El Mechoneo

El Mechoneo.

El Mechoneo. Photo courtesy deviantart.com

My first day at the university, I saw young students walking around half-dressed, without shoes, and covered in various colors of paint, flour, and other interesting-smelling liquids, so I asked the Chileans in my lab what was going on.

“El mechoneo,” they replied. I didn’t know the word in Spanish, so they explained it to me. Hazing! Read More…

La paciencia y el suerte

El Cajón del Maipo, outside of Santiago.

A post titled “Patience and Luck” seems to accurately sum up my Fulbright experience so far. Almost two weeks into my stay, I finally have a bit more time to think and reflect, rather than worrying about making my next flight or trying to figure out the best store to buy bed sheets.

I had planned to arrive in Santiago at 10 a.m. Wednesday in time for our 2 p.m. Fulbright orientation, but, thanks to some mechanical delays on my United flight, I spent a very short night in Houston and arrived just before midnight, after rescheduled flights and a layover in Panama City. Paciencia.

Once I actually made it to Santiago, everything went smoothly – I took a shared taxi service to my hotel and crashed for five hours before waking up for day two of orientation. Most of the administrative presentations happened on day one, so I got to listen to a motivated, cosmopolitan group of young people talk about their research projects. Suerte. Read More…

Watching the English

Big Ben

The iconic clock tower housing Big Ben in London.

Study abroad guides and similar publications suggest that culture shock can often be worse in countries like the UK, Australia, or other English-speaking countries. Americans expect them to be similar to home because they share a common language.

I’m not ready to agree that the culture shock is worse, but it can often be more jarring, sneaking up out of nowhere to thump you on the head, simply because you aren’t expecting it to.

The following observations Read More…

Two Countries Divided by a Common Language

A view of Oxford from the Magdalen College Tower.

A view of Oxford from the Magdalen College Tower.

Thinkers from George Bernard Shaw to Oscar Wilde have mused that the United States and the United Kingdom are two nations divided by a common language.

Exploring some of the myriad differences between these two ostensibly similar countries elicits laughs on either side of the Atlantic, and the differences are something I’ve come to appreciate more and more as Amanda and I spend time in Oxford.

It’s the language, innit, mate?

My general expression when confronted with strange English words and pronunciation.

My general expression when confronted with strange English words and pronunciation.

The differences in language are sometimes very small, sometimes wildly different, and usually enough to make me feel like an American rube.

Englishmen wear “trousers” when going out — you’d better have on something more than “pants” because here those are what Americans would call “underwear.” Read More…

You Won’t Like It Here: Immigration Stories

Buckingham Palace, where the Queen runs the country using a panel of buttons and levers.

Buckingham Palace, where the Queen runs the country using a panel of buttons and levers.

When Amanda and I first landed in London in October, I steeled myself to face the notoriously strict UK Border Agency, but even after preparing myself, the experience left me mildly traumatized. The immigration official asked me more probing questions than most job and scholarship interviews I’ve completed, delving into what felt like an inexhaustible list of topics.

The official who inspected Amanda upon our initial arrival wasn’t satisfied Read More…

Ted Turner’s Vague, Quixotic Quest to Save the West

The shining mountains and rolling green hills at Turner’s Flying D Ranch, located just south of Bozeman, Montana. Photo courtesy Turner Enterprises.

The shining mountains and rolling green hills at Turner’s Flying D Ranch, located just south of Bozeman, Montana. Photo courtesy Turner Enterprises.

Turner’s brand of privatization-for-preservation contradicts Montana’s hard-won land ethic

By Brent Zundel
For the Bozeman Magpie
February 25, 2014

Turner stalks the banks as he fishes a stream flowing through his property. Photo courtesy Kurt Markus, Outside Magazine.

Ted Turner fishes a stream flowing through his property. Photo courtesy Kurt Markus, Outside Magazine.

Everyone from United Nations admirers to global environmentalists lauds Ted Turner as a hero. “Last Stand,” Bozeman-based author Todd Wilkinson’s in-depth biography, subtitled “Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Planet,” purports to delve into this “fascinating and flawed” man, but the result is more adoring prose than objective journalism.

Apart from recycling tired and easily brushed-aside criticisms of Turner’s brash “Mouth of the South” style and Montanans’ initial annoyances with him, Wilkinson’s biography does not delve deeply into Turner’s interactions with and impact on the people living in this state.

If Turner is saving the world, why then doesn’t he enjoy that unabashedly positive reputation in Montana? Read More…

Italy’s culinary capital, the oldest university in the world, and Commie agitprop: Bologna

A view of "La Rossa" from the Asinelli Tower.

A view of “La Rossa” from the Asinelli Tower.

The home of the oldest university in the world is also touted as the culinary capital of a country universally renowned for its food. Throw in centuries of left-wing agitation, and you’ve got Bologna, Italy.

A beautiful town with an expansive medieval cityscape, nicknamed “La Rossa” as much for its political leanings as for its terra cotta bricks and roof tiles, Bologna was Read More…

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