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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, May 31, 2011

Apeksha's Adventures Abroad

Where should I start? It's only been a week here, but I've really enjoyed my stay at Oxford so far. My first course in medical ethics (they're called tutorials here) was on Friday and was quite interesting since I explored the topic of patient consent in medicine and basically the conflict between the principles of beneficence and patient autonomy. I didn't really know what to expect from my first class since I don't come from a background of philosophy, but the one-on-one discussion with my professor has made it a very rewarding and worthwhile experience so far. Having a research background and serving on the Institutional Review Board at UTD last year (our ethics committee) has also helped me better understand the topics I'm writing essays about.

In addition to the course, getting to meet the other students who are from all over the U.S. has been great. One of the groups here from Michigan is actually taking a C.S. Lewis course (which I'm sure Dr. Towner would approve of). Also, this will sound silly but being at Oxford sometimes feels like we're at Hogwarts. There are quite a few locations on campus that were used to film the Harry Potter movies. The picture that I've provided is actually in front of the tree where Malfoy is turned into a ferret in the fourth movie. Our group also got the chance to visit Cambridge on Saturday which is absolutely gorgeous (a bunch of us went punting which is something I'd definitely do again).

Overall, the change in atmosphere has brought in a nice change of mindset. Being in a new place with new people and being faced with quite a few cultural differences has been a learning experience. It's a mystery what the next few weeks hold in store for me, but I do hope they'll be enjoyable.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lye-Yeng's First Blog Ever!

Lesson of the day: the first casualty in every battle is the plan. (yes, McDermotts can have a ball with that)

4 flights, 3 layovers. Round 1 of the crazy layovers was in Buenos Aires. I had less than two hours to get through immigration, customs, check-in, back through security, and to the gate. All without Jessica, because apparently she already had a boarding pass and couldnt come with me. Round 2 of crazy layovers was in Lima: ignorant travelers like us.. we didnt know we had to pick up our suitcases and re check them in onto the next flight. So this time, 40 times before departure, Jess and I were running like madmen through the airport, once again got split up (notice the pattern here), and I somehow made it onto the plan with 10 minutes to spare. Each person that boarded the plane I hoped would be wearing a pink sweatshirt.. in my mind, I was prayng please god let her make it because I honestly had no idea what I would have done if I arrived in Cuzco.. and she was not with me. Right after I had given up hope because they announced that they were closing the gate, Jess miracously comes rushing in, both of us just looked at each other and sighed a huge breath of relief.

Flying over Cuzco was absolutely amazing.. the mountains are gogeous and it was a clear blue day. We got off not into a terminal, but onto the actual landing strip.. made it feel even more real. WE MADE IT! Immediately, we got bombarded by agencies trying to sell us tickets to Macchu Picchu, but we just kindly at first, then forcefuly push our way aside and bargained a taxi driver into taking us to the San Francisco church and convent. Here came the semi heart attack when we asked around the church, and no one had head of the orphanage San Francisco de Asis aound the area.. great. We were lugging suitcases in the middle of nowhere when thankfully a priest saved the day and made some calls to get us to where we needed to be. The taxi we rode looked like a sheet of metal that was just welded together quickly and the trunk flew away as we were driving. We all got a good laugh out of that. Sister Maria greeted us and offered us beds to sleep in for the next two weeks so there goes paying for hostels! And even better still, they have internet woohoo! Even just one day here has already improved my spánish a ton, especially since speaking under pressure is particularly difficult. But you just swallow your pride and accept that youre going to make mistakes. Another sort of shocking thing was how poor the city of Cuzco is. We flew into a place of half built buildings and not very paved roads. Oh and no hot showers. Cant wait.

Anywhoo, time for bed soon. Ill work on putting pictures up but its gonna be a process. From my memory card to a flash drive to the computer so gimme a break.

Here goes nothing!

For more postings check out Lye-Yeng's South American blog at: http://www.lyeyengstravels.webs.com/ Link

Monday, May 16, 2011

Saskia on the shores of the Netherlands

This is taken at the Oosterschelde, a swampish area in the southwest of the Netherlands that consists of a series of islands and sea inlets that were created during the great flood of 1953. Part of the Building with Nature research group (where for my internship I'm meeting all the scientists, studying their research projects, and summing it up into an online wiki page) is making these natural flood barriers, one of which I'm standing on. Rather than using concrete, though, they're growing new oyster "reefs" there that will also hold back the tides. I hope the oysters don't mind that I ran out there ;)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lye-Ching's European Family

Two Italians, a French, a German, and a Malaysian-American sit at a table, enjoying French quiche lorraine and sangria, while chatting in Spanish. This is more or less how many of my meals have been during my semester here in Spain. Little did I know that when I came to the Universitat Jaume I in Castellón, Spain, I would meet more than local Spanish people and discover more than Spanish culture. Living with a host family, my Spanish has improved by leaps and bounds, and I have learned how to live like a Spaniard. However, from the other Erasmus and exchange students here that I´ve met, I have learned how to make real Cabonara pasta from an Italian, how to greet people in Dutch, how to make Congolese rice from a French-Congolese girl, and how to Latin dance from a Ecuadorian.

Most of the students that I´ve met here are in the Erasmus Programme, the EU student exchange program to encourage more communication and intercultural understanding within Europe. I love the fluidity and ease with which this program allows European students to study in a foreign country and immerse themselves in a different culture. The Erasmus students and the other foreign exchange students here are like a big, assorted, extended family here. It puts a smile on my face to think about how much we have all learned from each other and the good times that we have shared.

Spanish may not be out first, second, or even third language for us, but we somehow manage to communicate and connect with each other through this foreign language, albeit sometimes with the help of Spanglish, Itañol or creative sign language. Our conversations range from our families back home and the different education systems in our countries, to the Las Fallas celebration in Valencia or the impossible exam in our Spanish class. When I look at the motley group of students gathered together, all from such diverse backgrounds and culture, it always amazes me how we can all be in the same room laughing out heads off. Half of us didn´t speak the same language a few months ago! But thanks to Spanish and our semester in Spain together, we now have lifelong friends and homes where we are always welcomed all over Europe.