In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Study Abroad.”
The question today’s prompt asked is where I would choose to go for a year if I had the chance to study abroad. Coincidentally I am currently on a study abroad program in Australia, while already being an international student in the US.
The why question is one I got a lot recently and the easiest one I can answer probably. Why not?
I am young, only 20, I am free, not bound to any job or place and when else would I get the chance to explore a new culture, meet, live and study with people my age but raised differently and simply travel some more.
My initial choice of studying in the US came easy. It was far away from my parents and my own country that I had grown disappointed in, I got a chance to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, enjoy a world-renowned education and experience a permanent summer. UCLA meant all those for me.
Leaving now for Australia was an even easier decision.
I needed a new change, a new adventure. It was again one of the furthest points I could find on a map. LA-Canberra time difference is 18 hours. It was the best choice for a school in my field. ANU is ranked number 7 in the world for political science. I got to add number 34 to my ever growing list of countries visited and I had always had a fascination for the unknown land down under. The fact that is was actually cheaper to study here than in LA as an international student came as a bonus.
Now one month in my newest adventure I must admit I have mixed feelings. I came in overly confident that I had basically no need to adjust whatsoever. I had already been an international freshman and had done quite well. I had already moved to an English speaking country and hadn’t had any problems. I had traveled the world and never felt lonely. But I was surprised at how many challenges I encountered.
Nobody cared about me. The freshmen wanted to make friends with others who would be here as long as they were. The uperclassmen already had tightly knit groups of friends. Semesters run quite differently than the fast-paced quarter system I was used to and doing research by myself without being constantly tested requires all my determination. Tennis training proved to be a huge issue since Melbourne is the tennis capital of Australia and not Canberra. Slang use is wide-spread and I often find myself nodding and smiling and having no idea what the other person is saying. Even traffic being on the other side of the road requires daily reminders to look right before crossing. And on top of that, to my impression, Australians are so laid back and content with their country my international background and capabilities make no impression. Oh, you speak five languages, cool, let me grab another drink.
However, by all means, I do not and will not regret the decision to come here. Worse case scenario if my situation doesn’t improve I will have cut off a country from the list I mentally keep with possible ones to live in after I graduate. In any other possible course of events I emerge more mature, more confident, more open-minded, more cultured, more knowledgeable than before I left. How could someone regret that?
School here is amazing, with smaller classes and professors who insist on practicality (policy briefs instead of essays is just one example). ANU and Camberra are truly international spaces where I’ve met people from around the world. And I haven’t even begun to explore the rest of the country or the other major cities.
It’s true. I’ve had some tough days when I missed my already established routines and friends at UCLA. But I also enjoy the challenge of making it here as well. To consider myself an international citizen or part of the globalised youth I should be able to have a positive experience here. And even while eating lunch alone ( a feat I am definitely not used to ) I am certain I will find my way around. And if not, one can live through anything 6 months right?
How the international community reacted to Romania’s stray dog scandal or How easy it is to insult an entire nation from behind the screen.6 Sep
I have rarely, if ever, expressed my opinion on a country or its people, simply because fighting in words with ignorant people is pointless. I do cringe when I see stereotypes portrayed in the media, or hear ignorant comments about matters that are so far from being clear and true.
This article is another story though. Leaving aside that it is obviously biased against Romanians and generally portrays a hateful attitude, the inaccuracies and lies in it are enraging, as are the comments that follow.
Romania has a PR Problem, 3rd September 2013.
To begin with, stray dogs, contradictory to what the article states, is still a major problem in Romanian cities. The following statistic provided by the Anti-rabies “Matei Bals” Institute, which mostly serves the capital of Romania, Bucharest, show that the number of person bitten yearly by stray dogs has increased in the past years:
*in 2008 – 11.500 persons
*in 2009 – 11.800 persons
*in 2010 – 12.800 persons
*in 2011 – 12.500 persons
*in 2012 – 16.192 persons
*in 2013, until July – 8.610 persons
“The cruelty by the majority of Romanians towards its stray population unimaginable and the world should be weeping for the dogs.”
How does one define and come up with the term majority? Has the author of this article witnessed any Romanian displaying cruelty towards an animal? Where does this term come from? Impressions from an article, news from friends?
“Most children will learn early to kick, beat and kill puppies and kittens for fun.”
I cannot even begin to explain why this sentence is wrong. Again, what does “most” mean and is it based on any study or statistic? I would love to say that no Romanian teaches its child to beat or kill anything or anyone, but I cannot generalise. I can say however, that we Romanians are generally perceived as a loving, caring nation and no barbaric treatment is taught or encouraged in this country, as in any European one.
According to such reports, Romania appears in the top 20 countries with most pet dogs, is acknowledged to have welfare and registration laws. Citing from the article,” Some reports of veterinary services also suggested a higher number of post operative complications including wound breakdowns, haemorrhage and infection in countries such as Armenia, Romania and Ukraine. Romania and Ukraine specifically requested assistance in training vets to neuter animals.”
This not only shows, that Romanians do own pets and care about them, by having a welfare legislation, but also acknowledge the stray dogs problems and asked for assistance. This portrays a rather different picture than barbaric, murderous men, women and children.
“Most people walking the streets will not even give a bowl of tap water to a thirsty dog. ” And why is this shocking? Does every citizen of the word or even of the European Union, stop on its way to work to feed a stray dog? And even if that is the case, would that still happen when the dog population in the city reaches 64000? That meaning, a stray dog for every 30 persons in that city? I believe not.
And even if there is money allocated to solve this issue, whether from national or international funds, bureaucracy is a much more obvious and true problem of the Romanian Administration. Funds for many other causes fail to reach their targets every day and no one seems to bat an eye about those. Causes such as orphanages, schools in rural regions, hospitals, waste management, and many other fail to receive the assigned funds.
NGO’s whether national or international ones are great at creating media stir, apparently “raising awareness” on this issue, but how many come with follow up stories and studies? Providing shocking pictures is easy, but not releasing dogs after 2 days in a shelter back into the streets is not.
Leaving numbers and proof aside, I just want to express my disappointment with the international community and the average reader in general. How easy it is to judge a country that is far away and of which you have incomplete information. How easy it is to say that it is obvious that killing dogs is not the solution, when it is not you who fear walking on the streets. How easy is it to call an entire nation murderers, butchers, criminals, when you hear of one such case and there are 20 million people in that nation. How easy is it to turn your back on a country that has requested assistance with a problem?
Readers who leave comments such as this:
• “Shame on Romania! I will never ever visit such a heartless mean corrupted country. what kind of monsters lives there, horrorble!” show an incredible ignorance and narrow-mindedness when referring to a country. Romania is a beautiful country, especially to visit, and declaring that monsters live there based on one story does not portray them as superior to the Romanians. It portrays them as ignorant, perhaps even worse.
• “this is terrible; the children need proper education too, how to treat animals well otherwise nothing will change”. Does this person know anything about the education system in Romania? Does it know about the education system in its own country? How many countries actually address this problem through formal education?
• “They did not ask to be born or to be treated in such a barbaric way by rumanian butchers and sadists who enjoy killing, kicking & beating animals to death” Incredible ignorant generalisation of an entire nation and a hurtful comment to most. I doubt that Romanian doctors, teachers, lawyers or even not professionals can be called in such a manner, without it being a completely offensive remark. This would be as calling all English pukingly drunk football fans;
• And the worst: bringing other political issues into discussion: “I am disgusted with the way these “people” treat their animals and am also horrified of what they will do to our animals when they are allowed to come to the UK at the end of the year!”
Firstly, these are not their animals. Romania has one of the highest rates of pet-ownership in Europe. People definitely love animals here and teach their children to treat them well.
Secondly, why are you bringing the issue of migration up in an article that has nothing to do with it. Countless EU predictions have shown that there is no likelihood whatsoever that Romanians will invade UK. The average man would not desire to come to a country that displays such blunt hostility and ignorance towards them. Worst case scenario, college – educated people, especially doctors will be the only ones coming and there is no way you can believe such a person would mistreat a stray dog.
And thirdly, “your” animals? Do you consider stray dogs on the street of English cities your animals? Or do you think a Romanian will come into your home and kill your pet?
• Last, but no least: “aand.. lets not talk about the fact that the grandmother of the child was supposed to watch the child while he was playing. She left him alone for like an hour… he run away from the park where he was supposed to be, and after that… BOOM… all dogs are supposed to die” Are you supposed to die, bitten by a dog, just because you wander off from your grandmother? What if the grandmother was with him? What should she have done to protect the child?
• “These romanian people that left a comment here, are educated egocentrically and are all specisits. They fear dogs because they don’t know how to establish any connection with a domesticated, or wild animal. Don’t even bother believeing in their fears. They deserve it” Romania has one of the highest pet-ownership rate in Europe and are more than loving towards them. The fear is real only because the danger is real. If children end up dead because of any reasons, anyone would fear that particular reason, in this case, stray dogs.
In the end, I am terribly disappointed with how this entire scandal has affected Romania’s image in the international community, as well with how the situation has been handled. I do not in any way excuse the killing of animals, but I do ask that all factors are taken into consideration when throwing accusations. Not only should generalisation not be made, but even an enraged small group could be not slammed down when reacting to a death of a little, innocent child.
And to all those, sitting in front of the computer, slamming Romanians, how many of you could or would live in such conditions: fearing walking the streets, fearing leaving your kid play in the park, having a scar from a dog bite etc?