You Know You’re in the USA When…

My final blog post

You Know You’re in the U.S.A When…

  1. Breakfast is good!! Granola and Oatmeal and French Toast (OH MY!)
  2. You can drink water from the tap
  3. All traffic laws are actually obeyed and turning signals are actually used too
  4. You can put toilet paper in the toilet
  5. You have a toilet!
  6. You have clothes that you haven’t been wearing the past 6 months
  7. Showers are hot and also have water pressure – the best of both worlds!
  8. You can pet and play with dogs without fear of getting fleas or bitten
  9. There is a starbucks on EVERY corner
  10. You realize that you’ve made an origami paper crane in every country you’ve visited (Thanks for teaching me Mrs. Laabs)
  11. You can go on a run without having to worry about stepping on dog poop
  12. It’s no longer acceptable to shower every 4 days
  13. The fast-food options are everywhere
  14. Everything costs a lot.. I miss the $5 meals
  15. You go to the grocery store and are overwhelmed with the amount of options there are
  16. There is a refrigerator with all the food one could want in it
  17. You have to say goodbye to all your friends that 7 months ago you were nervous to meet
  18. Cell phones are EVERYWHERE and are especially visible during mealtime
  19. You understand all the conversations happening around you for the first time in 7 months
  20. You can have any type of food you want at any hour!!! (That time at 9pm when we got Shake Shack delivered to our hostel)
  21. You talk about the drought for 45 minutes with Senator Diane Feinstein’s Energy and Natural Resources assistant #thedroughtisreal
  22. You realize that in the past 7 months you have changed
  23. You live in a small cabin in Virginia with your friends for two weeks
  24. You and Ellie steal everyone’s phone chargers as an April fools joke (sorry)
  25. You build an awesome fort in the woods and your friend writes a brilliant song while sitting in the fort
  26. On the last night in Virginia, you look up at the stars with your friends, just like you did throughout the entire trip, and realize that your really going to miss these amazing people
  27. The TBB Alumni say, “TBB never really ends” and you hope they are telling the truth
  28. You officially become a TBB Alumni
  29. You say/cry you’re last goodbyes to all your friends and promise to see them all soon
  30. You come home

There are many people I must thank because without them I would not have had such an amazing adventure.

Thank you to everyone who supported me in the last seven months. Thank you to the best college counselor, Sherry Zagunas, for finding this program with me and encouraging me to do this trip. Thank you to my mom and dad for allowing me to go on this gap year. Thank you to my wonderful leaders for everything you did, including keeping me safe and alive the last 7 months. Thank you to the TBB staff for organizing an awesome trip. And lastly thank you to all my friends who made this trip so much more fun and special! You all pushed me and supported me the last 7 months and I am so grateful to have you all in my life. Please come visit me in California, I already miss you all way too much!

Thank you to my blog readers for following my journey and giving me supportive and encouraging messages. I look forward to seeing you all soon!

Patty Dougherty

You Know You’re in Ecuador When…

You Know You’re in Ecuador when…

  1. All your roommates have terrible flea bites (except for you) and there is nothing they can do about it
  2. You literally have rice and potatoes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  3. As a special guest, you are generously given the head of a guinea pig for lunch which still had its eyes, ears, teeth, and some fur
  4. Your group plants on average 300 trees a day
  5. You make guacamole in your spare time and since there’s no tortilla chips you use Lays chips instead (It honestly tasted amazing!)
  6. You get a huge bowl of potato soup one night with a side of 15 potatoes (I could only eat 2)
  7. Your leaders get served a cup of warm, unconcealed jello each night
  8. Getting food that’s not rice and potatoes feels like an early birthday present!
  9. You watch Lord of the Rings after seminar and make a count for the amount of times Frodo falls down 
  10. You learn how to play guitar (sort of). Thanks Sophie and Becca!
  11. Getting drinkable water is a process and you realize how grateful you are to drink it straight from the tap at home
  12. Due to a knee injury, your roommate Becca and you no longer have to hike up a huge 15 minute hill each day to get home
  13. You now live 1 minute away from seminar space with 3 roommates and a warm shower
  14. For just .30c you can hop on a bus and go to the closest “city”
  15. You are 10 minutes away from the Ingapirca Ruins (The biggest Inca/Canari city built in Ecuador) 
  16. You know way less Spanish than you thought you did but it’s enough to get by
  17. The first thing your host-dad gives you is a spanish/english version of the New Testment (Dios es Amor)
  18. The altitude difference makes going up the stairs our daily workout
  19. You see a supermarket and buy 2 full bags of granola, granola bars, chia seeds, nuts, and fruit
  20. It’s surprisingly very cold here and instead of wearing a t-shirt and shorts like you thought, you’re wearing all the layers you own
  21. When the fog comes in at night and you feel like you’re walking in a horror movie
  22. When you can’t say the name of village correctly after 2 weeks (Caguanapamba)
  23. You realize how much you love avocados and take every opportunity to have more
  24. You buy animal crackers for the first time since you were 5
  25. You have the loudest/squeakiest door possible and you can’t go to bathroom at night without waking everybody up
  26. Walking past pigs and sheep on the road isn’t even a little strange anymore
  27. Your family takes you trout fishing the last day and you accidentally slap your friend with a fish while reeling it in
  28. You go to a club soccer game in Quito!!!
  29. You discover that alpaca sweaters are the warmest thing and buy a lot of them
  30. Going to the coast for independent student travel was one of the best decisions you’ve made (I missed the water)
  31. You visit La Isla del Plata (AKA Poor Mans Galapagos) and see enough Blue-Footed Boobies to last a lifetime
  32. You go surfing!!!

Ecuador has been an awesome last core country. It definitely had it’s struggles but overall I wouldn’t want it any other way. My knee injury caused me to spend most of my time in the host village laying in bed and sadly missing the work project. I’m happy to announce that I will still be able to hike Machu Picchu next week! 

Today, we leave for Cuzco and we begin the 4 day trail in just a few days. After that, we return to the USA! Crazy to think that in just one week I’ll be seeing my family! 

Sorry that my blog was so late, I hope everyone is doing well! 

Patty Dougherty

You Know You’re in Thailand When…

You Know You’re in Thailand When…

1. You have the most delicious fruit at every meal (Watermelon, pineapple, papaya, tangerines, and much much more!!!)
2. You have a “pet” frog living in your bathroom that you name Timmy
3. Gin Cao in Thai means meal time in English but it’s literal translation is “eat rice” (not at all a coincidence)
4. Your pet cat Winky leaves you dead lizards in your room sometimes
5. Your running path goes through rice patties and banana trees and everyone smiles when you run by
6. New Years involves listening to Thai folktales from a monk and learning how to roll a cigar out of banana leaves
7. You’re joined at every meal by the living version of your main entree (AKA the chickens)
8. After a hard day on the farm, the roomies and you gather around and listen to the audiobooks of Harry Potter
9. You must take off your shoes before entering any building
10. Smiling is a part of pronouncing a word correctly in Thai and you have to take note of it
11. When all of your friends are a minute away and movie night/slumber party = every night
12. Your house is the hangout area (even when the powers out) and where everyone makes coffee because your the only one with a kettle
13. Every Thai dog is adorable and you can pet them!!
14. Your mornings are spent with your host mom out on the farm and she is a boss (there’s no other way to put it)
15. Pa Anon (host dad) teaches you how to mix the dirt and then laughs because your not doing it up to his standards but he still let’s your try
16. Your three roommates take amazing care of when your sick and make you feel like your at home, even when your half way across the world
17. You finally watch Big Hero 6 and realize what an awesome movie it is! (We love you BayMax)
18. There are mosquitos everywhere and your unsure whether the bites you have are from flees, mosquitos, or spiders.
19. You finally get some Thai pants and wonder how you lived the last 18 years without them
20. Your roommates chose everyones character in Harry Potter and they now call you Ron (or Ronald when it’s urgent) and you surprising respond to it
21. At each meal you are reminded of how amazing fresh food is- it’s literally from our farm to our table.
22. You make and present your family tree in Thai- each family member has a specific name based on age and which side of the family they’re on
23. Everyone in the village assumes you speak Thai and you respond with a smile
24. The showers are freezing cold but you don’t mind mainly because you’re happy it’s not still a bucket bath like in India
25. Your host parents think it’s freezing cold and refuse to work when it’s actually 75 and sunny

Thailand has been amazing and I will be very sad to leave it in two weeks! This week we are not staying in the village and are instead at UHDP (Upland Holistic Development Program) working and learning about sustainable agriculture techniques. Today we made an organic pesticide from Neem leaves and studied different plant species and their many purposes. The village I’m staying in, Don Jiang, has a population of about 200. My host parents- Mae Venus and Pa Anon- take my three roommates and I out to their organic farm each day where we garden, weed, water, and plant new seeds! Everything in the village is walking distance- so when I forget something for seminar, it’s just a 30 second walk back to my house. We have been taking Thai classes in the afternoon as well which has been a lot of fun!

I’m doing my media project in Thailand on food and the main question my group is exploring is, ‘Are you what you eat?’. We will be diving into the four categories we think are important when learning about food: Health, Emotional, Social, and Cultural. I’m very excited for our video and will definitely share it to you all when it’s finished.

Overall Thailand is amazing! Let me know if you have questions.

I hope everyone’s new year is off to a great start!

Patty Dougherty

Christmas in Thailand

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season! I’ve been in Thailand for the past 5 days and I’m loving it. Chiang Mai is beautiful. We are staying at an Eco Resort which has been very relaxing and fun. I’ve been biking to this little bagel shop every morning which has been amazing because I forgot how much I missed bagels! The NGO we are partnered with in Thailand is ISDSI (International Sustainable Development Studies Institute). We’ve been taking Thai classes, learning about agriculture, and starting our seminar series on sustainable agriculture.

Thailand is so different from India which has made for an interesting transition. It’s waaaaayyyy less busy, there’s many different food options (I had Mexican food two nights ago!), it’s hot and humid instead of being cold, and you don’t really have to haggle when buying things anymore. 

I have to keep this blog post quick because I’m leaving for our host village in about 10 minutes and I’m not done packing! I will be rooming with 3 other girls which I’m super excited for! The village is very small and has a population of about 150. I’ll be working with my host family on their rice farm. I won’t have wifi for the next 2 weeks but feel free to message me and I’ll get back to you eventually! 

Happy New Years! 

I hope your 2016 is filled with many fun, new adventures! 

Patty Dougherty

You Know Your in India When…

You know your in India when

  1. Cows wonder the streets and act as roadblocks
  2. You have Chipoti for EVERY meal
  3. Not only do monkeys wonder the streets but you also can’t look them in the eye  without fear of your life
  4. You can’t wear half of your clothes due to dress code
  5. Honking is it’s own language
  6. Tok-toks are a regular form of transportation
  7. The Himalayas are at your back door- literally
  8. Your host family doesn’t have toilet paper
  9. Fireworks go off at all hours during the week of Diwali
  10. Henna is a normality and is called Mandhi in Hindi 
  11. You are offered a cup of Chai at least three times a day (and of course you say yes everytime!) 
  12. You haven’t had meat yet….living the vegetarian life 🙂
  13. You hop across a stream and climb 4 sets of stairs to get to work 
  14. You almost forget to take your malaria pills every morning
  15. Losing power is a normal part of your day
  16. Your bed is a wood frame and your pillow feels like a rock but you still sleep great!
  17. Your host grandma only speaks Hindi and thinks that the louder she speaks the better you will understand her (No hand gestures either)  
  18. You find out Adele dropped a new single and your entire group freaks out about it
  19. Your on an overnight train and there is a convict shackled to his bed in the room next to you and two policemen with AK47s – completely normal situation
  20. Celebrating Diwali changes your life- it’s like 4th of July, New years, and Christmas combined!!!
  21. You find out the difference between Namaste and Nameskar (Nameskar is more formal and respectful)
  22. New Delhi is the most overstimulating and vibrant city you’ve ever been in
  23. Painting your house is a yearly routine and is done in preparation for Diwali as a form of cleaning
  24. Squatty Potties are the only option in public areas and surprising aren’t that bad
  25. You release a floating lantern off the roof of your house and watch it float away until your host mom tells you to get down before the monkeys come…
  26. You walk past herds of baby sheep at least every other day
  27. The students have school on Saturdays (Only Sunday is off) 

India is awesome! It’s so different from any place I’ve ever been and I love it. We are staying in Palampur which is in the state of Himachal Pradesh, at the base of the Himalayas. It is absolutely gorgeous. At least 3 or 4 times a day I look up towards the mountains and watch paragliders soar in the air and I have the realization that this is actually real life and also my home for the next month!

But as amazing as India is, I’ve also had certain challenges. I’ve been teaching in Om Private School where I have a limited amount of freedom with the lessons I plan based on their teaching structure which has been frustrating. But I love challenges and am determined to get through to the kids somehow.  And another challenge has been health (both mental and physical).  Luckily I am yet to get sick but many members in our group have and it definitely lowers group morale. Mentally, everyone in our group is exhausted. Balancing lesson planning, seminar reading, and spending time with family makes it pretty easy to burn out quickly. Especially when our seminar reading discusses topics like oppression, volunteer work, and student-teacher relationships. I’m definitely looking forward to this weekend and catching up on sleep and hopefully going in to town to buy/find peanut butter (I miss it so much) and a suit -traditional Indian dress- so I fit in with the schools dress code. 

Mandy- my roommate- and I are living with an awesome family! We have a father who is a 10-12th grade teacher, a mother who is absolutely gorgeous and makes amazing food, a 12 year old brother who speaks some english and loves fireworks and scaring me with his fake snake, an 8 year old sister who I nicknamed Hannah Montana and has been sick with the chicken pox this past week, and lastly Nani (our grandmother) who is just starting to get that I don’t speak Hindi or understand anything she says to me 🙂

Thanksgiving is next week and our group will be celebrating in Armitsar and visiting the Golden Temple. I have always loved thanksgiving because it meant spending quality time with my family and extended family and eating so much delicious food and pumpkin pie. This year, although I won’t be celebrating with my blood family or having a traditional Thanksgiving meal, I will be celebrating with my TBB family and giving thanks for many things I never realized I was grateful for. I hope everyone has an amazing Thanksgiving filled with lots of joy, thanks, and yummy food! 

Patty Dougherty

Leaving South Africa

Tomorrow we leave for India! We said goodbye to Plettenberg Bay and our host families last Friday and have been spending the last few days relaxing in Addo. It was a bittersweet goodbye because it was hard to leave a host family I really connected with but I’m excited for the new adventures that lay ahead.
Julia (my roommate) and I lived with Sally and John, our host parents, and their kids Megan (14) and Joventis (18). Sally is one of the sweetest, most adorable women I know. She calls us her babies and makes amazing food- Monday nights were always my favorite because she made a delicious chicken curry! John is a carpenter and made it his personal goal to teach us the game of rugby. He was definitely successful because I can know watch a game and know 99% of whats happening. Side note: New Zealand won the Rugby World Cup and South Africa got bronze! Joventis is a typical 18 year old boy who is usually out hanging with his friends so we developed a pretty routine conversation each day. Megan is a beast. She can sing and dance (really really well), she is super athletic and was the youngest girl to ever make her schools varsity netball team, and she’s super smart. Megan is sponsored by a lady in Belgium to go to Wittedrift High School. It’s a very nice school with a hostile that she stays at all week, so we only got to spend time with her on the weekends. Our host family practices the Greikwa religion which seems like a combination of Christianity mixed with cultural beliefs. They have a 5 AM service on Sunday along with another at 10AM. I went to the 5AM service twice which consisted of everyone standing in a big circle and going around in a circle singing, praying, and praising God- although everything was spoken in Afrikans so I still don’t know exactly what they did. It was awesome to experience what a church service is like almost half way across the world!
We did seminars after work usually 2 or 3 times a week. They are all very interesting and challenge me to think deeper about public health and what we can do. Some of the questions I walk away with are: How can you break the cultural/social stigmas around HIV/Aids? Why aren’t patients taking their medicine if they have it? And is access to state-of-the-art medical treatment a human right? The seminars can definitely be frustrating at times because I’m someone who likes having answers so it’s hard for me to talk about questions like these and not come to a conclusion. But that just reminds me that they aren’t supposed to be questions you can sit around in a circle for an hour and find the resolution. If they had such easily solutions then HIV/Aids would’ve been eradicated already.  But they have definitely open my mind to thinking in a way I haven’t before and challenge me to really change my perspective and assumptions on EVERYTHING.
In each core country, we all have to do a media project which is basically where you take a question that you have and go out and see what you discover. Sophie, Noah, Sam, and I were all interested in happiness and if the reasons that cause happiness change in each country. We interviewed many of the Plettaid staff and our host families and asked them all 5 questions: How do you define happiness? What makes you happy? What makes you unhappy? What are your hopes and dreams for the future? And how do you think happiness in the USA differs from your definition of happiness? The results were very fascinating and once we have time to upload the video I will definitely post it for everyone to watch. We presented our media projects at our farewell party last Thursday. There were 4 other groups whose projects were: What does it mean to be a women in South Africa? What makes you who you are? What is aid? and What is the drinking culture in SA like? All the projects turned out awesome and it was fun to show the community of people we’ve been surrounded by the last few weeks what we’ve learned. Although it was sad to say goodbye to the plettaid staff, my caregiver Marie, and the amazing staff at Ingwe.
During each core country we get an IST or Independent Student Travel. This is an opportunity for us to break into smaller groups and travel for one weekend. A group of about 8 of us traveled to Cape Town! We left Thursday night in order to get a head start and took an 8 hour overnight bus to Cape Town. Friday morning when we arrived we went to Robben Island. Robben Island is a prison that’s famous for holding political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela and many others from the ANC. It was super cool to visit and I was expecting something similar to Alcatraz but it was way bigger than that. The rest of our time in Cape Town was spent doing two beautiful sunset hikes, walking around local markets and shopping centers, and eating lots of amazing food. It was an awesome first IST and although it wasn’t the most relaxing, it was a lot of fun!
Right now I’m in Addo, SA which is famous for it’s elephant park. We took a safari and saw elephants, warthogs, rhinos, springboks, kudu, and many other animals. Today we went kayaking down a river which was extremely fun and very beautiful!
Tomorrow morning we leave for India! We are taking 3 planes, an overnight train, and a 5 hr bus in order to get to Palampur where I will be staying the next month. I’m super excited for the new adventures that are coming ahead.
Let me know if you have questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Patty Dougherty

You Know You’re in South Africa When….

You know you’re in South Africa when
  1. You drive on the left side of the road
  2. You say “Now now” to inform someone that you will be there anywhere from 5 minutes to 4 hours  Ex. “The taxi will pick you up now now”
  3. The only sport your family watches is the Rugby World Cup
  4. There are baboons on the side of the road
  5. You say “Shame” after most sentences Ex. “I’m tired” “Ooh shame shame”
  6. When Mayonnaise is somehow involved in most meals and ketchup is used as tomato sauce
  7. You never wear seat belts (Sorry mom)
  8. After watching Rugby you watch soap operas with your host father
  9. You haven’t had Mexican Food!!
  10. You put hot milk on your cereal every morning
  11. Water is never offered during meals, only juice
  12. The dogs in the neighborhood bark at all hours
  13. You take baths instead of showers
  14. No one knows what Netflix is
All jokes aside, I’ve very much enjoyed my time here in South Africa. The typical day for me starts at 8 AM when I arrive at the local clinic in Crags to work with my caregiver. Then at 11 my work partner Sam and I hop on the public taxi into downtown Plettenberg for a cup of coffee/hot chocolate or a light lunch. Then We meet up with two other people in our group and take another taxi to PlettAid office – the organization we are partnered with. For the rest of the afternoon we enjoy lunch as a group and have a seminar or other activity. Seminars usually start with a general question about public health and most end with me having wayyyy more questions about it. Then, at about 4 we all head home to our families. Julia -my home stay partner- and I spend the evening reading and spending time with our family. I usually am super exhausted and go to bed around 9.
The caregiver I’ve been shadowing the past two weeks is amazing. Her name is Marie and her understanding and the love she has for all her patients is very admirable. I’ve learned so much about TB, Aids, Diabetes, and many other diseases, and about the medical system in Plettenberg. For instance, the clinic in which I work at isn’t open during the weekends, therefore, if you needed immediate attention you would need to call the ambulance and be transferred to the clinic in Knysna which is about 40 minutes away from Crags. It really makes me grateful for the immediate and local access to doctors and hospitals that we have in the States. One thing that I have picked up in just the 4 weeks I’ve been here, is that there is so much to be grateful for. I encourage you to think of one little thing that you have (Ex. A dentist, a car, or even just food in the fridge) and try to imagine how things would be different if you didn’t have that. There is always something to be grateful for and I hope that although you haven’t seen what I’ve seen, you can still understand that.
Dankie (Thank you) and please let me know if there is something specific you would like me to write about and I will!
Patty Dougherty