Today marks two year since the CAPA World blog sprung to life. To date, with the help of CAPA students, staff, alumni and locals in our eight study abroad cities, we’ve published 675 posts (including 107 interviews), launched a grant program for official CAPA bloggers and vloggers and made it to the finalist round of the UK Blog Awards. And there’s plenty more to come.
To look back on the past two years of CAPA World, here a few of our most popular posts, in no particular order. Enjoy!
In this week’s post, Celeste talks about her internship with the Aboriginal Heritage Office in Sydney and some of her projects and accomplishments during her time with the organization.
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When I started my internship last September at the Aboriginal Heritage Office, I was expecting to be doing museum work. What I found was quite different, but still extremely valuable, satisfying, fun and educational. I’m so glad I was placed where I was, even though the uniform was a bit goofy.
I actually tried to align my classes with my internship once I found out where I’d be interning, and I chose to take Australian History, Cinema, and Indigenous Peoples because the syllabi all had large components dedicated to Aboriginal issues and history. Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed, and I learned, often from Aboriginal voices themselves, about events and patterns from mythological Dreamtime stories to contemporary politics and social issues.
We have already looked at some particular iconic elements such as bridges and towers in past Connecting Global Cities columns, and we noticed that no one type of icon dominates as the name card of each global city. Sometimes it is a tower, sometimes a bridge, sometimes a building that is instantly recognisable. That icon then becomes the name card of the city, meaning that it can be used in images, such as of tourist promotion or special conventions in that city, in a poster or on the web without the need for any words telling viewers what the city is.
Such a name card icon is usually the “must be photographed in front of” scene that visitors then share with their friends – look where I am! Sometimes there is competition for what image is the name card in a city. It is not always so obvious and I acknowledge that in discussion about our eight CAPA global cities below.
However, some are hard to dispute, like the Eiffel Tower as the name card of Paris. Of course it helps that such a structure was the signature building of a World’s Fair (the forerunner of the World Expo) and has been around a long time. Cities do not usually want to change their name cards and so the signature building from the most recent World Expo in Shanghai has not become the city’s name card; an iconic structure of two decades earlier already had that role (see below).
In this week’s post, Emily talks about the importance of ducking out of the protective circle of American friends while abroad and making an effort to understand and connect with the local culture and people of your host city.
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Approximately 8,000 American students reside in Florence every semester. But they don’t all live here.
You see, a certain dichotomy comes to present itself in this population of American students, dividing the masses into a majority and a minority: those who treat Florence as a house and those who treat it as a home.
The dichotomy manifests itself in the form of a mindset: go, go, go, versus grow, grow, grow.
The majority of American students abuse this beautiful city and squander this incredibly unique and enriching cultural experience, choosing to party hard during the week and andare via every weekend rather than sticking around and opening themselves up to try and understand the life-blood behind this city and its people.
Most of them can’t put together a single sentence in Italian. Most of them have never had an extended conversation with a representative of the local population. Most of them have never gotten into touch with the Florentine culture.
And what’s worse, most of them don’t even try.
Most of them will leave this country with little more than what they came with, save for a few wild stories and some memorabilia.
And this is truly a shame.
Because all around us exists nothing less than the most beautiful of opportunities, hanging ripe from the tree of life and ready to be plucked, coddled, and enjoyed.
In this week’s post, Emily interviews fellow CAPA London student Janel Forsythe.
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This week I decided to interview a fellow CAPA student, Janel Forsythe! Janel is double majoring in sociology and media studies at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania. She is on the CAPA Student Council here in London and is also a homestay student.
EMILY MCGEARY: What prompted you to study abroad in London and what led you to the CAPA program?
JANEL FORSYTHE: Studying abroad was an opportunity that I had been interested in since high school. When I was volunteering at the Salvation Army, one of the camp counselors had an extensive background in international travel, and I would always talk with her about the experiences she had in places like Europe, Latin America, and other parts of the world.
Growing up with Jamaican parents, Britain was very important to our lives because they were born and raised right after the island was declared independent from British rule. However, cultural staples like the Royal Family were popular topics of conversation among my relatives. Even in America, Britain was quite important regarding pop culture – especially in regards to the Harry Potter series which I liked along with the Spice Girls when I was younger.
As I got more into my academic studies, I wanted to go to England in particular because I had always heard about London being very diverse. I wanted to understand the social dynamics of this very metropolitan city that was grappling with issues like immigration and multiculturalism at a time when a lot of people from Western nations – often former colonies – were coming to reside in these places.
CAPA was the perfect because not only would I be taking classes in my majors, but there were weekly trips around the city and American students like myself would be receiving a lot of attention and support during our stay in a completely different country. At first I thought of dropping out of the program because it was very expensive, but I thought of close friends who told me about their awesome experience studying abroad in places like London, Barcelona, and other parts of the world. It’s a decision I’m glad I decided to take on now.
Words by Jen Ritinski, a CAPA International Education alumna who studied abroad in London during Fall semester 2013. In this post, Jen takes us back to Ealing in West London where she lived during her time abroad.
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As a visitor to London for the first time, I had certain preconceptions about what to expect. One aspect that certainly surprised me about the city itself is the abundance of diversity of people and the cultural changes that define where people live.
Each neighborhood has a truly distinct atmosphere, and even this part of London life is constantly evolving. As the city becomes more and more popular, many people are choosing to make London their new home. Consequently, the London of today is very different from fifty years ago, and will be different from the London of the future.
Photo:Jen on the platform at Ealing Broadway station
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.
Having been on the move quite a bit, in this week’s post, Samantha shares her travel playlist with us.
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This past week, I traveled to Lyon, Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels. Needless to say, there was quite a bit of running to catch metros and desperately trying to solve the riddle that is the Belgian train system. Despite this frantic traveling, this Grecian Khaos or nothingness before the plan, I managed to pause in front of the travel Parthenon and collect myself so that the gatekeepers, a.k.a T.S.A. equivalents abroad, may deem me a worthy entrant.
Boarding an airplane is almost a religious experience for me; certain rituals must be performed and offerings must be made to the airline gods to avoid the wrath of the airline harpies known as flight attendants. Boarding passes and passports are presented in supplication at the gate, baggage is presented with modesty and a bit of fright at security (have you erred from the ways of a good traveler and packed more than 100 ml?) and window seats are offered to the family of four returning home from Disneyland.
We’ll soon be hearing a lot more from Dee Liang who is excited to begin writing a column about life after study abroad called Musings of a Study Abroad Alumna for CAPA World in a few weeks. Stay tuned! In the meantime, we’ve asked her a few questions to find out about her time studying abroad with CAPA and what she’s been up to since she recently graduated from CU Boulder. Below, she tells us how her study abroad experience in Florence helped shape her career goals, the transferrable skills that she was able to take away from Italy and a story of grocery shopping on a Sunday with the help of a few kind local Italians.
Photo:Climbing the Duomo
CAPA WORLD: Tell us a bit about yourself. DEE LIANG: Through the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder), I studied abroad with CAPA in Florence during Summer 2013. I studied Communication and Chinese along with Digital Media! During my undergrad, I spent my days dancing for the Buffs on the CU Dance Team for four years and when I’m not schooling, dancing, or working, I’m researching a cool coffee place I haven’t tried yet or looking up either places to add to my To-Travel List or recipes to try.