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.

Author Archive

Hola, me llamo Kara. Tengo novio. (Hello my name is Kara. I have a boyfriend.) »

People ask me over and over again the same exact question, as if they all got together and decided to annoy me, “Oh my god, how was Spain?!” My answer is always honest and simple, “It had its ups and downs like everything else in life, but overall I really enjoyed the experience.” It really […]

Greiving Across Cultures »

While I was studying abroad in Japan, a Japanese friend of mine living back in the States committed suicide. My sorrow was too intense to describe. I could not handle being abroad at that time; I felt that I should be back in America, grieving at the site where he passed away and comforting others who had known him. The Office of International Affairs at Tokyo International University asked us not to talk about it too much with the Japanese students, fearing they’d become depressed. But I couldn’t help but reach out to a few of my closer Japanese friends. I needed, for myself, to let them know that my life had been changed forever. And, looking for reasons why my friend might have taken his own life, I wanted to put his death in the cultural context of his home country. I thought that it might explain everything.

What the Hell am I doing here I don’t speak Spanish »

I have never been more scared in my life than when my plane landed in Quito, Ecuador. I was thinking “What the hell am I doing here? I don’t speak Spanish well enough to get around in a country that speaks Spanish.” I soon learned that it is all about determination. Of course that first […]

My key to language learning »

I hate to admit it, but Stacy was right when she said you MUST create local friendships to truly get the most out of an immersion program. Granted, this is far far harder than it sounds (I met my friends by dating a local boy), but if you can find a way into a group […]

Returning from Abroad – Host Family Experiences in Connemara »

This is not a particularly striking photo, I know, but the memories that this photo invokes for me are striking. In late January 2009, along with sixteen other Willamette students who were also spending the semester in Ireland, I spent four days in Connemara, Ireland, which is a gaeltact, or Irish gaelic-speaking region. We were […]

Roadtripping. »

Free College: is it like Communism? »

I arrived in Ireland not really knowing what to expect other than the stereotypical (although incredibly picturesque) rolling green hills, sheep, stone walls, and the friendly, if a bit wild, Irish. After arriving there and learning more about the culture from more of an insider’s perspective I found out something that really stood out to […]

Leaves on the breeze »

I returned from Keele at the beginning of the summer, approximately 14 weeks ago. Though obviously my time abroad changed me greatly, I now struggle to remember a huge percentage of the day to day happenings that characterised my study abroad experience, and despite the apparent distress of losing large portions of my experience from […]

City of Memory »

Prague is a city which celebrates the harmonious interaction between history and the present. Living in Prague opens your eyes to the importance of the past in defining a nation’s culture and identity. The city’s architecture and memorials not only honor the country’s predecessors and heroes but commemorate the beginning of the nation. The Charles […]

Transitions in time and space »

Taken on Keele University campus in late January, this picture reminds me strongly of my time abroad. Old brick and more modern construction existed side by side, creating a mosaic which showed the history of the university. I walked through this arch almost every day, and each time was reminded of the transition I had […]

Latvia Encapsulated in Icefishing »

Rīga is bitterly cold in the winter. It was -18° Celsius (just under 0° Fahrenheit) in late January when I got off the plane in Latvia and walked across the tarmac to the gate, still wearing the jeans and T-shirt I had on when I left Seattle. The next three weeks only got colder. On […]

A Real, Live Ibis »

Home Away from Home »

“So, are you a man or a woman, like?” »

Spending a semester abroad affects people in many different ways; it can make the timid more assertive, the bashful more forthright, the obnoxious more respectful, the vain more humble, etc. I feel that it draws out the finer qualities in an individual as they overcome language barriers, time differences, social conventions, and culture shock. While […]

An Evening in Valparaiso, Chile »

I took this picture as a part of my extracurricular photography class with Chilean students. It was a class of about 15 students and there was only one other person from the U.S. taking the course. My Professor can be described as an aristic hippie with a dark sense of humor. He took us to […]

Where Am I?! »

‘Legendary’ »

The City that Changed Everything »

Vienna was not what I was expecting. Although, in hindsight, I don’t know what I was expecting. I knew it would be different and adventurous, but I never expected to come out on the other end of study abroad feeling the way I do now. If there is one piece of advice I could give […]

Why Go Abroad? »

I’ve wanted to study abroad in France since I was about 14 years old. I started learning French my freshman year of high school, and continued through high school and college. One of the main reasons that I came to Willamette is because I knew that they had such a great study abroad program and […]

Encountering History. »

In London, History greets you at every turn. Literally. There are monumental locations galore: Westminster Abbey, in which a myriad of historical figures are buried; the Banqueting House, at which Charles I was beheaded; the British Library, housing manuscripts written by Dickens, Milton, Darwin, and Handel; Churchill’s Cabinet War Rooms; the Tower of London, where […]

Empty Pews »

The Doldrums »

I studied abroad in Valparaíso, Chile for 5 months. My experience was a sequence of completely unexpected events. Ups and downs are givens when it comes to a new cultural experience, but I didn’t realize what shape they would take in my time abroad. This entry, titled “The Doldrums,” I wrote as song lyrics around the halfway point of my stay. I chose to submit these lyrics because they really sum up just about everything I was feeling at the time; home sickness, frustration, curiosity, and helplessness.

LegenDerry »

Why I went abroad »

I get off the bus in the middle of Vienna. All the signs are in German—I don’t speak German. I look at the string of letters on the street sign, look down at my map trying to find where I am, where I need to go. Problem with maps, though, is you need to know […]

Dia is Muire duit. »

(In Irish, there is no specific word for “hello.” Instead, one greets another person by saying “Dia duit” or “God be with you.” The second person responds by saying “Dia is Muire duit” or “God and Mary be with you.”) While walking through the city of Cork, I noticed this statue of the Virgin Mary […]