Language Learning Abroad

Written by: Tessa Fackrell  |  Summer 2022
French Language and Culture in Quebec

Learning a second language in a class setting, and speaking said language to a native speaker are completely different experiences. In class, mistakes are common and forgettable. You’re in class to learn, so why would you stress about using la instead of le.

In theory, that principle should work when speaking abroad; it’s easy to tell you’re a foreigner because of anything from your accent to your clothes, most people can guess that you’re learning. So why is it that speaking the language you’re practicing is such a scary hurdle? Simple tasks like ordering coffee, or checking out at the grocery store seem daunting. Walking back and forth in front of a market for half an hour trying to find the nerve to potentially butcher the employee’s language is a struggle all on it’s own.

This was on of my biggest anxieties when I was abroad and practicing French in Québec city this summer. Instead of letting you wander back and forth in front of the market trying to memorize a script of exactly what to say, below are five ways I eventually made myself more comfortable speaking in French.

How to Speak a Language Abroad:

  1. Acceptance – Were skipping to the last step of the grieving process for our opening tip because the first thing that helped me was understanding that I was going to mess up the article, or the tense, or the pronunciation of whatever I was trying to say. Instead of being embarrassed about this, I took on the mindset that I would probably never see this waiter again, so the fact that I asked for grilled leaves wasn’t such a big problem for me in the long run, and he’ll leave with a funny story so both of us come away winners.
  2. Practice – I was lucky enough to stay with a host family who let me stumble through sentences and would graciously help me sort out the more blaring errors. If you don’t have a host family, find a bilingual friend who’s willing to sit through some incoherent sentences for the sake of learning.
  3. Patience – Being frustrated at yourself for not learning fast enough simply will not help you, unfortunately. You are learning a new language with intricacies that take native speakers years to learn, be patient with yourself.
  4. Laugh at your mess ups – When you do make a mistake, it will probably be small. But if you’re like me and you use the word that you think means silly but it actually means ugly, and you use it in a classroom setting (confidently), you’re going to either dwell on it for your trip, or laugh about it and move on. If the worst thing that happens on your trip is a miscommunication, it’s been an incredible trip.
  5. Enjoy the moment – Trying to soak up all that you can about a new language and culture while worrying about not embarrassing yourself is impossible. We’re humans and our brains only have so much room, don’t waste it on trying to be perfect. The other side to that is don’t waste your time learning the language worrying about what’s going to happen when you get home. If you spend more time worrying about how much you’re learning, you won’t have anything to practice and build on when you get back.

All of this is to say that you can walk into that store and order that croissant, I believe in you! Even if you mess up you can just explore a different bakery next time! Be a sponge, soak up everything you can with your experience, and take it with you as you continue to learn and grow.


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“Just Be Careful There” – An LGBTQ+ Perspective Abroad

Written by: Samantha Mauter  |  Summer 2022
woman by statue in singaporeButler in Asia Summer Internship: Singapore

One of the first things I did when I found out that I was accepted in the Butler in Asia program and it would be in Singapore (not Tokyo, which I applied for) was look up the LGBTQ+ rights there. During the information session, the words “homosexuality is illegal in Singapore” were said but never further explained. My  friends told me that I should “just be careful there” in fear that something might happen to me. I tried to find more information on what it’s like to live in Singapore as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, but the information was scarce. All this to say, I did not really know what to expect.

Although my experience with the queer community in  Singapore was limited, I did have a few interactions that have shaped my view of what it’s like compared to France since I studied abroad there for a year.

I came out as gay in France, so before this trip, I haven’t really experienced being “out”
to people from the US. In spite of someone outing me during this trip without my
consent, I was received with acceptance and a sense of normalcy within the Butler
group. That is to say that I wasn’t treated as the odd one out.

building in singaporeOne of the big changes in Singapore was that I was working there, not studying like I
was in France, which was a very different dynamic. Many people believe that our
personal lives, specifically who we date or marry, have no place in the workplace, and
that simply isn’t true. In my experience, coworkers talk to each other about their
personal lives, which includes who they’re dating or who their partner is. This happened
to me when I went out to dinner with some of my coworkers in Singapore, and they
casually talked about the men they were seeing. Although they might have been
accepting, I couldn’t risk ruining our dynamic in the workplace, so I stayed quiet.

In France I discovered my love of going to one bar and becoming a regular there, and
this was no different in Singapore. One night, I was walking down this street filled with
bars and stopped dead in my tracks when I saw a pride flag hanging inside this one bar.
After talking to the owner, it turned out that he hung it up so that everyone would feel
accepted there, which was so heartwarming since I hadn’t really found a place like that
in Singapore yet. In the many times that I went to that bar, it felt like a cozy little place
that I could sneak off to where I wasn’t afraid to be myself.

building in SinaporeThe one time when I truly feel like I experienced the queer community in Singapore was when I went to a queer party a local who I met on Tinder and became friends with told me about at the Hard Rock Cafe of all places. I was lucky enough to be invited by her and sit at her table, so I was able to get to know her friends who were all queer women. It was there that for the first time on my trip, I felt at home there. The drag shows, the dancing, the music – it was all incredible and I’ll never forget that night. I was able to really be my most authentic self while I was abroad in France and Singapore for the first time in my whole life. While I don’t think my short two-month stay in Singapore is a full reflection of the LGBTQ+ experience in the country, the little slice I did experience gave me hope for the future there.

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Applying Global Perspectives to Future Healthcare Careers

Written by: Sara Wilson  |  Summer 2022
History and Culture of the Mediterranean Diet and Healthcare Delivery in the United Kingdom: Lessons From the Past, Preparing for the Future

student in red phone boothI had the privilege of studying abroad this summer in London, England on the Healthcare Delivery in the United Kingdom program and in Florence, Italy on the History and Culture of the Mediterranean Diet program. By completing these two study abroad programs, I was able to gain six credit hours that go towards pharmacy school electives. Earning credit hours will help me immediately by having to take less hours down the road, but these experiences granted me so much more.

Studying abroad is all about gaining new perspectives and soaking in as much culture and knowledge you can. I went into this experience with an open mind and eager attitude, and yet, I still learned so much more than I thought I would. The biggest thing that I took away from these two trips was how much of an impact a global perspective can have on my future career. Since these trips are tailored towards students going into the healthcare field, a majority of our trip was learning about the healthcare and wellness in other countries. Being able to immerse myself in the healthcare of another country, I can now carry that knowledge and perspective with me for the rest of my life.

students with fresh pastaFor example, in London, we learned all about how the healthcare system works in England, so we were able to compare their system with how the United States’ system works. Now, I will be able to bring my knowledge with me to wherever I may end up in my future career and focus on the things that worked well in the United Kingdom and what already works well here in the United States. In Florence, we learned all about the Mediterranean Diet and healthy living. Not only will I be able to apply these healthy living habits to my own life, but also into my future patient’s lives as well. Not very many people have the opportunity to gain a global perspective for their future career, so it is a very appealing quality when searching for a future job.

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The Mediterranean Diet & Lifestyle

Written by: Clare Hooper  |  Summer 2022
History and Culture of the Mediterranean Diet

During my time in Florence, I was exposed to food and a culture that I truly fell in love with. My dad’s side is from Sicily, and I was raised with some Italian traditions. Meals together with family were always special.

In my time at Butler, I have learned more about myself than I would have ever imagined. In the past two years, my love for health and food has drastically increased. Two years ago, I discovered that I had to go gluten free for medical reasons. If I ate anything containing gluten, I would fall asleep almost instantly. For years, I have been trying to eliminate foods that would make my body worse. This trip gave me the ability to find foods that could fuel my body to make it stronger. I learned all about the Mediterranean Diet, and I believe it is a diet that many people could easily follow and stick with. When I thought about what a healthy dinner should consist of, I always pictured some form of meat as the main dish with a side of vegetables. Now after studying abroad, I learned that meat does not have to be the main source of nutrients.

salad in bowlIn America, vegetarians and vegans have substitutes for protein, but what I liked about Italy was that there were no substitutes. They used other foods as a source of protein, instead of having a veggie burger or another form of substitute. Another fun fact that I learned is that balsamic vinegar has plenty of antioxidant properties. This means that balsamic vinegar is one of the many foods that can be used to protect people from inflammation, heart disease, and even cancer. It can be used to make a salad healthier instead of using another dressing.

I liked the lifestyle involving food in Florence. There were set times for meals, and employers were allowed to close their place of business for meals. If an employee wanted to go take a walk, they could. If the store had been slow all day and they wanted to close early, they could. I have always wanted to be in a position where I live to work not work to live. I understand that not everyone has that ability, but my goal for my future was always to be able to save enough money up so if I am sick, or want to take some time off, I could. In Italy, they also thought the same way.

I remember I went to a leather store, and it was owned by a friend of my professor. He and his friend were going to go to the beach the following day. They were going to close the shop during the middle of the week just to have a nice relaxing day at the beach. I am not sure if anyone in America could or would do something like that; I am not familiar with that situation in Indiana. However, I thought it was so interesting that people can just take off to go eat, go to the beach, or go wherever they wanted. Money was not everything to them, and I think that is one of the biggest differences between America and Italy.

The other difference I saw is the overall state of health of the citizens in both countries. I was very fortunate enough to learn about health and food from the Italians. I am still trying to find ways to incorporate balsamic vinegar and other antioxidant foods into my diet little by little each day.

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Behind-the-Scenes: An Archaeological Dig in Greece

Written by: Aidan Gregg  |  Summer 2022
Nemea Center for Classical Archaeology Field School

It’s 95 degrees there are no clouds in the sky to protect you from the sun. You’ve been working deep in a trench with a pickaxe for four hours and there’s no end in sight. Whenever the wind blows over the dig site, you’re blinded by dirt and dust. Did I mention how hot it is?

Before I came to Greece, I had no idea what archaeology would be like. To say the very least, I’m not built for physical activity. My idea of a good time is sitting in the library, reading the same translation of the Illiad for the fifth time. Demanding manual labor for hours in the hot sun? Absolutely not. But something about archaeology was different.

Greek ruins

The temple of Nemean Zeus

My study abroad journey took me to Nemea, the mythological home of the Nemean Lion, which the hero Heracles slew as the first of his 12 labors. Surrounded on all sides by ancient history, twelve students, including myself, participated in an archaeological dig. To the East is the ancient stadium where the Nemean games took place, one of the four Panhellenic Games. To the West is the shrine of Opheltes, an ancient structure dedicated to the cult worship of the hero. And to the North is the Temple of Nemean Zeus, where athletes once honored the king of the gods.

Our excavation took place in the remains of an early Christian basilica, built atop an ancient xenon, a hotel where visitors to the sanctuary would stay in ancient times. The purpose of our excavation was to uncover the walls of this site that were previously excavated and backfilled so they could be preserved for future viewing. Slowly but surely, over the span of four weeks, we revealed more and more of the structure, including the remains of an ancient aqueduct, and had made our way over a meter below the surface. As we were digging, we were also taking pictures of the site, creating scale drawings of the trenches and the walls, and recording everything for future generations of scholars to look back on and learn from.

I can’t stress enough how brutal the work is. You’re hot, sweaty, sunburned, and every inch of your body is covered in dust. But after a long day, nothing beats the feeling of satisfaction as you look at all the things you’ve found and all the dirt you’ve moved. The only thing that compares is the delight of feasting on homemade Greek food after work.

Of course, the fun doesn’t stop in the field. Every few days, we got the chance to work in the back rooms of the on-site museum and escape the heat. I spent most of my time in the museum piecing through pottery sherds (as opposed to “shards,” which refer to glass fragments) in order to identify what kinds of vessels they came from and when they were made. This involved searching through massive, dilapidated catalogs of pottery found during previous excavations to find comparanda, other objects that were similarly made and produced at the same time. I was shocked by how much one could learn about a pot with only a small piece of it.

But why is it important to know what kind of pot a silly little sherd came from and when it was made? I asked the same question. We had thousands of pieces of pottery whose pots had been lost to time, how could they be that important?

The answer is context. Each type of pot we can identify provides us with more context about how the archaeological site was used. For example, if we found a lot of sherds with a texture like sandpaper, a few inclusions like small stones, and evidence of burning, we would know that these pots were used as cookware. Therefore, we could determine that there was a lot of cooking going on at that site. Thus, we can learn more about the activities of ancient humans at that place, at that time.

Or, if we found a large portion of decorated fine ware sherds from closed vessels, like a lekythos, a pot used for storing oil for religious ceremonies, we would be able to learn more about a site’s use in a religious context. But what if we were to find out that many of those sherds were severely burned? In that case, we would have cause to believe that there was a fire at that site thousands of years ago.

sleeping cat

A mischievous kitten, Fluff

The hardest part of working in the museum wasn’t looking through volumes of comparanda or handling delicate thousand-year-old objects. It was watching the kittens.

Our museum had three kittens, Peanut butter, Marshmallow Fluff, and Nutella, born a few weeks before the start of the field school season. These adorable balls of fluff were absolute menaces to the order of the museum. We had to be in a state of constant vigilance around the kittens to ensure they weren’t trying to jump onto a table to play with bones, trying to knock down the racks of drying pottery or engaging in other shenanigans. The stress of keeping the kittens out of trouble paled in comparison to the joy of getting to play with them every day. Of all the things I miss about my time in Greece, those kittens are at the top of the list.

This is only a tiny glimpse into the world of archaeology. Over a dozen specialized fields like paleoethnobotany, bioarchaeology, landscape archaeology, and underwater archaeology, provide even more insight into the ancient world. If you want to learn more about the field of archaeology, check in with the Department of History, Anthropology, and Classics, or Butler’s resident archaeologist, Dr. Kvapil. You could even get involved with Butler’s Ancient Mediterannean Cultures and Archaeology lab. And if you’re ready for it, go out in the field and get dirty!

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A letter to a future study abroad student: a melting pot of advice, suggestions, and other random things

Written by: Peer Advocate, Jacqueline Bickhaus

A letter to a future study abroad student: a melting pot of advice, suggestions, and other random things

Dear future study abroad student,
I am so jealous of you. Your upcoming endeavor may potentially be the best experience of your life. The idea of going to another country to study for a semester, year, or even just a week seems extremely daunting. It can be, but through your upcoming experience, you will learn a whole lot about yourself, discover just how much you are capable of, and launch yourself into the very real world far beyond the Butler Bubble. You may even try to talk yourself out of fulfilling this abroad experience in order to minimize those fears and doubts that may creep into your head, but I am here to remind you that you originally gained an interest for a reason, completed an application and had it accepted, and have taken all necessary steps to bring this dream of yours to fruition.

Continue reading

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Study Abroad + Study Away: Butler Semesters in Spain and NYC

Written by: Peer Advocate Raziya Hillery

Having the opportunity to study away twice throughout my college career is an incredible privilege I was able to have. My sophomore year of college, in Fall 2019, I studied abroad internationally in Madrid, Spain, and two years later, in Fall 2021, I was able to study away domestically in New York, New York. Learning about these Butler-sponsored programs and thinking I could only do one or the other is a common misconception I had. 

Per my last reflection on studying abroad as a person of color in Madrid, this blog would compare both two studying abroad experiences from Butler, specifically the processes, classes, and my experiences. I hope to encourage students to pursue their goals no matter how out of reach they may seem to be and study abroad if able.  Continue reading

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Written by Madison Pines, Digital Nomad Diversity Awardee

Right foot forward. Left foot forward. Right foot forward. Left foot forward. Look
down at the brown and wet earth beneath your feet. Look up and see the
thousands of stars littering the sky. The crunch of the sticks beneath your feet
echoes around you as you walk further into the jungle. The only guiding light
comes from a dim phone flashlight in your hand. You shine the light in a circle
around you. As the light passes by, it illuminates the vivid green of the leaves
that surround you, but it reveals more. Creatures that you have only seen behind
glass at the zoo make their appearance known. The banana spider slowly creeps
closer to you from the leaf it’s perched on. The light green viper, coiled high
above you, watches as you continue to walk forward, passing right under it. And
suddenly your thoughts start to wonder. Is this real? Or am I in a movie? Continue reading

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Life Hacks and Helpful Tips for Studying Abroad

Written by: Peer Advocate Melanie Klaben

I know from experience that studying abroad can be very overwhelming at first. When I landed in Paris last September, I felt like I knew nothing, but I quickly settled into my new home and never wanted to leave. I will share some of the life hacks and pieces of advice that helped make my study abroad experience so amazing.

The Best Apps and Websites

Everything is easier if you know the best apps and websites to use. One of the most helpful apps for my entire study abroad experience was Citymapper. This app is much better than Google Maps or Apple Maps if you’re trying to travel around European cities. I used Citymapper every single day while I was in Paris. It was also very useful when I traveled to other cities in Europe! Continue reading

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Day in the Life: GALA Galapagos

Day In the Life

Written by Madison Pines, Digital Nomad Diversity Awardee

Day 52 – Galapagos

My morning started at 5:45 to watch the sunrise over ocean. I sat on the patio listening to the sounds of the ocean and reading my book as the sky around me progressively became lighter and lighter.

Finally, around 6:30 our alarm went off in the room, rousing my roommates to start the day. We spent some time packing our bags and getting ready for our excursion.

After a quick breakfast of pancakes, we drove in the back of a pick-up truck to the pier where we boarded our boat for our day-long snorkeling adventure. Continue reading

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