The worldwide Augustana College experience

Being a tourist

The resort is interesting. I have found it hard to be a tourist while here. Not because I am not enjoying it, but because I know of so much of the history and current situation of the island that I am too educated to be a tourist. We talked about how the island has many tourist spots and how the money does not necessarily stay on the island so is it good for Jamaica?

Just seeing the people and the Staff, they are excited for their jobs and this shocked me. If I had to serve people who knew nothing about my culture and had no conscious desire to learn about it, I would find my job miserable. But instead they are fun and joking, and personable. The piano player was even appreciative for us singing with him. With this I realized that while not all of the money is benefiting Jamaica, these people have jobs, jobs that would not be available to them otherwise.

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Living in Paradise

Today is day two at Jewel Runaway Bay Resort, and it is the definition of paradise. We began our journey to this amazing destination at the airport in Moline at 6am Monday, and arrived in Jamaica around 1:30pm. I have never traveled outside of the country before aside from when I was younger, so I had no idea what to expect going through immigrations and customs. Many of our experiences though were a breeze, and we made it through both in a relatively short time. As soon as we got out of the airport and began driving towards Runaway Bay, everyone in my van had their faces practically glued to the window and taking in the beautiful environment and scenery. The first big adjustment we had to get used to (and to be honest, I dont think many of us are still used to this) was that in Jamaica people drive on the left side of the road. Needless to say, many of us had mini heart attacks as we drove around curves and saw cars coming towards us, thinking we were going to get into a head on collision! Secondly, there are goats, Literally (for my Parks and Rec fans out there, think Chris – aka Rob Lowe) everywhere. They just wander the side of the road, trying to find food, I’m assuming. Also, there are many stray dogs along the side of the roads as well, which is pretty sad to see since in the US, dogs are pets for us, and we don’t often see dogs along the sides of our major roads unless they got loose from their house. Another thing I noticed on our drive was the types of cars that were being driven. Essentially, I have only seen toyotas, hondas, and nissans – all asian car brands. Overall, the drive to the resort was beautiful and it really opened my eyes to some of cultural changes that make up Jamaica.

Once we got to the resort, we were practically treated like royalty, as we were greeted with cold, wet washcloths and a refreshing beverage. After this we quickly settled into our rooms, changed into our swimsuits, and made our way to the beach. This was especially enjoyable given that a few hours before that we were having to brace the frigid cold at Augie. The rest of the evening was filled making the most out of our all-inclusive resort, eating delicious food, and doing group karaoke. The one big thing we had to adjust to – and are still adjusting to is having no cell phone service and only having limited wifi. It’s really helping to open my eyes and make me realize how much our American culture relies on our phones.

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Living Jamaica

Oh hey there, Jamaica.

I am here. This is Jamaica. I have tried to snap myself out of this beautiful illusion so many times, but I am beyond grateful that this is reality. Leaving campus at 4 am, getting on the plane, and even flying over the ocean didn’t make it hit me. Living Jamaica did. After the long lines of immigration and customs, we eventually left the airport and split up into our two vans. Then, I finally started fully realizing I was about to immerse myself into the very world I had been reading books and watching documentaries about.

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Every Little Thing Is Gonna Be Alright

“Three Little Birds,” unquestionably one of Bob Marley’s two or three most famous songs, is so popular and so overplayed that it might be considered cliché. Of course, it wouldn’t be so popular if it wasn’t a genuinely great song: simple yet catchy melody, feel-good reggae music, and an important message that everyone needs to hear now and again: “Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing is gonna be alright.” But, again, the potency of the message can weaken when the song is played too much.

Every time I return to Jamaica, though, I’m reminded of the song’s simple truth. Yesterday’s drive from the Montego Bay airport to our current stop at Runaway Bay provided the latest example.

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October 18th-October 23rd

This never posted so it is a little late. Oops.

Day 1 in Salvador

Saturday October 18th

First things first, we had class early. Luckily, our Brazilian mommy made us a delicious plate of fruit, grilled cheese and something I had never had before Tapioca powder. Basically it is a tapioca powder that she heat up in the skillet it is kind of spongy and she put butter on it. It was delicious! In class we discussed women-space, power,and the Afro-Brazilian culture. There is a strong African influence here due to the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. After class, we had a special lunch to celebrate Sao Cosme and Sao Damiao who were two Saints. They are celebrated by distributing food to poor children. We ate caruru which is a veggie (okra) stew. There was enough food to feed a whole circus. We were able to eat with our moms and meet some of the children. One of the little brothers of my classmates sat with me for a lot of the lunch. He is 5 years old and adorable. He also LOVES hugs, and of course will squeeze during hugs. After we finished eating, a group of us decided to go check out the beach. Sadly, the beach is not as close as it was in Rio to our residence but we had the rest of the day off so that helped. I have never seen a beach so crowded. I could barely see the beach because of all the people and umbrellas on the beach. Since it was just my roommate and our neighbor, we managed to walk down a ways to find space on the beach and get some sun. We came home for dinner then went back to a little outdoor diner by the beach where we could all meet up and talk about  our home stays so far. We have to call a taxi to get back up the hill at night since we did not want to risk getting mugged.

Twin Saints

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Viver Salvador!

Last night I was talking to my mom on Facebook and she told me she hadn’t seen any blog updates lately. I told her I would get some posts up by today so here we go!

20 October 2014

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Gardens and free days and statues, oh my!

11 October 2014

This was a free day, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t do anything all day. Well that’s a little bit of a lie. I did laundry, I cleaned the hotel room, I Skyped my family, I bought some groceries, but other than that I did nothing.

12 October 2014

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October 13th-17th Rio/Salvador

The end of Rio :(

Monday October 13th

Our group got to go to the biggest tourist attraction in Rio which is the Christ the Redeemer Statue. I had absolutely no idea how tall it really was or how crowded it would be. First we took a cable car up the mountain. Part way through the ride,  performers got on the car and started to play music. I loved seeing how much music is incorporated everywhere.  At the top, everybody was trying to take the typical tourist pictures and we obviously joined in. I spent a while lying on my back taking pictures  for people so it was a good angle of them with the statue. Since it was such a hot day outside, we knew we just had to go to the beach. We stayed at the beach until we had art class and political science class. We discussed the soccer legend Pele as well as FIFA and how they screw over so many people during the World Cup. We went out with the professors as well as a lot of the students for pizza. I have never hated a waiter so much in my life because….they just KEPT BRINGING SO MUCH FOOD. Basically, you get all different types of pizza brought directly to your table, you don’t even have to serve yourself. So, I ended up hating them for bringing so many amazing looking things after I was stuffed! After feeling like a whale, we walked back to the hotel. In our food coma we watched movies and finished our coiling.

Christ the Redeemer

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October 7th-October 12th in Brazil!

I haven’t had much time on my laptop to write blogs and I guess that’s a good thing since it means I’m staying busy here=]

Tuesday October 7th

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Morro de Providencia and LAPA

Another busy day to add to the books. Today we went to class, visited Morro de Providencia, and had reservations at two music venues in LAPA. In class we covered more about the hip-hop culture that is present in LAPA. After class we had time to get lunch before heading to the metro station to take the train in to Rio where we would meet with interns from Catalytic Communities (CatCom) and venture in to Morro de Providencia.

Morro de Providencia is a favela in Rio that was used for filming both versions of the film Black Orpheus. Now is probably a good time to discuss what exactly a favela is, since not everyone is familiar with the term. Before leaving for Brazil we spent a lot of time talking about the communities that we would encounter, and Rio is famous for its favelas that are positioned on the hillside. One aspect of favela life that we covered was the name that the media has made for the favelas. Favelas are often made out to be dirty, violent, drug riddled, and a marginal part of the population; described as shanty towns, slums, squatter communities, and ghettos. These descriptions bring with them connotations of squalor, illegality, and precariousness. However that is not the reality of many of Rio’s favelas. While Providencia was once described as one of the most violent favelas in the area, it has turned its reputation around with the help of non-profit organizations like CatCom and artists who desire to help these communities maintain themselves.

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