Immersion

In addition to academics and access to my major requirements, cultural immersion was one of my top priorities when I planned my semester abroad. I did extensive research and decided the best way to meet and become friends with Australian students was to live on campus, even though most Australian students live at home or in off-campus housing.  In off-campus student accommodation easily accessible to international students, I probably would have been around very few local students. At College, I …

My Carbon Footprint & Suggestions for Amherst

My Personal Carbon Footprint Personal efforts aren’t the end-all and be-all of environmental protection. Rather, much of the work needs to be done on a societal and systemic level. Still, there are many things that consumers can do every day to be a bit more environmentally friendly. To evaluate my environmental habits both in the US and Germany, I used a Germany-based footprint calculator suggested to me by a German resident. This calculator measures one’s impact on the environment in …

Food Supplies in the Arctic

Greetings again from the far north! I’m now down to about one month left on Svalbard, so classes are wrapping up and we’re moving into the project and exam period. The sun is shining lots and the snow is still sticking around, but the lack of blooming flora (or basically any flora for that matter) makes it feel like a rather untraditional spring. My last few blog posts have been fairly broad explorations of sustainability here on Svalbard, so the …

Biases within Directed Research

One of my professors mentioned the importance of knowing one’s position in their environment. Throughout our time in Bhutan, the group of students I studied with discussed this at length. One of the questions we tried to answer was that of whether or not we were tourists. We never reached a solid conclusion, partly because of time, but many of the students fell into one of the two categories: 1) yes, we are, because three and a half months is …

A Brief History of Waste Management in Germany

Attempting to write a singular history of waste management in Germany is a flawed pursuit, as is any attempt to vie Germany’s history as just one story. A brief overview for those of you less familiar with German history: following World War II, Germany was split into two separate countries, the German Democratic Republic (eastern Germany) and the Federal Republic of Germany (western Germany). Waste management developed differently in the two countries due predominantly to their economic differences. For the …

Mid-Semester Break and USyd Academics

It’s mid-semester break and I am in Queensland (The Sunshine State), three hours north of Sydney by plane.  I spent the beginning of the break enjoying Easter in Sydney, which included the Sydney Royal Easter Show, a massive fair with carnival rides, livestock competitions, woodcutting, and showbags (bags of candy and themed souvenirs at low prices).  The Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales runs the Easter Show to raise funds to invest in agricultural programs in rural NSW.  Here …

Gayborhoods of Madrid

Spain is well-known for being one of the most accepting countries for LGBT+ people. In fact, Madrid hosted World Pride in 2017. As an openly gay man, choosing an accepting study abroad location was a key deciding factor in my choice of locations. Since arriving in Madrid in early January, I have found several occasions to visit the major gayborhood of Madrid. The neighborhood or barrio, is located a short fifteen-minute walk from the city center and is located just …

Realities of Bhutan’s Economy

A massive Himalayan griffon vulture flew overhead as I and the rest of the students combed the ground for insects to study. It landed behind a cow shed, and we ran over to see what it was feeding on. As we approached, the griffon took notice and flew away, leaving only the sound of her flapping wings in her wake. Where the griffon once stood, a giant cow carcass the size of a small vehicle lay in a lifeless heap. …

Energy and Waste Management in Svalbard

Hi again! I’ve now been in Svalbard for a bit more than 3 months, so I’m just over halfway done with my time here. In the span of the last month there has been a major transition from no sun shining down in Longyearbyen, to now having sun during all hours. The weather is starting to get a bit warmer too, and we’ve had a nice string of completely blue-sky days. Life up North is pretty sweet! However, with all …

Waste Management in Germany: How Do People Know Where Everything Goes?

It’s an average evening. My partner and I have finished our dinner. He washes the dishes while I clean the table and eventually make my way down the three flights of stairs from my apartment to empty our trash cans. There are four cans and it takes me two trips to complete the task. First, I take the compostable bio-trash in its paper bag, and the “yellow-sack” recycling which consists of plastic and aluminum foil packaging. As I dump out …

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