Remembering The Abbey

by Carlee Lewis 
Earlier this morning in the International Programs office I was glancing through the original Abbey brochure filled with pictures that are o so familiar to those of us who studied there. On the first page is a quote that truly touched me. The quote said, 

“Over there everything is going to be different; 
life is never going to be quite the same again 
after your passport has been stamped.”  

For everyone who has ever studied abroad this statement is certainly true; for it is embedded in our hearts along with the memories that prove this statement to be true. This year celebrates the Abbey’s 10th anniversary. Whether you went in 2002 or 2011, we all share some of the same memories. 
A memory I will never forget is opening my window to the beautiful Abbey Chapel with snow falling from its 12th century Gothic architecture. In my mind I could not believe I was able to see this beautiful chapel every morning from my bedroom window. All of those who went to the Abbey harness shared experiences. Eating lunch and meeting locals at Le Commerce, attempting to speak French to the lady at the Utile (grocery store), seeing the beautiful yellow fields in the Spring time, sitting in the café, absorbing every word Professor Netter spoke, and mailing letters home at the post office are all memories embedded in our souls that have aided us to continue to be adventurous and treasure our time spent in the Loire Valley. Those who went to the Abbey whether they are now 18 or 30 will never forget their precious time in the small town of Pontlevoy. 
Everyone can have this type of adventure. Whether you are interested in England, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Honduras, India, Spain, France, or many more countries you can have an experience that truly will change you once your passport is stamped.

Our first letter from Emily Simmons – at The Hague, Holland

Hello Dear Lady,

Things are just great here, of course! Let’s see… It is chilly already, borderline cold for us M’sippians. It doesn’t rain literally ALL the time, just seventy-five percent of the time. But not to worry, it isn’t a depressing, sad rain. It’s more like a artsy, moody, poetic rain; classic European moroseness, or anyway that’s how I’ve framed it for myself. SO many internationals, heavy on the Canadians, Americans, and Aussies. I guess the English-but-not-England thing is a big draw for them… I already have made friends with a guy from Florence, a girl from Vienna and a gal from St. Petersburg. So, basically, I’m set for travel!

I’m thinking of jetting off to Portugal while it’s warm and sunny there, I could use some Vitamin D. Lisbon has been on my list for the longest time. Probably weekend after next, as there are still sights unseen nearby. Dylan says hello, he went to an Arcade Fire concert in Amsterdam spur-of-the-moment last night with one of his roomies. We can do things like that, see  🙂

The main thing I have absorbed about The Netherlands thus far is that the people are universally friendly. Not normal, hospitable, polite friendly, I mean truly helpful, jovial, and open. Strangers in the street are happy to help, advise, point in the right direction or just chat. The city is very accustomed to hosting a lot of international residents, and pretty much everyone I’ve met has known where Mississippi is! The people seem happy to have foreigners around, and I’ve met a lot of shopkeepers and restaurant owners who are ex-pats themselves. My coffee guy (here five days and I already have a morning coffee guy) is from Portland; he fell in love with a Dutch gal and moved here five years ago. Sweet isn’t it 🙂 The international vibe means great food too. So far I’ve had a perfect quiche (tasted like Paris), an English breakfast (with a pot of Earl Grey, mind you), really good Mexican (can’t usually find that in Europe, eh?) the best Chai of my life, and an awesome Turkish kebab dinner (made vegetarian especially for me, they were so sweet).

I wanted to come to The Hague because it is such an internationally important city for global peace and justice. One of the four main branches of the UN is located here, the International Court of Justice, which includes the court where war crimes are tried. I think it is especially exciting to be here at this time, with the current state of world events. I read a news article just this morning, calling for Gaddafi to be taken alive when he is found, so that he can face his charges of crimes against humanity here in The Hague. There are a great many NGOs and relief agencies that have headquarters here, and since I hope to one day work for some kind of human rights organizations, this seemed like the perfect place for me to spend a semester of my studies. It was an opportunity to perfect to pass up.

Love,
Em

Welcome Week on the Southern Miss Gulf Coast…

By Melissa Ravencraft

Study Abroad was invited to participate in Welcome Week on the Long Beach campus. We were so excited; we packed up our things and…ROAD TRIP!

Jess and I made the drive down, found the Rotunda, and then found the perfect parking spot only to discover it was “reserved”. We decided that reservation was for us (grin).

We grabbed our gear and walked inside to set up at the best table with our name on it – thank you Christy Bjork Elias! Shortly after the event began two of our international exchange students from Spain walked up to say hi! They are taking a class on the coast twice a week and commute from Hattiesburg – hola amigos!

Our table was certainly an attention grabber, it always is! With so many colorful rack cards for each of our programs and destinations for students to earn USM credit around the world, who wouldn’t be interested in at least hearing more? Many students stopped on their way to classes and seemed genuinely interested in studying abroad. Of course we were stoked, it’s our favorite thing to talk about!

It was a fantastic day, with plenty of chances to talk about the many opportunities available for Southern Miss students to study abroad.

BUT, the next time we visit our sister campus, I think some of our study abroad alumni should come with us! Students like to hear from students, and our gulf coast friends need more opportunities to reap the benefit of talking with students who’ve actually studied abroad!

Hope everyone is having a wonderful fall semester, and make sure you sign up for “The Scoop”, so you are in the know about all things study abroad!

Hasta la vez próxima…

I got this…

Why is it when we get in trouble, need emotional or physical help, that we, as humans, automatically assume we can handle the issue/problem without any help?

No lengthy post, just a question. We often realize too late that we need someone or multiple someones to help us through the storm.

One of my favorite songs I sing in church a lot, “Praise you in this storm” by Casting Crown, is my motto.

You never know what storm a person is going through, so say a prayer for those you know, and don’t know, as God knows all about it.

In prayer…

A little devil all wrapped up in kitty form

Since this little kitten, inappropriately named Dew Drop, has come into our life, she has turned our house upside down.

She chases the dogs, WHAT! She attacks our feet when we least expect it! She wakes us at all hours of the night playing with our feet which we happen to reposition, or finds something that interest her and decides attack is necessary! And yet we tolerate her. We even LOVE her! Yes, love something so honary that she deserves a spanking at every turn.

She has decided that when we eat, she is to eat, too. She gets in an empty chair, puts her front paws on the table and waits very impatiently for something to eat. We’ve took the paper to her; removed her from the chair; spritzed her with water; nothing fazes her, absolutely nothing! She will fight back at whatever we use to deter her.

She’s amazing! She found us, we didn’t go looking for her.

She reminds me of Jesus, not that I’m calling Jesus a cat! We, as humans, go kicking and screaming in our own direction and all the while Jesus tries to deter us. Stop us from making mistakes and yet we go head-long into trouble. He comes looking for us, when we should be looking for Him!

One day the dogs will turn on Dew Drop. One day she will really get a spanking she’ll never forget and she’ll never come close to the table (with us in the room). One day we’ll accidentally step on her and hurt her, and she’ll never attack our feet/legs again. One day she will learn her place in the house – preferably on the couch or a bed, purring and allowing us to love on her (hahahaha!).

When will we, as God’s family, learn our place is beside Jesus? When will we learn to see the signs and avoid the pitfalls ahead of us? When will we do as God says, 2 Chronicles 7:14?

While we wait patiently for Dew Drop to learn her lessons and grow up, as we know she will, how long will we make Jesus wait on us?

Just a thought to ponder….

My yoga practice…

I’ve seriously let myself down in that I haven’t stopped to make time to do my yoga.

I spend my day in a whirlwind trying to please everyone, do for everyone and by the time 9PM arrives, it’s bedtime for me and I’m out of hours to do anything for me.

Somewhere, somehow this has to change. I run, walk right now, at lunch because I can’t find time to do it after work due to home obligations. How do others fit it in? I barely make it up in time to get to work at 8AM, sometimes I don’t get in until 8:15AM and my co-workers are very understanding, the meds I take for all my ills just knocks me out and it’s so hard to get started at 6AM.

So where, how? I only need about an hour, or less depending on how the body is feeling, to just decompress, get my yoga on, as my sister says, smile. Maybe a yoga class at lunch, I can rearrange my running days, I’ll have to look into it. Either way, I have to get back my yoga and the inner peace I find there.

Namaste!