Home - Admission & Financial Aid - Apply - Scholars Programs - Benton Scholars - Benton Scholars News
Benton Scholars News

Latest Posts

TBS Abroad Week 10: Favorite Memory

By Emily Weaver on April 17, 2019

Week 10- Favorite Memory

It’s been ten weeks and we have reached the end of TBS Abroad for 2019. Your task this week is simple: tell us about one of your favorite memories. It may be a place that you’ll miss most, an activity that was impactful, or a photo that evokes strong emotion. Regardless, tell us what you think is something that will stick with you once you return to Colgate.

To those that have read our stories and journey with us, thank you! We hope you enjoyed!

Renee Congdon

This is a very tough question for me… I feel like I had so many memorable moments in Madrid, and to pick just one is a difficult task. But let’s see. I think I’ll use a photo to talk about this. The photo below was taken on December 8th, when I had less than week left to spend in Madrid with my friends before we all went back to our various homes (California, Colombia, Perú, etc). This photo evokes not just one favorite memory, but a whole slew of favorite memories. We’re all crowded into the mirror at my friends Santiago and Andres’ apartment, where we often went to hang out and generally have a good time. This was one of the last times we were all together, and we each brought some food, put on some good tunes, and chatted and danced. This is also a favorite memory for a sort of counterintuitive reason: this is the night that my phone got stolen. This might seem like it should be a bad memory, but the events of the night turned out pretty great in the end. We were walking along one of the main streets in Sol at around 3am, and all of a sudden I felt something brush my pocket, where I had my phone. I checked, and my phone was missing. I saw two guys walking past our group quickly, glancing behind almost nervously before turning a corner. Almost in shock, I leaned over to my friend Íñigo and said “I think those guys took my phone”. Íñigo immediately grabbed Santiago and Andrés and without even a second of doubting or questioning me they took off in a dead sprint. One by one, each of my friends took off after them as they realized what had happened. I was the last to follow, still pretty shocked that I had gotten robbed on my very last week in Madrid. When I caught up with them, all of them had cornered one of the guys against a wall, forming a circle around him and demanding he return my phone. The guy tried to pretend he didn’t have it, pretending to not speak Spanish and then saying “I didn’t take it, you have the wrong guy”. At this point, Íñigo looked at me and asked “Is this the guy?” I said yes, and he said “If my friend says it’s you, it’s you. Now give it back”. He didn’t doubt me for even a second, and after about 10 minutes of circling this guy while he tried to dart away, he finally gave up and called a friend of his (the second guy I had seen). The friend immediately came around the corner, speed walked past us, and without even making eye contact, shoved my phone into my hand. The two of them took off running. We collapsed into laughter and sighs of relief and incredulous scoffs- had this really just happened?? At this point we all went back to Santiago’s apartment and stayed up until past 5am discussing and rehashing the dramatic event of the evening, all of us too hopped up on adrenaline to sleep. Eventually, around 5:30am, we all drifted off to sleep, some of us on the floor, others on the couch, others sharing beds. It was an incredibly eventful night, and while it could’ve been my worst memory of the semester, it actually turned into one of the best: my friends basically turned into the Avengers to come to my rescue when I needed it, and I felt incredibly lucky to have met such wonderful people while abroad.

Sierra DeAngelo

One of my favorite memories from my time abroad has been the weekend trip to England’s Lake District when I proudly completed a via ferrata course. My study abroad program, IFSA-Butler, organized the weekend, so my study abroad friends were also on the trip (although they all signed up for slightly less intimidating activities like canoeing and hiking). The via ferrata course essentially consisted of scaling the side of a mountain by navigating metal rails and rungs embedded into the mountain. We were secured in harnesses but we had to carefully detach and reattach them every few seconds to continue moving, and some sections of the course required that you lean back while doing so. It was scary yet exhilarating, and the views were breathtaking. The whole experience reminded me why I like to do things that scare or challenge me– because when you complete them you feel so powerful! When we reached the mountaintop, the wind was so strong that I swear I almost flew away in the 90’s/parachute-esque ensemble I had on. Fortunately, the rainstorm held out until we made it back to the hotel, and while my friends braved their afternoon activities in the rain, I opted to rest and enjoy some hot chocolate. I think I earned it.

Trey Spadone

There is no way I can pick just one favorite memory so in Colgate fashion I will list my thirteen favorite memories of my semester abroad thus far. (Thankfully, I still have three weeks left…)

In no particular order…

The demographics of my program are as follows: 18 female students and 1 male student. Therefore, anytime we travel somewhere as a group our academic director introduces us by saying, “we have 18 female students and 1 handsome man.”

We spent 5 days in Munduk Pakel, a village in Tabanan. During our time there, we worked, for maybe twenty-five minutes in the sawah (rice fields). After hardly working, we had mud races, wrestling matches, and overall got super messy! It was so silly and quite fun.

One Sunday morning, we got up at 3:30 AM so we could hike Mt. Batur and watch the sunrise. It was pitch black dark as we climbed up, but we made excellent time and the view from the top was spectacular.

Motor bikes are the most popular form of transportation here and I adore riding on the back of them. One of my favorite rides was with an employee from a surf school in Uluwatu. We did not have enough cash to pay our instructors and so this nice guy offered to drive me to a nearby ATM. The ride was so scenic, and the sun was setting as we zipped down the roads.

We spent a day at an all-female pesantren (Islamic boarding school) and four of us were assigned to give presentations about our majors. We expected it to be really low-key and I almost did not even make a PowerPoint because I thought it would be more of a discussion than a presentation. However, the reality could not have been further from the truth. We arrived at a massive auditorium where at least a few hundred students were gathered to hear me and three of my peers speak. We were also introduced as “experts” and “specialists” in our fields which was golden.

I have stayed with four different host families during the semester and am eternally grateful for their hospitality, kindness, and overall generosity.

We stayed in Trowulan, East Java for a few days at the end of our three-week Java excursion. We had dinner at our academic director’s friend’s house which was followed by a big birthday celebration for one of the teachers. This took the form of a dance party/battle in the street. Even now I am not really sure what was going on, but there was music, dancing, and a man repeatedly yelling “sukses/success” through a microphone. All in all it was a splendid experience.

During our second week, we visited Tanah Lot, a rock formation and home of an ancient Hindu temple. We headed over in full pakaian adat and since it was low-tide we were able to pray in the temple itself.

Spending a morning with Molly, a dashing Asian elephant from the Bali Zoo.

When we were in Lovina some of us got up early, went on a boat tour, and saw dolphins! It was a stellar way to kick off the day.

I recruited four of my friends to come with me on a jeep tour around Mt. Merapi. No waiver forms were signed, and tons of fun was had.   

We had three chaotic and comedic Javanese dance rehearsals and then held a performance in full costume for our host families in Godean.

Spending time and becoming friends with my eighteen peers has been the absolute best. I am in awe of them on a daily basis and they have truly taught me so much. I love them all with my whole heart and could not have asked for a more hilarious, endlessly chaotic, and remarkably brilliant group to spend three and a half months with.

To sum it up, I have woken up every morning happy and grateful to be in Indonesia and never once wished time would go by faster. Each day has given me a new reason to smile and laugh and I will cherish the memories made this semester for the rest of my life.

Emily Weaver

My time in Iceland and Greenland was one of the best experiences of my life. Deciding what my favorite memory is was incredibly difficult, how often do you get to take boat trip out to gigantic icebergs or hike to glacier? All of memories from my study abroad semester I’ll hold close to my heart, but the one I want to tell you about today has more to do with the people.

Mid-way through our time in Greenland we were staying in these cabins that looked into the fjord. It was stunning, you could see the mountains all around you and the characteristically colorful houses lined up across the water. We were cleaning up from dinner when one of my friends looked out the window, called us over, and suggested we go outside to watch the sun set. We grabbed our sweatshirts and climbed onto the rocks just outside our cabin. By the time we had made it outside the other cabin of our peers had caught on the sunset as well and were slowly trickling out to join us. I could tell you that the sunset we saw that night was the most stunning one I had ever seen, and it was, that’s true, but that’s not why it stick in my mind. Sitting there, the cold seeping into our clothes, I looked at all these people I had met and I remember feeling incredible lucky that I was there in that moment. Some of our group was joking around and others were climbing down the rocks to get closer to the water. It was peaceful and quiet.

My time in Iceland and Greenland was often intense. We were grappling with climate change and how it is occurring at an increasing rate. Everyone on the program worked to keep each other grounded as it can get daunting to think about everything we need to do to protect the planet. I’m so incredibly grateful to the people that I’ve met along the way and that night, watching the sunset in Nuuk, that feeling of peace and awe of nature, will stick with me forever.

TBS Abroad Week 9: Performance and Art

By Emily Weaver on April 10, 2019

Week 9- Performance and Art

Now that  we’re well into the semester it’s time to think about culture. I know what you’re thinking, “haven’t we been talking about culture from the start?”. You’re right, we have, this time though we’re going to talk about performance and art. The locations that you have travelled to, undoubtedly, have certain styles of dance or music, certain architecture, or certain artists that speak to the heart of the country. These examples connect history with the present. They provide people all around the world a glimpse into what these countries are really like. So this week, tell us about that. Have you been to any performances? Is the architecture of where you are particularly striking or different from the US? Have you been to any art museums? Have you made an attempt to capture the culture through art? This week’s prompt is pretty wide, be creative and show us how this country is represented through art.

Emily Weaver

Icelandic history is steeped in their sagas. This narratives outline genealogies, family histories, and tales from the past. You can read these sagas and puzzle your way through all the names and connections. They’re entertaining and the people of Iceland love that they have these written histories. They can also be confusing. So many names and characters make up these sagas that, at times, it can be hard to keep everything straight. Thankfully, these sagas are often acted out for people to see.

We went and saw one of these plays while we were in Reykjavik. We were able to see a one-man show production of Gísla Saga Súrssonar. This saga detailed the history of one of the areas that we stayed while we were in the Westfjords. Heading in to the show, our academic director recommended that we try to read the saga first, to have an idea of what to expect. We made a few chapters before being very confused. The one-man show was funny, cleared up our confusion, and an all around good time.

These sagas are important to the Icelandic people and being able to engage with them really allowed me to see into their culture. Another example of this is when we stopped in Blönduos, on one of our bus trips. Here, a local group is working to create a tapestry of the local areas saga. People from town come in to sew for a few hours and eventually they will have the entire saga for people to see. It’s slow going, but listening to the woman in charge of the project, you could tell that this was important to her and the people who grew up hearing these sagas.

Tapestry being created

Trey Spadone


Art is an intrinsic part of Balinese culture due to its role in religious rituals. Many aspects of Balinese Hinduism are tied to artistic practices and performances and pervades almost every aspect of daily life. I will center this piece on the impact of the performing arts on the island.

Canang Sari (Balinese offerings). These offerings are all over the place and serve as gifts to the gods.

Work by Ida Bagus Anom, a Topeng mask maker. Masks are used for many performances in Bali. 

The group with wayang (shadow puppets). The wayang kulit is a famous art form found in Bali, Java, and Lombok. 

The group learning some Balinese dance moves. It was very difficult! Balinese dance incorporates quite subtle hand, finger, eye, and face movements. 

A group of us attended a Kecak performance at Uluwatu Temple. The show depicts a battle from the Ramayana (a major Sanskrit epic).  

TBS Abroad Week 8: Weather

By Emily Weaver on April 3, 2019

Week 8- Weather

After having our first taste of spring over the past couple days here at Colgate, this week we are talking about weather. Weather is variable, some places get four season, some get two. Around the globe, seasons mean something entirely different to everyone. Snow, rain, sun, or wind, tell us about the weather where you are. Are there often fluctuations from day to day or does your abroad location offer a consistent weather pattern throughout the day. Do you find yourself missing the weather at home or do you find your new locations weather a much nicer change of pace? What is the general consensus from the locals about their weather, do they love it or hate it?

Sierra DeAngelo

I have been pleasantly surprised by the weather here in London! Although I do love a good rain storm, there have been relatively few gloomy days and quite a few sunny, warm(ish) days, especially in the past month. All the cherry blossom trees throughout London blossomed recently, which has breathed new life into the city. Essentially it has felt like early-spring in New York since February here. It has flurried a couple of times but I don’t know that I would even classify that as snow because it never sticks. I am not complaining, though! I had my winter wonderland fix during November/December while I was still in the tundra known as Upstate NY. The wind is what gets me here! The weather app will tell me it is in the mid-50s but then I step outside and the wind chill makes it feel much cooler out. Additionally, the weather occasionally changes drastically midday. Recently I was making my way to a lunch date when all of a sudden the wind picked up and it started raining. Rain quickly turned into HAIL that was so harsh I felt I was being impaled. Needless to say, I arrived at lunch resembling a wet cat. All things considered, I have felt quite happy about the weather here. Even on colder days, the skies are often blue and sunny. I am really looking forward to lots of picnics in London’s gorgeous parks as the temperatures continue to rise over the next couple months!

  • Caught in the Rain

Emily Weaver

In Iceland, the weather is always changing. Sometimes it feels like you are never prepared for what is coming. The mornings can be grey and rainy, but then the afternoons turn out to be beautiful blue skies. One day we began a hike in a cold, rainy drizzle, but by the time we reached the end of our hike we had shed our outer layers because the sun was out in full force! It can make planning what to wear very hard. By the end of my time there I got used to the change in weather and made sure that I always had some sort of rain protection in case a brief rain shower rolled in. Even though there was this unpredictable aspect to the weather it was also very stable. When I got to Iceland in August they were just coming out of their summer and headed into winter. I think we got our first taste of snow around the first week of September and then we got an even bigger snow storm in late September. The locals are used to this though. Not once did the towns we were in come to a standstill because of the weather. They are accustomed to these fluctuations and are ready to go about their normal everyday lives. In a lot of ways this was similar to Hamilton, we’re used to snow so it has to be really bad for the weather to stop us.

I think the biggest thing I noticed about the weather actually had nothing to do with precipitation or lack thereof. Instead it had to do with the sun. In the later months of my stay in Iceland the days got shorter. I know what you’re thinking, I live in New York, I should be used to this and, to a certain extent, I was. But the lack of sun in the winter months is so much more pronounced in Iceland, especially in the North. The North of Iceland is dominated by fjords. These mountains work to block out any of the sun that peeks out from behind the clouds. Often we would find that it was just starting to get light out around 10:30 in the morning and then the sun would set behind the mountains by around 3:30 in the afternoon. This definitely limited our amount of sunlight, but it gave us access to some beautiful sunrises and sunsets!

  • Sunrise. 10:30 AM

Trey Spadone

The weather in Bali is certainly different from the weather in Hamilton, NY.

Here some thoughts and observations about the weather…

So many aspects of life here take place outside and it has been an upwards of 80 degrees Fahrenheit every single day. This means that my New England conditioned body is hot 99% of the time. At first, I thought I would never get used to perpetually being a sweaty boy, but two months later it has become the status quo.  

Indonesia has two seasons: dry and wet. It is currently the wet season and it has rained a fair amount. However, the rain is often light and helps to cool down things (albeit for a brief period of time). However, life in Kerambitan seems to come to a halt whenever it rains. Some of my friends’ host families have even suggested they stay home from school because of the weather.

While I have experienced many light showers, last week we were hit by a super strong storm. I rarely ever wake up in the middle of the night, but around midnight I awoke with a bang to the loudest thunder and torrential downpour I have ever heard. It felt like my entire room was shaking. I thought about calling my academic director to make sure everything was bagus (good), but I was pretty sleepy and ended up falling back to sleep. When I got up the next morning, there were dozens of messages from my friends as nearly everyone had been woken up by the chaos.

The sunsets and sunrises here are breathtaking.

Bali has taught me that nature is a powerful force.

TBS Abroad Week 7: Fast Food

By Emily Weaver on March 27, 2019

Week 7- Fast Food

It’s easy, it’s convenient, and it’s everywhere. No matter where in the world you are it is likely that you will be able to find fast food in some form. Over 100 countries have a McDonalds and you are likely to find at least a street vendor to buy a quick meal. Just like with culture, not all fast food is the same across the globe. This week tell us about any fast food you’ve seen while abroad. Is it pretty similar to what you can get in the US or are the staples that we are so used to changed and novel in your new location. Have you had any fast food experiences while abroad that you found especially memorable?

Renee Congdon

Fast food in Spain is surprisingly similar to fast food in the US, as far as I could tell. Fast food chains in Spain that are particularly popular include McDonald’s and Burger King. From what I saw, it seems as though Burger King is a hot spot for younger kids, while McDonald’s is more popular among high school and college-aged people. For instance, my host mom’s goddaughter had her 7th birthday at a Burger King (which I attended), and her and all of her friends seemed to have a blast. One funny note here is that a lot of Spanish people (my host mom, most notably) refer to Burger King as “El Burger”, hard emphasis on the r’s. With respect to McDonald’s, I went a few times with University friends of mine. Once, when I wasn’t sure if I should join them for lunch at McDonald’s or catch the metro home to work on an essay, they convinced me to go with them by saying it was only right that the token American in our friend group accompany them all to McDonald’s, seeing as how it’s such an iconic American fast food place. I found this pretty funny, especially considering I can’t remember when the last time I set foot in a McDonald’s on US soil was. Another interesting thing about McDonald’s in Spain is the ordering system- every McDonald’s I went to there had large electronic screens to order from, which meant almost no one actually ordered in person. Additionally, there are a few 24 hour McDonald’s in more busy night life areas, like La Puerta del Sol, where the entire inside space is made up of these electronic screens, no actual cashiers are available, and one small window opens and closes to give people their orders. I’ve never seen this sort of system in a US McDonald’s, which I found sort of intriguing. Additionally, fast food chains in Spain will often have some additional, more regional menu items, such as the McIbérica sandwich. Lastly, these American fast food chains sell beer and wine in Spain! This was perhaps the difference I found most interesting. It’s odd to see people drinking beer out of little plastic McDonald’s cups.

Lastly, I want to briefly comment on a more “Spanish” fast food joint. One in particular, called Cien Monteditos, was an all-time favorite of my friends and I. It’s a very cheap fast food restaurant that sells hundreds of different types of small bite-sized sandwiches that range from 1 to 2 euros each. They all sell appetizers, like little cheese or chicken poppers, as well as big jars of beer, hard cider, or tinto de verano for 1 euro and 50 cents each. I spent countless afternoons and evenings at Cien Mont with friends, and I have to say it’s my favorite fast food style restaurant in Spain. There’s practically one on every corner, it’s incredibly cheap, and the cheese poppers are surprisingly addicting. Attached below is a photo of me and some of my friends from the University at the Cien Montaditos nearest to CEU’s campus. I love you, Cien Mont- I can’t wait to return.

Trey Spadone

In Indonesia, there are several fast food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, etc. In fact, I had my first piece of Pizza Hut pizza while in Yogyakarta. (Slices is way better though). However, night markets are where it’s at for “fast food.” Two of the best treats are pisang goreng (fried bananas) and terang bulan (square pancakes with chocolate or cheese or some other filling). I tried these treats within the first couple of days of being in country and they never fail to disappoint.

A not so fun experience with fast food happened earlier this week. During orientation, we were advised to avoid meat-based street food during our first few weeks. We needed to give our bodies time to adjust to a new environment and diet. Now that we are two months in, I figured it would be safe to try bakso (meatballs). I tried a singular meatball during the afternoon and went on my merry way. However, my stomach was not on the same page as my mind and began to reject the meatball at 2:00am and every hour after that. As the Indonesians say, it was tidak bagus (not good). Needless to say, I will not be eating anymore street meat anytime soon.

Emily Weaver

Iceland is one of very few countries that lacks a McDonalds. You won’t find those trademark Golden Arches here. There are actually very few fast food places that we would traditionally recognized in Iceland. There’s a Taco Bell, but its located outside of Reykjavik, the biggest city in Iceland. The main traditional fast food chains that you’ll find are Domino’s and Subway. There are several subways across Reykjavik and a handful of Domino’s as well. While I was there I didn’t frequent these fast food places very much, I think I only went to Domino’s twice and never to Subway. The times I did go to Domino’s I was with a group of my friends and we ended up waiting in the store until our pizzas cooked because living in hostels limited us wanting to have it delivered.

One thing that Iceland is known for is its hotdogs. For some reason, whether it’s the special sauce they put on it or the hot dogs themselves, Icelandic hotdogs are famous. I like to think of them as a fast food because you could get them from street food carts across any city. They were warm and fresh and it was fun to stop and grab one every once in a while. I am not overly fond of hotdogs and don’t typically eat them at home. In Iceland though, there was no one I could spend an entire semester there and not try something that can be found all over the place. While I don’t think I have been completely converted over to hotdogs, I can say that Icelandic hotdogs are far superior to American ones!

Jenny Lundt ’19: An Eco-Exploration in Colombia

By Emily Weaver on March 22, 2019

In January 2019, senior Jenny Lundt travelled to Colombia on a quest to build her knowledge about “earthships.” Using a Benton mini-grant she was able to take a deeper dive into the idea of repurposing our waste. Below she details her journey and shares what she learned along the way.

Winter break of my first year as a Colgate student, I traveled to Central America in search of some sun. Along the adventure, I met a British family who invited me to come visit their family in Southern Belize on an “earthship”, an “off the grid” house and property made entirely of recycled materials. I couldn’t believe that what they were describing could actually be possible… so I did what any person would do, of course I went!

I never could have anticipated how wonderful this “earthship” would be. A family with three children living a fully sustainable life on land next to Lubutuum, old Mayan ruins. I was completely enchanted with them and their lifestyle as it was so unfamiliar to the way I lived.

Earthships are houses that meet three very specific criteria; first, they are built sustainably, using materials indigenous to the location they are building as well as recycled materials. Second, the homes rely on naturally received energy sources and are thus fully off “the grid”. Finally, they are financially viable both to create and sustain.

The “Chaos Oasis”, as it is endearingly referred to, is made out of thousands of bottles, cans, tires, packed trash, and cement. People from all over Belize have collected and brought their recycling to the Atkinsons to be used in construction.

This is the only earthship I had ever seen and I have been surprised how many times I have referenced it in the last few years either in class, dinner parties, or conversations with friends. It piqued my curiosity into learning about other earthship movements around the world. Would every family and every house be as lovely as the Atkinson family’s was? I decided that I wanted to learn more. So I started researching earthships and sustainable housing movements. I found that the Southwest and specifically Taos, New Mexico has many different Earthships. I also found movements emerging from South Africa, Spain, the Netherlands, and Belgium.

However, I found a few blog posts referencing the construction of an earthship in one of the most remote places in the world, the Darien Gap in Colombia. I searched and searched for more information, but I couldn’t find a thorough, comprehensive source anywhere. So I did what any person would do… applied for a Benton Mini Grant to explore this movement in Colombia.

On Jan 5, 2019, I celebrated the new year by flying into Cartagena. The first place I went was not an earthship, per se, but they represent another interesting conversation in eco development, Islote de Santa Cruz, the most densely populated island in the world. A population of an estimated 1,200 inhabit an island no larger than two football fields in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. The 45 families have a population density that is four times greater than that of Manhattan.

  • Solar panels on Islote de Santa Cruz
  • Aerial of the Island Photo credit to National Geographic: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2017/10/most-crowded-island-santa-cruz-del-islote-photograph-colombia/

Besides fishing and seafood, all other food and supplies must be brought in by boat. There is no natural drinking water and thus bottled water is a treasured commodity. The island’s power is supplied by panels of solar panels visible in the lower left corner of the photo above. I got a brief tour of the island. I was amazed at how life passed here just like normal despite there not being much room for anyone. Things like funerals become difficult with no land. But, the locals are making due just fine!

Only a 5 minute boat ride away are “Casa en el Agua” and “Isla Roots”, two eco-accommodations floating by itself in the middle of the water. Both of them are committed to sustainability and have a number of rules and regulations that keep them eco-friendly. They have dry toilets where you #1 in hole #1 and #2 in hole #2. To flush, you use a cup of sawdust lime mix. Every day, they take the mix to nearby Tintipan island where they have a composting process to produce fertilizer. They also have bucket showers that are only available for limited hours in the evening. In the theme of earthships, they reuse the glass bottles the kitchen and the bar for bricks and decoration. With any tin cans, they collect and send them to the mainland to be sold for recycling. It was a very relaxing and interesting few days spent here learning about sustainable practices and tourism.

  • Credit: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g6503207-d7139652-Reviews-Casa_en_el_Agua-Isla_Tintipan_Archipelago_of_San_Bernardo_Cartagena_District_Bolivar_.html

For the next phase of my trip, I took the long journey to Capurgana in the the Choco region in the famous Darien Gap. The Darien Gap is one of the most isolated regions of the world. To get here, I had to take two long bus rides to the Colombian city of Neococli to take the choppiest boat ride of my life to Capurgana. That feeling of pulling into the harbor, two hours later and seeing a little strip of settlement shrouded by dense jungle as far as the eyes could see.

I have always heard and read stories about the natural power of the Darien Gap… It is infamous for being the only break in the Pan-American Highway, the 19,000 long high way that extends from Northern Canada to Southern Argentina. The Gap is a wide expanse of dense rain forest and has been associated in recent years with drug trafficking and paramilitary groups. I have read many stories about this place, but even knowing all these things could not prepare me for how the Darien Gap actually is. The sound of howler monkeys mixed with the lap of the water in the town will forever stay in my memory.

The blog post that I had found telling me about the earthship in this region didn’t have any information about how to get there. When I started asking around, people didn’t know exactly where or what I was talking about. I was pointed to a bunch of different directions.

Interestingly enough, although this has become a new sustainability fad, many local people have been using trash and other recycled materials to build their structures for dozens of years.

My first stop was Casa de Botellas, which I had not previously heard about. The man, by the name of Carlos, has been working for the last 22 years to take trash out of Capurgana and the ocean.

He told me that the way the ocean currents work, a lot of trash from North America ends up washing ashore in this region. And because there is no “dump” as there is no recycling plant, many locals have decided to kill two birds with one stone by using this trash to construct their homes. This home is particularly well known in the town for his work.

  • Casa de Botellas
  • Casa de Botellas
  • Casa de Botellas: he is building the world's longest chain of out of can tabs.
  • Casa de Botellas: Here is a mural he built out of bottle caps modeling a famous pop-culture slogan
  • Casa de Botellas: The path to the garden is paved with old TV screens
  • Casa de Botellas: He has even taken to elaborate projects in an attempt to use trash by creating a large Eiffel Tower sculpture in his backyard.
  • Casa de Botellas: He has comfortable, big chairs out of tires.

There was another eco house a 30 minute walk North of Capurgana along a cliffside. This house built on natural hot springs is called La Coquerita. I had the opportunity to chat with the man who built the structure and he spoke about the importance of true eco tourism. His house is completely made out of driftwood and bottles. They open up their house to tourists and only serve food on reusable plates.

Walking around the town the next few days, I saw many, many structures that used bottles and other trash. Many houses have used this technique.

I was blessed with a visit from my friend Shirin Vetry who is a Fulbright Scholar in Colombia. Since we went to a wild high school together, I invited her on the journey to find the earthship I had read about online. We weren’t really sure where to begin, as the directions online were extremely, extremely vague. So, we started by taking a choppy boat ride 10 minutes to the closest village to the south. There were only around 10 houses here and the space between them grew further and further as we headed more south. We found two people outside who knew what we were talking about as we tried to explain the concept of an earthship in Spanish. They motioned that we just needed to keep heading south and gave vague instructions about passing a farm and chickens and climbing a few hills. So we did. About an hour later, we found ourselves scaling up a very steep muddy path with not a soul within 20 minutes of this. This gave me quite a panic as I had no idea what sort of animals would be awaiting us in this thick we had just lost ourselves in. I was sad to abort the mission, but safety won out in this case. Shirin was a loyal trooper until the very end.

As we were walking back, defeated and muddy, we found a suprise off the beaten path with an inhabitant extremely eager to show us his property. He, again, had used things he had found washed ashore to create this incredible open air structure that could only be called a treehouse. Perched along the water, I could only imagine the peace and serenity he gets from his breezy bedroom atop a tree with a view of the jungle.

We asked him about whether or not he had ever heard of the earthship that supposedly exists near where we were and he said that he heard rumblings of a failed project with a bunch of foreigners with no skills paying absurd amounts of money to do construction work on this house. He says he believes the house collapsed because they were so focused on the experience that they weren’t considering the actual difficulty and high standard necessary to build. I have no idea if this is true or not. A week after leaving, the Colombia earthship finally got back to me saying that they had no wifi while in the jungle and therefore they missed my message asking for an exact location. They also spoke about how hard it is to find without the exact coordinates and a sailor who knows them. I am not sure exactly what the truth is here, but it was certainly interesting to go and explore. If it really does exist, then it is certainly in one of the most rural, inaccessible locations on the entire planet. Pretty cool AND eco friendly!

This eye opening trip has changed the way I have conceptualized waste management. Generally, when we put out our trash, we think of it as out of sight, out of mind. But that is rarely the case and many of the times, our “out of sight” really means just dumping it in another place.  

People might be good about recycling, but that is not enough. The other Rs- reduce and reuse are important to attempt before simply throwing it in a bucket. I urge everyone reading this to figure out how the things in your life can be reused. There are a million uses for almost anything and if you are ever throwing away something, Google if you can reuse it first. Especially if you live in a warm climate, mini earthship projects are completely feasible to accomplish.

With my role in SGA, and the looming carbon neutrality in this year, I have thought a lot about sustainability and the direction our planet is heading if we don’t step up and be kinder to the planet. Seeing the trash washed up on the beautiful shores of Capurgana and Choco that potentially originated from us. Say no to single use plastics wherever possible

TBS Abroad Week 6: Crowds

By Emily Weaver on March 20, 2019

Week 6- Crowds

When we think of crowds we often think of rushing around from place to place and being packed together, having to wait for people to move, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes crowds gather for cultural reasons. These places become community centers. This week tell us about the places where people gather. Why are they gathering? What is the atmosphere like in these places? Any particular memories about specific events that you have been to?

Trey Spadone

Community and collectivity are two major aspects of Balinese life. I witnessed this firsthand when I experienced a series of rituals related to Nyepi (Balinese New Year). On Tuesday, March 5th, nearly the entire village made their way to a nearby beach to partake in a purification ceremony called Melasti. The ceremony takes place on a beach since water is seen as the source of life. To get there I rode on the back of Risky’s (my host brother) motor bike in a sea of other beach-goers. It was almost like being in a biker gang.

On Wednesday, March 6th, I experienced an Ogoh-ogoh procession. In the weeks before Nyepi, communities construct these massive, mostly papier-mache sculptures of demons. The idea is that the Ogoh-ogoh are so big and terrifying that they scare any demons that are around away. Basically, the demons get spooked by their own hideous appearance. On the eve of Nyepi, the structures are paraded around the village. The Ogoh-ogoh are ultimately burned either later that night or a couple days after.

The Ogoh-ogoh parade was one of the coolest things I have ever been a part of. For starters, the Ogoh-ogoh were so intricate and certainly spooky. Each neighborhood within the village had its own t-shirt design which was super fun. Men, women, and children both walked in the parade as well as watched from the sidelines.

Emily Weaver

If we’re being completely honest, there are not that many people in Iceland. The crowds that I saw while I was there can not compare to the crowds that we see here in the US. Despite this, people still gather. One place that really stands out to me were the public pools. Every town had one and when asked about them, every local would say their pool was better than those of surrounding towns. These pools were both indoor and outdoor, operating year-round (an impressive feat considering how many months out of the year there is snow!).

The pools were a place for people of all ages to come and relax, play or exercise. Kids could amuse themselves for hours on the slides or creating competitions swimming laps. The adults could exercise and then take a rest in the hot tubs that were likened to the geothermal hot pots, or pools that dot Iceland. These pools were located in in places that everyone had access to, and swipe cards could be purchased to access the pools multiple times. Some of the people in my study abroad group purchased these swipe cards and were able to regularly go to the pool!

I also noticed another place that kids tended to gather often while we were in our homestay. The local town had this big inflatable bounce mat. It was like a trampoline, but it’s not elevated above the ground, making it much safer for kids of all ages to play on it. The one in Ísafjörður was located a short walk from the University Center and my peers and I, even at 20 years old, found ourselves venturing to this space after class. The younger kids were so welcoming to us and they, along with some of our host siblings, allowed us to play games with them. Everyone, from kids to adults, enjoyed the bounce pad; my host mom brought me to the bounce pad on my first day there and jumped around with me and my host siblings as well! It was a nice break from classes and allowed our inner kids to come out.

TBS Abroad Week 5: Sustainability

By Emily Weaver on March 7, 2019

Week 5- Sustainability

Colgate has pledged to be carbon neutral by our bicentennial year (which just so happens to be this year). Colgate’s pledge is a part of a trend that we’re seeing increasingly more often across the country and around the globe in an effort to reduce the effects of climate change and protect the world that we live in. This week think about how climate change is affecting where you are staying. Are they already seeing effects from climate change or are they wary that it’s even occurring. Are they taking precautions and pledges, like Colgate, to mitigate and adapt to these changes. What are some of the outward signs that people are conscious of climate change (e.g. recycling, climate plans) If you haven’t thought about it yet, what do you think will be the biggest impact of climate change on your study abroad location?

Emily Weaver

My program to Iceland and Greenland was all about climate change; how it’s affecting these countries, how they’re being impacted, and what they’re doing about it. After learning for years about Colgate’s sustainability plans and how to US Government is (or isn’t) tackling climate change, I was incredibly interested in learning about what other countries are doing.

Iceland, arguably, is one of the countries that is planning the most for climate change. Situated on a tectonic boundary, Iceland has the ability to heat its water, homes, and buildings and provide electricity to the entire country using a network of geothermal power plants. Not only has Iceland managed this incredible feat, they have also taken this one step further.

Even though Iceland is using a sustainable, reusable energy source, there are still some carbon emission related to the geothermal process. To combat this, a program was launched in 2007 to combat the carbon emitted during the geothermal process, giving birth to the Carbfix method. The process of Carbfix is simple, capture carbon that is emitted and sequester it away in a form that is not harmful to the environment. Specifically, the team at the Hellisheiði Power Plant, the pilot location for the process, captures the carbon that the power plant emits. They then dissolve the carbon so that it is in solution. After doing so it is pumped into the ground, where the basaltic rock in Iceland (which is rich in iron and magnesium) bonds with carbon to create a carbonate mineral that will keep the carbon trapped in the ground and out of the atmosphere.

The Carbfix process has been incredibly successful making the Hellisheiði Power Plant the first carbon neutral power plant on the planet. Currently the Carbfix team is working to extend the reach of the project and apply it in other locations. Accomplishing carbon sequestration is an amazing first step in reducing the world’s carbon footprint.

  • Hellisheiði Power Plant
  • Cross section of the pipes that transport geothermal energy across the country (Hellisheiði Power Plant)

Trey Spadone

Sustainability is a tricky subject in Bali and Indonesia as a whole. On one hand, there are a bunch of eco-friendly establishments that pride themselves on their sustainable practices. However, in areas that do not attract tourists, environmentally friendly practices are not the norm. Bu Ary, my academic director and an overall superstar, has cited education as one of the contributing factors. The importance of sustainability is not widely taught in schools or executed in Balinese daily life. I unfortunately do not know other specifics about environmental conservation as it pertains to Bali (those lectures are coming soon).

A sustainability struggle in Indonesia is the amount of plastic consumption. Since tap water is unsafe for drinking, plastic bottles are everywhere. Some are big, some are small, some are skinny, and some are wide, but they are almost always plastic. Furthermore, even though there are occasionally recycling bins available, the stuff that gets recycled usually ends up with the regular trash. While I do not feel great about using so much plastic, it is important to recognize that a core issue is the lack of access to clean drinking water. The ability to choose reusable water bottles over plastic ones is most definitely a privilege.    

TBS Abroad Week 4: Food

By Emily Weaver on February 27, 2019

Week 4

You can learn about a culture by trying the foods that are considered staples of the local area. The best part about food is that it is truly unique around the world. Ingredients that are common everywhere are combine in ways that make completely different dishes. Even across America each state has its own staples and dishes that remind people of home. This week tell us about the food in the places that you’re studying. Anything surprising or entirely different from home? What’s been your favorite dish that you’ve had while you’ve been gone? Any foods you think you may miss when you return?

Sierra DeAngelo

As a vegetarian, I haven’t been able to try traditional English dishes like fish & chips or bangers & mash (or chicken tikka masala, but I find this problematic anyway) in London, but one of my favorite dining experiences so far has been High Tea, also known as Afternoon Tea. Some friends and I used a Groupon to take part in this posh experience and it was a child/adulthood dream come true! The elegant tea set came out first, followed by 3 tier cake stands meticulously filled with tea sandwiches, scones, and beautiful mini desserts. I had never tried scones with clotted cream and jam but WOW are they delicious. We sat there slowly working our way up the stand for two hours and sadly couldn’t finish everything because we were so full. This is definitely a boujee yet wonderful experience I intend to bring back to Colgate and force my friends to partake in. Future Benton family dinner??

I can’t believe I almost forgot to mention the most amazing mac & cheese of my life! I felt the need to get out of the city and into the idyllic English countryside for a day and invited a couple of friends to join. We decided to take a train to Shere, a small town about an hour outside London, and got lunch at this adorable restaurant called The Dabbling Duck. The indoor seating was full, so we were instead seated in the heated yurt outside. It was the coziest meal I think I have ever had! I ordered the smoked Wookey Hole Cheddar (a cave-aged cheese from a village in England) macaroni & butternut squash and was in total HEAVEN as soon as I took my first bite. I don’t think I have ever experienced that much joy while eating, to be honest. Every few moments I would pause and vocalize how happy I was to my friends, haha. Although I would definitely travel back there just to have that meal again (and to revisit the charming town), it was a special on the menu so, sadly, I don’t know if that will be possible. Keep your fingers crossed for me, though!

Renee Congdon

Being a vegetarian in Spain was a pretty funny experience. I never had too many problems with it, but people’s reactions to it were always hilarious. For example, whenever I’d tell someone I was vegetarian, their immediate response was always “Oh, so you just eat seafood and fish”. When I explained that no, I did not eat any type of meat, including seafood and fish, I was usually met with shock. Spanish cuisine is heavily influenced by seafood and meat, particularly ham. Perhaps the most recognizable manifestation of this tendency comes by way of the infamous shops of jamón ibérica, little street-corner shops full to bursting with massive pigs’ legs hanging from every available space on the ceiling. One particular funny memory that comes to mind in relation to my vegetarian-ness abroad was one Sunday afternoon when one of my Spanish friends invited me to her grandparents’ house for a family dinner. On the drive there, María (my friend) remembered I was vegetarian, and called her grandma in a panic to ask her to make me a separate side dish (so kind!). When we got there, I was introduced to her grandma, and I apologized profusely for not being able to eat the meat dish she was making. The conversation went something like this:

Me:  “I’m so sorry I can’t eat the dish you prepared!

The grandma, with a look of almost caustic pity: “No, mija, it’s ME who feels sorry for YOU, missing out on my delicious cooking.”

In general, though, I never struggled too much with finding food to eat. Tapas are a big deal in Spain- they’re basically just small, snack-sized servings of classic Spanish food. Typically, you go with a group of friends and order a few rations of tapas to share among the table. One of the most classic Spanish tapas is tortilla española, not to be confused with the type of flour or corn tortilla that one might associate with Mexican or Latin American food. Tortilla española is a thick cake-like dish made of eggs and potatoes (and sometimes onions- a hot-button topic among the Spanish). I love tortilla española, so I knew that I could almost always count on it as a fall-back food to order if there were no other vegetarian dishes at a restaurant. Another classic tapa is pimientos de Padrón, small sweet green peppers that are lightly fried in oil and covered in coarse salt. Lastly, another yummy food that many Spanish restaurants have is patatas bravas, which are cubed potatoes, fried and served with a spicy tomato sauce. Between tortilla española, pimientos de Padrón, and patatas bravas (all pictured below!), I knew I could always eat at any typical tapas place. After I returned home to California, I actually found some fresh Padrón peppers at Whole Foods and made pimientos de Padrón at home. They turned out great, and it was a nice little reminder of my time in Spain. It was also fun being able to offer them to my parents and introduce them to a new dish that neither of them had heard of. I definitely miss certain elements of Spanish cuisine now that I’m back in the states, and hope to find more pimientos de Padrón soon!

  • Tortilla española (image taken from GoogleImages)
  • pimientos de Padrón (image taken from GoogleImages)
  • patatas bravas (image taken from GoogleImages)

Trey Spadone

Here is a list of thirteen foods that I have repeatedly consumed over the past month…








Water spinach.


Dragon fruit.

Fried noodles.


Mysterious pastries.

Rice. I have eaten rice with almost every single meal since arriving to Indonesia. It is an absolute staple of the Indonesian diet. I have enjoyed nasi putih (white rice), nasi goreng (fried rice), nasi kuning (yellow rice), and nasi sayur (rice with vegetables.)

My first dinner with my host family in Bali threw me for a twist. When I sat down at the table and saw my plate something looked familiar, but I could not figure out why. At this point I had been in Bali for less than a week, so I could not put my finger on what was in front of me. I asked my host mom, “apa ini?/what is this?” She looked surprised and said, “chicken nuggets and hot dogs!”   

One of the questions I get asked the most is “sudah makan?” This translates to “have you eaten?” I get this question at least once every day.  

One of my favorite dishes is gado gado which is a “salad’ of steamed vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, potato, tofu or tempeh, with a delicious peanut sauce dressing.

In conclusion, I have been fed extremely well these past four weeks. In fact, I am going to end this post here because it is almost time for dinner!

  • First meal with my host family in Bali.
  • A delicious meal I had the other day.
  • The inside of a mangosteen.

Emily Weaver

Since we moved around so much while we were in Iceland we often cooked for ourselves (which led to some interesting combinations and occasional adventuring with new recipes). The only time we did not cook for ourselves was in our homestay. Here, our host family often cooked us fish as it is a staple in their diets. My favorite dish that they made us was Plokkfiskur, which was a mash of potatoes, onions, and fish. I loved this dish and it felt like one of those comfort food meals that I would have at home. Once we left our homestays we even tried to recreate it one night! It didn’t come out as well as when our host family made it, but it’s a nice dish that I’m happy to have brought back with me.

The real experience with food that I want to tell you about today occurred when we were in Greenland. The woman who ran the hostel that we were staying in was very excited that we were there learning about Greenlandic culture. On one of out last nights she decided that she was going to give us a tasting of traditional Greenlandic foods. We were all excited, but unsure what this would look like.

When we got to dinner that night, laid out before us was a combination of all the foods that are traditionally eaten in Greenland: several fishes (both dried and in soup), reindeer (also cooked and in soup), musk ox, whale, and seal. I have to admit that I was wary of trying a lot of these. I never thought that I would be eating seal! Before we started trying foods, our host explained to us the tradition behind these foods. She talked to us about how there is a lot of controversy behind the consumption of whale and seal, how a lot of people think it’s wrong. She explained to us that in Greenland these meats are requirements in their diets. Because of the harsh winters that they get, Greenlanders need the fat and nutrients that these meats can provide, especially because it is hard to grow produce. Their culture is founded in only killing what you need. For them, they never kill more than they can eat in a season. This is their way of protecting the wildlife of Greenland and this resource that they have access to.

I have to admit that I actually enjoyed a lot of what I ate that night. It was hard to get past the fact that I was eating seal and whale sometimes, but it is an experience that I am thankful for.

  • Whale Blubber
  • Dried Fish
  • Minke Whale
  • Musk Ox
  • Seal

TBS Abroad Week 3: Language

By Emily Weaver on February 20, 2019

Week 3: Language

Around the globe there are around 7,000 languages spoken. They are representative of geography and culture and can be used to bring people together through stories that are passed down from generation to generation. Despite all of this, language can often be a barrier to the world outside of our homes. Even moving to a different part of the United States brings with it new terms and phrases that we can be unfamiliar with and it takes a while to get used to. This week, talk about your experiences with language. Does your study abroad location use a language different from the US? If not, what phrases or terms to fo you have to get used to. Do they use recognizable words that have different meanings? Any phrases or stories that you found particularly intriguing? Tell us about your experience with language, as you know the best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in it!

Trey Spadone

Selamat pagi/sore/malam! (Good morning, afternoon, evening!)

Indonesia is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse nations in the world. With 17,000 islands, roughly 6,000 of which are inhabited, many languages have developed over the years.

I am currently studying and trying to speak Bahasa Indonesia which is the country’s official language. I became drawn to the language after learning about its role in facilitating trade between the various islands in the Archipelago. The people needed a common language and thus Bahasa Indonesia/Indonesian emerged.  

I am having a blast learning Bahasa Indonesia and attempting to converse with my host families, teachers, and those around me. Speaking of teachers, my language teachers, Dian, Sani, and Yudi, are the absolute best. At the beginning of the semester we had class for five hours a day, but they made it engaging and exciting. They also entertain endless shenanigans and silliness.  

During the first week, we had a “drop off” which involved the nineteen of us being individually dropped off around Kerambitan and instructed to interact with people. I ended up stumbling upon a place with a ping pong table and ended up playing table tennis for an hour with a couple guys from that village. We chatted about university, jobs, and our hobbies.  

In addition to Bahasa Indonesia, there are about 300 ethnic languages spoken on the various islands. For example, in Bali many people speak Balinese and in Java many people speak Javanese. What makes Balinese and Javanese even more complicated is that both incorporate different “levels” of speech.

In Bali, the language reflects the Hindu caste system that exists on the island. The four castes from top to bottom are: Brahmana, Ksyatria, Wesya, and Sudra. There are three different politeness levels of Balinese speech. That means that a member of the Sudra caste would use the highest level when conversing with a member of the Brahmana caste, but would likely use the lowest level with other members of the Sudra caste. Javanese also has three different levels of speech which are used according to social status as well.

  • Dian and Sani

Emily Weaver

The Icelandic language is very different from English. It has a few different letters and the sounds that we are used to making in English are different in Icelandic. Due to all of this I was very concerned about heading into Iceland. I was worried that I would be totally lost in the country. Turns out, I had to no reason to be afraid. So many people in Iceland speak English. Children learn it in schools and so many of the working professionals have learned it that any store you go into, they’ll know how to speak English.

Even though we could get by without learning any Icelandic we took a few classes in order to learn some basics. SIT provided us with a language professor who happened to be in charge of the local music school in Ísafjörður. Our lessons were full of songs that she taught us  and even some dance moves to go along with them.

Continuing on our musical trend, we also took some language lessons in Greenland. Greenland is an interesting place because everyone speaks the traditional Greenlandic language, but they also speak Danish because of the influence that Denmark had on the country for the longest time. Like Iceland though, most of the younger generation is also learning English, making them trilingual by the time they graduate high school!

We were incredibly lucky to have Nina Kreutzmann Jørgensen for our Greenlandic coach while we were there. Nina is a famous singer in Greenland and the arctic who is known for her work with several arctic music groups. She spent six hours with us, teaching us Greenlandic phrases, songs, and telling us old Greenlandic folk tales. Our lesson with Nina was incredibly fun, she even had us go stand outside to sing to nature at one point.

I had nothing to worry about when it came to language in these two countries. I could have gotten by only speaking English the entire time I was there, but instead our language lessons became some of my favorite classes that we had!

Renee Congdon

This is my favorite prompt so far!! I’m such a language nerd. I was in Madrid with a Colgate study group run by the Spanish department, and believe me when I say that I loved every freaking second of living in a Spanish-speaking environment. My all-time favorite thing was when I’d talk to someone new- a friend of a friend, or a neighbor, or someone at a coffee shop or on the metro or whatever- and after a while they’d ask me where I was from. When I answered the United States, I was almost always met with surprise. Some even said things along the lines of “no, no, but where are you from originally?”. When I confirmed that I was, in fact, originally from there, one of the most common responses was “But you speak Spanish so well!”. It both made me laugh and made me a bit sad that the world’s impression of Americans is that we can’t speak any language other than English. I always got a subtle ego boost from this- both because it was a compliment to my language skills and because it seemed to imply that I didn’t fit the mold of the stereotypical American. (The American stereotype, unsurprisingly, is not a flattering portrait.)

One thing I really enjoyed with respect to language in Madrid was learning regionalisms and dialectical differences. Some phrases are incredibly Spanish, and my Latin American friends would shake their heads and laugh at me when I used them. For example, “mazo”, “tío/a”, “joder” (that’s a bad word, but since it’s not in English I think it’s okay to leave it uncensored…), “guapo”, “mono”, and “majo”. Respectively, they mean “very/much/a lot”, “uncle/aunt” (but it’s used as an affectionate, joking nickname among friends), the f word, “attractive”, “adorable”, “snooty/preppy” and “cool” (used to talk about people). On the other hand, my Colombian friends loved to teach me their slang, which then confused my Spanish friends. For example, “chimba”, “vaina”, “parche”, y “parce”. Roughly translated, they mean “awesome”, “thing”, “hang out/kick back”, and “dude”. This little language game of peppering my speech with different slang words to get laughs out of different people or to fit in with different groups was very fun, and it helped me see the Spanish language through a more complex lens.

I’ll tell one more little (self-indulgent) story about my experience with speaking Spanish. During our very last night in Madrid, the whole study group along with our professors went to a nice restaurant to have a little goodbye dinner and reflect on the semester. The waiter went down the long table, asking us each for our order and chatting with us a bit, and when he finally got to me, I told him my order and clarified I was vegetarian, and he looked surprised and said “Oh! You’re Spanish?” I told him that no, I wasn’t, and he complimented my accent, saying he mistook me at first for a native speaker. I felt over the moon- and the fact that it was our very last night there felt very symbolic in some way. I left the restaurant, heading towards the metro with a big smile on my face, feeling half-Spanish and content.

The photo I’m attaching here is only kind of relevant. These are 3 retro postcards I got in Gran Canaria. They say, left to right: “Canary tobacco and cigarettes/national industry”, “boy, what tobacco!/ Tenerifean Eagle”, and “If you want your children to be robust, give them bananas/ Reject the green ones/ Eat them ripe/ The riper the better, for their nutrition and flavor”.

TBS Abroad Week 2: Water

By Emily Weaver on February 13, 2019

Week 2: Water

Water. It’s critical to our lives as humans. It can be dangerous or it can be beautiful. We’re very fortunate to have access to so many water sources here in Hamilton, whether it’s any of the countless lakes around Colgate and the State or the myriad hikes in the area that lead to waterfalls. Despite its abundance in Upstate New York, other locations across the country and the globe aren’t as lucky. This week your task is simple: tell us about water. Is there a daily deluge of rain or has it been dry for weeks? Tell us about places you’ve been where water was at the center of your focus. Where you are studying how do people interact with one of our planets greatest resource?

Renee Congdon

When I first read this prompt, I wasn’t sure what I could possibly write about. Madrid isn’t a coastal city, and as far as I could remember, I didn’t spend all that much time around water. However, as I started to mull it over more, smaller moments and memories related to water came flooding back (pun intended). I’m going to focus on one water memory in particular that happened near the beginning of my trip.

During our second week in Spain, we decided to take a day trip to Noia, a small town in Galicia. All of us on the trip went together, making the hour-long bus trek together from Santiago de Compostela before arriving in the small seaside town. We searched for another hour for the numerous beaches that Google Maps claimed Noia had, but to little avail. We could only find the bay (with no shoreline accessible). Eventually, we decided to venture further out, following the jagged edge of the coast as we passed from the touristy zone to the residential zone, stepping carefully across a creaky wooden bridge and holding our noses at the unmistakably sulfuric smell arising from some stagnant water below us. Finally, we turned a corner, shimmying along a small dirt path, and found what I believe is quite possibly the smallest beach in the entire world. It was a patch of sand about 20 feet long and 10 feet wide, but it was a beach nonetheless. The water was clearer than glass, showing the sandy floor below dotted with sea glass, rocks, and shells. I kicked off my sandals and began to wade into the water, looking down at my feet as I walked, enchanted by how clear and cold the water was. I shuffled along like that for about 10 minutes, picking up small rocks and shells as I went. We only stayed for about a half hour, but the sound of the water stuck with me for a while after, especially once we’d arrived in the bustling, almost unbearably hot Madrid the following week.

Emily Weaver

Iceland has some of the cleanest water in the world. Not once while I was there did I have to worry about the safety of drinking the water. Walking down the streets of Reykjavik there are drinking spouts that boast of “Pure Icelandic Water”. It didn’t matter what tap I was filling my water bottle from I knew that I would be getting quality water.

“Pure Icelandic Water” is not limited to the water coming out of pipes. Waterfalls, rivers, and streams cover the country. You’ve got several main waterfalls that attract tourists from around the world, like Dynjandi in the Westfjords (pictured below), but they are also likely to pop up coming down random cliff sides as you drive through the country.

Dynjandi Waterfall, Westfjords, Iceland

Our first weekend in the country we took a trip out to Hengill geothermal field. Here, we spent the afternoon observing and drawing conclusions about dozens of streams that cross the valley. The geothermal nature of the area allows the streams to range in temperature, causing one stream to be cold while a stream one meter away can run hot. It was here that our advisor told us that he never brings water when going into the field. Instead he takes advantage of the fresh water all around him and refills his water bottle. He encouraged us to do the same, but to make sure that there were no sheep around!

Hengill Geothermal Field

Trey Spadone

Here are some of my experiences with water.

Drinking water At home and at Colgate I am privileged to have access to tap water that is safe to drink. However, in Indonesia the tap water is not for drinking, (unless it is boiled, but waiting for it to cool takes some time). People drink mineral water from bottles, coolers, and these adorable little cups that come with a straw. The main brand is “Aqua” and most people refer to drinking water by that name instead of “air” the Indonesian word for water.

Water in a cup!

Rain Indonesia has two seasons: dry and rainy. It is currently the rainy season, but thankfully none of our days have been affected by the weather. The rain is a powerful force though. During our first week here I woke up at 3:30am because of loud noises outside. I opened my door and it was absolutely pouring. We stayed in an old palace during orientation and the water from the ground was overflowing onto the walkways. There was a lot of thunder and lightning and for a split second I was afraid that my group had fled and forgot me inside. Luckily, that was not the case.

Bathing It is wicked hot and humid here, so I have taken many showers in the past two weeks. Most people in Indonesia take “bucket showers” which I have grown to enjoy and appreciate. Basically, you have a bucket filled with water and a small container that fits inside. You scoop the water in the small container and pour it over your head and body. The first pour is always a little striking because it is cold, but overall it feels great. Bucket showers are far more efficient than shower head showers and they save water which is great!

Swimming I have been to beautiful black sand beach Kerambitan a couple times now. The temperature of the water is superb which it makes it a treat to swim in. The current is so strong and the waves are so big that at one point I was standing with the water below my knees and after a wave came in the water was higher than my waist. Our teachers have had to call us back a few times to keep us from getting swept away.