By Carrie Mauldin
In today’s world, it’s hard to come across someone who hasn’t done his or her fair share of traveling. For some, their idea of travel consists of a day trip to a beach an hour away, while for others, it can be an 18-hour plane ride across the Pacific.
Here at the University of Georgia, over 34,000 students have come and gone to various destinations while also calling Athens their home. It is not uncommon to meet someone here from another county, state or nation, and numerous students have traveled far and wide to come here.
What is it like to experience a new state while also attending a new school? Megan Murray, a freshman intended athletic training major from Long Island, New York knows. Traveling here from New York or anywhere across the country creates quite the change in people, customs and overall atmosphere. For Murray, one of the biggest adjustments was the people. “People tend to be nicer here. They’ll casually talk to you in the grocery stores and in passing. Not a lot of that happens up in New York,” Murray says. “There’s also not a lot of J-walking either, and I’d never seen fried okra before.”
Another big difference was the reaction southerners had to this year’s “Snowzilla” winter storm, Jonas. “At my old school, the principal wouldn’t cancel school unless the snow was past his knees, but here, everyone panics at the sight of a few flurries” Murray says.
While some students do their traveling within the states, plenty do their traveling internationally. Fiona Graves, a freshman biology and Spanish double major from Chattanooga, Tennessee, shares her experience in traveling to various international places while growing up. “I went to Italy when I was in the fourth grade,” Graves says. “I liked it, but I didn’t appreciate what I was experiencing because of my age. Junior year of high school, I went to Spain and loved it. Experiencing different cultures is incredibly beneficial to people, especially Americans because our culture is made up of so many different ones. Being able to see unique cultures that aren’t like each other and are distinct is really cool. The summer before senior year of high school, I went to London, Scotland, France, Switzerland and Germany. I really enjoyed that too because it’s great to see how people live and see how even though you live thousands of miles apart you still have things in common. Most importantly I think it was amazing to see how old everything was. America is so young in comparison to all the countries of Europe, and to be in a castle that’s been around since the early 1600’s really makes you take a step back and appreciate the beauty of everything.”
Some UGA students travel great distances to return to their homes and reminisce in the culture they were born into. Nuzat Moman, a freshman pharmaceutical sciences major from Atlanta, has made multiple trips to India throughout her life. While in America, she has moved from Atlanta, to Valdosta, and back to Atlanta due to her father’s job placements. However, over the summers, she travels to India to visit friends and family. “I usually go every summer to visit family. While I’m there I eat a lot of Indian food and travel,” Moman says. “You don’t really need cars while you’re there. There are free taxis called rickshaws that take care of most of the travel around the city.”
Her friend, Quynh Tran, a freshman biology major from Atlanta, is also experienced in travel. Tran migrated to America from Vietnam when she was nine and makes a visit back every four years. “My grandpa fought in the Vietnam War, and those who fought on the American side were given access to live in the United States after the war. My grandpa had a friend who lived in Georgia, which was how we ended up here. I came to UGA because it was one of the top colleges in Georgia,” Tran says.
With its strong diversity and large student body, UGA is full of students with stories of travel and cultural experience. For those who haven’t experienced another country or culture, UGA sends hundreds of students each year to foreign lands for study abroad opportunities. If you haven’t done your share of travel yet, get to it!
By: Jazmine Calhoun
A Third Culture Kid, or TCK, is someone who spent the majority of their developmental years in another country, influenced by an entirely different culture than their own. They are the kids with the detailed, tangent narrative to the question, “Where are you from?” As a TCK, I lived in Germany for seven years. Although I have American citizenship, Deutschland ist immer die Heimat (Germany is always home). I did not just visit Germany. I lived the German experience wholeheartedly, insomuch that Germany is a crucial part of my identity. Therefore, after graduating high school, I knew I would miss Germany and that I would have to adjust to the States (how TCKs’ refer to the US). However, I did not realize what a big culture shock I would have upon returning to my land of citizenship.
While I lived in Germany, I spent summers in the States, and I spent most of my childhood in the States, but it was different when I returned here to live permanently. I remember leaving the airport hearing English everywhere and realizing that I was not in Germany anymore. No “Ausfahrt” signs, Deutsches Eis (German ice cream), and I could just smell the difference in McDonalds – I have yet to eat McDonalds in the states since returning in 2010. I felt like a foreigner in my own country. It was like watching your favorite kid cartoon as an adult and all the innocence and joy had disappeared. It felt as if I knew this place, I remembered this place, but I still felt out of place.
It is strange explaining to people that I had a greater culture shock returning to the States than while living in Germany. How could I experience a culture shock in my own country? The American culture is innately in me, so seven years should not have made my transition back home that difficult. The truth is that I developed this window into my culture that allowed me to understand it unbiased. Yes, I am still American, but I do not have the American perspective alone, so now I can understand my country more fully.
When I returned to the States at 19, I felt I had had more freedom in Germany at the age of 14. The lack of autonomy in a country that prides itself on freedom shocked me the most. The mentality of Germans towards teens is different from Americans. In America, we think we treat teenagers as adults, especially in college, but honestly, we tend to cradle young Americans. Maybe it is the issue of safety, which was not big in Germany. Still, I felt more like an adult in Germany at age 14 than at age 19 in my homeland.
I developed a more critical perspective of American culture. Before moving to Germany, I saw nothing wrong with where Americans placed their values, but after living in Germany and engaging with people that had various backgrounds, my perspective changed.
For Aerian Irvine, a junior international affairs major from McDonough, her new understanding of American customs caused a slight culture shock. She spent her childhood in South Korea, where respect, honor and duty toward those older or of a higher social standing than yourself is still vastly important and central to their culture – a value that has been slipping from American culture. She experienced the hardest time respecting those who did not want to be called “Mrs. or Mr.” even though they were older. “It was like going against the grain,” Irvine says. “Koreans just hold more value towards respect… I have to call someone by their title.”
However, for Elizabeth Goddard, a junior social studies education major from Athens, the American pride of freedom of expression shocked her the most after returning from China, which is a generally reserved society. She recalls how expressive students were in her classes in the United States compared to China. However, for Goddard, being classified as part of the majority shocked her the most. “It was strange when I came to UGA and considered a part of the majority,” Goddard says. “I had been part of the minority all my life, so I had to get used to not being one of two white girls.”
Kimberley Allonce, a graduate student in public administration from Haiti, thought the American value of individualism at the price of a strong family proved most shocking. Allonce has only lived in the United States for five years, but he quickly noticed the American need for individualism. It was a shock to see teenagers so eager to leave their parents’ home instead of living with their parents until they are married, as is customary in Haiti. He could not understand the purpose of a “nursing home” for grandparents. In Haiti, “family holds more value for us. You do not leave the home, and if you do, you do not travel too far from it,” Allonce says.
The most disturbing and shocking thing for me was realizing racism. Not to say that racism does not exist in Germany, as I am sure it does, but not to the degree as in America. However, upon returning from a culture that I believe to be very accepting and open-minded, I finally realized that racism existed. This window perspective into American culture challenged me to step outside my comfort zone to see America for its truth.
Although all of our experiences are our own, as a TCK, we can switch cultures in a matter of seconds. I believe this is our biggest gift. We understand each other in ways that no outsider could. We recognize the constant moving and learning how to say goodbye. We get the addictive need to learn a new culture and travel. Every TCK’s culture is uniquely their own, but we all share common traits as Irvine, Goddard and Allonce point out. As TCK’s, we are more culturally sensitive and understanding of people and use that connection to better the world around us and instigate change. While it may be an odd, identity-crisis-inducing life style, anyone who falls into the Third Culture Kid status agrees that they wouldn’t trade their upbringing for anything.
By Kyla Brinkley
Two duffle bags, eight weeks, 16 credits and over 20 national parks and monuments. This was Meredith Brasher’s life from June 5 to Aug. 2, 2014, before arriving at the University of Georgia for her freshman year. During that summer, she participated in the Interdisciplinary Field Program. Brasher heard about the IFP through friends, including one who went to her high school in Atlanta. Representatives from the IFP shared the opportunity at Druid Hills High School because of the large volume of accepted UGA students there.
The Interdisciplinary Field Program allows students to earn a full semester of class credit while exploring the American West through geology, ecology and anthropology, traveling by van and sleeping in tents. Established in 1988, the program originally only accepted honor students and geology students. Today, it maintains a competitive application process open for up to 20 students of any major, college and year—from incoming freshmen to outbound seniors.
There’s nothing like it.
Because she participated in the program before even starting college, Brasher felt that the small group created an “incredible cushion.”
“I had seven incredibly close friends before I even started,” Brasher says. She quickly grew close with the network of people who attended the trip, including Julia Cox, the program’s coordinator. The students respect Cox because she works hard to maintain all aspects of the program. “She does everything,” Brasher smiled. “She’s already planning the campsites right now.” Brasher was uneasy when she began the trip because she was not only a rising freshman, but she had never even slept in a tent. She is confident, however, that even those students less connected with nature can enjoy themselves during the IFP.
It took her about a week to get used to the experience, and she emphasizes that this would not have been possible without the amazing group of people who she shared it with. “Even if you are horrible at this lifestyle, people will laugh at you in the best type of spirit,” Brasher says. “It’s just a traveling support system.” The sense of community fostered by the IFP allows students like Brasher to cultivate lasting friendships, even if the journey feels scary at first. “The first night, I remember calling my mom like, ‘What have I done?’” Brasher recalls.
She has kept in touch with the network of students who embarked across the country with her, maintaining close friendships with many of them. Some students she met were from other institutions, such as Georgia Tech and Georgia College and State University. Brasher explained that she has also met a wide variety of people just “through shared experience” from the trip. An English and political science major, Brasher also loved the IFP because of the style of learning used. For her, writing is usually the best way to learn. During the IFP, however, she was immersed in the material.
“We would be sitting in this national park…the grand Tetons or the Grand Canyon…in this hot sun with our professor sitting in front of us, and he’d be explaining a rock and instead of that rock being a picture in a textbook, it would be in front of us and you could touch it, or be right next to a fault line and understand exactly how these rocks move,” Brasher says. The classes weren’t easy, but Brasher felt that studying was what made it more enjoyable because of the people she was with and because it was so interactive.
During the program, Brasher took anthropology, geology and ecology—all of which had labs included. If she was not a double major, she would have graduated in three years because of all of the credit she received from the program before starting at UGA.
She also received a backpacking credit for P.E., which emphasized the trip’s effect of changing the students’ perceptions of using resources and taking care of their bodies. For example, chefs travel with the group and cook most of the meals. “Everything was so healthy and sometimes you would hike up to 14 miles a day,” Brasher says. Reminiscing about her favorite moments, Brasher immediately described Crater Lake Canyon in Oregon, the location of one of the IFP’s most iconic photos. “It’s this giant crater lake,” she laughed, trying to find the words to describe its beauty. “It’s just the bluest color I’ve ever seen. So, so blue.”
The group visited Crater Lake Canyon, a collapsed volcano, on one of the trip’s eight days off. These days allow the students to relax after studying for an exam all week. “You build up all this pressure, and then you have this stellar day when you can take a nap, or get a coffee in like this cool coffee shop in Portland, or have a really great meal with your friends and not worry about school for a minute,” Brasher says. The cycle then repeats, “so you’re always looking forward to something.” The off days also included stops in Las Vegas, San Francisco and Denver.
When the students arrived in San Francisco, Brasher and her closest friends from the IFP got to meet up with her parents before attending a concert with them. “I think that might be the most fun I’ve ever had,” she says. “It was great.”
Brasher, now a sophomore, credits the Interdisciplinary Field Program with affecting her life enormously. “There’s only a few of us that go, but everyone’s fanatic. Like fanatic about it. It just changes the way you think about the world,” she says.
She would recommend the program to anyone—one of her best friends who she met on the trip was a senior real estate major. He loved it.
But Brasher herself decided that she would not participate again, even though she would like to at the same time. “I wouldn’t want to write over the experiences that I’ve already had,” she explained. “It was so perfect so maybe I wouldn’t want to do it again because it wouldn’t be the same.” Brasher now helps with the IFP recruitment table at the Tate Center on campus, where she shares her amazing experience with prospective students.
Brasher feels that the most important lesson she took away from the trip wasn’t found in any of the reading. She pondered seriously for a moment, trying to put her thoughts into words, deciding, “I learned how to be independent and how to find and cultivate a sturdy sense of self.”
By Emma Korstanje
Members of Generation Z have had the pleasure of advancing through life in a very diverse world, which is something that Generation X, and possibly even some members of the Millennial Generation, were not able to fully experience. This has led to a campus life swarming with unique students basking in their ability to maintain individuality.
There is, however, one characteristic that can be applied to most college students regardless of pre-existing social differences. It is the one characteristic that minor cyber-stalking of really any form of social media can reveal, at least in some shape or form.
This is referring to, of course, the intense and insatiable desire to see the world. The wish to expand one’s horizons outside of the familiar American landscape has become somewhat of a trope in the novel of 21st century college student lives. With the technology boom and sudden access to a plethora of information previously hidden in books, it can’t be too difficult to guess why there is a desire to see the world.
One thing that sadly hasn’t changed is the required steps and materials to travel the globe – time and money. Both of which students rarely have in excess. Luckily for the residents of Athens, the Classic City offers a nice alternative to this issue while also pleasing the lovers of all things food.
By dining at any of the following restaurants, an eager traveler can eat around the globe for much less than a coach ticket overseas.
To begin the tour, a trip to DePalma’s Italian Café located on East Broad Street can satisfy the desire to visit the country, at least for the time being. Beginning as an experiment in creating the perfect pizza, DePalma’s has since grown to inhabit three locations with an extended menu featuring both classic Italian dishes and Americanized favorites. “I like how quaint it is, like it doesn’t feel like a chain. It’s got a very home-y feeling,” says Kristina Caldwell, a freshman biology major from Suwannee who frequents the café. This particular stop is great for both filling up before nights out on the town and refueling during casual shopping excursions.
Pauley’s Crepe Bar, though not technically a “French” restaurant, can satisfy some interest in the culture without breaking the college student budget. Originating in Athens before expanding to Atlanta, Pauley’s is a staple of the Classic City. The favored menu item, crepes, are originally a food of France, although the restaurant has definitely put its own unique spin on the item with both savory and dessert options. “Pauley’s is the first and definitely best crepe bar I have ever eaten at,” says Julia Ghyzel, a freshman biology major from Newnan. “I highly recommend the buffalo chicken crepe! It’s amazing!” For a more true-to-France option, the Etienne Brasserie on East Broad Street is a great option, though it is more expensive.
Many students are familiar with the classic, Americanized Chinese take-out that occasionally features mystery meats and inspirational cookies. Unfortunately, this is often where the knowledge of Asian-inspired cuisine comes to an end. In Athens, one can take a trip to India by visiting the aptly named Little India located on East Broad Street and indulge in a wide variety of savory entrees from chicken to goat, with vegetarian options available. The restaurant features a unique system of rating dishes as “mild,” “medium,” “hot” or “Indian hot” to help newcomers navigate the possibly unfamiliar dishes. For a first time visit, it is suggested to start with the restaurant’s lunch buffet in which one can sample many different flavors and meats to really discover which aspect of Indian cuisine is most preferable without spending a hefty amount of money.
For a more eastern Asian excursion, Shokitini, located off of West Clayton Street, is a great option for those who are interested in the Japanese culture. Though it is a bit of an upscale option, the higher price should not discourage lovers of sushi from visiting, according to Lauren Page. “It is higher priced, but the food and service is definitely worth it,” says Page, a freshman early childhood development major from Savannah. When describing a trip to the contemporary Japanese dining spot, Page says, “Everything just seems really fresh.” Shokitini’s menu features other options, with dishes that would satisfy the most adventurous of eaters as well as dishes for those who like to consume the familiar. The restaurant also offers karaoke, which is basically the icing on the raw tuna-filled, seaweed-wrapped cake.
Although it is technically part of North America, experiencing true Jamaican cuisine is a rarity for many Americans. Because of this, Kelly’s Jamaican Foods is a treasure to the Athens dining scene. It is well known for its authentic approach to the food served, as well as utilizing a heavy hand when spicing ensuring that the dishes are never lacking in flavor. The cost is very reasonable when the large portions served are kept in mind, and because of this, the local staple has a strong fan base of recurring customers.
Lastly, a visit to Cali N’ Tito’s can end the tour with a Latin American flair. This particular restaurant is difficult to miss in passing with its eclectic, colorful décor and nicely placed outdoor seating. They’re well known for fish tacos as well as their specialty limeade. The restaurant implements a “bring your own beverage” policy where, for two dollars, a customer will be provided with a wristband and ice to keep beverages cold. The prices are hard to beat, and on a college student’s budget, this spot is a dream come true.
From the pizza of DePalma’s Italian Café to Cali N’ Tito’s Latin American flair, the Classic City is certainly not lacking in the cultural cuisine department. This can be a relief to many students, as the technology age has instilled a desire to explore the world and experience all that it has to offer. By stopping in to dine at any of the aforementioned restaurants, one can get a taste of travel without ever leaving Athens.
By Cory Cole
Dodge-ball. S’mores by the bonfire. Shaving cream fights. Friendship bracelets. Cabin pillow fights.
These activities aren’t unfamiliar to those of us who grew up going to summer camp. Those weeks of camp are where we develop lifelong friendships with lingering memories of fun, laughter, spiritual and personal growth and great food. At least that’s what I experienced at The Swamp.
Let’s get something straight, The Swamp is not an actual swamp. The Swamp is a youth camp in Georgia that has been serving kids and families in the southeast for more than 20 years. That’s where my siblings and I have experienced camp culture. What has made it so special to me and the friends I’ve made there is that it is one of the safest places to be yourself. It is the mission of The Swamp to provide a mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually safe place for kids and teens to have fun and learn about God.
“The heart of it is that every kid that touches The Swamp is valued,” says camp director Jeff Rorabaugh. “As much as we’d like everyone to develop a belief, some don’t, and yet they still walk away feeling loved and valued, and that can change the world.”
Six years ago, Jeff and his wife, Jen, started a program called Swamp Corps where the camp culture of The Swamp is shared worldwide. Teams of experienced Swamp campers and counselors are invited to other countries around the world for three consecutive years. They then train counselors and directors in those countries to run a camp for the kids. The organization has completed training camps in South Africa, Jamaica and Barbados and will finish training this year in India, Brazil and the Bahamas. In December, the South Africa camp actually began training in Zimbabwe, and in January I had the privilege of being on the team for a very successful first year of training in Nicaragua.
I’ve traveled to other Spanish-speaking countries before, and I’ve consistently taken Spanish classes since the age of nine. There was never a point in my life where I didn’t enjoy it. I love the language, and I love the cultures of Latin America. So you can imagine my excitement when Swamp Corps announced their trip to Nicaragua last April. It was their first trip to a Spanish-speaking place, and I felt called to be a part of the team with my passion for Spanish-speaking cultures.
Little did I know that when I signed up to be a counselor, God had other plans in store for me. I became the personal translator for Jeff. Going into the week, I felt excited but extremely nervous. I was afraid that I wouldn’t know all the right words or that I wasn’t capable of translating in front of big groups.
Something that helped me overcome this was Jeff’s advice: “This is a learning experience for you; don’t feel insecure. I trust you.” Hearing that guidance and understanding other’s expectations of me is what got me through the week. I learned so much through speaking Spanish and about the administrative side to running a youth camp.
A total of 83 campers from Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica attended the 6-day camp in Managua, Nicaragua’s capital. For nearly all the campers (and counselors), it was their first experiences going to camp. I can confidently say they did not go home disappointed.
“There could have been so many obstacles,” Jeff says. “Those obstacles melted away on day one. Because of that, we saw the core of Swamp culture - building relationships.”
The new international relationships Alanis Espinosa, freshman, formed in Nicaragua are what impacted her the most. “I loved how deep they were in every aspect of their love and their gratitude,” Espinosa says. Coming from Mexican descent, 18-year-old Espinosa is used to the embracing culture. I guess you could say she was fluent in the physical love language and in Spanish, so she felt right at home. She has kept up with her Central American friends weekly ever since the trip because of her experience with “a love so genuine it keeps going.”
Junior Jesse McKay traveled with the Swamp Corps South Africa to Zimbabwe just weeks before joining us in Nicaragua. He’s also been a part of the full-time staff at The Swamp in Georgia for the past four summers, and he sees a very bright future for the camp in Nicaragua.
“I can easily see Nicaragua being a strong focal point for the rest of Central America,” McKay says. The Nicaraguans’ “sheer passion” for camp gives McKay hope that one day Nicaragua camp can train other camps in Central America, much like South Africa camp did for Zimbabwe.
The people there truly emanated gratitude. You could tell that they were having the time of their lives. It was incredible to witness the campers dive right into the special Swamp culture that so many of us on the trip experienced when we were growing up. The Central Americans loved our goofy and fun traditions of dancing in the dining hall during meals, playing dodge-ball and competing in cabin challenges. The smiles and laughter of the kids showed me what true and pure joy looks like. It isn’t a feeling. It is a state of being grateful for whatever life throws at you.
This trip was just a taste of what my future may hold. As I begin to approach the end of my college experience, I feel the heavy pressure that thinking about my future career brings. But this trip was the first time I felt excited about it because I was combining the skills I’m learning in college about Spanish, management and communication with the passion I have for traveling, meeting new people, camp culture and youth.
I consider it a blessing to have been able to be a part of the Swamp Corps Nicaragua team. I definitely left a piece of my heart there. I can’t wait to find it next January at Camp Nicaragua 2017.