Indiana University Overseas Study

A New Home

Frankie Salzman - Jerusalem

“Where are you from?” a common icebreaker question simple for some to answer, while greatly complex for others. Personally, it’s always been easy. “Indiana. More specifically Carmel, right outside Indianapolis.” But ask me where “home” is, and my answer will be much more layered.

I am writing this post shortly before leaving for the Rotherberg School at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. After a 10-hour flight from New York I will arrive in the Holy Land at 5:30 AM and begin the next ten months of my life. I am not from Israel and I’ve only ever been there on a 10-day trip for young Jewish adults known as “birthright” two summers ago. Despite this unfamiliarity, this is the place I will be calling home for both my fall and spring semesters.

In some ways, Israel already feels like home to me. It’s the homeland of the Jewish people, a country for those of my faith. I rejoice in knowing that I will be able to experience religious holidays in a Jewish setting. However, there is also a great deal for me still to learn. From the food, to the people, to the weather, Israel is such a different place than Indiana where I have lived my whole life up until this point. The longest I will have ever been away from the Hoosier state before this trip will have been for six weeks, a much smaller number than ten months.

But I am prepared to take on this challenge. I cannot wait to begin making a home out of Jerusalem and Israel. I have a vast list of goals to accomplish-some as small as shopping at the shook (outdoor market) every week for fresh produce and baked goods to grand adventures like visiting the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa. I am excited for the numerous friends I hope to make and the countless memories I will create. I am also giddy with anticipation for the things that I could have never known needed to be on that to do list, and I am stoked to have this platform to dissect, analyze, reflect, and share my journey.

Throughout my life, I have made many places into homes. I have been privileged to have my summers filled with a variety of camps and internships, and at each location I learned how to build a home. Now I have the even greater privilege of constructing a home in an entirely different country, and for the first time in my life I will be able to fulfill the phrase all Jews say at the end of their Passover Seders-“!בירושלים הבאה לשנה” “Next year in Jerusalem!”

Frankie Salzman - further his language and culture studies at the source

Off to Argentina

Vincent Halloran - Buenos Aires

As I find myself in transit to “BA,” as I am told the locals refer to the Argentine capital, I am considering the many motivations that have led me to embark on this semester abroad. This journey is about more than just solidifying my ability to speak Spanish, it is about embracing a lifestyle without borders. I refuse to live constricted to Indiana or even the United States; I know I will benefit throughout my personal and professional life by taking on this experience while still in my formative college years. After so much reading about Argentina’s culture and history, I cannot wait to be on the ground to experience it firsthand.

In the past, I have been lucky to study abroad in central Mexico and San José, Costa Rica; these experiences have provided me with a unique background which I may reference in future posts. I will often look to juxtapose Argentine realities with my time in other Latin American nations and even the United States. I expect Argentina to have more in common with the capitals of Europe or uniquely opulent North American cities like Montreal than with Mexico City or the Costa Rican capital. I will attempt to continually relate my time here with previous experiences in hopes of drawing more thoughtful conclusions about life abroad. My posts will often focus specifically on comparing and contrasting the democratic realities of Argentina against the backdrop of a potentially pivotal presidential election later this fall.

In Buenos Aires, I hope to experience everything the so-called “Paris of South America” has to offer, from incredible national museums to the famous street cafés in the city center. Beyond the unique places I will be able to go, the people I will meet and learn from are what I am looking forward to most. The Argentine capital is not only physically distant from our Hoosier home, but culturally distinct as well. This cultural immersion, which will put me in the midst of an incredibly diverse global city, will allow me to move beyond the homogeneity of Indiana. My ultimate goal is to be comfortable amongst as many cultures as possible, so that I can become a citizen of the world rather than just Bloomington – as much as I have grown to love it. My bags are packed, now all that is left to do is to get there!

Vincent Halloran - analyzing Argentine political and economic models

Marie Kalas - Valparaiso

That question is the most awkward way to break up the sentiment of saying goodbye to a best friend for five months, and that’s just what I decided to do on my last night in the states.

It honestly hasn’t hit me at all yet, so as my friends and aunts are crying that I’m leaving, I’m just wondering when all the hugging will be over. To me, leaving the country for five months isn’t much different than going from Chicago to Indiana University for fall semester. The only real holiday I’m missing is Thanksgiving, but other than that, I wouldn’t be seeing my friends or family between August and December. Granted, it is only July and I’m losing a month of summer, but it’s not like much else is different.

I think what’s so scary about this whole studying abroad in Valparaiso, Chile thing is the fact that no one can make empty promises that they’re going to come visit me. Being four hours away from school, my friends, parents, and aunts can all tell me they’re going to come down to visit, but we all know they aren’t actually going to. Leaving for Chile, no one has said, “Oh well maybe if I have a weekend, I’ll come down and visit you!” Instead people are giving me tips on how to survive and not be robbed—which is just a bizarre thing to give advice about. I’m a 20-year-old girl, going to a foreign country alone, where I’m scared to death that I’m not going to understand anything anyone is saying. Telling me I need to sit where the bus driver can see me just in case someone tries to stab me is not going to help me calm down, Target cashier.

That’s what I’m most afraid of—not the being stabbed on a bus and dying alone in a foreign country scenario—but the language barrier I’ll have with everyone around me. Technically, I’ve taken Spanish since I was in third grade and am planning to have one of my majors be Spanish, however, I can barely speak enough to order a burrito at Chipotle. Give me a book to read, an essay to write, or a subject to be taught, and I’m golden. Then ask me to tell a story, and I can promise you that you’ll regret wasting an hour of your time as I Google Translate every word I don’t know.

I guess those are the things I’ll be updating people on the most—leaving a large, over-emotional family behind while trying to build a relationship with my new, Spanish-speaking family. I’d say I’m sad about leaving in 12 hours, but I really just don’t believe it’s actually happening.

So I think it’s emotionally appropriate to end on a joke my neighbor told me.

“Bring lots of oyster crackers!” “Why?” “Cause you’ll be in Chile!”

Marie Kalas - immersing herself in Chilean language and community

Sarah Whaley

My last holiday before leaving Oceania was to the Top End of the NT. In other words, the northernmost segment of Northern Territory Australia. The Australia everyone thinks of when they think of the land down under: red dirt, termite mounds and crocodiles. Home of Crocodile Dundee and the land of two seasons, wet and dry.

bridge in woods

Northern Territory: It doesn’t get much more Crocodile Dundee than this.

July is in the midst of the dry season, meaning water levels are down, you’re less likely to stumble across crocodiles in your swimming hole and the heat isn’t humid and oppressive, at least on the coast. When I got off my red-eye flight at 1:25 a.m. I welcomed the change in temperature from chilly Adelaide. Finally I could wear all those summer clothes I’d brought to Australia, mid-winter.

I chose to not do the touristy thing in the NT and stay in website-recommended hotels. Instead I lived with friends from St Mark’s, Callan and Glen. I chose to let them show me the places they love rather than the Lonely Planet Top 10. I still ended up seeing half of the Top 10 and cramming several weeks’ worth of attractions into one.

My first three days were spent in Darwin, the largest city in the sparsely populated NT. I flew in on Territory Day, the anniversary of self-governance being handed down to the Territory by the Commonwealth Government. Its finale is known more commonly as Cracker Night because for one day only proud Territorians can purchase and set off fireworks (much to the dismay of volunteer firefighters). I watched fireworks spring forth from the beaches of Darwin’s many bays as my plane landed.

Over the next three days, Callan showed me many of the places I had seen by the light of the fireworks that first night. Casuarina beach and Callan’s personal favorite, East Point Reserve. During World War II, East Point served as a military base for the defense of Darwin and today you can explore the gun emplacements and tunnel entryways that remain. The reserve is also a favorite place for wildlife like wallabies and bush turkeys, which build nests of dirt and plant matter several times larger than themselves. They are best seen by biking the off-road trails in the early evening.

biking through the woods

My first experience off-road biking to see wallabies.

Callan and I ran down to the coast to watch the sunset every night in Darwin. The first night we watched from a lookout on our way to Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, a magical place that draws what seems like the entire city to the beach for exotic foods, artisan wares and variety performances. The advantage of markets in the NT weather is that they can be open regularly year-round. While tourists love the markets as much as the regulars, it’s fun to watch the regulars banter with the vendors they know so well.


First sunset in Darwin.

Crowd gathered around performer

A performer at Mindil Beach Sunset Markets.

My last full day in Darwin was the busiest, and also the 4th of July. Callan and I woke up early to drive to Kakadu National Park and take a jumping crocodile cruise on the Adelaide River. I never thought crocodiles would be so much scarier than sharks, but watching five meter male “salties” propel themselves out of the water towards a small clump of meat did the trick. The women who ran the cruise knew the crocodiles on that portion of the river well and had even named some of them, like Grover and Stumpy. They estimate for every crocodile you see above the muddy water, there are at least five others underwater nearby. We saw eight. In total, they estimate there could be anywhere from 2500 to 10,000 crocodiles in the Adelaide River alone and I will be the first to say I don’t want to find out. Some crazy tourists and Territorians with a death wish sometimes dare each other to swim across the river (at varying levels of intoxication) and it’s 50/50 whether they make it safely to the other side.

sitting on giant crocodile sculpture

Callan and I sit on a life-sized model of the largest croc ever caught in the Adelaide River.

crocodile leaping out of water for dangling meat

Grover, a 5 meter male “saltie,” leaps for buffalo meat.

After the cruise we headed to Berry Springs to swim. After watching crocodiles leap from water all morning, I wasn’t too keen on swimming, but the springs were wonderful. Looking at the water you’d think it was chlorinated because it’s so clear and beautiful. You can swim all the way from the bottom spring to the little falls at the top, which Callan and I did in spite of the current and the rocky shallow bits. It’s the ultimate natural swimming spot and I felt like a part of the nature around me as birds flitted in and out of the palms.

Group swimming by small falls

The small falls at the top of Berry Springs.

We wrapped up the 4th of July with a party and I met some of Callan’s Darwin friends. We went out on the town and even though Callan and I were exhausted when we returned to his home, we lit up some sparklers he’d saved for me so I could celebrate Independence Day the American way. He lit sparklers as well and listened to my rendition of “America the Beautiful,” probably one of the only Aussies to celebrate the American 4th.

Sarah with sparklers

Celebrating Independence Day while half a world away.

The next day my friend Glen and his brother David picked me up and we drove to Katherine. There I stayed with Glen’s family for a couple days, eating meals under the overhangs of the industrial shed turned home they live in. Like how the Weasley’s call their home “The Burrow” in Harry Potter, Glen’s family calls their home “The Shed.” While the rooms are sealed from wildlife entering them, the four main doors to the central living area remain open. They shared stories of snakes slithering above the dining table on the rafters and hearing wallaby tails hit the concrete floor as they hop through at night. During breakfast the wallabies were still often hanging about waiting for carrots to be tossed to them, including a mama wallaby with a joey in her pouch.

Glen and I toured all of his favorite spots in Katherine from Knotts Crossing to the low-level bridge to the incredible Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park. Each place came with its own crocodile warnings, and Glen pointed out some crocodile traps along the river banks. People were still swimming or kayaking at each stop! Even Glen and I waded around in the water at low-level bridge. After spending hot days out in the Australian sun it was nice the relax back at The Shed with Glen’s family and friends. His mom invited some of her colleagues over the last night for dinner so I could ask them some questions about their Indigenous cultures. During some dizzying explanations of Aboriginal family relations, we enjoyed fresh fish and kangaroo with rice.

Sarah and Glen selfie

Glen and I at the low-level bridge.

Sarah on deck overlooking gorge.

Posing at a gorge in Nitmiluk National Park.

My last day in the NT, Glen and I took a Nissan Patrol through Litchfield National Park on the way back to Darwin. It had a snorkel on it, a feature of many of the off-road vehicles in the NT. When water levels raise during the wet season, some people who live out bush have to ford through water just to get home. We didn’t have to ford any water because it was the dry season, but we did pass meter sticks informing drivers of water depth. After a brief stop in Adelaide River for some deep-fried broccoli, chicken, cheese balls, Glen and I checked out bush fires that were still burning, termite mounds several times the height of a person and the monsoon forest surrounding Wangi Falls. The park was breathtakingly beautiful, but also breathtakingly hot. As we drove off-road through the red dirt I found myself secretly praying the car wouldn’t break down because other cars didn’t pass by often and all that could be seen to either side were heaps of shadeless trees and bush. Finally I was experiencing the Australia I’d always imagined. I fell in love with the topography and the red dirt that clung to my shoes and water bottle, but I still didn’t want to be stranded out in it with no phone signal to call for help.

Sarah next to giant vertical "mound"

Me in comparison to a cathedral termite mound in Litchfield National Park.

SUV on road

Our trusty Patrol out on the red dirt roads.

We made it safely to Darwin and I spent my final hours in the NT exploring caves along the seaside cliffs with Callan and having dinner at the sailing club with his parents beside yet another gorgeous sunset. Callan gave me a book on the Top End as a gift before sitting in the airport with me until 2:25 a.m. for my flight back to Adelaide. I didn’t want to leave and cried for both the last time I would see Callan and Glen before leaving Australia and for having to leave the warmth and sunsets of the NT. Adelaide is great, but in the span of one week Top End stole my heart. It turns out the Australia I love the best is the Australia everyone imagines. The Australia full of animals that can kill you and plants that provide no shade, but also the Australia of unsurpassable beauty. Callan said that’s great and all, but I have to come back and experience the wet season before I decide I want to move there. In the words of Barney Stinson, “Challenge accepted.”

Coastal Sunset

Can you blame me for wanting to move here?

View all posts by Sarah

Emma Storen - Cape Town

If there is anything I have come to truly understand during my pre-departure process it is the commonly used statement “patience is a virtue.” Although my excitement for my semester in Cape Town, South Africa has been continuously growing, so have the pre-departure tasks and responsibilities. My patience has been continuously tested over the past few months through the process of obtaining my student visa, finalizing travel details, and planning for my actual time abroad.

Due to the length of my stay in South Africa I was required to obtain a student visa from the South African consulate in Chicago. There were about eleven documents that were required to obtain this visa. Although I began collecting these documents in mid-April, I ran into a few set backs and did not receive the visa until three days before my anticipated departure. The largest lessons I took away from this experience are to begin obtaining the required documents as soon as possible and to diligently track their progress (whether you are waiting for your background check, a medical report, or your passport with the attached visa).

Aside from the stress of obtaining the proper documentation for my stay, securing my travel plans also tested my patience. As can be imagined, the flights to South Africa are very long. Most travel days span between 36 and 48 hours. I was lucky enough to find an efficient set of flights with a total travel time of only 28 hours. However, three days before departure this trip was moved back an entire day making me arrive in Cape Town a day later than required by the program provider, CIEE. I rebooked my flight and arrived at the airport on the scheduled departure date. Only an hour before my scheduled departure time we were notified that the plane had been delayed and I was going to miss my connection. The airline had no choice but to rebook me. Normally, this situation would have caused me major anxiety due to my routine and detail orientated personality. However I took this situation as part of my experience and remained calm. My collected reaction to this stressful situation displayed to me the growth I have already had through this experience.

I am now more excited than ever to begin my semester in Cape Town! Many aspects of my stay are still unknown but again I have tried to frame this normally stressful aspect as a positive part of the study abroad experience.

Emma Storen - exploring the history and economy of Africa

Erik Trautman

June is the month of final get-togethers and goodbyes in Bologna. One late evening we sat under a dark misty sky in front of an illuminated IMAX screen in the middle of Piazza Maggiore for the annual event, “Il Cinema Ritrovato” (The Re-found Cinema), hosted by Cineteca Bologna. It was Friday night and Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society beamed through the drizzle projecting itself onto the dominating screen, which left San Petronio masked in darkness like I had never seen it before. Contrary to our departures, Bologna was hosting its first official alumni reunion and a few words were said before starting the show. This picture serves to show the grandness of the screen.

Bologna Reunion info on screen

Dead Poets Society playing on screen.

The following Saturday marked the official opening night and the piazza buzzed with the excitement of what seemed like the entire city in attendance as Ennio Morricone’s composition reverberated off the medieval stone during the screening of Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars, a spaghetti western staring Clint Eastwood. These last few nights served as a reminder that despite my grown familiarity with Bologna, I still haven’t seen the city in June, which is certainly to say under a different light.

Rewind to Saturday afternoon. I’m perched under a castle eating a sun-dried tomato, pickled pepper, and mozzarella sandwich at the peak on a hilltop town known as Dozza a few kilometers outside of Bologna.

friends having lunch outside

Map of Dozza

Storm clouds brew and bellow ominously down in the valley below, however, we continue with our lackadaisical pace. The atmosphere is quite and calm like in the eye of a storm and the streets are empty besides the occasional roaming cat. Behind us murals cloak every façade of the town; underneath them lay stone plaques etched with renowned names. A banner draped across the stage at the center of the city explains the “Cinquant’anni Biennale Muro Dipinto di Dozza” (Fifty Years Biennial Dozza Wall Mural), however, visiting Dozza is still a bit like falling down the rabbit hole.

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Fast-forward to this past weekend. I’m watching fireworks launch off the region building in Indianapolis from an apartment patio just off the canal. I’ve never seen the fireworks downtown before. I’ve brought my Italian friend with me and with her I’ve brought a whole new perspective to my hometown. She stops me to take photos of sights I would normally overlook as commonplace thus realizing the beauty of my home.

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I’ve made arrangements to return to Bologna to teach English for a year. I’ve met conflicting feelings after seeing what I must sacrifice to spend another year in Bologna, but I believe I’ve made the right decision. I don’t think I’ll have another opportunity like this and I have my whole life to focus on a career and be with my fellow Americans. I’d like to continue blogging if anyone is interested in following. I’d like to thank my family and friends for their patience and support, LAMP for helping fund this experience, and the From I to U blog for allowing me to tell my story. These last few weeks have reminded me that there is always more to discover even in your own backyard and for that the final Italian word is “scoprire” or discover.

View all posts by Erik

Kendall Machledt - Prague

After about two weeks in Prague, Czech Republic, I can finally say that I am beginning to get comfortable navigating the city and transitioning into the Czech customs.

I have certainly noticed a great deal of differences in culture thus far between home in Indiana and the Czech world. One of the most significant variations I have come across, and also my favorite, is the immense amount of dogs all over the city. And by all over, I mean on the trams, the metro (subway), the trains, inside shopping malls, and all over the sidewalks. These are the best-behaved dogs I have seen in my life. Most of them walk unleashed and just stick by their owner’s side.

On trams and the metro the dogs immediately lay under their human’s seat for the duration of the ride. The most common dogs in Prague definitely are of the smaller variety. There are so many variations of Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, and small Poodles. It is very common for people to carry their dogs in bags or their purses. It has been fun and intriguing to see how much Czechs incorporate their dogs into their culture and everyday life. The extreme presence of dogs does have a downside, however. Everywhere I walk, I have to make sure I am not about to step in a puddle (or mound) of hound droppings. It has been surprising to see how common it is for dog owners to not clean up after their pet on the streets.

Another key difference in the Czech Republic as compared to Indiana is how people treat others in public spaces. I was warned that Czechs are not the friendliest people, and that has definitely been accurate. It is expected for one to avoid looking at others, and especially making eye contact, while walking past them in any given place. It has been quite an adjustment for me to not look people in the eye and to avoid friendlily smiling at strangers. This custom does come in handy in the mornings however, when it is too early for class and you do not feel like talking to anyone anyway.

The language barrier is definitely a real thing here in the Czech Republic. Luckily, there are a lot of English speakers in Prague since it is such a large city. That being said, however, it is still questionable whether ordering food at any given restaurant will be a challenge or not. I have had an especially difficult time in regards to eating in the Czech Republic. Being a vegetarian, I knew that I was not putting myself in the simplest of situations by studying abroad in a meat-saturated country. Therefore, I have become quite familiar with the local grocery stores and outdoor markets. I often have to resort to brining along my own snacks on day trips and outings when the meals are not already planned.

Even though I have only been in Prague for a relatively short period of time, it is already beginning to feel like home. This past weekend each class went on a three-day trip to another place in the Czech Republic. Although it was interesting exploring other parts of the country, everyone was ready to get back to Prague – the city we have grown to know and love.

Kendall Machledt - discovering new cultures abroad


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