Following their competition schedules of the 2012-13 academic calendar, fifteen Ohio State student-athletes will be traveling this summer as part of the Ohio State Study Abroad Program. Overall, the international study abroad group is comprised of eight women and seven men from 12 different varsity programs, traveling to eight different countries. The Buckeyes will be updating family, friends and fans on their experiences overseas this summer via the blog entries below. Here is a list of participating study abroad student-athletes:

Athletics Support
Ashley Adams, Women’s Basketball (Great Britain); Kate Beletskaya, Rowing (Czech Rebulic); Kris Done, Men’s Gymnastics (Brazil); Krystina Hollowell, Women’s Ice Hockey (Brazil); Heidi Liou, Synchronized Swimming (Great Britain); Andrew McDonald, Fencing (Brazil); Jeff Michael, Men’s Ice Hockey (Brazil); Michael Moser, Spirit (Hungary); Sophia Pifer, Field Hockey (Jerusalem); Korbin Smith, Men’s Track and Field (Ethiopia); MaKenzie Schlemitz, Women’s Soccer (Vietnam); Dara Schnoll, Rowing (Vietnam)

Greg Dutton, Men’s Lacrosse(Czech Republic); Tyler Frederick, Men’s Lacrosse (Czech Republic); Victoria Lazur, Rowing (Quebec)

Quotes From Participating Study Abroad Student-Athletes Prior to Departure:
“As a business major I am interested to see how Brazil’s business customs are different from our own. As our world becomes more globalized, it is valuable to learn that not all cultures practice business in the same manner.”
– Jeff Michael, men’s ice hockey

“I’ve never been anywhere in the Middle East and though it would be a great chance to experience cultures that I’ve never been exposed to.”
– Sophia Pifer, field hockey

“I think this experience will help me be able to work with different types of people of different types of backgrounds. It will also show future employers that I am able to work in diverse and busy situations.”
– Ashley Adams, women’s basketball

Wednesday, May 1
27 hours later.....

It's been a long long road to Sao Jose do Rio Preto but we have finally arrived. We managed to survive a very sickening and turbulent plane trip from Miami to São Paulo where we waited at the airport for nearly two hours after we landed. Our patience was tried but we got some food and water and eventually got on our bus and headed for Rio Preto. The bus trip took about eight or nine hours which included a lunch break and other pit stops. The scenery on the drive was gorgeous and the weather was perfect as we drove with the windows down the entire way. We even got to see the sunset on the Brazilian countryside. Everyone seems to be getting along so far and is open to everything even though we were traveling for so long and in dire need of showers and general hygiene. We eventually arrived around 6:15 and got to take a lovely cold shower... We are headed out in a little bit for dinner and to celebrate Ashley's birthday. The city, from what we've seen briefly, seems pretty nice. Slightly industrial but fairly large for being towards the interior of the country. I'm really excited for what the trip has to bring so far despite the language barrier being a huge problem but luckily there are students here that speak some Portuguese. I'll definitely get better at ordering lunch and saying excuse me and sorry.

More to come later. Off for the first night in Brasil!!!

For more click here

Hi, my name is Heidi Liou and I will be in London studying abroad for a month. I've never been to Europe before so I'm ready to immerse myself in something completely new. Everyone always encourages me to travel while I'm young and have the time to do it, but I hope I can travel a lot in the future as well. The study abroad program has us in the classroom from 10 a.m.-12 p.m., Monday-Thursday, followed by tours and hands-on experiences each day. I will be studying the history of Great Britain, reading A Midsummer Night's Dream and experiencing the culture of London. I will be blogging my journey so I can share my excitement with you. It's adventure time!

Friday, May 3
From Columbus to Newark to London

Today is the big day. When I wake up tomorrow, I'll be in London. I'm getting antsy. I've been ready to leave since my last final exam on Tuesday. It's been a while since I've done something completely new. I want to meet new people and be challenged to adapt to a new situation. On this trip, I hope to delight my taste buds in something new and open my eyes to magic. I am so blessed to have this opportunity to travel and to have the support of OSU behind my back. This 10-hour flight from Columbus to Newark, N.J., to London is pretty long, so I hope to meet someone new I can share my excitement with. Everyone in the study abroad program was supposed to find their own way to and back from London. There are some other Ohio State students on the same flight as me, so it's nice to have guidance. I am, however, a little nervous to find our way from the airport to the apartment. People are probably going to take a cab, but it's a 10-minute walk, so I hope someone wants to take the free route with me.

Goodbye comfort zone, hello to the unknown! My mind is open to all things new. -Heidi

Saturday, May 4
Water park ... Worked on the tan today.

The water park that we visited today was absolutely amazing. We were splashing around on the slides and lazy river for eight hours today. It was the most fun I've ever had at a water park. The highlight was definitely that there were minimal rules and the employees were extremely laid back. Everything there in Rio Preto runs off of common sense and your own risk so you can have as much fun as you want but no one acts foolishly. It's extremely refreshing to have the kind of freedom and comfort even though there are less precautions taken. Now the slides and rides are extremely safe and built to code but its just there was no whistle blowing or crazy rules on how you had swim or act. Everyone behaved sensibly but had fun. After talking to some locals law suits are extremely rare because they get so drawn out and expensive.

For more click here

Sunday, May 5
Out and About

One of my peers asked "So, is Harrods like the Macys of London?" I thought it was, but a little more high end. Turns out, it's A LOT more high end and we were out of there within 10 minutes. It was fascinating to window shop at Harrods, but I don't think I could afford anything from there. Exploring London in a big group was difficult, so I and another student, Gina, went off to do our own thing. We wanted to go to H&M but it was only open from 2-6 p.m. Two thoughts about that: 1. Wow, it doesn't open until 2 p.m.? and 2. It's only open for four hours? Later when we passed the area again, around 1:30 p.m., we saw the doors wide open with customers shopping in it! Guess London has flexible work hours. We also walked to Buckingham Palace and went to TopShop, Max & Spencer's, and Primark. We left the apartment at 11 a.m. and didn't come back until 4 p.m. After meeting up with more people at the apartment, we went to the local pub where I ordered fish fingers and chips. I unsuccessfully threw some darts around and met the owner's son, Harrison, who answered every question we wanted to know about London. We then went to the Chelsea soccer stadium, Stamford Bridge, and walked around Chelsea some more. It was a very eventful day and tomorrow we are going on an open-top bus tour around London!

Random comment: Not carrying around a cell phone is awesome. Some people bought a prepaid phone to use, but I'm going completely cell phone free. Yes it's difficult to plan events, but I'm happy to see people engaged in the present moment.

Monday, May 6
We arrived in Brazil! The flight was nearly eight hours and then we had a seven hour bus ride to Sao Jose do Rio Preto. When we arrived we got our hotel rooms and the hotel is very nice. The past couple days we have experienced the food in Brazil. They love their meat! Pretty much every restaurant has filet mignon, and lean cuts of beef. Every morning we get a good breakfast with fresh fruit, coffee, and pastries. We have met a university student from UNESP named Raphael and he has shown us around the city; and since he is fluent in Portuguese it helps with ordering food and talking to the locals.

Sunday we went to the water park which was a lot different than the ones in the states. There were no life guards and pretty much no rules, which was awesome because as a group we were able to go down the slides all together. We have gone to the university and had the opportunity to talk to students that are majoring in translation, so they could speak English, which was nice.

The culture is much different but many of us are learning their customs already. The people here are very clean; they do not eat with their hands and they take showers 3 times a day. Everyone here speaks Portuguese so as travelers the term EW Nao Falo, which in Portuguese means I do not speak English, has come in handy.

Krystina Hollowell in Brazil Krystina Hollowell in Brazil

Monday, May 6
Tower of London

Today we went on a Big Bus Tour all around London. We sat on the upper deck and enjoyed the sun. The weather was beautiful! I sat next to a lady from Australia and she was touring the world with her husband. We stopped at the Tower of London and took a boat back to Westminster Abbey. I went to check out some thrift shops but was disappointed :(. Where is the good London fashion? For dinner, I bought a slow cooked scotch pie and some cream cakes from the local grocery store. Food is good here, but I want to get a taste of everything.

Heidi Liou  in London Heidi Liou  in London

Thursday, May 9
Today we toured Parliament. Our professor knows a colleague from Ohio State that knows someone who works in Parliament so we were able to take a private tour. We sat in on two "debates" but it was calm and people came prepared to talk about their concerns. The architecture inside is absolutely stunning. I kept on imagining what it's like to work in such an old, intricately designed building. It's pretty amazing how old all of the buildings in London are. After Parliament, our class was finished for the day. I ate dinner at Whole Foods and ate some baklava for dessert. The Whole Foods in London is pretty sweet. It's three stories tall and on the top floor are different restaurants. Much of the food is the same, but it does have some different products because they source locally.

Heidi Liou in England

Wednesday, May 8
From New Jersey to Jerusalem
After a very long day of traveling I am finally in Jerusalem. The flight from Newark to Tel Aviv took about 10 hours and while certainly not comfortable it was made bearable by free movies. I knew when I first decided to go to Israel that security could be an issue but I was still surprised by some of the additional security measures. To begin, we had to pass through an additional security check at Newark to be allowed into the waiting area for our gate. Once on the plane we had to wait almost an hour for baggage to be removed because it belonged to passengers who were coming on from another flight but had been delayed and Israel does permit baggage to enter the country without its owner. Finally, no one is allowed to leave their seat for the last 30 minutes of the flight.

On our first full day we had the opportunity to tour the Israeli Supreme Court and even sit in on an appeal of a murder charge. It was really interesting to hear what our Supreme Court guide had to say about the Israeli justice systems as well as some of the comments our tour guide makes because it's so clear that there are different political narratives here. Our group had a long talk after dinner with our teachers, one from OSU and one from Indiana University who are both extremely knowledgeable about the region, and we all remembered hearing comments that were clearly politicized and sometimes flat out wrong.

Tomorrow is our first trip into the Old City which should be exciting!

Friday, May 10
I'm on a train to Edinburgh, Scotland! It's a four-hour train ride from London and we are staying in a hostel for two days. The train station we departed from had platform 9 3/4 from Harry Potter! I'm excited to be somewhere new. Time is flying by fast already. I met some students from Indiana University last night. They are all here, living in our apartment complex, for different journalism internships. There's also a group of criminal justice students from the University of Nebraska that we've seen twice so far. They are actually on our train right now! What a coincidence.

I've met so many awesome people so far. People don't usually talk on the bus or tube (London underground subway) but I like striking up conversations with strangers. People who know me think I'm either really friendly or maybe crazy for talking to strangers but I'm just curious. I think life is all about interaction.

Saturday, May 11
The last four days have been filled with activities. Almost every day we visit the campus of UNESP. The staff there told us that it is like the Harvard of the Brazil. This university is so different from Ohio State. It's tiny, doesn't have anywhere near the technology that we have, and the students take more than 10 classes a semester! Everywhere we go people stare at us, which is a little uncomfortable at times. But we have learned that in Brazil it's not considered rude to stare.

We were able to take a tour of a sugar cane mill where they gave us a lecture on how the work is done, and they let us try actual sugar cane. The company is called Noble Bioenergy and the people there were really nice.

I had the best meal of my life at a Brazilian steak house. It was 20 dollars for all you can eat. They had about 20 different kinds of beef, chicken, and fish. They even had an all you can eat sushi bar! I tried everything, even a chicken heart, which I found out what it was after I put it in my mouth and started chewing. I don't think I'll be trying chicken heart again anytime soon.

My favorite part of the trip so far has been being able to visit Projecto Viva. It is a government-funded after-school program for children with working parents to go and be able to learn. The schooling here is different than in our country. They go to school for about five hours then they are done for the day. We were able to talk to the students whose ages ranged from about six to 15. Even though they spoke Portuguese we still managed to try and have conversations; mostly by drawing pictures or using our hands to talk. We were able to play soccer with them and those kids are really, really good. They pretty much made us all look like fools, but it was a lot of fun. We sat in on classes where the students learn dances, the English language, and even how to draw graffiti. In Brazil it's not illegal to do graffiti as long as you write your name when you're done.

We are now leaving rio preto and on our way to São Paulo where we stay for a couple days until we leave for Salvador. We get to go to the soccer game on Sunday which is one of the biggest games of the year. They described it as our Super Bowl and everyone is beyond excited for the experience.

Krystina Hollowell in Brazil Krystina Hollowell in Brazil

Hey Buckeye Nation!!
It has been one week since I boarded a plane in Columbus and headed to Brazil with my 16 other fellow travelers! Click Here to read about my adventure abroad and view my photo gallery.

Sunday, May 12
This morning we went to the cafe in Scotland where JK Rowling first started writing Harry Potter. It's called The Elephant House. Then we boarded our train back to London. Scotland was beautiful, but the weather was very cold. We climbed a small mountain to King Arthur's seat and the winds were so strong that I could be leaning at a 45 degree angle, but not fall over. It was a pretty difficult hike and I did not expect to be rock climbing on all fours. We also toured the Castle of Edinburgh and the Holyrood House. I enjoy being led by a tour guide but I'd rather wander on my own to experience the city. I had my first hostel experience which was alright. I'm definitely used to being pampered and living in hotels so this hostel was very different. I shared a room full of bunk beds with four other girls from my class. I was surprised that there was free breakfast though! I tried haggis (cow stomach) for the first time, which tasted like hamburger but mashed up in smaller pieces. I ate beans, eggs, granola, and mushrooms for breakfast (not all mixed together). Pretty interesting breakfast I would say.

Heidi Liou in England Heidi Liou in England

Sunday, May 12
I've been in Jerusalem for less than a week and already I've seen and heard countless things that will stay with me for the rest of my life. This study abroad program is designed to examine some extremely complex and controversial political, cultural, and religious issues. In the past two days alone I've heard stories of someone being denied internships for not being Jewish, pregnant women being denied entry at checkpoints, heard stories of the extremely unequal housing situation, and stood beside the infamous separation/security wall/fence/barrier (terminology varies depending on who you are talking to). So many of these stories and images have honestly really upset me and while nothing can make me forget them I have also had some very positive experiences that give me some hope that maybe someday the different groups in this city, and region as a whole, will find a way to respect one another and treat each other as equals. On Friday night our group was invited into the home of a Jewish family for Shabbat dinner. This family opened up their home to 13 total strangers just so that we could learn about their religious and cultural traditions. Such openness and hospitality is astounding. Yesterday our group visited a community called Neve Shalom, located about 30 minutes outside of Jerusalem. What makes this village unique is that it is made up of Israeli Jews and Palestinians who chose to live together. The village has a bilingual school (Arabic and Hebrew) and works very hard to create a community based on equality. Finally, just this evening, I heard a story that will take some explaining but shows incredible compassion that I think should certainly be recognized and applauded. A Palestinian man was recently convicted of throwing stones at Israeli police and sentenced to house arrest. However, the court specified that he could not serve this house arrest in his own home but rather had to stay in the residence of a family in west Jerusalem (the mainly Jewish side of the city). If the man couldn't find a family to stay with he would have to serve his time in prison instead. One Israeli man in the courtroom that day volunteered to have the man stay with him. In so doing this man has willingly submitted to house arrest as well since he is required to ensure that the Palestinian man is in fact remaining in the house. I was really moved to hear this story of an Israeli man who volunteered to have another man stay in his home and submit to house arrest just to make sure that this Palestinian man does not have to stay in prison.

Tuesday, May 14
Sunday was my birthday! And I have to say spending it in São Paulo was pretty amazing. We started our day off by going to a Afro Brazilian museum that had art and artifacts from the slave age and forward. It had a lot of outfits and farming tools from that era. They wouldn't let us take pictures, which was surprising because there honestly has been no rules in this state since we have been here.

After the museum we went to a semifinal soccer game at Estado Municipal between the Corinthians and Santos. It was a home game for the Corinthians so we rooted for them. The game gets so intense that if you root for any team but the home team you are fenced off and police officers surround you to protect you from other fans. There were over 40,000 fans at the game and people went insane. I have never experienced anything like it. They would yell at the refs all in sync, sing, dance, and scream. I would compare it to the Ohio State vs Michigan game, but five times more intense. When we left we actually had to run through the tunnel because the other team's fans were trying to rush where we were so they could fight the Corinthian fans, which was a little scary.

On Monday we went to UNESP São Paulo which is an institute of art. We were able to watch the choir sing, people play instruments and also watch people paint. The students there are very talented because it is very hard to get into the school.

We then went to Paulista avenue which is the financial center of Latin America. After we went there we went to Praca De Square which is the center of São Paulo. It was really cool with a lot of old buildings and tons of people. There are over 30 million people in the city!

Today we left for Salvador and right now we are sitting in the airport waiting to get on the plane. Security was very lenient. We could take water through, didn't have to take off our shoes or take anything out of our bags. So it's a little different here in Brazil, but not having so many rules is actually kind of nice. People here aren't out of control and they don't take advantage of the lack of rules, so it works!

Krystina Hollowell in Brazil Krystina Hollowell in Brazil

Tuesday, May 14
Every day here in Jerusalem I see or hear something new and amazing but I think today was probably the most influential day for me. We started out the morning with a trip to Bethlehem where we visited the Church of the Nativity. The church is built upon the site considered where Jesus was born. I touched the star which marks the exact spot and less than three hours later that same hand was pushing the cage-like turn styles in an Israeli check point. Bethlehem is located in the West Bank so in order to get back into Jerusalem, under Israeli control, you have to go through a checkpoint. Everyone on the trip had heard stories about how difficult the checkpoints can be but we were all still shocked by what we saw. We went through at a time that wasn't very busy and having American passports got us through with no problems but it was still not the most pleasant experience. Lots of tight spaces and security checks.

Before going through the checkpoints we visited a refugee camp. One of the things about the camp that stuck to me the most was the graffiti on the walls, some pictures and some written. I was really blown away by the creativity and skill in some of the works, almost all of which are protests against Israeli policies. Today was certainly a tough day but I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to see these issues and spend all day discussing them with the other students on this trip, all of whom are absolutely wonderful.

Sophia Pifer in Jerusalem

Tuesday, May 14
Today we went to the Victoria & Albert Museum and it was the museum of my dreams. It had everything possible that was related to art- fashion, architecture, sculptures, and more. I like that most museums in London are free. They do a really good job encouraging people to become engaged with the fine arts. I wish more people appreciated art and saw the importance of creativity. I want to inspire people to find their creative side. Moreover, I want people to find that one thing that they are completely passionate about. That one thing that will keep them happy by being busy in something they love to do. That one thing that makes them proud to be who they are.

Saturday, May 18
Salvador has been great! This is exactly what I pictured Brazil being like. The beaches and waterfront view are incredible. We were able to take a bus tour all down the coast and see lighthouses, the harbor, good restaurants, shops, and night life.

It is surprising that the food is a little different here. Everything is cooked with a more spice and oil. I really like it but it is a little different than what I am used to. The oil used here is called palm oil and its thicker and sweeter than the olive oil I use at home.

We are studying at a school called ACBEU. It's also a lot different than UNESP in Rio Preto. It is smaller with a lot less students and technology. We have had Portuguese classes everyday and everyone is getting better and better at communicating. My home stay family is great! The two ladies, who I think are sisters, both speak not a word of English, so it's safe to say when I get back to the United States I will be the best charades player around!

We went to a school in a very poor part of town called Escola Aberta Do Calabar. It really made me realize how privileged we are in the United States. These kids live in houses that are falling apart and there are homeless people living in boxes on the street outside of the school. To get to the school we had to walk down a back ally and it's in the middle of what we would call the slums. The children at the school were amazing. They had us partner up with a child and we both drew a picture together and then presented it to the class in both English and Portuguese. After that they showed us a dance called "capoeira," where the children fake fight by kicking over each other and moving in a rhythmic pattern.

We have been learning about the Afro Brazilian religion called Candomble. We had several lectures on it. It is more of a spiritual religion where the followers believe that they are controlled by a spirit. This religion is consisted of healing, divination , initiation, sacrifice, possession and celebration. Their church sessions consist of people being over taken by their spirits from above and speaking in tongues. It honestly scared me going in the museum and hearing that they sacrifice animals and people become possessed. It was a good experience though being able to learn about a religion that I have never heard about.

We were finally able to go to in the ocean today. The water is about 70 degrees! It was great to finally get in the ocean but I cut my knee on a rock that was submerged in the water! We also learned Brazlian dances for two hours, which was really nice but everyone in the class was dripping sweat by the end of it. It was more like a Zumba class in a sauna because it was hot and muggy outside.

We leave for Lencois this weekend, and it's supposed to be one of the most beautiful places in Salavador. We will be hiking, zip-lining, repelling, swimming and enjoying great scenery while we are there. I've been looking forward to this part of the trip since we got to Brazil!

Krystina Hollowell in Brazil Krystina Hollowell in Brazil

Saturday, May 18
Hey Buckeye Nation -
We have been in Brazil for our second week. I can't believe that our trip is at the halfway point!! The pace had been incredibly fast and filled with so many unbelievable adventures. Click Here to read about my adventure abroad and view my photo gallery.

Saturday, May 18
After much anticipation and hearing great stories about LENÇÒIS from everyone we talked to, we were excited for our weekend getaway for the next 3 days! Click Here to read about my adventure abroad and view my photo gallery.

Saturday, May 18
Yesterday, I spent the whole day at Oxford University! I wandered around on my own and admired the architecture. I walked alongside a canal filled with house boats. A man was cleaning his houseboat and I asked him why he chose to live in it instead of a normal house. He said "I'm in the center of Oxford, yet I feel like I'm living in the countryside. Why not live in a houseboat!" It seemed so strange to me since the boats are so small. The houseboats even had mailboxes!

Today I ventured through Portobello Market, famous for vintage and fashion items. There were lots of booths that had "garage sale" type items, but marked up. The atmosphere is pretty neat, with lots of tourists and unique items for sale. I then went to the grocery store and bought some banana milk and some custard tarts. Cheers to trying new things every day!

Heidi Liou in England Heidi Liou in England Heidi Liou in England

Monday, May 20
Lencois was amazing! We finally were able to enjoy the weather outside and do a lot of activities that involved physical strength! The ride in was very different. There was every kind of animal imaginable on the side of the roads just walking alone. I saw horses, donkeys, pigs, chickens, cats, dogs and cattle roaming freely right next to the road!

Right when we get got off the bus from the six hour bus ride we climbed Morro Do Pai Inacia. The entire place used to be under water and it was 1200 meters high. It was a really uneven trail but it was a great thing to do to get our legs moving. We then headed for our hotel where again we got off the bus and walked there. We went through sand beaches, caves and all sorts of trails through the back woods to get there. The city is pretty small, and it seems like everyone knows everyone, but they are all very nice and surprisingly many of them speak English!

On Sunday we went to the Gruta Da Lapa Doce. It's a cave that is 45 meters down into the earth. It was really dark and they gave us flash lights to see. Unlike the caves I've been to in the States, this cave was actually really warm when we were inside and there wasn't much of a temperature change when we started getting deeper in. Once we were in the darkest part of the cave they had everyone shut off their flash flights and sit quietly. It was definitely something I have never experienced. It was a little scary because we were in a black cave and literally couldn't see anything! But it was really cool to get to experience something like that.

After the cave we went to Mucugezinho- poco do pato e paco do diabo, where we saw waterfalls and were able to swim in them. We were able to go down a zip line into the water, which was extremely fun. The water had a red tint to it and you couldn't see anything below the water. Swimming in it was a bit scary because you couldn't even see a foot down.

At dinner we were surprised with kids coming and performing capoeira. It's a type of Afro Brazilian dance that incorporates fighting and moving around and doing flips. It was really cool to watch and something I've never been able to experience before. We were able to bring the children gifts and they were very happy for that.

We spent today hanging out and shopping. It was our last day here. Since it was such a busy weekend we ended up sleeping the entire six hour bus ride home; which was great because everyone was exhausted.

Krystina Hollowell in Brazil Krystina Hollowell in Brazil

Monday, May 20
Today we went to the Cabinet War Rooms after class, which was a British government command center during World War II. I was in the underground building where Winston Churchill once stood. I tried to imagine being a civilian at that time and felt a tidal wave of emotion. There are some feelings that cannot be explained, but simply have to be experienced. There are things about war that I'll never be able to understand, but maybe some things are meant to stay a wonder.

For dinner, we had a class dinner at an Indian restaurant. Indian food is very prominent in London and some of my classmates tried curry for the first time! I love that eating is a part of our learning. We need food to fuel our brain! ;)

Tuesday, May 21
Went to the British Museum with some Buckeyes who were in town! They are backpacking around Europe, but started their travels in London, so we met up and spent the day at the museum. We saw the Rosetta Stone, some mummies, and a statue from Easter Island! Great day to be a Buckeye:)

Heidi Liou in England Heidi Liou in England Heidi Liou in England

Heidi Liou in England Heidi Liou in England Heidi Liou in England

Tuesday, May 21
I can't believe this is our last week in Brazil! We have been having the time of our lives each and every day, but it's amazing how fast the time has flown! Click Here to read about my adventure abroad and view my photo gallery.

Wednesday, May 22
Today I spent the day shopping Spitalfields Market and walking around Shoreditch, checking out the wonderful street art! It was hipster central, where I belong.

Heidi Liou in England Heidi Liou in England Heidi Liou in England

Thursday May 23
This week has been filled with going to the beach and learning more about the culture of Brazil. The beach is extremely nice and the weather here has been perfect; 85 and sunny pretty much every day, with the occasional shower for a short period of time. The sun here feels very different from anywhere else I've been to. It's not scorching hot like Florida, but it's very strong and you don't notice you are getting burned. Everyone that didn't wear sunscreen the first day at the beach got fried after only an hour of being in the sun!

We have been to several Capoeira shows and every time we go they get better and better. Tuesday we went to a school called Baguncaco where we actually learned how to do capoeira! I didn't enjoy it because the teacher literally cornered me into the wall andn started doing kicks and punches over my head... You think being a hockey player that I wouldn't be scared of much but I looked like a kitten running away from the vacuum cleaner!

We were able to visit Pelourinho, which is the downtown of Salvador. Wednesday we got a tour of this part and visited museums and churches. One church called Saint Franciscanous is made from over 600 pounds of gold! We were able to walk around and the church was honestly one of the most beautiful, detailed places I have ever been to. After the tour we went to a folk ballet where the actors put on a show of capoeira; singing and dancing in amazing costumes.

Thursday we woke up early and went to the beach. We met Bruno on Tuesday and he has been our chair and beverage guy ever since. He's the only one that can speak English out of all the sellers so he makes a ton of money off of us. A couple of guys in the group rented a paddle board and let everyone try it! Surprisingly it wasn't that hard besides if a wave came, because then it was pretty much a surf board and you would fall off!

After that we were able to shop downtown and spend the day buying souvenirs. It was great until I got hustled by a little kid. He came up to me and my roommate and asked for food for his little brother. So being the great Ohio State University students that we are, we took him in the store and bought baby formula and diapers. Little did we know that after we left and turned the corner to leave he went right back in the store, returned the merchandise and got the money. I was not happy! But I still feel good about my good deed!

We leave for Morro De São Paulo tomorrow! It is supposed to be one of the most beautiful places in Brazil and I cannot wait!

Krystina Hollowell in Brazil Krystina Hollowell in Brazil

Thursday May 23
This will be my last post since as I write it I'm half an hour into my 12-hour flight home. Study abroad is all about learning, so I thought I would leave off with the most important, as well as the most difficult, learning experience from my trip. This came from our visit to the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. In the past few years this neighborhood in East Jerusalem has drawn a fair amount of media attention. Jewish settlers have been coming into the neighborhood and kicking out some of the Palestinian families that live there. The ensuing protests, led by Israelis and Palestinians alike, attracted international media attention, but only for a time. Our group drove to the neighborhood and our bus parked on the side of the street as our guide explained the situation to us. While he was talking, a woman walked out of the house closest to the bus and invited us inside. We walked into the house where two other women were busy making lunch. As they quickly cleared space for us to sit, I was again struck by the wonderful hospitality characteristic of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. As one of the women began to narrate their story to our guide, who promptly translated, I realized that the elderly woman sitting to my left was the owner of the house. This is the story in a nutshell. The house has two parts, one right off the road and the other, which can only be reached by a sidewalk running beside both houses, directly behind it. A few years ago Jewish settlers came and moved into the house closest to the road, even taking the furniture inside. They did this using a 1970 Israeli law that said that Israelis can reclaim land they owned in East Jerusalem before 1948 and abandoned during the conflict that same year. However, the specific house that we visited, along with others in the neighborhood, was built specifically for Palestinian families by the UN and the Jordanian government after they became refugees in 1948.

I know all this is very complicated but what I want to focus on is not the questions of legality or policy, but simply humanity and individual decisions. The women told us that the settlers that have moved into the first house have done everything they can think of to try to drive the family away. When the Palestinian family walks by the first house along the sidewalk that connects the second house to the street, the settlers curse and insult them. They train dogs to attack them and try to offend the family by walking in front of the windows naked, forcing the Palestinian family to put up layers and layers of curtains on their windows. These are just some of the actions taken by the Jewish settlers in the first house but none of them compares to what they have done to the elderly woman who was sitting to my left. She is maybe in her late 80s or early 90s, an age at which no matter what your cultural beliefs you should be showing her extreme respect and ready to do anything to help her. Instead, the settlers once pushed her, causing her to be hospitalized since she fell and hit her head. As if that wasn't enough, we were told that about four years ago she went to the first house to try to get her furniture back and settlers broke her arm. When I hear stories like this politics is the last thing on my mind. These are not issues of politics; they are issues of morality and the decisions taken by individuals. Everyone has a choice on a personal level of whether or not to engage in such atrocious behavior. During our time in Jerusalem so many people kept repeating the phrase "the situation is complicated". While I do agree that certain logistical aspects of the conflict are complicated, many things are not. Whether or not to take someone's house and repeatedly abuse neighbors is not complicated; it's black and white. It's flat out wrong, simple as that. No matter where we live, what religion we practice, our ethnic background or our political views, in the end we decide how we want to behave and treat others.

As we were leaving the house, we tried to offer the family a small donation for taking the time to welcome us into their home. They politely declined and repeatedly told us that all they want is for people to hear about what is going on. This post is my fulfillment of the promise I made to them. I encourage people to look into what is going on in Sheikh Jarrah, there is plenty of info on this issue available online.

I'm sorry to make my last post about an absolutely amazing trip so heavy but this trip really reminded me that we can't shy away from difficult issues and that we need to speak out about what is important to us. Again this post was not meant as a political statement, just the fulfillment of a promise to one of the most resilient women I have ever had the honor of sitting with in the same room.

Sophia Pifer in Jerusalem Sophia Pifer in Jerusalem

Sophia Pifer in Jerusalem Sophia Pifer in Jerusalem

Sunday May 26
Morro De São Paulo was one of the most beautiful places I have been to. We had to take a 15 minute bus ride to the ferry boat, then spent about 45 minutes on the ferry, got in a van, spent another hour and a half driving and then got on another boat and took a 25 minute boat ride to the island. When we finally arrived we checked into the hotel, which was more like a beach house with a bunch of rooms in a big house, so we were all together which was really nice.

We had a tour of the island where we saw a battle house, cannons, a prison, old church's, and an outdoor bathing tub. The island has no cars and is very hilly with a lot of forest covering it. We got a really good leg work out while taking the tour. When we hiked up to one of the highest points of the island there was a zip line that we could take down into the water near the beach. It was really high, but so much fun. When we took the first step off the edge we were over rocks, but as we went down faster we made it to the water and it was a huge rush!

The world is a really small place! As a couple of us were taking an O-H-I-O picture we were approached by two little kids that were from Columbus! Come to find out their dad is the owner of Evolved and he was a Portuguese major at Ohio State. We ended up talking to the kids and their father for a while, which was really interesting to hear his story and his travel experiences.

Saturday we had a boat pick us up and take us to a bunch of little islands where we were able to snorkel, swim and play in the sand. It seems like the second anyone gets to the beach they turn into little kids again. We spent our day riding the waves and building sand castles. The best part about the boat trip was when we stopped on a beach and we all took a mud bath! The guide we were with grabbed us a bunch of mud and he made paste out of it, which we put all over our bodies. It felt really weird and after we washed it off our bodies felt slimy but really soft and smooth.

One important thing that I have learned while in Brazil: when you kill one bee, you will be swarmed by 100 other bees coming for revenge! They told me this after I killed about 5 bees that got into my room because the door was left open. When I looked out the window again there was honestly over 100 bees trying to get in to take their fallen soldiers bodies back to their nest for a proper burial.

The group that we are with really loves animals and on the island we adopted a stray kitten for the weekend. We named it Milo and it followed us around everywhere we went. It may be because the fact we kept feeding it every chance we got, but leaving him was a very emotional experience!

Today we had the morning free and we all woke up at 5 a.m. to watch the sunrise. Too bad it was pouring when we all met so we woke up for no reason! It continued to rain the whole morning and we just sat in the hotel playing cards and talking.

It's unbelievable how fast this study abroad experience has went. Tomorrow we have our goodbye lunch with our host family and one last night in Salvador. I came on this study abroad trip knowing not a word of Portuguese, nothing about the culture of Brazil, and not anyone on the trip. I'm leaving being able to actually understand what people are saying to me and speak back to them. I have also learned what is expected of people in this country and have made many new friends from the United States, Rio Preto, São Paulo and Salvador. This experience has changed me for the better as it forced me to step out of my comfort zone and have the courage to go somewhere I could have ever imagined going. Thank you to the athletic department and the university for giving me to opportunity to experience this!

Krystina Hollowell in Brazil Krystina Hollowell in Brazil Krystina Hollowell in Brazil

Thursday, May 30
It's the first day of class and the uncertainty of studying on a different continent has me thrilled. As I squeeze onto the jam-packed tube in London, I can't help but to notice the eclectic mix of people that surround me: some young, looking sharp in their suits; some school children finishing up their homework; some travelers with suitcases. I'm curious to know where they are going and imagine how different their life is from mine. Then, there is me, a foreigner studying the history of the country, heading to a classroom based in Russell Square. No one speaks, or makes eye contact. But I turn to the man next to me who is working on Photoshop and ask him if he's a photographer. Turns out he is and he shows me a few tricks on Photoshop. Maybe I just get lucky, but everyone I've talked to on the tube is extremely friendly. I'm surrounded by opportunities to have good conversations, which makes me look forward to the month ahead of me.

From the beginning, the whole idea of studying abroad seemed nothing but exciting to me. It wasn't until a couple of days before leaving for London that I started feeling nervous. I love being in situations that force me to make new friends and figure things out. But why did I choose London? I chose to study abroad in London because it is a global city and fashion hub. I wanted to observe what the locals wore and learn about London style, but I left with much more than just being inspired.

Removing myself from my comfort zone and studying in a new country gave me the chance to adapt. When I first arrived in London, I had to quickly learn the tube and bus system so that I could find my way around. I didn't get a phone because I wanted to be as tech-free as possible. I used my iPad to communicate with my family and occasionally blog, but didn't want to be attached to a phone. Without a phone, I had to learn how to communicate clearly with my peers so that we could meet up. I learned that it is possible to live life without a cell phone. I came up with a strategy that if I couldn't find the person I was trying to meet up with within 20 minutes, I would just go on without them or go home and hope to meet up next time. Thankfully, I was always able to get together successfully with friends. I always made sure I knew where I had to be at the right time and would ask locals to help me find the location. My handy dandy London map never left my side and helped me tremendously to explore the city.

Studying abroad enriched my academic experience because it taught me more about myself. I now have a better grasp of how I learn, (through discussions and the use of visuals), and what interests me, (such as architecture and design). Moreover, being street smart is not something that can be taught in the classroom. Occasionally, I was faced with stressful situations but had to use my common sense to find a solution. My student life at Ohio State is somewhat unchanging and easy, so I enjoyed every opportunity to be challenged. I loved that every day was different and we were always discovering new places. We were getting engaged in the culture by visiting museums, going to comedy shows, and eating scones and clotted cream. I learn best from people's stories and absorb more from being in real life scenarios, not just reading about them. I have been drawn to come back to London. I was never bored because there is always something to do and new people to meet. I love the busy, on-the-go lifestyle that Londoners live and would love to work in London for at least a couple of years after graduation. It would be a great place for me to create connections all over the world and begin my fashion career.

Traveling in a different country didn't just benefit me, but allowed me to contribute to London society as well. Through this experience, I learned that life is a proper balance of giving and taking. I believe that life is about reciprocity, you give what you can to help out those who are in need, because you never know what will happen in the future and when you might need help. Traveling has kept me thinking in the present, to absorb the beauty that is all around me instead of worrying about things I have no control over. I gave to the city of London my smiles and positive energy, and received a lot of kind love in return. I will continue to be awestruck by the kind acts of strangers, who take the time out of their crazy, busy life to help someone out.

It's close-minded to think that all places geographically distant are culturally distant too. Sometimes I forgot how similar humans are, regardless of where they are in the world. Studying abroad for a month has taught me to be more open-minded and to be respectful of everyone around me. I am thankful that this program gave me the opportunity to be a part of the British culture. Now it's my last day of class and it's a bittersweet moment. Getting lost on a double decker, navigating around a new city without a cell phone, and getting lost some more in London may have been the best adventure of my life that resulted in finding myself once again.

Heidi Liou in England

Showing off my Ohio State pride on top of King Arthur's Seat in Scotland

Thursday, June 13
Rower Dara Schnoll is in Vietnam with the Coach for College program. Below is her first update from the trip.

Just wanted to check in and say hi! We just finished day two of camp. I'm coaching basketball and teaching physics to both 7th and 8th graders. It's been well over 100 degrees since I've been here, but luckily the beach is close by so we go swimming after camp.

I wanted to thank the athletic department for supporting this trip. I know this is a once in a lifetime experience and I couldn't be more excited about the next two and a half weeks. I'm in the process of teaching the kids to say "GO BUCKS" and I'll be sure to send along a video once they have it down.

Dara Schnoll in Vietnam

Wednesday, June 26
I'm about half way through my third and final week here in Vietnam. I can't believe how quickly the trip has flown by! We have one more day of teaching and coaching and then another two of competitions and tests for the kids. We leave Da Nang on Sunday and I'll spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City before leaving for Hong Kong early on Monday.

The past two weekends I've had the opportunity to travel around a bit and see multiple temples, ruins, beaches and mountains. My favorite of the places we've visited was definitely the port city of Hoi An. We went this past Saturday night and in celebration of the new moon, the entire city was lit with lanterns. The streets were filled with tourists and locals alike and the cafes and shops were all buzzing.

The Vietnamese coaches took us to a cafe which served a special noodle dish, Cam Loa, which are only available in Hoi An. This was by far my favorite dish of the trip and it was exciting to try a food that was also new and exciting for the Vietnamese since many of them had never been to Hio An. After dinner we made our way down towards the river where we lit lanterns and sent them down the river for good luck.

I truly can not believe how quickly the trip has flown by. It's incredible to watch the kids grow over the course of a few weeks and I am already upset by the thought of leaving them. I am also incredibly thankful for the amazing group of both American and Vietnamese coaches who have made this trip unforgettable.

 Dara Schnoll in Vietnam  Dara Schnoll in Vietnam

Friday, June 28
Good Morning from Ethiopia!

To introduce myself to the viewers of this blog my name is Korbin Smith. I recently finished my fourth year at The Ohio State University majoring in Health Sciences. I just finished my athletic career at OSU competing on the Men's Track and Field team. I was very blessed to receive the study abroad scholarship from SASSO and am working on a medical research trip in Ethiopia. Three graduate students from OSU and myself will be working with students from the University of Gondar in Ethiopia to conduct a baseline needs assessment for rabies within Ethiopia. I will be here for 37 days.

I got here yesterday morning (we are seven hours ahead of those in Ohio). After some flight trouble our trip ended up taking us two full days. Nonetheless, we made it to our destination baggage and all. When we landed in Gondar I was blown away as we drove from the airport to our hotel. The sights I witnessed were breathtaking and it was as if I was watching the Discovery Channel. We were seeing things that we see on television such as young African families riding or ushering their donkeys piled high with vegetation, or dozens of shepherd's herding their livestock using a traditional shepherd staff. I am a long way from Columbus.

For a society that lives impoverished they are very generous people. I learned that when going to a meal with a group it is customary for one person to pay for everyone. They never pay for meals individually. One person just simply takes the check and pays for everyone without hesitation. While I am and will always be proud to be an American citizen, it really makes you think of how different our societies are. People here have very little yet share everything. They work together as a society to help each other. When is the last time you took a group of 12 to dinner and paid for the bill on general principal? It is very exciting to learn of the customs in this country.

Saturday, June 29
There are many things here in Gondar named ObamaNo. While I am not sure this has anything to do with our president I do find it ironic. In one conversation I had with a boy he asked me if I was from the U.S. After saying yes, he said Barack Obama. I confirmed that he is the President. The little boy then said "No Barack Obama." The Democratic Party might need to do some work over here to help with their global campaign. Today has been a pretty relaxed day. We have been playing cards and relaxing until we head to the markets downtown.

We got a tour of campus yesterday. I was surprised how large their University is with several different campuses next to each other. Things are very different here with many dirt roads through campus that aren't particularly smooth and some not even drivable. We got to observe a microbiology class as they worked in the lab. After an exciting tour I got a chance to call home and talk to my mother who apparently stayed up till 2:30am the previous night waiting for my call. While it does seem like I'm a terrible son for not calling, my phone had died and it was a period where we didn't have electricity. In all of Gondar electricity is very unreliable.

This morning for breakfast we ate in our hotel, since most of the workers do not speak fluent English there have been some learning curves. For instance, no matter what beverage we order to drink we always seem to receive papaya juice. While there are worse things to receive, the papaya juice is more like shredded papaya. It isn't served cold so it is very difficult to drink.

Monday, July 1
So far do good! The plane rides were a tad long and rough. When I arrived to Ho Chi Mihn city I met up with the rest of the group. We took a taxi to our hotel and then went to a restaurant and hung out for a while. In the morning we went to the market and bought a few things. Then we left for Haujing city where we are staying for three weeks. We will be going to the classrooms tomorrow.

MaKenzie Schlemitz in Vietnam MaKenzie Schlemitz in Vietnam MaKenzie Schlemitz in Vietnam

Tuesday, July 2
Being a track athlete I decided it would be a good idea to get a run in today. Two of the OSU graduate students working on the Rabies project with me (Karissa Magnuson and Laura Binkley) decided to join me on a jog. While we were leaving the hotel a student (Yosef) stopped us and asked if we wanted to jog with him. Having no idea how to get around Gondar we agreed. I told him I do short sprints so I only wanted to go on a short jog. He "claimed" to understand what I meant but due to the outcome I later realized we were not on the same page.

We started jogging and I quickly remembered that Gondar is at 8,000 feet above sea level so it was much harder to breathe. As the jog continued Yosef had us do drills which ended up looking like a Richard Simmons workout video through fields all around Gondar. For those of you Ohioans that forget what hills and mountains feel like to run up let me remind you that it is not enjoyable. Due to the language difference we were not able to tell what the young kids were saying as they chased us and laughed. If I were to guess it would be, "look how tall and uncoordinated that large white man is." As we continued to jog I realized our definition of a short jog and Yosef's was vastly different. We had to tell him to slow down and stop many times on our seven mile run up a mountain. Needless to say I have retired from distance running.

Thursday, July 4
Winner winner shouldn't have ordered a cheeseburger for dinner.

If there ever was a competition for the first OSU student to get sick in Africa I came out victorious. I have tried many different types of dishes without getting sick. However, I figured I would give their American equivalent to a cheeseburger a try and it was a bad decision. Although I have been under the weather things have still been quite enjoyable. Unlike when I feel ill in the US, getting ill here is much more serious. Majority of our Ethiopian collaborators have reached out to me in one way or another to make sure I am ok. They are all truly compassionate and caring.

Since the rest of our research team changed cities I am the only one left in Gondar until tomorrow. I immediately noticed people are more willing to practice their English on an individual rather than a group. My waitress for dinner tonight was practicing with me and I could tell she was very excited when I understood and responded. While many villages have children who will ask for money, most around here simply want to practice their English. I can understand what it feels like to try to have a conversation in a language you aren't familiar with. Anytime I can say "hello" or "thank you" in Amharic I do so to try to fit in. I have also noticed that most conversations stop briefly when I walk into a room. In the natives defense there aren't a lot of 6'3 blonde haired, blue-eyed males walking around in athletic shorts and an OSU t-shirt. To them I am a spectacle. Now whether that is a good or a bad thing remains to be determined. All in all as we continue our stay here in Gondar I am constantly impressed with the class and generosity of the people of Ethiopia.

 Korbin Smith in Ethiopia  Korbin Smith in Ethiopia

Friday, July 5
Friday we had competition day with the kids. They played a different game with each sport. They also had tests for academics.

MaKenzie Schlemitz in Vietnam MaKenzie Schlemitz in Vietnam MaKenzie Schlemitz in Vietnam MaKenzie Schlemitz in Vietnam

Saturday, July 13
The initial data collection for the project has been finished. Our group was unable to blog or access the internet the last week due to traveling in small towns throughout Ethiopia that don't have internet. To catch up, we traveled from Gondar to Woreta where we conducted interviews; then we moved to Debre Tabor. It is crazy how different the climate can change here with a 40 minute drive. Woreta has a warm climate with temperatures probably averaging around 80 degrees. A 40 minute drive to the highland in the mountains and Debre Tabor was probably around 55-60 degrees.

Luckily for me this means I now have a cold. I am beginning to think I have a weak immune system, as I am always the only one to get sick. From Debre Tabor we met with Dr. Gebreyes, who brought a photographer and a neurosurgeon from Ohio State, Dr. Eric (never got his last name). It was good to see others from Ohio. We drove to Bahir dar which is the city that borders Lake Tana, the biggest lake in Ethiopia. Being a fishing connoisseur it was very neat to see the traditional fishing methods.

We celebrated finishing the data by going to a traditional Ethiopian club in which we saw many styles of "shoulder dancing." I think I can dance better in Ethiopia than in the U.S. As long as you can move your shoulders to the music you can be accepted as a dancer here. People are less inclined to judge me on my overall lack of rhythm, or if they are judging me it is in Amharic and I can't tell.

Once we returned to Gondar it was the big day!! I got to pick up my suit that I had ordered in the city a week ago. Since I am a rather tall, skinny, and lengthy individual, the suits already made did not fit me. Dr. Tamiru, a partner we have been working with, took me to his tailor who agreed to make me a suit from the cloth of my choosing for 1900 birr. While that might seem like a lot in the U.S. that is equivilant to 100 USD. This is extrememly cheap for a customized tailored suit. So far this is the best investment I have made. The suit fits excellently or in Amharic (Ejig Batam Tiru).

 Korbin Smith in Ethiopia  Korbin Smith in Ethiopia

Wednesday, July 24
I was in Vietnam for 3 weeks. 6:30am-7am they had breakfast. Monday through Friday we had the 8th graders 7:30am-11:30am. During that time we had sports (soccer, baseball, basketball, and volleyball) and academics (math, physics, english, and health). Then us coaches would go back to our hotel to eat lunch. From 1:30pm-5:30pm we started camp for the 9th graders. The schedule was the same. 6pm we had dinner then went over our lesson plans and what drills we would do for our sport. The first weekend we went to a resort 5 hours from our hotel. It was beautiful! We walked around the beach and visited a cave. The remainder of the time we hung out at the pool and just relaxed. The second weekend we went to the city of Can Tho. We went to a floating market, which is market on the water. There are over 100 boats and you pull beside them and climb on to get as much food as you want. The rest of the weekend was very relaxing. All the the americans got massages and found american food. We went to a normal market and got some gifts! The last weekend was full of competitions, awards, and goodbyes.

Being able to spend 3 weeks with the students was amazing. We had 2 american coaches and two Vietnamese coaches for every team. I had to red team. They were all so sweet, smart, athletic, kind, and generous. I could not imagine having a better team. I coached soccer and taught math.

Getting a long with the kids was very easy. Just by being an american they looked up to us. They valued everything we said and did. Each student will forever be a part of my life. Saying goodbye was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I don't think I have ever cried that much before. The look on their faces said it all. They love us as much as we love them. Since I left some of them have been messaging me on facebook. They don't speak english but they look up sentences online. It is amazing that I can still talk to some of them. A couple of the kids have told me they will study hard so they can come to america and see me. Me and a softball player from Boston College are going to travel next summer and try to visit the school again and find as many students as we can.

I would definitely recommend this trip! There are a few surprises like the living situations and the food but they are doable. All in all meeting the kids outweighed everything. It was an experience of a lifetime and I wish I could have stayed longer. The kids are very dear to my heart and I will never forget them. They have completely changed my life and I will forever owe them.

MaKenzie Schlemitz in Vietnam
The Group
MaKenzie Schlemitz in Vietnam
Some of my favorite kids!
MaKenzie Schlemitz in Vietnam
My 8th and 9th graders
MaKenzie Schlemitz in Vietnam
Floating market
MaKenzie Schlemitz in Vietnam
O-H-I-O at the beach!
MaKenzie Schlemitz in Vietnam
Me teaching math
MaKenzie Schlemitz in Vietnam
Me & Clark (Ore. St. Rowing)
MaKenzie Schlemitz in Vietnam
A classroom
MaKenzie Schlemitz in Vietnam
The bathroom
MaKenzie Schlemitz in Vietnam
My hotel room
MaKenzie Schlemitz in Vietnam
9th graders playing soccer
MaKenzie Schlemitz in Vietnam
Great action shot!

Wednesday, July 24
Haggling for Souvenirs

After the conference in Addis finished we were about to do some touring throughout the capital of Ethiopia. Downtown Addis has the biggest market in all of Africa. This market is essentially hundreds of small stores all selling a mixture of food, clothes and souvenirs. Growing up in a family in which going to Garage Sales was a family activity we looked forward too, I was prepared for the price negotiations that were about to take place. In other words, "this wasn't my first rodeo."

As we entered the shops I think the store owners saw dollar signs. Most believe and perhaps correctly assume that all American's have a lot of money (at least comparatively with Ethiopians). While I did have a decent amount of birr to spend on souvenirs, I wasn't giving up my money without a price battle. After feeling out the atmosphere of many different shops, I began the negotiations. While I am not going to name the specific things I was purchasing due to ruining the surprise for people back home, I can give you a rundown.

After picking two items I liked in one store, the owner told me 300 Birr. After watching many seasons of Pawn Stars I decided that it would be a good strategy to offer half their asking price. After being shocked that I was brave enough to "haggle" with them the owner said 250. I followed up with 200. Ultimately I said 215 as my final offer and they took it saving me 75 Birr. (That one is for you Dad).

Korbin Smith in Ethiopia

Sunday, July 28
As we conclude our stay here in Gondar I can't help but feel sadness of leaving newfound friends and colleagues that I have grown to admire the past 6 weeks. It is hard to believe that I have been in Ethiopia for almost two months. The knowledge and experience I have gained on this trip will last a lifetime. What an experience!

Having never really left the United States before, many would think that heading to Sub-Saharan Africa would be a questionable decision at best. I have talked to many who thought I was crazy for wanting to come to Ethiopia for this medical research project. Why would we want to go somewhere that doesn't have the technology and resources we American's are so used too? When I came on this trip I was excited about being able to help a nation that desperately needed help from more industrialized nations.

With the knowledge I have gained I think it is safe to say I was wrong and somewhat naïve in my beliefs of what African nations have to offer. So many times our only knowledge of things and places comes strictly from television. If a beautiful woman with a soft voice shows us pictures of a young African child with flies on its face we might assume that all African children are miserable and desperately need our help.

While there is certainly poverty and a lack of access to proper medical care here, that doesn't stop the people of Ethiopia from enjoying their life. I have been amazed at how little money means to this society. People that have almost nothing are willing to give everything to help someone else. Money doesn't have the controlling power in Ethiopia that it does in the US. When they acquire extra food or money they will donate it to those who need it more. What a concept!! Instead of trying to become rich and acquire tangible objects, they want to share their possessions to make someone else happy. While we in the U.S. are miles ahead of our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia in technology and industry, perhaps, they have something to teach us about morals and integrity.

Korbin Smith in Ethiopia Korbin Smith in Ethiopia Korbin Smith in Ethiopia