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TBS Abroad Week 4: Memorials

By Emily Weaver on February 28, 2018

Week 4: Memorials

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a chilling reminder of the Holocaust . Located in the center of Berlin its towering stone slabs and narrow pathways work to make you feel isolated and disoriented. It’s a reminder of the horrors that have taken place in Germany. It is also a way to never forget.Memory has a way of acting on a community. It makes people feel connected with those in the past or pride in where they’ve come from. We are made to never forget our triumphs, downfalls, or losses. Whatever their purpose memorials and monuments are created to convey a certain collective feeling and memory. Have the monuments you’ve seen since you have been away been chilling and somber or have they conveyed a sense of triumph in your country. Maybe they’ve conveyed a calm sorrow as as the Belgian countryside does, dotted with cemeteries full of soldiers lost in World War I. Each country is unique in how they represent their past. Tell us about the memorials you have seen. How did they make you feel? How did those who came to visit act while they were there. Was remembrance of an event limited to monument or could you feel it reverberating throughout the community, even years after it occurred?

Oneida Shushe

I left my room on a cold, windy Sunday morning to take a picture of the Reformation Wall in the Parc des Bastions for this blog. The wall features four tall men carved into a wall. One of them is John Calvin, the leader of the Protestant Reformation movement in the 16th century. Calvin continued what Martin Luther started with the Reformation. He ruled over Geneva and punished people if their religious beliefs did not match his. I didn’t know that this historical event happened in the very city in which I’m studying, so I’m glad the monument taught me this.

Even though it was still icy-cold, I looked around the park a little bit more. I saw busts of men in suits raised off the ground in columns. Then I remembered that there are busts of men in the same style just inside the University of Geneva next door. There are so many important people Geneva wants to remember—these guys basically had their own mini monuments—and they are all men. There is a statue of a woman in its own section of the park a few steps away: she is sitting on a slab naked. These statues represent the historical and ever-present inequality between men and women. Thankfully, this problem is receiving more and more attention—including at my internship at the World Health Organization, where the Director-General is calling for more representation of women in the organization. Maybe over the years, monuments in Geneva and across the world won’t be just men in suits, religious clothing, and battle gear. Maybe in the future, a young female student will leave Parc des Bastions inspired by statues of other women who came before her, so that enduring the numbing cold on a Sunday morning would be worth it.

  • Reformation Wall, Parc de Bastions (Geneva, Switzerland)
  • Parc de Bastions (Geneva, Switzerland)


Micah Dirkers

When you think about the role that memorials play in honoring history, tradition, or the fallen, you often think of a formally dedicated space or structure that commemorates the aforementioned; yet does a memorial or monument always have to be formally dedicated as such in order to achieve its aim? My answer would be yes and no; here is what I mean:

Yes, in the sense that there does need to be some physical landmark, monument, or memorial that is built, designed, and advertised to be remembered in a historically significant way. This memorial functions as the embodiment of a story, of information, and of people—who was there, what happened, why did it happen. As far as I saw in Scotland, there were very few formal memorials that dedicated a particular space to recount a downfall or triumph; yet there were a few that I did see (and I speculate that there were many more that I did not see). Indeed, they were “memorialified” by surrounding information signs, placards, boundaries of reverence, and tour guides who had learned the history and who would pass it on to spectators. There was always a sense of reverence and mystery about these memorials, as one could not step on or touch certain areas of the memorial. One notable example was Alnwick Castle, famously known for its use as the castle featured in the first two Harry Potter movies. There were information signs and pamphlets detailing the history of the space, as chiefly a residence for a noble family, but the castle also functioned as a stronghold during the War of the Roses. Spectators were forbidden from gaining access to the family’s private spaces, and instead, they were allocated to publicly commemorated spaces. In such commemorated spaces, it seemed as if the spectator is meant to feel some connection to the past, facilitated by the posted information and tour guides, as if they were trying to convey the event that occurred in the past to have effect on the viewer today. Perhaps that experience is easier for citizens of Scotland to have, but as an exchange student, I can say that I did not feel deeply connected to the few formal memorials I witnessed abroad.

Complimenting what I wrote above, I would also respond no, in the sense that there are many nontraditional memorials other than specifically dedicated spaces that you would not think of as memorials. To elaborate, for example, around many locations in Scotland and in Edinburgh, there were “memorials” in the forms of regular churches, contemporary houses, Highland hills, Scottish fields, statues, parts of a city street, and more, but you would not have known that they were memorials just by looking at them. These were the majority of the memorials that I witness abroad, and interestingly, I felt more connected to these memorials than the formal ones, perhaps because I had to use to use my imagination to “memorialify” them for my own experience. I only knew of their historical significance through stories passed on by people (though in a colloquial way, not from a tour guide). For instance, during my homestay with a Scottish family, their small country house which appeared perfectly normal on the exterior was the location where the plan to defame and execute Sir Thomas More was hatched (although there were other locations too). For my experience, that information did not fundamentally change the way that I experienced the homestay; yet without the typical, external information telling me what to remember, I found myself imagining what the space must have been like at the time: what did the conspirators say, what did they have for dinner, was anyone else aware of the meeting, how did the plan hatch, and more. While it was interesting the imagine this, it did not creep me out or negatively impact my stay with the family, but it did remind me of the potential for a “normal” space to function as a memorial, even if not formally commemorated.

In this way, the city of Edinburgh, the nation of Scotland, and everything during my experience abroad were a type of “memorial” which represented a culmination of historical happenings into what we know call the present. While I can not say that the few formal memorials I witnessed impacted me abroad, it was engaging to imagine how many of the not-so-formal memorials conveyed a historical message, without being specifically designated as memorial. Thus, I can say, undoubtedly, that the experience of going abroad is a “memorial” which will reverberate throughout my life as a positive experience even years after it occurred.

Jenny Lundt

Monuments in Nepal are not as how you would think about them in Europe or the US with neat cemeteries lining the countryside or giant metal statues of past rulers. Throughout my journeys in Nepal, I found that the way people pay homage to the past are through temples, monasteries, shrines, tombs, and places of worship. One of our excursions with the program was to Namo Buddha monastery, about 2 hours outside Kathmandu. The monastery sits on top of an elevated hill which provides sweeping panoramic views of the hills in all directions. Though it has captivating views, it is much more than simply a beautiful place. This place is one of the holiest places of Buddhist worship in the world.

According to the creation story, thousands of years ago, a prince stumbled across a tigress and her 5 cubs on the verge of starvation on the fringes of the jungle. Noticing how her cubs were dependent on her for life in the form of the non existent milk, the prince decided to complete a true act of compassion and give his body to the tigress to save her life. As the tigress fed on the sacrifice, she left the prince’s bones which eventually were buried on the hill that later became the holy monument. The sacrifice and pure display of generosity is important because it explained how this trait of the Buddha was exemplified. In 1978, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche founded a monastery that has grown tremendously. An additional Temple was opened in December of 2008. We stayed in the monastery guest house for 4 days during my semester, which was an incredible experience. We ate every meal in the dining hall alongside hundreds of monks. We were served dhal bhat (rice and lentils) by young men with massive industrial size pots and pans while we sat amongst their peers, shoeless and silent. During the time we were there, we had lots of conversations about what monastic life was like for them, especially in such a holy site of worship. We went on guided tours where all of the symbolism of intricate wall paintings and statues throughout the massive complex of monasteries.

Additionally, I would be remiss in not mentioned Tibetan prayer flags and their role in society as we talk about representation and memory. Most people are probably familiar with the strings of multi color fabric squares, but it is such a ubiquitous part of Buddhist life in Nepal that it is important to talk about their significance. The Tibetan word for prayer flag is Dar Cho. “Dar” is to increase life,fortune, health and wealth and “Cho” translates to “all sentient beings”. Each color stands for a different element- White is air, red is fire, green is water, yellow is earth, and blue is wind. They each have a mantra on them that goes “Om Mani Padme Hum” that is a collection of values that have significance when repeated as a chain. The flags are supposed to be put up with unselfish intentions with general wishes to carry peace and compassion to all living beings. They were ubiquitous parts of my study abroad. In Humla, in Kathmandu, in Mustang, in Namo Buddha. They are an important part of Buddhist culture.

  • Namo Buddha Monastery, Nepal
  • Namo Buddha Monastery, Nepal
  • Namo Buddha Monastery, Nepal
  • Tibetan Prayer Flags
  • Tibetan Prayer Flags

Emily Weaver ’20 & Caio Brighenti ’20: Research in the Galapagos

By Lizzy Moore on February 25, 2018

Caio and Emily on their trip to the Galapagos as a part of their summer research project

This interview was conducted with Emily Weaver and Caio Brighenti, two sophomores in the Benton Scholar program. Emily is intending to major in Environmental Geology and Caio is double majoring in Peace and Conflict Studies and Computer Science. This past summer, they travelled to the Galapagos and designed an educational virtual reality application using the footage they captured on their trip.


Could you tell me about the project you two worked on this summer?

C: This summer, we designed and started implementing an educational experience in the form of a virtual reality application, targeted towards children, but meant for anyone who’d like to learn about the Galapagos-
E: -or really just learn about science in general, but through the Galapagos. Because we believe the Galapagos are super exciting- it’s a melting pot of science. You can show them iguanas and how they survive volcanic eruptions and teach them about science.

The iguanas survive volcanoes?

C: Every island in the Galapagos is a volcano, that’s how they were formed. But, the iguanas have been around for longer than the volcanoes because the volcanoes kind of drift, get eroded, and “sink,” so the iguanas migrate to different islands. So, all of the iguana species are older than all of the current islands, which is really cool. Its through examples like this that someone can learn about science.


So, Emily, what did you have to do this summer in order to develop this project?

E: I had to learn all about the Galapagos. I had to learn about the geology, the biology, and how it is all interconnected. And then I had to write storylines for these kids to learn about- pathways that they can travel through and make it an adventure. Then, I gave that to Caio, who does his magic with a computer.

Alright, Caio, so what’s your magic?

C: I’m the computer man. So I worked on the programming, video rendering, video stitching- I took the beautiful ideas that Emily developed and the beautiful scripts that she wrote and turned them into a beautiful reality- a virtual reality. I worked in the Unity 3D Engine and I used the Google VR SDK to develop a pilot program of the virtual reality application. When you open the application, you start out with a map in front of you of all the locations you can go. The map is in a scene thats actually a shot we took with 360 cameras in the Galapagos. Obviously, we’ve been stitched out of the shots. Here, you can see some of the famous iguanas. So, let’s say you want to learn about the volcanoes, you can look at Sierra Negra, which is the biggest volcano on Isabela Island. You click on it, and boom, it takes you to it. This is what we accomplished by the and of the summer, and this is what we presented at the NASC fellowship colloquium. We did research under the Natural Sciences and Mathematics division, so at the beginning of the semester, we presented our findings from the summer. We got to show this off, along with a technical presentation about some of our design choices and those kinds of details.
E: And now there’s a guidebook for all the summer research positions where we wrote a summary about what we did, we’re on page 128. (Undergraduate Summer Research Directory)

What made you want to do this project?

C: I work in the Vis Lab, and I’ve worked in the Vis Lab since the beginning of the fall semester of 2016. And this project was done along with the Vis Lab director, Joe Eakin, who is my boss. What we do in the Vis Lab is produce things for the dome- I specifically produce virtual reality content for the Vis Lab. So naturally, when Karen Harpp had this idea and talked to Joe about it, it made sense to include me as the one who actually is doing VR stuff. So I guess it was a coincidence that I’m a Benton and Karen is the director of the Benton program, but it just worked out really nicely in that case.
E: I was just talking to Karen one day about what I was going to be doing over the summer, and I wasn’t really sure what I’d be doing. And she was like, “Hey, there’s this project that we’re working on. Do you like kids?” and I was like, “Yeah sure,” so she was like, “So, we’re working on this project- let me send you a bunch of information about it. Read through it, think about it, and tell me if you’d be interested. We’d love to have you.” Then, I read it, and I thought it was really cool.

How long were you in the Galapagos? How did you like visiting a new country?

C: We were in the Galapagos for ten days including travel time. We spent the rest of the summer living at Colgate and working on the project here.
E: I thought going to the Galapagos was really interesting- I’d never been to a Spanish-speaking country.


How did your trip to the Galapagos compare to your trip to Europe with the rest of the Bentons at the beginning of the summer?

E: It’s a very hard comparison. Europe was an academic trip and this was a work trip and they’re very different places.
C: Obviously, the trip to the Galapagos was awesome. But, when you tell people, “Oh, i went to the Galapagos,” they imagine you being on the beach, enjoying the animals, and having a good time all day. But, we were working probably twelve hours a day, if not more. We were waking up at six, filming all day, coming back and cataloguing our footage, and going to bed at 2:00 a.m. It was hard work. We were using two sets of 360 cameras that are six cameras each and they have a huge mount, a huge pole, and a huge weight on the bottom. To get to the volcano, we walked ten miles or something absurd like that, and I would be hauling that thing on my back the whole time. So, I loved going and it was an awesome time, but wasn’t just a fun trip- it was a lot of work all day, every day.
E: And it was rewarding work, so that made it worth it.

So you’re still working on this project this year? Are you making a lot of progress?

C: Yes, we’ve continued to work on it. We had a meeting a few hours ago and another one Tuesday morning. We’ve shifted our focus a little bit to try and speed up progress because we realized progress hasn’t been as good as we’d like it to be during the semester. I’m pretty optimistic that it’ll pick up. The shift is lowering the VR element of it. We’re going to keep the elements of VR that we like and take away the ones we don’t like.
E: So, you’ll still be able to immerse yourself in these different landscapes, but it won’t be 100% of the time. So some of the time, you’ll be doing work on a computer or on your phone screen, and then it’ll prompt you to put on your VR headset and take a look around in the space. So it’ll still incorporate the innovativeness of VR, but it’ll be more manageable.

TBS Abroad Week 3: Smart Phones

By Emily Weaver on February 21, 2018

Week 3: Smart Phones

In the United States, it’s not unusual to see smartphones everywhere. Teachers use them for interactive activities, the person you pass by on the street is calling their mom, kids play games on them, and people take breathtaking photos with them. For better or for worse – they’re all around us. As you’ve been abroad and adapted to a new culture, several pieces of your life have inevitably changed. Have you noticed a change in how people use their smartphones? Are they as common in the place you’ve chosen to study as they are in the States? If so, is there a different etiquette when it comes to using smartphones? Are you using your phone more or less than you were at home? Why? Have you taken any pictures with your phone that you think are particularly fascinating? Tell us about your experience with phones since you’ve been away.

Oneida Shushe

Like in the spaces I inhabit in the US, I see smartphones everywhere in Geneva. Smartphones are the only kind of phones here (is there even another kind?) One difference between the spaces I occupy in the US and those here in Geneva is that there are more iPhones in the US. Here, I have seen more non-iPhone smartphones.

One of my favorite functions of smartphones is the camera. On a hike up Mont Salève, we stopped a few times to take pictures. I’ve included a picture I took of a dog, and you can see a classmate had the same idea! The phone stands out from the earthy background because of its perfect shape and shiny surface, but it also blends in as the tree branches are mirrored onto its touchscreen.

Initially, I think that iPhones don’t really belong in nature because going on a hike is a break from the hectic, modern, digital world that smartphones represent. Then, I’m reminded that using these devices the right way can actually enhance an experience in nature. Taking pictures helps me remember, and memory is an important part of who we are, so I’m thankful for this function on my phone. I’m grateful for all the memories I’m making abroad and that I can capture them—in nature and elsewhere—to relive this time in my life once it’s passed.

Picture from Oneida’s hike up Mont Salève


Jenny Lundt

I had a very interesting relationship with phones during my time abroad. As American phone providers lock iphones so foreign sims cannot be entered, my program gave me a water damaged burner phone for the duration of my time. To say flip phone was generous, because it certainly did not flip, and was essentially a fat rectangle with buttons. I also did not have wifi in my homestay and my smartphone (used as an ipod/ camera) was unable to connect to the program house’s wifi. As a result, I remained pretty disconnected with life outside of my immediate circle there. I NEVER  was able to check Snapchat, and only Facebook and Instagram occasionally. However, it allowed me to not have FOMO as I simply didn’t care what was happening at Colgate. Friday nights were passed with peace without being curious to which party or social gathering back in Hamilton I was missing out on. I developed strong relationships with the students on my program and especially my host family. After my 7:30 curfew each night, I came inside to play cards or make silly videos with Tenzin. I went to sleep no later than 9pm and woke up everyday feeling fresh and appreciative of the people and places around me. It was certainly a positive for my mental health, and often find myself wishing for that inner peace that it brought me.

The day of the Las Vegas shooting, we were in rural Humla, the most undeveloped district of Nepal in the upper Western corner of the country. We heard through another person on the program who had received information that there was a shooting in Las Vegas and it was the largest in history. That was all we had. I remember stumbling out of the wood house to sit on a smooth rock outside where I had to remember the long set of numbers to punch in before my mom’s number. I was sitting out there hysterically feeling so disconnected and unable to get more information, even though I was desperate to know if anyone I knew or loved had been affected. Through a lot of rings and the eventual 8 second lag, my mom finally picked up and was able to tell me through extremely spotty coverage that everyone was okay. I ran back to the homestay in the mountains where the family and the 3 other students on my program who were staying there were having dinner. I managed to choke out the news, when a fellow student on the program started having a panic attack. Her sister and her boyfriend were staying in Las Vegas attending the country festival that the shooting happened at. The rest of the night was a blur of emotions. My classmate was unable to reach her family as the service in the area cut out. We all huddled together on the blanket that was laid out for us to sleep and cried softly trying to support our friend and the uncertainty that was rampant in the situation. The next morning, she learned that everyone was okay, thankfully, but I will never forget the emotions of laying together in a shrine room in a village with a population of around 100, unable to reach our loved ones back in the US.

Jenny and her homestay brother Tenzin


Micah Dirkers

“Wherever you go, there you are” is a slogan that has captured many in the field of mindfulness meditation. For this discussion regarding phones, however, I think modifying that quote to something such as, “Wherever you go, there goes your phone also” would be more fitting. People today are taking their phones everywhere—even into places where phones have not traditionally been taken (at the dinner table, underwater, etc). Nevertheless, my phone was with me everywhere during my travels: it served as a resource for personal health data, a vault for payment information, a library for academic information, a navigator to find my way, a photographer to document my travels, and a consultant for safety instruction. It would be an understatement to say that I relied heavily on my phone during my travels, but traveling abroad in Scotland did result in some changes to my phone usage.

Given the above, I can say with certainty that I did not use my phone overall as much as I usually do back in the United States. Perhaps that can be explained by the fact that I was in a different social sphere where I simply was not involved in the activities of which I usually am a part. While I did use my phone to communicate with people in Scotland and back home, the communication was less frequent than it is at home, since I was not around my normal crew. Practically, I was also using a lot of time to see the city of Edinburgh and the nation of Scotland, sample different restaurants, go to the gym, and, of course attend various classes. So even though I was abroad, it is not like my phone habits, or the phone habits of the Scottish people, were significantly different abroad compared to home.

Also with certainty, I can also say that there were, perhaps, two key areas in which I used my phone much more than I would normally, even if—overall—I was using my phone to a lesser degree. The first of those areas was photography: when I was abroad, I wanted to document all my travels with photographic evidence. Given the general ease of classes, I had much time to explore Scotland and build an album of my adventures. One picture from that album is featured below (captured on iPhone SE) which features what was my most pleasant journey to Scotland’s Isle of Skye. The photo was taken around sunset, as we were hiking deep into the mountains where we reached these series of pools of water, referred to as the fairy pools. These are large pools of water are rumored to be a haven for fairies. While I cannot say I witnessed any of those on my trip, I did manage to maneuver into one of the pools without getting wet and capture a rather beautiful picture of the Scottish sunset (featured below).

Fairy Pools at Scotland’s Isle of Skye

The second of those areas in which I used my phone more was navigation: being in a foreign country and traveling to different areas within that country as a foreigner naturally means that you do not know the area. Particularly on trips, I would consult my phone for navigational advice to ensure I knew (basically) where I was going and what I was doing, and in the city of Edinburgh, I would often use a bus app to chart the best route through the city for the best rate. While I had a practical use for my phone, I did not want to rely on my phone so much so that it became a buffer, a mediator, between myself and my abroad experience. So while I did use my phone for photography and navigation much more than I normally would at home, my overall phone usage was less than normal because of a different environment. This change helped me to get a healthy distance from that pocket-sized electronic stimulation dispenser and many other things as well, which going abroad can undoubtedly facilitate in a myriad of ways.

TBS Abroad Week 2: Street Food

By Emily Weaver on February 14, 2018

Week 2: Street Food

Food is an integral part of any culture. It brings people together and can be a defining characteristic within a society. While fancy restaurants are nice, and home cooked meals are even better, there is something satisfying about finding a vendor on the street selling a local delicacy or cuisine from around the world. Most places have street vendors, even Hamilton, NY if you wander around in the summer. Tell us about your experiences with street food while you’ve been away. Did you find any foods that surprised you? Did anything remind you of home? Did you push yourself to try something new that seemed interesting? Where were these vendors that you saw?

Oneida Shushe

Even though it’s winter, I have seen many outdoor markets in the Geneva area in the past month. I’ve shopped at a small, impromptu-looking Saturday morning fruit and vegetable market by the train station. The setup felt “authentic”, with the farmers who come mainly from France standing behind their products. This small farmer’s market and all its colorful produce stood out from the rest of the shops in the area as the only case where the sellers could also be the farmers or producers.

My friends and I also crossed over the border into France for a larger outdoor market selling food and clothes. Though I liked the lunch and produce I bought there, my mindset toward the market changed when my friend pointed out the supermarket stickers on a box of oranges. I think I had previously assumed that whenever food products are sold in an outdoor market, the people selling them must have also grown or made them. The Ferney-Voltaire market taught me that this is not always the case.

At an open public space here in Geneva, there are flea markets and farmers’ markets throughout the week. As I gain more confidence in my French, I hope to start conversations with the sellers. Instead of trying to guess from the other side of our language barrier, I can ask them about the origins of the products they’re selling.

As a side note, when I was younger I thought there were only two variations of cheese: feta, and a hard yellow cheese called kaçkavall. Then, I saw that there were so many other types out there! Since Switzerland is known for its cheese, my goal is to try different regional cheeses and find a new one that I really like. I’ll keep you posted!

Image Captured by Olivia Haskell ’19


Jenny Lundt

I definitely was expecting a lot more street food in Nepal than there actually was. However, there was one noticeable food that I found throughout my travels in Nepal from Pokhara to the Gorkha District to my street in Boudha. All around town are the carts with big glass containers that are filled with round puff looking things. My first experience with it was upon my arrival to my host family’s house. On one of our daily walks around the stupa, my amala and Tenzin took me to a cart where the person making them just kept piling them on a plate. It was a race against time to finish the one snack before the next one was made. It had a surprising taste that was both sweet, spicy, and salty all at the same time. The snack is made from a puri (a hollow fried crisp) and filled with a mix of flavored water, tamarind sauce, chili, potato, onion, chaat masala, and chickpea.

A few days later on another daily walk, I asked Amala when we could get some more “ani oori”. Much to my surprise she yelped loudly and quickly pulled me away where her and Tenzin (my host brother) erupted in laughter. They proceeded to tell me that Ani oori means “the shaved nun”, and I had accidentally just offended the large pack of nuns that were in front of us. Oops.

In Delhi after my program in Nepal ended, I spent the day with a friend from high school where he showed me all of his favorite street food spots in the old part of the city. I don’t think I have ever been as full as I was that day as we navigated through the barreling traffic to altering sweet, salty, and spicy snacks. It could have been the best food day of my life! Thanks Angud for the tour.


Micah Dirkers

Street food? Ay lad, there was really no such thing as street food in Edinburgh (read the preceding statement in traditional Scottish accent, please), especially as winter dawned and the hours of daylight shortened. While I was not in Scotland during the spring and summer, I predict that street vendors would have been much more common there, especially during the Edinburgh festival (as indicated here: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-39860582); yet in the fall and in the chilly winter, impending darkness, northern rains, and snow dustings did not provide a welcoming or profitable environment for most street vendors.

That said, there did exist one location where bustling street vendors gathered and profited—the main campus of the University of Edinburgh at George Square. Naturally, this location was modeled after the shape of a square, with gardens situated in the center and academic buildings lining the periphery. At each corner of this square, two to three vendors situated themselves and employed music, signage, and odor to market their goods to students. Among these vendors were those who served coffee-related drinks (black coffee, cappuccinos, lattes, etc), soup-related appetizers, a variety of sandwiches, and fast-food related “meals,” including hot dogs, burgers, fries, and soft drinks. While these vendors made an effort to entice me, I did not sample any of their products. Thus, this was a similar experience to home in Montana, where seeing a spontaneous street vendor (weekly farmer’s markets aside) was as unlikely as seeing one in the area of Edinburgh that I was in (George Square aside).

While my experience with street food was limited, there were other types of (Scottish) cuisine which I sampled at various restaurants and shops. For example, Indian cuisine has a special place in my diet, so about every week, I ventured into a novel Indian restaurant to sample the food, often ordering a similar dish so I could compare differences in taste, texture, and arrangement. A traditional Scottish delicacy which I had the opportunity to consume was Haggis, a Scottish dish consisting of a sheep’s or calf’s intestine mixed with suet, oatmeal, and seasoning and boiled in a bag, traditionally one made from the animal’s stomach. While the conceptual impression of eating this food at first was foreign, I quickly appreciated the rich flavor and delicate smoothness of this dish.

Finally, there were a number trends I observed between food at the grocery stores in Scotland and cuisine at grocery stores in the United States. For example, stores in the United States typically have more detailed labels; something such as “raisin bread” here would be referred to as “fruit loaf,” leaving the consumer to wonder, “Okay, but what type of fruit is in the loaf?” Furthermore, “Caesar dressing” here was referred to as “table sauce” there, leaving the buyer to ponder, “Okay, but what is the actual flavor of this condiment?” The portions in the marketplaces in Scotland were also noticeable smaller, encouraging people to consume less, reflecting the Scottish and EU values of environmental awareness. This was showcased to a further degree by the practice of most stores to charge for using plastic bags, whereas those very thin but weirdly strong bags here are available without restriction. Thus, while the food storage and labeling practices did differ between the United States and Scotland, most of the food items themselves—whether from a scarce street vendor or a marketplace—were quite similar to what a consumer might find in the United States.

TBS Abroad Week 1: Crowds

By Emily Weaver on February 7, 2018

Week 1: Crowds

We often think of crowds as an indication of busyness, but crowds can also tell us something deeper about the culture that they are in. Celebrations, rallies, tourism and memorials are all situations in which people gather beyond the normal hustle and bustle of everyday life. Tell us about the crowds you’ve seen since you’ve been abroad. Where have you seen people gather? Why are they gathering? How big are the crowds? What is the atmosphere like? Is it different from the crowds you’ve experienced either in your hometown or in Hamilton? Is it the same? Tell us your take on what you’ve experienced.

Oneida Shushe

I have been abroad for about a month. From my home base in Geneva, Switzerland, I’ve traveled to Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. I normally think of crowds gathering outside, but it’s winter, so most gatherings I’ve seen in these cities have been indoors.

In Paris, a crowd swarmed around the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. I asked for directions on how to get to the Mona Lisa (the Louvre is huge, I couldn’t just stumble upon it). As I neared the room in which the painting is displayed, I heard the tourists before I saw them. The crowd was concentrated in front of the painting, with many tourists taking pictures of it, or taking pictures of themselves with it in the background. The acclaim of the work—and a desire to connect to its greatness—drew a crowd.

In Amsterdam, restaurants were so packed at lunchtime that we barely found a place to sit and enjoy a meal. Winter in Amsterdam didn’t feel like winter in Hamilton, NY. Because it was warmer, people gathered outside too. In this picture, you can see a crowd of kids and me (or perhaps more accurately, including me). The woman wearing a scarf—an artist of sorts—was forming bubbles in a busy square. Again, passers-by came closer to experience this childish and pure scene. The simplicity and serenity of watching bubbles float was a welcomed break from the frenzy of a city.

Micah Dirkers

Socialization is a profound human need, recognized famously by Maslow in 1943, and one fundamental way in which people meet this need is through their participation in groups and crowds. While this need is fundamental, the way the individual joins and participates in crowds vary substantially with respect to one’s culture, upbringing, and identity. For myself, crowds at home in the States (and at Colgate) were focal points of collective interest, and one great example of this is the many foreign tourists in Yellowstone National Park who create a vehicular traffic jam at the sight of a moose or grizzly at the side of the road. Indeed, this is a rather rural setting, but during my time abroad in Edinburgh, I witnessed this same basic property of crowds expressed through an urban setting and a different national context.

In Scotland, particularly in the city of Edinburgh, crowds of various sizes congregated at various shops, streets, sites, and monuments, including Princes Street (where all the major retailers have their stores), Arthur’s Seat (a large hill overlooking the city), Saint Giles Cathedral (a religious and historical site). It would be a significant omission not to mention here that probably the most frequent place people gathered were the staggering number of pubs and bars which are situated throughout Edinburgh. They would range in size from three people (three’s a crowd, yeah?) having tea to many tens or hundreds of people touring through the busy city. The atmosphere varied, but it was typically one of enjoyment, and sometimes, curiosity. And this was not fundamentally different from any of the crowds at Colgate or at home, but then again, I was in a predominantly white, western European nation with customs very similar to home, so I suspect I would have encountered more variation had I gone to another part of the world.

Nevertheless, during my time abroad, I also saw crowds with common and differing makeups. Interestingly, these crowds, regardless of location, didn’t always have to be a group of people at one given place at one given time, even though many often are. In other words, I observed that there were crowds composed of many similar individuals who engaged in different activities, such as a group of roommates who would go to school, to the library, and to the bar afterwards. Conversely, there were crowds composed of many unrelated people who came from different places but who all engaged in a common activity. For example, one could observe a gym crowd that exercised on certain days and at specific times, and even though they were not one coherent group who knew each other, they still shared certain behavioral tendencies. Consequently, while there were superficial differences in the crowds that I observed abroad compared to the crowds I have observed at home, each crowd in some way connected the individual to something larger than their individual selves.

Jenny Lundt

First arriving in Kathmandu, I was overwhelmed about the bustle of the city.  We were all wide eyed entering the city after departing our peaceful orientation days in Buddhist Pharping. The ever-present cacophony of car horns, cows blocking the roads, and the hordes of motorbikes swarming our bus was a lot to take in. In our arrival packages, we were given masks and warned about the the amount of dust and general air pollution in the air. As we embarked on this 1.5 hour drive, we were all looking at each other trying to internalize all of these new sights and sounds that we would call home. Our bus came to a sudden stop on a very busy street. We all got out with our backpacks incredibly wide eyed. We shot each other glances like “is this really our new home??”

It wasn’t until we entered an intricately delicate gate off the main street that all of our hearts began to soar with happiness. Inside, was the Boudhanath Stupa, a place that we would call home for the next 3.5 months. Boudha Stupa is an area for a different kind of crowd. This massive mandala is the most important Tibetan Buddhism figure outside of Tibet, and you can feel the importance in the air. Each day starting at 4 am, thousands of pilgrims flock to the stupa to complete koras (the Tibetan word for circumambulation. The air is brimming with the chants of monks and the pungent smell of incense. The stupa would become to be the most important place for the 19 people in my program throughout the program as well. My walk to and from class every morning was walking clockwise with the masses. We spent hours on rooftops watching the thousands of koraers and hearing the sounds of prayer wheels in the air with the Himalayas in the background.