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Study Ablog

From Bolivia-And Elsewhere-With Love [Study Ablog]

Today’s study ablog post is written by Sophia Lin, a junior in the UHP studying abroad in Vietnam, Morocco, AND Bolivia!

As I’m studying abroad in three distinct countries each – on a different continent, it’s no wonder that many of my perceptions of how the world works, from the most mundane ideas to greater overarching societal ones, have all been challenged and presented with alternative discourses and realities. It has been an incredible journey. From spending two weeks in San Francisco, and about a month each in Vietnam, Morocco, and Bolivia, I’ve had the chance to see up close and personal the impacts of climate change on people, land, and food, as well as on water and energy resources.

Here are just a few of my small reflections on some of the cultures I’ve had the chance to be a part of:

Vietnam 1 (8)Vietnam

Beyond being slightly intimidated by my daily commute to classes amidst a sea of motorbikes, there were much more thought-provoking things to observe. What really struck me and humbled me was the ambience of kindness and hospitality that everyone showed us Americans, despite such a painful and broken history with the United States from what we call the Vietnam War, as well as French colonization. It was also intense to feel the palpable fervor of rapid economic development – noisy construction, pollution, and stark disparities of the rural ethnic villages in the mountains, rice farmers in the Mekong Delta “breadbasket” south, and humble fresh produce sellers in the market, compared to the modernizing, urbanizing, fast-moving cities like Hanoi.


DSC_0032One of the very culturally immersive experiences I had in Morocco was going to the hammam, or bathing house, with two other girls on the program. All women of all ages and sizes clean themselves in this communal environment. Inside the hammam, you receive a large bucket to fill with water from the ever-running fountain, and a small stool to sit on as you wash yourself. It seems so ironic that in Western culture, women can wear short-shorts, crop tops, and bikinis, yet actual nudity is taboo and shameful. Conversely, in the Islamic country of Morocco, women are mostly covered in head-scarves and long robes, yet are free to be fully naked and bathe together. There is no awkwardness or embarrassment in seeing yourself and others naked. In fact, there are even massagers or body scrubbers who, for a small fee, will plop you over their lap like a limp noodle and scrub down every corner of your body.


I’ve just touched down in Bolivia for this final leg of my study abroad program, and I’m excited to see what adventures await. Until next time, UHP!