Hi Everyone! I’m Anne Marie and I a rising Junior at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. I am studying Biology and Religion Studies at Lehigh with a minor in Health, Medicine, and Society. I have been fortunate to have previous experience studying abroad including trips to Australia, Italy, and Israel.
In the summer of 2008, I was able to participate in a International Sports Specialists Inc., Down Under Sport Cross Country Program (www.downundersports.com/). In this program, we traveled to Australia and competed in cross-country races against Aussies and fellow Americans. It was an incredible experience. We were able to spend over two weeks exploring and learning about Australia and the Australian culture as well as spend time running and competing.
In the summer of 2010, I spent 8 weeks studying abroad and working in Rome, Italy with IES Abroad (https://www.iesabroad.org/IES/home.html). I took a language class to learn Italian as well as a class about the economics, politics, and business culture/policies of Italy which was associated with my internship. My internship in Rome was with When In Rome Tours (http://www.wheninrometours.com/) writing articles for the website about Italian tourism attractions, Roman culture, and my silly experiences as an American living in a foreign culture. Again, this was a fantastic opportunity that allowed me to be immersed in a foreign culture. It forced me out of my “comfort zone,” considering I did not speak a lick of Italian prior to my time in Rome.
This spring break, I was able to take an abbreviated study abroad trip with Lehigh University. Spring semester, I participated in a class called Religion 195: Explorations in Dialogue (http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=205590540407804456397.00049e2766bb7eb4d6e23&ll=32.067447,35.025101&spn=0.499832,1.056747&z=11&iwloc=00049e276a694099b092e). This class studied how the three major monotheistic religions: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, interact and communicate. As a class, we examined what challenges exist for open communication and interaction between these three religions. For spring break, a portion of the class took at 10 day trip to Israel to travel throughout the country to participate in experiential, hands-on educational “field trip.” Since this trip was only 10 days, it was a whirlwind of a trip. This was another phenomenal experience that allowed me to have a deeper understanding of these three religions due to the hands-on learning.
Now I am participating in this Indonesian Study Tour which is the collaborative study abroad in Indonesia and the United States. I am incredibly excited for this trip, because this program will provide all participants perspective into a foreign culture in a manner that is unlike any other program. It will allow all participants to understand and experience a foreign culture through the eyes of a native. I am looking forward to spending time with the Indonesian students and being able to experience and see Indonesia through their eyes. Having the Indonesian students able to answer any and all questions immediately with a depth of knowledge will give us insight into their beautiful culture in a brand new way.
As a Religion Studies major, I am very excited to learn about the religious culture of Indonesia. Indonesia’s population is over 85% Muslim and making it the world’s largest Muslim population (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Muslim_majority_countries). The Muslim percentage of total population in United States is only 0.8%. This is an incredible difference and as a result the culture and politics will be strongly affected due to the different religious influences in each country. I am looking forward to learning more about the Islamic faith and how this faith shapes and defines Indonesian and Javanese culture. I hope that this trip, blog, and my experience will encourage other students to visit or study abroad in Indonesia.
Ps. “Halo” is Indonesian for “Hello!” Be on the lookout for more Indonesian phrases!