A Global Experience

After participating in the Middle Eastern Civilizations program in Jerusalem during the spring quarter of his second year, Nick Zebrowski, a third-year International Studies, Latin American Studies and Spanish major, traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where he studied intensive Portuguese with support from a Foreign Language Acquisition Grant. He writes to us now from Santiago, Chile, where he is studying political science and anthropology through the Santiago: Catholic University of Chile Exchange program.

The last few months have been the best of my life. I walked along the walls and through the streets of the Old City in Jerusalem, waded in the Dead Sea, wandered through the ancient streets of Petra, rode a camel at Giza, and ran a local 5k. I learned to dance Samba with strangers at a street party in Rio de Janeiro’s Lapa. I turned 20 with friends, both new and old, on Copacabana beach, speaking in a language that I did not speak in January.

When I was in high school, I made a list of goals that I wanted to accomplish before I left college. Chief amongst those goals were, “learn a new language” and “live in a foreign country for a year.” When I re-discovered this list half-way through my first year, I had no idea that it would lead me to three back-to-back study abroad programs: Jerusalem, Rio de Janeiro, and Santiago. While I wanted to travel in order to fulfill high school dreams, I also went abroad for professional reasons. As an International Studies, Latin American Studies and Spanish major, I knew that I would be required to study abroad, but I wanted to supplement the theory I discussed and debated in my classes with a truly global education that solidified or challenged everything I knew. More often than not, I have realized how much more there is to learn. 

Nick Zebrowski, '14, explores Patagonia.

Studying abroad has taught me that there is far more to living the “Life of the Mind” than the four-walled classrooms of Hyde Park. If anything, studying abroad only solidified the importance of the great thinkers that I read in my SOSC class. Durkheim’s notion of collective memory was real during discussions of the competing historical narratives of Jerusalem; Foucault was quickly transformed from one of the “great philosophers” into the most effective framework for making sense of a community meeting that I attended there between community organizers and government officials. The most fulfillment I have experienced stemmed from the knowledge I have acquired as a result of the new relationships I formed and the challenges they posed by exposing me to new points of view. They let me see the world through their eyes.

From the excitement I felt after I successfully conjugated the subjunctive in Portuguese or bargained down the price of my falafel sandwich in Arabic, to the satisfaction making my first meal at my apartment in Santiago (after repeated failed attempts), I have had the time of my life.

Photos courtesy of Nick Zebrowski, '14 and Jessica Avva, '15.