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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Stars in the Desert »

The stars in the Sahara desert were the most surreal thing I have ever seen in my life. During my time in Morocco, I took a weekend trek out to the Sahara, where I rode a camel into the sand dunes for an hour to find a campsite. The lack of light pollution and open [...]

Los Galapagos »

As a high school student, I reluctantly took Biology class. The only moments that I loved taking that class was  when I learned of the different ecosystems around the world. I remember learning about the Galapagos Islands and thinking “I would love to go there someday”. Through studying abroad in Ecuador the first semester of [...]

La laguna en la cumbre del mundo »

Quilotoa, Ecuador: 13,000 feet above sea level. Apart from the bitter cold (who knew it could be cold on the equator?), the town consisted of 100 residents, a couple of hostels, and one of the most spectacular views on the planet. When I first climbed the crest and peered down into the crater, all I saw was a dense cover of clouds. Within minutes, the clouds evaporated to expose a 2-mile wide crater lake, as if it appeared out of the sky. I felt so isolated and at one with the world, in the Andes mountains 4,000 miles from home.

This is only one of the multitude of mental images from Ecuador that I will always keep with me. Everywhere I turned, from cloud forests to the Galapagos to the Amazon rainforest, I was surrounded by a natural beauty unsurpassed by anything I’ve ever seen. These experiences will always remind me of the diversity of beauty in this world, and will never allow me to settle and stop exploring this rich planet.

Aberystwyth: Constitution Hill »

These two photos were taken while on a hike into Welsh countryside, during my last week at Aberystwyth. I had spent the past three months catching the sun rise from this hill, nestled between the sea and the small town, and watching it disappear into the hill eight hours later. It had been a wild three months abroad, much of it spent traveling away from Aberystwyth. Unfortunately, days like this, which supplied the time to pause and sincerely reflect on the magnificent beauty of the countryside, were rare. Hiking constitution hill was a box that remained empty on my checklist for the duration of my program and after the climb, it was an activity that I had wished I had done on a weekly basis. On the hike, my three classmates and myself were joined by a girl finishing a program outside of Mumbai, where she had spent much of her fall ill and dealing with witnessing the violent murder of her first host family’s handicapped servant. While none of us were able to relate to the girl’s tragic experience, the account of her hardships were moving. We spent the day swapping tales of our sojourn, living the highlights vicariously through one another. True, I experienced the Welsh culture but that is not what I’ll remember from my time in Wales. With nearly 1000 internationals, Aberystwyth is truly an impressive agglomeration of world cultures. With total population of nearly fifteen thousand, I felt as equally influenced by the cultures, world views and thoughts of the Polish, Germans, and Finnish. The sight before us only complimented my reflection of the camaraderie that had been built. I’m not a very religious person but the level of breath-takingly pure tranquility captivating us there, several hundred feet above the Atlantic, subjected me to recognize a higher power. The moment was surely made for Kodak.

Avocados and Fallen Umbrellas: Stand Watchmen and Wait »

{Post 3 from blog}

Ok, so I left off explaining some of the cultural differences that I have seen so far in Prague along with a brief overview of what I had been doing. I am now settled into my flat and it has been a blast! My flat mates are hilarious and we have a [...]

Finding New Zealand »

Sasha Fegan
Queenstown, New Zealand
I spent my first four weeks in New Zealand cooped up in the city of Dunedin trying to figure out where the natural beauty that all of my guide books promised was hiding. I left the city for Queenstown in the afternoon and arrived there in the middle of the night. [...]

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 [...]

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This photograph was taken mid afternoon of Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands of the coast of Galway, Ireland. We were standing in Dun Aengus, a prehistoric fort built right up to a cliff edge with a sudden and severe drop into the ocean. This photo, taken from that cliff edge, demonstrates the [...]

The Secret Garden »

After heading back from exploring an abandoned castle on the Corrib River (in the outskirts of Galway, Ireland), I came across this forgotten shed in someone’s backyard. It really struck me that something so plain and unremarkable could transform into something so beautiful. I loved how the gate had become so tangled with [...]

Fields of gold in Wanaka, New Zealand »

When I heard that the Queen’s Birthday caused classes at the University of Otago to be canceled on Monday, 1 June, I knew I wanted to use the extended weekend and travel somewhere in New Zealand I’d never been before. I’d already visited Queenstown, the country’s mountain-rimmed adventure capitol on the shores of stunning [...]