Cyprus | Physics 1 Over! Moving into Apartments, Halfway Done with Physics Forever!


This week we took our first final exam and we are officially done with Physics I! This week was pretty stressful since most of us were holed away in preparation for the exam. However this weekend is a free weekend with no excursions or day trips. Most people in the program are traveling but my friends and I decided to stay in Nicosia and catch up on some much needed rest. We had our last class with Dr. Anastasia Hadjiconstanti, which was very bittersweet, but we met our new professor this week and he seems just as nice. We’re already learning material for our second midterm in a week and a half. Even though the physics seems never ending at least we get this weekend to sleep it off.  

Our last class with Dr. Hadjiconstanti (bottom row, white shirt). We’re going to miss her so much! 


Last week the apartments were finally ready for us to move into! As soon as we finished our first midterm we bussed back to Altius Hotel, got our stuff, moved into the apartments, and headed straight back to lecture. The apartments are about all condensed within 5 minutes of the University and surrounded by the restaurants listed on the food vouchers, which is very convenient. Most apartments are set up suite style, two double bedrooms complete with a fully equipped kitchen, a bathroom, and a furnished living room. Most of the girls and the guys live in separate buildings but they are all within walking distance of each other. The apartments are pretty spacious and since they come with air conditioning I couldn’t ask for anything more.  

My friend Grace made a video documenting the first half of the trip, which you can view below! 

 See you next week!  

Arisa Dhiensiri studied abroad in Nicosia, Cyprus, in summer 2018:

Senegal | Tabaski


The eve of Tabaski, everything is quiet, except the five or so sheep atop our roof! Most have traveled to the suburbs of Dakar, or beyond, to join their loved ones for the holiday, but others, like my family, stay in their neighborhoods.  

What is Tabaski 

The Senegalese equivalent of Eid, la fête de Tabaski commemorates Abraham’s devotion to God in his willingness to sacrifice his son Ismael.  Upon seeing that he would indeed make this sacrifice, God excused Abraham from carrying through and instead, had him sacrifice a sheep. Therefore, as my host sister Aida explained to me, each boy must sacrifice a sheep annually to celebrate Abrahams devotion to God.  

Weeks leading up to the day of Tabaski, walk the streets of Dakar to find every open plot of ground packed with sheep under tarp shelters, their hooves pegged to rocks and wooden stakes, vendors keeping watch day and night. It was for that reason that I didn’t get to know my host brother Gorgui until after Tabaski commenced. I would catch him coming home for dinner, then leaving again to spend the night shift watching over the sheep to be sold the next day.  

Wednesday morning, the day of Tabaski, I woke up, restless in anticipation because precisely between the hours of 9:00 and 10:00am, the streets would be scattered with the blood of sheep, one or more per family, depending on how many men.  After much thought, I decided I wanted to watch the sheep ritual take place.  

The women had been preparing food since the minute I awoke. Standing on our little porch, my eyes surveying the sandy street, I watched the men returning from prayer, mats rolled up under their arms. After disappearing into their houses clothed in beautiful silk robes, they emerged in common clothing to dig deep holes in front of each doorstep.  

When my brothers brought our sheep, several friends appeared to help out.  Jumping aside as my brother Gorgui dragged a struggling sheep that had been living on our roof, past me and out the door, I watched as they laid it on the ground, neck over the hole.  Along our street, groups of boys and men did the same. After gently cutting the sheep’s throat, they directed the blood into the hole, and when it was dry, carried the dead sheep inside to butcher it.  

Aida, Mama Thiam, and Sigé had begun food prep early that morning, and the guys pitched in by butchering the sheep, and literally using every last piece. I chopped veggies and tried to take in all that was going on around me. Relatives and neighbors stopping by, kids playing, music blasting, the flow of people and greetings never seemed to cease. It is custom for each visitor to greet everyone in the house, I’m not going to lie, it got pretty overwhelming, but what a great way to get to know the extended family and neighbors, Oh! And break out of my shell as they made me dance to Senegalese music all day long!  

Having finished chopping up the mutton, the men handed it off the the women to BBQ alongside frying potato wedges, spices ground with stone, onion sauce in the making, and proceeded to sit down, smoke, make tea, and talk, comme toujours! In Senegal, the women do almost all the housework, though considered a guest, I was expected to sit with the boys and men, chatting and making tea.   

After a morning full of preparation, lunch was served.  My sister placed the big round bowl on a cloth in the common area and relatives flocked around the neatly placed BBQ mutton and homemade potato wedges topped with a spicy onion sauce. It is custom to use your right hand as you tear chunks of mutton from the bone and to use a friend to get more leverage of the meat is too tough. I don’t recall ever having eaten meat so fresh.  The bone on which I was gnawing had belonged to the sheep I had watched my brothers drag down from the roof that morning, and now, several hours later, I was eating it with spicy onion sauce.  

A now well fed extended family sat back, “sourna” – full/unable to eat more, but my sisters didn’t rest. Qu’est-ce que tu fait? I demanded, watching Mama and Aida chop and fry more potatoes and refill the BBQ with more cuts of mutton. Turns out it was time to prepare the next meal, the one we were to have in less than 3 hours. I don’t know how many extended relatives and friends stopped by that day, but there was an entirely new group present for the late afternoon meal.  I was happy to catch guests snacking on my California pistachios throughout the day.  

A little more relaxing and greeting family, and it was time for dinner! One thing I love about the way we eat here is the mentality that everyone takes care of everyone around the meal bowl.  People will take it in turns to break up the meat with their hands, distributing bite size chunks to each person’s corner of the round bowl to ensure they “mange bien!”. Nek naa torop – everything is delicious! The many meals and gathering of family reminded me of my US family’s celebration of Thanksgiving, a holiday on which other day is spent enjoying each other’s company and cooking food.  Tabaski, however, or just Senegalese eating habits in general, don’t permit you to over-stuff yourself because you’re eating out of one bowl and must leave some for others.  

A day full of festivities and it was time to sortir. The night of Tebaski, people generally dress up and walk the neighborhood visiting friends and loved ones.  It is tradition for children to dress in their best and parade around the neighborhood asking for treats.

Later in the night, my sisters Aida and Mama Tiam loaned me a beautiful orange and blue blouse and skirt and we got ready to “sortir”. Taking a bit of time to prep, I rushed to be ready on time. Turns out there was no need to worry, my sisters took another half hour to hour doing their make up and deciding what to wear. This was one of my first exposures to the reality that everything here is pushed back an hour or more from schedule. 

Two of Aida’s friends picked us up along with our friend Binta and we drove across town, my sisters taking selfies the entire way.  Arriving at Djob’s house (my sisters friend), I thought we were stopping in for last minute items before “la fête”, but this empty house was “la fête”! All six of us lounged in the living room.  I drank juice as my sisters spent an hour posing for photos in their Tabaski best. A cute room backset with Senegalese and Nigerian music and chatting with my sisters friends, I was content. After being there for several hours, we got back in Djob’s car and drove home. I definitely got an age specific perspective of Tabaski night for had I been with my mom, we would have walked around the neighborhood, stopping to see her relatives. Anticlimactic though it was, I enjoyed our little “sortir” that helped me get to know my sisters.   

Somewhat analogous to Thanksgiving, Tabaski was the perfect holiday to have during my first week in Dakar.  I met the extended family throughout the day, spent hours chatting with my brother and his friends around Ataya (tea tradition), witnessed the ritual Tabaski ceremony, and experienced a wonderful introduction of Senegalese culture through their practice of this major holiday.  

Senegal | Bienvenue a Dakar!


Transition, Travels, Neighborhood, and Family

Hello to all and welcome to my “Official Blog!”  Dakar!?  I can hardly believe I am here..

As I begin my third week living and studying in Dakar, it truly feels like I belong here.  But let me get you caught up on my travels to Senegal, my living situation, and my neighborhood! When I emailed my flight plan to my local advisor she responded, “Ohhhh Eliza!  My prayers are with you!” But my flight path to Dakar was a kick start to a wonderful semester.  After saying goodbye to my family in SFO, Itook WOW Airlines to Iceland, where I transferred and arrived in Denmark at ~5 pm.  Practically jumping off the plane and boarding the city Metro, I began my 12 hour layover at the Copenhagen metro stop my friend Anna had suggested.

I decided to center my adventure around finding the famous Little Mermaid statue, and saw some lovely architecture and cute narrow cobblestone streets on the way.  After sleeping a few hours near my gate in the Copenhagen Int’l. airport, I boarded yet another flight… to Lisbon!

A few hours later, I began another 12 hour vacation in Portugal!  The red, yellow, and deep orange tiles pop out against the blue sky, and after wandering through oceanside Lisbon for several hours, I met up with Sammy, another student en route pour Dakar!I am eternally grateful I did, as we bonded immediately and have been each other’s “comfort zone” ever since. After some tasty food and drink in a cute alleyway, we hopped back on the Metro to catch our evening flight to Dakar!!

Dakar, Senegal’s capital, is situated on the westernmost point of Africa.  A former French Colony, Senegal’s national language is French, while Wolof is the language most prominently spoken in Dakar.

Touching down in Dakar after speaking French to the Senegalese man sitting next to me for five hours, I couldn’t have been more excited and at ease. Driving through Dakar that night, my head out the window, smiling cheeks enjoying the night air, my mind full of enthusiastic anticipation, I finally started to feel like this was all real.

My host mother, Jacqueline Gomez, greeted me at the Brioche Dorée, a bakery at the center of our neighborhood; Cite Assemble, Oakam, Dakar.  Her arms open wide, I immediately felt comfortable and at ease. Having worried that arriving at 2:30am would awake the family, I was surprised to find everyone still up; Aida and Maman Thiam, my 27 and 21 year-old sisters, my 24 and 14 year-old brothers, Gorgui and Sherif… everyone was up and awake except for Baby Couree, my mother’s 6 months old granddaughter who lives with the Thiam family while her mother studies in Washington DC.  I would soon learn that staying up until 2:30am is habitual for this family, and that “going out” for Senegalese youth means returning home at 5:00 or 6:00am! They care for me like I’m truly their sister & daughter, and I cannot imagine a better fit for me.

I learned more during my first full day in Dakar than perhaps any other so far, and I spent most of it in our house. I think everyone can relate to the feeling of waking up, having arrived somewhere new in the dark, and feeling completely surprised and renewed.  I woke up to Senegalese pop music blasting from the main room, under my blue mosquito net, and smiled as I greeted my new reality. I have a small room and my own bathroom in which there is a bed, chair, shelf for clothes, locking drawer, toilet, sink, and shower. The shower is cold, but honestly, I wouldn’t want anything else in this humidity. Emerging from my room, my mom took me on a brief house tour, showing me the boys’ room, girls’/her room, living room, hallway/hangout space (where we spend most of our time), 2 small outdoor courtyards for cooking, hanging out, and dishwashing, and the tiny kitchen.  The front room of our house, which opens to the street, is lined with colorful garments and serves as my mother’s tailor shop. Next, she took me to the roof where they keep 7 goats. I get to hear and smell them constantly throughout the day. The house is small and simple, but a perfect size for my family and the many visitors they host as they pass through daily. That leads me to discovering the atmosphere of “Teranga” here in Senegal.

Teranga refers to hospitality, an allusion to the warmth of the welcome.  It’s a Wolof word that comes from the word Teral, or the word Earth, signifying arrival. To this they hold true.  It took me a few days to figure out which of the guys sitting in my house was actually my older brother, because there are 5-8 friends & neighbors in our house at all times. In addition, it is unacceptable for someone to enter without individually greeting every person in the room… but aside from that, come and go as you please!  Hence, I was given a very warm welcome not only by my own family, but by the whole block.

Because it was my first day, my sister Aida made Thiéboudienne (chéh-bu-jen), the national dish of Senegal, which consists of red rice (made with tomatoes and vegetables), fish (traditionally “chof,” but not so available today due to overfishing), cassava root, carrots, eggplants, cabbage, and peppers.  This dish truly embodies the concept of “teranga.” It is served in a large, round bowl, rice on the bottom, fish, veggies, and sauce on top, around which everyone sits. One uses their right hand to pick the fish off the bone, break off a piece of vegetable, and/or scoop up the seasoned rice, squeeze it into a ball, and mange!! Having been a vegetarian for the past few years, I found myself struggling with the meat, but as everyone eats, people take it upon themselves to break off chunks of meat, sometimes tugging the chunk between two people with harder meats, and distributing it to each person’s portion of the bowl.  I decided to put my vegetarian diet on hold while in Senegal, and boy was that a good idea. Not only do they eat meat for just about every meal, but these dishes are to die for! They are hearty,saucy, spicy, and you just can not overeat because everyone is sharing from the same bowl. I’ve found it to be the perfect amount per meal, and although I sometimes crave more vegetables than I get, I couldn’t be more impressed with the cooking.

That evening, I accompanied my sisters to nearby boutiques (small corner shops where you can buy anything from cell phone credit to ice cream), and went on a brief neighborhood tour with the other 15 US students living in Oakam. Our neighborhood lies in north-western Dakar, bordering the Atlantic. It’s only a 15 minute walk from our area to the beach, which is truly a gift! Walking to the beach after a long, HOT, Dakar day and swimming in the Atlantic could not be more refreshing! There is a small restaurant at our local Mamelles Beach, and a beachfront perfect for swimming, football, or watching the sunset.

Aside from the beach, Oakam is famous for an enormous monument to the African Renaissance and a hilltop lighthouse.  La Monument de la Renaissance Africaineis a solid copper statue built in 2010 that commemorates the Rebirth of Africa and Senegalese independence.  It is 49m tall, and atop a hill of approximately 100m, therefore, climbing the stairs and taking an elevator to the top guarantees quite the panoramic view of the Dakar peninsula.

I can thoroughly say I am pleased with my neighborhood placement, fellow students, and family in Dakar.  There is a dirt soccer field next to my house, a nearby beach, incredible food, interesting and genuine people visiting 24/7, and Wally Seck and Maitre Gims playing in my house all the time.  Yes, it is hot, and Dakar is definitely an adjustment, but I am feeling positive and like I adjusted relatively fast. Quality time socializing is an enormous part of the lifestyle here, which gives me the opportunity not only to become close to my family and neighbors, but to practice French all the time! I am grateful for all my French teachers and classmates in the past who helped me build enough ability to successfully communicate my needs, and to engage in more than surface level conversation with Senegalese family and friends. French is the official language of Senegal, however, everyone in the capital and surrounding area speak both French and Wolof. Learning Wolof has been slow thus far, but I hope that through my class sessions and full immersion, my understanding will continue to grow.

I called my Dad on face-time the other day and found myself saying, “I was born to live in Senegal!” Obviously, Dakar is only one small peninsula and CIEE has provided me a very smooth start, but I thoroughly love it here.  With every day comes an adventure I never could have anticipated. I look forward to many excursions, my classes, and beginning my Internship at the Ministry of the Environment for the Senegalese Government!

Chile| Torres del Paine


There is a beautiful national park in the south of Chile where you can find penguins, seals, cormorants, and a wide range of other wildlife. In the beautiful mountains and glaciers of Patagonia there are numerous opportunities to hike, take a boat tour, or fine dine in a seafood restaurant along the sea. The slow but strong impacts of climate change are prevalent as you pass the snow capped mountains and watch the wildlife hunt for food. They are having to adapt to new temperatures and climates, while adjusting to a transforming ecosystem.

I spent the first day taking a boat tour to Isla Magdalena where I spent an hour walking around an island covered in small Magellanic penguins and seagulls. Along the shore were also a flock of South American terns that reminded me of Alameda County’s local Least Tern. The penguins burrowed in little caves that they buried in the ground and I think some may have even had chicks. It was an amazing experience to see the penguins so up close, as I especially appreciated their waddle and interactions with us and each other.

After walking the island, we boarded the boat and took off towards another small island that forbids tourists to walk on it. There we watched elephant seals, seal lions, and other species lounging and climbing on the rocks. They allowed us to climb up to the roof of the boat to sit and watch from a distance. I felt so tiny sitting on this small boat in the middle of a vast ocean. The blue sky was endless and it reminded me that the only limits we have are those we put on ourselves. It is not easy to break comfort zones and put in the actions necessary to experience life for all it has to offer, but through time, patience, and discipline I found myself learning to love trying new things and exploring by myself. Spending so much time by myself has given me a new comfortability in being alone and staying focused on my personal priorities. While, this may seem outside of my trip to the south of Chile, it was through these experiences of traveling that gave me more independence and confidence in myself.

Having the opportunity to tour through the extraordinary lands of Torres del Paine the following morning was also a life changing experience. The mountains were covered in snow and the water of the lakes were a beautiful turquoise blue. We visited a cave that was once inhabited by the indigenous people of Patagonia, the Selk’nam and Aonikenk. After walking over a swinging bridge and through a small valley covered in sand we were met with beautiful glaciers. The sand and small rocks hit us hard as the wind blew strong. Once again I was met with feelings of being so powerful, but so small. I let the wind blow me around as I danced along the water and stared into the cloudless sky. It was during this tour that I saw an armadillo in person for my first time, he was super cute! There was also a beautiful eagle that landed right next to where we were resting. After months of spending time within the city and university, it was great to get away to nature and sit alone with the sounds of wildlife and land practically untouched.

I cannot wait to return to Chile and Argentina in the future to explore more of the beautiful lands and regions. There are so many hidden gems within the North and South of both countries, it is impossible to see everything within such little time, especially while staying on top of school.

Chile | Spaces for Memory


Memorials and memory spaces are popular ways that the lives of the disappeared go remembered. Often the memory sites have lists of names, photographs, or other artifacts that remind us of the lives that were lost during the brutal dictatorships of the seventies and eighties. Chile’s dictatorship under Pinochet began in 1973. Thousands of people were tortured and exiled and a small percentage of them were killed aka disappeared.

Memorials such as the one at Villa Grimaldi, where many of these photos were taken, are examples of how spaces once filled with torture, violence, and state terrorism can be transformed into spaces for healing, education, reflection, and community. Villa Grimaldi was a torture center during the dictatorship in Chile that began in 1973 and ended in 1990. Today, Villa Grimaldi has trees, fountains, a pool, and other parts of the memorial that are remainders of the dictatorship, but most of the site was destroyed. There is a rose garden that gives memory to the women who disappeared and a fountain to represent cleansing and recognition of those who were killed by death flights.

One thing that is common in nearly all of the memorials I visited is a section of the memorial or memory site to be designated to informing visitors on a brief history of the dictatorship and why there are names, testimonies, and photographs that represent something so much larger than I could understand. My classes often questioned who should create the memorials and who they should be made for. Some of the memorials/ memory sites we went to were Chile’s National Stadium,The Museum of Human Rights and Memory, and The General Cemetery.

The museum was very informative and shed light on connections between the violation of human rights in Chile to violation of human rights around the world. They had audios, videos, and other artifacts that brought me back in time and gave me a look into the horrors that took place during the dictatorship. Newspaper clips, coloring books, and life size images of people on the wall gave us something to hold on to, connect with, and feel. The difference between the museum and other sites for memory is that the museum was curated and has galleries that change throughout the year.

The cemetery on the other hand holds its memories and information like a box with a thousand keys. It cannot move nor can it be replaced. The cemetery provides us with a much more personal interaction with those who had been lost. It is not just seeing their names or watching interviews, it is being in the presence of their spirit and their area of rest.

While some may try their best to forget the past, the past lives through our present. It defines our today, but we get to write the definition. How do we heal from trauma and connect to our past while creating a sustainable foundation for our future? Memories provide us with context, hope, and a point of reference as we move forward.

We often discussed: how do we learn from memory? What do we do with the archives of our past? Does public symbology provide spaces for healing or reinstitute trauma?

Obstacles regarding memory and space are universal and can be seen throughout the world. We fight for representation of the Tongan people, the people of the land in which UCLA rests, and the people of South America fight for advocacy of the Mapuche people as well as other groups. Our memories of trauma and historical events vary depending on our community and time in life. We can utilize our memories as a community for social justice, art, and so much more.

Chile | Spaces for Reflection, Healing, and Education


Nov 23, 2018

Throughout Santiago you can find spaces for reflection, healing, and education. These spaces provide resources for occupational training, information on human rights and legal policies, as well as opportunities to organize and build solidarity. Organizations such as ​INFOCAP: Instituto de Formacion y Capacitacion Popular: La Universidad del Trabajador ​work vigorously to tackle the alleviation of poverty in Chile. INFOCAP in particular focuses on providing classes and training in a variety of occupations to people with the highest need in the low income communities of Santiago. There is also a beautiful space with peacocks, rabbits, chickens, and other animals where people can sit, relax, work, and take a breathe outside of the concrete jungle.

Chile is also known for its street art which can be found in Valparaiso, the South, and in the bustling capital streets of Santiago. One of many examples is the Cultural Arts Center, GAM. It is a free space that has a variety of different artifacts, art exhibits, and spaces to sit. Their book store was also quite nice.

I think it is important that there are free spaces available for people to engage with art, books, and education. Art makes space for expression, healing, and reflection. It can be a form of education that brings people together and challenges us to engage with trauma, politics, and other subjects that we may not always be as receptive to in everyday conversation.

Other things that are important to acknowledge when considering human rights and social organizing in Chile and many regions of South America, is the history of dictatorship and state terrorism. People lived in fear and repression for decades with little to no opportunity to express themselves or speak out against the military or anyone in power. Today, there continues to be a complicated relationship between the people, politics, and police. People are still sprayed with water and the streets can be filled with tear gas as people unite against the injustice that is taking place on a national and international level. The land, water, and other natural resources are being stolen from the people of Chile by Transnational Corporations, primarily ran by the United States. This particularly hurts the Mapuche people living in the North and the South. There is a global trend of violence and exclusion against indigenous people and other people of color. After learning a bit of the history of Argentina and Chile I hope to continue to expand my knowledge in this subject, Spanish, international relations, and a variety of histories and socioeconomic research.

Education, whether through art, school, or experiences, provides opportunities to grow and shed light on possibilities and realities that are beyond us. It gives us a gateway to explore and question. Education leads to better understanding and through better understanding we find compassion. Art and activism give people a feeling of purpose and hope. What is happening throughout the world is difficult to comprehend and we may not always find the best solutions. Yet, the consistent desire to be better as an individual, as a people, and as a world gives us an opportunity to acknowledge the problems at hand and work towards cultivating a world filled with peace, love, equity, and freedom.

Chile | Day Trips to Valparaiso and Reñaca


November 15, 2018

I spent a day trip going to Valparaiso and Reñaca, which are two towns North of Santiago. In Valparaiso, we walked through the streets looking at the street art strewn about every alley, wall, and window pane. The color and precision amazed me. I have so much admiration for those who do this kind of work, because it takes so much practice, confidence, and skill. An amazing thing about art is everyone interprets it differently and everyone notices different things. The art on these homes and stores is different than going to a museum or any other visual art, because it is everywhere in this little town and it is so easy to miss something that could have been small, but powerful. Everywhere around you is a canvas. Most of the art had a lot of symbolism that varied in genre. There was a lot of political symbology critiquing gender, labor, education, and class relations, as well as a lot of advocacy and recognition of the indigenous people who once ruled this land.

In Reñaca, I was met with a relaxing time at the beach and a spectacular sunset. It would be my first and last time at a beach in South America, because there wasn’t any in Buenos Aires and the closest one to Santiago is Viña del Mar, around two hours away. The sandy beach was warm and the waves were cool. We ate gelato and enjoyed once with the family of a friend who I went with. Once is a meal that is very popular in Chile. There is a small breakfast consisting of tea, bread, fruit, and occasionally eggs. The lunch is relatively large, around 2:00pm. Instead of dinner, may people have what is called once. Which often consists of bread, avocado spread, egg scrambles, ham, cheese, tea, coffee, and other little finger foods. I must admit that I did not have much variety in my diet during my time in Chile, but that the woman I lived with in Argentina was better at diversifying our meal plan.

It was a beautiful day trip spent exploring a variety of different sceneries. I enjoyed taking public transportation and walk along the busy avenues. The buses in Valpo were also very special, because they were colorful and played music. It was overall such a warm, light experience that had me rekindle my love for murals and street art in ways that I had forgotten. It gave me time to step out of the streets of Santiago and school and focus on what’s really important to me: art, activism, and nature.

Argentina | A Wonder of the World


Oct 16, 2018

I spent a weekend in Uruguay exploring the small town of Colonia. It was a much needed break from the bustling streets of Buenos Aires and reminded me of the simple things I appreciate in life. The best way to get to Uruguay is on a ferry, which takes less than two hours to get there, and is really affordable considering you are going to another country. Many people in my program only went for the day, but my friend and I chose to stay the night there and I am very glad we did. The second day was the funnest for me, because our Air BnB host showed us around the streets of Colonia and introduced us to some great new friends and connections that we would not have met if we did not have such great help from him.

Colonia is a small, boat town with a good vibe, overpriced food, and an opportunity to sit by the water and lose track of time. The street art in South America is beautiful and very popular overall, often it speaks politically or socially to issues regarding the country/ community. I had a great time & definitely recommend as a weekend getaway to anyone looking for some mid-evil, small town architecture and fun!

Oct 20, 2018

I also spent a life changing weekend in Iguazu Falls where I encountered one of the seven wonders of the world. It truly was indescribably wonderful. Las cataratas (waterfalls) cover a portion of the border between Brazil & Argentina and cover the lands of the national park on both sides. The experience was indescribable, so I am just going to post some photos here and leave it at that. If you ever have the opportunity to go, DO IT!

Argentina | From a Rough Start to a Hopeful Beginning



Pre-departure paranoia. Excited for what is to come, but anxious to know what that will really look like. It seems there is so much to do in preparation for such a long time gone.. Am I forgetting anything? I cannot wait for the adventure that lies ahead, but I know that I must be thoughtful in packing lightly and doing everything I can ahead of time to have the best transition.


As I approach closer to departure day a wide range of emotions flood over me. I am excited, nervous, anxious, curious, and somewhat in awe.


My good friend and mother saying goodbye at the airport in SFO!

I turned twenty today! I decided to make what was meant to be two posts into one, because the first one “Pre-departure paranoia” was too short. It has been a very long last seventy-six hours. After a heart felt goodbye to my grandparents, mother, and boyfriend, I left SFO airport on Thursday at noon and landed in Newark 8:30. With less than an hour layover and a previously delayed flight, I was rushing to make it to my next gate. Of course, the gate on my boardingpass was not the gate I was actually departing from (it had been changed suddenly). Once I realized that I was standing at the gate for b-b-Barcelona, rather than b-b-Buenos Aires, I knew I was in big trouble. Sure enough- I had missed my flight, the only flight that goes to Buenos Aires once a day. Fortunately, one of my closest friends at UCLA is from New York and I was able to meet him in New Jersey to stay the night and morning with him at his beautiful vacation home. His family treated me like I was one of them and words cannot express how grateful I am to have had them at such a great time of need.

Every Lyft driver I met on the East Coast was super nice and one even gave me a few gifs for the road!

My flight was long, but I was able to meet two new friends, a couple native to Buenos Aires who agreed to show me around the city sometime. Despite all of the hardships, I have been coming away with so much patience and wisdom as a result. It also has made me realize how little you need as long as you have yourself and good people in your circle.

I wish I could say that I was feeling great right now and that everything is going so smoothly, but that is not the case. I am still waiting for my luggage which was left in Newark, my WiFi will not turn on AT ALL, my computer won’t charge, and literally- all of the basic, privileged, materialistic factors that make life comfortable and at ease are seeming to give me the hardest of times. Is that my lesson for the week? Let go of the material, take care of the physical and spiritual.. I do not need any material to define my experience. Stay calm, patient, openminded, optimistic, and thankful. I look forward. to writing in a few days when everything is more settled. For now, here are pictures of friends, family, and blessings.

August 27, 2018

Update: My first week in Argentina is officially over. I finally received my luggage with everything in it and have been slowly but surely getting myself organized. It has been amazing so far. The city is flowing with life and is filled with memories of Argentina’s rich past.

The feminist movement is stronger than ever as people gather throughout the streets demanding the legalization of abortion, workers rights, and other basic needs! Today was my first day of class at the Universidad Torquato di Tella. I skip to this point to add some context to why I chose this program in particular and how relevant it has been already in regards to the work I do. We discussed the foundation of human rights and what the world would be like without rights. What are rights and how do they differ from liberties? I chose this program in particular to delve into human rights and the cultural memory aspect of development, economics, and social justice. One of the beautiful things that I have fallen in love with in Buenos Aires already is how strong the LGBTQ+ community is here. Despite it’s size, the community is strong and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved and find safe, queer spaces throughout the city.

There is a constant drive for change and demanding people’s rights. Although, many of the buildings consist of old, abandoned European architecture.. the people within Argentina refuse to be forgotten.

August 28, 2018

Two of my favorite adventures I have gone on with the program are to Estancia and San Telmo. San Telmo is where a ten block market filled with Argentinian tradition and tourist traps is located. San Telmo is considered to be the oldest barrio in Buenos Aires. In 1871, affluent thriving San Telmo was struck by Yellow Fever. Thousands of people died and those who were still alive believed that the disease was on everything that they touched, so the upperclass left to the North, leaving everything behind. People from all over moved into San Telmo over the next few decades, finding houses filled with jewelry, antiques, and chandeliers. Instead of keeping everything, they threw it out onto the streets to sell. Today, those same streets are filled with items and antiques of the like. As I was walking down the street, I was able to imagine and feel the people who once lived here, moving everything out onto the streets where some wealthy buyer would come and pick it up. You could feel the dynamics of social class and race between interactions both personal and interpersonal. Although, I had to leave early to pick up my luggage, the little time spent there was one for the books.

A few days later we took a trip to Estancia. At Estancia, I had the opportunity to ride bikes along the country side, practice archery for the first time, drink lots of mate, milk a cow, and ride a horse in the sunset. WOW, what a mouth full and what a full day! It was such an amazing experience and was probably the first day I spent not having to worry about anything, but having a good time. The food was amazing and all of the animals had so much room to roam. I have been making some great friends so far both from Argentina and the United States and am excited to continue sharing all the memories made! Hope you enjoy.

Norway | What I’ve Learned from Study Abroad


I’m about to go home. It’s been four months that have been both exhilarating and exhausting. I’ve been surrounded by people I love, I’ve been completely lonely, and everything in between. Now that it’s time for me to head home, here are a few things that this experience has taught me.  

Leaving is Hard, but Necessary 

Something I’ve often struggled with, because I move around a lot, is making connections with people. I’m always acutely aware of the fact that I will be leaving eventually, and I’m worried that connecting with people emotionally will make leaving so much harder. That is definitely true, but every time I do leave a place, I’m reminded of the fact that friendships can last despite distance. For every casual friendship that falls apart when I leave a place, there’s a friendship I maintain. I now have places to stay when I next decide to visit England, or Germany, and I can offer the same of LA. Technology makes it so easy to stay in touch with people, and because so many friendships are conducted online,  it’s important not to devalue them for that reason. My friends and I may have cried when we said goodbye to each other, but our reunions will be so much sweeter.  


Your Life Is On Hold

Something that I found difficult was that life back home moves on without you. I’m very involved in life at UCLA, and it’s really hard to keep up with things that are happening while you’re not there. As the music director of an a cappella group, I faced a lot of challenges. (You can see me on the phone via FaceTime in the photo above, during our first meeting of the quarter). I couldn’t teach music over FaceTime, and sending recordings and notes could only get me so far. Additionally, half of our group is made up of new singers whom I’ve never met. Having to keep up with life back home can make you feel stuck in the place where you are. But try to remember that this is time you have earned to live life somewhere new! If it gets overwhelming, you are well within your rights to take a break from life back home and focus on the present. I’m excited to get back to UCLA, but I will have to catch up on certain things when I get home, and that’s also part of the deal.  

 You Have to Leave to Come Home 

I have grown so much as a person, and I don’t even know the extent of it yet. Studying abroad changes you in very subtle ways, and I’m sure I won’t understand all of it until I’ve returned home and settled back in. I know now that I can spend lots of time alone, but I am an extrovert, and living with other people makes me happy. I know that I will get to the airport way earlier than I need to, so I need other people to balance out my anal-retentiveness. I know that I am resourceful when faced with a challenge, and I can help myself through any problem. Coming home is such an invigorating feeling. I love doing it every time. It makes you understand more about your worth as a person. I know a lot more about another culture now, and that can only help me in the long run. 

It’s been a wild adventure, and now I have to go home and use the experiences I’ve picked up at UCLA. Honestly, I’m so excited.