I’m in South Africa!

I’ve been in South Africa for exactly seven hours now and it’s already been a beautiful experience. South Africa is one of the countries I am most excited to get to know. Cape Town has always seemed so beautiful and lively and full of history. On our flight here, our flight attendant took polaroid pictures of me and fellow Bryn Mawr student, Khadijah, framed them.

She even let us wear her hat!

We arrived to a beautiful hostel right by the beach in Muizenberg. The temperature was a perfect fall breeze and, although it rained on us, the sky made up for it with a rainbow.

me on the beach in Muizenberg

the view from outside of the airport

Since we’re exhausted from our 12 hour long travel itinerary, we haven’t done much but take a walk around the beach and see what’s in town. Tomorrow, our schedule starts getting packed and on Wednesday we leave for a two-week rural stay in Zwelethembe.

The idea behind the rural stays in our program is to have a better sense of the diversity of experiences that exist in each of the countries we visit. This will be our longest rural stay and the only one that we’ll have a homestay family in. I’m writing a blog soon about homestays and what they’re like and how to decide if they’re the right option for you as opposed to living in dorms!

I’ll keep you all posted on what I’m up to in South Africa for the next four weeks!

 

Saying Goodbye to India!

Sunday, September 24 was our final day in New Delhi, as we were going off to our second country, Cape Town, South Africa! It was so bittersweet to leave India. Though I was excited to move on to the next country where I would deal with less humidity and would have a beach near me, I was sad to see India go. I had just developed a sense of comfort in this country, after some of culture shock and acclimating. I finally had my transportation and communication skills down to be able to navigate on my own. But just as that comfort set in, we had to move to another country. IHP loves to keep you on your toes!

This is a goodbye post to the beautiful and authentic parts of India that I had the privilege of seeing!

Goodbye to auto rickshaw drives

Goodbye to the traditional Indian breakfast, Chila

My time in India felt so short and I wish I could have seen more and shared more experiences with you all! But, I am so excited to meet South Africa and Brazil and share those experiences with you!

I’m Abroad!

This is my first time blogging outside of Bryn Mawr, and I’m more than 7,000 miles away!

I’m in New Delhi with one of Bryn Mawr’s study abroad partners, SIT. My program is a multi-country public health program and is taking me to India, South Africa, and Brazil.

So far, I’ve spent three weeks in India, and I’ve been able to see the metropolitan New Delhi, the rural Bahraich, and the infamous Agra (home to the Taj Mahal).

Our schedule is packed and wifi is very spotty, so that’s why I haven’t been inundating you all with blog posts. But so far, this abroad experience is amazing! Since my program is public health-focused, I’ve been able to really dive deep into issues that I’m passionate about. I’m doing a case study project on mental health and I’m looking at the most prominent mental health issues in each country and doing a comparative analysis of what that looks like. I’m hoping that the work I do this semester will be able to translate to Bryn Mawr/Philly, and I will have an opportunity to participate in a project or volunteer in something that relates.

This Sunday I will be leaving India (sadly), but going to South Africa!! We will spend two weeks in rural Zwelethembe, and then three weeks in urban Bo-Kaap. I am so excited to see what awaits me in South Africa, and to share new posts and pictures!

If you’re a current undergraduate interested in studying abroad, keep in touch with my blog as I will make posts giving tips on how to choose the right program, how to apply, how to deal with culture shock/homesickness, and more! If you’re not an undergrad interested in studying abroad, keep in contact with my blog for cool pictures of these beautiful countries!

me and Lachmi the elephant (who I was able to ride on!!)

me in front of the Taj

me and fellow class of 2019, public health major, Khadijah

Humayans Tomb

My Sister on the Campus News!

Today, while casually checking my email, I saw a very familiar name! “Jomaira Salas Pujols is awarded a National Science Foundation fellowship for graduate research.”

That’s my sister!!!!

Jomaira graduated from Bryn Mawr in 2013 with a sociology major. Right now she’s getting her PhD in Sociology at Rutgers University and she has the beautiful privilege of being awarded the NSF fellowship for her research.

(Also to her defense this picture is 6 years old and does her no justice.)

Jomi is such a passionate person. If you ask her about what she studies, she could go on for hours about her work and why it’s important and how she wants to change the world. My sister does it all!! She’s a Posse scholar, a Mellon Mays fellow, a PhD student, a Bryn Mawr trustee, a revolutionary, and now an NSF fellow.

I know she always talks about how Posse and Bryn Mawr and awesome mentors helped her get to where she is today. I love seeing my sister succeed and get the recognition she deserves.

Cheers for powerful Bryn Mawr women!

Boston University Visit

Last Monday Boston University’s school of Public Health payed a visit to campus. A representative was here to talk to students about future opportunities at the school.

Having recently declared my independent major in public health, I went to the event to learn more about what I can do after graduating Bryn Mawr.

The representative talked about what you could do with a degree in Public Health an helped me figure out what my options are. After that event, I think my interests tend to lie in community health/wellbeing, health communication, and health services areas. There are so many different things you can do with public health, but I am generally interested in people-centered work and addressing health disparities.

I also learned about other degree options besides a masters in public health. I’ll continue to look into a masters in health services and systems research, a masters in public health nutrition, and even doctoral programs in public health.

Going to this event reminded me of my junior and senior year of high school when I was researching colleges and falling in love with Bryn Mawr. I loved that time because I was able to do a lot of organizing and planning, which I have a weird fascination with for some reason. It also makes me super excited to start planning towards my future for after Bryn Mawr.

Oh, the places we’ll go!

Being on the Bryn Mawr Bulletin

I keep getting calls and texts from people who saw the new Bryn Mawr bulletin saying I’m on the cover. It’s somehow embarrassing and cool at the same time.

The bulletin features “Posse Power”; centering the stories of Bryn Mawr’s STEM posse. I remember getting a phone call from someone working on this story asking me to talk about my posse and my experience at Bryn Mawr. I talked about my sister coming to Bryn Mawr with Posse in 2009, me following in her footsteps, how different it is being in STEM, and what Posse means to me. A week later, my entire posse and I are at the admissions office having a real photo shoot. I was expecting us to sit in our regular weekly posse meetings and have an old camera take a few pictures of us. But, I walked into an entire studio equipment. Photo shoots are much more awkward and uncomfortable than I thought they would be! (I don’t know how models do it).

Just last week I get a text from sister telling me to watch her instagram story and I see her freaking out over me being in the cover of the new bulletin. She definitely got way too excited about it. But it’s cool to have Posse featured by Bryn Mawr and to have our stories being told! I am eternally grateful for Posse and everything that is does for us.

 

Math Conference at La Salle

So I have never been a math person (nor will I ever be) but my amazing stats professor, Leslie Cheng, allowed us to get extra credit if we attended a math conference at La Salle University last weekend, and I could’ve used the help.

At first, the conference was very confusing and had geniuses present on math that I could never hope to understand. But then for one of the activities, we played a math game. Now, that sounds super unappealing, but it actually ended up being very interesting. The game looked like this:

It pretty much consists of trying to get three groups of cards that are either completely different (in shape, color, consistency) or completely the same. It was really confusing at first, but became more and more intriguing. There were a ton of math theories behind the game, and though I didn’t understand them, I really enjoyed how they turned math into something so easy.

The conference didn’t turn me into a math fan, but it did show me how differently math can be approached. Students presented on math in poetry and math as philosophy. It was stuff that I had never heard of and was really cool to see.

I still will never be a math major, but the experience was cool and the extra credit is cool too!

Declaring an Independent Major

The other day I received the best news I’ve gotten in a while: my independent major proposal was approved!!

Bryn Mawr has a ton of majors and minors, but for the students who feel that what they want to study isn’t represented by these, the option of creating an independent major is available.

Over the summer I decided I wanted to pursue an independent major and have spent all of fall semester working on my proposal. I wrote a four page paper describing my major, the reason I want to pursue it and how I will get it done. I was able to find two professors whose interests aligned with mine and who agreed to be my major advisors. I organized and reorganized and reorganized until I was happy with my proposal. After submitting, I received some feedback from the independent major committee to improve my proposal. Then finally, after making some slight changes I received the news that the committee had approved my major in Public Health!

Now, I am able to submit an independent major work plan and declare my major. Next up will be applying to a study abroad program. Sophomore year is definitely a busy one with all of these planning processes, but it is all so exciting.

WTF Week!!!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! WTF week! (Also known as Hell Week)

This is my most cherished Bryn Mawr tradition, where first-years and upperclassmen bond over performing weird tasks and confusing non-mawrters.

The women’s snap story was very confused about hell week/WTF week.

Since I’m a sophomore, this was my first year with babies!!! I was blessed with two beautiful rose buds

I realized this year that planning WTF week schedules is hectic and expensive, but it was all worth it to see my two daughters have fun and feel welcomed at Bryn Mawr. I remember my first-year WTF week made me feel like Bryn Mawr was the right place to be. I was able to meet so many new students and bond over our WTF week antics. I wanted to make sure my babies felt just as welcomed. This week is a week to relax and have fun and let go.

I’m sad that WTF week has come to an end once again, but I can’t wait for next year when I get to be a grandma!!