Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Preparing for the Job

For those of you who don't know, I plan to become a cultural anthropologists. In other words, I want to study cultures. I have a particular interests in Asian cultures and sub-cultures. 

How will studying abroad help me with my future vocation?

Well, it'll help with everything, basically.

See, one of the main parts of cultural anthropology is that you live and dwell among the culture you wish to study. This helps you have an insider's look on their way of life. Studying abroad will be my first step into this process. It'll be a great opportunity to see how I adjust to new cultures, how I observe new cultures, and how I learn new languages. It'll also help me see if I even want to explore cultural anthropology as a career.

Another way studying aboard helps me with my future job is with the classes I'm taking. Aside from my Japanese classes, I will be taking a selection of classes from either history, sociology, religion, and anthropology. There's one class in particular that I really hope to be in that focuses on sub-cultures. This class will definitely help me form a better understanding on the that specific culture, and whether or not I wish it to continue down that field. The other classes will give me a better understanding on the Japanese culture as a whole. To study this classes in the actual culture is an opportunity I don't want to miss! 

All together, this experience will show me whether or not I'm going down the right path in my life. I love cultures, hence wanting to be an anthropologist, but there are other vocations that use cultures. This will just allow me to see where I am down that path.


I knew I wanted to teach at an International school at age 13. My uncle, aunt, and two cousins had moved to Venezuela for my uncle's job. They came back to Tennessee every summer to visit and with each visit I heard more amazing stories about the school my cousins were attending. As a 13 year old who had lived in one state her whole life, I was so intrigued. The stories they told about their friends from all around the world and the things they were learning impressed me so much. 

Teaching at a school in another country has remained my main goal for my future career. My student teaching experience in Germany is the first step in reaching this goal. This opportunity will give me a better idea of whether or not I can survive living outside of the United States. I will get to compare German school to American school and use what I learn in this experience to make me a more diverse teacher. 

While in Germany, I have plans to take trips to Switzerland and Belgium to visit some International schools. I am planning on meeting with my Uncle's friend who is the director of a school in Zurich. He will be able to show me the school and give me tips for finding a job at an International school. 

The "Real" World

When I was about 8 years old, I decided that I wanted to live in Europe. I don't really know why I chose Europe, but it just seemed so magical: full of princes and princesses, cute little towns, trains and trains and more trains. A few years later my cousin moved to Egypt and I thought that it was the coolest thing in the world and wanted to do it, too. I spent my time travelling and learning french to prepare for my dream of living in Europe. In real life I won't move to Europe and fall in love with a wealthy young man and get married and never have to work. So, I'm doing it my own way: studying abroad, living like a local, and finding a job and a place to live and people that care about me that are 5,000 miles from my family. I used to be an International Studies major with hopes of working abroad with a nonprofit. Those classes were not my thing, so I decided to do school that I loved: theatre. And what am I going to do with a theatre major? I had no idea. But I have a dream to do theatre as a type of therapy abroad through non profit work. I will be involved with theatre through the University of Bern and hope to find a place to volunteer by working with children, possible at an after school program. By doing these two things I will be surrounded by a different theatre culture and grow in my understanding of child development in a place different from my own. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


      I'll be studying abroad primarily to learn a language. in the future I wish to travel in Latin America and Europe to countries that speak Spanish or Portuguese. I would also like to like abroad and not simply go on business trips.  My studying abroad in Spain and then Chile will help in learning and practicing a foreign language. I'll be able to speak primarily in Spanish in Spain and Chile. In Chile, I will be with an international student body that includes many Brazilians and because of this will be able to speak in Portuguese.

      I'll involve myself in business internships-especially in Chile. In Chile I can take part in the business start up business internship. In the Catholic University of Valparaiso students can start up their own business and other students can work internships in those companies. I will for certain take advantage of that opportunity.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Becoming a part of the Dortmund community… living like a local

One of my fears about studying abroad is that I will let the time pass all the while being a tourist. It is important to me to feel like I can live like a local in Dortmund, Germany. From others who have studied there, I know there is a big group of international students who tend to hang around together at the University. I am so excited to meet people from all around the world, but I want to remember that I am in Dortmund and I want to become a part of that community.

My hope is that my internship at a German Elementary school will help me to live more like a local.  I will get to be immersed in school, which is a huge part of any culture. I would love to get involved with things outside of normal school hours. Hopefully I will be able to volunteer with after school activities and be a part of any and all events the school hosts. This will help me meet families and other individuals in the community.

In the description of the month long German language course I will attend, trips around the city are included. This month before school starts will give me time to get familiar with the city, learn how to use transportation, and more. The more comfortable I am with basics like transportation, the more I will get out and explore. I think this course will really help me get familiar with my surroundings and it will be an easy way for me to make friends.

It will be important for me to stay busy. When I get homesick I tend to hide out by myself and avoid interactions with people. But interactions with people make me happier, so its will be good for me to spend most of my time with others. I only need a short period of time to myself to reenergize. If I keep things scheduled and make plans, I will avoid that feeling of wanting to hide out.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

How to Live Live a Local

My past in traveling to Spain will give knowledge in living like a local-an important aspect of respecting and learning from the host culture. A couple of steps I would follow in order to become part of the host culture

1. Go where locals go: Tourist areas. They look enticing, and there is nothing inherently wrong. However, tourist areas tend to not give a very authentic view into the culture. The areas are often made simply to please tourists.

2. Eat like locals: "Go where locals go" can be especially important in finding somewhere to eat. Food and alcohol tend to be one of the funner ways in which a culture is different. For me, I loved trying all the different types of Spanish food and alcohol.

3. Local friendship: Many American students fall into a common trap with international students: they tend to form friendships with people like them, from their own country, and with people who speak their native languages. For me personally, he language aspect is rather important. I will be going to Spain to study Spanish as will as many other things. While meeting other English-speakers is inevitable, I will attempt to make local friends that will make me speak Spanish.

4. School clubs: Local friendships could express themselves in form of school clubs. These organizations will give me the option to meet and coordinate with local students.

5. Clothing: Spain has very formal and particular style. A great way to stand out in Spain is dress in shorts and flip flops like a tourist. Not many Spaniards are found of foreign tourists. A great way to fit in is dress like the Spanish dress.

How to Live and Not be a Tourist

It's easy to be a tourist. It's hard to be a local. It's especially really hard to be a local when you are living in a new country with complete strangers and a very high language barrier.

But no matter! I will not be a tourist for four and half months! How, you ask? Well, I have a plan- a plan that will help to (hopefully) ensure localness.

Step One: Making local friends. This is perhaps the most important step in keeping yourself away from tourist mood. After all, the best way to live like a local is that make friends with one. You can observe and learn from them. I also, in general, just want to make some friends while I'm there. With my program, I will be living and studying with International studies from around the world. I don't want to put myself in an International Bubble, where all I do is hang out with Internationals. This will be hard because we'll be the only ones on campus for about a month. There will be a Japanese Kansai Gaidai student that will act as a RA to help us adjust to our new surroundings, however. Hopefully we'll become friends. If not, there'll be other ways to make friends, like in clubs. Clubs are a big deal in Japan. Hopefully by joining a club, I can make some new friends!

Step Two: Eat like a local. Am I going to restaurant that's filled with mostly tourists every time I go? That's probably not a local spot. Do I eat McDonald's, hamburgers, and other American food? I probably shouldn't be doing that. Food is a big part of a culture. If I'm limiting myself to food that are catered towards Americans, I'm not living like a Hirakata City local. Instead, I'm eating like an American in Japan. So, one of the first things I'm going to do is ask what are some good places to eat. Luckily, food in Japan tends to be cheaper there than here in America (to my knowledge). By eating like a local, I get a full belly and culture immersion at the same time!

Step Three: Observe and asking questions. What are locals doing? Do they use the bus, train, walk, or bike? How do they act in a grocery store? Are there even grocery stores or is there an outdoor market? How do students act on campus? Do they wave to people that walk by, or do they just walk past them? Do friends stand in the middle of campus? There's a lot of observing that goes into living in a new country, especially if you want to live like a local. And sometimes, just observing something doesn't work. Instead, you have to ask. Like asking if it's normal for the public toilets to not have toilet paper. Or what button to press to flush the toilet. Is it normal to talk to the cashier at a store? Is it okay to wear this type of clothing over that? Things like that can be asked instead of observed.

These plan is still incomplete. I honestly don't know what else I need to do until I get there. I can do research now, but that only gets you so far. Hopefully, this these starting steps, I can help make it one step closer to living like a local. A key thing to remember is that I'm still Renee. I'll just be Renee in Japan, learning and growing there. My goal is to not be Japanese. I'll forever be viewed as a foreigner there, but maybe I can be less of a foreigner by trying to live like a local. That's my goal.