Academics Student Profiles
- Ariella Miller - Experiencing art in Berlin
- Amber Schaefer - Exploring culture and politics in Nepal
- Elizabeth Hull - Studying theater in mystical Scotland
- Chris Kwiat - Teaching English in Brazil
- Liz Korona - Grassroots development and social change in Oaxaca
- Mark Anderson - Using football to explore England's Industrial Revolution
- Kaitlin Harding - Studying disaster relief in Guatemala
Ariella Miller - Experiencing art in Berlin
On choosing Berlin
When I decided I wanted to study abroad I had been taking a lot of art history classes and was very interested in German modernism. My History of the Avant Garde class went on a trip to the Museum of Modern Art in New York to see a Kirchner exhibit, and when I saw his Berlin street scene paintings it solidified my feeling that Berlin was the best place for me to study. I had been exploring different ways to look at and make art and had heard that Berlin was a wonderful place to continue thinking about my interests. I found a program that was just what I was looking for-it focused on "visual culture."
On living in Germany
Berlin was fantastic. I visited so many wonderful galleries and museums, and befriended people in my program. It was great to live in the city with other people who were seeing it through the same lens of creativity. Living in Berlin was just what I needed for my second junior semester. It taught me a lot about myself and my interests, and I'm excited to take what I learned there and apply it to my Plan work.
On integrating with course of studies
For my historical perspective on art, living in Berlin was a gold mine. It was wonderful for me to live in a city that had such history. I feel like I really gained a lot of knowledge about Germany just from how people interacted with each other, how Berliners talk about the past and the war. I'm also studying art theory, so it was pretty wonderful to be in Berlin-even if you just think about all of the great thinkers that came out of Germany. It was also great for me personally; I learned a lot about myself creatively. My semester abroad definitely changed my priorities in the best way. I plan on exploring more of my own art in my Plan of Concentration now. Part of my experience was meeting like-minded artists and creating an art collective with them. I was very inspired by how our interests and styles converged in beautiful and complex ways.
Advice for students wanting to travel abroad
Absolutely go for it. Look for a program with your interests in mind. Have a country already chosen in order to narrow down the search. And don't forget about scholarships. I had to ask about financial aid because my program had nothing about it on their website but it existed. Also, town meeting fund really helped me out with the cost of my plane tickets. Studying abroad was something really important for me, even if simply to step out of the Marlboro bubble for a while.
Amber Schaefer - Exploring culture and politics in Nepal
On choosing Nepal
I chose Nepal for the simple reason that the Buddha was born there. I had very little prior knowledge about Nepal's political and social history. I simply wanted to dive into the unknown and push "refresh" on my perceptions. I wanted to complicate the lens through which I view my own cultural norms.
On Living in Kathmandu
For the first three-and-a-half months of my program, I learned about the socio-historical context of Nepal, took language classes and lived with a host family. Each morning, on my way to school, I saw a goat get slaughtered as the flies buzzed and birds watched. Cars abrasively honked and Puja bells rang. The smell of burning tires mixed with jasmine and cowshit. This was Kathmandu, Nepal's largest urban environment and reportedly the most polluted city in Asia.
For my independent research I chose to stay with my host family in Kathmandu and continue learning about women's roles and voices within the constitution-building process. Nepal is currently in a period of political transition as the Constituent Assembly writes a new constitution. I went with my host family to communist tea parties, interviewed female assembly members, visited schools, met with U.N. Development Program representatives, went to protests and attended discussions and lectures.
The highlight of my journey existed specifically and wholly within the mundane. Riding elephants is fine, but nothing was better then discussing politics with my Nepali family over delicious daalbaat and curry. I lived with a beautiful family of intelligent and hilarious politically active feminist women. My relationship to my host family added an irreplaceable depth to my experience abroad. It is through friendship that we truly learn from others.
On integrating with Plan of Concentration
As a political theory student it is very easy to get lost in abstractions and theories without context. Very little is communicated when we talk about "oppressors" and "the oppressed" abstractly; instead we should point to specific socio-historical contexts and events. We should tell a story. My experience in Nepal has provided ground-descriptive experiences that I may base theories around and beside. My Plan will explore the importance of pluralism and voice in the pursuit of social justice, including a paper I wrote for the end of my program in Nepal. It will also include a paper on women's voices at a small liberal arts college (i.e. Marlboro).
Advice for students wanting to travel abroad
My only advise is simple and cliché, but worthwhile: Wherever you go, there you are. I think some small part of me thought that profound revelations would take place daily in so different a place. But revelation usually takes place slowly, and gradually creeps up on you. My experiences in Nepal have certainly been a catalyst for growth; a growth that could not have come from another semester at Marlboro. I love Marlboro College but greater perspective is always a good thing.
Elizabeth Hull - Studying theater in mystical Scotland
On choosing Scotland
I've wanted to visit the UK for a long time now, and Scotland in particular has always seemed like a mystical place to me. I had visions of visiting old castles and seeing bag-pipers on the streets! I also was drawn to live in a place radically different from Marlboro, so even though I knew that the nearby Scottish countryside would be fantastic, it was important to me to give city life a try. Glasgow is a bustling city that is big enough to be exciting, but not as overwhelming or expensive as someplace like London. I was drawn to the Glaswegian culture; there is a great music and theatre scene, countless free museums, cathedrals, and gorgeous gardens. So much to do!
On living in Scotland
Rainy. The rumors are true. It rained, a lot. But aside from gray weather, the country was beautiful. I found the city and the countryside to be equally appealing. I would experience the same thrill from going to a show as hiking through sheep pastures. The University of Glasgow's International Club hosted various trips throughout Scotland; it was incredible to be able to visit so many different parts of the country. Though I must say, I was disappointed when I did not get a glimpse of Nessie at Loch Ness (But I still am a firm believer!) My favorite trip was a solo adventure to a small island called Arran off the western coast- I spent a few days biking around the Island and visiting an ancient stone circle site. There was such a sacred feel to the island; I felt as if I had cycled into a Celtic fairy story.
The city of Glasgow is certainly a distinct place, and it took me weeks to get a knack of understanding the thick Glaswegian accent (I could barely make it from the airport to my flat because I couldn't understand my cab driver!) Alcohol and entertainment are a big part of life in Glasgow (there's a pub on each corner), and I found the Scottish people to be friendly and proud of their heritage. There were many festivals and celebrations in the city to rejoice in Scottish culture- for example, the whole city celebrates "Robert Burns Day", for the famous Scottish poet, each year. I also found Scotland to be refreshingly environmentally conscious; plastic bags aren't readily available in the grocery stores because most people bring their own bags, there are windmill-powered towns, and a heavy emphasis on recycling and gardening.
On integrating with Plan of Concentration
I chose to study abroad as a sophomore, before I began Plan. I wanted to use this time to continue to study broadly and try a variety of classes while also beginning to hone my focus in on Plan. I hoped that new experiences elsewhere would give me a different perspective that would contribute to my final two years at Marlboro. Honestly, I felt that studying as a sophomore was perfect timing; I was mature enough to travel on my own, I needed a break from Marlboro, and a chance to experience something new. I now feel that I am returning to Marlboro with a recharged focus and inspiration. I'm excited to see how my studies in Scotland will influence my overall Marlboro experience.
At this point, I know that my Plan is going to be highly theatre-based (I think I am going to write and direct a play), and so I took an intensive theatre class at the University of Glasgow. Not being on Plan, I was also able to study whatever I fancied...one of my favorite classes I took was a Scottish Literature class that explored the writing of various Post 1945 Scottish authors, poets, and playwrights. The class helped me to understand more about the country I was living in, and exposed me to some brilliant writers.
Advice for students wanting to travel abroad
Travel! Yes! There is a quote I read in an article that I kept in my back pocket when I was beginning the application process to go abroad that goes: "Travel to arrive somewhere. Travel to leave something. Travel to revel in traveling." That said, once you decide to pursue the dream, it does take a great deal of planning. I would recommend researching a variety of programs to make sure that you select a country and program that financially and emotionally works for you. I found that it was much easier to apply as an independent student to the University, rather than to go an American-based college program- although such programs have benefits, they are also quite expensive. It takes extra planning and paperwork, but you can save loads of money by not going through an organization. You also need to give yourself enough time to get everything from tuition bills to visa applications to plane tickets in order, but try not to be discouraged by the amount of work that the preparation entails. Once you make your dream into a reality, the effort is worth it.
On choosing Brazil
I chose Brazil because I already have my life deeply invested in the country. I travelled to Brazil when I was 15 as a Rotary exchange student and developed relationships that I will have for the rest of my life.
On living in Brazil
Let's get this straight: Brazil is not all rainforest.I lived on an island off the coast in the south of Brazil, Florianopolis. This place had all aspects of life thrown together on one little island. I could walk along the streets downtown and see all of the big superstores and penthouses that line the oceanfront. But I could also walk to the bus terminal at night and see homeless people sleeping on cardboard underneath streetlights. I saw samba and capoeira circles at the federal university with people simply enjoying a beautiful summer day, and I also saw prostitutes and drug addicts on the street living through their own circumstances. Down there you can see all aspects of life. Life for the people that got lucky at some point in their life, as well as the people who simply didn't.
On integrating into studies
I was at a school that gave me the opportunity to work as an English professor. Using the communicative theory, this school has become one of, if not the, principal English educator in the Greater Florianópolis area, and even throughout Brazil. While at the school I was able to gain a better understanding of how the communicative theory works in ideals and in practice, and how one can become a more effective English teacher. I studied these different aspects in my own classes, and the knowledge and experience that I gained will help me as I develop into a better student and teacher of languages.
Advice for students wanting to travel abroad
Do your research. When you choose to travel to another country, you better know this country inside out. How well Americans (or whatever you nationality) are treated in this country, what type of life you can expect, crime rates, and general information about a country are all things that one has to do extensive research on. If you are not prepared to go into uncharted territory, you could very easily arrive and want to get right back on the plane. Prepare yourself for the worst, so you can make your stay the best you can. Have goals for when you go abroad, and don't leave until you have realized all of them. Time will fly by when you are there, so lay out a timeline of what you want to get done, and how you are going to get it done. The more you prepare, the better you will be able to handle the many difficulties that will be thrown your way.
Liz Korona - Grassroots development and social change in Oaxaca
On getting to Mexico
Originally I applied for SIT's "Culture and Development" program in Bolivia, but the program had filled before I had finished applying. The SIT program coordinators were very helpful and we transferred my application to Mexico's "Grassroots Development and Social Change" program in Oaxaca. Although it was my second choice, this program fit into my overall interests much better because of the focus on social organizing. I'd also had an interest in Oaxaca earlier: in my sophomore year at Marlboro I'd taken an interdisciplinary class on "Latin American Social Movements," and went with a few friends to an Oaxaca/APPO solidarity march in Boston. When I told various professors and advisors at Marlboro that I was going to Mexico instead of Bolivia they thought it was a much better idea and that I'd be happier, and they were right.
On integrating Independent Study into Plan of Concentration
I really hoped that at the end of my ISP I'd have a draft of a Plan paper, but it wasn't that easy. The really great part about the ISP in Oaxaca is that you're working closely with a local organization. The tricky part is that you're working with a group that does incredible work and lots of it, so you need to figure out how to balance your own academic needs with the time that you're committing to the group. Even with careful planning things come up unexpectedly and take more time than you expect. It's an emotional month and it flies by. I'm happy with the project that I produced. I think that I got a glimpse the level of discipline that the Plan of Concentrarion requires.
On living in Mexico
I spent time in a homestay at the beginning of the program and in an apartment with fellow SIT students during the ISP. I'd say that living in Mexico is a great way of life if you happen to be from the U.S. The food is delicious and so cheap it often feels like stealing. In the zócalo there's always music and tiny kids running around with giant balloons. Oaxaca is a magical place, but there are also frequent reminders of the reality that's just beyond the tourist attractions. The tourist walkway is dotted with people who have migrated to the city only to end up holding out their hands for money. The already colorful walls are a patchwork of political graffiti and the paint the government uses to cover it up. Living in Mexico has made me take a hard look at how I live in the U.S. and how I conduct myself abroad.
Advice for students looking to study abroad
My advice would be to do it- it's no bed of roses but studying abroad can really change your life if you let it and work at it. I think that the experience is especially valuable for Marlboro students because after a few semesters of taking classes with the same people it's possible to fall into a sort of routine dialogue. With the SIT program, my classmates came from different types of colleges or universities and different places. Each of them had a new set of ideas for me to think about and test my own against. I think it's good to take yourself out of the whole Marlboro momentum and look around a while before descending into Plan. I also think it's important for all people to shake up their frame of reference, and if you can do it outside of the U.S., so much the better.
Mark Anderson - Using football to explore England's Industrial Revolution
On choosing England
I became interested in the history of football in England through my enjoyment of playing soccer. I wasn't sure what to focus on for my Plan work and decided to incorporate a personal passion of mine into my academic work. As I began to research the topic, the subject became a window to view the developments of English society from the time of the Industrial Revolutions and the Victorians through the 20th century.
On living in London
Living in the UK is similar to living in the US. I lived in the greater London area (25 minutes by train from Central London), and felt very comfortable in the area mostly because of the language. The main difference between the US and the UK is the confined spaces and the affects it has on the daily routine of the English. Going to the grocery store was an almost daily occurrence for the people where I lived in Kingston Upon Thames. The refrigerators couldn't hold as much food, which required more trips, but the grocery store was a short walk.
On England's football culture
The culture of football in England is very commercial. Since the formation of the English Premier League in the early 1990s, the game has become more and more hyped and more influenced by greater amounts of capital. There aren't any hooligans and the game has become less of a working-class game and more of middle-class leisure pursuit. Still, the game at the highest level is very well played and enjoyable to watch.
On advice to other study abroad students
My advice to future study-abroad students is to go outside the mainstream areas of the country they are living in. The best time I had in England outside of the football matches was visiting the English countryside. The geography there held no comparison to any part of the United States.
Kaitlin Harding - Studying Disaster Relief in Guatemala
On choosing Guatemala
I spent a while searching the Internet and other resources to find an internship that interested me. I knew I wanted to go somewhere in Latin America and I planned on studying agriculture in Mexico. I wanted to write my Plan about natural disasters, so I directed my search towards that focus. I did some research into the affects of Hurricane Stan. The rural Guatemalan town, Santiago Atitlan was very hard hit during the storm. I found an organization, Pueblo a Pueblo, a small U.S. based non-profit working to rebuild a hospital that was destroyed by Hurricane Stan.
At Pueblo a Pueblo I worked mostly in fundraising to rebuild a hospital. While I was in Guatemala I also began working part-time teaching photography to kids. As a third project I helped out with grant writing at a small non-profit that was in the process of rebuilding homes for the survivors of Hurricane Stan.
On preparation for the internship
The classes that I took as a part of the World Studies Program, though interesting, were mostly unrelated to what I ended up doing for my internship. In addition to the WSP courses, I took some more specific culture/history/language classes, (such classes are now incorporated into the curriculum of the WSP program.) When I chose my internship, I tried to draw from all of my interests developed in Marlboro classes: non-profit economics, Spanish & Latin American studies, anthropology and photography.
On the weirdest food she ate
Maybe not the weirdest thing I ever ate, but somewhat unusual and very delicious was a treat that came around rarely in Santiago Atitlan; rellenitos, small fried plantains filled with refried beans and covered in sugar. A woman would come through the streets once a week, selling them out of the back of her truck.
On tying internship with her Plan of Concentration
My Plan will incorporate research that I completed while in Guatemala as well as research that I am working on now in New Orleans. While in Guatemala I researched non-profits and the politics and processes of providing disaster relief. I also looked at communal response and rebuilding after disaster and am also now incorporating many observations of the socio-political environment of the town. These topics have become major elements of my Plan. The WSP internship is often used as a way to develop research and ideas for Plan.