What Even is a Praxis?

The other day I attended my praxis independent study orientation, where I learned how the idea of praxis courses sprouted. Bryn Mawr students had been volunteering and interning at organizations for years without getting any payment or course credit. When LILAC noticed this, they decided to create an opportunity for Bryn Mawr students to take three courses and have the fourth course credit come from an internship/volunteer opportunity; and thus, the praxis courses began.

There are some really cool praxis courses offered this semester:

  • Museum Studies Fieldwork Seminar (Monique Scott)
  • Human Services and Public Health Seminar (Jim Martin)
  • Activism and Social Justice Seminar (Nate Wright)
  • Psychology in Practice: Community Based Learning (Jodie Baird)
  • Exploring Museum Applications of Augmented and Virtual Reality (Jenny Spohrer)

And Bryn Mawr also offers the opportunity of designing your own praxis course. Which is what I did this semester! I knew that coming back from study abroad, I wanted to really throw myself into my work and make these next three semesters productive ones. I had also just found my niche in what I want to study and knew that an independent praxis study would let me follow that passion.

So, I reached out to a bunch of faculty at Bryn Mawr that could potentially be my faculty advisors. I did so by looking at different department’s faculty and reading their interests. I looked at the psychology department, the sociology department, and the school of social work.

I luckily found a brilliant faculty member in social work who does work that perfectly aligns with my interests. She agreed to be my faculty advisor and I was ecstatic! Check out her work –she does really important stuff! 

Then I moved on to the next step. I emailed probably a bazillion organizations to see if they could take me on as an intern, and whether I could do my field placement there. So many of them did not have any more space, and I was so close to giving up, but finally, I was able to secure a position at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Treatment & Study of Anxiety.




I found them through Bryn Mawr! Bryn Mawr’s website on praxis independent study has a sidebar with lists of local organizations that you might be interested in to help you find a field placement. And if you’re trying to find an organization, don’t give up once it starts getting hard, fight for it!

I worked with my faculty advisor and field advisor to create a learning plan with my class description, class material, learning objectives, field placement roles, etc. Finally we finished it all and now I’m doing the real work.

What’s really cool about doing a praxis independent study is that the course is exactly what you want it to be! I meet with my faculty advisor once a week and we discuss the readings I was assigned, figure out how they contribute to what I’m interested in, choose my next readings, and talk about the big picture of it all. As for the field component, I really appreciate that I get to do real work rather than just read about it. I also love that it gets me off campus and into the city. Once the weather warms up, I look forward to spending time in Philly after working my hours and exploring more of the city. This is something I wish I had done more of during my freshman and sophomore years, so I’m glad I have the opportunity now.

LILAC also helps to simplify the praxis process: they help you find advisors and field placements; they reimburse you for traveling costs; and they’re always there to answer your questions.

I strongly urge anyone at Bryn Mawr (or Haverford) to take one of the praxis courses offered during your time at Bryn Mawr (or to create your own)! This is definitely the coolest thing I’ve done on campus.

Reacclimating and New Adventures

I do love the views at Bryn Mawr, though.

Switching from the hustle and bustle of study abroad to the same old routine of undergraduate studies is not an easy transition. I’m no longer taking auto rickshaws to my classes. I’m no longer being accompanied by the sweet kids in my neighborhood during my walk home from classes. I’m no longer navigating the vibrant streets of Sao Paulo on a daily basis anymore. We learn about culture shock when leaving to study abroad, but it’s also very real when coming back.

Because I knew that I would miss the busyness and excitement of studying abroad, I wanted to make sure I kept busy while re-acclimating to Bryn Mawr and the rest of the tri-co. I’ve been doing a lot of cool stuff this semester: taking my independent praxis course, going to UPenn for my field placement, volunteering at the Center for Creative Works (CCW) for my Haverford class, and trying to make the most of being home!

I’ll do a whole separate blog about my praxis and how cool the fact that Bryn Mawr offers Praxis courses is (because I think everyone should do one!) But, first, I want to take some time to write about my Haverford class and the work we’re going to be doing with the Center for Creative Works. As has been a trend these past two years, I’ve found myself having most of my classes on Haverford’s campus this semester. One of these classes is on neurodiversity, which is a term for the diversity of human neurological differences. In that class, we focus a lot on the autism spectrum and intellectual disabilities. This course has a collaboration with an art organization, the CCW, on Lancaster Ave., that focuses on the artwork and creative potential of people with intellectual disabilities. Every student in this neurodiversity class will be dedicating two hours a week to working with the CCW and collaborating with the artists on their work.

I was able to visit the CCW for the first time yesterday. While there, I got to meet all of the artists that participate at this organization and learn about their art styles and specific interests. I’ve never done work at an organization that works particularly with people with intellectual disabilities so I’m excited to step outside of my comfort zone and help create a bridge between our two communities.

We also have to keep our own journal for the class, where we write about our experiences volunteering and include any of our own doodles or artwork. I am NOT in any way artistically-inclined, so the doodles will be kept to a minimum for me. But after seeing some of the artists at the CCW create art about their favorite singers, actors, tv shows, places, aspects of nature, etc., I was inspired to include some of my favorite in my journal. Since I can’t draw, I printed out pictures from Google and created a collage.

Frida, Frank Ocean, horoscopes, social justice, and traveling (I left space so that I can add more things throughout the semester)

I am really looking forward to collaborating with the CCW and getting to know some of it’s artists better. In my neurodiversity class, we’re talking a lot about de-stigmatizing and de-pathologizing being neuro-diverse, as well as creating a bridge between disabled and non-disabled communities. I’ll talk to the CCW about their policies regarding taking pictures of their art to see if I can share the wonderful artwork they do with you all.

I’m happy that after being abroad, I can come back and get involved in cool projects. I can’t wait to keep blogging about them and to share this all with you.

How I Keep Myself Together: Self Care as a College Student

College can be hectic and busy and overwhelming and stressful at times. The best way to combat this is by continuously engaging in self care. Self-care looks really different for everyone, so I wanted to share what it means to me and suggest some ways you can look after yourself when you’re in need of some extra care.

  1. Listening to Frank Ocean: A Frank Ocean song feels like a warm bubble bath to me. I created a playlists with all of my favorite tracks by him and listen to it pretty much 90% of the time. When you’re feeling stressed, take a pause and listen to your favorite songs. Music can be really healing and comforting!

    New Girl (aka the funniest show ever)

  2. Watching New GirlLaughter is my number one cure for the feels and New Girl is the number one show to provide me with such. When you’ve been feeling extra low, watch your favorite tv show, movie, or YouTube vlog to help you get some endorphins.
  3. Eating Cheese Fries: Okay, so this is definitely not the healthiest self-care method, but who says it has to be?! Cheese fries make me happy and eating them after a long day/week/month/semester is the ultimate “treat-yo-self” act for me. I’m sure everyone has their own version of cheese fries. It’s food for the soul.

    My sister bought me a ton of face masks and I’m eternally grateful.

  4. DIY Spa: I like to set aside a ton of hours on a day to do absolutely nothing other than spa stuff. Wash my hair, do face masks, paint my nails, pluck my eyebrows, etc. Maybe these are things that could work for you! Maybe you’d rather dye your hair or apply funky makeup — do whatever makes you feel good.
  5. Organizing My Room: I honestly don’t know how many people find organizing helpful, but I love it! After I organize my room I feel a lot less like my life is a mess.
  6.  Journaling: I strongly suggest journaling. I try to do this every day, but sometimes I get lazy and forget. Journaling is a really good way to get my feelings out and to put my thoughts together. I write about my day; I write about the things I’m grateful for; I write about the things that are the sources of stress in my life; and I try to come up with solutions, etc. If you’re really into it, you can also do bullet journals (I’m going to try these next year!)

    Smoothies are for self-care!

  7. Making Sure I’m Not Neglecting Myself: This is essential! Make sure you’re drinking water, eating good food, reaching out to people you care about, getting a good amount of rest, keeping the shades open so you can be exposed to natural light, etc. I like cheese fries as much as the next girl, but sometimes I need to make a smoothie instead and really take care of myself and my body. When you stop taking care of your basic needs, everything else fails along with them.


These are pretty easy self-care approaches you can take when you’re feeling extra stressed. Sometimes self-care is a bit harder and it’s about dropping unhealthy behaviors, cutting off toxic people in your life, starting counseling services, etc. I’ve been there too! Just make sure you’re prioritizing your mental health and engaging in self-preservation!

Back at Bryn Mawr

After a semester of endless flights, new homes, and sleeping on countless beds, I’m finally back at my home at Bryn Mawr! I arrived yesterday back at my comfort hub that is Erdman Hall. I’ve been living in Erdman since I first stepped foot on Bryn Mawr’s campus, and it seems like I’m going to be an Erdman lifer because I love this dorm.

I’m using this new year and return to campus as a fresh start. And, like any fresh start, this one has to have a new aesthetic. I chose to switch up my room and add more color by adding rose gold and pink accents. It feels so cozy and like the perfect welcome back.

where I spend most of my time

a closer look at my wall that I call my “women wall” because it’s a dedication to women in my life and in the world.

I think 90% of the reasons why I love Erdman is because I’m guaranteed a window seat.

and, of course, my desk (which will be home to all my “done-is-good” lists)

Now that I’m back on campus, I’m hoping I’ll be able to translate what I learned and experienced abroad to my home here. I’m even doing a praxis this semester and will be much more active on and off campus. I’m excited to blog about the new things I’m up to this semester and how the rest of my junior year treats me!

Saying Goodbye to Study Abroad

My semester abroad has officially come to an end. Saying goodbye to IHP is so bittersweet! I’ve gained so much throughout this semester and have made such beautiful memories. I’m so sad to let it go!

This picture is from our very first flight together (to India)

We ended the program with an end-of-semester retreat in a retreat center two hours outside of Sao Paulo. We spent three days there reminiscing on the semester, doing intellectual syntheses, and prepping ourselves for going back home. We talked a lot about how to put what we learned to use back in our homes, as well as how to talk about our experiences while abroad.

We did an activity where we threw a piece of yarn around to each person in the circle and shared something we want to say to the rest of the group

I am feeling so grateful to IHP for the beautiful places it took me, the amazing people it introduced me to, and the difficult lessons it taught me. I grew in so many different ways this semester. Now I am preparing to go back to Bryn Mawr. I’ll continue to blog advice pieces for students that want to go abroad, as well as other things! I am actually currently in the process of designing a praxis course, so I should blog a little about that too. And of course, I’ll talk about what it’s like re-integrating into campus and all of the things that come with being a junior. Here’s to the next chapter!

My plane ride home

Cool Museums (in the artsiest city I’ve ever lived in)

The thing that most impressed me about Brazil as soon as I got here is how artsy it is: every street has murals; there are countless museums to visit; and there’s music in every corner, etc.

I wanted to share some of the awesome art I’ve been able to see here. The most impressive by far is at the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio. They had a wonderful exhibit in Portuguese, Spanish, and English on people and things that we experience. I took pictures of the exhibit and people reading the explanations. It was beautifully designed and written. I would definitely recommend checking this museum out if you ever find yourself in Rio!


We also went to Beco de Batman, which was so similar to Miami’s Wynwood Walls. Here are some pictures:

This kind of mural is all over Sao Paulo

Me being a tourist and taking a picture in front of a wall

This was definitely the most touristy part of Sao Paulo that I’ve visited

Other cool museums I’ve been able to visit and are a must-see:

  • MASP
  • Afro Brasil Museum

I just realized while writing this that there are so many more museums I have to check out and I only have two weeks left! Wish me luck!

Pao in Sao Paulo :)

I arrived in Sao Paulo a few weeks ago and it’s been beautiful so far! The city has the young, energetic vibe of Cape Town and is full of murals and art galleries and amazing food and the kindest people. The language barrier has been a bit of a challenge since this is the first country I’m abroad in where English isn’t widely spoken, but we’ve been taking survival Portuguese classes in the morning, and my Spanish background helps a bit!

My passport had a rainbow on it when I flew to Sao Paulo, so I knew it would be a good trip

These past few weeks have been full of me overeating at delicious Brazilian kilos, doing as many touristy things as possible (I still have so much left on my list), trying to communicate in my broken Portuguese, and taking in Brazil in all of its glory. It’s my last country 🙁 !

Brazilian food (aka the best thing on this planet)

Brazilian pastels (which in my country, DR, we call pastelitos) are a little reminder of home!

fresh honey

we are clearly very excited about banana chips

Fresh coconut!!

I have been in my element in Sao Paulo! My program is coming to an end in two weeks and then I will be preparing to head back to Bryn Mawr in the spring. Everything is so bittersweet! For now, I am just enjoying what’s left of my abroad experience.

Weekend in Rio!

Last weekend, a couple of my friends and I took time to visit Rio de Janeiro! We spent six hours on a freezing bus, but it was all worth it. My favorite part was the Escalera de Selaron, the famous stairs in Rio:

My favorite piece of the stairs in Rio

Me at the stairs, shining, because I love Rio!

We were also able to see Christ the Redeemer which was a super cool experience; it was so packed, but so worth it!

The view from the top of Christ the Redeemer

We ended our short weekend trip with some much needed relaxation at Copacabana Beach. I was sad to leave, but am luckily returning with my sister at the end of my program. I can’t wait to go back and experience Rio again (and this time with my sister!) So far I’ve seen three beautiful parts of Brazil (Sao Paulo, Rio, and Barra du Turvo), and I hope that my future will allow me to see more of this huge country with so much to offer.

Homestay 101

Although many abroad programs place students in dorms, IHP places students with a fellow student and a family in each country. The homestay experience has been wonderful and I wanted to write a blog about it so that students who are studying abroad in the future can decide if dorms or homestays is the correct choice for them!

In India, I was placed in the home of a wonderful older woman named Sobha. She was a hard-working widow with no kids in the house, so my roommate and I (both very introverted) had a lot of space and time to adjust to being abroad. We had the sweetest cook, Rekha, who lived there as well. I was initially nervous to have my first homestay and first roommate, but I ended up being very pleasantly surprised. I ate the most delicious food every day (with dessert after every dinner), I had a really beautiful home with a nice patio connected to my room, I had a super sweet roommate, and I had a lot of introvert time (which I needed). Of course, we had an early curfew and couldn’t do some things that people living in dorms could. But, having home-cooked meals and a space to call my own gave me a sense of comfort that dorms could not. Rekha was also such a beautiful light and I loved having the experience of knowing her.

My roommate and I bought Rekha and Sobha flowers and a polaroid of us as a goodbye gift

Rekha with her bouquet of flowers!

In South Africa, we had two homestays. The first was in our rural stay of Zwlethembe. There, I had one of my favorite host families. I lived with an older woman who was a cook at a local school. She was very sweet and cooked the most delicious meals and always watched movies and South African soapies with us after dinner. She shared with us such personal stories and we got very close. I appreciated the love and comfort that she gave us. Zwelethembe is also a very tight-knit community so I would always walk home with a handful of kids beside me, holding my hands. Sometimes we would stay outside after class and play games with them; I was always in a good mood! This layer of community is something you can’t get from dorming.

me and my roommate in Zwelethmebe with our host mom!

My next homestay, in the oh so beautiful Bo-Kaap, was my favorite! Prior to this placement I had been complaining that other students got babies and children in their homestay and I did not. The universe must have heard my complaints because this homestay had four children and towards the end, my host mother’s other grandkids stayed with us as well and made it eight children! This was a really sweet homestay experience. The kids were all musically talented and sang and performed for us all of the time. My host sister was also very sweet and my roommate and I were able to bond with her. She still texts us today! Needless to say, I was very sad to leave this homestay!

Me and my homestay nephews, Dayyann and Dean (they always wanted to take pictures and make videos)!

My homestay sister took a selfie with me and my roommate

My real sister came to visit me in Cape Town, and my homestay sister took us to the carnival!

My last and final homestay is in Sao Paulo! Here, I am living with two dads (Thiago and Eduardo) along with my friend, Salome. My dads don’t speak as much English as my past homestay families did (Brazil isn’t heavily populated with English speakers), but we all speak a mix of Portuguese, Spanish, and English together, which is really fun! They’re also very young and are always telling us to go out more and have fun. They’re not like regular dads, they’re cool dads. My past homestays had been very mom-centered, so it’s really nice having two dads for a change. This homestay has also been super convenient because we live a five-minute walk from our school and a 10-minute walk from the station, so we can access everything really easily.

Our homestay family!

The cons of choosing a homestay is it might be harder to meet other students outside of your program since you are not on a college campus and you have to be more conscious of rules and respecting people’s homes. However, you get delicious home-cooked food, a chance at forming great relationships with your host family, people to provide you with the cultural context and a real immersion into wherever you are staying.

Either way, studying abroad is such an amazing experience that you can’t really go wrong!

Rural stay in Barra du Turvo

As I’ve previously mentioned, IHP does a rural stay in each country we visit. For Brazil, that meant we spent five days in the rural state of Barra du Turvo. During this week we learned a lot about food security and were able to get in touch with nature and disconnect from the busy city of Sao Paulo that we’ve been in.

We had to cross this river on this little boat to get to Barra

Our classroom during the stay

The people who welcomed us into their home in Barra were so kind and gave us insight into their lives and their farming techniques. This is something I’ve never learned about before so it was super exciting for me! We even got to eat fresh food from them while on a tour of their farm!

Our guide cutting us some sugar cane

The sugar cane we ate (which was unbelievably delicious!)

I learned what the heart of a banana bunch looks like!

Fresh fruit every day

This was by far my favorite rural stay. The people who took us in were so genuine and kind. I got stung by a wasp and overreacted, but the host was so kind about it and helped me through it. He shared his personal story that resonated so deeply with all of us and really moved us. We spent a stormy night singing karaoke, and we spent our lunch breaks playing cards — we even got to learn Capoeira from locals (which was so difficult but fun)!

We were truly able to unplug and be present in the moment. I almost wish the stay was longer than just five days. It was a beautiful last rural stay and the memories will always stay with me.