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The McDermott Scholars Award covers all expenses of a superb four-year academic education at The University of Texas at Dallas, in concert with a diverse array of intensive extracurricular experiences, including internships, travel, and cultural enrichment.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Studying in Amman, Jordan

Dear McDermott faculty and friends,

I arrived in Amman last Wednesday, and have had a few days to find my way around the city. I spent Wednesday and Thursday getting settled into my little flat (figuring out how to work the gas stove, adjusting to cold showers). Friday I hitchiked, er, took a bus out to the Dead Sea where I covered myself in mud and tried, unsuccessfully, to force myself under the extremely salty water (pictured below). On Saturday, I ventured to the ruins of a Roman amphitheater downtown (pictured above) and then to a rooftop cafe with a spectacular view of Amman (pictured below). I have placement exams this Wednesday, and classes will officially begin on Sunday. In the meantime, I'm practicing my Arabic in the local shops and with the few friends I've acquired thus far. Amal, my landlady, visited Sunday night with her son and daughter-in-law, and we had a long discussion about the process of learning Arabic, women's rights in the Muslim world, and the challenge of being a businesswoman in the Middle East. I was surprised to learn that this tiny little woman covered with the traditional hijab (who travels only when accompanied by her son or husband) is an astute entrepreneur with multiple real estate ventures across Jordan. Tonight I'll be cheering for Deutschland in the EuroCup at a cafe in the Jebel Amman area of the city with Alla, a friend of my roommate, then back to my flat to study for Wednesday's exam.

Hope all is well in Dallas!

Ma Salamaa,


Greetings from Greece

Hey Everyone,

My summer has been so BUSY so far, but I am really having a blast. I started in the Bahamas, snorkeling and working on research data for my thesis. I am in Greece now and have been filming on several different islands and in Athens. The documentary is getting really interesting. (We just found out that the island of Sifnos has 26 towers all over the island from centuries ago, and an Australian recently discovered they were once used to communicate from one side of the island to another, through means of sight. Impressive much??) I had trouble with my internship on Ios, but I fell in love with a hotel on the island of Sifnos and will be working here instead. The job is a lot of fun, and the owners and staff treat us like we are family. They also have a 3-year-old son who says he's in love with me. Teehee. Anyway, I am sure a lot more will happen this summer, and I will tell everyone about it when it does. Have a great summer, wherever you are!


Buon giorno di Roma!

Buon giorno di Roma! I have almost completed my first week in Rome and it feels indescribably wonderful to be here. Nothing could have prepared me for how breathtaking it is to be caught up in such a vibrant city—racing motorini (souped-up mopeds?) zip by next to ancient ruins that seem to be on every corner.

My apartment is very close to the Colosseum (a five minute slow walk) and borders a park that is filled with locals (often accompanied by very cute dogs) and tourists alike. There are flowers blooming all up and down my street and I don’t think I have ever smelled anything so beautiful in my life. Most of the streets here seem to have hidden surprises—beautiful flower bushes, ancient ruins, sweet boutiques.

I have gone to most of the main monuments already: Trevi Fountain, Fountain of the Four Rivers, St. Peter’s (pictured above), Sistine Chapel, Colosseum (of course), the Roman Forum…it seems like the list just goes on and on! There is sooooo much to see I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fit it all in. Rome has sucked me in and is begging me to never, ever leave!

I start school at John Cabot University on Monday. The school is located in a very hip district called Trastevere, which comes alive at night for a club/bar scene. I can assure you I’m having a lot of –responsible—fun. All the Italians are so friendly and I’m picking up the language fairly quickly.

With such long days I have been getting sleepy pretty early, so buona sera and ciao!