Park Scholars Go Global

Park Scholars Go Global

Discover what some of our Park Scholars abroad are doing.

Posted by Kyla Pigoni at 11:41AM   |  Add a comment
Mia is having a great trip to Paris.

By Mia O’Brien ‘15

Prior to jetting across the pond to Europe for the spring semester, I had had plenty a conversation with older Park Scholars who had partaken in the Ithaca College London Center program. Among the various tid-bits of advice I was given, the one phrase, or, rather, term, that stuck out in my mind was “eurostomping,” coined (and passed onto me) by PS alum Willie Sleight ’12. Long story short, when Willie came to London, he set a budget, spent his money wisely, and saw over a dozen different countries, “stomping” his way across Europe.

Because of my chosen career path as a sports broadcaster, I have accepted that travelling across Europe may be a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me (sadly, being a broadcaster in Bangor, Maine probably won’t give me much leeway to take a month off and backpack through Europe). But that is why I really took Willie’s advice to heart and made my own budget upon arrival and have since been able to see (and do) everything I had hoped and dreamt for when I set out on this four month adventure.

During the first half of the semester, I really focused much of my time in London and the United Kingdom, visiting Bath and the West Country, Stratford-on-Avon (home of William Shakespeare), and Oxford while really getting to know the city I am living in. I also had an impromptu, 48-hour excursion to Paris thrown in there, but who’s counting. As much as the London weather certainly was dreary during those first two months and I dreamt of the sunny spots I could be travelling to, I really appreciate my decision to stay in the U.K. most of Block Three. It gave me time to grow accustomed to “flat life,” learn where the best restaurants and pubs were, and to see all that London has to offer.

...but then I caught that “eurostomping” bug and went non-stop for three weeks straight. Beginning in Portugal for Spring Break, I visited five very different cities each with something special and unique of their own. I took a wine, or “port,” tour in Porto, Portugal, walked the shoreline of Lisbon, toured the museums and history of Madrid, and tried to get as much Vitamin D as I possibly could in sunny Barcelona—all on Spring Break alone. The following weekend, I took a hop, skip, and a jump to Dublin, Ireland for some St. Patrick’s Day festivities (magically, my bank account remains reasonable given how much I still have to do... did I mention how important it is to keep a budget?).

After two weeks of “rest” back in London, I’ll be back on the road soon enough, when I travel to Frankfurt, Germany to catch a couple of “football” matches, including the U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Germany and Bayern Munich vs. Frankfurt. The following weekend will bring a trip to Edinburgh and Scotland, where I am really hoping to do the “literary pub crawl” that traces the stomping grounds of such greats as J.K. Rowling. Even on my final weekend in London, I’ll be doing a bit of travel, as I am taking a day-trip to Wales with my Contemporary British Politics Class to see the Welsh National Assembly among a slew of other sights. And as if I couldn’t get enough of Europe, I extended my trip (which I do recommend—gives you more time to explore London this way!) and will be travelling with some fellow Park Scholars to Geneva, Switzerland, and several cities in Italy before I finally head back to the U.S... and somehow make it back in time for Senior Week.

(note: if you’re wondering how I’m swinging all this while still having money to live, travelling by cheap airlines like RyanAir and EasyJet, overnight buses, and InterCity trains are the way to go. Like we’re talking two of us are flying to Geneva for less than $90).

For those of you counting at home, that brings the grand total of countries visited by this world traveller to eleven (if you count Vatican City). But, for me, “eurostomping” really hasn’t been about the quantity but, rather, the quality of each trip. I’ve chosen to go to certain places as opposed to others because I really wanted to go there. I’ve woken up ahead of everyone else in my travel group to go to museums or churches because I wanted to experience them. Sure, the dreary weather we have been experiencing is a nice excuse to sit inside... but why do that when there is a whole city—and continent—to explore? That’s been my motto throughout this whole trip, and, like that budget, I have really stuck to it. Certainly, this new lifestyle I’ve adopted will mean I won’t be eating quite as much in the U.S. as I did prior to my travels (remember: budget!), but, at the same time, I have spent my money wisely and have seen too many wonders to count on my hands and feet.

And so “Eurostomping: MOBrien Edition” continues if only for another six weeks. But fortunately, I haven’t checked off every city on my list during my time here... giving me all the more excuse to one day return to Europe.

Be sure to follow all my journeys on my own personal blog, too! I’ll be here until May 4.

Until then, cheers!

Posted by Kyla Pigoni at 4:07PM   |  Add a comment
Crystal Kayiza in Switz

By Crystal Kayiza, '15

Having spent the past two-months residing in the capital of the international community, I have witnessed an unwavering passion global peace. Geneva, Switzerland is a small bustling community within arms reach of the French border. As part of my program I spend much of my time attending presentations and lectures at the United Nations and other international organizations in areas ranging from migration, access to health, environmental protection, and women’s rights. And recently I had the privilege of hearing Ban Ki-moon—current Secretary-General of the UN—give a public talk. Although I was honored to attend such an important event, what I witnessed was a serious turn in my study abroad experience.

While delivering his brief lecture Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was met with conflict when he began to speak about the current conflict in the Congo. As he elaborated on the United Nations efforts in Africa, a Congolese representative stood and began yelling about the international community’s apathy towards Africa. As she pointed out his mistruth, other African representatives began to do the same. The public display of outrage ended in a brief disruption of the programming and an exodus’s of the protestors. Most of the room sat in silence, anxiously waiting the words of the Secretary-General. But the fire had been put out, and the moment was met with passive acknowledgement of their legitimate inquiry. The show went on, and the room soon forgot the questions of their Congolese colleges.

The more I attend lectures and conferences I find that the complacency with muting the voice of others through funds or political power hinders the international community. And that overwhelmingly the “others” are developing communities. Geneva exposes me to new narratives, and I value the brilliant minds I encounter everyday. But there must be a change in how we approach the narratives of others. As I continue to search for ways to connect my passion for media and policy, I use this event as a reminder of one consistent truth in all my pursuits. For me to be an honest storyteller and humanitarian good intentions should never cripple a community’s voice. To understand the complexity of the outrage found that day, there is a long history that must be taken into consideration.

I may spend more time lounging in conferences chairs than on beaches, but thus far my study abroad experience has pushed and tested me in every way. As I continue exploring Geneva, I am reminded that although the acquisition of this knowledge is an incredible challenge, I will be a better filmmaker and human being because of it. And I am privileged to call the haven of the global community home.  

Posted by Kyla Pigoni at 10:23PM   |  Add a comment
jackson here

By Jackson Eagan, '14

Hello everyone! I wanted to share a cool thing that I got to participate in here in Alicante, Spain.

Being the enthusiastic (possibly obsessive) student of film that I am, ever since my first day in Alicante I have been making it known that I'm looking for sets to work on. I quickly ran out of places to look, however, and so for a whole month nothing came of it. I had pretty much given up hope when on a sunny day in early February I ran into Marisa Pérez, one of the directors of my study abroad program, who told me she had an opportunity for me.

Connections (here called "enchufes," aka "plug-ins") are, for the most part, what make the U.S. film industry tick. That day, I discovered that Spain is no different: Marisa knew a woman who knew a man who is a film director. At the time, he was looking for crewmembers to shoot a music video that week for a nationally recognized band. So before I knew it, I was on the crew list among 15 people who I didn't know, signed up as the one and only "electric" (lighting technician). I had two days to prepare. Talk about pressure!

So of course I stressed myself out. The thing about film sets is that there is so much technical jargon thrown around that even in English, it's tough to understand what's going on. My poor host parents had to endure a long session of me quizzing them on how to say electrical terminology in Spanish. 

The day came soon after, and on the morning of the 6th I nervously showed up to set, with my tool bag nicely organized, making sure to arrive a good fifteen minutes early. This allowed me to chat with the director, Gregorio, who was thankfully very easy-going and anything but intimidating. As the crew slowly trickled in, he explained to me an interesting aspect of Spanish culture: lack of punctuality. While on American film sets it is expected that everyone show up early or at the very latest at the designated hour, in Spain the expectations are much more relaxed (according to Gregorio). Hence the widely used phrase "no pasa nada," which literally translates to "nothing happens," but really means "no worries" or simply "whatever."

I began to set up lights and chat with Gregorio about his vision for the visual style. Eventually, the band showed up and I got the meet all of them. It is a boy band called Auryn, composed of five guys who are all about my age. If you're familiar with the British boy band One Direction, Auryn is the Spanish version (or so various people have told me). They were very nice, and extremely talented. One of the boys, Carlos, has blond hair and therefore looks a bit like me, so I joked around with him about stepping in as a stunt double if he had to do something dangerous!

Another cool thing about the shoot is the woman who plays the "femme fatale," Úrsula Coberó, is a relatively famous actress in Spain. During the shoot, however, I had no idea. Now I hear her name all the time; I even randomly saw her on TV today!

We filmed in five different locations that day and ended up wrapping at 5:00 in the morning. The night scenes were especially arduous because of the gale-force winds and the icy-cold air temperature of 40 degrees Farenheit (wink wink, Ithacans). It was a very long but rewarding day! I kept in touch with almost everyone on the crew afterwards (remember what I said about connections!) Since the music video shoot, I have gotten to attend a hands-on lighting workshop at the "Ciudad de la Luz" Film School and I have worked on a short film set as an electric. I've heard about several shoots coming up in March, and so I am hoping to work on them as well!

In conclusion, I'll leave you with the final cut of the music video, which was only just released a few days ago! For those of you who are interested in lighting, I was only responsible for keys, fills, and backlights. I can't take any credit for the crazy club lighting!

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