Five Knox students entered in the Associated Colleges of the Midwest Off-Campus Study Photo Contest and won prizes for their photos while studying abroad in Denmark, New Zealand, Botswana, Tanzania and Barcelona.
Junior Victoria Ezell won second place for her photo of Notre Dame entitled “Stained Glass” during a trip to Paris while she was studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark in fall term 2010.
Ezell said that as a Greek Classics major most people expected her to study abroad in Greece but she chose Denmark because it gave her the opportunity to travel around Europe and learn more about different mythology.
“Part of the reason I’m interested in classics is I love the Greek mythology and in Denmark, I had the opportunity to study Nordic mythology, so I wanted the knowledge in order to compare and contrast the two of them.”
Commenting on how she took her second-place photo of Notre Dame in Paris, Ezell said, “I happened to be there at the right time and I tried to take a picture and amazingly it came out.”
Since Ezell did not have access to e-mail for a few days, she did not know she had won initially and was wondering what her friends were talking about when they were congratulating her online. But, after looking the news up herself, she was really excited to learn that she had won because she did not expect it.
“I kind of entered on a whim because I had pictures. I knew it was a beautiful picture but I didn’t realize that other people would appreciate it as much and I’m glad they do,” Ezell said.
Ezell said that while studying in Denmark, it was “a completely different place especially to live” because she was living in the capital of Copenhagen and she had never really lived in a city before.
“Here at Knox you can learn a lot about the people, you can learn in your classes but it’s completely different to see a new culture and to completely submerge yourself in it is an amazing experience,” Ezell said. “It not only taught me a lot about Denmark but it gives you a chance to reflect back on your own life and on American culture and there are things I never realized about here until I went somewhere else.”
“Out to Dry”
Biology major senior Sara DeMaria said she wanted to take biology classes beyond what was offered at Knox but knew she was not fluent enough to take university level classes. Being limited to English-speaking countries and having already been to England and Wales, she decided to study abroad in New Zealand.
Describing New Zealand, DeMaria said, “It’s like every environment possible packed into one, tiny little country. Having grown up in the Midwest, mountains to me are amazing and rainforests and everything. It was a good choice.”
DeMaria said her study abroad experience in New Zealand exposed her to different aspects of biology and allowed her to gain perspective on how Knox has helped her get comfortable with approaching professors for help. She continued, saying, “Also, the confidence that I can travel abroad and survive was really empowering because a spirit of adventure was instilled.”
Receiving an honorable mention for “Out to Dry,” DeMaria took her photo soon after she and other American students in the same program arrived in New Zealand. She said they were introduced to the country by going around sites on the north island of New Zealand, using the currency and interacting with its people. Speaking of one of the places they went to, the Waitomo caves, DeMaria said they did not know they were going to a place like that so they did not have the appropriate equipment for caving.
“The caving place provided [equipment] so the picture was of the rack of boots, some of which had just come off of cavers and some of which were about to be taken on a new journey. I was drawn toward it because all the boots were lined up except for one or two that didn’t fall into their slots correctly and were kind of angled.”
Senior Andrea Houlihan studied in Botswana, Africa at the University of Botswana. Having a self-designed major of International Journalism, she said Botswana was a good fit because she wanted to go to a place out of the ordinary. She said her study abroad experience gave her a new perspective on what she wanted to do, where her “career goals fit in with the world, in a bigger sense” and helped her “realize the point of what education was.”
“It was a place that, for me, challenged my perceptions of what it meant to be African and what an African state was. It was peaceful, calming, fairly economically stable and I was surrounded by peers who, for the most part, were getting college educations just like I was. I kind of rejected any of the assumptions and stereotypes I had about African countries.”
Houlihan said she took her photo, “Mosadi Mogolo,” over her spring break when they went to the north of the country. They went to a village where tourists could visit and learn about the practices of the people there.
Houlihan said, “There was the tour guide who knew English but otherwise, no one else did. So she translated our questions for people who lived there and their questions for us so it was an interesting …”exchange because we weren’t just learning about them. We showed them on a map where each of us is from. So the picture is just of one of the women we were sharing our stories with.”
When asked what were some of the challenges of studying abroad, Houlihan said homesickness was a big challenge.
“You know, you’re in a new place and sometimes you don’t want to leave your room because you don’t want to face this new, outside world and so that was the biggest one. So, navigating being homesick and not wanting to put myself out there but needing to do that in order to be happy and learn and make friends.”
“I think it’s great that the ACM puts this on because it’s a great way for students to get their experiences recognized and win some money.”
Senior Tim Lee, who is majoring in neuroscience and is an ACM campus coordinator, won third-place in the photo contest for “Bracelets,” taken while he was studying abroad in Tanzania.
Speaking of Tanzania, Lee said, “I really like the people there. They were really hospitable. Very friendly.”
His photo, “Bracelets,” was taken at a co-op featuring women of the Maasai tribe, who make jewelry out of beads to generate income for themselves by selling them to tourists.
“It’s nice for them because the husbands usually don’t give their wives much money to work with. It’s a patriarchal society so it’s nice for the women to have some money so that they can use it on their children’s education or their own personal stuff.”
Lee said he wanted to go to Africa and the program he picked was related to neuroscience. He did a research project in medical anthropology by looking at emergency care and traffic accidents in rural Tanzania.
Lee said studying abroad was one of his best experiences and speaking of how it impacted his education, he said, “For one, I really got interested in Anthropology. I’ve never taken an Anthropology class before and now I’m an Anso minor.” He said he asked other students who studied abroad and said that students agreed classes are harder at Knox than abroad.
When asked what were some of the challenges of studying abroad, Lee said, “For me, it wasn’t very challenging. A lot of people say homesickness or culture shock. I grew up with all of that. I grew up travelling a lot so I really felt like home. I really, really liked it there. If anything, I think people should expand out of their comfort zone and go out and make local friends as opposed to sticking with their program group. That was one of the biggest frustrations I had with my group.”
Sophomore Evan Feeley, an undeclared Creative Writing and Spanish double major, won honorable mention for his photo, “Juggling Anarchy,” taken in Barcelona, Spain.
He said, “It was really cool just to go to the Old World and see everything. I mean, growing up in America, you see buildings and stuff and you’re like, ‘It’s 50 years old. It seems so old!’ And then you go over there and everything’s 500, 600 years old. It’s very surreal.”
Feeley said some of the challenges he faced were that it was easy to get lost in the city, it was the first time he had lived in a city so it was difficult for him to make friends but he said he made friends by doing what he normally did like playing basketball.
He said, “The anonymity of living in a city can get to you after a while.”
Feeley took the photo while there was a general strike in Spain against the high unemployment rate. People protested and took to the streets so that the government could recognize and come up with solutions to get the unemployment rate down.
“There was a lot of civil unrest amongst the younger generations because no one really has a job and it’s really difficult to find jobs. What happened was I was walking by the university because I was going to go check out some old buildings for the day but then I saw all these people so I was like ‘I’ll check it out.’ Eventually the riot squad came and everything kind of went crazy. Someone blew up a police car.”
He went to Plaça de Catalunya, the largest plaza in Barcelona. After eating some food there, he went to where strikers blocked off streets with trash cans riot squads could not easily drive through and break up protests. Feeley saw two men juggling and then took pictures of them after they jumped onto the trashcans. “It was just cool to see these people playing in the anarchy of the day.”