Sycamore Spotlight is a monthly spotlight where we showcase one of our Study Abroad students and they tell us about their time abroad.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself, where you went, and what you studied.
- Hi! My name is Olivia, and I’m a recently graduated ISU student. I did my last semester abroad in Barranquilla, Colombia.
- What was the craziest thing you ate? Where was it?
- Well, I’m a vegetarian, so I always sort of have to opt out of the ‘crazy food contest.’ However, Colombia has an amazing variety of fruits. On a trip to the Amazon, I tried this fruit called “camucamu.” They said it has one of the highest Vitamin C contents of any fruit in the world. However, it’s so acidic you can barely eat it!
- What was the biggest struggle that you faced that you overcame? How did you overcome it?
- I studied abroad once before (Viña del Mar, Chile, Fall 2013), so I thought that this time around would be a piece of cake. And in certain ways, it was. But in others, it certainly wasn’t. I got more homesick this time, and I didn’t know why initially. But then I thought about it and realized that I had a larger group of friends in Chile. But most of them were other international students. One of the reasons why I decided to study abroad a second time (besides the fact that it’s just awesome) was to connect with the people of the host country better. So instead of getting down that I didn’t have a group of friends like I had the last time, I made better friends with Colombians, and much of the homesickness went away.
- What was the best/most breathtaking thing that you saw?
- There were quite a few; Colombia is a beautiful country, one of the most biodiverse in the world. I think that I’ll let this picture of a sunset over the Amazon River speak for itself, though.
- What was your most memorable moment?
- After the semester ended, I traveled around Colombia by myself. I like traveling by myself; I’m able to do what I want, and I feel like I’m able to travel more efficiently than I would in a big group. However, there are times that I wish I were with other people. One of these times was when I went paragliding over the city of Medellín, Colombia. I’ve been paragliding before, but as I was taking the bus up to the paragliding spot, alone, I thought, “I must be a crazy person. I’m going up a mountain on a bus alone, don’t know where I’m getting off, and then I’m going to strap on a parachute and fly above a city. Alone. I must be a crazy person.” Though of course I was doing it tandem with a very experienced paragliding guide. However, I got off at the right spot, met the guide, and had an amazing time paragliding.
- What is your favorite foreign word/slang phrase from the location that you were at (Spain, England, New Zealand, etc.)? What does it mean?
- My favorite group of words in Barranquilla (barranquillero) were all the English words they used. There’s a lot of Spanglish. For example, they use man instead of the Spanish word, hombre. (E.g. Vi ese man en la calle ayer./I saw that man on the street yesterday). However, if they’re going to say the plural, they don’t use “men;” they created the word manes, following Spanish grammar rules. They also use ful (full), but they use it just to mean “very,” or for emphasis. So, they say things are ful chévere or ful bacano, both of which mean “very cool.” I think my favorite, though, was when they would say something was ful lleno, or “very full,” but what they’re literally saying is full full.
- What did you miss the most from home?
- I really missed air conditioning. Barranquilla is on the Caribbean coast, and so it has a tropical climate- aka, 90+ degree weather and humidity almost every day. The businesses in the city have air conditioning, but it was kind of tough to not have it in our house sometimes.
- What do you miss from your location now?
- I just came back a few days ago (I did about a month of traveling after the program), but I’m already missing all the different kinds of fruits and juices. They’re always so fresh and delicious!