UNH Boasts Five Gilman Study Abroad Scholarship Winners
In December, five UNH students were delighted to learn that they were recipients of the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship to fund their study abroad trips in spring 2013. These highly competitive scholarships provide up to $5,000 in financial support to students who are traveling abroad on university-approved programs four weeks or longer. To be eligible for a Gilman, a student must have financial need, as evidenced by being a Pell grant recipient. All of these students worked closely with the UNH Office of National Fellowships to prepare their winning applications and with the Center for International Education to plan their trips.
Fast forward to spring: Durham and the East Coast endure Nemo as these students celebrate Carnaval in Argentina, soak in Mediterranean culture on the French Riviera, learn how to throw boomerangs, marvel at heated toilet seats in tech-y Japan, and dodge meteors! Here are some updates from abroad on the scholarship recipients’ experiences to date.
Audrey Petteruti enjoying an amazing French dessert in Aix-en-Provence
Jennifer Baker at a temple in Japan
Brianna Cole (right) and friend celebrating Carnaval in Gualehuaychu, Argentina
Audrey Petteruti is a biomedical sciences major in the Honors program and the UNH Center for International Education’s Foley-Jackson Scholarship winner. Audrey traveled to Aix-en-Provence, a small city 20 minutes inland from the Mediterranean Sea, which she is amazed to see is turquoise, not blue-grey like in New England. Her study abroad experience has introduced her to French perspectives on current events, which she says are easy to hear even if you don't speak French. According to Audrey, “Terrorism in France's ally Morocco is an important issue, as well as the gay marriage bill that is currently being debated in the French senate.” On a lighter note, Audrey has been enjoying French social life, though loud music at the clubs can sometimes make communication with locals almost impossible! You can read more about her adventures on her blog.
Jennifer Baker will soon be enjoying cherry blossoms in Japan! Jennifer, a senior cognitive science major, is spending the semester in Nagoya. Her first impression of her host country, town, and university was that everything was so clean! Jennifer, who has been studying Japanese for several years, has already encountered the phenomenon of strange English. Her favorite example from abroad? A t-shirt printed with the quote: “The wolf knows what the ill beast thinks.” Jennifer has been balancing her study of Japanese language and art with cultural immersion and fun at clubs. She has been sobered by recent events, however, noting that “police have detained a U.S. airman in Okinawa for allegedly causing a car accident while driving drunk, the latest in a series of arrests of American servicemen in Japan.”
Junior political science/international affairs dual major Brianna Cole is exploring Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she is studying at the University of Belgrano. She can’t believe how affordable the city is; Brianna notes that the official exchange rate is about 5 pesos for $1 USD right now. She is fascinated by Buenos Aires—a “place full of contrasts. There are skyscrapers for miles, then the next block an enormous plaza or botanical garden, extremely modern and chic buildings alongside old and worn out ones.” She has also gotten to experience a South American celebration of Carnaval, the festivities right before Lent, in the small town of Gualehuaychu, where the streets become a parade of revelers selling costumes, headdresses, and glowsticks. Which is not to say that her time in country has always been an easy ride: Brianna got lost trying to navigate the public bus system on the way to the university for the first day of classes. Live and learn!
Heather Diversi, another biomedical sciences major, is at the University of Wollongong in Australia this semester. Because of the difference in academic calendars, Heather didn’t leave the U.S. until February 16 and classes haven’t actually started yet; however, she has already managed to pack in a lot: visiting the rainforest, going on a duck tour, hanging out with kangaroos and koalas, seeing snakes, dingos and a 4-meter-long crocodile being fed! Heather has also had a chance to experience Aboriginal culture by painting Aboriginal art, watching an Aboriginal dance and learning firsthand from an Aborigine how to play the digeridoo (the iconic Australian wind instrument).
A trip to the Great Barrier Reef has been another early highlight; as Heather writes, “If UNH students could see the Great Barrier Reef and spend the day snorkeling it, they would pack their bags immediately and come here! There are no words to describe how truly serene and breathtaking it actually is. I now understand why it's a World Wonder and I hope everyone gets to experience it once in their life!”
Honors student Kellie Shea is a junior Russian/international affairs dual major studying in St. Petersburg at the Gertsen Institute this semester. The big news in Russia is, of course, meteors! Kellie writes, “They landed in Siberia, so I was not affected by them, but I am very humbled by the fact that so many people in the U.S. sent me messages asking if I was okay.” Unlike Brianna, Kellie has not had any respite from winter weather; in fact, she has been amazed at how much ice there is everywhere. As she notes, “Saint Petersburg was built on a marsh land and its founder, Peter the Great, wanted this city to be the Venice of the East, with boats on the many rivers to be the primary source of transportation. Now, all the rivers that weave all over the city are frozen. They look like an unpaved multi-lane highway or huge snow covered fields.” Check out the photo of Kellie on the banks of the Neva River, the biggest and widest in Saint Petersburg.
Kellie had her first ‘I’m not in Kansas anymore’ moment when she caught a group of three pickpockets trying to rifle through her backpack. Luckily, nothing was taken! She concludes her report by reflecting on her language progress so far: “I have learned so much colloquial Russian here from talking with native speakers every day. UNH has a great Russian program with amazing professors but you can only learn so much in a classroom. I felt prepared to the best of my ability before coming here, but I have learned so much firsthand by struggling through ordering food, buying tickets and participating in school.”
About the Office of National Fellowships: Established in 2005, the UNH Office of National Fellowships provides information, counsel, and editorial support to high achieving students applying for national and international fellowships and scholarships. The services of the Fellowships Office are available to undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni. Contact Jeanne Sokolowski at (603) 862-0733 or firstname.lastname@example.org.