My Identity at Home and Abroad

Written by: Victory Sampson  |  Fall 2023Victory and the Semester in Spain Group posing in front of La Sagrada Familia
Butler Semester in Spain (Alcala)

I want to know and understand things I am not supposed to—things hidden away from me. Languages spoken away from their places of origin are often like blankets of protection. However, they can also be tarps of seclusion and isolation that cause the understanding of one’s experience to be eluded by others—the soft Portuguese singing of a family member, the raucous inside joke from a Spanish-speaking friend, or even the rantings of a frustrated parent in Haitian Creole. If I cannot understand them, how can I be of service to certain people in my community? Even if I do not speak their language and never will, what about their culture? Could I decipher the small daily actions done without thought? The pointed lip, a high-pitched “eh”, or purposeful contortion of the face? Or, would they all pass me due to my lack of non-stereotypical schemas and lenses to view different cultures? This thought process is why I live my life like it’s research. It is why I learn with such urgency and interest. Everything and everyone has roots, and when allowed, I love to learn more about them.

Since arriving in Spain, understanding Victory posing with fellow Butler students after receiving their Certificates of Completion at Universidad de Alcaláthis important unspoken part of the Spanish language has aided me in creating connections with many different people. From the barista at a coffee shop who taught me the dramatic disdain of a “tsk, tsk, tsk!”, to my profesora, Ava, that taught me how much more of an amount that a “mucho” with a clasped hand next to the mouth communicates. My advanced proficiency in Spanish has been instrumental, but the more that I learn about Spanish cultural norms and traditions, the more that I understand how much more important cultural understanding is when trying to build relationships in a different country. It made me question why, during the planning process of this trip, I stressed so much over thinking that somehow my nearly seven years of Spanish-speaking experience would not be enough to navigate through the obstacles that everyone faces in a new country. It brought me to this understanding that many of the barriers that held me back, and many people I know, from studying abroad are more mental than they are linguistic. Leaving a comfortable university environment like Butler to go on an eleven-hour flight journey to a continent on the other Victory taking a selfie with the rest of the Butler in Spain group sitting down at lunch tablesside of the world was a big decision that can be frightening in many ways. However, it is something that aligns with a vision I have for myself and has proven to be completely worth the effort. One thing that I think readers can take away from this article is that even if you are not a polyglot who speaks every language in the world, learning the commonly utilized nonverbal cues of a different place can permit communication through the most solid language barriers. Do not let fluency be the reason you pass up the opportunity of a lifetime! ¡Que te diviertas, viajero!

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“Making friends” vs. “making friends”: How Expressions Reflect Culture and my Experience of Friendship in Germany

Written by: Abi Jacobs  |  Spring 2023
BU Exchange at University of Tuebingen

Abi on balcony overlooking the city of Prague.

Before I came to Germany, I was aware that in German they say “Freunde Finden” to describe the process of getting to know people and becoming friends. The literal translation of this is “finding friends,” which is very similar to the phrasing we use in English, “making friends.” These two phrases are almost identical, and as a student studying German at Butler, I did not give any real weight to the differences between the two, however, since coming to Germany, I have realized the importance of the minutiae in this instance. The difference between

“find” and “make” demonstrates the cultural difference in the way one makes friends in the US and in Germany. Similarly to the literal, linguistic difference, the practical difference is also very subtle, but for someone who came to Germany without friends, it became very clear to me. The process of forming friendships is very passive in Germany, like the word “find” is in comparison to that of “make.”

Abi enjoying lunch outside with a group of friends.

In the United States, especially at universities, I have found the process of making friends to be very intentional. As a first-year student, you come to Butler in part both nervous and excited about making new friends. In your orientation group, on your floor, and in your classes, you make conversation with people to figure out if you have similar interests or if you vibe with the other person. Even when you hit it off with a person without really trying, becoming friends with them beyond that involves effort. Even beyond university life, Americans in general are outgoing, especially when it comes to things like small talk. My hypothesis on the matter is that Americans value comfort above almost anything (take air-conditioning, leggings, and La-Z-Boy, for example) and for us, awkward silence is extremely uncomfortable. In Germany, I learned very quickly that small talk is not as popular. After my initial (failed) attempts when I first got here, the only times I made or heard small talk in Tübingen was when the bus or train was late.

Germans are kind and generous people, just not in the same way that Americans are. One of the things that Germans are not is outgoing. In the first few weeks that I was in Tübingen, I wondered quite often how German students in their first year here made friends. At colleges in the U.S., and especially at Butler, we have what I can only describe as friend-making infrastructure. Our RAs plan events for the floor, Butler University Programming Council holds events throughout the school year, and the entire point of Greek Life at Butler is to find a sisterhood or brotherhood of people to support you. Things such as these are decidedly absent from universities in Germany. Clubs exist at Tübingen University, but only ones that are academically or career focused. Between this and classes which only meet once a week, it is exceedingly difficult to get to know people at university, especially when extraverted Germans are few and far between.

Abi and friends walking through an outside carnival

Luckily, I found an American doing her master’s at Tübingen who understood my curiosity about how Germans make friends at university and could explain the process to me, as she had been there longer than I. She explained that often, Students already know people from their high school attending the same university before they come and generally stick to this group and become friends with each other’s friends and thus often do not feel the need to branch out much to make friends. Based on my own observations, a key ingredient in German-German friendships is proximity. Friendships are often formed through things like group projects or living situations, in which they are forced to interact with each other and by the time that the project is over, or their lease is up, a friendship has formed without much effort needed to create it, but as a by-product of a different relationship.

As the English phrase “making friends” suggests, we do not see the process as easy. It is work to “make” and keep friends. We begin each new interaction with the idea that we can become friends with this new person. We do not force friendships if they are unnatural, but if we get a good impression of each other, we try to improve our relationship. In Germany, it is a little bit different, as I have experienced and have tried to explain here. Germans have a mindset that says if two people are meant to be friends, it will happen. In American culture, friendships are an active process: they do not just fall into place, and that is why we use “make” to describe it.

Abi and friend at local soccer game. Like in any new situation, making friends in Germany was difficult. For me, it was more difficult than it was my first year at Butler. Upon reflection, I can now understand the cultural reasons behind this. In German culture, friendships develop passively. But I have made friends! I have made lifelong friends too, because another component of German culture is that once you are friends with a German, you will never not be friends with them. The phrase is not “make friends” nor “seek friends,” but “find friends”: It is something encountered, like a little kid with a shiny object. But after Germans find this shiny object, they will cherish it forever.

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Down With the Sickness: Ooooo AHAHAHAH

Written by: Martine Cardichon |  Fall 2022
ISEP Exchange in France – Institut National des Sciences Appliquees de LyonMartine at Harder Kulm in Switzerland

If I could characterize this semester with one song it would be “Down With The Sickness” by Disturbed. Ironically, even as I write this blog, I’m fighting a weird mix of congestion and sinus pain. My semester in Lyon has been a life  changing experience and I wouldn’t trade it for the world but to say that it was a nice and easy experience would be a flat out lie.


The realization of being in France did not hit me until I had to order something from Charles de Gaulles airport in French (I could’ve easily asked in English but my pride told me otherwise). The newfound self confidence I had from my Duolingo streak had evaporated so quickly. This was the first part of my “sickness journey” if you will. My pisces self being particularly prone to anxiety was even embarrassed to speak the minimal french. The fear of being sneered at (even though most Lyonnais, people from Lyon, would appreciate the attempt) was too great. This fear slightly intensified after my mother and sister left for home after they helped me get settled at INSA. I felt too shy or awkward to speak to the other international or French students even though most of them were in the same boat I was in. When summer school began and I started to recognize some faces, I began to ease up.  I organized my room and bought groceries. I felt that trying to adopt habits similar to what it would be at home. There was a sense of normalcy up until I got sick for the first time.

Martine enjoying a meal with friends

First Real Illness

It started out as a mild, seemingly innocent cough (one that seemed to spread among some of the summer school students). Thinking it was my asthma, I thought nothing of it until I found myself shivering whilst it was nearly 27 celsius (about 80 degrees Fahrenheit) outside.

Rummaging through my luggage I realized that I had forgotten my blessed Dayquil. I began to look for the French equivalent of Dayquil and headed to the pharmacy. Once I reached there I was perplexed to see that there were few meds like cold medicine, so I just grabbed the vicks and some cough drops. In France, most medicine is not available over the counter and requires a pharmacist’s assistance. I finally was able to get my hands on some Humex (French Dayquil) and with a little sleep I was able to bounce back.Martine playing bass with other musicians

Homesickness and the Second Mystery Illness 😢

As the summer came to a close, the homesickness and loss of comfortability  I was feeling began to remedy itself. However at the start of the school semester, homesickness reared its ugly head in the strangest form, my appetite. As a connoisseur of all things spicy, the lack of spicy in most French restaurants and at school was killing me. At a certain point I began to skip lunch because the food made me sad. One of the ways I was able to connect with Haitian heritage and with my family was through my parents’ cooking. The lack of goya and maggi cubes really cemented the fact that I was in a foreign country all by myself for the first time. Also I just really missed the familiarity of home. It was a lot harder navigating myself in France. I tried everything, buying various hot sauces, making my own food but nothing really helped. This homesickness began to translate into a physical illness soon after. Thinking that I could handle my sickness with a little bit of sleep, I took the day off and let my body rest. The next day I woke up feeling worse than before. I was coughing up phlegm so hard my back hurt. Soon I could not keep anything down and barely left my room. It felt like my bed and I were becoming one sluggish entity. A sense of panic set in because I was gravely ill in a non-English speaking country. It didn’t help when I called my parents and they seemed just as worried as I did. By the next Monday, slowly but surely, I made it to the Emergency Room (urgent care isn’t really a thing in France). By this time, I hadn’t eaten or drank anything substantial since the previous Thursday.  In all honesty, as grateful as I was for it, my ER experience was frightening. I was too overwhelmed to explain in French that I had international insurance and I could barely explain my symptoms. Luckily some of the staff spoke English so I was able to more accurately explain my pain. After four grueling hours of being poked and prodded, I was released with a prescription for antibiotics. Slowly but surely I began to recover.

ConclusionBuilding illuminated during the Lyon Festival of Lights

To say that my second time being sick would be an understatement. It was terrifying but I was never truly alone. It taught me that I should not be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. When my friends found out I was sick, they offered me help, my one friend even bought two bottles of cranberry juice and continually checked up on me. Being sick physically or mentally can be scary but you’re not alone. There are so many others who are in the same boat or care about your well-being. Don’t be afraid to express your feelings or concerns. It can really help alleviate whatever pain you’re feeling.

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Why I Would Recommend Butler’s Semester in Spain Program to Every Spanish Major

Written by: Bella Battistoni|  Fall 2022
Butler Semester in Spain(Alcala)

By writing this blog post, I am using this opportunity to rave about Butler’s Semester in Spain program. Going on this trip was definitely something that was way out of my comfort zone, but choosing to go has been the best decision of my college career.

The Semester in Spain program is set in Alcala de Henares, a city in Spain I had never heard of. After living here now for two months, I think it is definitely the best location to study abroad in. For one, Alcala’s University and Instituto Franklin are amazing and through my classes, I have met some awesome people from all different parts of the United States.

The pass/fail grade system also relieves academic stress so you can focus on enjoying your experience abroad. I was also able to join ERASMUS, a student network that hosts a bunch of activities where I was able to make friends with students from all different countries.

Alcala is also only a train ride away from Madrid, Spain’s capital where the nightlife, food, and sightseeing is amazing. This easy access to a big city made traveling a breeze; I have been able to purchase cheap plane tickets and utilize Madrid’s high-speed train system to easily travel to other parts of Spain and to other countries in Europe. Something that I love about this program is traveling with a group of Butler students and a professor. Having this support system really helps being so far away from home, and our professor has been there to help us every step of the way.

The complete language immersion was something I was very nervous about, I did not think my spanish skills were good enough. However, this complete exposure is the reason I have improved so much in my speaking ability. For all of these reasons and many more, I would highly recommend this program to any Butler student studying Spanish. With only a month left to go, I am so sad to leave but I am definitely looking forward to getting back on campus. 

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Uncharted Territory

Written by: Ilanah Mangan |  Fall 2022

Ilanah with friends overlooking Lake Como

Going abroad was something I have wanted to do since I was a little girl. I’ve always had a fascination with traveling and experiencing the world outside of the bubble of the United States. Yet, when I came to college, I still did not have the resources to do so, and it left me only wanting to pursue it more. When I found out about studying abroad, I knew this was something I absolutely had to do. By the time my junior year came, by second semester I gathered up the courage to finally apply and was accepted to my program. Next thing I knew I was making packing lists and saying goodbye to my family and friends and I was heading to Rome! However, a few weeks before I left it hit me: I have never left the United States and I did not speak a word of Italian. This was something swirling in my mind up until the moment I left on the plane. I thought to myself “is it the best idea for my first time abroad to be 3 months long and to a place with a foreign language I have no conception of?” The short answer: absolutely. Although I stepped of the plane slightly frightened and hoping I did not make a mistake, I look back knowing I have only two weeks left in Italy and wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.  

Delicious-looking Croissant and CoffeeI think it is important to acknowledge that a lot of students consider studying abroad but do not have a lot of travel experience and fear this might be too overwhelming for a first experience. I’m here to provide the solace that it will absolutely be ok, and more than that, it will be one of the best experiences of your life. For those fearing the language barrier as well, trust me I understand. My first-time speaking Italian to a server at a café I was petrified and completely stumbled over my words. The words that came out were some kind of concoction of English, Italian and I’m pretty sure Spanish mixed in there. Little did I know 3 months later I became a regular at that café and had conversations in Italian with that same server, who now greets me warmly and knows my order by heart.  

Fear is a powerful force that is capable of convincing us of many untrue things. I am here to say conquer those fears and take the chance to see the world. I am nearly 3 months into my journey and as much as I love my home, I know the day I leave my friends here in Rome and all the memories I’ve made behind, many tears will be shed. Then again, I know many more memories are to come. I am planning on seeing these same friends in the summer to continue our travels through Europe after graduation. Leaving your home to come to a completely foreign place is no doubt a source of anxiety and puts many doubts in your head. However, what you put into this experience is what you will get out of it. Take the chance, meet new people, push yourself out of your comfort zone. Try to learn the language, mess up, try again, and keep going. If you put in the effort, I promise the return will be tenfold.

Ilanah and friend posing for picture while looking at the lit up Eiffel Tower at night

Studying abroad has changed my life and perspective in many ways. I found myself much more independent, strong, curious, and ambitious than ever before. I went from never leaving the United States in 21 years, to 3 months after studying abroad having visited 4 new countries, and 25 total cities. Leaving everything behind may feel like completely uncharted territory, and it is. But that does not mean it is something you should never explore. Broadening your horizons and seeing the world beyond our home and college towns is something truly extraordinary. Being immersed in a culture for months at a time allows you the time to travel and see the world in a way that is different from anything else you may experience in your life. If ever in doubt, trust your heart and your passions. You never know what lies waiting for you on the other side of the world.


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Free Time with Friends in Munich

Written by: Nick Chinn |  Summer 2023Nick and friends posing on top of the Olympic Tower with Munich in background
Butler Honors in Germany

This summer I had the honor of traveling abroad to the beautiful country of Germany with the Honors College. I heard about this trip last year but due to scheduling conflicts I was unable to go at that time. I have always wanted to visit Germany, in fact I was supposed to go on a school trip to Germany in high school. But, that was in the year 2020 and you can probably guess why I wasn’t able to go on that trip. That’s the reason why I jumped on this opportunity when I was able to, and I couldn’t have chosen a better group of people to go abroad with, I had an incredible time.

Throughout our trip we had many scheduled activities, and those were amazing experiences. But, I had the most fun when we had entire free days that we were able to use to explore the places that we visited. On one of these free days a group of us decided to see some of the tourist destinations around Munich.

View of Munich from the top of Olympic TourThe first place that we went was the Olympic Tower in Munich. The 1972 Summer Olympics were held here and it was such an interesting place for us to visit. One of the most striking things that I experienced in Germany was the scenery that we experienced throughout almost every activity that we took part in, and the Olympic Tower was no different. When we arrived we took an elevator up to the top and it took nearly a minute to get all the way to the top. This tower is 291 meters (about 950ft) tall! We all took advantage of that and the stunning backdrop that Munich provided and took some pictures. Of course we also stopped at the gift shop on our way out, and our group probably single handedly boosted the German economy with all the souvenirs that we bought. Overall, the Olympic Tower was a super fun experience that we were able to check it off the list of places that we visited in Munich.

The final place that we went on this day was actually right next door to the Olympic Tower. We went to the BMW Museum and I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t super excited to visit this place. I’m not a huge car guy, but my expectations were definitely exceeded. The BMW had a very interesting blend of history as well as innovations that pushed the future of auto technology forward. There were cars from way back in the day as well as cars that had yet to be fully released to the public. But, by far the best thing there was this technology where you could get your face scanned and then your AI generated face would be broadcast to the entire museum on a screen where your AI character would drive a futuristic car through space. It was… interesting to say the least. And of course we had to stop by the gift shop.

Blue BMW displayed in BMW Museum

I had so much fun on this free day and it was definitely one of the best highlights from my trip. This day was kind of a representation on how study abroad is beneficial. Even if things seem like they aren’t up your alley it is still important to get out of your comfort zone with some new people and have new experiences. I would recommend studying abroad for anyone who is thinking about it.

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Community in Italy

Written by: Astrid Ariana |  Summer 2023
Arts and Cultural Management in Italy

Growing up Jewish gave me a strong Astrid posing on a balcony in front of the Duomo Florence.sense of familial community throughout my entire life. However, I think the United States struggles as a whole to have a strong sense of community. This was strikingly apparent to me while traveling abroad in Italy. Prior to studying abroad in Florence I did extensive research on the Holocaust in Italy as well as the Synagogue and Jewish Museum of Florence. Although their Jewish community has always been small, even greatly diminished, it has remained viable and vibrant.

Most Jews who originally settled in Florence were merchants and money lenders with their community officially founded in 1437. Fortunately, their community was protected by the Medici family, one of the most historically powerful families in Florence, who had major influence in the art and architecture that is iconic to Florence. Without their support, the Roman Catholic clergy would likely have exiled the Jews. When the Medicis briefly fell from power in the 1490s, Jews were ordered to leave the city.

Inside an Italian building showcasing the architecture and glasswork

In an effort to preserve their community, they loaned money to the Republic of Florence to delay their expulsion. The tactic worked, and when the Medicis returned to power in1512, the Jewish community grew. Sadly, when Cosimo de Medici consolidated his power, he also enacted a multitude of anti-Jewish laws. He created a special dress code for them and established the Jewish ghetto of Florence in 1571. This was located in the Piazza della Repubblica, a central piazza of Florence that our study abroad group went to frequently. These and other challenges catalyzed tension and disunity, complicated because the Italian Jews were commingled with Spanish and Portuguese Jews.

Napoleonic forces occupied Florence in 1799 leading to a moment of emancipation for the Jews. There was a new constitution created where Jews were given rights. By 1861 Jews were given full citizenship and the ghetto was leveled for urban renewal. But with the Holocaust, World War 2, and the Nazi invasion of Italy, life for Jews deteriorated. Nazis arrested and sent Jews to Auschwitz. Almost all of them were killed except for the few who were hidden and saved by other Italians. Their previous place of worship, The Great Synagogue of Florence was occupied by Nazi soldiers and used for storage. After the war, the Jews who remained, restored their Temple and added a Jewish museum with Jewish ceremonial art. They intended to use the space to help rebuild their community.

The architecture of the Synagogue stands out with Moorish design as well as a bright, teal oxidized roof to stand out on the Florence skyline. The level of preservation of the Synagogue as well as the artifacts and art brought to the Synagogue and museum are incredible. When I visited the Synagogue it cultivated a lot of emotion for me as well as my friends who came. The Synagogue was almost completely empty. Due to excessive tourism in Florence, most churches and historical sites we went to were packed. The fact that there was practically no one there actualized how small the Jewish community in Florence is and the hardships they have faced. It was a much more intimate setting compared to the business of everywhere else we had been, allowing a safe space for us to feel and appreciate the perseverance and determination of these Italian Jews.

Astrid and a friend looking out a high window at the city of Florence

I asked the staff member there how all of the artifacts in the museum were so well preserved in spite of the Nazi invasion and occupation of Florence. She responded that everything that remained had simply been hidden very well. For example, one of the Torahs preserved still had completely visible and intact Hebrew. They had also preserved traditional outfits for adults and infants and many other artifacts.

Today, they have built up the community surrounding the Synagogue with Jewish-owned businesses. There are bakeries, restaurants, and many of the Jews live in the area surrounding the Synagogue. It is beautiful to see the community they have fought for and preserved in Italy.

These values of community are apparent to me in every part of Italy that I went to. When we visited Siena, we were fortunate enough to come on a day with a festa titolare. This is a “parade of the districts” where the town puts up their Siena flags and drums throughout all the neighborhoods. Men and boys of all ages marched with drums through the streets dressed in their traditional attire. Their pants were bright red on one side and white with a green stripe on the other side. They had green velvet tops on, some striped with white as well. On their heads they wore a red velvet cap or other red headpiece. We gracefully stumbled upon a community gathered and watched the festa titolare parade through. Everyone seemed to know each other and hugged and celebrated. I was in awe of the feeling of closeness juxtaposed against what seemed to me a very large city.

Astrid and friends enjoying a picnic and paintingMy group of close friends, with whom I roomed during my time in Florence, collectively realized these differences of cultural values and knew we wanted to incorporate them into our lives back in the United States. Endeavoring to start immediately, one sunny afternoon in Florence, we went to a local market near our apartment and got an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, and lunch items. We brought our things to a park and picnicked together for a long while talking, eating, laughing, and painting in watercolor. That afternoon was so special to us because while we were in Italy, the values we were appreciating were things that we could immediately incorporate into our lives and to inspire us to do so back in the U.S. later. We agreed that when coming back to Butler we would meet every Wednesday evening to cook together and enjoy each other’s presence.

Americans have become so privatized and separated from one another that it seems loneliness has become normalized. Through studying the Jewish community in Florence, as well as learning about Italian values as a whole, I felt my own values in life shifting. I wanted the closeness of my own Jewish family to inspire me further by creating community in other dimensions of my life. I believe community heals the soul, and I could not be more grateful for the ways Italy changed me, indefinitely, and for the better.

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Flourishing in the Aesthetic

Written by: Daylen Byrd |  Summer 2023
Art and Culture in Vienna

Daylen inside the Secession, “Beethoven Frieze” -Gustav Klimt

Inside the Secession, “Beethoven Frieze” -Gustav Klimt

An aesthetic can be defined by its physicality or set principles. One merely experiences an aesthetic when obligated to do so, although others commit themselves in doing so. To flourish in the aesthetic is to command experience and perception. Qualities that help to define or redefine the nature of such. Traversing countries and continents mends a perceived yearning for cultural understanding and artisanal appreciation. Here a person becomes self-aware, relating the foreign to their domestic, establishing if not growing who they are in relation to the world around them.

Building on waterway in Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

Within the artistic parameters of my global education, I have come to experience Florence, Italy in the summer of 2022 and now Vienna, Austria in 2023. Florence became the ladder to my contempt sanctuary. There I was able to relinquish the prejudice that kept away progress. Surrounded by preserved artistry and a culture foreign to my own, I found the urge to expand. To expand in a way that would teach me about myself and how to evolve in my pursuits. An expansion of self and skill. I floated across waters, hiked centuries-old architectures and adapted to my changing environments, and yet I still yearned for adventure. I left Florence as someone who possessed a keen inspiration and a firm perception of self. But the state of possession has the ability to shift from one hand to another. On June 8, 2023 I left to spend 2 weeks in Vienna.

Buildings in Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria

I knew that a change in scenery brought much needed alterations to life and provided the opportunity for reflection. For years I had found comfort in art, as both expression and a source of happiness, and it is why I pursue it. Much like art, Vienna provided not only a space for expression but it also became an environment of creative exploration. I would visit numerous museums daily, such as the Leopold and the Secession. I rode subways into modern cities merged with historical buildings. I even walked gravesites filled with classical sculpture. But most importantly, I allowed myself to experience the aesthetic.

Garden view of the Upper Belvedere palace, Vienna

Upper Belvedere Palace, Vienna

Traveling gives you this opportunity to experience pleasant change. Any student should consider studying abroad as I find it as a way to make traveling more accessible and it provides greater opportunities in discovering yourself outside of your comfort zone. You start to learn more about yourself and your passions, and while in a foreign place you give yourself a sense of freedom that lies outside of a campus or a dorm. When seeking an aesthetic, flourish within it. Go into it with the hopes of learning and changing, appreciating all there is to offer.

Walking street between buildings in Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria

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Giselle Varre: My Identity at Home and Abroad

Written by: Giselle Varre  |  Summer 2023
Communication in Ireland

If my time in Ireland has taught me Giselle posing in front of Cliffs of Moheranything about myself, my identity at home and abroad is similar, which is good. As a Black woman, I carry that identity with pride daily at home and on campus. I expected that identity to experience little change with my time abroad, but I did expect it to expand. I would always be that proud Black girl with a few new experiences and additional knowledge. I do also hold the identity of a nurturer in my daily life. I made it my mission to care for my friends and family, and that did not change while abroad. I was prepared to look after my peers during our time abroad and assist Professor Stevenson-Holmes if needed, and I did just that. I also met some fantastic people who held that same outlook, making my experience much more fruitful.

Even when I travel in America, I prepare myself for my identity to be challenged racially or intellectually. So this hypothetical is something that I have to keep in the back of my mind so it won’t be a crippling surprise when it does happen. I did not experience any racial issues in Ireland. Still, my peers and I did make sure to read reviews before going to restaurants and pubs and did discover some bad reviews regarding race. I expected this experience abroad to help me grow as a woman of color. In addition, studying abroad was the first step in building an international network of my peers. Being abroad also helped me leave my comfort zone and navigate unfamiliar situations.

Giselle and friends posing outside Irish Castle

As people of color, we are commonly brought together by our cultures and struggles. To my surprise, I found both of these things in Ireland. Ireland has a history of struggle, from war against the British to inner conflict with British loyalists. They also have their own culture, like food, dance, and lore preceding Anglo domination. Expanding my knowledge of a European country that isn’t precisely Eurocentered was fascinating. I am also grateful that I was able to develop my Butler identity on this trip.

My peers and I often discussed the social gap that we call “the Butler bubble” on our trip. The “bubble” is commonly referred to as a colonial mindset that prevents students from experiencing other activities and groups within and outside of Butler University. We all confessed that we didn’t think we would have been friends without this experience. Most of my peers in Ireland are a part of Greek Life back at school, which I have perceived as a separate entity from the entire student body. This experience has motivated me to not only expand my horizons abroad but to expand them back at school as well.

To my surprise, the location that offered Giselle and friends seated at Irish pubme the opportunity to reflect on my identity the most and meet other people were the pubs! We would break into smaller groups and go to the pubs almost every night after our group activities. Pub culture is influential in Ireland. We could enjoy live music, talk to new people, and have the opportunity to get to know each other better. Even if you aren’t a drinker, the pubs are for you. I felt most comfortable and at ease in this setting, but I also had to give some of that credit to the fantastic group of friends I made.

My biggest lesson from studying abroad with Butler was that I can sometimes let myself get in the way; I need to allow myself to be more outgoing back at home. I don’t want a world-shifting experience to motivate me to talk to people and not overthink things about approaching people outside my circle. I’ve missed so much at home by thinking about what was and was not okay, but I didn’t hold back in Ireland. Instead, I said yes to every positive experience and allowed myself to let go. I learned so much about myself and Ireland in 10 days and couldn’t be more grateful.


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Best in Marseille, France

Written by: Amelia Dessauer  |  Spring 2023
BU Exchange at Kedge Business School

Best in Marseille, France – Amelia’s lovely blog layoutAmelia posing next railing overlooking cliffs

Marseille, located off the Mediterranean coast is known for its bustling port and beautiful, diverse landscape spanning from the mountains to the sea. Marseille is truly unique with rich cultures and elegant Greek architecture. I am going to be taking you through some of my favorite restaurants in Marseille.


A unique trait that I have discovered in Marseille is the numerous amounts of Italian restaurants specializing in pizza. With circus inspired decor, delectable pizzas, and exceptional pasta, you cannot go wrong with Splendido. I recommend ordering one of their many pizzas made with sweet Italian San Marzano tomatoes perfected with fluffy crust. Splendido utilizes a wood-fired oven resulting in a perfect bake, a standard throughout Marseille. Steps away from vieux port, Splendido is in a fantastic location to watch the sunset over the port after a meal. I have eaten at Splendido a couple times already and plan on going back.

Seafood dish served on large platterTuba

Tuba Club, located about forty-five minutes out of the city on the sea, is the freshest seafood I have ever had. Starting with this beautiful plate filled with scallops, traditional French snails, tuna, and oysters I was truly impressed. Next, was the catch of the day prepared in front of you finishing off with a pumpkin desert paired with refreshing ice cream. If you are ever in Marseille, I highly recommend taking a trip to Tuba.

Cote Sushi

Becoming a sushi lover recently has made me very grateful of Marseille. There are dozens of fresh sushi options at a great price. The app, The Fork, has lent me great deals on sushi and various other types of foods. The app currently is not used in Indianapolis, but I hope the app expands soon so others can get quality food at a discount. The trend of quality food has been prevalent here in Marseille and all over Europe.

Creperie Chez Mamie

Located steps from my nearest metro station, Creperie Chez Mamie is a an exceptional creperie. I find it best as a snack on my way home from class or being out for the day. The staff is friendly and warm, and the crepes come out quick. Crepes are a traditional French food and there are many options all over the city in every area. These crepes will definitely be missed, and I hope to attempt when I come back.

BakeriesCroissant and coffee mug on dining table

Another food that cannot be missed in Marseille and France in general are croissants. You can find a bakery on every corner with dozens of croissants, pastries, sandwiches, baguettes and many more. The croissants here are unlike any I have had before with the flaky buttery crust and soft doughy inside. Paired with an espresso or tea, croissants are a great breakfast or snack throughout the day. The French take croissants very seriously and I have come to realize why. Croissants are a must try in France!

Steak ‘n Shake

Changing pace here and surprisingly on my list is the Indiana based chain restaurant, Steak ‘n Shake. Being from Indiana, I was happily surprised to see a Steak ‘n Shake so far from home, so I had to try. I ordered a classic cheeseburger with fries and a shake, and it was amazing. The quality standard of food here is much higher and it is illustrated in the Beautiful sunset off of Marseille's coastfast food. Due to this quality, the price is higher, but it is a small price to pay for this delicious meal. As you can see in the picture on the left, I was given wooden utensils. I am always grateful to see restaurants using a more sustainable option and here in Marseille if a restaurant doesn’t use metal utensils, then wooden or bamboo utensils are utilized. Something that the US should take note on.

All in all, I am very grateful to Butler and to Kedge for allowing me to travel to a new country, gain a fresh perspective and experience new opportunities along the way. Especially with the food 🙂


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