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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.