second language by spending time with friendly people around family dinner tables and learning about why their new vehicle was going to be blessed by the priest of their church or how city firefighter services responded to house fires when there were very few city streets to access properties by.  Best of all, it was about stretching and redefining my views on the world and building lifelong friendships in exchange."

— Shannon Turner, Career Advisor