LGBTIQ Student Testimonials in Turkey

Below you can find three testimonials from students participating on UCEAP programs in Turkey.

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As a gay male graduate student I experienced a mixture of tolerance and intolerance while studying in Ankara, Turkey. Overall, I felt generally comfortable during my time in Turkey and never feared that my safety would be in jeopardy due to my sexual orientation as I often blended in with the general population. However, I could not say that this would necessarily be the case for someone more gender-nonconforming than me or for a same-sex couple. I would have felt very uncomfortable holding hands or kissing a boyfriend on the streets of Ankara. Among younger Turkish friends I did not hide my sexual orientation and discussed GLB* issues with some of these friends. As with most countries, the younger generation in Turkey is more accepting of GLB individuals than the older generations. However, homosexuality remains a taboo subject in the larger Turkish society. I did not disclose my sexual orientation to my host family, but I did not lie about it either. I would do my best to avoid any questions about dating or significant others. In the few discussions I had with my host mother regarding GLB individuals, she was largely supportive, even saying that it was good that individuals could marry people of the same sex in parts of Europe and the U.S. while acknowledging that it was unfortunate that they could not in Turkey. Same sex sexual contact was decriminalized in Turkey over 150 years ago, but there are still no formal legal protections for GLB individuals. Many GLB Turks face discrimination in employment, housing, the military, and greater society; however, I would say that international students (especially from the U.S.) are largely spared from these types of incidents, at least from my experience in Ankara. At the language school where I studied most teachers were also very progressive and supportive of GLB students. However, the first instructor I had during my program revealed to our class the prejudiced and antiquated views she held on GLB people during a class discussion. From her point of view GLB people were mentally ill and must have experienced some sort of trauma in their youth to make them that way. A very uncomfortable debate occurred between the instructor and a few of the American students while the other GLB identifying student and I simply sat in silence. It was a troubling experience to have an instructor express such views. Both the language institute and the U.S. State Department staff were quick to act when we reported this incident, and the instructor was replaced for the remainder of our program. Overall, I would say Turkey (especially Ankara and Istanbul) is one of the safest countries in the Middle East for a GLB identifying American student to study abroad. Among Southeastern European countries, Turkey is not much of an outlier in the same terms.

*I only refer to GLB individuals, because transgender individuals face many different challenges than cisgender GLB individuals do. I cannot speak to how their experiences in Turkey would be and think it would be pertinent to ask someone who identifies as transgender to share their experiences.

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Well for starters I would say that my experience in Ankara was most likely different than other study abroad programs. Out of 22 students there were 4 of us that I think identified as LGBTIQ. Also LGBTIQ was A. who was our study abroad facilitator. So those two things alone probably made it different than other programs. I am not one that has the luxury of choosing the closet whenever convenient, as one friend once said “Helen Keller would even know you’re gay.” That being said I never felt unsafe in Turkey due to my sexuality or faced intolerance, but then I was not on the prowl looking for men or looking for gay establishments. Now that is not to say that I might have faced intolerance and just mistook it for just a random rude person. Before I had arrived in Turkey I had heard some very scary things about being LGBTIQ in Turkey and other predominantly Muslim nations, even the CLS handbook stated in a roundabout way that one might consider being closeted while there. Turkey is an odd place sexually; I’m sure the warnings that the LGBTIQ students got before leaving did have some validity. But while I was there I once saw a transman walking down the street blowing kisses to all the men she passed, and surprisingly they would smile or cat call back at her knowing full well that it was a trans male. Instead of sexuality that had more to do with the idea of masculinity in Turkey. I would say that my time in Turkey was incredibly enriching and I would suggest just as LGBTIQ people have to be extra aware in certain areas and places in the United States they should do similarly when traveling overseas.

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I aim to give an overall telling of my experiences in Istanbul and Ankara. My experiences in Turkey as a lesbian overall were quite positive.  In some ways, it’s much easier there than in my small Pennsylvania town.  I guess the first place to start is that no one ever thought I was actually a lesbian.  In the US, between my short hair and I guess general demeanor, I’m usually instantly pegged as a lesbian.  This literally never happened in Turkey.  My host family, friends, and strangers all assumed I was straight (sometimes kind of forcefully-see below) which made my life easier in a bunch of ways.

When I first got to Turkey, I was worried about wearing my usual clothes (nothing crazy, just V-neck tees, shorts over tights, boots-things that normally scream “gay” to Americans), but that quickly subsided.  Though most days I wore long skirts (out of weather-related necessity), if I wanted to go out in my usual clothes, no one batted an eye.  People tend to notice the fact you are American much more quickly than to even think you might be gay.  It’s just really not on their radar at all.

I think because it’s not on their radar, sometimes the assumed heterosexuality can be annoying.  My host mom offered to set me up with probably 75 different boys and would not be told no. The fact I didn’t have a boyfriend meant I definitely needed one in her eyes.  Also, the short hair was really noticed by men who thought it was really interested.  I got a lot of attention on buses, on the streets, generally out and about, because of it.  It does draw in quite a lot of attention, which mostly manifests itself as flirting from men (which nearly all of my American friends dealt with too).  So, blending in can manifest itself as everyone assuming you’re straight, which can be annoying.

I never told my host family in Ankara, but I did tell the family that I nannied for in Istanbul, that I was gay.  I didn’t feel comfortable making that leap with the people I was living with my first summer, simply because due to language skills it was really hard to gauge exactly what they thought on the issue.  My host family was super modern though, so I doubt it would be a problem, but it’s not something I would take a chance on.  This was hard at times, but was ultimately my own choosing. It’s something to be aware of though.  Being “out” is a hard conversation to have, especially if you’re learning. My second summer, I did tell the family I worked for, mostly because my Turkish had improved and they spoke enough English that I could get a read on their thoughts. It was a non-issue in that case.

I told nearly all my Turkish friends though that I was a lesbian, and it was no big deal at all.  They took that information and never treated me differently for it. Most were curious and asked a lot of questions in the exact same manner my friends from home acted.

My only caveats to all this is that all my experiences were with Ankara or Istanbullus, most of whom were young and fairly western.  I only spent a day in Konya and a weekend in Kapadokya, so I can’t speak for other places.

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For more information regarding Queers abroad, please visit our website.

Slugs of the World: Austin

Another Slugs of the World feature!  This time we talked to Austin Downs, a second-year Politics major at UCSC.  For the past year he’s been participating in three different UCEAP programs across three continents.  Following a summer program in Argentina, Austin then studied at University College London for the fall, and then finished his year long tour at the University of Auckland in New Zealand in the spring.  We sent some questions his way and you can read his answers below.

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Q: How did you decide to participate in three different programs in one year?

A: I got my original love for travel from my parents growing up. When I came to UCSC, my sister at UC Irvine participated in a UCEAP program in Madrid and I saw how much fun she was having along with how much she was advancing her undergraduate career. When she returned, I knew I desired to take advantage of the opportunity that UCEAP offered. After talking it over with my parents and getting a lot of help from my sister, we realized that I had the capability to spend an entire year abroad and we seized the moment! As for what made me decide which programs to decide, I chose Argentina to help solidify my secondary language of Spanish and study Latin American politics. For England, I knew I wanted to spend a semester in Europe and the UC Center London had everything I was looking for – a politics course alongside British social classes. Lastly, I chose my program in New Zealand mainly because Oceania was one of the regions of the world I had not seen and had heard such amazing things about New Zealand from friends and past participants.

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Q: How have you managed being immersed in a different culture every few months for the last year?

A: Being immersed in a different culture every few months has been quite challenging but equally rewarding. To best manage this, I have come to find that engaging in a physical cultural activity really helps me feel like I belong and also imprint on to me the meanings behind cultures. For instance, in Argentina I took private tango lessons and a Maori dance class while in New Zealand that, when combined, has helped greatly in immersing myself into a country’s culture. Above all, it’s great to know that I can now impress all of my friends with either the tango or an empowering warrior dance!

Q: Have there been any particularly challenging times abroad?

A: The most challenging times abroad have not been challenges that have arisen from my current program, but rather from preparing for my next one! As I was nearing the end of my second program in the UK, I was already well underway for getting things in order for my third program in New Zealand – applying for university housing, classes, and my student visa. In fact, being an American citizen in the UK while trying to apply for a New Zealand student visa was some of the most nerve-wracking weeks of my entire life. I only got my passport back two days before leaving for New Zealand and was almost certain I was going to be late for my program’s orientation. Additionally, keeping care of myself was something more difficult than I could have anticipated. Halfway through my summer program in Argentina, I was diagnosed with a severe toe infection that rendered me bed-ridden for the remainder of my program. Sadly for me, the infection carried over into my fall program and after months of treatment and a hospital visit while holidaying in Florence, Italy, I finally underwent surgery to remove the infection towards the end of my second program. Take care of yourself Slugs and familiarize yourself with UCEAP health coverage!

Q: What has been one of your favorite memories?
A: Out of the countless unforgettable memories I have made during my year of travels, one stands out to me above the rest: playing for the University of Auckland’s volleyball team. After failing to make University College London’s soccer team in the fall and the University of Auckland’s soccer team in the spring, I gave international sports one last shot and gave it all I had. Upon hearing the news that I had been selected to the team, I was so proud of myself for my persistence that I couldn’t stop dancing in my room for at least thirty minutes! When I received my university jersey for the first tournament of the year, I remember holding the jersey so tightly in my hand and beginning to tear up. Before going abroad, it was a dream of mine to play for a sport’s team abroad and it felt so unbelievably rewarding to see that dream realized.

 

Q: What would you say to someone considering studying abroad?

A: Studying abroad during your undergraduate career is one of the best choices you can make. In addition to being able to travel the world and see places you’ve always dreamed about seeing, it really changes you on a personal level. Before going abroad, I didn’t really know the kind of person I was or what my academic passion was. Through the courses I took and immersion I participated in, being abroad really showed me what I wanted to do once my time was up. Whether it be maturing and growing as a person or wanting to pursue my postgraduate education internationally at one of the school’s I attended, the benefits are truly endless. The only real way to know what you want to do with your life back in California is to leave it and filter out what is or is not important to you.
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Thanks to Austin for sharing his experience! If you’ve studied abroad we want to hear from you. Send us an email to programsabroad@ucsc.edu and tell us where you studied!

Serene in Berlin

Serene Tseng studied abroad in Germany, capitalizing on a spontaneous internship opportunity offered by a tourism magazine.  Read about her exciting experience working for Where Berlin in her own words below.

“I’ve wanted to write for a magazine ever since I was in eighth grade. It started out as just

an idea that formed absentmindedly while I was browsing the wall of magazines at Borders. In

12th grade, I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and felt immensely inspired to work for a

magazine, intending to bring true information to the readership, just as the journalist in the series

does. With this seed planted in my head, I came to Berlin in late August and started thinking

about what I wanted to gain from studying abroad.

Berlin can be overwhelming at first, so I was unsure about what type of internship I could

find. All I knew was that I wanted the subject matter to be relevant to my academic interests,

them being German, linguistics, and history. As luck would have it, Jaimey, the regional EAP

director, sent out an email looking for an intern for the tourism magazine called Where Berlin,

and I immediately sent him a copy of my resume. After a few days, the editor, Solveig, contacted

me to fill out an intern test, something completely foreign to me. The proofreading was easy, but

the writing part I felt a little unsure about. Luckily, there was nothing to worry about, as I was

then invited to get a feel of how the publication works. After the tour around the office-

warehouse hybrid, Solveig asked me if this was something I could see myself doing. Would it

have been appropriate to shout, “YES!!” right then and there? In the end, I settled for a more

subdued, “Of course!”, and the training started the week after.

Predictably, I started out small with 100-word writing assignments, but as I began to

crank them out with relative ease, Solveig would give me more assignments to challenge myself.

As such, I took on the challenge of finding and personally interviewing an artist who I felt

embodied Berlin especially well. Although the magazine is entirely worked on and printed in

English, email correspondence is done almost exclusively in German, so I emailed Berlin-based

instrumentalist and composer Oskar Schuster and made the interview request. It was nerve-

wracking at first, as I wasn’t the most confident in my German, but it turned out to be a personal

accomplishment when the communication went smoothly and the issue containing the interview

was finally published in March. As an unexpected bonus, after overcoming this challenge, my

German language skills were trusted enough for the sales department to ask me to do translations

for ads, thereby furthering my confidence.

Interning at Where Berlin has also presented the opportunity to become familiarized with

the monthly creation process of each issue, from the initial brainstorming stage, which usually

involves me sharing what I did over the weekend; to the researching and writing stage; to the

first, second, and third rounds of corrections; to the final book proofing. Deadlines approach, and

the written work gets placed into the actual layout of the magazine to be printed. The routine is

the same every month, and it can get tedious after a while. Luckily, Solveig thought it was

appropriate to introduce me to Adobe InDesign, as, according to her, having the knowledge to

make proofreading corrections directly on the layout is essential in working in the editorial field.

Incidentally, the pedagogical and ongoing hands-on training I am able to attain working as an

intern at Where Berlin has been endlessly beneficial.

Most of the time, we don’t have the time to attend press events for the exhibitions we

write about, but on one rainy Friday morning in December, I did attend one out of Solveig’s

encouragement. It was for the opening of a new exhibit consisting of artwork by female artists at

the gallery known as “me Collectors Room.” The experience is one that I’ll never forget. I felt

important, as if both the gallery and the magazine depended on me. On the one hand, the art

gallery needed me to understand the message of the exhibition and the works presented in order to

impart an accurate message in the publication. As for the magazine, they depended on me

because I was to write an opening article for that month. I realized from the responsibility that

rested on my shoulders that what I’m doing affects many more people than just those

immediately involved, that my actions have the potential to reach beyond the readers who pick

up the magazine in their hotel lobby.

I consider this internship opportunity my first step into the real world, outside of the

safety bubble university provides. This is me answering Solveig’s first question with that extra-

loud affirmative, “YES!! I can see myself doing this!” Writing for a magazine, reaching and

potentially affecting the lives of the readers, even if it’s just a unique sightseeing

recommendation, has essentially made this internship experience a validating dream come true.”

The website of the magazine publisher, where issues can also be found:

http://www.dinamix.de/where-berlin/

Slugs of the World: Elyse

Slugs of the World showcases UCSC students who left Santa Cruz and experienced the world! This time on Slugs of the World we’re talking to Elyse who studied abroad at Thammasat University in Thailand in Fall 2014. 

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Q:  How did the culture in Thailand effect you?
A: The culture in Thailand is very rich compared to anything I’ve ever experienced. As a country who has never been colonized, Thai ideals and values permeate through every aspect of daily life from building restrictions to conversation topics. While it was very different, it was really amazing to exist in such a culture heavy place.
Q: Can you share one of your favorite memories from your time in Thailand?
A: My absolute favorite memory from Thailand was from the day I spent at Erawan National Park in Kanchanaburi. We walked through seven waterfalls and at the end climbed to the top of one and found this little cove of crystal blue water overlooking the entire park. There were butterflies everywhere and it was the purest feeling of bliss I’ve ever felt.
Q: What was the hardest or most different part of living in Asia?
A: The hardest part of being in Asia was sticking out like a sore thumb because I am white. People will give you odd looks, raise their prices, and literally fight with people around you to get your business. No matter the language I spoke or clothing I wore, everyone knew I wasn’t Thai and that left me vulnerable to tourist schemes and varying interactions with others. That being said, it wasn’t a dehabilitating issue. I was aware of it and made pretty easy judgement calls about things. People there are generally very nice, but its important to be aware of your place in their society and to respect their beliefs and values.
 
Q: How did the academics abroad compare to here at UCSC?
A: Academics abroad were quite different. It definitely depends on what program you’re in but as a Thai Studies student I found it very simple to do well in class. It really depends on your classes but in general, many students found it easier than school here.
Q: What would you say to anyone thinking of studying abroad in Thailand?
A: I would say that you need to go. Thailand is an absolutely amazing country that’s rich in nature, culture, religion, politics, and great food. While you’re there definitely take advantage of cheap prices and its close proximity to many other amazing countries such as Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Go everywhere you can in Thailand because it really has everything.

Thanks to Elyse for sharing her experience! If you’ve studied abroad we want to hear from you. Send us an email to programsabroad@ucsc.edu and tell us where you studied!

Slugs of the World: Danielle

Hi slug travelers! Once again on Slugs of the World we’ll be taking a trip down memory lane to see what it was like for fellow banana slugs to leave UCSC and see the world!

Danielle graduated in 2014 and remembers her experience studying abroad in South Africa in 2012 as one of the best parts of her undergraduate career.

Danielle at the top of Table Mountain, facing south west to the Cape of Good Hope.

 

Q. What made you decide to study abroad in South Africa?

A. I knew I wanted to participate in EAP from the very first OPERS fair in fall of my freshman year. I love traveling- and study abroad seemed like a wonderful opportunity. I was worried about how the language barrier would affect my studies, but I also wanted a cultural experience. After recommendation from one of the seniors in my sorority, (Tri Chi) I looked at the South Africa program. I had taken an African history class and I was fascinated by the amount of global and societal change in the past 20 years. So, South Africa picked me. Essentially.

Q. How did studying abroad change your undergraduate experience?

A. It changed in every possible way. It was more challenging, because it took time and effort to complete the application and program along with my UCSC studies, but it was much more rewarding than I ever expected. I gained so much independence, confidence, and experience working with other cultures, as well as an ability to…take chances? Make mistakes, and learn from them. I learned a great deal about my abilities.

Before bungee jumping on Bloukans Bridge.

 

Q. Tell us a memorable story from your time in South Africa.

A. This is a really hard question, because there are absolutely endless memories and experiences, but I’m choosing one of my favorites. My friends visited and we decided to go on a hike. After losing our way, we ended up climbing to the top of table mountain. It actually took all day, and we were completely exhausted. While were at the top, the siren went off, signaling all climbers to head to the gondolas (to get off the mountain at night). While waiting in line, we got to see the most spectacular view of Cape Town and the surrounding area at night, something very unique, special, and completely unexpected. Moral: When things don’t go according to plan, there’s always a bigger picture.

Bungee jumping 260 meters off the highest bungee bridge in the world.

 

Q. Did you experience culture shock or reverse culture shock?

A. I think, because of how westernized Cape Town is, it wasn’t too much of a culture shock. I did get homesick, the time difference is 9 hours and that’s hard. However, whenever I felt out of sorts, I just let myself be fascinated, amused, amazed, and just enjoyed every single moment. It’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced. Make the most of it.

Q. Now that you have graduated what skills from your time abroad have helped you further your professional career?

A. Currently, I work as a Family Services Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity. The amazing part of my job is working with new applicant families, from many different cultures and backgrounds, some of which don’t speak English very well, or require translations. EAP prepared me to be open minded to all walks of life, and work with many different cultures. I also maintain contact with my friends from Norway and South Africa, and I hope to visit them someday.

Thanks to Danielle for sharing! If you studied abroad we want to hear about it! Email us at programsabroad@ucsc.edu and tell us where you went.

Ask Our Peer Advisors!

Tuesdays are a time of reflection for all of us at the International Education Office. Fondly remembering those days at caa caa teng eating Hong Kong french toast, or the humid Spanish nights eating fried chipirones and paella with a glass of red wine (basically eating anything at all abroad), we peer advisors look for any excuse to reminisce about our glory days abroad.

This Tuesday, we ask the peer advisors to let us know why they think students should study abroad. See what they said!

Lauren (Hong Kong): Though the actual coursework was great, the real value of studying abroad  was getting out of my California comfort zone and feeling like I could thrive in an environment that was completely foreign to me. Also the food was awesome.

Eric (Spain): It’s just the best decision you can make as an undergraduate. It really is though. I learned so much from not actually being at UCSC, but just being somewhere new. I also got the opportunity to visit 14 different countries outside of Spain.

Hilary (New Zealand): I got to check life goals off a list I didn’t even have. Like I saw penguins and touched an octopus. Bazinga!

Jasmine (Spain): Studying abroad will always remain an integral part of who I am. It has helped me become more of a global citizen, more aware of the surrounding world.

Katie (Russia): You should definitely experience being a foreigner. Yeah, I loved it.

You can study abroad too! Come to our office hours Monday-Thursday 9-11 & 1-4 in the Classroom Unit Building Room 101. We’d love to chat with you more about our experiences and help you plan yours!

A Few Words on 2013-2014

Hello educated travelers!

Welcome to UC Santa Cruz’s Official Study Abroad blog! In the past, we’ve featured UCSC writers abroad sharing their stories through our blog’s home page. With the new academic year just beginning, we’d like to take this opportunity to change our formula and feature other great countries, returnees, students abroad currently and offer more opportunities for you to study and work abroad. We hope you find this blog informative (and interesting to boot)!

The UCSC International Education Office is the number one resource for slugs to go abroad. We want to help you see the world!

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Kuchipudi Bell Pooja Ceremony

This week in Kuchipudi class (that’s the dance class I’m taking here, Kuchipudi is the traditional dance of Andhra Pradesh province…) we had a pooja (sort of like a seder) to get our bells! Kuchipudi is danced with thick bands of ankle bells, and getting them is a very special ceremony. We had to bring all the supplies for the pooja (flowers, camphor, incense, a candle, turmeric powder, a coconut, sweets to snack on afterwards and a gift for the professor), and our professor brought a statue of Shiva, the god dancers pray to.

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So we draped Shiva with the flowers, burned the incense and our professor said the prayers while we placed our bells around the base of the Shiva. Then she dabbed each of us with the turmeric powder on our foreheads (in the place of a bindi, the dot between the eyes) and we waved the smoke of the camphor over our heads. Then we picked our bells back up and our professor put them on us, and then we were officially Kuchipudi dancers with our very own bells!!

Below is my professor putting the turmeric on our TA (who is appropriately named Shiva 🙂 ).

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We’d all dressed up fancy for the ceremony, not thinking we’d actually be dancing that day, but we did have practice after all. And it was much much more fun with the bells on (though then people could clearly tell when you were trying to practice the step while the professor was talking… 😛 ).

My professor putting on my ankle bells!

We will be performing and the SIP Cultural Night this coming month and will be wearing the bells for that, we’ll also be in heavy full costume but those we will be renting. But the bells we get to keep and now we’re really Kuchipudi dancers!

My bells!

Happy Birthday Ganesh!

September 20 2012 —

Yesterday was Ganesh’s birthday and the Ganesh festival will be celebrated for the next 9 days. Ganesh is one of the Hindu Trinity gods, he’s the elephant one with all the arms, and he’s my favourite because he is the remover of obstacles, pray to him before you go off on a trip!

Ganesh in Lingampally Markey (Very close to HCU [my] campus).

The Ganesh festival is celebrated with Poojas (which is sort of like a seder), and the Ganesh idol (statue) is the most important part. We’ve been seeing these carted all around town for weeks now. From small ones sitting on the lab of the guy on the back of the motorcycle, to huge ones in the backs of trucks! And… Hyderabad boasts the record for the largest Ganesh! It’s several stories high and we will go and see it next week! (They go crazy with this holiday in Mumbai too but I think we still have them beat.)

My favourite Ganesh we saw on the streets of Hyderabad (near Koti), a buff one standing on an alligator!!

So what should Ganesh look like? Well he has big ears to show that you should listen, and small eyes to show that you should concentrate. And in his left hand he holds a ball of ghee, his favourite food. A small mouse is always at his feet to eat the crumbs that he drops. And his right hand is raised in greeting. This is the basic Ganesh but then of course there are tons of derivations. I learned this from a woman running at Ganesh making workshop for school kids here in Hyderabad. A bunch of us CIEE kids went, pretending to be actual kids, and got in on the workshop with the guise that we were helping the kids, we still got to make some too though ;) . It was on the floor of the office of the organization, which is sort of an after school care for school kids. They had a huge pile of clay from a nearby lake spread out and showed us how to make them. The workshop was marketed as being eco-friendly, because we were using clay.

The clay Ganeshes that we made!

The creative process :D

So what do you do with your Ganesh idol? Well drape flowers on it and pray to it. And then on the last day of the festival, submerge it in the lake! Why? Well traditionally they were all made out of clay. But nowadays they are mostly plaster and plastic and spray paint and glitter. But when they were clay, you would take the clay from the lake and then when you submerged it in the lake it would return to the lake, showing that Ganesh would come again every year. But now even though they are no longer made of clay many are still submerged in the many lakes around and it’s a huge pollution problem.

Ganesh for sale inside a tent on a random lot we stumbled upon in Koti.

Inside the same tent, a man adds the finishing touches!

We went out yesterday into “Greater Hyderabad” (ie into the actual city and not way out here on the outskirts where the U is), and there were Ganesh’s EVERYWHERE!! Neighborhoods would have ones(huge ones, like 30 feet or more) just tucked away in alcoves out on the street and everyone was coming to leave offerings, and to take pictures, just like us! And we stumbled into a lot selling the statues too and even saw a guy adding the final touches to the paint job on one! Everyone was in a festive mood. Happy Ganesh Birthday!!!

A few weeks ago I took this picture out the car window of a man with his Ganesh on his lap as he rode on the back of his friends bike!

Happy Birthday Ganesh!!

A Day’s Journey to Apply for a Visa

May 25th, 2012

I originally thought that I was going to make the journey to San Francisco alone, but I actually ended up getting a travel buddy. When I got on the Hwy 17 bus, it turned out that another girl I knew from my housing complex on campus was going to the Swiss consulate that day, so we decided to go most of the way together. After that, the coincidences really started piling up. When I reached the French consulate, we parted ways so that she could find a place to print a document she needed (and because we thought she’d be taking an earlier train back).

About two and a half hours later, when I was standing at the info window at the BART station, there she was behind me. Then, I took too long to buy my ticket and she went ahead. I missed my train to Fremont, so I took the one to Millbrae that came a minute later instead – even though I knew I’d have to wait for an hour if it was a few minutes late. Needless to say, it got stalled in a tunnel and was a few minutes late. I waited the hour when, to my surprise, there she was. She had taken the wrong train and hopped on a bus to get to Millbrae. The rest of our route was the same, so we rode the CalTrain and HWY 17 bus back to the Santa Cruz Metro station.

The trip to the French consulate to apply for my visa was a long one with many legs. On the way there, I went from the Santa Cruz metro to the Highway 17 Express to the CalTrain to the local #30 bus in San Francisco. On the way back, I took the SF metro BART to the CalTrain to the Highway 17 Express to the SC Metro. The travel plus the visa application came out to about $99. I don’t know if this is typical or not, but I didn’t actually need the three IDs I brought (or the Long Stay Visa/OFII forms, as  they said that greater than 4 months is now long stay instead of greater than 91 days). I don’t know how necessary my appointment was either. Once I got there, an hour early, it was first come first served.

The trip to the French consulate to apply for my visa was a long one with many legs. On the way there, I went from the Santa Cruz metro to the Highway 17 Express to the CalTrain to the local #30 bus in San Francisco. On the way back, I took the SF metro BART to the CalTrain to the Highway 17 Express to the SC Metro. The travel plus the visa application came out to about $99. I don’t know if this is typical or not, but I didn’t actually need the three IDs I brought (or the Long Stay Visa/OFII forms, as  they said that greater than 4 months is now long stay instead of greater than 91 days). I don’t know how necessary my appointment was either. Once I got there, an hour early, it was first come first served.

*Please note: This blog entry was re-posted from Hilary’s personal blog. Copyright: Hilary Van Hoose.