Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sara Liming

Stirling, Scotland, 
summer 2012

Entry 1:  Kansas, United States  |  Apr 30 2012

46 Days and Counting -Pre-departure thoughts :)
Like a puzzle, the pieces come together.
There is so much that is going through my mind right now. Tomorrow the money is due as well as all the paperwork. Last week my parents and I finally figured out funding and what relief that is. Now all I can do is think about Scotland, the time I have left, and the people I'm going to meet while I spend my summer abroad. I've never traveled outside the states before, and this will be only the second time I've ever flown.

I'm expecting to have the summer of a lifetime. I can't wait to experience Scotland like a native. The two months are going to be the fastest two months of my life. I want to try haggis, and to hear bagpipes and experience life. I'm so excited for the thought that my life begins this summer. I'm going to find the real me, and I'm super pumped. I'm most excited to meet the friends I've come to know and to meet many more once abroad. I was nervous to travel, but now that I've met a couple people, the only thing I'm nervous for is adjusting to life overseas. :)

Entry 2:   Kansas, United States  |  Jun 08, 2012

ONE week left! In exactly one week, I will leave Kansas City to Glagow.
Completely overwhelmed
My dad and I were talking yesterday. The one question that he had me stuck on was "How does it feel now that you're leaving next week?"
I honestly don't know how I feel. I know that my last day at work is Tuesday and I have a lot to do between now and then, but I feel like I'm in a dream. I still can't really believe that I'm going to Scotland for two months. Two whole months. I know that time is going to fly by in a blur.
I'm really excited to meet everyone. I think this is one summer 20 years from now we're all going to look back and reflect on and know we were meant to go. We'll be old and wrinkled still saying, "Remember that one time we went to London?"
Money is really tight, but I haven't let that get me down through everything. I've got tons of medicine that I have to bring over with me, but I'm just reliving the fact that I'm going. I'm really going.
I cannot tell everyone how happy and how excited I am that I'm getting to live one of my dreams. I hope this week goes by fast so I can get to Scotland already! :)

Entry 3:  Bagging a Munro

Stirling, Scotland  |  Jun 25, 2012
This has been one hell of a week for me. Since I got here last week on Saturday, I have been on the move.
I toured the University Saturday with a wine tasting get-together of all the International Summer School students and on Sunday, we toured all the major attractions and towns around the Stirling area. I spent a better part of the week settling into the routine of 21-hour days with 3 hours of night as well as trying to get to know flatmates and the ever-confusing transit system. And of course I couldn't get away with not going to class. I have found that some modules are very deceiving and aren't what they say they are.
Thursday the ISS coordinators took us to St. Andrews, the birthplace of golf. It was awesome! But super rainy. My flatmates and I spent most of the day inside in warm cafes drinking tea and having rolls.
The weekend was the most amazing thing ever. I went to the Isle of Skye with this group called Wild in Scotland. It's a gorgeous place to be. The trip getting there was almost more entertaining than actually being there. Friday afternoon when we leave Killin where we had lunch, we're about 10 minutes north when a motorcycle tries to overtake us. Well he crashes and burns to the point where we thought he died. *Note* he made it, but was broken severely. While waiting for the accident report and everything, Danny, our tour guide, leaves the bus running for us. When he returns two-three hours later, he can't start it. Here we have 14 uni students pushing this oversized minivan while our kilt-wearing guide tries to start the van. 

Once we get going, we hit some beautiful places like the Eilean Donan castle and stop off on some points in the Highlands. The next morning we go scallop fishing! It was so cool! I also held a starfish. We see every beautiful place that the Isle of Skye has to offer before we have a delicious batch of fish and chips for tea (dinner). We hit this mountain range called Quiraing. Amazing. I would go there again in a heartbeat to climb the paths that wind through everything.
Sunday we drive down through the mountains (gorgeous) and end up at Loch Ness. It was pouring rain so Nessie decided not to come out to play :( We end our fabulous three-day weekend in a forest walk with homemade ice cream on a teddie cone. 
Tonight, a few of the uni students made the climb of Dumyat hill. It is over 450 metres (1000 feet) to the top! We almost bagged a munro (climb a mountain almost 1000 metres). We got lost on the way down, but the photos are amazing.
I have spent the most amazing time in Scotland so far. I feel like I have so much left to see and I'm so thankful I have seven more weeks of amazing time here.

Entry 4:  Milestone
Stirling, Scotland  |  Jul 01, 2012
My biggest accomplishment that I have had this week is being used to the taste of food!
When I first got here two weeks ago, I couldn't stand the taste of food. Here, they have more vinegary everything. The salad dressings, the ketchup, the mustard, EVERYTHING. I've never been a huge fan of vinegary stuff. There's also no salt on the chips. Being from America, I like my salt on my chips (fries). The chocolate also tastes weird here, like it's more bitter. It's defintely been hard adjusting to certain foods. I like Subway, but Subway AGAIN tastes different here. I've found that I like more of the Scottish dishes than the American way of Scottish dishes. When I went to this pub last night called Drouthy Neebors (best pub in Stirling so far), it was like a sudden switch went off in my mouth. I started to like what Scotland has to offer.
Though a thing that drives me crazy is the fried food is cheaper than some of the healthier food, and everything comes with chips. My flatmates and I have been saying that the food is fattier here, but everyone is healthier because you can walk anywhere and everywhere you need to. Food also expires much quicker than I ever thought possible. This morning my flatmate Ginny and I threw away expired pack of 12 rolls, 7 muffins and numerous veggies that we bought mid last week.
My flatmate Andy and I have started a list of foods we're going to eat whenever we get home. Top of my list? Chiptole. Then I'm going to devour some Manhattan style Subway and probably some Cozy Inn burgers. I love it here, but they can't do some of the foods that I've come to love.
Another thing that's been weird getting used to is the pound system. Whenever you go into a restaurant, store, etc, tax has already been included in the price. It's been nice knowing exactly how much I'm going to spend even if in the conversion, it's more expensive or as expensive as American items with tax. And people of Great Britain don't tip. It's funny the way that I heard it explained. "They don't accept tips because they don't feel obligated to pay someone for something they expect they haven't done." 
It's certainly been an interesting time here in Stirling. I can consider myself more well-mannered than most American tourists. We saw a group at the Stirling Castle yesterday that had no courtesy for anyone other than themselves. Ginny, Katharine and I walked away saying, "stupid Americans" because though we are American, we don't act like one. We're here to study, not here to do whatever we want and not care about what it might do to the locals.
I do miss home. I miss seeing my family and eating good, healthy food, but I don't want to leave here. I have another six weeks, with much more to be learned. When I come home in August, I'll be me, with more knowledge and experience that money could never buy.

Entry 5:  Five down, three to go.

Stirling, Scotland  |  Jul 22, 2012
 Not much has been happening in the ways of my life recently. I managed to pass first block with flying colours and am now one week in to block two and my course of international relations. It's definitely a harder class for me to comprehend since I have no political science background. But my teacher is amazing. He prefers us to call him 'Big Man' and wants to treat the class with a casual environment because it seems that we'll learn more that way.
I would like to give highlight, though, to a couple events that I never posted about.
On 5 July, the International Summer School took us all to Edinburgh, which happened to be the same day that Queen Elizabeth II, Prince William and Katherine were supposed to be in town for the continuation of the Diamond Jubilee. Seeing as how I was a photographer with a hoard of intense royal watchers, I thought I'd walk to the castle. Well the Queen was due to be on the Royal Mile, which leads to the castle. I was stopped, front row, at the perfect position to see the Queen and everyone drive by. By the luck of the draw, I got clear photos of the Queen!
On Thursday, 19 July, I was sitting in my kitchen reveling on the delicious dinner I made for everyone when I was looking out our third story flat window. Naturally, since being here, I have only seen brown rabbits. And it just so happens that Alice in Wonderland is huge over here. Now you can see where my thought process is going. As I'm looking out, I see a snow white rabbits come hopping out of the woods. In utter shock, I scream to my flat mates, "Follow the white rabbit!" and run out of the kitchen.
I was really hoping for an adventure in wonderland because I have been left to my own accords this weekend. All my flat mates left for the weekend (3), or have disappeared doing their own thing (2). Which leaves me. I have never wished Facebook to be more entertaining. But because of the dire boredom I was faced with, I went hiking. I got lost in the hills/mountainous regions for a few hours. I met some sheep, walked probably five miles, and found crispy m&m's (best candy on earth).
All in all, I'm starting to really love this country. The weather is just now turning sunny every day, the temperatures are perfect, the people are absolutely amazing, and I feel at home here. Were it not for the money and the visa factor, I don't think I would be coming home in three weeks. I love my family and I miss them, but there is a part of me that will always be here. I don't think I can ever be whole again unless I move back here, no matter the length. 
I thought I knew who I was before I left for Scotland. Since being here, I forgot who I was. I can't say how I've changed, or what has changed, but who I am doesn't remember who I've been. I have a new life and a new destiny ahead of me. I couldn't have asked for a better summer.
And I still have so much more exploring to do! Eek!!

Entry 6:  Why must it end?

Stirling, Scotland  |  Aug 01, 2012
 This has probably been one of the least productive weeks I've had so far. 
Besides watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, as well as the Olympics, which is weird to watch from the UK, this has probably been one of the least productive weeks I've had so far. I haven't had any inclination to do anything. I've been moping around since I am being forced to leave this beautiful country next weekend to go back home to Kansas, where I will start my senior year. It's been a surreal summer. It hasn't felt like I've been in school, or that I've put myself one step closer to being out in the real world. I feel like I'm on an extended vacation.
Though, not everything is as peachy as it seems.
One of the things that most annoys me about this country is the bias that the UK has towards themselves. For instance, I was reading the paper the other morning and stumbled upon an article debating gun control in the States. The article, in summary, said that America was foolish for having guns and that they should adopt the UK belief about no guns. Granted, I do enjoy shooting a gun, but because unfortunate events like the Aurora shooting happen, doesn't mean we can automatically change the culture of America. Hunting, shooting and gun clubs are a part of our culture.
Also, even the announcers at the Olympics are very biased towards Team GB's athletes. I was watching men's gymnastics, a Ukrainian athlete was performing and one of the announcers gasped because he was paying attention to a GB member who fell off his event, instead of watching the athlete he was supposed to commentating on. It fills the stereotype that England is known for being pompous. I know this isn't true because I've come to befriend an English fellow, but it still irks me. I'm trying to keep an open mind being that I'm the tourist, but I've come across some close-minded people. 
Now that I'm done with my rant, today in class we discussed the troubled areas of Northern Ireland and the many different sides of the troubles that hasn't been publicly discussed. Like the Holy Cross incident, or the walls dividing neighborhoods. Friday, my international relations class is headed to Belfast, where we will see first-hand these walls and the murals. It's been interesting to hear a documentary discussing the religious side of the troubles, versus the political side that everyone knows about.
The thing I'm most looking forward though is the part where my class leaves and I take a bus to Enniskillen, where I meet up with my little brother, his girlfriend and her family. Her cousin has been gracious into inviting me into her home, which allows me to see Ireland more than I would have otherwise. It also brings a bittersweet end to an amazing summer.
When I arrive back to Stirling next week on Tuesday, I hope to have a better grip on the reality that my trip is coming to a close. I don't want it to end; I just want to stay here forever, though Scotland may not want me to. Wednesday is my final day of class, Thursday is my farewell party with everyone and Friday is just a day where I get the last remaining pieces of my summer together. Saturday morning I ship out of Glasgow, where I will be greeted later that night by the smiling faces of my family with CHIPOTLE :)


Entry 7:  The Troubles

Belfast, Northern Ireland  |  Aug 08, 2012
 I just got back last night around 9:00 pm from a very long weekend in Ireland. I can say that I love Ireland, but the most interesting part of my trip was Friday, when I went with my International Relations class to Belfast.
I blogged last week about how excited I was to go to Ireland and that Belfast was going to be interesting. Interesting is really the most accurate way I can describe what I felt as I stepped off the plane into Belfast. It didn't look much different than Scotland, but it felt much different. It was...less geared towards tourists and more like a traditional town. The city centre was interesting. If you went one direction, you would find a block that had the Union Jack flying above business doors. If you went down another, you could see Ireland flags being flown over the business door. This was only a dip into what I was going to experience later that afternoon.
The morning I spent doing the "touristy" stuff. I saw the Universities and then I saw where the Titanic was built and where it sailed. That was beautiful. We had lunch at a nice pub in the centre then it was off for the real reason we came to Belfast: the Troubles tour.
Our first stop was at this little neighbourhood, Protestant because of all the Union Jacks flying on the houses. Each mural stood as a testament to The Troubles time period. One particular mural got me a little..not necessarily scared, but uneasy. This one, Jackie C. was a Protestant who was gunned down right outside this home in which his mural is painted on. We were advised by our tour guide that we were not to wander off by ourselves, or not to wear anything that supported Ireland, because we might have someone hassle us. That's what did me in. It's this long into the Peace regime and we still have to worry about someone hassling us because we support an Irish football team.
But it doesn't stop there.
I easily see that nearly all the houses in this neighbourhood are covered in some sort of mural. Our guide tells us stories about some of the murals we visit, and it sets the mood for our next stop. I can say that I was close to tears because it was overwhelming and just astounding that all of this happened in Northern Ireland between neighbours.
The Peace Wall was the craziest and saddest piece of architecture that I have ever seen. Going into the neighbourhoods, we passed by a 20 or 30 foot tall gate, this is chained shut every night from 7pm to 5am. This just tells you how bad this part of Belfast is. Inside, the Peace Wall is a 96 foot tall structure that is meant to keep the Protestant neighbourhood separate from the Catholic neighborhood. The Catholic side of the wall has iron slabs across windows and back porches to prevent shrapnel and bombs from destroying the house/killing those inside. The Protestant side has murals painted on them, and thousands of people who visit have signed their name with a message. I did, and so did my classmates (see photos).
The entire time I've been here, I've really been seeing through the eyes of a tourist/student. Yes, I live in housing at a University and yes, I have seen and gotten to know every aspect of Stirling, Glasgow and Edinburgh, but I've never had to experience life in a troubled area. Seeing what is every day life to someone in Belfast really shook my foundation. Not everything is peachy wherever you go, and people in Belfast have experienced and witnessed things I will never ever have to experience, hopefully.
That's not to say that everywhere in Ireland is like Belfast.
After I spent Friday in Belfast, I got a bus down to Enniskillen, where I was picked up by my fabulous host and taken down to Drumshanbo. I had a wonderful weekend playing tourist and living with a family much like my own. It was a lovely experience that I hope I can have again soon! P.S. I have the hookup if you ever want to have a great weekend in Drumshanbo.

I would enjoy to come back to Ireland, but Belfast is not my city of choice. The people are lovely and the area has a lot to offer (i.e. everything Titanic), but I could not live in the troubled area. The people are still hateful towards each other and I couldn't live in that kind of environment. I hope by the time I reach the age where I have my own children, I want to see the Peace Wall, and every other wall, torn down in Belfast.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pittsburg Goes to Heidelberg

Physics Students in Heidelberg
From left to right: Dr. Alex Konopelko, Brandon Wolak, Melissa Churning, David Heins, Stephanie Powers, Allen Fluck, Stevynn Cutshall, Aaron Flood, Josh Silvers, Katie Whitbeck

Pittsburg State students of physics had a rare opportunity to visit the Max Plank Institutes of Astronomy and Nuclear Physics this summer on a trip led by Dr. Alex Konopelko.

Konopelko, who is an assistant professor of the physics, took nine students to Heidelberg, Germany, in August for a behind the scenes look the famous institutes. Dr. Konopelko applied for and received support for the program from DAAD —the German Academic Exchange Service—an organization akin to the Fulbright Program in the United States. DAAD awarded PSU a “Group Study Visit Grant” which covered virtually all the on-the-ground costs for a group of students to spend 10 days on the faculty –led academic program in Germany.

“Heidelberg University is one of the top-ranking institutions in the world of international science and scholarship,” says Konopelko. “With its six-hundred-year history, it is Germany's oldest seat of higher learning.”

The visit provied a wide variety of opportunities for advanced learning that perfectly complements the physics curriculum at PSU. The group of physics students traveling to Heidelberg in summer, 2011 took a Study Abroad course entitled Introduction to Modern Astrophysics. The goal of this course is to introduce students who have a serious interest in the physical sciences to the breadth of modern Astrophysics and prepare them for more advanced topical courses in the future.

“The Department of Physics and Astronomy of Heidelberg University was very kind to agreed to serve as a host for the group,” says Konopelko. “Stefan Wagner was willing to help this group with local arrangements.”

The group of physics students from PSU will visited the Max-Planck-Institute for Nuclear Physics (MPI-K), Heidelberg, which is leading a large-scale European project in Astrophysics, which is called CTA.

Heidelberg Observatories“Werner Hofmann, who is one of the directors of this institute and spokesperson for CTA, supervised the classes at the MPI-K. Professors Wagner and Hofmann lectured to our students.” Says Konopelko. “In addition, a number of other professors of Heidelberg University also gave lectures in the Modern Astrophysics course. Among them are Wolfgang Kraetschmer, who together with Donald Huffman from the University of Arizona developed the world famous Kraetschmer-Huffman procedure for the synthesis of fullerenes, and Oxford-educated John Kirk, who is one of the best theoretical astrophysicists in the world.”

In addition to the opportunities in physics, foreign travel also opened educational doors for our students.

“I had never really had Germany on my list of places I wanted to visit,” says Katie Whitbeck, who is a Communication major and an Earth and Space Science minor, “but I constantly checked the study abroad listings for a good, yet cheap, trip, and the Germany trip was perfect! It fit perfectly with what I was interested in.

“Before this trip, I had only gone to Canada, and I didn't know any of the other students, but we became a tight group quickly. I enjoyed every moment and adventure over there.”

“I got a better understanding of the German culture,” says Melissa Churning, who has a double major in French and Mechanical Technology. “The culture is much different than from ours. I learned to adapt to unusual surroundings. I also learned how to understand some of the German language by reading the street signs and food menus; I learned to adapt to living with strangers in a youth hostel.”

From : Universitas, the online newsletter from Pittsburg State University College of Arts and Sciences

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Students wins scholarship to study in Canada

From the Pittsburg Morning Sun, 16 June 2011, by Nikki Patrick

Canada is a close and good neighbor of the United States, but getting there turned out to be a complicated procedure for Mandy Folk, Pittsburg, a Pittsburg State University junior art education major.

However, she has triumphed, and will be spending the fall semester at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.

She applied for and received a $5,000 Killam Fellowship, a national scholarship that fosters educational exchange between America and Canada.

“Canada contains such a rich history embedded deep within everyone who lives there,” Folk said. “There are many aspects of art history in Canada that intrigue me.”

She will focus her studies on the art work of the Haida Gwaii, a Native American tribe.

“They’re the people who do totem poles,” Folk said.

Read the whole story -

Monday, March 7, 2011

Study Abroad Numbers Rise

More Pittsburg State University students will be studying overseas this year, thanks to an increase in faculty willing to create partnerships with foreign universities and lead group programs abroad.

The Office of International Programs and Services and the Study Abroad Committee at PSU has approved more faculty-led study abroad programs than ever before, offering 12 different programs this year over just eight last year.

This year’s excursions include study opportunities (some as long as four weeks) to Spain, Bolivia, Greece, Italy, England, Scotland, Paraguay, Korea, Kazakhstan, Peru, France, Germany, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.

These programs, led by faculty from all corners of campus, are in addition to the individual study abroad opportunities students find.

For Dr. Craig Fuchs, head of the Honors College, leading his second program abroad is admittedly a lot of work, but a valuable experience for his students. “I’ve traveled abroad a number of times and felt the impact of those experiences on my life,” he said. “As a faculty member, it makes you want to share that with your students.”

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Study Spanish in Costa Rica

From December 26th, 2010-January 15th, 2011, eleven students from various backgrounds embraced the opportunity to study abroad in Costa Rica.

Led by Modern Languages Spanish Instructor Brett Smith, the students attended a private Spanish language school, and lived with host families to learn the Spanish language and culture.

During their stay, in addition to making trips to the rain forest, cloud forest, volcanoes, museums, the beach, and so much more, the students took classes from El Instituto Para Estudiantes Extranjeros Monday through Friday from 8:00-12:00.

After class students had time to explore the culture and spend time with their host families. Students experienced birthday parties with their families, learned about cultural differences, and enjoyed celebrating the New Year through the eyes of a different culture.

This is just one more example of how Pittsburg State University is opening up doors of opportunities for students to learn outside the confines of the university and experience language and globalization in real life settings.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Social Work Abroad

Nikki Patrick did a wonderful article on Patty Magee and the study abroad program that took PSU Social Work students to the Dominican Republic over spring break. The program will be repeated this year. From the article:

“We went to Jaibon, a small rural community, and there we were with about 200 other U.S. and Canadian students,” Magee said. “We slept in tents and the meals were primarily beans and rice.”

The Centro para la Ninez includes an on-site school that conducts class for nearly 500 children in the community. Magee and the PSU students conducted workshops for the students in crafts, the English language and reading.”

“They’ve found that if you can introduce English to the kids in school there are a lot more job opportunities for them,” Magee said. “Reading was usually the favorite group. Some of those children had never seen a book before.”

She explained that the orphanage is not exactly the same as such facilities in the United States.

“Here, we assume that if a child is in an orphanage, his or her parents are dead,” Magee said. “In the Dominican Republic, many of the children in the orphanages do have living parents, but they can’t afford to keep them.”

One of the projects the PSU group worked on was a stone wall at the orphanage.

“They wanted a wall for security,” Magee said. “My son, Nicholas, who went with me, had just completed a masonry program, so we started a wall.”

To read the full story click here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Semester in Finland

Kylie Klenke has been in Jyvaskyla, Finland this semester.
She has her own blog - Here is an excerpt.

Remember, PSU has exchanges in Finland, where you can pay PSU tuition and study abroad - many classes are taught in English.

Friendship Family Fun
Today, October 10, I went to visit my Friendship family again. It was a very nice meeting and I got to eat a meal with them. This is the first time I think they realized I wasn’t from a big city, and they asked me to bring pictures of where I’m from the next time I see them, so I’m very excited about that. I need to ask my Dad to send me pictures of my home! While I was there I learned quite a bit about hunting and gun laws here. It is much stricter here than in the States, yet Finland has the largest gun to person ration in the world. I find that interesting. Quail season is just ending, so I finally got to meet Matti (the father) today. He was really nice and showed me pictures of the birds he killed. Also, they told me about elk season. It’s very normal to have elks run out in the road during the hunting season. I told them about how that happens with deer in my country. Then they started talking about how 15 people go out at once with dogs to hunt deer. That made me wonder what kind of super-elk they have here in Finland. Then they started describing the ‘elk’ and I realized that they were really talking about MOOSE! THEY HUNT AND EAT MOOSE HERE!!!! I was so shocked upon hearing it. It’s amazing and I can’t wait to try it, but I was not expecting it. And it made me realize why they said that ‘elk’ running out in the road is so bad. Think about your car running into a moose. I wonder which object will win. :S
*Let It snow, Let It Snow*

Today, October 12, we got our first snowfall here. The teachers all say it was abnormally early for snow, so I’m now starting to believe that it might actually be a colder winter than ever before, like all the experts are apparently saying. It was so beautiful though, because all the fall yellows, oranges, and reds were still on the trees and bushes, so you could see the colours showing through under the white, especially when it began melting.