Tradition and History in Russia

After almost two months in-country, my host mom has decided that I am a normal person. Imagine that! Me, normal? I, who come from an unimaginably large family (by current European standards), am studying Russian and Mathematics with a passion, am seriously considering flying to Mars as a career, doing “men's work” without blinking unless …

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So Much to do in Saint Petersburg

My time in Saint Petersburg is quickly passing, with only one month left, I still have so many museums and cathedrals I want to see. The issue is finding the energy for it all. I am not sure if it is just the white nights having that effect on me, but I think the hardest …

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Religion and History in Novi Sad, Serbia

When you walk into the Church of the Name of Mary, you are struck by a certain lack. There's something missing here, something's different, you might think. Then you realize - there's no iconostasis! And why are there pews?! This beautiful, iconic cathedral that stands in the center of Novi Sad is in fact a …

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The First Blog: Taiwan and My Study Abroad Experience

Because of American Councils Tradition and Modernity program at NCCU, I was given the tremendous opportunity to visit Taiwan for the first time. I tried my best to familiarize myself with my host country before arrival; for example, I practiced how to write and read traditional Chinese characters before coming here. Yet, some aspects of …

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Religion in Kazahkstan

A Kazakh friend recently asked me what had surprised me most about life in Kazakhstan.  Without a doubt, I answered: my host family’s religion. Before I came to Kazakhstan, I expected that my host family would be moderate Muslims. As it turns out, they are recently converted Protestant Christians. My Protestant background has made the …

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Nitrocellulose, Butyl Acetate, and the Hadith

I’m fairly confident that I’ve never discussed nail polish as much as I have this last week. What’s more, I’ve generally been the one bringing the topic up. Last Thursday, the day before the start of the holy month of Ramadan, the 29-year-old mother of my host family sat with me while I ate breakfast. …

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

One of the most remarkable aspects of cultural life in Tajikistan is the way in which layers of history and tradition intersect, bringing together ancient and modern, religious and secular, always with family and community at the heart of any celebration. In early November, Tajikistan celebrated Idi Qurbon, a Muslim holiday which remembers Abraham’s willingness …

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