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The Carletonian

Notes from Abroad

<st weeks back at Carleton, dorms have seemed emptier, LDC lines shorter, and the campus generally quieter than you remembered, it is probably because nearly one in ten enrolled students is studying off-campus this fall.

Studying abroad has always been an integral part of the college experience for most Carleton students. Seventy percent of the graduating class of 2009, for instance, spent at least one term off-campus. This year alone, at least 370 students are expected to stamp their passports (or at least make their way through Humphrey Terminal) for a term of adventure. From Tianjin to Berlin, our peers are making their mark in all corners of the earth.

But, rather than wait for these students to come back to campus to share their stories, The Carletonian has decided to bring you some of the smells of brick oven-baked pizza (what’s up, Italy?) and breathtaking mountain views (you too Ecuador) that our friends are experiencing overseas. Beginning this week, we will publish weekly profiles of Carleton students tromping around off-campus with some of their reflections about living and studying abroad. Hopefully this series will give our readers an idea of the challenges and rewards of studying abroad, while providing a fun and healthy way of keeping track of our fellow Carls. (Yes, we’re looking at you, Twitter.)

Rebecca Gourevitch ’12

Background:
Psychology Major
Studying abroad in Arica, Chile

Living situation: Host family

Favorite food: Empanadas (the Chilean version is huge and includes olives and a hard boiled egg. Sounds gross, but so delicious).

Favorite class: Seminar on the Chilean public healthcare system

Advice: Live with a host family! It’s intimidating at times but gives you such great access to the culture.

Have you had any moments in which you felt especially “American?”

 One of the hardest adjustments for me has been the way Chileans view dessert. In my homestay, dessert is usually orange jello with banana slices in it. They use the same word for cookie and cracker, which has the unfortunate effect of all of their cookies tasting like crackers. The exception is manjar, a dulce de leche sauce, which is the backbone of all pastries. However, my host parents don’t seem to keen on stocking the house with such treats so I’m usually left with the jello-banana concoction. It’s a very serious downgrade from LDC cookies, to say the least. And you know it’s bad when I start missing the LDC.

Worst of all, I have not met any Chileans who agree with me that chocolate should be a major staple of dessert. My host brothers have insisted that chocolate is only good in the bar form (although I’ve never seen them eat it that way) and should not be included in any baked goods. This leads me to the moment that has made me most proud to be an American since my arrival in Chile: making brownies.

During a debate about the merits of chocolate desserts—my entire host family vs. a fellow gringa and I—the gringas decided to take matters into our own hands and prove them wrong. Some improvising was needed to get the job done: they (unsurprisingly) do not sell baking chocolate here, and converting the measurement “stick of butter” into the metric system required some investigation, but we prevailed. My family was also skeptical of serving this dessert hot, especially when we insisted that the hot brownie be eaten with vanilla ice cream (obviously).

After all of this skepticism, my friend and I sat my family down, and nervously served them our warm brownies with ice cream. The looks of surprise and delight on their faces at the first bite and concessions of “¡que rico!” was a true moment of triumph. I’m sure there’s plenty of hidden meaning in the fact that the time I’ve felt most proud to be American here revolves around chocolate, but I’m willing to leave the moment analysis-free and just picture the brownie-induced smiles around the kitchen table. 

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