Tales From Abroad: Germany Jul27

Tales From Abroad: Germany...

I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about Study Abroad. Not just my experience, but the entire purpose behind Study Abroad and what I was told coming into the program.  I was bombarded by fliers and social media posts to apply for Study Abroad before I even fully committed to my college. I had a professor give a lecture every Friday my Freshman year about all the reasons you should Study Abroad, things like “making life-long best friends” and “Seeing cool history”. By the time I was convinced this was something I wanted to do, I had signed up for all the wrong reasons. I wanted to travel, vacation, and be social. Former abroad-ers said things to me like, “best experience ever!”, “most fun you’ll ever have”, “chance of the lifetime” and “you won’t regret it!”. While I think all of those things came true, this is the best semester and I have traveled and been social, along the way I discovered that there is so much more to Study Abroad than the memories and the fun. I’ve had more fun this semester than I have in a long time and I think I have enough memories to last a lifetime. I’ve played Mafia in hostels all over Europe with my peers and our professor. I’ve sprinted through a train station to catch a train we inevitably ended up missing by mere seconds, only to laugh about it for the next two weeks. I’ve struggled to learn the German language alongside my classmates, poking fun all semester at each other’s attempts to order food. I’ve walked to the top of Dresden, Lisbon,Prague, Barcelona, and Vienna and looked out over each beautiful city. I’ve climbed mountains in eastern Germany. I’ve seen the sun set in seven different countries by now, and the sun...

Tales From Abroad: Midnights in Paris Jul26

Tales From Abroad: Midnights in Paris...

Coming into study abroad I did not know a single person in my study abroad group. I would be spending the next four months in Oxford, England, with thirty people I had just met. The first couple weeks in Oxford were frustrating at times because everyone seemed to be forming relationships without me. Being an introvert it was stressful for me to get involved because I felt like I was intruding. About 2 weeks in, I decided to put myself out there, and I am glad I did. I ended up forming relationships with people I now consider some of my best friends. From family dinners to 3am talks to late night kebab runs, I will never forget the awesome memories I made with these people. Some of my fondest memories are of the nights spent in Paris on our class trip to France. One evening in particular sticks out to me out of all the others on that trip. That night we were scheduled to go on a 30 person bike tour. Thirty Americans riding bikes through the streets of Paris. At night. It sounded like a disaster to me. It had been raining all day, and I definitely wasn’t looking forward to this ride. I had been complaining about it all day and even contemplated skipping it altogether. As we started the tour, the skies cleared up, and I decided to try and be optimistic. Soon, I was laughing with friends and racing through yellow traffic lights. These were the nights and memories that I would remember forever. This is what study abroad was supposed to be all about. Riding through the streets of Paris and experiencing the city with my best friends. At one point along the ride we stopped to...

Tales From Abroad: Leipzig Jul20

Tales From Abroad: Leipzig...

I would say I lead a pretty comfortable, normal life. I have an awesome family and the best of friends. And my years spent in college at ACU have been some of the best yet. However, I also found myself craving something different, a challenge, an adventure. And that’s where this trip comes in. Early Freshman year I came across a brochure for studying abroad and applied immediately — I didn’t know the details of this trip. I didn’t know who I would be going with, or where exactly I would be going, but I knew it was something I had to do. And I did it After months of counting-down and probably an annoying amount of giddy anticipation and excitement, I boarded a plane with a handful of semi-acquaintances leaving all my friends and my “normal life behind” — expecting everything and nothing. Culture-shocked and jet-lagged, the first week was hard as I learned to adapt to my new normal. But I did adapt, and I found myself falling in in love with my new home and rarely thinking my life back in Texas. Yes, I missed the mundane things like Sonic runs with my roommate, and my heart hurt a little bit every time I got a snapchat or a text from friends telling me to come home, but I was too busy investing in my life here. I knew I couldn’t waste my time thinking about all I was missing back home. If you know me at all, you know how extroverted I am. I need people. At school, I surround myself with constant activity and social interaction. As you can imagine, moving to a foreign country with only 14 other people was a bit of an adjustment for me. For the...

Tales From Abroad: England Adventures Jul19

Tales From Abroad: England Adventures...

After a week or so of being in England, one of my friends, Jonathan, came up to me and Garrett, my roommate, saying he had found 20 pound tickets to a town in Germany called Dusseldorf. As we were all big soccer fans, we looked for a game that would be happening in that vicinity. We located a game between Bayer Leverkusen and Hannover 96 in the nearby town of Leverkusen and bought tickets to the game. Finally, Garrett booked an Airbnb in what he thought was Leverkusen. Yet the trip did not go as smoothly as we had planned it at first. This was due to it being the first trip any of us had actually planned in another country. For some reason, we decided to wait until the night before we left to look up the directions from the airport to the center of Dusseldorf. We were shocked to realize that the airport was a two hour drive from Dusseldorf. The airport was almost in the Netherlands. Recovering from our shock, we packed our bags and headed out the next day. Upon arriving in the airport we found the bus to Dusseldorf city center and thought we were good to go. When we arrived, however, we realized we had forgotten to look up directions to our Airbnb. Thankfully, there was a tourist information shop nearby, so we walked in there to find directions. We were in for another surprise as it turned out. The worker described out Airbnb as being in a “remote, little village outside of Leverkusen.” Upon hearing this, I immediately picture a village made up of stone house and thatched roofs surrounded by a forest out in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully, the guide was able to give us...

Tales From Abroad: South America Jul18

Tales From Abroad: South America...

While in South America, we visited many different places but one of my favorites was Peru. As we traveled all over the country using planes, trains, and busses, we were able to go to many historic sites including cathedrals, plazas, and ruins, including, of course, Machu Picchu. In all of this though, one of the things that stuck out to me the most was the roadside petting zoo. I don’t know what the official name of it was but it stuck out because it was the most random thing out of the entire trip. It was toward the end of our travel week and we were all exhausted. We had been on a bus all day traveling up and down mountains and all across the country in order to see different areas of ruins and it was starting to take its toll. I don’t know about the whole group but, to me, all the ruins were starting to look the same and the excitement was wearing off. I was exhausted and carsick and a little people sick. We were on our way to our last set of ruins and Wimon Walker, our guide/teacher/organizer, had just announced that we were going to skip the last ruin. It sounds bad but I was a little happy. My appreciation for the ruins was decreasing and my appreciation for quiet and alone time was increasing and I was ready to be back in the hotel for some much needed rest and recovery. As we were driving down the road, some of us nodding off, our bus slowly came to a halt and Wimon stood up and asked if we wanted to see some animals. We kind of blearily looked at him like, “Seriously? Really? It is cold and...

Tales From Abroad: Oxford and Vienna May31

Tales From Abroad: Oxford and Vienna...

You travel out of control and that’s OK I am addicted to planning, and I have had some really memorable experiences that went just as planned. Incredible museums were visited across Europe, hikes were plotted out along Dover’s white cliffs for awe-inspiring views, and research led to delicious meals at restaurants. But things have gone unexpectedly, or sometimes flat-out wrong and turned out really well. When you commit to traveling hundreds of miles to visit a new place where you don’t really know anything about the city, despite reading a Lonely Planet summary about it, there is plenty that can happen. In Vienna, I wanted to make it to a hill overlooking the city for what was supposed to be a great view. The morning that I planned on heading up there, it was raining in the city, so when the weather improved a bit, I seized my opportunity, hoping the precipitation would hold off. What I did not expect was for the elevation change and leaving the city where the temperature had been higher to result in that rain turning into snow. It also turned out that you had to hike through a very slick, muddy path to get to a point where you could take advantage of the view. A grand vista turned into hiking through snowy Austrian forest in the most powder this Texan had ever seen in his life. On a day trip to the south-west coast of England, my traveling companions both fell ill overnight, so I was on my own. When I finally finished my journey by train and went to catch the bus to the coastline, the destination proved more popular than I thought and my planned method of transport considerably smaller. With all the seats on...

Honors Students Represent ACU at Regional and National Conferences Apr19

Honors Students Represent ACU at Regional and National Conferences...

The Honors College would like to acknowledge all Honors students who participated and received awards in recent conferences: At the Alpha Chi Convention in Washington, D.C.: Hailey Hendricks Amanda Stephens Tina Johnson Angela Fogle Andrew Brown Julia Taylor Jeffrey Wooliscroft received a regional scholarship Kristen Brehm won Best Presentation   At the Phi Alpha Theta Convention in Orlando, FL: Savannah Weeks Abigail Fransen won Best Undergraduate Paper   At the Pacific Sociological Association in Oakland, CA: Tessa Cave                    Barrett Corey                  Wes Robbins Samone Smith             Courtney Tee At ACU’s Undergraduate Research Festival: The award for Outstanding Oral Presentation in the Social Sciences was given to: Courtney Tee                    Barrett Corey                 Wesley Robbins Brie Heinrich The award for Outstanding Oral Presentation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics was given to: David Marolf           Jeffrey Wooliscroft       Tina Johnson Kayla Holcomb The award for Outstanding Poster Presentation in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences was given to: Claire Tyrrell The award for Outstanding Oral Presentation in the Arts and Humanities was given to: James Churchill Other participants include: Annie Bailey                    Maggie Mcalister          Michelle Weidenaar Savannah Weeks            Kylie Wilson                   Soo Hun Yoon Kristen Brehm                Paul Carsten                   Hannah Hamilton Lauren Selensky             Andrew Brown               Samone...

Tales From Abroad: An Ever-Constant Presence Feb02

Tales From Abroad: An Ever-Constant Presence...

When I first arrived in Montevideo, Uruguay, I never could have imagined that a place so new and unfamiliar, on the other side of the world from what I call home, would become a place so near and dear to my heart, a place where I would make memories and build friendships to last a lifetime. I also never could have imagined that during the next three and a half months, I would visit some of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on Earth. I had hoped for just as much, but to see it all unfold has been a true gift and an experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life. During this time of growth and change, I have learned many things, but the most important is this: God truly goes before us and is with us wherever we go. Prior to studying abroad in Uruguay, I had traveled alone internationally and had used foreign languages in my travels, but I had never left home for more than a month, and I had never been to South America. I felt that I would be somewhat prepared, but looking back, I realize that I knew much less than I thought I did. The quirky part about travel, which I had not previously understood, is that no prior trip or experience can fully prepare you for the next. The world, its people, and situations are constantly changing, and with each new journey, there will always be something surprising or unexpected that comes up. In these moments, we have no choice but to turn to the one constant we have, which is God. As I reflect on the last few months, I can say that I felt God’s presence everywhere we went. Standing...

Tales From Abroad: Vignette Carlos Jan27

Tales From Abroad: Vignette Carlos...

Like the perfectly planned spiral grooves on an old vinyl record, the creases on his weathered hands waited to tell their story. It is neither a story for the faint of heart nor one for the judgmental ears of those who think that salvation is met through the process of walking up a single staircase. It is not a story to be pitied. It is not a story to be criticized. It is not a story to be told and retold like some sort of folklore. It is the story of a man whose life is a great war, in constant battle with the world. But the world is not a merciful opponent and is not easily defeated. The world begins its attack at the birth of each child holding a newly sharpened blade to the newborn’s throat, looming over its soft pink flesh, a shadow awaiting its first opportunity to puncture such an innocent being. Many times the world is kept at bay for we, as people, tend to protect our young. We shelter them from the hard things in life and act as blinders for children so that they may not be distracted early on in the race. He was not so lucky; for the world seemed to have a personal vendetta against him and the day he was born the looming shadow snuck a thick leash around his neck and began its twisted game of cat-and-mouse, of loosening the slack on the leash just to rip away any shred of hope with the tense reminder of its grip on the other end and its ability to carve the grooves that tell the story of his life. I looked across the isle of the small over-crowded bus and saw a man who...

Tales From Abroad: Oxford Jan14

Tales From Abroad: Oxford...

Don’t Take Oxford For Granted One of the major draws to study abroad is the amount of travel you get to do. And it is by all means worth it. Just on my semester we had people go to Ireland, Greece, Scotland, Italy, Sweden, Austria, France, and the Czech Republic, not to mention our class trip to Spain. Each of these places are amazing and beautiful. They are filled with ancient architecture, a fascinating history, and a life-changing glimpse at a foreign culture. However, sometimes with the focus being on which far-away place to go next weekend, Oxford gets forgotten. Don’t take Oxford for granted. This is the home of Oxford University and its 38 distinct and unique colleges. The City of Dreaming Spires. A place where the likes of John Locke, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, T.S. Eliot, Stephen Hawking, Margaret Thatcher, Hugh Grant, and Emma Watson have all walked. Don’t overlook this beautiful treasure in the attempt to see the “bigger and better” of Europe. Don’t take Oxford for granted. Make sure you admire the buildings along the road you walk past every day. Stop for a cup of coffee in that cute, local cafe you keep meaning to, but always pass. Walk through parks as often as possible. Find a favorite restaurant with that one meal that you back to all the time. Go study out of the house on benches in parks, random cafes, or quiet spaces. Never go a day without leaving the house. Never opt to do something you can do at home or in Abilene over something unique to Oxford (studying and homework not included of course). Why watch a movie at home when you can explore some of the best museums in the world? Why spend your...

Tales From Abroad: JAM Summer 2015 Jan13

Tales From Abroad: JAM Summer 2015...

The JAM experience was unlike anything that I have ever experienced in my whole life. It was hard to truly call this experience completely integrated because we were only in each destination for two weeks, but it was the best attempt at integration in such a short amount of time. During these six weeks, we were introduced to three different cultures and religions. While exploring these contexts, I came in with an open mind and through this I was able to see the truth, goodness and beauty in each of these narratives.  The truth in the words of the children at Oasis and Dr. Azumah when he spoke on the five faces of Islam. Goodness in the hearts of the couple from House 244 and in the mind of Fred.  Beauty in the mountains by Poblet and the canopy walk we did in the rainforest. There were of course negatives aspects to each of these points of view that I did not line up with just like every point of view. This trip was the final experience that solidifies my beliefs and approaches to life. I am proud of the way that I currently view the world, and I look forward to continuing the adventure.  Justice was the number one theme that I saw in every place that we visited. In England, there was no shortage of NGO’s doing incredible things. From Oxfam to VIVA, there were all sorts of organizations trying to make an impact in the world. I especially appreciated the Oasis school who mostly works on preventing future problems for kids. I especially appreciated that they did not just work on the child, but also, they worked on the family system that the child lived in. I was glad to have seen programs...

Tales From Abroad: Maymester in Europe Jan13

Tales From Abroad: Maymester in Europe...

To you who have never taken your first bus ride from London Heathrow Airport to #9 Canterbury Road, Oxford, it is difficult to describe to you the magic of the English countryside. The grass is green in its purest form and the sky is blue behind the inevitable, gray rainclouds. If you’ve never walked down the streets of East Berlin, it’s impossible to express the incomparable mixture of wonder and tragedy woven into every structure and street sign. A homage to Harry Potter’s Platform 93/4 at King’s Cross Station in London, England In May, I was able to experience these historic cities and more on the JMC department’s study abroad program. Accompanied by over a dozen other students, I traveled to Oxford, London, Fredericksburg, Berlin, Weimar, and Mainz in three short weeks. As a JMC student, I am required to take Communication Law. It is typically a dreaded course amongst JMC students due to its inherent difficulty, but my experience was sweetened by the view of these six cities outside my window. A close-up of Westminster Abbey, London, England Communication Law is all about the constitutional rights afforded by American citizens, which allow us to communicate ideas freely. Many of the ideas outlined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights find their roots in eastern European statutes. Therefore, it was appropriate for us to spend time discussing American law in Europe. In Oxford, we were able to discuss the ‘marketplace of ideas’ while visiting All Souls College, the educational home of William Blackstone. William Blackstone believed people should be free to express opposing ideas freely so that society as a whole can seek truth, an ideal we still revere most highly in the United States to this day. A view of the Radcliffe...