Tellus

Tellus: (tel’us), n. 1. [Latin] earth, soil, and the land; a country; the world. 2. a collection of Willamette University student’s insights, stories, photos and thoughts from their experiences studying abroad.

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Hallstatt, Austria »

Hallstatt, Austria

Pinhole Photographs in Rome, Italy »

These images were taken near the art campus at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy. Both were taken as part of my pinhole photography class, so both were shot with pinhole cameras. I made my camera from a small 6×9 inch wooden box with a hole the size of a pin cut into one side.

Photographing ancient buildings and structures throughout my semester abroad helped me learn to observe all of the small details present in structures in Rome. The first photo depicts 3 statues along the top of a church adjacent to the art campus. This inside of this church was extraordinary; however, every single church throughout Rome was comparably decorated and similarly beautiful. Studying fresco painting in close proximity to these gorgeous structures was pretty magical because if I was stuck on how to depict something in my class, I could walk next door and closely observe the work of masters who lived centuries before.

The second photo is of a street performer outside of Castel D’Sant Angelo. This ancient castle was where cardinals, priests, and the pope met before the Vatican was erected. Now a museum, it is a popular tourist destination. In Rome it is common for street performers to gather outside of famous landmarks and popular tourist sites. I remember the day that I took this photo, it was an ordinary day in class, but looking back on it now, the fact that I got the opportunity to take this picture is remarkable. Using a primitive form of photography to document these sites and structures helped me improve my observation skills and my ability to “see as an artist.”

I feel that both of these photos capture the degree to which I felt inspired (very) while studying in Rome. In the next 10 years, I would love to be granted to opportunity to return and create more art.

Argentina 2014 »

Ave 9 de julio

The 8 months I spent abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina were phenomenal! Not only did I learn more about myself and how to carry myself through different groups of people, I learned more about the importance of establishing an international civil community.
In the first picture, I was fortunate to reunite with one of my friends from high school who had contacted me that he was in Buenos Aires as well. Not only were we excited to catch up but also extremely thrilled to experience the World Cup together. Having acknowledged the small town my friend and I grew up in, we both were very blessed to have the opportunity to travel and live abroad. Being surrounded by literally almost a million people on Ave 9 de Julio (one of the world’s largest/widest streets), due to the victory of a soccer game was such an amazing feeling. Granted that I was a foreigner, the unity and excitement that lingered throughout the crowd created a sense of approval that I was becoming less of a foreigner and adopting Argentine values.

Going abroad to Argentina was my first trip alone were I would be staying longer than three months in a foreign country. I left the US a few months before my program started in order to travel and see the most of Argentina. The second image is of one of the ‘almost’ seven wonders of the world–Iguazu Falls. This was one of my first big trips out of the city of Buenos Aires. This trip was most meaningful to me because it was the first of many successful trips around the country. I traveled on a bus that took 22 hours with a companion I met through school. Upon arriving to Missiones, Argentina not only were we tired, hungry and a bit stressed when finding the hostel we booked the night before leaving; we had managed to have a successful week long stay. The next morning we hiked up to the national park of Iguazu. Our first sight of these tremendous waterfalls: the gorgeous jungle background, tropical birds, the weight of the water and its isolated setting–left us speechless. Our feelings of being homesick and stressed had disappeared. Rejuvenating. Just rejuvenating… I cannot describe what I felt that day when seeing the falls for the first time. It was more than just a breath of fresh air away from the city; the strength of the waterfalls encouraged me to live my trip and life to the fullest because I never knew when I would be coming back.

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Baroque Church, Old Town Prague

Living the Dream »

Hanging on my wall above my bed is a picture from a calender of the golden temple in Japan.  The calendar had been a gift my father had brought back for me from Africa.  It was a themed calender that contained pictures of some of the most beautiful and culturally distinct locations around the world.  As I flipped through it I remember thinking how amazing it would be to go to one or all of the places captured in the glossy photographs.  Two photographs caught my attention, one was a waterfall in Bali, and the other was the golden temple in Japan.  When I was done with the calender, I cut these photos out so that I could continue to enjoy them, dreaming of the day that I might get to see them in person. They represented my larger dream to travel, and more specifically to live in Japan.  Almost six years later, I stood at the very building that I had so admired, living out my dream as a student in a foreign country.  To actually live out a wish or dream that I had had so many years before is a feeling that is almost impossible to describe.  It contains happiness, satisfaction, nostalgia, and a little bit of sadness.  For once you have accomplished a dream it is the end of one journey, now I have to go searching for a new aspiration, a new goal.  I can only hope that I am lucky enough and driven enough to rise to the occasion once again.

Igloos and Ice Shots in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden »

Chilling in the Arctic Circle

Traveling to the north of Sweden was a breathtaking adventure from seeing the Northern Lights to dog sledding and a night filled with frozen shot glasses. Nothing prepared me for the beautiful frozen tundra with colorful lights dancing across the snow. If I had been told a year earlier that I’d be visiting an indigenous group of Swedish natives and drinking reindeer stew from a wooden bowl I would’ve told them they’re crazy. That was what my study abroad experience in Sweden was filled with – new and unexpected experiences. When I took this photo it represented everything that it meant to be away from home. I was standing atop the balcony at the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi just a few kilometers south of the Arctic Circle. The day before had been spent dog sledding and snowmobiling and then ended with heating up in the sauna and cooling off in the nocturnal ice lake. Ya, it was pretty damn cold. That was back in February. Having survived the ice lake and my study abroad experience I can say that when I returned to the States in June I felt empowered and changed from only the few months spent out of the country. I felt refocused and refreshed after the experience. I was away from many people I loved and care about which motivated me to seek out new relationships. Among the many lessons I learned is to cherish those who deeply care for you. They’ll miss you when you’re gone.

Don’t look them in the eyes! »

This is a photo taken on a mountain called Arashiyama in Kyoto, Japan.  This mountain is a Japanese macaque monkey sanctuary.  From the base of the mountain it is 30 minute hike to the top, where you can purchase bags of peanuts and apple slices to feed their troop of over 170 macaques.  These little guys are known for stealing from visitors, so watch out!

Hiking Mt. Fuji »

While in Japan a group of us JSP students decided to hike Mt. Fuji or as they refer to it in Japanese, Fuji-san.  The hike went over the course of two days.  We took a bus to the 5th summit where everyone starts hiking.  We left there around 12-1pm and were immediately drenched by a sudden downpour of cold mountain rain.  We pressed on,  hiking until around 4pm where we stopped at a Yamagoya (mountain hut).  We stayed in the mountain hut, dried off, ate dinner and rested until 11pm where we left and continued our trek with the goal of reaching the summit of Mt. Fuji by sunrise.  We made it to the top with about 20 minutes to spare.  The sunrise from the top was amazing and seeing the sun’s rays slowly pierce through the sea of clouds was truly an enlightening experience.  I definitely recommend hiking Mt. Fuji  o anyone staying in Japan for a period of time.  That being said I don’t think I would ever do it again, as they say “everyone should hike Mt. Fuji once, but only a fool would hike it twice”.

A Day in Hiroshima, Japan (Spring 2014) »

This photo was taken at the river by the A-bomb dome in Hiroshima, Japan. On the day my group and I visited Hiroshima, hundreds of middle school and high school students thronged the park and museum grounds. Many of these students were organized and singing like a choir. I took special notice of this particular performance as it was being filmed and conducted in a very organized and formal manner. Their voices in song floated over the river and added an odd serenity that contrasted greatly with the sight of the A-bomb dome. It was interesting and a little sad, considering the horrors Hiroshima faced as a result of the atomic bomb. Yet in the voices of these students one could detect something like hope for a better future, if not one free of nuclear weaponry.

(Definitely click on the image for better resolution).

Prague, Czech Republic (Spring 2014) »

Shimmering

I decided on this photo largely because it was taken in naivety, within my first week abroad. We had been walking as a group through the hustle and bustling commotion of the city and all the while I was too awe-stricken by the sheer beauty of Prague to even notice. I took this photo with the intention of capturing the beauty of Prague on the water and conveying the sentiment of serenity that is ever-present in such an environment, as it is certainly one of my favorite features of the city. Nevertheless, it is important to note that in hindsight I find that while this image is certainly a start, it does not even begin to scratch the surface of how gorgeous, dynamic and captivating Prague truly was.