Inclement Weather: Alternative Spring Break Day 4

So, DC was supposed to be hit by this massive snow storm — some parts may have actually experienced snow but where we were we just had some awkward snow/rain combination. It wasn’t freezing rain or sleet it was like giant snow flakes mixed with fat rain drops. The government ended up calling a snow day so a bunch of places were closed, including the two places we were supposed to do service work at.

Fortunately the other events on our docket went according to plan so the day ended up reviving itself. We ended up venturing to some of the Smithsonian museums during the afternoon — we saw the National History Muaseum, “The Castle” and the American History museum. Museums aren’t normally my thing– I much prefer zoos and aquariums but it was pretty neat. We were able see a bunch of cool historical artifacts like the flag that inspired the star spangled banner, Julia Child’s kitchen, the Hope diamond and a pair of hockey gloves from when USA won at the 1980s Winter Olympics– quite the eclectic mix

After our adventuring to museums we went back to the Pilgrimage and made dinner– all the SNAP families on the trip decided to pull together and have a taco night. Elaine, one of the people participating on the trip and in the SNAP challenge made a delicious bean dip. After just eating peanut butter sandwiches, tomato soup and grilled cheese, taco night felt like a feast.

After dinner we had a speaker, David Harris come and talk to us about his experience and lead us in a reflection of our time in Washington. David told us about his story of homelessness, how he became a father at a young age and dropped out of high school support his new family. He worked a variety of low paying jobs but lacked health insurance– he ended up getting a diagnosis of high blood pressure and heart disease and he became too sick to work and thus became homeless.

He eventually got assistance, obtained social security and was able to afford housing. While homeless he wrote poetry and later, with the help of the Pilgrimage, he was able to  have his poems published. After he shared his story with us he had us participate in our own reflection on our time in DC. He asked us to write something, it didn’t have to be a poem if we didn’t want it to be and then he asked us to share them with the rest of the group. It was nice to have a time to reflect on what we had experience. Our days were typically so jam packed that we didn’t really have time to process what we had done. The time for reflection was much needed — there was definitely a flood of emotions from all the various experienced I had had the past four days.

Tomorrow is our last day in DC, hopefully it will be the best day yet.

Until Next Time!


Pinkie Promises to Myself

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”

-Ansel Adams

It seems a bit late to start writing out New Year resolution but better now then never. I’m one of those people who needs to write things down, because then its easier for me to accomplish the tasks in mind. Last week I arrived back from London, carrying on my third winter holiday away from home and family. Over the 9 hour flight I began to think about what I hope to gain from this upcoming year and how many things will change, mainly no longer being a “student”. My past 3 and 1/2 years of Bellarmine have brought me to this point where I will go out into the world, and apply everything that I have learned. I hope my lessons, relationships, and goals will be met and shared with great intensity in my future endeavors. Cheers to taking things on, one step at a time.

My (ever-changing) list of things to accomplish

1. Take advantage of the availability of the SURF

2. Become a master of the Adobe Creative Suite

3. Start my own website

4. Complete one photo project a week

5. Earn my English teaching certification

6. Travel, travel, travel

Here are a few pictures from the holidays



photo-2 photo photo-3 photo-1 photo-4 photo-5 photo-6 photo-8 photo-7 photo-9 photo-10 photo-11 photo-12 photo-13 photo-14 photo-17 photo-16 photo-15Leaving you with the fireworks I watched fill the sky as we rang in 2013 by the Thames River!

The Adventure Begins

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going inspires me to travel it.” -Rosalia de Castro
IMG_2314 IMG_2336

Is there a better way to celebrate turning 22, then embarking on another adventure to spend the winter break away in Amsterdam and London? And so the the next trip begins, and my insatiable travel bug will be fed.

First Days in India

We didn’t get out if the airport in Kerala until around 4 in the morning, so there wasn’t much to do but sleep. One observation we couldn’t help but make on the way to the friary, is that driving in India is crazy! For starters, don’t expect to see lane lines, stop lights or speed limits, and they drive on the left side of the road. Another thing to note is the traffic will be a mixture of people walking, riding bikes, driving scooters, little buggies and big trucks. Because there is a mixture of fast and slow vehicles, passing is permitted on any kind of road. Without any lane lines, passing becomes a little more dangerous and there are a whole lot of close calls.

When driving in these conditions, your car horn is your best friend. Unlike the U.S. when you use your horn you usually follow it with using a profanity, on the Indian roads, using your horn simply lets another driver know that you are passing them on the right.

Anyways, once we survived the drive and made it to Assisi Shanthi Kendra, we went to bed for a couple of hours and spent the rest of the day relaxing and getting to know the friars.

(Assisi Shanthi Kendra)

Father Leo, who most people should know from around campus, took us on the tour around the friary. A couple of interesting pets we say along the way:



(These little guys can act as a pretty good wake up call)

I think I can get use to waking up to a view like this every morning.


The second day is when we started exploring Kerala. We traveled to Cheraman Juma Masjid, which is India’s oldest Islamic shrine and the second oldest Juma Mosque in the world. Woman are not allowed in the mosque, but neither were any of the guys on this day because it was a holiday and only muslims are allowed in on holidays. We did get to go through their museum and see some of the old artifacts from when the mosque was built.

(replica Cheraman Juma Masjid)

Our next stops were a couple of the first Christian churches in India, founded by St. Thomas. The first was Azheekode, where they actually have a shrine which holds a bone from St. Thomas’s right hand.


After Azheekode, we traveled to Palayoor, where the second church that St. Thomas built was located.


The last stop of the day was the most exciting one which was Guruvayoor. Here they had an Elephant Sanctuary, with over 30 elephants.



These elephants are used for different Hindu ceremonies such as parades and weddings. What I was told is the more elephants in a wedding procession, the more impressive the wedding.

I will continue to keep you posted on my experiences as the trip continues!

Celebrating the Semester’s End

The semester has finally come to an end, which seems like it took forever. The last two weeks have been extremely stressful between papers, projects, tests and work. It does not help that all of my classes were somewhat difficult, being that they were all 300 and 400 level classes, not to mention I also had to cram all of my finals into two days. This made this last week very stressful but I think it was definitely worth it since I am sitting in the airport in Abu Dhabi writing this.


Oh did I forget to mention that I am spending the next ten days in Kerala, India? I’m not there yet, but I got the 13 hour flight out if the way, after sitting in Chicago’s O’hare airport for 9 hours. But compared to those, I am only a hop skip and a jump away from India, which is a little over a 3 hour flight.

Let me explain to you why I am spending most of my winter break in India. One reason, it is currently 82* outside and it is 3 o’clock in the morning. Nothing like traveling somewhere tropical when the weather at home turns freezing. But the main reason I am talking this trip is an event I attended last year on campus called India day, which turned out to be a whole week. Not thinking much of it before, I promised my good friend Fr. Jon that would attend this event he was putting together. I never imagined that it would grab my attention the way it did during the event. It was that night that put the idea of traveling to India in my head. After a few conversations with some people, I was 100% sure I want to go experience the real deal. I have eaten at Indian restaurants many times, but they only give you the Americanized “Indian food,” I am ready to try the actual food.

Anyways, I was convinced at the beginning of the semester that I would be going to India. So I signed up for Fr. Bunnels “World Religions” class, got my visa, filled out all my paper work, got a couple finals moves and now I am a couple hours away from being in India! I am so excited to finally be there that I probably will not sleep tonight. I’ll be sure to post plenty of pictures and describe what we do each day so you can enjoy the experience with me!


Worldly travelers unite!

Is it just me or do we, as in the people who live in the united states of America, lack the traveling of the world as the rest of the world does? Talking to people from Australia, Italy, Germany, France, and other places I realize how much we as a nation are not worldly travelers. There are people who take months at a time to go and visit the world just because! I think it’s great! I think that we as a nation would really benefit from traveling the world. Seeing
other nations, understanding there problems, and experiencing more than just a twenty mile radius of “home” could really do good here. I don’t know, maybe it is just me, but the world is calling!

Mud Volleyball

Won two games and lost the last…

Couldn’t have asked for a better team!

(from left to right) Kaitlin Young, Jake McCann, Alex Masterson, Tristan Robinet, Emily Buckingham, Jen Greb, Tatiana Rathke, Jamie Polak, and Antonia Long

Coming Back


“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”   

-Jack Kerouac

After an 18 hour flight, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel when I re-entered the US. Before studying abroad they prepare you for possible “reverse culture shock” but I never really considered that it was going to happen to me until I was already back across the ocean. It’s not a feeling that one can easily pin point, or explain well to others but it can pop up at the most unexpected times.  As we pulled up to our house in Shelbyville, my mom noticed an odd expression on my face, like I was possibly confused.

“What’s wrong…aren’t you happy to be back with all your friends and family”, she asked with concern.

And that’s the predicament I have going on in my head. It’s a battle between insane joy at seeing faces and places that I’ve missed dearly, but also at the same time feels like the city of Amsterdam and I were in a relationship and we just broke up. It’s that kind of dull pain that little things remind you of what used to be home. It’s weird knowing that I wont be looking at my Groenburgwal canal every morning. My bike is no longer my main source of transportation. And no longer will I be the shortest person everywhere I go, since the tall Dutch aren’t surrounding me. These things sound odd but they’re just many of a huge list that became part of my daily life. It’s hard…there’s no other way to explain it.


Here’s the thing. I know I’m not alone. And it will get better. Fellow Bellarmine students who’ve been abroad already shared they went through similar feelings. One thing that I’ve been reading is the re-immersion papers that the Bellarmine Study Abroad Program provides all students with before they go. Some of the tips really did help such as:

1. Get connected with the International Community back in your own home (which is why I became an International Peer Mentor)

2. Embrace the culture shock. Instead of being upset that things feel different, treat it like a new place to explore and get to know. (I have a whole list of places in Louisville I’ve never been before.)

3. Make yourself do things. Even if you don’t feel like doing 100%. (And this is where my closest friends have been really helpful. They’re so encouraging and supportive)

The purpose of this post isn’t to complain about what I don’t have any longer. But more make aware future students who go abroad that these feelings are real. And you’re not the only one experiencing them. I’m there with you. And as I’ve been told, and am starting to feel progressively more since the first day I arrived…It really does get easier.


So a final farewell…Tot ziens Amsterdam! You gave me so many sweet memories, opportunities, new ways of thinking and filled my life with inspiring people. And many thanks to Bellarmine, I feel like the whole world has become a playground for my future endeavors!

xx Tatiana

P.S. Upcoming excitement begins this week with students moving in, International and New student Orientation, getting settled in my new place off campus, internships, creative art projects, and my goal of “the best senior year ever”.

The Beginning

I cannot believe we are already into summer vacation. I am loving the free time. Not spending time studying, reading text books, or writing papers. It is so nice to sleep in past 9:00am. So far Summer 2012 has started off great.

Even though I am having a blast. There is only so much to do. I am pretty sure I have seen the entire Harry Potter series twice this summer already. I have been watching a lot of television shows on Netflix and Hulu. This can only entertain one for so long. After so many different TV shows, it gets a little boring. Nothing against New Girl and One Tree Hill, but I am for sure getting bored.

This is the only problem with summer vacation, there is not much to do at home. I am starting to miss my friends from Bellarmine and Louisville so much. All of the stupid things we would do together. I can’t wait to see them again. I am glad I made it this far into the summer without getting sad, but here we are, missing the Ville.

One thing that has kept me quite busy this summer is the paper work for Study Abroad and preparing for my summer job. The paper work never ceases to end, I am getting so nervous for studying at the University of Bern in the fall. It is nerve-racking but extremely excited. Another thing that I am looking for is my summer job as a Summer Staff for Group Mission Trips. I will be travelling the country this summer and putting on Home Repairing Mission Trips for students in high school. I am also excited for this opportunity.

As of right now I am just “living the dream.”

Semana Santa in Andalucia

A Thursday Night in Cordoba

I stepped out of my room at the Santa Ana Hostel at midnight. From inside, I had been able to hear through the paper thin walls and I knew sleep was no where in my near future. The cobblestoned road that ran past was filled with people of all ages and I knew that this was not the time for anybody to sleep. Just a foot out my door and I could see that the passage between buildings was filled with people. It was a parade of sorts but not your average run of the mill “let’s get candy thrown at us” type. In hooded robes the figures marched past and small children ran up asking for a drop of the dripping wax to save on the end of a stick. The processions had been going on all day so at this point many had collected a baseballs worth of it. I caught small wisps of conversation in Spanish, but felt the attention of everyone soon concentrate as the wooden sculptures passed above my head. I could imagine the weight of the silver on my own shoulders as I watched men take small footsteps, moving the figure of Jesus further and further on. Regal women dressed in black lace preceded behind and a troupe of musicians thereafter. Purple was the symbol of this brotherhood and it was stitched within each uniform. It wasn’t just the reverence for their physical strength that could be felt during the Holy Week in Andalucia, but the respect to be let in to watch them celebrate their beliefs. The band of musicians marched on with the rest and as they all turned the corner to my right, I knew that I’d just witnessed something very special.

A video from earlier in the day

…more to come from the rest of my week around the south of Spain