This is my belated thank you letter, the one that extends hundreds of miles and
oceans wide, the one that I should have written to so many people for so many things, the one that never came in the mail or still lies unwritten on my desk. For the things big and small, heroic or ordinary, important or inconsequential. For the people, moments, and places that have swept me off my feet and shaken my small corner of the world. As the Dictionary of Obsolete Sorrows so aptly describes, a memory, a lifetime, “are not just the moments, not the grand gestures or the catered ceremonies, not the poised person smiling in photos, they’re the invisible things. The minutes, the cheap raw material of ordinary time.”
Four years ago, my family – both parents and all three brothers in tow – dropped me off at Goucher in the sweltering Baltimore heat for my first cross-country pre-season, my first real Goucher memory. After four hours of unpacking, sweating, and bickering, I waved them off with a factitiously haughty, “I’ll see you at Thanksgiving – maybe.” Five minutes later, I was lying on my bed staring at the cracks in the ceiling and wishing with all my heart that my family would hear my silent thoughts and come back for me and take me home. I came to the conclusion that if this was what college would be like – silent, lonely, sweaty – then these next four years were going to suck. Continue reading →
It is 10:23 p.m. and I am walking the streets of Berlin. I’m on my way to Clash, one of my favorite bars, where the beer is cheap, the guys are cute, and my friends are waiting. I think to myself, “Ah, this is my life. Here I am, meeting my friends at one of my favorite bars, walking the streets knowing exactly where I am going, passing one of my friend’s apartments on the way.” In this moment, I am in pure bliss: living a life that feels right, a life that I love. Suddenly a sense of anxious pain runs through my whole body. There are only two weeks left of my semester in Berlin. I find it difficult to accept and even more difficult to believe. I try to live in the moment but how can I when my time here is almost up? One week until papers are due, two weeks until my family comes to visit, and four weeks until I return to the United States. These blocks and chunks of allotted time run through my head and are simply impossible to erase. It pains me to write this.
You might think I am being dramatic. If I were reading this, I would think so, but to me, Berlin is the one place where I have made a life for myself, a true life. My parents chose California, my birthplace. Goucher was chosen for me by fate. I chose Berlin for myself. I decided to live here for a year, have my own apartment, make my own friends, and live my own life. I didn’t just study abroad, I lived abroad, and as much as I want to see my friends and resume my life at Goucher, the feeling is so bittersweet. I think it is so hard when you have to uproot your life just when you feel as if you are finally home. A feeling of security is something I don’t find often as a bi-costal college student. The constant trek home to California every break is draining. Not having a solid place for three years has made saying goodbye to Berlin even harder. However, I know I am so lucky to have experienced what I have, and I am curious to see how I have changed as a person and how I now fit into the Goucher community. I am excited to spend my summer on campus, creating a new home for myself, and re-entering such a warm and loving community that I feel so lucky to be a part of.
“Trust me, though, the words were on their way and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like clouds and she would wring them out like rain.”
– Markus Zusak, “The Book Thief”
My storytelling is notorious. I ramble, mention unnecessary details, forget words, launch into irrelevant rants and forget what I am talking about. So when I return home after my nine months abroad, I am dreading the inevitable question: “So how was it?”
I have spent my semesters this year in Ghana and now Serbia, and have traveled to Tanzania, Germany, the Czech Republic, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Kosovo while abroad. Even if I were able to find the right words, how would I begin to answer that question? Continue reading →
It’s been over one year since I returned from studying abroad in India. I remember like it was yesterday, writing in my blog the night before my plane took off: This is my chance to go and I’m taking it. With few responsibilities midway through my college career, I didn’t have to think long about who and what I was leaving behind, I just left. Since returning, my hands have found their proper place using a knife and fork – they no longer shake. But I’m starting to forget what it meant to live in a country that is not my own, what the value of the rupee is and what the heart of India looks like. Continue reading →
Provost Marc Roy announced in an email to the faculty and staff on Tuesday, Feb. 16 that LaJerne Cornish will assume the role of associate dean of undergraduate studies next fall.
“I’m very excited. I’ve worked closely with LaJerne in her role as chair of the faculty for the last three years,” Roy said. “She is absolutely wonderful in the way she works with students and her colleagues and I am very excited to have the chance to continue working with her in this capacity.”
The Provost first announced the search for current Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies Amanda Thom Woodson’s replacement in a Jan. 13 letter to faculty and staff. Woodson will meet her two-term limit this spring semester and Roy asked for nominations and self-nominations. According to Woodson, other members of the staff and faculty asked to be part of the interview process, including Woodson’s assistant, the Director of the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) Peejo Sehr, and Frona Brown, the college disabilities specialist. After going through the nomination and interview processes, Roy explained, “LaJerne was the best candidate.”
This sentiment continues across the college community. Continue reading →
I never expected to find myself riding a camel in the middle of a Saharan sunset,
spending a night camping in the Moroccan desert, meeting a guy traveling the world only on his bicycle, or sleeping on the cold London airport floor during a ten hour layover when I signed up to study abroad in Berlin. However, that is what the study abroad experience is. Expect the unexpected. Continue reading →
I used to think of myself as an international scholar because I enjoyed reading the international section of the newspaper. I am, after all, an international student from Mexico, studying international relations. Doesn’t that status automatically make me an international scholar? Through ISP, the International Scholars Program at Goucher, I came to realize that the answer was “no” and that my notion was both shallow and insubstantial. After taking ISP, I realized that I am still a far ways from becoming an international scholar, but I have however received the tools and the vision to pursue further studies that may eventually grant me that title.
Being an international scholar does not mean that you know everything that there is to know about the world, or that you can name all of the capitals to all of the countries, or even that you know all of their cultures and speak all of their languages. It means looking at the world in non-traditional ways and asking different questions. Yes, you must be knowledgeable of the world, but it takes so much more than that. It takes discovering different relationships both in history and in the present, understanding why certain social, historical, and political structures are in place, creating a lens for yourself through which you can understand and critique the status quo, and ultimately, it takes wanting to explore.
I have taken these tools and applied them both in my studies as an International Relations major and in my decision-making of where in the world I want to study abroad. In my International Relations classes, these tools have allowed me to dig deeper and ask more questions. I now view the world through my own paradigm that has allowed me to explore new patterns, relationships, and structures. I look forward to further exploring through study abroad and finding the answers as I travel and learn.
Receiving an international education has allowed me to develop a sense of curiosity. I have become more curious of my academics, of the world around me, and of the history underlying everything we do. This is one of the most crucial advantages of an international education as it allows and motivates you to search for the answers to your questions. It motivates you to travel with a purpose and ultimately to question what exists around you. Curiosity, I think, is one of the most essential qualities in taking steps towards becoming an international scholar. While I do not think that I am at the point of calling myself an international scholar, I do think that I have been provided with the necessary tools to one day achieve that, and I think that is the purpose of ISP. Being in this program is eye opening and has in many ways shaped my undergraduate career thus far. I am ready to travel the world and come to my own conclusions because I now know what to look for and what questions to ask. While I may not be an international scholar yet, I am definitely on my way.