Corlene Beukes

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Travel Tuesday: remarkable

As a 21-year-old college student my mind is always set on the on-set of a very imminent quarter-life crisis. The quote “What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable” said by John Green, runs through my mind daily and a fear rises inside my soul that I will die unremarkable.

We are given so much time, so many resources and such incredible opportunities to mean something to the people in this world, but how often do we just let them pass by? Too often, if you ask me. Too often we leave a situation unchanged; a situation that needed only what you, as a unique person, could have brought to change for the better a complete community.

Why are so many lives seen as unremarkable, when those lives were the reason that someone else had slept better that night? What is more important to this world? How we are perceived or the lives we helped better?

Before I came to UNC Charlotte, the fear of my life being unremarkable used to paralyze me. I would wake up in a sweat in the middle of the night, wide-awake, and image being forgotten. Just before I came over to America, I realized that is not what the fear is trying to lead me to.

This fear is not to suppress us or to paralyze us. It also not utilized to drive us to being unforgettable. It should drive us to making our lives remarkable for others. Our kindness and our outstretched hands should be so remarkable to others that they are moved, in turn, to do the same. Our goal with our lives should be to be remarkable to others; not to the world.

UNC Charlotte has been the home in which my soul prepared and braced itself for what it wants my body to do. My dreams have only grown in size and quantity, and with my whole being behind these dreams, I realize that my fear is now my hope.

The hope that rises inside my soul, even as I am writing, is that my life may be used by the universe that created it, to better even just the smallest part. We are the universe in ecstatic motion. Motion that drives, builds, helps, cares and loves. We should just let it happen to us.

When people see the effects of what we deem our biggest, most impossible dreams, they too will be rallied to follow theirs. The world will heal as each of us realize our potential.

My hope, now rebuilt, is what will drive me when people tell me I cannot do what I want to. My hope is what will take me there. My hope is what will make this article fantastic in a few years’ time.

This is my last article for UNC Charlotte and with it I want to inspire you to follow your dreams. What keeps the light in your eyes glowing? What makes you move to the edge of your seat when you talk about it? What makes your heart leap when you see or hear it?

People who have realized their dreams should not scare us off. Instead these people should motivate us to achieve everything we ever wanted to. We are beings that thrive on others’ encouragement and love. Take the actions of the people you admire, breathe them in and let them fuel you while you run after your dreams.

I am ready to run after mine. I am going back to the place which I once deemed unfavourable for them to grow. I now know that that is exactly where I should start. I have this idea that as soon as we, take on our dreams to help the world; as soon as we work off of those before us; as soon as we inspire those after us, we will change the world. That is how we will make our lives remarkable, it will always be about the people we are with.

Travel Tuesday: toil and trouble

Some of us know the history of the night that most people see as the night dominated by fake blood, pumpkins and candy. But with scarecrows, Jack ‘o’ Lanterns and cobwebs everywhere, one of my personal dreams were coming true. I was about to celebrate my very first Halloween ever! Excited couldn’t cover it.

In South Africa, we do not celebrate Halloween as it is celebrated here. Some people dress up in costume and others go out for the night, but there is no true unity about it. It is very mixed and matched. And the weather, which is now turning to summer, does not help in creating the illusion of All Hallows’ Eve.

So when Halloween week rolled around and the air was turning brisk and cold, my imagination started to run its course, and I psyched myself up for the most famous American holiday (apart from Thanksgiving) that I have only dreamed of participating in.

Thursday evening of last week, a few of my friends and I were hanging out at a friend’s house around the fire pit. We were conversing, having a good time and then the ghost stories started between three of us –myself included. Just as I finished the scariest story I know, someone said “Happy Halloween” and we three looked at each other and burst out laughing. It was the perfect entrance to my first Halloween and my dream evening started.

On Friday, we got ready for our Halloween evening. Costumes, make up and screams were abundant. As soon as got outside we realized that the weather was perfect for the night… Stormy, lighting and rain by the bucket-load. I was in metaphorical heaven.

I dressed as Pippie Longstockings for my first true Halloween. Photo by Corlene Beukes
I dressed as Pippie Longstockings for my first true Halloween. Photo by Corlene Beukes

The party had way too much food and just the right amount of people. Dressed up as Quail Man, Super Nanny, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, my friends and I were in high spirits. After the costume contest (won by Quail Man), we had more snacks and sat down to watch one of my all-time favorites –Casper the Friendly Ghost.

My roommate and I decided half way through that we were still hungry and so left the party and had a late-night dinner at Cook-Out. We talked and stayed up late, realizing somewhere in between the fries and girl-talk that Halloween was officially over.

I can understand why some people love this day so much. It is about lightened spirits and happy hearts. Candy and frights are dealt out as much as the leaves fall to the ground and the crunch of the night is as soft as the leaves underfoot.

This is one of the days I was looking forward to most before I commenced my adventure here in the United States of America, and I was not disappointed.

My first ever Halloween was perfect. It is a very big pro on my list of pros-and-cons on coming back to the States. I wish I was fortunate enough to have grown up trick-or-treating or innately knowing that as soon as the leaves change color, Halloween is coming. It was a great experience and with my incredible love for the cold, I was swept up in a night of screams, laughs and friendship, celebrating things that we have long forgotten we are.

This is to commemorate all of the loved ones that we have loved and lost. It will forever be about the people you are with and not the places you are at.

Travel Tuesday: wanderlust

This word has become a pop culture reference, a tattoo and so many things that take the significance of the word for granted. The word “wanderlust” is associated with “the desire to travel.” It is that burning in your heart at 2am and you are dreaming about places you have only heard the names of. It is that sensation of butterflies when you are looking into your significant other’s eyes and know that this person is your future. Wanderlust is what ultimately motivated most of the international students that are roaming the halls to come to UNC Charlotte.

One of my favorite authors, J.R.R. Tolkien, once wrote “not all who wander are lost.” In context, the quote is mind-blowing and valuable. This quote is also something that stuck with me the last week or so. It stuck with me because as much as I revere this incredible author, I have to disagree. Used out of context, as it is mostly used, this quote can be incorrect.

I think part of wanderlust is the fact that we are all lost. Wanderlust is what we seek, it is what we want to find in our travels. It is not that you are being suffocated by your hometown, it is because your hometown is too familiar. It is not that you have not found the right one, it is because you found the wrong one.

To travel is to love. The actual event of the driving, riding or flying from place to place is time-consuming and exhausting but the reward is that this is how you are starting your quest.

Lately, I have been planning my return trip to South Africa. This involves a 17-hour bus ride and a 27-hour flight. Still, thinking of what is waiting for me at the end and what I will take with me is what keeps me smiling. Waiting for me are the people I love and I take with me the new loves of my life.

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Photo by Corlene Beukes

We are a very lucky generation. Many of our parents did not think that traveling all over the globe could be a reality when they were our age, but we can. It is not uncommon for young adults to travel and see so many new places. It has almost become an expected experience.

Imagine the place that you have always fantasized about. Think of the coffee shops in France, the food in Italy and the culture in London. You could go there. Take up a part-time job and save up. Go on an exchange. Make a plan and start doing something for yourself that you will never regret. For you will meet people who will change your life.

Traveling will bring you to meeting new people. People who will bring to your attention contexts, cultures and experiences that will equip you with handling life. We can learn all the things teachers and books can teach us, we could write exams and essays until we are the very best in our field., humanity can keep itself busy with whatever, but we are still just alive. Life is going to happen. I know that what I learned while here and what I am still going to be taught, is going to be priceless in my life.

“Not all who wander are lost.”

We are lost, all of us. That is why traveling is so satisfying and that is why it is absolutely alright to feel like that at 20-something you have not figured out everything, or anything for that matter.

Being lost and confused is what this period of our lives are all about. We are going to experience life at its hardest and weirdest, but what will make it worthwhile is that we are always going to find people who are just as lost as we are. Those are the people who, no matter where you travel, they will always be the treasures that you picked up along the way. For it will always be about the people we are with and not the places we are.

Music duo, Kalin and Myles chat with Niner Times

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Kalin and Myles (Photo courtesy of artist’s official Facebook page)

Kalin and Myles are the newest dynamic duo to hit the music scene. With an almost overnight rise to fame, they have not only captured the hearts of many, many girls but also revealed their incredible talent. With their families and friends by their side, to keep them grounded and focussed, they are reaching for the stars.

They met “six or seven” (neither one can remember) years ago through a mutual friend with whom they usually went to the same parties with. At one of these parties Myles, who had created his own studio in his room, invited Kalin over to record a song and that same weekend they released the song. It was met with an incredibly positive review and the rest, as they say, is history.

On tour right now through the United States, the Chase Dreams tour is coming to Charlotte, N.C. on Oct. 28 and one can already feel the buzz as hundreds of fangirls are gearing up.

In a telephone interview, Kalin and Myles opened up about their friendship, their mutual love for food, music and a little incident with a bra.

Corlene Beukes: Thank you for making time for us in your hectic schedules. With your Chase Dreams tour and the Crazy for Christmas concerts coming up in December, you must be swamped! How do you feel the experience of virtually rocketing to fame has impacted your lives?

Kalin and Myles: Thank you for meeting with us! It has definitely impacted our lives but right now our main thing is to just stay focussed.

CB: That is very important and a trait that has been depicted in your work from the beginning. And I believe that that is why you are so successful. Your collaborations, which have also been very successful, for instance Keep Up with Amber Lily. Are there any other artists that you would want to work with on a song?

KAM: I think there is definitely a couple out there. We would definitely like to get a song with Chris Brown, who is a big inspiration.

CB: Chris Brown is a very big inspiration in your life, Kalin. He has influenced your life and music. What aspects of his career that you admire, would you like to see in your own career one day?

Kalin: His work ethic. The work ethic that he has shown is really cool because he is a dancer; he makes his own choreography; he makes his own music. I think the dude is just really cool all around and to work that hard to be as big as he is, takes a lot of focus and commitment to what he loves. So I think in that regard it will be cool to be something like that.

CB: Myles, one of your tweets read “I wanna fall in love like they do in Disney”. Have you found your Disney princess yet? Do you consider yourself a romantic?

Myles: I definitely do. When I get a moment or if there is someone out there that I am really feeling, I really try to go that extra mile. At the moment, no. I think we are just out here and trying to stay focus on what’s going on now. I don’t want to try and look for somebody. I am just hoping that someday it would just kind of happen.

CB: That is very true and very mature, I think, to kind of just let it happen to you. Kalin as I read some of your tweets I came across a rather interesting tweet concerning a bra. Would you care to elaborate on this incident?

Kalin: Yes, so the day before yesterday (Sept. 28) in Portland, we have a song that’s called Love Robbery and Myles’ verse is “watch out for those eyes ‘cause she’s armed and dangerous like ‘bow’” and on the “’like bow’” a lovley young lady threw that item at me and it hit me in my face. I don’t know I give her props, ‘cause it was perfect timing.

CB: (laughs) Yes, it was incredible timing! So, Myles, most of your songs involve love and knowing a girl can be the one from the first time you see her. Do you really believe in love at first sight?

Myles: I definitely think it’s possible. There are some times I see a girl and we would just be able to hit it off like right off the bat. So I definitely believe it’s possible.

CB: That is really cool. I give you props for that. So just to make things a little more fun, I have some fun fact questions for you. First one, what is your favorite past-time except for music?

Kalin: Basketball

Myles: Fishing

CB: When and how did your first kiss go down?

Kalin: First kiss? I was in the seventh grade. I had a girlfriend and after the first week or something I came out of class and she asked “Hey, how are you doing?” and I replied“Good. Are you on your way…” and before I could finish my sentence she just laid it on me.

Myles: I think my first kiss was in first grade. It was during a game of hide-and-seek. This girl and I were hiding in the same spot and it just happened.

CB: (laughs) What was the first thing you packed for tour?

Kalin: First thing I packed was my X-box.

Myles: The very first thing that I packed for tour was clothes. We cannot be out here naked…

CB: That is very practical! So last fun fact question: what do you look forward to most of the tour? Except the shows, the crazy fans and girls throwing bras at you.

Kalin: I mean, definitely that is a beautiful thing, as well as getting to meet all of them and spending time with them [the fans]. But I would say just the actual bus. This is our first tour with a tour bus and it is awesome, ‘cause if were tired we are able to lay down and get some rest or if we want to stand up and stretch, we can. It’s a beautiful thing.

Myles: I love long road trips and being in the car, so it’s cool being on the road looking outside and seeing different parts of the country.

Kalin and Myles are two incredibly talented and immensely cool guys. They are fun-loving and down-to-earth. All of this flows over into their shows and makes them great. I look forward to an unforgettable night of great music, people and craziness at their show here in Charlotte.

These two cool cats are going to be around for a while, so get ready to hear their names more and more often.

 

Travel Tuesday: time flies when you’re having fun

Time is a really weird concept isn’t it? Einstein said that it all comes down to relativity. He proposed that all of time can be measured in the effect it had on oneself. For instance, putting your hand on a hot stove for a minute will make it seem like an hour, but sitting with a pretty girl for an hour might seem like a minute.

With only eight weeks left of what is easily the most fun we have ever had, the international students are being to think of how fast this semester past. It is really difficult to believe that only two months ago we were completely new to each other and the whole UNC Charlotte set up. So much has happened in these two months that it made time irrelevant, but now as our time is ticking away, we realize that that is all we have –time.

We struggle with the idea of not being able to see each as much as we do now in say three months’ time. We will go our separate ways and plan on, someday, visiting each other again. Saying goodbye is going to be terrifying.

Leaving behind your new friends and an environment you just settled in only to resettle in your pre-exchange circumstances.

Many of the international students are planning trips all over the United States, stretching the fun as far as possible. Places like New York, D.C., Key West and Miami are popular choices for many of them. We will spill over all of the world, knowing that we have just concluded the best semester of our lives and trying to put off going home as long as possible.

internationals time
Photo by Corlene Beukes

Still as we draw closer to the time that we may go home, it seems to me that time is dragging by. Don’t get me wrong –UNC Charlotte and my American experience has been incredible, but home is waiting and all its included luxuries.

We all miss something of our pre-exchange life that we cannot wait to experience again, even if it means missing parts of our exchange lives.

As time carries us apart and measures our time together, the memories we made and the friendships we formed, we know that it is only time that can bring us back together. Even if we are worlds apart from each other, the time we spent together will always bind us and will always be treasured by us.

So with two months left and so much to do, we will carry on making memories and spending time together. There will always be something to do and something to remember. For now it is like sitting with a pretty girl, but when we have to start saying goodbye that is when the hot stove comes in.

I guess Einstein was right when he said it was all about relativity. We will never know the impact on our lives by events and people before they cross our paths. It is bittersweet, though, to know that what we want most to last will feel like a minute.

But our minute is running out. As we are desperately trying to grasp onto the last grains of time, we realized that our friendships are not defined by how long we have been friends or how many memories we share. It is about us; the people who have crossed each other’s paths and left indelible marks on each other’s lives.

For it will forever be about the people we are with and not even time can change that, because you know, time flies when you’re having fun.

Foodie Friday: pumpkin pancakes with nutmeg whipped cream

In keeping with the pumpkin-flavored-everything craze of this month and my love for breakfast foods, I found the perfect match.

It is so good and here is how you can experience this incredible taste.

Duration:

  • 10 minutes prep time
  • 10 minutes cook time
  • Ready in 20 minutes

Ingredients:

Pancakes:

  • 2 ⅓ cups pancake mix
  • 2 ½ tablespoons white sugar
  • ⅓ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ¼ cups milk
  • ⅓ cup canned pumpkin
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil

Nutmeg whipped cream:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
pumpkin pancakes
Photo by Corlene Beukes

 

Directions:

  1. Whisk together the pancake mix, white sugar, cinnamon, the ⅓ teaspoon nutmeg and ginger. Set it aside. Beat together the eggs, milk, pumpkin and vegetable oil. Combine the two mixtures, stirring just until all ingredients are moistened.
  1. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat. Pour the batter onto the griddle, using approximately ¼ cup for each pancake. Bubbles will start to form in the pancakes. Cook until the edges of the pancakes start to look dry and a bubble popped near the edge holds its shape. Flip the pancakes over and continue cooking until the other side is golden brown.
  1. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil to the griddle if necessary. Stack the pancakes on a plate and keep warm until serving. For larger batches, keep pancakes warm in a single layer on a cooling rack positioned over a baking sheet in a 300 degrees oven.
  1. Place whipping cream in a small, deep, chilled bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg. Beat using a mixer with chilled beaters on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.

This recipe makes four serving.

Thirsty Thursday: brown sugar-caramel latte

Everyone loves a nice warm drink to enjoy on a crisp autumn day. This brown sugar-caramel latte is the perfect way to relax and warm up after a day filled with classes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ cup half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon caramel ice cream topping
  • ¾ cup hot, brewed coffee
Thirsty Thursday 12 Oct latte
Photo by Corlene Beukes

Directions:

  1. Stir brown sugar into half-and-half until dissolved.
  2. Whip with a small whisk.
  3. Pour coffee into a mug and stir in caramel sauce until dissolved.
  4. Pour frothed half-and-half into coffee, garish, and then serve.

Travel Tuesday: fall break

A very prominent change in nature can be noticed during Fall Break. The leaves change color, the weather turns colder and sunbeams become luxuries. Like a few of the trees that I saw over my Fall Break, I have only a few leaves on my bare skeleton. But instead of losing more, I make more. The leaves that I have are friends that have come along and are keeping me warm during the winter of my life.

It is almost halfway through my exchange here in the States and I am already dreading the day that I have to say goodbye to all of my new friends. They have meant so much to me in a time where I had no one. I came to UNCC all alone and very afraid of my disability to make new friends. But I overcame that fear and now my tree has a few leaves.

This weekend I was part of a retreat for the Niner Student Media in the Springmaid Mountains in Spruce Pines. It was a wonderful weekend –filled to the brim with laughter, inside-jokes and my first ever s’more.

My new friends and I stayed in a cabin in the woods. With Halloween constantly on our minds, we made every ghoul and ghost come to life with our stories and practical jokes.

The weekend started with me getting into a van, knowing only two people in the group, for a two-hour trip to the mountains. I slept for halfway there, but after our Burger King stop I noticed some sceneries and views that will probably stick with me for the rest of my life.

Fall Break NTR
Photo by Corlene Beukes

With the people chattering and laughing around me I realized that this will be a time in my life that I will never experience again. These people, these views, these moments are for one time only.

It made me serious about enjoying every moment of the weekend and I am hoping that it spilled over to the rest of my life. This resulted in a weekend full of firsts.

I bonded with people that I would never have if I had not participated in this school organization. I formed friendships with American students that will hopefully last longer than just this semester. This weekend was the first time someone told me that it will be so sad to see me leave. It all left a mark.

Knowing that I am a bit of a loner and introvert, going on these types of retreats can sometimes be so intimidating, but I always return a better person for it. Being locked up in a cabin in the woods for a few days without WiFi or reception will do that to a person. You get to know people the old-fashioned way –by talking to them face-to-face.

We learned about and from each other. We can now carry all of the knowledge we acquired this weekend over to UNCC to better serve the people that we are here for –you, dear reader.

North Carolina and all the people that I have met have showed me true compassion and cared for me in ways I never knew I would want from people. Now having had this experience with so many more of them, my love for NC and its people have been cemented in my heart.

This semester has had many ups and many more downs, but the friendships that I formed with both American and other international students is the reason that I will look back on this experience with fondness and longing. Because it will forever be about the people you are with and not where you are.

May you find and acquire many more leaves for your tree and may you always have warmth and love in your life, to warm the winter of your heart.

Thirsty Thursday: pumpkin spice latte

So with Fall here in all its glory, pumpkins are everywhere, the Pumpkin Spice Latte is coming back to Starbucks and all is right in the world.

But what to do on those evenings where it is just too cold to get in your car and drive to Starbucks to have your favorite fall drink? Well, why don’t you try making it?

With this very easy to follow and very quick recipe you can be enjoying an even better Pumpkin Spice latte in less than 10 minutes.

Pumpkin pie spice isn't just for fall lattes
Photo courtesy of: Tribune News Service Campus

What you will need is the following:

1 cup of milk

1 tablespoon of white sugar

1 tablespoon pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup brewed espresso

What you will want to do is:

  1. Whisk the half a cup of milk, sugar, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract in a small saucepan over low heat. Let the mixture simmer for five minutes. Whisk in the remaining half a cup of milk.
  2. Pour the milk mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the pulp. Then return the mixture to the saucepan and let it simmer, while you are still whisking away, for two minutes. Add the espresso and whisk until the mixture is foamy or for one minute.

This recipe is easy to follow and it goes very quickly.

Enjoy your favorite fall drink without having to leave the comfort of your home.

Travel Tuesday: homesick

It has been a little over two months since I have last seen my family, had Rooibos tea and slept in my own bed. I miss it all.

There is so much that I would love to share with all of you, but there is just too much to share. So let us start with my five favorites from South Africa and the things I miss the most.

1. I miss Rooibos tea. For any tea drinker this is the epitome of excellence when it comes to tea. It is refreshing, crisp and it tastes like home and hugs. I was raised on it. My mother would make me a bottle of Rooibos tea with honey and milk as a toddler and that would immediately set me straight for the night. Tourists who have travelled to South Africa and have tasted it, all agree.

2. One of my other favorites is the beaches. South Africa is located at the very south of the continent of Africa. So this means because of the two oceans on either side that on the east coast of South Africa the beaches’ water is warm and on the west coast it is ice cold. There is a beacon at the most southern point of South Africa that indicates the meeting place of the Atlantic and Indian oceans. It is a tourist attraction like nothing else. It is beautiful. If you need a starting point for the trip to South Africa that you are going to start planning after reading this article, that is a great place to start and spread out from.

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Photo by: Corlene Beukes

3. I miss vanilla candles. I know that this is not entirely authentically South African but I have a slight obsession with candles, especially vanilla scented ones. My room back home is stocked with them. I miss the warm, welcoming, relaxing and reassuring scent of my candles. Seeing as we are not allowed to burn candles in our rooms here, it is quite a challenge to recreate my candle-lit, book-reading, tea-drinking evenings.

4. I miss South African bread –and this is not just me. Most of the internationals have complained about the bread here just not meeting our standards. Back home on my home university’s campus we have a bakery called De Oude Bank Bakkerij. If you ever find yourself in Stellenbosch, South Africa, do yourself the favor and order a cup of Real Chocolate Hot Chocolate and a slice of whichever breads that look good.

5. I miss Conrad. I never knew that you could be homesick for a person. The most important thing that this exchange has taught me is that there is always this one person in your life that you do not deserve to have there; this one person who, beyond any understanding, just loves you so much. Being human, we tend to take this for granted. As a completely objective third party to whatever you are experiencing now: I have experienced innumerable events and happenings, but one thing that rings true: if whoever you are with loves you in whatever way they want to, do whatever it takes to keep them in your life.

Maybe one day you will wake up with six hours’ worth of time difference between you and them, in a strange land and realize the only thing you want right now is to see their eyes light up because you laughed at their joke. All these things that you thought you liked will bring you to the realization that it was not these things, but the people you shared them with, that you love. It will forever be about the people you are with, not the place you are at. Make that count and love the right people at the right time.

It has been a little over two months since I have last been on South African soil and left an incredible group of people behind, but the great thing about traveling is that after you have seen all these remarkable places and had all these noteworthy experiences, you always have your own bed to go back to.

International student spotlight: Nicole Debono

Q: Why did you choose to be part of an exchange?

A: It is part of my course, but I think even if it was not mandatory I would still want to do an exchange. 

It is such an amazing experience to live in another country. I have lived in several and I have realized that that it is the only way to properly get to know the place. Going on holiday somewhere just is not the same. I am really interested in American history and politics, so it is just the perfect experience for me really.

Q: Can you elaborate on the several countries you have lived in?

A: So I was born in Malta, which is in Europe, and when I was 10 we moved to London. We lived there for five years. And then we moved to Surrey, and my parents have lived there ever since. Now I go to the University of Kent.

Q: What made you decide to come to UNC Charlotte?

A: Actually UNC Charlotte was one of my last options. Maryland was my first choice because it is close to DC, and obviously I am a politics major. But they dropped out of the program with Kent. 

The second place I replied to, which I can’t remember the name of, they also dropped out. The third place only had one place open and it went to my friend. And the fourth place was UNC Charlotte. And now I am here!

Q: What is the most prominent way in which your culture and American culture differs?

A: I mean with Americans, they are way more open and friendly. In England you don’t even speak to your neighbor; you don’t even say “good morning.” 

While here they get in like full-on conversations. It’s insane in comparison. Culturally, I mean, we watch American TV; we listen to American music. 

It’s more like the food, I think, that has really, really shocked me. The food and the slow pace of life, especially since we are in the South, it really gets to me. But apart from that, it’s not that big of a culture shock for me. I’m not migrating back because of the food! 

Q: What has been your most exciting moment on the exchange?

A: The first week when we didn’t have lectures and we were all getting to know each other and the area was amazing. I feel, because I have moved so much, I genuinely think there is no high that’s the same as meeting new people and getting to know them. 

So, yeah, that first week –getting to know the internationals and a few Americans, and just stuff like that. Going to Wendy’s for the first time. Just those kind of silly firsts that Americans would be like “Really?” But when you are coming from somewhere that’s so different, it makes an impression. 

Oh, and the football game. That was my favorite.

Q: What do you look most forward to here at UNC Charlotte and in America?

A: I want to do a bit more traveling –hopefully to Boston. I want to go to some stereotypically American things, like a baseball game, NASCAR races, go shooting which I feel like I need to do that. 

Nothing in particular. Just see how it goes. It’s the little things, isn’t it? Just like walking around campus and seeing the rush posters for all the fraternities and sororities. When I walk by them I just think, “That is so American.”

Q: What is something that you would like UNC Charlotte students to know about your home country?

A: Well, every time I meet an American they ask me if we eat scones and drink a lot of tea, that is true.

I have at least five cups of tea a day. It’s cold back home; you need the tea to get you through the day. It does rain all the time, it is true. I think most of the stereotypes of the English are actually true. We are not as friendly as Americans, until you get to know us. 

I think the culture shock for Americans who come to Europe will be way bigger than for us coming here, because of Americanization all over the world.

Meet Nicole

Age: 20

Studies: History and politics

Hometown: Reigate in Surrey, England

Home university: The University of Kent

Favorite color: Sea blue

Favorite food: Pasta

What do you miss most from home? The way of life. Everythingís so much quicker. Especially in London you can get anywhere in a decent time. Where here, especially because we are internationals and we do not have cars, it takes a while to get anywhere.

Favorite quote: ìLife is like an ocean. It can be calm and still or rough and rigid, but in the end it is always beautiful.î

Fun fact: Her full name is Nicole Marie Joanna Louise Carmen Demech Debono. Nicole Marie are her first and second names. Joanna and Louise were given to her by her godfather and godmother, respectively. Carmen was given to her by the church in which she was baptized as is the tradition. Demech Debono is her double-barreled last name.

Travel Tuesday: celebrating diversity

One thing that I really care about is perspectives. I love learning how other people think and act in situations, especially if it differs from what I would do.

As a Religion major, I usually get my fill, but then it was time for the 39th annual UNCC International Festival. I was delighted.

As I stood in the middle of the SAC I noticed all the different sounds, smells and voices. In me something started stirring.

My friends and I went from stall to stall and picked out our various favorites. As we neared the German stall, my friends practically sprinted there, it was evident that the past two months away from home has been too much.

With the ketchup and mustard dripping down their chins, they ate their bratwurst on a roll and spoke to each other about it in German. I zoned out as per usual when they spoke German and searched my blue map for a South African stall. Unfortunately, there was not one. We circled the festival and I realized that today the African countries, like the Democratic Republisc of the Congo and Uganda were my home.

IFest
Photo by: Corlene Beukes

Then I thought of all that I had learned in Malawi and Mozambique when I visited there. The way they live differs so much from the norm, yet they are happy.

As I went over to Uganda and reminisced about the waters of Lake Malawi and the Mozambican children’s Colgate smiles, I started to miss home.

Obviously Africa differs so much from America, but what I now can finally see is why. Africa is dust, water and barefoot. We thrive on the bare minimum and we like it. It makes us happy to not have everything.

I remember one night sitting in the total darkness of Manica, Mozambique. The night sky and the stars were a lighter shade of dark than the blanket of night on earth. The fire was crackling and we were the honored guests of one of the villagers. I remember it being so quiet and so still, one could hear one’s inner voice.

In the middle of the chaos and festivities of the IFest, this international student wished with all her heart that the face-painting could stop, that the bratwurst would suddenly not be anymore, that we could all just go there were each of these spectacular countries can teach us all something. I wished we were all in that moment in Manica.

Maybe if we listened more to each other and actually appreciated the differences that come with the diversity that constitutes this world, there would not be so much heartache. Maybe if we realized that we do not always have the answer, even if we are thought to have it and that that is alright, because we have brothers and sisters across the world who can give us insight.

I, for one, am loving the fact that the international students are so diverse. The cultural, social and all the aspects that can differ, do differ. It is refreshing to know that where a problem has stumped you, the person next to you might be able to give you the answer.

So, with all this, I urge and implore you, dearest reader, to talk to someone you do not know today. Talk to them, listen to their story and tell them yours. I guarantee that you will change your perspective of at least one thing in life.

Foodie Friday: Bravo! Cucina Italiana

 

Located at the H&M/food court entrance of Northlake Mall, is a portal from Charlotte to Italy. As you walk into the quaint and impeccably Italian restaurant, you are greeted by a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, as well as friendly staff.

As we sat down, my friend who has travelled a bit, commented that this is a very Italian –all around.

Her words were not even cold, when our very efficient waiter was by our side with the most delicious foccacia bread. He was friendly, professional, and enthusiastic. Our menus were placed with care and I was certain that this would be a good experience.

As our drink order came, not even 2 minutes after it was placed, we ordered our food. I ordered the chicken and pesto spaghettini.

chicken-pesto bravo
Chicken and seato spaghettini Photo by: Corlene Beukes

During our brief waiting period, the table was well tended. I could also see that the rest of the customers were happy and cared for. With their laughter and lazy Saturday conversation in the background I could imagine myself at a café in Rome.

Our food came and it looked delicious. Looks did not deceive. The pasta and chicken was incredibly well-cooked. The right amount of sauce, spinach and baby tomatoes were present. It was a really good portioned plate of pasta as well. I was happy and a very satisfied customer.

As the ever-vigilant ninja waiter clear our table and brought our free drinks refills, it was the dessert menu’s turn on the table.

We placed an order for the ‘dessert trio’. This entailed three petite desserts that come on one plate, a berry cheesecake, vanilla crème brûlée and chocolate truffle. It was heaven on earth. Rich, well prepared and decadently delicious. My favorite was the Chocolate Truffle; my friend’s favorite was the Crème Brûlée.

dessert trio bravo
Dessert trio Photo by: Corlene Beukes

The time for the bill arrived and I was pleasantly surprised. My whole meal, including the pasta, drink and dessert, was all under $30.

So for a reasonably priced, exquisitely staffed and very relaxed restaurant for your next date, I would definitely suggest Bravo! Cucina Italiana.

Address:

6851 Northlake Mall Dr.,

Charlotte, NC 28216

Contact Detail: 704-597-1455

Hours:

  • Mon-Thu: 11am-10pm
  • Fri-Sat: 11am-11pm
  • Sun: 11am-9pm

Travel Tuesday: ‘if you could read this, thank a soldier’

As I was walking to my class the other day, I came across a sign that read “If You Can Read This, Thank a Soldier.” I read it in passing, and thought to myself “That is really American.”

I did not understand.

I was in the second grade when September 11 occurred. Far away from the tragedy, physically and emotionally, and being just 8-years-old, protected me from the knowledge of the reality.

Fast forward a few years, I am now 15-years-old and in love for the very first time. He had lived in New Jersey and the moment of, he was in school just like all the other third-graders. His memories overwhelm him each time we discuss it, and he later on refuses to speak of it.

I did not understand.

Then I did my research, “wiped away” my ignorance with each turn of a page with each click of the computer mouse and with each word of the recordings.

I had thought I understood.

Fast forward a few more years, I am now 21-years-old and I am attending my first memorial for September 11. As we gather in Witherspoon Hall’s third floor lounge, one of the RAs plays the video of the tradgedy and the atmosphere thickens. We flip through a scrapbook filled with photos and quotes written on school desks and the emotions grow stronger. We reach one that starts with “My innocence has been taken away from me.”

Outside, with mini Star-Spangled Banners in the one hand and commemorative candles in the other, people share their stories and memories. They tell of loved ones and the loved ones of our loved ones touched by a sorrow that settled deep within them. A nation was left in shocked sorrow.

Photo by: Corlene Beukes

I wrote a letter to a soldier. I told him that I am from South Africa and that this was my first 9/11 memorial. I told him that I had thought I understood, but I now realize I did not. The experience of this is something the world will be able to understand, but it is something the United States of America share as a nation.

I did not understand and I thought knowledge could lift my ignorance. It was not the knowledge you find in books that made me understand, but the knowledge you find in people; in the ones you share with and talk to.

I think that is why America not only survived but thrived after the attacks. They helped each other, were there for each other, cared for each other. They experienced it together. Because there is no doubt that from a tragedy, rose a nation stronger, better and more united than ever.

The truth is that is what we should commemorate. When we tell our children and our children’s children, we should remind them that the people that rose from the tragedy is greater than the event of the tragedy.

Maybe, just maybe, if that were the way the world handle all of its tragedies, we could rise up stronger, better and more united than ever, because just as easily as people hurt people, people can also heal people.

So, if you can read this, thank a soldier, and I say this because now I understand.