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March 26th, 2014
This winter, BSU is offering a new study tour— to the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador! The tour is available for Biology or Math credit, but is open to all majors!
We thought this would be a good time to introduce some key information on the country:
- Location: Western South America, bordering the Pacific Ocean at the Equator, between Colombia and Peru.
- Population: 15,439,429
- Capital: Quito
- Currency: United States Dollar
- Official Language: Spanish
Geography: Ecuador is divided into three continental regions—the Costa, Sierra, and Oriente—and one insular region: the Galápagos Islands. The continental regions extend the length of the country from north to south and are separated by the Andes Mountains. The Galápagos Islands, officially called the Archipiélago de Colón, are located 620 miles west of the Ecuadorian coast (International Living).
For more information on this incredible opportunity to study over the winter break in the Galapagos, visit the BSU Office of Study Abroad website: my.bridgew.edu/departments/StudyAbroad
February 12th, 2014
December 16th, 2013
Around the world, family members help to decorate the tree and home with bright lights, wreaths, candles, holly, mistletoe, and ornaments. On Christmas Eve, many people go to church. Also on Christmas Eve, Santa comes from the North Pole in a sleigh to deliver gifts; in Hawaii, it is said he arrives by boat; in Australia, the jolly man arrives on water skis; and In Ghana, he comes out of the jungle.
In Ireland, it’s traditional to leave mince pies and a bottle of Guinness out as a snack for Santa
In Russia, Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January and not the 25th of December like in most other countries. This unusual date is because the Orthodox Church uses the old Julian calendar for religious celebration days. In the traditional Russian Christmas special prayers are said and people fast, sometimes for 39 days until January 6th (Christmas Eve) when the first evening star in appears in the sky. Then begins a twelve course supper in honor of each of the twelve apostles..
In the Czech Republic, single women perform a very usual ritual on Christmas Eve Day to find out if they will marry in the following year. With their backs to the house door, they throw one of their shoes over their shoulder. If the shoe lands with the heel towards the door, she will definitely stay single for another year, while if the front of the shoe points towards the door, it means she will move out of her parents’ house and she should start making wedding preparations.
In Sweden, there is a giant goat made of straw to mark the beginning of the holiday season. Every year vandals do everything they can to burn down the goat before Christmas day. Since 1966 the straw goat has survived until Christmas Day only 10 times. People disguise themselves as Santa or elves to get past the guardian and ignite the straw monument.
In Germany, December 6th is Nikolaustag St. Claus day. On the eve of that day, children leave out shoes or boot outside their door, and the next morning candles and small toys appear in them for those who have been good or else a golden birch (a symbol for spanking) is placed next to the sweets if they were bad.
In Greenland, rather than the more traditional Christmas foods, Kivak which consists of raw flesh of an auk wrapped in seal skin and placed under a rock for several months until its well into decomposition is the order of the day.
November 5th, 2013
1. King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament: Hua Hin, Thailand
September 5 - 11, 2005
Elephant polo in some form or another has been played for hundreds of years but was more recently reintroduced as an adaptation of classic horseback polo. This event takes place annually in the resort town of Hua Hin on the Gulf Coast of Thailand, with competitors coming in from all over South-East Asia. Held on the grounds of the Anantara Resort, the competition raises money for a local Elephant Conservation Center. Tournaments are also held regularly in Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Apart from the actual polo tournament, the celebrations last for an entire week and include a parade of elephants (accompanied by a marching band) through the city, an elephant blessing ceremony, polo memorabilia auctions, displays of the elephant orchestra and elephant painting daily (the elephants do the painting, with brushes held in trunks). Hua Hin is a three-hour drive or short flight from Bangkok.
2. Círio De Nazaré: Belém, Brazil
October 7 - 14, 2005
On the second Sunday in October, the Amazon port city of Belém puts on the largest annual river festival procession, attracting people from all over Brazil and the world.
The Saturday before the procession, an effigy of the Virgin of Nazaré is brought across the water from Vila de Icoaraci, guarded by a flotilla of boats. From the port, the effigy is paraded through the streets of Belém to the Cathedral (Igreja da Sé), followed by a procession. On the following morning, the procession swells to several thousands people following the Mary around the city, carried on a raised platform covered in flowers. Various decorated floats also follow the saint with children dressed as angels and members of the clergy. Men and women encircle the platform, walking barefoot and holding onto a long rope, representing the strong link between the saint and her people. Followers jostle to be able to touch the image of the Virgin. The celebrations continue into the night with live bands, music and dancing throughout the city.
3. Diwali Festival of Lights: Throughout India
November 1, 2005
Fittingly as the most important Indian Hindu festival of the year, Diwali is also the most beautiful. Every Hindu home, no matter how small or humble, and even many non-Hindu light small oil lamps (called diyas) and place them around the home, in courtyards, gardens, verandahs, on the walls around the home and on rooftops. This creates a surreal visual experience for the visitor to any Indian town. Children wake up hours before sunrise to participate in all the fun and frivolity of lighting firecrackers and sparklers.
Diwali is a celebration of the symbolic conquering of darkness by the light as a representation of good triumphing over evil. The festival also coincides with a the post-harvest season, when India is at its most abundant, there is the hope of impending wealth for communities so it is a time for big spending, particularly on jewelry. It’s also the biggest shopping season of the year, equivalent to the pre-Christmas shopping frenzy in western countries.
4. Day of the Dead: Throughout Mexico and Guatemala
November 1-2, 2005
El día de los muertos is one of the most culturally interesting times to be in Mexico and Guatemala to witness the festivities of the traditional Day of the Dead. It is a celebration of life and a chance for families to remember their ancestors, paying tribute to their memory by visiting cemeteries, followed by spectacular street festivals, parades, the giving of gifts and feasting. Each town or province will have its own individual way of commemorating the day, from more somber candlelit funerary processions to bustling street parades full of dancing and bright colored costumes.
Even in the week beforehand, you will get to see the intense planning that goes into the Day of the Dead. Commemorative altars are set up throughout the streets, costumes and decorations are sold in local shops and even food has a morbid theme, with skeleton cakes and bread baked in the shape of coffins. Food and drink form an integral part of the occasion and you will often see plates of food left at grave sites in local cemeteries, next to photos of the deceased and other gifts. Family members will also bring radios or musical instruments to the cemetery so they can sing, dance and celebrate with the deceased.
The town of San Andrés Mixquic, southeast of Mexico City is famous for its colorful Day of the Dead celebrations, as is the city of Oaxaca. The Day of the Dead in the Guatemalan highland village of Todos Santos is the cultural highlight of their festive calendar with dancing, cemetery gatherings and a unique drinking inspired horse race competition that combines the skills of alcohol consumption and horsemanship. In Santiago Sacatepéquez, Guatemalan locals use multi-colored ornate kites to communicate with the spirits of the deceased with thousands of kites flown in the streets as well as in the cemeteries.
October 29th, 2013
In honor of Halloween…. OSA decided to look at paranormal phenomenon from various countries, including one that’s very close to home for BSU.
1. The Mines of Paris
These are the seemingly infinite tunnels that run below the streets of Paris. The mines were used to dig out minerals from Paris’ varied sediment (the location where Paris is was submerged for millions of years), and the tunnels are what got left behind.
The mines are now unkempt, unpatrolled and unsafe. As legends go, ancient cults and creatures patrol the depths. Spirits dwell in the infinite shadows, and if one wanders deep enough, and survives, they may even enter Hades itself. The tunnels stretch for close to 600 kilometers throughout the Parisian underground, and most of them are unmapped. It is nearly impossible not to get lost. Many parts of the catacombs are hundreds of feet below street level. Some hallways are flooded, or are so narrow you have to crawl through them. There are holes that drop hundreds of feet and manholes that are unreachable, luring unwary urban explorers in with false promises of freedom. The infinite underground maze absorbs sound, mutes it, making it unlikely you will hear somebody, even if they are not far away. Or, worse yet, making it unlikely somebody will hear you. Thousands of human bones litter the tunnels, due to overcrowding in many of Paris’ cemeteries. Weird paintings adorn the walls. Are they ancient? Are they new? Are they warnings or pleas for help? If you have claustrophobia, you will want to avoid the mines at all costs. If you don’t have claustrophobia, you probably will after a trip through the mines.
2.Humberstone and LaNoria, Chile
In 1872, the town was founded as a saltpeter mine, and business boomed. However, after several heavy blows (including the Great Depression), the business declined and then collapsed in 1958, and the towns were abandoned by 1960. Treatment of workers in both towns bordered on slavery, and now the towns are left standing derelict.
It is rumored that the dead of the La Noria cemetery rise at night and walk around the town, and ghostly images frequently show up in photographs in Humberstone. These towns are so terrifying, the residents of nearby Iquique refuse to enter them. The former residents never left, and can be seen walking around, and children have been heard playing. The cemetery of La Noria, regardless of whether its occupants actually walk at night, contains opened graves where the bodies are fully exposed, leaving you to wonder why. Is it ghosts, or is it grave robbers? As if either prospect is very appealing.
3. Leap Castle, Ireland
Perhaps the most haunted castle in Ireland is Leap Castle. More than 400 years ago, in 1532, brother turned against brother to shed blood. One was a warrior who rushed into the chapel and used his sword to slay his brother, the priest. The priest fell across the altar and died. The chapel is known as Bloody Chapel since that time. The dungeon in the castle is called an oubliette. Prisoners pushed into the oubliette fell eight feet onto spikes coming up from the floor. Leap Castle is also haunted by an Elemental, a dark evil creature about the size of a sheep and has a human face and black pools for eyes. It smells of rotting flesh. It’s a great place to go for a ghost hunt.
4. The Bridgewater Triangle
The Bridgewater Triangle refers to an area of about 200 square miles (520 km2) within southeastern Massachusetts, and includes the campus of Bridgewater State University! The region is claimed to be a site of alleged paranormal activity, from UFOs to poltergeists and orbs, balls of fire and other spectral phenomena, various “Bigfoot” sightings, giant snakes and “thunderbirds”, as well as the mutilation of cows and other livestock.
October 29th, 2013
(Reposted from November 2012)
At BSU the best place to start asking about credit for study abroad is the Office of Study Abroad located in Maxwell 330 and online at:
The best time to ask about credit is BEFORE (yes, before!!) you leave to study abroad (during the semester before you leave, after you get accepted into a program.)
The key to this process is that it is student-driven – you need to be in charge of finding out what classes you may take abroad will count for back at your home school. It is essential to know this before you go so that you can make informed decisions on what to take, how many courses to take, and required prerequisites. My suggestion is for students to always get extra courses pre-approved so that if they need to add or drop classes they still have a list of pre-approved classes. We discuss the transfer credit process regularly: in advising sessions, at our mandatory pre-departure orientation for all study abroad students, at program-specific advising sessions like exchanges and affiliates, and at Study Abroad 101 sessions.
One of our required forms for students going on semester or summer programs (not study tours) is the Transfer Credit Form that students are supposed to submit before they leave campus before their program. We strongly recommend that students complete the transfer credit pre-approval process before they leave campus, but you can get this done while abroad via email or even when you return. Your credits cannot be processed on your BSU transcript until we have the original transcript from the host school and the courses approved for transfer credit.
We are working to make the credit transfer process more efficient for students studying abroad, but we do have to work within our University policies. The BSU Study Abroad office does not decide on credit transfers – each academic department at BSU is in charge of approving courses taken off campus for transfer credit in their department – Study Abroad is the central office that helps to facilitate the whole process in conjunction with the academic departments granting credit (they will generally be the ones approving with signature the courses and giving your home school equivalency course numbers) and the Registrar (they will be the office that puts the credits on each transcript) and your major advisor (you will work with your advisor to select host school courses that fit your academic plan, and once you obtain pre-approved courses list, see how pre-approved credit fits in to your degree plan).
- Review and select study abroad program
- Review in advance the available courses online for the program to see if courses you need are available
- Meet with your academic advisor
- Meet with your study abroad advisor to discuss academic credit process for this program and your home school
- Review the academic credit process including printing out forms, steps, contacts for evaluating courses, emails, online forms
- Obtain forms for pre-approval
- Create list of host program courses you want to take with course descriptions or syllabi
- Obtain home university pre-approval (home school graded credit, transfer credit, pass/fail, or otherwise) for each class you intend to take PLUS 3 extra classes
- Keep copies of credit or transfer credit pre-approval forms for your records
- Submit copies to appropriate offices- Study Abroad, Registrar, Major Advisor, host program/university
- Keep your academic advisor’s email handy
- Find out if you can get any additional courses approved while abroad or when you return
- While in country, request to have your transcript from your semester or summer abroad sent to the BSU Office of Study Abroad
- Office of Study Abroad makes copy of your transcript and sends the original to the Registrar
- Registrar matches courses on your transcript to pre-approved transfer credit forms they have received (they contact Study Abroad and the student if they do not have a course approved for transfer credit)
- Registrar processes study abroad credits and they appear on your transcript
While the process can seem daunting, it really is not and there are many people to help you along the way. Please feel free to offer suggestions in how we can further streamline our process, and in the meantime, if you are confused about any of these steps, please come and speak with someone in the Office of Study Abroad. In the future, we are hoping to have lists of pre-approved courses available for students so that they can see what other students have gotten approved so they have an idea of what they might take.
July 1st, 2013
Today is Canada Day! On July 1, 1867, the nation was officially born when the Constitution Act joined three provinces into one country: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Canada province, which then split into Ontario and Quebec. However, Canada was not completely independent of England until 1982.
So, in honor of our neighbors to the north, we give you: The Canadian National Anthem—in French!
April 11th, 2013
March 28th, 2013
March 21st, 2013