Marruecos (Morocco)

It was my first time in an Arabic country. IT WAS AWESOME! We traveled to Fes ( spelled with an ‘S’, the Fessi are very particular about that) and went to the Medina which is the largest market in the country. Then traveled through the country side – cedar forest, canyons, mountain, oasis and finally to the Sahara Desert. I spent two nights in the Sahara Desert sleeping in a tent and surrounded by the beautiful Berber people. If you have not heard of them before, I suggest you look them up. One of the oldest populations! Without UMBC and the Study Abroad Office, this would have not been possible! Enjoy some of my pictures.

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I have been unable to post recently because I have had extremely limited access to the internet. Last week, I went to Morocco, where I did not even have cell phone service, and when I did find wifi very few websites worked. TIP: I have found that Facebook almost always works everywhere. Upon my return to Spain, there was a storm which somehow made the internet in my apartment stop working as well. The internet in my apartment is not always reliable anyways, so this was not surprising. So, I have been going to the public library here to get wifi, but when there are many people at the library (which also happens often) the wifi doesn’t usually work. I think it has something to do with too many people using one source, or something like that. So, when that doesn’t work, like today, I go to a Cafe de Indias, which is similar to a Starbucks, buy a tea and am then allowed to use their wifi for 30 minutes.

The limited access is not usually a problem, because most of my classes do not rely on the internet – we use books – and I don’t have many other responsibilities tying me down to the internet. This is also how many Spaniards here live. I hardly ever see anyone on their phones or in the cafe on a computer. I’m probably an obvious ‘Giddi’ (slang term for foreigners that my friend told me is not negative) right now sitting in the cafe typing this blog. Now, I must make this blog short for I am running out of internet time and I still need to email my academic advisor at UMBC about registering for classes in the Spring! Hasta!

Just a normal Friday (NOT)

Before I came to UMBC, I considered myself to be an adventurer. I had been up and down the East Coast, and had even been to California and Russia! I thought I knew what it was like to try new things and experience different cultures, and nearly all of it involved going somewhere outside of Maryland. However, once I came to college I realized there were so many experiences within my own state that I had overlooked. Its been over three years since then, and I’m still in the process of finding everything!

Last Friday, I took two more steps in my quest to experience Maryland. I did two things I thought I never would have – I went skydiving (OMG!) in Aberdeen and took a hot yoga class in downtown Baltimore. Skydive Baltimore, a small company in Harford County, offered a deal for skydiving and my girlfriend and I couldn’t resist. The staff was amazing, and the jump was perfect. The pictures tell it better than I can though!


I was so relieved the parachute opened up!

I was so relieved the parachute opened up!

My friend and I after we landed :)

My girlfriend and I after we landed :) plus JD, who had done this about 10,000 times.

Then after we landed (safely…I really was worried about that parachute), we went to Bikram yoga studio in Locust Point. I have been taking yoga classes at UMBC for the last year, and I was curious about hot yoga. Honestly, it was a good workout and an even better meditation tool. The stereotypes of hot yoga in commercials don’t fit at all, and I will definitely go back there.

So why am I telling you about these really cool things I did? Well, this is all right in Maryland. Its all within an hour of UMBC! There are so many things near our campus that are just waiting for you. I thought I had to leave Maryland to get these types of experiences, and I was definitely wrong. Its been here the whole time and I’m glad I realized it.

MCS 101: Pushing Students to Boldly Go


As mentioned previously, I major in Global Studies as well as Media and Communication Studies. I always knew that Global Studies was going to be my major but it wasn’t until I took an MCS course my second semester of college that I saw myself enjoying it to the point that I could add it on as a second major. As of right now, I am taking MCS 101: Media Literacy and there’s lab component to the course that teaches us how to make different media. This week, we were taught how to use photoshop, something that I was pretty nervous about because a lot of my friends use it and they complain about how difficult something are so my confidence was low. But after some tinkering/trial and error, I made something that I am so proud of I’m writing a post about it.

Here it is, my magazine cover:

The Federation Weekly-K. Alexander

Making this was a dream come true

  1. Because I am in love with Captain Kirk. He’s my favorite fictional character and I get really giddy at the idea that I sat down and interviewed him.
  2. I now know how to use photoshop, which is great because old folk often assume young folk can use it just because we seem to be tech savvy. Now I am a disappointment to no one.
  3. Now I can make more :)))))

Look out UMBC, there’s a Star Trek themed magazine coming and it looks like it’ll be created by me!

*Maniacal laugh* *Maniacal laugh* *Maniacal laugh*

LOL is Rampant at UMBC

I’m not going to lie. I don’t know a lot about what League of Legends is. I know that it is a computer game. I’ve been told that it’s a bit similar to World of Warcraft–which I did play for approximately two weeks, yet still do not understand, in order to impress a crush in high school.

However, there are a lot of people at UMBC who play League of Legends. They have a club on campus, have developed a great group of friends, and can be seen playing in the Commons sometimes. There is even a League of Legends World Championship Viewing Party on Sunday, October 19, 2014 from 2am to 10am. The world championship will be held in Seoul, South Korea.

So it’s true, I don’t play League. I only know a couple of people who are in the club. However, I think they are an awesome group of people, and they speak to the nature of UMBC.

League of Legends is considered dory or nerdy in some other areas. However, like Dr. Hrabowski always says, “At UMBC, it’s cool to be a nerd.” I love being here because it’s true–being smart is cool. Being who you want to be, and participating in clubs that you like doesn’t make you nerdy, it makes you true to yourself.

When I was in high school, everyone always called me a teacher’s pet, nerd, or dork because I liked to learn. Here, I’m definitely not the smartest person, but I love being in a place where people appreciate academics, and can find their social niche

The other day I was asked by someone, “Why doesn’t UMBC have a football team?” I told him that we value education more at UMBC. This boy responded that it’s stupid not to have a football team over institutional advancement, but I realized how proud I am to go here.

All of us at UMBC are receiving an education that is valued the same as Brown, Yale, and Vanderbilt, just to name a few. However, we pay only 1/3 of the cost of those other schools. Plus, the League club dominates.

RSA’s Annual Dogapalooza

This year, I am privileged to be a Student TeleCounselor in the Undergraduate Admissions Team. My job is to call prospective students and give them an opportunity to learn exciting information about UMBC from my perspective as a current sophomore in the hopes that they will feel more comfortable with UMBC and thus increase their interest. So, one of the most frequent question I get is if there is anything to do on campus over the weekends or during free time. And to answer this question in one sentence, there is ALWAYS something to do on campus, whether it be a club event, Student Events Board (SEB) event, Resident Student Association (RSA) or Community Action Board event (CAB).

SEB holds events almost every single day; starting from Welcome Week, where they have events for incoming freshmen, until the end of the year. For example, SEB shows weekly movies (22 Jump Street – 10/16), and has monthly bus trips (Kings Dominion – 10/18). They also host events such as Comedy Hour, Open Mic Night, Breakfast & Bingo, and much much more.

Furthermore, RSA also hosts events, such as S’mores Social during Fall and Spring, Midnight Breakfast, Midnight Dessert, and Block Party. Most recently, RSA hosted its annual Dogapalooza event, which is basically a friendly Battle of the Residence Halls. The event took place from 9/23 until 9/27. Each day there were two to three events what all students could participate in (even commuters). There were events such as Inflatable Obstacle Course, Inflatable Jousting, Watermelon Eating Contest, Bingo, Dodge ball, and last but not least a Community Picnic. After all these events take place, the judges determine which residential hall won most of the events and had the most participants. The winning residential hall gets $200 and a big trophy. This year, Susquehanna Hall won!! None the less, everyone comes together and has loads of fun, because I know I had an amazing time a the Inflatable Obstacle Course.

However, the main point of all these events led by awesome organizations is to help build a sense of community, where everyone is friendly, and the environment looks and feels very welcoming. Hence, no one will ever feel lonely or bored on campus. This campus is small enough that you will see your classmates more than twice a day but big enough to host all these fantastic events, where students can socialize and make new friends.

Therefore, even though this campus puts a lot of emphasis on academics, there are great ways to have fun, party, socialize and network!

So, come out and attend some of these events, and broaden your experience here at UMBC!

True Friends Show Themselves in Crisis

Most people know that your true friends will show themselves during a crisis. The people that will leave you to the wolves are probably not such great friends.

Well not only was October 3, 2014 my birthday, but it was also the day that I was hosting a student panel for my IHU class.

Just as a side note, an IHU class is an Introduction to an Honors University class that is attached as a discussion session to another class. I’m a peer facilitator for ENGL100Y, so I co-teach the class with Amy Sine.

Anyways, we decided to have a panel of a diverse group of student leaders on campus, to talk about involvement, leadership, and success. My class starts at 1:00 pm. By 11:30 am, all of the panelists had informed me that they had to back out for a variety of reasons.

Well, now I was in panic mode. Not only do I have to teach this class alone, but now I don’t have anything planned because I have no panelists.

Along with teaching an IHU, I also work as a Student Life Intern for Service and Volunteerism. So in my panicked mode, I sent out a plea to the other Student Life interns.

Instantly, everyone dropped what they were doing to help me. Even my boss, a graduate student, offered to come and be on the panel. Other grad students were going to ask people in SEB, sending out GroupMe messages, and spreading the notice that panelists were needed for 1:00 pm.

It seems like such a small crisis, but it was still a bit of a crisis all the same. All my co-workers, my friends, tried to help as much as they could immediately. I was having a crisis, and these people that I have seen as co-workers before, let me know that they are my friends.

That’s a pretty nice birthday gift.

We Will Miss You Cindy!

One of my favorite people at UMBC is leaving this week. :(

Cindy Paige-Desi is the Community Development Coordinator in the Office of Residential Life. As I am commuter, you would initially think we would not have a chance to interact at all, but fortunately, she is also in charge of the UMBC Woolie program. The Woolies are the Welcome Week ambassadors – we help freshmen and transfers move in and spend the rest of Welcome Week introducing these new students to UMBC. The position involves a lot of excitement and energy, since our entire goal is to get new students excited about their school. It truly takes someone special to take care of all these excited Woolies, and we have been extremely lucky to have Cindy.

I have been a Woolie for the last three years, and a Lead Woolie this year, so I’ve gotten to know Cindy well. She is very committed to the students who come to her, and will always go out of her way to talk with them. She is also extremely dedicated to Welcome Week, and puts in 18-hour days along with her Woolies in order to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Unfortunately, she is leaving UMBC this week, and her dedication to Residential Life and especially to Welcome Week will be missed. Personally, I know I will miss her, and I know the rest of the Woolies who have worked with her will miss her as well.

Cindy Paige-Desi, UMBC Community Development Coordinator

Cindy Paige-Desi, UMBC Community Development Coordinator

Sevillan Way of Life in a List

The Sevillan way of life might sound unreal, imaginative or crazy to those who have experienced nothing like it. It is a life full of enjoyment and no rules. For me, it has been a life that I have easily adapted to and perhaps too easily…

It is also difficult to explain this kind of life, but I will try with these 5 key traits.

1. Meals (except breakfast): The food here is amazing. EVERYTHING is made fresh. Literally, everything. Ever gone to a county fair and got that freeze-dried or super fried food? Here, at the fair there is fresh food made to enjoy. I ordered a pizza and they rolled out the dough, cut some tomatoes, onions, cheese and made the pizza minutes before it was eaten. In addition to amazing food, you must also enjoy conversation. The people here are very sociable, and it is very rare to ever see anyone eating alone. Many people go home from work in order to cook and eat lunch, rather than taking it and eating it just any ole place. After taking about an hour and a half to enjoy a meal, talk with the family about the weather, how crazy Barcelona is and how Sevilla FC is the best futbol team ever, it is time for a nap. After lunch, there is this amazing thing called SIESTA.

2. Siesta: This is pretty much the greatest thing anyone ever thought to make happen. After a great big delicious meal, which is known as lunch, it is time for a nap. Lunch in Sevilla is at about 2 or 3. So, almost all the shops and stores close from 2-5p or 3-6pm. The only things that do remain open are the very touristy, super expensive cafes and gift shops. Otherwise, everything is closed and everyone has gone home to eat a great big meal and take a nap afterwards. Fun Fact: The siesta started because it is absolutely too hot during that time of the day to go anywhere, or do anything but sleep. I think this is something Maryland should adopt, because it also gets very, very hot in Maryland. This is also something I have gotten very used to, and if I have to go a day without siesta (i.e. because i’m super busy), my whole life feels out of balance. It is literally a necessary 3 or 4 hours in the middle of the day with absolutely no work, definitely no school, no homework and simply enjoying time.

3. Besos: Ever heard of PDA (Public Display of affection)? So, I haven’t asked, but I feel certain they don’t have a word for that in Spanish because it is not something worth bringing attention to. Everyone just kisses, gives hugs and even makes out everywhere, because it is a part of the lifestyle here. It’s very common for friends to be sitting on each others laps, greeting everyone with a double kiss, and for couples to be making out in the street. When I told my host mother that the amount of kissing I have seen here in Sevilla and how it is nothing compared to home, she just explained to me that people are full of love here and it’s hard to keep it hidden. I definitely feel the love here. The people are just so nice, I don’t even mind the PDA. It’s not gross, it’s very obvious it is all an expression of enjoyment in being with another person.

4. Sevillanos: There is just something so nice about the people here, that goes beyond their public displays of affection. I was walking along the river the other day and a tourist boat passed by. It was playing the song ‘happy’ by Pharrell Williams (because American music is extremely popular here). I then passed an elderly man who was obviously going on his morning walk, and when I did,he threw up his arms, smiled, and yelled “Happy!” in a very adorable spanish accent. The people here are just so nice and welcoming. I have been able to meet many strangers and they have all welcomed me to Sevilla with open arms and a kiss, literally (remember what I said about public affection).

6. Work? What’s that?: The unemployment rate is extremely high in Spain. I think it’s actually worse than in the USA. The economy is, admittedly, not so great here either. But, people are happy. And – now get this – EVEN WHEN THEY WORK. So, I always pass by the security guards at the parking garages, or the security in an apartment complex and want to take a picture because if an employer in the US saw what I see, that employee would be fired. It’s very common to see the security reading a book or magazine, or talking with friends while working. Tonight, I even saw a parking garage security person who had moved a bed into the security cube so he could lay down and read while working. He wanted to be comfortable, I respect that.

7.Rules and Safety: There seem to be no rules. I have not seen anyone get arrested. I have never seen anyone get pulled over, or receive a ticket. Cars park wherever they want to – on the curb, in the grass, on a curve, in front of a fire hydrant – there aren’t really lined parking spots like we have in the USA. Yes, there are police officers, but they seem to be there more in case of an emergency. For example, I saw the police show up when there was a truck that got a flat tire. And although the security guards might be what some people could call ‘slacking’, I have never felt so safe in a city before. There is an honor code here which I have never experienced. It’s unwritten, because like I mentioned before, there really aren’t any rules, but it’s an unspoken ‘if you don’t steal my stuff, I won’t steal yours, let’s just enjoy life’ rule. AND IT WORKS.

Sevillans enjoy their food, enjoy their rest, enjoy the kisses, enjoy company, enjoy their time and enjoy life. These are just a few things I have experienced and enjoyed about the culture of Sevilla in my perspective.