Kenzie Helmick’s Study Abroad Experience in Madrid

I recently reached the half-way point of my month-long study abroad program in Madrid, Spain, in which I am taking 2 courses – a language course and a history seminar class taught exclusively in Spanish – and have participated in two excursions to Toledo and Valencia through International Studies Abroad (ISA), a program affiliated with Rollins.

This program also marks my fifth month living and studying in a Spanish-speaking country, as I spent four months in Chile through another study abroad program with School for International Training (SIT) before, just three short weeks later, arriving to Spain.

I specifically chose to participate in two language-exchange programs back-to-back in order to have a more intensified, language-learning experience in which I am immersed in my language of study for as much time and as consistently as possible. I first realized the importance of this thorough immersion through my first program in Chile, during which I spent the final month working on an individual research project, interviewing, writing and working exclusively in Spanish and traveling alone. Within these two and a half short weeks, my Spanish improved more than it had in my first month studying.

As a result, I have dedicated my time here in Spain to living and speaking with locals and the language as much as possible outside of the classroom. Instead of staying in a traditional dorm or residence hall in a university, I am staying with a local host family, an 82-year old woman named Irene and her fulltime living assistant, with whom I talk exclusively in Spanish. Outside of class, I am participating in a program of “intercambio,” in which individuals from Madrid, and students from the ISA program, are able to meet and practice their Spanish and English. Finally, with the friends I’ve made from my classes, students of other study abroad programs from Brazil, Holland, and Thailand, I speak exclusively in Spanish, even though all of us know and understand English.

With this constant practice, and my previous background living in Chile, my Spanish has continued to improve exponentially. Of course, it’s hard to continually be conscious of this growth, yet there are times in which I realize the improvement I’ve made, either by surprising myself with a new phrase or word remembered or understood, or complex conversation maintained, or by the words of encouragement given by my professors or homestay. It is these moments that continue to encourage me to push myself out of my comfort zone and speak, and speak often, with others.

 

 

 

 

 

Carlye Goldman Reflects on International TEFL Academy experience

From June 4 to 29, 2018, I completed a 4-week TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course in Barva, Hereida, Costa Rica. Post-completion of the course, my TEFL certification permits me to teach English anywhere around the world. Being a Social Entrepreneurship major with no authentic teaching experience, I was intimated by the idea of becoming an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher. However, I was surrounded by 19-other passionate TEFL trainees coming from all different backgrounds, which was an inspiring and comforting factor. Even though, all of us being a wide range of ages and possessing different credentials, we all shared a common goal—the desire to become effective and successful ESL teachers.

Being a part of the 4-week course gave me the opportunity to teach 6 different teaching practicums to real ESL students. With no teaching experience at all, I was timid to execute my teaching practicums with full confidence. However, International TEFL Academy Costa Rica (ITA) prepared me sufficiently and teaching in a real ESL setting became to seem so natural to me. Teaching students older in age than me was daunting and yet so inspiring. I learned so much from them, as they did from me. They yearn to speak English better than I can. They would elicit as much information out of me to expand their English vocabulary and grammar knowledge. I learned that teaching starter students, typically high school students, is such a challenge, yet so rewarding. With ESL, we are taught to not provide any translations to vocabulary words of the students’ native tongue. This is how they learn best. The ITA philosophy of teaching ESL is just incredible—English only with immense Student Talk Time. The teaching style is effective, and reliable 100% of the time.

Carlye Goldman Teaches English as a Foreign Language in Costa Rica

It was Tuesday, June 12th—my very first teaching practicum ever. I was placed to teach at Hogares Crea, a conservative boys home. Their level was “starter,” and they were a group of six, rowdy teenage boys. They live there, therefore, they choose whether or not to be in English class that day. The ones who show up want to learn with all their might. The boys do not know a lick of English. “Starter” students typically have some basis of the English language, however, the knowledge that these boys displayed was slim to none. So, I provoked my adaptability for the entirety of the 45-50 minute lesson. Using filler words or phrases such as “now, we are going to…” is purely noise to them. The aim/objective of my lesson was for them to understand the present simple tense, positives and negatives. Something that seems so basic to learn, is not so basic when you have never taken an English class in your life or English is not your native language. Just getting one grammar point across was my new goal: the importance of placing an “s” on the present simple verb for third person singular pronouns. Baffled looks on all six of their faces, the philosophy of an ESL lesson underscores the importance of speaking. Just getting them to generate present simple sentences was a battle but they needed it. The more Student Talk Time produced, the more they remembered the grammar point. The more I talked “at” them, they absorbed nothing. Consequently, this was my first exposure to teaching a starter class, and in its exhausting, all-consuming procedure, I loved every second of it.

Observing my experienced teachers, Luke Panek and Melanie Lubinas at ITA gave me the tools needed to successfully perform the teaching practicums. After observing, the implementation phase was the most beneficial part of the learning process. Then, being observed from multiple experienced teachers fresh out of the TEFL course, I received such incredible feedback to use in my additional lessons. If and when I so choose to live abroad and teach English, I am well equipped to do so. I plan to teach English online following the course to gain more practical experience, while I finish my undergrad degree. I can wholeheartedly say that I am confident in my ESL teaching abilities to teach English to foreign language learners.

 

Krescent Williams Reflects on European Geosciences Union Conference

Krescent Williams presenting her research at the European Geosciences Union Conference in Vienna

Before attending the EGU conference, I always thought of Rollins as a good school, but at the EGU’s Early Career Scientists (ECS) Debate I learned how valuable my education at Rollins has truly been. The debate wasn’t a normal debate — it turned out that the attendees were actually the ones participating. So as each person arrived, they sent us to tables with 7-10 people each and gave us the question, “should early career scientists use time to develop transferrable skills?”

At my table, there were two people from Germany, one from Switzerland, two from Iran, and one from Turkey. Among the seven of us, I was the only undergraduate and the youngest there, two were professors, one owned her own scientific tech company, and the rest of them were in graduate or Ph.D. school. It was slightly intimidating at first, but once we started conversing, I felt like I had plenty to contribute. Due to the vagueness of the question, we first examined and developed what we thought they meant by and our own definition of “transferrable skills.” Then, another supplementary question we considered thoroughly was, “what are some concrete skills?” For this question, I listened to the entire group as I tried to arrange my thoughts. Once everyone had spoken, I spoke about my double major in chemistry and music, Rollins’ liberal arts education, and how both have led me to believe that the most useful skills in any situation are communication, creativity, and adaptability. The group was impressed with Rollins’ values and methods, and we actually talked about how we could apply them into our research/lives. Having these conversations and getting to hear the opinions/experiences of this eclectic group gave me an unprecedented appreciation for the global community Rollins teaches and cherishes. It’s something I’ll never forget.

Krescent Williams Presents Research at European Geosciences Union Conference in Vienna

Krescent Williams with fellow GeoTenerife summer interns at the EGU Conference in Vienna, Austria

I arrived at the European Geosciences Union Conference in the Austria Center Vienna with  a beating heart and a curious mind. I walked into the first building and immediately met a witty Austrian man who helped me sign in and pick up my registration packet. After, I walked further into a massive room with hundreds of scientific posters, all related to different fields of geoscience. Little did I realize there were five other rooms just like it with poster sessions that rotated several times daily, and another building across the walkway with five floors of lecture rooms and an expo in the middle. Almost 16,000 geoscientists were in attendance in the week-long conference, so to say I was overwhelmed would probably have been an understatement.

Austria Center Vienna hosted the European Geosciences Union Conference

As time progressed, though, I began feeling more comfortable with the layout and structure of the conference. I tried to soak up as much as I could – I went from session to session, hearing interesting oral presentations and interacting at poster sessions. With topics such as UV and IR imaging of volcanic phenomenon, wildfire aerosol analysis, the use of d18-O isotopes in rodent teeth to generate new climate records, and electromagnetic music, I began to finally piece together the vast applications of geoscientific research and the possibilities I will have with my degree in Chemistry from Rollins. Through my experience presenting at the EGU, I felt inspired, challenged, and in a way very at home. I enjoyed speaking with so many scientists of different ages, focuses, and backgrounds. I believe it exposed my mind to career paths and opportunities I had never even known had existed and for that I am so grateful for my summer research experience with GeoTenerife and INVOLCAN in the Canary Islands that allowed me to attend this impactful conference.

Julian Grundler Reflects on the American Chemical Society National Meeting in New Orleans

The 2018 American Chemical Society National Meeting in New Orleans

From March 18 to 21, 2018, I attended the American Chemical Society National Meeting in New Orleans. Although I already attended last year´s National Meeting in San Francisco, I was still impressed by the size of the conference with 13,000 attendees, 7,000 presentations, and 250 exhibitors. Being a student at a small liberal arts college with only a handful of students majoring in chemistry, it was truly inspiring to be surrounded by so many people that share the same interest and passion. I particularly enjoyed getting to know the people behind a research project who are usually only visible through their names on the author list of a journal article. Furthermore, attending talks about research on nanomaterials gave me new input and ideas for future research in graduate school.

The conference allowed me to meet with my collaborators which was the perfect opportunity to discuss my thesis as well as their current research progress with them. Apart from the conference, I had a great time reconnecting with students, post-docs, and professors from other institutions I worked with last summer. In my free time, I was able to do some sightseeing in New Orleans and learn more about the Creole culture. I was particularly fascinated by the French Quarter and its rich history. Overall, attending

Julian Grundler Presents Research at the American Chemical Society National Meeting

Attending the 255th ACS National Meeting in New Orleans gave me the opportunity to present my research to a broader chemistry audience. While I have already gained experience sharing my research with other people through several poster showcases, this represented my first time giving an oral presentation to a chemistry audience including well-known experts in the field of polymer chemistry.    As I spent a sufficient amount of time preparing for my presentation, I was not overly nervous and everything went well. I really enjoyed answering challenging question from the audience. In particular, I was able to help a person who was referred to me by my collaborator with questions he had asked at his talk earlier that day.

I really appreciated that the professor I worked for last summer attended my talk. He provided valuable feedback on my presentation skills and gave me helpful tips for graduate school. In my opinion, attending a conference of this size is the perfect opportunity to learn what makes a good presentation. Observing several poster and oral presentations helped me to identify the characteristics of a good presenter and successful presentation. In particular, I was fascinated by Prof. Jeremiah Johnson´s Nobel Laureate Signature Graduate Education Award address. He was able to display his authentic enthusiasm for his research and chemistry through his presentation style. I am confident that this experience helped me improve my presentation skills as well as communicate my research more efficiently.

Alyssa DeLucia Reflects on the American Chemical Society National Meeting

Rollins College crew at American Chemical Society National Meeting in NOLA

Attending and presenting at conferences provides not only the opportunity to show other in your field your research, but also the opportunity to network and make important connections. During the poster session, I had random graduate students approach me, with various backgrounds, which gave me the opportunity to practice how I would present to someone with a chemical engineering background, versus someone with an organometallic background like me. The graduate student with the organometallic background, Ryan, performed similar research as me with N-heterocyclic carbene ligands in undergrad. I was able to have a truly in-depth discussion with him and he offered valuable advice that I have been putting to use! I also ran into numerous students I met during my graduate school visits (for instance, I met the male student in the photo at UIUC). I attempted to attend the presentations of or just meet up with the various graduate students from the labs I was interested in at the graduate schools I visited, but unfortunately most of those labs were not presenting until after I left the conference. I was able to meet with a graduate student from UT Austin during his poster session which was very informative. I was also able to catch up with some of my lab mates from Georgia tech and fellow summer intern, Katie (in photo), whom I have not seen since the summer. I highly suggest taking advantage of all the networking opportunities at conferences! If applying to graduate school, this is an excellent opportunity to scope out specific lab groups to figure out where to apply.

Alyssia DeLucia Presents Research at American Chemical Society National Meeting in New Orleans

Alyssia DeLucia presenting her poster at American Chemical Society National Meeting in NOLA

Over spring break, I presented a poster at the American Chemical Society National Meeting in New Orleans. A few classmates, Phil and Julian, and two professors, Dr. Park and Dr. Patrone, also attended the conference. My poster was a culmination of the research I conducted over the summer at the Georgia Tech Research Experience for Undergraduates program and am currently conducting at Rollins for my senior thesis. Both my thesis and summer research focus on developing sustainable organometallic catalysts for important industrial reactions that currently use catalysts made from precious metals. The conference gave me the opportunity to meet leading scientists in my field and engage in discussion over my research. Spring break was a very hectic week for me, full of traveling from visiting graduate schools, so unfortunately, by the end of the break got laryngitis. Luckily, my voice lasted through the poster session! I was still able to try some world famous New Orleans cuisine, meet up with people, and explore the conference. I had my first (and probably the best I will ever have) bread pudding from Mother’s and then ate a lot of shrimp gumbo to soothe my throat. I had the best nurses (Dr. Patrone and Dr. Park) caring for me. I attended some talks regarding solid state chemistry to see if it would be a field I am interested in. I am thoroughly looking forward to presenting and attending another conference, but this time with my voice!

 

 

Julie Sparks Presents at the 2018 Regional Phi Alpha Theta Conference

Julie Sparks and other members of the Gender History Panel at the 2018 Regional Phi Alpha Theta conference

Phi Alpha Theta is a nationwide historical society for undergraduate and graduate History students. The society is used to facilitate connections within the history field and encourage historical research. As a member of Phi Alpha Theta and history major at Rollins College, I was able to apply to present historical research at the regional Phi Alpha Theta conference. This conference included universities from across Florida and convened at Palm Beach Atlantic University. At the conference, history researchers are placed in panels of discussions throughout the day depending on their specific research. I was able to sit on the Gender History Panel with the lovely ladies in the image below. This allowed for us to speak about similar themes and issues across American, French, and Chinese perceptions of women throughout the centuries. Specifically, I presented the shifting of gender stereotypes in the American Civil War South and how this was weaponized by Union forces. The Union targeted Southern masculinity as a total war tactic which led to a return of domestication in the postwar period. Other research followed medieval France and Wu Zetian from the Tang dynasty. Following presentations, we engaged in dynamic discussions on parallels and the context of each periods aided by our moderator. This experience allowed me to engage with others who conducted historical research and developed unique perspectives on historical events. I developed further as an individual and liberal arts student by being immersed in the Phi Alpha Theta conference and fellow researchers.