Where in the World is Miami Wednesday: Tunisia


By Nicole Richards

In this week's, Where in the World is Miami Wednesday, we meet Elyse, a junior International Studies and Global & Intercultural Studies major studying abroad in Tunisia this semester.  At Miami, Elyse is involved in Refugee Advisory Council, Circle K International service organization, the Global Studies Scholars Cohort of the University Academic Scholars Program, and the international studies fraternity Sigma Iota Rho.  Additionally, she works at the front desk of the Global Initiatives office and is a College of Arts and Sciences Ambassador.

wwmw-italyandtunisia-3.jpgWhat are you studying with your current program?

While in Tunisia, I am studying a range of different topics.  The main class we are taking is "Politics, Civil Society, and Migration in Tunisia," where we hear from guest speakers on topics ranging from the beginning of the Arab Spring to Women's role in Civil Society to LGBTQI+ activism.  I am also continuing my language education in an intermediate/advanced Modern Standard Arabic class, with some supplemental instruction in the everyday interactions of my wonderful host family.  For the last four weeks of the program, we have the opportunity to complete an internship or independent research project on a topic of our choosing.  I hope to work for an organization that works with refugee families and youth.

Why did you choose your study abroad program?

There were multiple reasons why I ultimately decided on this program, but I think the main appeal was the unique and diverse opportunities I would be able to have while abroad. It combined my interest in politics and immigration with my chosen language, as well as offered me host family and internship experiences.  I really could not have chosen a program that would have aligned with all of my interests more perfectly than this one!

wwmw-italyandtunisia-3.jpgWhat are the coolest places you have visited on your program?

While I have only been here a few weeks, I would say the coolest place we have visited so far has been the Medina, the historical part of the capital city of Tunisia, Tunis.  Walking through these tiny winding streets with cloth hanging above us and looking into the tiny, packed shops was an experience I had never had before my time abroad.  I am excited to go back again during my time here and taste every sweet that I walk by.

We also had the chance to visit some archaeological sites in Carthage, once the most important trading hub of the Ancient Mediterranean and approximately a thirty minute walk from our class facilities.  We walked through the ruins of old churches and got to see old Roman cisterns that once took water from the sea via aqueducts and stored it for the whole city to use.  I look forward to exploring more and finding more places to photograph and learn about during the rest of my time here.

What is your favorite part of your program?

Of the short three weeks I have been here, I think my favorite part of my experience has been living with my host family.  Coming home to such a lively house is one of the best parts of my everyday routine.  On a daily basis, I get amazing food like couscous, brik, and the best olive oil I've ever had.  I also get Arabic lessons with my ten year old sister and her cousins, and a beautiful courtyard where I can sit outside to read a book or enjoy the weather.  I feel so incredibly loved, and it has made my experience in Tunisia that much better.

wwmw-italyandtunisia5.jpgHow has the study abroad experience changed you so far?

Even after a short time here, I have gained a better understanding of myself and living abroad as a whole.  Every new experience comes with some initial anxiety and discomfort, but I have proven to myself that my anxiety goes away almost instantly if I jump right in and start speaking the lanuage (although poorly at first), cooking with my host mom, and exploring my surroundings.  It is always going to be challenging living in a foreign country, especially one with a vastly different language and culture than from the one I have become accustomed to at home, but there is always a commonality in laughter and learning.  I have found that here in Tunisia, and I can't wait to see what the rest of the program brings!

Catch us next week as we continue to travel around the world to feature the amazing opportunities that Miami students are taking and the experiences our alumni have had since graduating!

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