Thinking about Diversity on Halloween

Samantha Gauvain is an Official CAPA’s Blogger for Fall 2014, sharing her story in weekly CAPA World posts. A Journalism major at Arizona State University, she is studying abroad in Dublin this semester.

In this week’s post, Samantha thinks about diversity while choosing her Halloween costume and urges the rest of us to be culturally considerate when designing our own.

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As I cross the threshold, a bloody priest blesses my head as a ring of smoke from the werewolves drifts into the building. Six witches enter and the group of ghouls laughs as I walk by.

Halloween in Dublin is not for the faint of heart; the city was once home to Bram Stoker and there are enough fables and legends to supply a Halloween store. Griffith College is supposedly haunted, although the ghosts on this night resemble Charlie Brown more than Moaning Myrtle. The lights from Griffith’s picnic area reflect off the cold puddles in the yard and make my ornaments glimmer; for Dublin’s frightening Halloween, I am a Christmas tree. To say the least, it’s an original idea and I’ll be able to wear my ugly sweater again in two months.

After much speculation and Pinterest research, I was able to figure out how Dublin celebrates All Hallows Eve. Now, I had figured it would not compare to the madness at Salem, Mass. every year but I didn’t expect Dublin to be this holiday-crazed (which is a welcome turn of events).

The Bram Stoker festival was this past week and featured underground tours of St. Stephen’s Green, a zipline, Hollywood Horror showings and a literary death match, amongst other ghastly ghoulish things. Despite the wide availability of Irish myths, choosing a costume was surprisingly difficult (while working with a student’s budget… I have to save at least enough money to eat Cornucopia’s petrified hummus dish.) Costumes fit for parade are plentiful but let’s be realistic, no college student wants to show up at the school party looking like the Moth Man or a Banshee. So what’s left? Native American princess? Swedish milkmaid? A Geisha? A Leprechaun? Unfortunately, Halloween is riddled with harmful stereotypes, hence the Mistletoe sweater.

Prior to studying abroad, I hadn’t really considered whom my costume might affect; there just wasn’t a very diverse population in Salem, NH. Back home, it’s common to see someone dressed up in a slinky milkmaid dress or even as an “uncommon” religious figure and no one thinks twice because running into someone who is actually a part of that culture is rare, thus no one is offended and the practice continues.

After starting my costume search, I noticed I was leaning towards “easier ideas”: buy a white dress, a vest and cow plush. Done–Halloween costume complete in fifteen minutes. But then I thought of the Swedish students in my classes and thought of how they would view my costume. Would they find it amusing or think I am mocking their culture? I might not receive an overwhelming negative reaction to that idea because the Swedish population is small here, but how about a leprechaun? I doubt very many Dubliners would find that amusing and I would most likely be immediately labeled as an American. It’s the same concept and it’s inconsiderate; being ostracized at the Halloween party probably isn’t that fun either.

 

There’s a host of costumes that fall into this category and I’m not going to preach about being culturally considerate, but I urge you to think of your costume and whom it affects. Or put yourself in that person’s shoes; if someone dressed up as a “dumb, blonde American” I’d probably be offended (it’s not a very good example, but work with me here).

The upside to the eternal costume dilemma is that don’t have to dress up like a cat… again. Sites like Pinterest and even a lot of fashion magazines are loaded with costume ideas and most of them are either super creative or hysterical; my roommate is dressing up as Sally from “Nightmare before Christmas” and her makeup is deadly. Think imaginative Parks and Rec. meets professional looking DIY Halloween makeup and that’s basically Pinterest.

Anyways, this is the perfect time to show off your artistic – or at the very least craft scissor – skills. You’re also more likely to win some contests that way and I mean come on, would you rather look like a disheveled “Mexican” or sip pumpkin drinks for free the entire night? Personally, I’m on fall’s pumpkin spice kick and my battery-operated twinkle lights and bag full of Christmas candy should at least put me within the top twenty.

Thanks Samantha!

Samantha’s journey continues every Friday so stay tuned! If you’re interested in learning more about the CAPA blog and vlog grant program, please visit the scholarships page on capa.org

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Connecting Global Cities: The 2014 Global Cities Index

“Connecting Global Cities” is a monthly column written by Colin Speakman, Director of China Programs for CAPA International Education

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The ranking of global cities is measured in a number of indices but the one I most prefer to refer to is A.T.Kearney’s Global Cities Index, first complied in 2008 and updated every two years. I am drawing on the latest one for 2014 in this article. The index started covering 60 cities but has now expanded to 84 cities, which tells us that more and more cities are meeting the criteria to be regarded as a global city. If you need a quick refresher on what makes a global city, please check my recent global city post on CAPA World.

I like to compare the top ranked cities to the English Premiership League table for soccer. It is hard to change the leading clubs that feature in the top four or five; they tend to dominate through having been a long time around the top, gaining their riches from playing in the European Champions League and thus being able to attract the best players who seek that opportunity. The top four or five global cities don’t change in each survey – it is hard to break into that elite group! There are historic reasons and having been established as global cities, these urban giants tend to have the resources to attract more of what makes them global cities – more top chefs, more Fortune 500 companies, more business and financial talents – preciously because these individuals and entities want to live in a leading global city.

Photo: New York City Nights by davejjoe

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Thousand Word Thursdays: Graffiti Wall in San Telmo, Buenos Aires

Each Thursday we will post a photo worth a thousand words from one of CAPA International Education’s global cities and let the image speak for itself.

Photo: Graffiti wall in San Telmo, Buenos Aires by OskyAve

Thinking about studying abroad in Buenos Aires? Don't miss our top 10 Buenos Aires series!

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5 Free Things to Do in Sydney

Celeste Guhl is one of CAPA’s Official Bloggers for Fall 2014, sharing her study abroad story in weekly CAPA World posts. A University of Massachusetts Amherst student, she is studying abroad in Sydney this term.

In this week’s post, Celeste gives us a few tips on free things to do in Sydney for those of you who might be, like her, a bit broke after traveling over Fall break.

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Now that my spring break is over and I’ve spent all my money on adventure tourism and souvenirs, I’ve been at a bit of a loss as to what to do around Sydney since everything seems to cost lots of money. However, I’ve discovered that there are actually tons of free things to do around Sydney if you know where to look, and I’m here to share them with you.

1. BEACHES.

Of course, the most obvious thing to do for free in Sydney is to hit the beach! But just sticking around Bondi can be boring, so I have some other suggestions. Walk from Bondi to Coogee and stop in at Bronte and Tamarama along the way. An added bonus at this time of year is that Sculpture by the Sea is on, so you can enjoy some fascinating art as well as the lovely coast. Up north, there’s Manly, which boasts another coastal walk to Shelly beach. Or you can head even further north all the way up to Palm Beach, stopping in at a dozen bays along the way, including Freshwater, which is a local favorite.

Other cool beaches are Balmoral in Mosman, Cronulla in south Sydney, and Camp Cove at Watson’s Bay. You can also opt to snorkel around Sydney, especially in rock pools which harbor lots of marine life. Some good spots include Gordon’s Bay, Cabbage Tree Bay, or any of the beaches mentioned above.

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Interning for a Cause with OzHarvest in Sydney

Words by Jackie Keville who studied abroad in Sydney with CAPA International Education during Spring semester 2014.

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Study abroad students are looking for an experience of a lifetime, a story that they can bring home and tell their family and friends. Most students also want to connect with the culture of their host destination on a personal level, and that is what I got out of my internship at OzHarvest.

I became interested in CAPA when I found out about the internship side of the program. Being a business major, you need to have a strong resume in order to get a job, and I needed to build mine. When I first heard that I would be interning at OzHarvest, I did not know what to expect.

Photo: The CEO Cook Off

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Mind the Gap: A European Fall Break

Emily Kyle is one of CAPA’s Official Bloggers for Fall 2014, sharing her study abroad story in weekly CAPA World posts. A UCLA student, she is studying abroad in Florence this term.

In this week’s post, Emily takes us along on her Spring break adventures and shares some of the best memories made along the way from Italy through France to Spain and on to Ireland.

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In Ireland, before arriving at every train station along the course of a route, a voice on the loudspeaker comes on and says, first in Gaelic and then in English, “Please, mind the gap.” He is referring to the gap between the train and the platform of the station: the gap between the journey of a trip and the destination. For, if one isn’t careful, there is just enough room to fall right through the cracks into this no man’s land between where you’re going and where you’ve been. I never quite figured out why, but I found this to be completely poetic and symbolic and beautiful.

Fall Break 2014: Three friends, four countries, ten days, countless memories.

For the past week and a half, I spent my days traveling and exploring and adventuring and more than once, a resonating thought struck me: this is not a vacation, this is a lifestyle.

Photo: Sunset at Ross Castle in Killarney, Ireland

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Study Abroad in Shanghai: 10 Instagram Accounts to Follow

Instagram feeds in each of CAPA’s global cities around the world offer wonderful insight into what’s happening now from a local point of view. In this Tuesday 10 series, we share a few of our favorites in each destination. This week, we take a look at Shanghai. You can also follow us: @CAPAStudyAbroad. Feel free to share yours in a comment and let us know who else we should add to our Shanghai list!

1. HIGASHI HOU. A dark and cinematic Instagram feed, Higashi often shoots in black and white with high contrast for a monochrome view of life in Shanghai dotted by an occasional image in color. You’ll see umbrellas used in the sun and umbrellas used in the rain, an elderly man walking through the narrow lanes of a hutong and a dramatic use of light and shadows.

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Can a Girl From the Desert Cope with London’s Winter Weather?

Emily McGeary is one of CAPA’s Official Bloggers for Fall 2014, sharing her study abroad story in weekly CAPA World posts. An Arizona State University student, she is studying abroad in London this term.

This week, Emily talks about her struggle with the London weather as we slide into Winter. Coming from the Arizona desert, it’s not easy.

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It’s getting cold. I am not used to the cold. I do not like the cold.

This has started to present a problem.

One morning last week, I walked to the bus stop and realized I had forgotten my umbrella. It was the first day of substantial rain since I’d arrived in London, so I wasn’t used to bringing it with me. On top of that, I was wearing a fairly thin jacket that wasn’t water resistant. It was a cold, wet and miserable commute.

Coming from Southern Arizona, I am used to a desert climate. You know—sun, sand, and saguaros? Back home it’s still averaging around ninety degrees. My hometown is one of the sunniest in the country, so to say I’m a rain-weather novice is still a bit of an understatement!

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Call for Applications: Official Bloggers & Vloggers, Spring 2015

Each semester we invite a small group of official CAPA bloggers & vloggers to share their study abroad journeys with us through weekly posts here on the CAPA World blog. For Spring semester 2015, there is a $600 grant to back this title along with an explorer fund of $300.

Beyond the grant and explorer fund, previous CAPA bloggers and vloggers have found the experience beneficial in a number of ways:

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4 Tips for Coping with Anxiety while Studying Abroad

Samantha Gauvain is an Official CAPA’s Blogger for Fall 2014, sharing her story in weekly CAPA World posts. A Journalism major at Arizona State University, she is studying abroad in Dublin this semester.

In this week’s post, Samantha talks about dealing with anxiety while studying abroad and how it is important to continue to exercise, eat healthy and not be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

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*Cue heavy breathing*

My caffeine problems have finally been resolved (thank god… I overestimated my tolerance for freeze-dried coffee grounds) and I am now free to drink coffee until my heart stops. Or until I break my miniature French press. While I am happy to have a quality cup of brew to accompany my morning oatmeal and fruit, I’m afraid to say the availability of good coffee presents a new host of problems. Insomnia and sleep deprivation are obvious consequences of drinking a cup of coffee at eight o’clock at night. From personal experience I don’t recommend making this a habit, however much you’d like to run through the streets of Dublin during the wee hours of the morning. What starts as one late night cup of coffee turns into a late morning cup of coffee. And it’s a necessary part of your morning if you want to reduce your zombie-like appearance and make yourself a bit more human for your Irish history class. I swear to you German students, I don’t usually look this crazy. Your guidance counselors have warned you, your parents have warned you, that little inner voice hiding behind caffeine-induced personality quirks is saying it: sleep is good. You need it to live a healthy lifestyle and to make the most of your study abroad experience; no one wants to hang out with the zombie-esque foreigner who’s been staring at a statue in Dublin Castle for the past five minutes. That leads me to the point of this coffee fable: coping with anxiety while studying abroad.

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