The independent student newspaper of Goucher College

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Kalee LaPointe

Kalee LaPointe has 6 articles published.

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Kalee is a senior from San Angelo, Texas. Aside from explaining where that is, and no it’s not near Dallas, she is completing a major in English with a concentration in Literature and a minor in Psychology. With a passion for reading, writing, and sharing that passion with others, she joined the Q this year as an editor and writer.

Visiting Dublin, Ireland? 5 things You Must Do

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Cliffs of Moher Photo Credit: Kalee LaPointe

With sweeping landscapes of lush, green grass mixed in with the lively energy of a big city, Dublin, Ireland is a must-see when traveling Europe. I had dreamed of visiting Ireland for as long as I could remember, so while I was studying abroad in Greece last fall, I decided to book a flight! My friend Grace and I planned a weekend trip, where we stayed in the heart of Dublin. Below, I’ve listed the 5 best things we did during our short visit!

Cliffs of Moher

Any Harry Potter fans? This one’s for you! While the cliffs aren’t located in Dublin themselves, I think they’re a must when visiting any part of Ireland. Visiting the cliffs was, for me, mainly driven by my love for all things Harry Potter, and it was honestly one of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen. The dramatic cliffs that jutted out at all different angles above the constant blue ocean was incredible!

We actually did the Cliffs of Moher day tour with Paddy Wagon tours, which was definitely worth it! The drive from Dublin to the cliffs is quite pricey by cab. However, for 40 euros, this tour included the drive on a charter bus (with free Wi-Fi and USB plug ins by your seat!) and a stop in Kinvara, a small, picturesque village, famous for fishing; a drive along the coast of Galway Bay; a drive through the infamous Burren with a stop at the Baby Cliffs; a stop in Doolin for lunch; a stop at the Cliffs of Moher for about 2 hours; and finally a stop at the village of Bunratty where you can visit some local shops or walk to the nearby Bunratty castle. Whether you decide to do the day tour or simply visit the cliffs themselves, the Cliffs of Moher are definitely a beautiful must while visiting Ireland!

 

 

 

Temple Bar

With a laid back, warm atmosphere and a welcoming, friendly environment, the Temple Bar is the best spot to experience a traditional Irish pub. While the pub stays pretty packed throughout the night, be sure to fit some time in to visit — you won’t regret it. The Temple Bar is the established home of traditional Irish music and also houses the largest selection of whiskies in Ireland! They also serve food if you’re hungry, and boast about having the largest selection of sandwiches in the world.

Guinness Storehouse

I was a bit skeptical about this one at first. I’m definitely not an avid beer drinker, much less a Guinness enthusiast, but this was actually a really fun experience! We bought tickets for the tour, which includes a student discount rate, and learned all about how Guinness is made. The Storehouse itself is huge and had various parts where you could interact with displays and watch interactive videos. At one point during the tour, we were able to go a few at a time into a tasting room where they gave you a mini pint of Guinness (the drinking age in Ireland is 18). At the end of the tour, you get a voucher for a free pint of any kind of Guinness beer from any of the 3 restaurants inside, which are on the top floors and include some spectacular views of Dublin! If you’re like me and not really into the beer aspect, I’d still suggest going for the experience and views alone!

Phoenix Park

Our Airbnb was about a 10-minute walk from Phoenix Park, which is the largest park in Dublin and the largest urban park in Europe! The park is also home to the president of Ireland and the Dublin Zoo. If you’re looking for something free to do or just a good place to relax, a visit to this park is a must! There are numerous walking and hiking trails, where you might even spot one of many deer, as well as different events throughout the year.

Grafton Street  

Located a short walk from Trinity College, home to the infamous Book of Kells, lies Grafton Street. This a perfect spot if you want to do some shopping or walking around. With just about every store you can think of, and a steady row of pubs, Grafton Street is a great way to spend an afternoon admiring the hustle and bustle of Dublin.

 

Thinking of Studying Abroad? Read this.

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Photo Credit: TripSavvy

Studying abroad is an important part of your education here at Goucher. Despite the fact that everyone does it, studying abroad often comes with a lot of questions. From “Where should I study abroad?” to “How do I choose a program?” and “Where do I even start?” it can be an overwhelming process. However, I spoke with Office of International Studies Director Jennifer White to answer some questions about the study abroad application process that should help you get started!  

Q: When should students start the Study Abroad process?

It’s never too early to start! We encourage students to come as early as their first year on campus to find out about the many programs and opportunities for a meaningful study abroad experience here at Goucher!

Q: If I were thinking about studying abroad, what should my first step be?  Next?

The Office of International Studies has designed introductory workshops known as Study Abroad 101 for semester and short term programs. We encourage students to come to one of those workshops as their first step. Each is offered twice per week throughout the semester.

The next step would be to come to region- and program-specific workshops called Study Abroad 102, where students can learn about the programs offered in more detail.

Q: If I’m having trouble deciding on a study abroad program, who should I see for help?

We encourage students to meet with an OIS advisor for their program(s) of interest as soon as possible after attending the 101 workshops. Students can also stop by during drop in hours Monday to Thursday 2-4 pm for a quick overview/discussion with our advising staff!

 

 

 

 

Q: Are there any important policies or things students should know about (credit policies, grades, financial aid & scholarships, etc.)?

Beginning with this year’s entering class, students need to complete their study abroad requirement prior to their senior year. This policy has been implemented to facilitate student reflection in the classroom and in extracurricular activities upon the students return to Goucher.

For financial aid, Goucher’s approved semester programs allow students to apply/utilize their institutional financial aid awards for their semester abroad. There are also a wide range of external scholarships that students can apply for as well as Goucher scholarships administered by the Office of International Studies. Students do need to be in good academic and good judicial standing.

It’s useful to know that the [study abroad] requirement is fulfilled by an international experience at least 3 weeks long and carrying at least 3 units in credit. For short term programs this can be an international internship, a Goucher faculty-led Intensive Course Abroad, or a short term program external to Goucher.

Semester and ICA program grades transfer into the Goucher GPA! It’s a great idea to consult with your faculty advisors on how study abroad fits in with your academic plans.

Q: Any advice or suggestions for students starting the study abroad application process?

Try to imagine yourself after your study abroad experience and think through, “what are the most important aspects and goals for my time abroad?” It really helps to come to OIS with an idea of what you want your study abroad experience to be about so that our staff can help match our available programs with your goals!

More information:

For more information regarding study abroad, visit the Goucher Study Abroad website at https://www.goucher.edu/learn/study-abroad/

All students who plan to study abroad are required to attend a Study Abroad 101 session in OIS. Each session lasts about 30 minutes and covers topics such as how to explore program options, applying for a study abroad program, how to obtain academic credit, and financial matters. For semester programs, sessions are on Tuesdays at 4pm or Thursdays at 11:30 am. For short term programs, such as Summer or Winter ICA’s, sessions are Mondays at 1:30 pm and Thursdays at 4pm.

If you want to talk with someone in OIS email IntlStudies@goucher.edu to make an appointment or stop by during walk-in hours Monday through Thursday from 2pm—4pm.

Welcome to the Mother City   

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      Welcome to the Mother City. Photo Credit: Kalee LaPointe

South Africa was never somewhere I had on my travel list. It wasn’t somewhere I always dreamed of going or even a place I knew much about. And that’s exactly why I went. I was craving something different, something unexpected. So, when I received an acceptance email for an internship through Masambeni in Cape Town, South Africa I knew I had to go.

Three months later, I found myself boarding my first of three flights to meet a city over 8,900 miles away. I was nervous to say the least, but I also had an overwhelming sense of excitement thinking of all of the possibilities lying ahead. As I moved from flight to flight, and from one country to the next, I was anxious to land in my final destination.

After 32 hours of traveling, exhausted, weary, and definitely a bit nervous, I finally made it. I was in Cape Town! I couldn’t wait to get through passport control, find my luggage, and head out to catch my first glance of the city I shockingly knew so little about. As I walked past several advertisements and photos of what I presumed to be must-see attractions, I stopped to admire a giant mural of penguins, seemingly waving their black little fins as a silent hello. The sign just to the right above the exit to the main part of the airport read, “Welcome to the Mother City.” And out I walked to what would be my home away from home for the next 2 months.

My first few days were jam-packed, and I was instantly thrust into the life and beauty of Cape Town. I traveled all the way down to Cape of Good Hope and made the strenuous trek to the top. Although Elisha, my director from Masambeni, seemed to think it was simply a warm up to the rest of the activities ahead. While I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, I was determined to get to the top to see what all the fuss was about. And let me tell you, every step, incline, and flight of stairs was worth it! It was beauty. It was the clear, open skies above an endless deep blue ocean. It was the steep, broken rocks and bits of green grass that jutted out at different points in different angles from the drop off of land to water. It was the way you felt as if you were on top of the world, with every bit of beauty and any possibility within arm’s reach. I had never seen a view so breathtaking in my life. And that was just the start.

Aside from the diverse landscape, with awe-inspiring mountains to narrow city streets and long stretches of sand and ocean, some of the most beautiful experiences I had were admiring a Cape Town sunset. And let me tell you—this isn’t any ordinary experience. Whether it’s on the beach, in a coffee shop learning Xhosa, on top of Signal Hill, on a sunset cruise, or in the room of a house with a twist-to open window in a slanted ceiling, there is nothing quite as awe-inspiring. As the sun starts to set and the sky is slowly painted with shades of yellow to orange and pink to blue, and you’re surrounded by people as carefree as you with ear to ear grins and bubbly laughter, it just doesn’t get any better than that.

         A Cape Town Sunset. Photo Credit: Kalee LaPointe

The thing about Cape Town is it wasn’t just about the views and pretty sights, it was about the experience—the people you meet, the time you spend together. It was the way the energy and overwhelming sense of welcoming that surrounds the city and people truly made me feel like Cape Town was my home away from home. From the moment I accepted my internship to the day I arrived back home, something about Cape Town just felt different. And it was. The experience I had opened my eyes in ways I never expected; I was able to experience a job I’d always dreamed to learn more about while simultaneously exploring one of the most beautiful and diverse cities I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. If you are even remotely thinking of visiting Cape Town or South Africa, please do—you won’t regret it! Doing an internship there this past summer was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

  A View of Cape Town from Table Mountain. Photo Credit: Kalee LaPointe 

I was extremely fortunate to be a recipient of the Goucher Intern Fellowship, which made my internship experience abroad not only a possibility, but a reality. During my internship, I was able to work with an online blog called Secret Cape Town and learn some of the ins and outs of online journalism. I had the opportunity to do local research, pitch ideas, interview the creator of a local company, and even write my own articles! If you are thinking of doing an internship either in the States or abroad, I highly suggest talking with someone in the Career Education Office or visiting https://www.goucher.edu/career-education-office/professional-experience/internships/goucher-intern-fellowship to learn more!

What’s the Deal with Living Off-Campus?

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Picture source: https://eduadvisor.my/articles/pros-cons-living-on-off-campus/

To live on campus or to live off campus? That’s the real question. Chances are if you’re a student at Goucher, you’ve probably noticed that living off-campus doesn’t seem to be all that common. Most Goucher students spend all four of their undergrad years moving from one dorm to another. And, if you’re like me, when you make the decision to live off-campus, Goucher doesn’t exactly offer many resources. Add in the process of submitting the off-campus application and the daunting question of “what next?” and it can be a pretty intimidating experience.

However, I took the plunge. And I’m so glad I did. Living off-campus has been one of the best decisions of my undergrad years. I have my own kitchen where I can cook whenever I want (and not have to worry about a meal plan!). I have my own room, my own space—I actually feel like I have a home. And, most importantly, I can spend as much or as little time as I want on campus, which is a really freeing feeling. While the process for me to live off-campus was a pretty simple one, I talked with other Goucher students to see what their experiences have been like. As a commuter, Cecile Adrian, ’20, said of her experience, “It’s good. I think it’s better for my mental health and emotional being. It’s just nice to have a place and not have to be here all the time.” Further, August Shah, ’20, said, “The quality of life is exponentially different living off campus than on campus. My overall experience with being off campus is amazing for the most part.”

Although living off-campus can seem like a great option, sometimes it can be difficult. While living on Goucher’s campus means you’re only a walk away from your friends and resources such as the Ath, Alice’s, and any on-campus events, sometimes I feel a bit distant. I don’t always know about stuff happening on campus or last-minute events, but for me that isn’t really a big deal. Ari Schlossberg, ‘19, shared his opinion on this saying, “On the other hand, all of my friends are here [and] sometimes I miss out on stuff.” This is something other students relate to as well. Melina Albornoz, ’20, said, “The hardest part about commuting is that sometimes I feel ‘out of the loop’ when it comes to on campus events,” although she adds, “but that’s not a major issue for me. Overall, I really enjoy commuting; it gives me the option of being on campus or at home.” Similarly, August Shah, ’20, said, “The only downside [of living off-campus] is that I am not integrated much into the community with peers because of being off campus,” and adds, “but to me, that’s a very small downside.” For some students, they still feel just as connected to Goucher living off-campus as when they lived in the dorms. Cecile Adrian, ’20, said, “I don’t feel like I’m missing out or like I’m less a part of this community. I maintain all of my friendships, relationships, and involvement.”

When asked what the hardest part of living off-campus is, most other students I spoke with agreed on the commute. Ari Schlossberg, ‘19, said, “Definitely the commute. That’s the worst part.” He adds, “But it’s a valuable trade off. Definitely worth it!” When talking about the difficulties of commuting, Zoe Shimberg, ’22, warns, “If you do want to commute, be prepared, be very prepared.” It can definitely be frustrating at times, especially finding parking mid-day! I think that’s one of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with.

After reading this, you might be wondering about the application process. I know when I was thinking of applying, I heard so many horrible stories I was nervous I would encounter a similar fate. However, I was lucky to have my application approved without any major difficulties. Ari Schlossberg, ‘19, had a similar experience and said, “At the time, Res Life was really helpful…With Goucher, moving out was easy.” Some students had a more difficult time, such as August Shah, ’20, who said, “Applying to live off campus was atrocious and so unnecessarily difficult.” I honestly think it depends on your situation, and while some people have had a more difficult time with their process, I don’t think it should deter you from trying it for yourself.

Thinking of living off-campus? For me, taking that next step into “adulting” has been a very valuable experience. While there will always be positives and negatives, pros and cons, if you think popping that Goucher Bubble is the best move for you, then I say go for it! I’m sure glad I did. And, after talking with other Goucher students, I can tell you they are too. Living on campus is a great option, but if you’re ready to take the next step, I think living off-campus should be something more Goucher students consider.

It’s All Greek to Me

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The author on top of the acropolis. Photo Credit: Kalee LaPointe

Learning a new language is tough. Well, for me it is at least. I’ve grown up around Spanish since I was born and have even taken 3 years of it in high school and 2 semesters in college, but I’m still not fluent. So, when I was registering for classes for my study abroad semester in Greece, the thought of taking a Greek language course was a daunting idea! The letters, sounds, and just about everything seemed so drastically different than anything I was used to. My quick Google search of “Greek words to know” resulted in a case of confusion and anxiety. However, thanks to a couple of great advisers and exactly 3 credits room left in my schedule, I found myself registered for an Elementary Greek language course for my first seven-weeks in Athens. And let me tell you, I’m so glad I took the course! I learned more than I ever imagined I would (some of which I actually still remember!).

The first few classes were intimidating to say the least. I already had about 10-pages of notes, most of which looked completely foreign to me with letters and symbols I’d vaguely remembered seeing in math equations or anything dealing with fraternities and sororities. We spent what seemed like not long enough going over the alphabet, and trying to pronounce the letters was a catastrophe. The sounds felt and sounded so odd. Although, at one point we all learned how to write and say our names in Greek. Somehow seeing my name portrayed in these different symbols, “Καλη” had me in a state of awe and kept me intrigued.

After only a week, I was amazed at how much of the language I had absorbed. While there were so many aspects that were confusing, daunting, and intimidating about Greek—it was amazing. I was continuously surprised at how I was able to immediately use everything we were learning in class when I was out and about, even just going down the street to eat. I was lucky to have an amazing teacher who actually made learning the language fun and interesting, which just added to the whole experience. I found myself writing and speaking in a beautiful language I once knew little to nothing about, but now found myself surrounded by. The letters on street signs slowly went from foreign to familiar, and I would find myself reading out words from signs as I took the metro. As I walked past people, I  was slowly able to understand a few words here and there. The way it felt to understand something that once seemed just about impossible was simply amazing.

After about 7-weeks of classes, we had a fall break and I was so excited for my mom to come visit. I wanted to show her all around Athens of course, but I also couldn’t wait to show her everything I’d learned. Needless to say, she was definitely surprised. I would say “γεια σας” to people passing by and “ευχαριστώ” after ordering. The look of surprise and admiration on her face was heartwarming. At one point, this older couple came up to me asking for something in Greek and although I couldn’t understand all of what they were saying, I was able to respond to them completely in Greek. I said, “Συγνώμη mιλάω πολύ λίγο ελληνικά”, which means “sorry I speak very little Greek.” Even though what I said wasn’t anything conversational, I was so shocked at how effortlessly it came out!

Although the language course was just a basic, introductory level, I’m so glad I took it. Taking the time to learn Greek is something I will forever be grateful for. Not only is it a beautiful language, but I also feel like it really added to my overall study abroad experience. So many people travel to different countries without making even the slightest effort to understand the people or the culture. I saw this countless times while in Greece: while English is very popular, especially around Athens, so many people just assumed they could solely rely on it to get around. And while yes, that is totally doable, there’s just this overwhelming sense of appreciation and welcoming when you make even the slightest attempt to communicate with people in Greek. It definitely wasn’t easy, and I’m not fluent by any means, but I have such a deeper appreciation and love for Greek now—I still try to use the language whenever I can!

Was Greece What I Expected?

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As I sat in Goucher’s study abroad office as a freshman in college listening to the tour guides explain the various programs offered, I was completely enthralled by the large map that hung on the wall opposite me. It had the locations of the programs they offered pinpointed, but my eyes, and heart, could only focus on one destination — Athens, Greece. It was somewhere I could only dream of going to as a child and then, as a young adult, a place that I aspired to make it to.

Fast forward to a year later and I still can’t believe I actually made it. Not only did I make it, but I lived in Athens for four whole months. A year ago today, I was in my apartment at 5 Ipitou Street, probably headed to get a gyro from Kostas with my friends Taylor and Izzy or walking to Bazaar for groceries.

Now, when I think of my time abroad, it’s difficult to focus on anything but the fun memories and good times. Like when I finally said “ευχαριστώ” aloud in public and how the smile on the waiter’s face was indescribably exhilarating; how I met some of the most amazing people that I quickly grew to love and would probably not have otherwise crossed paths with; how I swam in some of the clearest blue water and traveled to some of the most beautiful places I’d ever seen; how my friend Lauren and I both got tattoos in Greek on a random Wednesday afternoon; or how I volunteered at a sea turtle rescue center and actually got to help real sea turtles. These are the moments I think about.

What’s easy to forget about are the tough times. The times I felt lonely and overwhelmed. How when I arrived, I spent most of the first few days in my room wondering what on earth I had gotten myself into. How when I talked to family and friends I felt selfish, so I lied and said that everything was great and that things were amazing when I was actually confused and I didn’t know how I felt just yet. How when I walked outside, I noticed the narrow streets full of people; I heard a language that was completely unfamiliar with sounds I’d never heard before; I saw signs that I just couldn’t read with letters and symbols I’d never seen before; I felt the frustration of not being able to communicate and understand what people were saying; and at the time I didn’t quite know anyone well enough to ask if I was the only one who felt like this. As the semester went on, there were times when I was overloaded with work, but my friends were complaining that they didn’t have enough. I heard from so many people time and time again that this was going to be an amazing experience, the experience of a lifetime — yet sometimes I couldn’t help but feel so alone and isolated.

To answer the ever pressing question “was Greece what I expected?” I would have to say no. In all honesty, it just wasn’t. I had been dreaming of going to Greece for so long that I think it was easy to build up all of these expectations of what it would be like. There were just so many things that I wasn’t prepared for.

Now, looking back, I realize that my reality was different than all of the expectations I had; the culture shock I had was real and my feelings were valid. No matter what I felt or how I processed it, I know now that just because my experience wasn’t always amazing every single day — that’s okay.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in the beauty of study abroad, but I think it’s also important to realize that at times it can be tough. I think that’s part of the whole experience; there isn’t a way to be one-hundred percent ready for living in a foreign country. It’s learning to not only accept but overcome those struggles that makes studying abroad such a valuable learning experience.

Photo credits: Kalee LaPointe
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