Whether you’ve sorely missed them or only vaguely noticed they’re gone, many members of the class of 2011 aren’t on campus this semester.   Often choosing host families over High Rise, these juniors have embarked on a variety of study abroad adventures to have experiences that simply aren’t possible in Middletown, Connecticut.  Unfortunately, most tales from semesters abroad don’t make it outside the borders of the country of their origin.  In an effort to keep study abroad experiences less disparate from life at Wesleyan, the Blargus is running Notes from Abroad, a feature dedicated to sharing a sampling of fellow students’ international escapades.  Foreign anecdotes will be shared through a combination of written accounts, photos and videos.  This first installment of Notes from Abroad features posts from Dean Karoliszyn ’11, Jourdan Hussein ’11 and Laura Bliss ’11.

Dean Karoliszyn ’11
Current location: Galway, Ireland

Photo credit: Eliot Kamen

The Greatest (Irish) Game Ever Played

Greetings to all from the rolling green pastures of western Ireland! I’m studying abroad here until December at NUI Galway.

More importantly, I’ve traveled to a land of unique native sports, like Hurling and Gaelic Football. On my first day here, a Kerry-Meath semi-final of the Gaelic Football tournament was held in Croke Park in Dublin, Europe’s fourth-largest stadium. Game time was 3:30, so right around quarter of 3 the pubs emptied en masse. An exodus of yellow and green jerseys crowded the streets leading up to the stadium. The great thing about Irish sports are their homegrown nature. Gaelic Football is strictly amateur, and players for each team are natives of the county their team represents. The managers assembles the team by seeking commitments from local players, and local players only. The result is a fan-base that is far more passionate and united than those of any major US sports team.

We took the 15 minute walk to Croke Park and snuck in through the exit doors. The stadium has a capacity of over 82,000 spectators, but for this game, the upper decks were closed. Still, as we took empty seats near the back, it was obvious that the crowd was overwhelmingly rooting for Kerry. To my endless amusement, the crowd was loud, boisterous, and drunk. I’m not going to explain the rules of the game; it resembles soccer, but players can use their hands, and score by punting through the uprights or shooting on goal. I highly recommend reading up about it.

I’m looking forward to the All-Ireland Hurling Final Tomorrow!

Photo credit: Eliot Kamen

Photo credit: Eliot Kamen

Jourdan Hussein ’11
Current location: Amman, Jordan

Arab Taxi Dancing

I can’t describe enough the arab hospitality I found in Amman. The Arabs in Amman are more friendly, less frustrated and much happier than the ones in Cairo. It will be even warmer when you say ” Ana Muslim Alhamdulillah”. The reaction would be, “Alhamdulillah – and then they’ll play you Quran recitation” or “Alhamdulilllah – they’ll smile and start talking in a somewhat brotherly tone. Either one, I love it. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that most of them happen in taxi. But anyway, you wouldn’t expect, once you hop in a taxi, you’d be welcomed by this:

Notice that I told him, “Dance! Dance!” Once I sat down, he tuned in the music and played it so loudly, after that he closed all the windows and got even crazier.  OH MAN, I LOVE MIDDLE EASTERN MUSIC.  I’m signing up for a free session or semi-private class this weekend at the Al Hussein Cultural Center. I wanna play Rabab? or Tableg?  Hopefully I can establish a club at my campus next semester, Inshaaaaa Allah..

Laura Bliss ’11
Current location: Grenoble, France


So, here I am: out in the big world, with not a single familiar soul at my side, getting lost in a new city and a new language, and eating unprecedented quantities of cheese.

I have embarked on the requisite American junior-year-of-college-abroad experience. Mine is in Grenoble, the cheery little city in the southeast of France, famous for its walnuts, the 1968 Winter Olympics it hosted, and for being the flattest city in Europe, in spite of its proximity to the French Alps.

I didn’t exactly prepare to come here. If little boys are made frogs and snails and puppy dog tails, my decision to come to France was made of something like caprice and irresponsibility. For example, I don’t exactly know how I am going to finish my bachelor’s degree, considering that I am a declared English major at Wesleyan University. Unsurprisingly, I am not going to be racking up credits in that department here. Also, I am cruising off my savings, given that I cannot legally take up employment while I am here. Plus, the obvious question remains: why wouldn’t I go to China and learn Mandarin or Mexico to learn Spanish or something practical, for god’s sake?

But gosh dang it, in spite of all the youthful whim and impracticality and disinterest in financial security, I went. I went to learn French, to get lost by myself in the world, to be completely uncomfortable, and to live in a beautiful place. To do things that you can probably only do when you’re twenty. And somehow, so far, it’s worked.



About gpalmer

Gianna Palmer is a senior English and Sociology major from Eugene, Oregon. At Wesleyan, Gianna has written for the Argus and Wesleying, and tutored through the Writing Workshop. Outside of Wesleyan, Gianna has interned/written for Preservation Magazine in Washington, D.C. and the New York Daily News. Besides heading up the Blargus, Gianna is keeping busy her senior year by doling out funds as a member of the Student Budget Committee, dancing in student-choreographed pieces and scoping out the class of 2014 as a senior interviewer in the Admissions Office.