Time for Goodbyes

Hello readers! We have reached our final destination on our journey through the different cultures and lives of AUBG exchange students. This will be my last post for the Multi Media Journalism class and one of my last assignments as an exchange student. In just two weeks I will be ending my semester here at AUBG and heading back to the U.S.

This semester has been an amazing experience and I have learned so much, especially being in this class. From the various cultures, to the ins and outs of being a backpack journalist and blogger, I’d say I’m ending with a world of knowledge! Throughout this experience I sought out to answer the question: What makes your culture unique?884d3e40f31003d2ca6fd2e00a269461 So let’s begin at the beginning… My first post was about Lorenz Aigner. We learned of weissurst and football in Germany. cf12d4a869872b546dd4755930e30a31 Next we met American exchange student Minka Dorer. Her love of McDonald’s and airplanes would leave anyone smiling, but the story of why she came to Bulgaria on exchange will warm your heart. 6b0429dcf7121e4a6493d3e878cdeb18 Ruth Moroney from Ireland taught us that Ireland is more than just beer and drinking in pubs. We learned of the Gaelic Games and the pride that each Irishman and woman carries within them for their homeland. db97d13549d6b7b3f2c75d654b73da6d Our first insight into Spanish culture came from Roberto Herranz. The way he talked about the Spanish language still melts my heart. Herranz is a true romantic. a5f837f6a46ea6a7645f24885936fdab Fiona Rappin from France encouraged us to look beyond the Eifel Tower and Paris when thinking of France. This student who grew up near the Swiss Alps misses French cuisine the most. 0510a51a888759565a8b8b372ddb4d88 Maria Teresa Lopez Cerdan, also from Spain, shared her love of the theater with us. She also taught us a valuable lesson she learned while in Bulgaria, that not every country is as open and encouraging of people to be who they are. She reminded us to be open to different lifestyles and look at someone’s soul rather than their choices. 2808b2335ba54e57579ea633143f117a American Deborah Remerscheid told us of all the great things the great state of Texas has to offer. From music, to food, to nature, and more, we got a great look at life as a Texan.

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And finally, last week’s post was about me. I tried to sum up how wonderful Tennessee is and show the beauty through my words. 2b19adb99b7bb7376daaae97e8059c06  Getting to learn more about each of these students and their cultures has been such a treat to me, and I hope to each of you. I hope each of you were able to learn something you didn’t know from one of my international friends, and maybe even from me 🙂 Along with learning about the different cultures, I got to learn some valuable skills that will help with my future as a journalist. Below I’ve listed a few of the skills I learned 🙂

Twitter

WordPress

ThingLink

Storify

-Five Shot Sequence

-Create a News Package

YouTube Editor

-Windows Movie Maker

Sound Cloud

As you can see, it was a busy semester, full of learning and gaining experience. Aside from learning about the cultures and the technology I would definitely say that I learned a lot about myself this semester. I learned that I truly am an independent person, and that I am capable of traveling over 5,000 miles and making new friends from all over the world. I learned how much I value my friends and family and the people in my life at home. I think the biggest lesson I learned is that no matter where someone is from you can find things in common that will unite you to each other. I am so thankful for this experience and the friends that it has brought me. Its almost time for me to head back to my sweet Tennessee, but I will cherish the memories I made my semester abroad. ba73a09f7fd05fc7e762a3161aab9794

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Tennessee

Since we are only one week away from my final class post I have decided that the next exchange student I am going to profile is myself 🙂

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I’m sure most of my classmates know at least a little bit about me by now but for other readers and those who don’t I’ll introduce myself. My name is Lyndsey Manuel. I am 22 years old and I come from the most wonderful state of Tennessee in the U.S. I attend the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga so I spend most of the year in Chattanooga studying and working. When I’m not in Chattanooga I travel 2 hours away to my home town of Franklin. Franklin is a not so small town near the capital of Nashville. I’ll do my best to share the best of what each city has to offer a little bit later on 🙂

I am a senior this year and my time in college is coming to an end very soon. I’ve had an amazing college experience. I am very involved on my campus through campus ministries and my sorority, Delta Zeta. I’ve held many positions in DZ from treasurer to parent/alumni relations chair, and more. During my first three years I gave a lot of myself to my studies and my sorority and it created for me a wonderful experience. Along with school and sorority life, I stayed busy working throughout the week. Like most college students in America, I am putting myself through school with work, and the help of scholarships and students loans as well. So I stay very busy throughout the year.

Last spring I started thinking about studying abroad. I had always wanted to because I wanted to travel and experience new places, but I didn’t seriously consider it until the end of my junior year. I made the decision, and started exploring my options abroad. When I saw Bulgaria on the list of choices I was intrigued. Unlike probably most of my classmates I had actually heard of Bulgaria, since my father and brother had come here on a mission trip when I was very young. After some research I made the decision to come here to AUBG and I am so happy that I did.

While Bulgaria isn’t necessarily what an American might think of when they think of Europe, it has a charm and appeal of its own. My favorite part of living here has been the variety of friendly and welcoming people. I have loved my experience and will share more about what I have learned in my final post!

But for now, let’s learn about my home sweet home of Tennessee.

Starting with Nashville…. Like I mentioned earlier Nashville is the capitol of TN. Known as Music City, it is the home of country music, and either by default or choice, I’m still not really sure, I have grown up loving country music myself. If you stroll down Broadway on a weekend night you will pass several bars known as “Honkey Tonks” that have different singers and bands who are trying to make it in the industry. If you pass by one you may even hear my brother, Tyler, who is an aspiring musician himself. People come to Nashville to fulfill their dreams of making it in the music business and its so inspiring to see these people going after their dreams. My favorite thing about Nashville is CMA Music Festival which is held every year. This festival is for, you guessed it, country music. Four days of non-stop, day to night, country music. With new acts and all the old favorites there is something for every country music lover, not to mention amazing street food. I love Nashville and I have loved growing up so close to such a vibrant and booming city.

Now we will take a short 30 minute drive down the road to Franklin, where I spend most of my life. Franklin is a typical southern small town; expect it’s not really small at all. Downtown Franklin attracts many tourists each year with its quaint main street and classis southern charm. Shops and cafes line the main stretch as well as Civil War monuments commemorating the famous Battle of Franklin. My favorite part of Main Street is the Franklin Theater. Recently restored, the Franklin Theater has been around since the 1940’s, and is nick named the home of first kisses. Franklin has so much history to offer, as well as culture too. Even though we are a small southern town, there are a wide variety of people, and in the last few years it has become somewhat of a hipster hotspot 😉

Chattanooga, where I attend UTC, is two hours south east of Franklin and Nashville. Gosh, do I love this city. With the Tennessee River stretching through the city, beautiful bridges, and a mountain view that will take your breath away, Chattanooga is an outdoor lover’s paradise. With Signal and Lookout Mountains right before your eyes, there is a huge selection of hiking trails, and if you want something more adventurous try kayaking in the river. I love Chattanooga for all of its natural beauty. My favorite thing to do on a crisp fall day is to hike on Lookout Mountain to Sunset Rock. Here, you can have the best view in the city to the incredible Chatt sunset. I come here to hammock, read, reflect, pray, and take in all of the beauty.

I miss my cities, my friends, my family, and my boyfriend Grant. I can’t wait to go back home and see all of them and all of the beauty that surrounds me in each of the three cities. However, I will miss Blago greatly when I leave. I’ve come to love it and have really enjoyed my time here.

You’ll learn a little more about that in my final post next week!

Bye for now

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Hop on board our virtual airplane and travel with me to the next stop on our cultural tour, Austin, Texas in the USA.

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Personal Archive-Facebook

Deborah Remerscheid, 20, is an exchange student from the great city of Austin,Texas. For those of you who don’t know, Texas is located in what could be called the mid-south with parts lying in the eastern edge of the south-west. Texas is one of the largest states in the U.S. and it has a huge culture of its own. Some people, probably those from Texas, might even say it’s practically another country. But first let’s learn about our exchange student of the week.

As mentioned, Remerscheid is a 20 year old student. She attends St. Edwards University where she majors in English Literature with a focus in creative writing and a minor in music. Remerscheid has a passion for the saxophone, which she brought with her to Bulgaria. She plays tenor, which leads her to play jazz music, and an AUBG student who lives in Skapto 2 might hear Remerscheid’s jazz tunes coming from the music room from time to time.

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Deborah playing the Saxophone Personal Archive- Facebook

Remerscheid loves going to concerts, and lucky for her, Austin is the live music capital. With music festivals like Austin City Limits and SXSW (South by Southwest) and a vibrant live music scene, Austin is the place for her to be. Along with concerts and festivals, she loves to attend the Opera.

“I love Austin, because there is great food, and always something going on. About 2/3s of the year in Austin an event is happening, from Austin City Limits, SXSW, Austin Film Festival, Fun Fun Fun Fest, Austin Comic Con, The Kite Festival, Formula One, Fantastic Fest, The Pecan Street Festival, and Bat Fest.” Remerscheid on her love for her city.

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Deborah at a festival in Austin Personal Archive-Facebook

Austin is a place where things are always moving, and it is considered to be a liberal city known for the eclectic inhabitants and crowds drawn by the music fests. Remerscheid said:

“The funny thing about Austin, because I’ve always thought people consider Texas to be very conservative, but Austin is actually a little liberal island in the middle of a conservative ocean.”

Remerscheid also loves the outdoors. She named the landscape of Texas as one of her favorite attributes of the state. She loves hiking and swimming in the state parks saying that swimming “is the only way to survive the summer heat in Texas.” She named a list of top swimming spots such as Hamilton Pool, Barton Springs, Town Lake, Perdenales State Park, Mckinny Falls, Inks Lake, Lake Travis, Blue Hole, and Jacob’s Well. As you can see, there are plenty of “swimming holes” to go around. Remerscheid told me of a special tradition she has with her mother:

“Every spring my mom and I go out to Enchanted Rock to hike, and afterwards go to Coopers, which is the greatest barbecue I have ever had. And their peach cobbler is to die for.”

Ah yes, peach cobbler. That brings me to my next topic. What does Remerscheid miss most? Food. She loves Texas barbeque. She also describes a Ruben with corn beef, sauerkraut and Russian dressing as her “favorite food in the world.” She misses spicy food as well as the variety of types of food you can get in the States such as Indian food, Mexican food, and Chinese food. She also really misses chips called Takis, which she promises are “amazing.”

Texans are known for their huge sense of pride for their homeland. I loved what Remerscheid had to say about Texas:

“One thing I’ve noticed about Texas is the amount of state pride people have. I think Texas is the one state that people get tattoos of. Also Texas is so large that depending on where you are, there are different accents. Me being from Austin, I don’t have one, but if you go out to east or west Texas you’ll get that typical Texan accent.”

I loved interviewing Remerscheid on her life in Texas because I too lived there for six years of my childhood. It was great to hear someone speak about their love of their state.

Bye Y’all!

My First Storify and Thing Link

Today in Multi-Media Journalism we learned how to tell a story and gather news using Storify. Using Storify, you can use Twitter, Instagram, videos, and various other forms of media to tell a story. We created our own stories with Storify, and the link to mine is posted below. I am telling the story of studying abroad through the tweets of those who are living out the experience. From general info, to the last day in your home away from home. See the story…

 

storify

https://storify.com/xchangingcultur/new-story-1

Along with Storify, we also learned how to create interactive media through Thing Link. Using this website you can tag people, places, videos and more on your pictures. It is a great way to connect your picture with places and people, and give your readers more information on what is happening in your pictures.

thinglink

http://www.thinglink.com/scene/588732408828788738

A World Much Bigger Than Madrid

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Personal archive from Facebook

This week I sat down with Maria Teresa López Cerdán. Like Roberto Herranz from a previous week, Cerdán, 20, is an Erasmus exchange student from Spain. She resides in Madrid where she attends the university but she is from Alicante. Cerdán will be here at AUBG for one year studying journalism.

If you ask Cerdán what her passion is, she will tell you about her love of the theater.

“I love the theater! I think this is my role in life, the theater.” she said.

From her Facebook and Instagram posts showing her theater roles, as well as the way she energetically lights up as she talks about it, you can tell how much she loves the theater and acting. When she was a child of only four years old her mother told her that she must do some kind of activity to combat her nervous nature, so Cerdán chose to attend theater classes. From the first moment she was on stage, she was in love and knew that she wanted to continue theater all of her life. Cerdán really misses being able to attend theater performances on the weekends in Madrid.

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Personal archive from Facebook

When I asked her what the biggest difference between her home city of Madrid and Blago was, she talked about the architecture of the buildings. She said that in Madrid there are many big buildings everywhere and in Blago there are mainly small buildings and small houses. She also talked about the difference of seeing poor people so blatantly throughout Blagoevgrad. According to Cerdán, in Madrid you may see ten people begging for money throughout the city, but here it is more widespread and abundant.

Like most exchange students who attend AUBG, Cerdán has had many opportunities to travel this semester throughout Bulgaria as well as to other countries nearby. She has been to Greece, Turkey, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and several cities in Bulgaria. Over fall break she went to Belgrade, Budapest and Ohrid, Macedonia. Her time in Belgrade was very special to her because she and her fellow travelers met an elderly man who gave them a free tour of the city out of his kindness. She said the stories he shared as he guided them through the city were very personal to him and it made the experience very memorable.

I asked Cerdán how experiencing so many cultures has changed her as a person and she began to talk about an interview she did with Russian student Thomas, where she learned that social norms are very different between countries and cultures. Thomas is gay, but Cerdán says that “he cannot be gay in Russia” and it must be kept a secret. She said this:

“There are people here who cannot be themselves because of their culture, or his city or his town, and it was like ‘there is more world than just Spain’. It changes you because you think that everywhere is perfect, and living in Madrid it’s awesome, but you come here and you see that there are a lot of problems.”

This reality was eye opening to Cerdán because she says that in Spain people are free to be who they are and whatever they want. The interview with Thomas opened her eyes to the fact that the world is much bigger and different than she imagined, and that there are many problems to face.

Cerdán really misses food from home, especially her grandmother’s cooking. She has spoken to her grandmother about this and she is promised to have many meals prepared for her over the Christmas break. Cerdán has loved her experiences here and she looks forward to seeing where this year at AUBG will take her next!

If you want to watch my interview with Cerdán see the video below!

[Today in MMJ class we learned how to use Storify, click the link below for a sample of Storify from Teresa’s fall break trip]

https://storify.com/xchangingcultur/fall-break-travels-with-teresa

Adios 🙂

Halfway Point

Hello readers!

The goal of today’s post is to summarize and reflect on our blogging experience, as well as previous posts. I can say in the few weeks that I have had this blog I have learned a tremendous amount about different cultures and exchange students. From America to Germany, and a few more stops in between, I have gotten to see the beauty that comes from watching a person light up talking about their home country.

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We started in Germany with Lorenz Aigner. An enthusiastic junior with a love for American football (go figure)! Lorenz told us about a German dish called “weisswurst”, and I am happy to say that I will be trying it when I travel to Berlin for fall break. I learned that Germans have a tendency to be punctual and efficient, which are great qualities to have. It was surprising to learn that Germany has a lot of similarities to my home country of America.

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            The next stop on our journey was to a place I’m very familiar with, Tennessee in the U.S. While this is my home state and country, I felt like it was important for those reading who may not be from the U.S. to gain a little insight on America. I talked with exchange student Minka Dorer. Dorer was born in Bulgaria and adopted at the age of six, she then moved to Tennessee. Living in both Tennessee and New York, Dorer has experienced two very different parts of American culture, the northern life and the southern life. She said that it was interesting to see the cultural difference of poverty in Bulgaria vs. America. She said the following:

            “Well, in Bulgaria it’s very different because there are a lot of poor people and they’re mostly Roma people, so-called Gypsies… It’s a very poor country. In American, it’s expensive, very different. It’s a rich country. You don’t see as many poor people.”

            Then we “traveled” to Ireland where I talked to Ruth Moroney. I learned of Irish pride. A pride that is so vibrant and alive in each Irish man or woman. Moroney said this:

            “I have yet to me an Irish person who has not proudly said where they are from.”

            Moroney told me that you can see this pride at the Gaelic Games, which is a huge sporting event in Ireland. The games consist of football and hurling, as well as other strenuous activities. Moroney taught me that while drinking is a huge part of Irish culture, it doesn’t mean all Irish are drunks.

                              Roberto Herranz was next to teach me about a new culture, that of Spain! I loved hearing him talk about his beloved country. You could see and feel his excitement. The biggest thing that stuck out to me during my interview was what Herranz said about the Spanish language.

                       “We have a very rich language, and with a very good and musical sound. We have also a lot of words for similar meanings that only differ among them in one little thing. We also have a lot of rich expressions, proverbs, and of course literature. One of the things I really miss a lot is speaking Spanish but not because I cannot speak English or it has hard for me, but of enjoying Spanish words, enjoying Spanish sentences and Spanish sounds. I really like my language and I feel very proud of being able to speak, write and think in Spanish because I think is one of the most beautiful languages in world!”

            After Spain we heard from Fiona Rappin of France. Rappin mostly misses French cuisine and the luxury of being able to really enjoy a meal. For her being here feels like she’s living in a past world.

            “Life style in general. Everything feels like France in the 1970s… Even if everything is cheap here, it doesn’t mean that life is better for Western Europeans. People don’t act the same way.”

            The biggest theme I saw in every interview was that of cultural difference of the poverty in the student’s home countries vs. poverty of Bulgaria. Each one talked about this subject and said that it was interesting to see such poverty so blatantly. Listening to each one talk about this, it reinforced the same feelings I had been having. While I have traveled much and experience poverty before, it is still eye opening to see and experience it every day.

I think all exchange students would agree that this journey is a life changing adventure. I asked several students to give me one word to describe the experience. Check out the video below to see their responses 🙂

Ciao, Ciao!

Looking for Love, on Erasmus?

         Today, as an assignment for my Multi-Media Journalism course my professor asked us to find a recent news story and localize it, meaning bring it to our campus. We were asked to do a series of things with the information, including create a news package. The following are the results of that assignment 🙂                     

I think most people would agree that studying abroad is all about adventure. Those who choose to seek this adventure may have different motives. Cultural insight, a different educational structure, or perhaps even…love. According to The Independent, a news website from England, a recent study was done by the European Commission that focusses on just that. The results of the study show that one-fourth of Erasmus students hope to find a potential love interest while on the program. The results? Approximately 1 million babies have been born out of couples who met and untied while they were completing the Erasmus program. The study was 227 pages long, and focused not only on the Erasmus students’ quest for love, but also their hope to gain valuable skills to use in their future careers.

Some Erasmus students here at AUBG have heard about this, while others have not. Erasmus exchange student Teresa Lopez finds the whole concept interesting. She said this:

Erasmus exchange student Roberto Herranz thinks the idea of finding love during Erasmus is interesting, but the outcome will be short lived. He also talked about the generation of babies born through Erasmus couples. Roberto said the following:

Along with Lopez and Herranz, Erasmus exchange student Maria Marin Perez also commented on the subject. She said:

“I think that your love can be in all places. So maybe when you go on Erasmus, you find your love.”

While she believes that finding love on Erasmus could happen, she isn’t looking for it herself.

So, while the studies show that many students choose to study abroad to find love and romance, this isn’t the case for all.

Looking for Love, on Erasmus?
A Five Shot Sequence

Erasmus News Package