Have You Heard?

International House

International House

Guatemala

Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, Honduras to the east and El Salvador to the southeast. It spans an area of 108,890 km2 (42,043 sqmi) and has an estimated population of 15,438,384, making it the most populous state in Central America. A representative democracy, its capital is Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, also known as Guatemala City. Guatemala's abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems contributes to Mesoamerica's designation as a biodiversity hotspot.

The former Mayan civilization was a Mesoamerican civilization, which continued throughout the Post-Classic period until the arrival of the Spanish. They had lived in Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, the southern part of Mexico and eastern parts of El Salvador. After independence from Spain in 1821, Guatemala was a part of the Federal Republic of Central America and after its dissolution the country suffered much of the political instability that characterized the region during mid to late 19th century. Early in the 20th century, Guatemala had a mixture of democratic governments as well as a series of dictators, the last of which were frequently assisted by the United Fruit Company and the United States government. From 1960 to 1996, Guatemala underwent acivil war fought between the government and leftist rebels. Following the war, Guatemala has witnessed both economic growth and successful democratic elections. In the most recent election, held in 2011, Otto Pérez Molina of the Patriotic Party won the presidency.

Departments: 

There are 0 comments on this post

Flag of the Week - Uruguay

Uruguay, officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay or the Eastern Republic of Uruguay, is a country in the southeastern region of South America. It is bordered by Argentina to its west and Brazil to its north and east, with the Atlantic Ocean to the south and southeast. Uruguay is home to 3.3 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the metropolitan area of its capital and largest city, Montevideo. With an area of approximately 68,000 square miles, Uruguay is geographically the second-smallest nation in South America after Suriname.

Uruguay remained largely uninhabited until the establishment of Colonia del Sacramento, one of the oldest European settlements in the country, by the Portuguese in 1680. Montevideo was founded as a military stronghold by the Spanish in the early 18th century, signifying the competing claims over the region. Uruguay won its independence between 1811 and 1828, following a four-way struggle between Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Brazil. It remained subjected to foreign influence and intervention throughout the 19th century, with the military playing a recurring role in domestic politics until the late 20th century.

Modern Uruguay is a democratic constitutional republic, with a president who serves as both head of state and head of government. The government is considered to be one of the world's most democratic and the country is one of the freest in the world. There is complete separation of church and state in Uruguay, making it the most secular state in Latin America. Uruguay maintains progressive social policies, having recently legalized same-sex marriage and cannabis. Uruguay is also the first country in the world to provide a laptop for every primary school student. It frequently ranks as one of the most developed and prosperous countries in Latin America.

Departments: 

There are 0 comments on this post

Meet International Scholar Maria Christina Müller

March 2014

International Scholar Profile:
Maria Christina Müller
Country: Germany

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I am 27 years old and was born in the South of Bavaria, near Chiemsee. It is a very nice area, and the castle of Ludwig II is located there as well. I moved to Augsburg, where I studied to become a high school teacher. I was very interested in history, as well as German language and literature studies. After gaining my masters degree in history and education, I have since been working on my PhD in history. Currently, I am located at Duke’s Center for European Studies as a visiting scholar.

Can you tell us a bit about your PhD thesis?
My PhD thesis investigates delusions and hallucinations of patients during the mid 19th century until 1945. These records are all from one hospital, the Psychiatry of Kaufbeuren. I am not looking at the themes of delusions and hallucinations from a medical perspective, but rather a historical one. Through these records, I am able to see the beliefs and fears of the people from that time, and how they shifted with each year. For example, during the time of technological changes, many people heard voices of hallucinations in the telephone and radio or feared x-rays and magnetisms. During the 1920s and 1930s, many hallucinations about Hitler and other political rulers became more common.

Why did you decide to come to Duke?
Duke is very high ranked, even on the international rankings, and it is known as a place with many possibilities for me to do research. It is a pleasure for me to be able to come.

What is your impression on Durham?
Augsburg is perhaps a little bigger than Durham, but German cities are usually not so dispersed. Durham is a small but nice city, and seems to have everything you need like places to eat and go. I think that if I were planning to stay for a longer period, it would be important to have a car.

How did your expectations of the United States match up with reality?
This is my first time in the US, and some of my impressions of the United States were accurate. For instance, in Germany, we assume that Americans are always eating meat and burgers, and that seems to be the case. However, some things are very different. For example, Americans are very proud of their universities, and I got to see this when I went to Chapel Hill last weekend and watched a lacrosse game between UNC and Maryland. It was nice to see how lively it was. In Germany, students don’t usually stay on campus during the weekends because there is not much to do.

Did you have any culture shock?
I had culture shock in a positive way - the people here are very friendly and helpful. They are always smiling, open-minded, and pleasing. When I first arrived here, my associate director spent two hours showing me around the campus and drove me to the city. I felt very welcome.
However, I was very disturbed to see that the campus has its own police, signs that say you are not allowed to carry weapons on the bus or on campus, and services that bring students back home. Even if you are a little scared at night on a German campus, you don’t have the chance to call someone. On one hand, it’s disturbing, but on the other hand, it’s a good service.

What do you think of the people you have met at Duke so far?
Everyone has been very friendly. I’ve received tips for future funding and research. I’ve noticed that when you talk to someone, like a professor, their advice is much more positive and constructive. I think this is because they are more open-minded. I have met twice with a professor who does not study the time period I do, but has given me great advice. The experience was very positive and stimulating for my educational research. In Germany, it is not so easy to get in contact with somebody, and people are usually not so open to talk about a research topic that isn’t related to their own. The professor who invited me to come to Duke is more invested in Jewish studies and theology, but thought my research topic was interesting and told me she would like me to come.
It was a great experience to see how free the sciences can be. You get more help here, which is a great thing. German universities are usually more structured and people have less time. If there is an opportunity, I want to apply for a grant to last half a year, and compare my results with those of the United States to see differences or similarities in delusional and hallucinatory themes.

What do you miss about Germany?
I miss public transportation services because they are much easier and more convenient. The US has nice museums; in fact, I’m planning to go to the Nasher this weekend. I went to the Planetarium in Chapel Hill last weekend, and it was very nice.
I also miss the cultural life that comes with churches and older houses. From a historical perspective, Duke’s Gothic style architecture is not authentic, but its a beautiful environment to study at.

What do you do on a typical day?
On a typical day, I go to the office and work on my PhD. Right now I am at the stage where I am evaluating my sources. I often go to the library and work there, or I borrow some books and take them to my office. Sometimes I go to a lecture or have meetings with professors. I’ve been to the International House for their CLG talk on St. Patrick’s Day. It was very nice to learn about American traditions.

What are your future plans?
I am highly motivated to finish my PhD in one or two years. My huge desire is to publish it in English as well. If this isn’t possible, I would like to publish an article of it in English. I am attending a conference in Romania this July, and I will present my first paper about how hallucinations changed with technology.

Departments: 

There are 0 comments on this post

Flag of the Week - Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan, officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a contiguous transcontinental country in Central Asia. Kazakhstan is the world's largest landlocked country by land area and the ninth largest country in the world; its territory is larger than Western Europe. It has borders with Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, and also adjoins a large part of the Caspian Sea. The terrain of Kazakhstan includes flatlands, steppe, taiga, rock canyons, hills, deltas, snow-capped mountains, and deserts. With 17 million people (2013 estimate) Kazakhstan has the 62nd largest population in the world, though its population density is less than 6 people per square kilometre. The capital is Astana, where it was moved from Almaty in 1997.

    The territory of Kazakhstan has historically been inhabited by nomadic tribes. This changed in the 13th century, when Genghis Khan occupied the country. By the 16th century, the Kazakhs emerged as a distinct group, divided into three jüz (ancestor branches occupying specific territories). The Russians began advancing into the Kazakh steppe in the 18th century, and by the mid-19th century all of Kazakhstan was part of the Russian Empire. Following the 1917 Russian Revolution, and subsequent civil war, the territory of Kazakhstan was reorganized several times before becoming the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic in 1936, a part of the Soviet Union.

The current President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has been leader of the country since 1990. Since independence, Kazakhstan has pursued a balanced foreign policy and worked to develop its economy, especially its hydrocarbon industry.

   Kazakhstan is ethnically and culturally diverse, in part due to mass deportations of many ethnic groups to the country during Joseph Stalin's rule. Kazakhstan has 131 ethnicities, including Kazakh, Russian, Ukrainian, German, Uzbek, Tatar, and Uyghur. Around 63% of the population are Kazakhs. Islam is the religion of about 70% and Christianity is practiced by 26% of the population. The Kazakh language is the state language, while Russian has equal official status for all levels of administrative and institutional purposes.

Departments: 

There are 0 comments on this post

CLG workshop-History of Durham

Japan, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, China, England, Korea or Spain…we may come from all over, but we are coming to call Durham home. But with many of us never venturing beyond the ‘Duke Bubble’ what really do we know about our new home? Well, after CLG’s last workshop…lots!

We were lucky enough to have Michael Verville, weekend manager at the Museum of Durham History and marketing coordinator at the Visitors Center in Hillsborough, share his knowledge with us about Durham. We learnt all about the history of Durham from colonists, Washington Duke and tobacco and slavery and Civil Rights. It turns out that Durham has a really rich history with all sorts of interesting people and events.

Some of the questions from the audience brought out fun facts about Durham. For example: Is Durham related to the city of Durham in the UK? The answer is no, Durham is named after the Durham family who lived on the land where Durham railway station was built. Another: Why is Durham called “Bull City”? Durham was very famous for its world-class tobacco industry, and one of the tobacco companies used a bull for its trademark, launching the famous brand “Bull Durham Tobacco”.

If you want to know more about the history of Durham’s tobacco industry, visit the Tobacco Museum inside Duke Homestead where the Washington Duke family lived and farmed. Other interesting places to visit: Stagville, North Carolina’s largest pre-Civil War plantation and Bennett Place, where the Southern armies surrendered to the Union, ending the American Civil War.

And that is only the tip of the iceberg! Go for a walk around Durham, check out its amazing restaurants (dinner at ‘Toast” and then ice-cream at “The Parlour” is my personal favorite!) and embrace its quirky atmosphere.

Durham is our home. Start making an effort to get to know it!


Tierney Marey
Class of 2017 at Trinity School of Arts and Social Sciences
Sydney, Australia
 

Departments: 

There are 0 comments on this post

Flag of the Week - South Africa

South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa, is a country located at the southern tip of Africa. It has 2,798 km of coastline that stretches along the South Atlantic and Indian oceans. To the north lie the neighboring countries of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe; to the east are Mozambique and Swaziland; and within it lies Lesotho, an enclave surrounded by South African territory. South Africa is the 25th-largest country in the world by land area, and with close to 53 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation.

South Africa is a multiethnic society encompassing a wide variety of cultures, languages, and religions. Its pluralistic makeup is reflected in the constitution's recognition of 11 official languages, which is among the highest number of any country in the world. Two of these languages are of European origin: English and Afrikaans, the latter originating from Dutch and serving as the first language of most white and colored South Africans. Though English is commonly used in public and commercial life, it is only the fourth most-spoken first language.

About 80 percent of South Africans are of black African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different Bantu languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European, Asian, and multiracial ancestry. All ethnic and linguistic groups have political representation in the country's constitutional democracy, which comprises a parliamentary republic and nine provinces. Since the end of apartheid, South Africa's unique multicultural character has become integral to its national identity, as signified by the Rainbow Nation concept.

South Africa is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank, and is considered to be a newly industrialized country. Its economy is the largest and most developed in Africa, and the 28th-largest in the world. In terms of purchasing power parity, South Africa has the seventh-highest per capita income in Africa, although poverty and inequality remain widespread, with about a quarter of the population unemployed and living on less than US$1.25 a day. Nevertheless, South Africa has been identified as a middle power in international affairs, and maintains significant regional influence.

Departments: 

There are 0 comments on this post

CLG workshop at IHouse - Immigration Issues

H-1? Green card? Immigration? Intercompany transfer? Treaty countries? L-1?

Getting to the U.S involves enough paperwork, but what about if you want to stay? Just looking at the lists of forms and deadlines can be daunting enough! Luckily for those who attended the CLG workshop this week, we got an expert to tell us all the information we need to know.

William Stock from Klasko Immigration & Nationality Law came to give international students and employees the low down on working visas and green cards.

There are possibly thousands of important and interesting facts that we learned that evening but here are some of the most important:

1.    Go to klaskolaw.com; it will tell you what you need to know.
2.    You can apply to change to H1 status to work in a specialized professional capacity if you are currently in the U.S on a legal status (and have an employer willing to sponsor you for such visa).
3.    There is a cap on the amount of H1-B visas that are given out and this quota can be reached as early as mid-May.
4.    In order to get the best chance at securing this visa, you need to have filed by April 1st.
5.    You can remain in this status a maximum of six years.
6.    An L-1 status is used to transfer from one branch of a company outside the U.S to a different branch of the same company within the U.S.
7.    You need to have executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity in order to gain this L-1 status.
8.    There are fees, deadlines and wait times involved with all of these processes, amongst others.

This is a complex and lengthy process and involves work from both you and your potential employer. As such, your employability may be lessened a little. Never fear! Make sure that your employer knows that you are worth this extra work; you may have a specialized skill, work in a unique field, have lots of experience or just be generally fantastic!

It is never too early to start thinking about the future…and definitely never too early to start thinking about visas!

Make sure you go to klaskolaw.com and read up on all you need to know.

Tierney Marey
Undergraduate at Trinity School of Arts and Social Sciences
Class of 2017
Sydney, Australia

Departments: 

There are 0 comments on this post

Flag of the Week - Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a country located on the fertile Bengal delta in South Asia. It is bordered by India to its west, north and east, by Burma to its south-east and by the Bay of Bengal to its south. Bangladesh has the world's eighth-largest population with more than 160 million people, also making it one of the world's most densely populated countries. Dhaka, one of the world's most populous cities, is the capital of Bangladesh. Bangladesh is also known as "the land of rivers." Together with the neighboring Indian states of West Bengal and Tripura, it makes up the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal. The Bengalis form the country's predominant ethnic group, whereas the indigenous peoples in northern and southeastern districts form a significant and diverse ethnic minority.

Following years of political exclusion, ethnic and linguistic discrimination, and economic neglect, a surge of nationalism and civil disobedience led to the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, resulting in the separation of the region from Pakistan and the formation of an independent Bangladesh. After independence, the new state proclaimed a secular multiparty democracy. The country then endured decades of poverty, famine, political turmoil and numerous military coups. Since the restoration of democracy in 1991, the country has experienced relative peace and economic progress. Bangladesh is currently a politically polarized parliamentary republic.

Bangladesh is identified as a Next Eleven economy. According to the United Nations, the country is making major strides in human development, including significant progress in the areas of gender equity, universal primary education, the empowerment of women, reducing population growth, food production, health and renewable energy. The poverty rate has declined considerably since independence. Bangladesh is also the world's largest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations. However, the country continues to face a number of major political and social challenges, including endemic bureaucratic and political corruption, widespread poverty, political instability, overpopulation and vulnerability to global climate change.

Departments: 

There are 0 comments on this post

CLG at IHouse - Purchsing a Pre-Owned Car

These boots are…not made for walking! Whilst getting around on foot can be fun and keep you fit and healthy, it isn’t always the best option. Cars are a hot commodity here on campus and so this week at International House we discussed tips on buying a pre-owned car, presented by Annette Moore, program coordinator at IHouse and Paul Cornsweet, a local mechanic.

Now moving on from all the licensing laws, we were asked to consider whether we really needed a car and if so what for? Do you want to get to and from class or work? Or do you need a vehicle for late night Cook-Out runs? What about all those college road trips you’ve heard so much about?

Once you’ve figured out whether you need a car, thinking about what you need it for will give you a good indication of what type of car you should be looking at.

As was pointed out, cars are expensive and since neither cars nor money grows on trees here are some expenses you need to consider when buying a car:

1)    The cost of the car itself (this may vary depending where you buy it aka at a dealership or from an individual.
2)    Insurance, you need at least liability insurance which can be especially expensive if you are an international.
3)    Maintenance – tire checks, oil changes, routine inspections and registration etc.
4)    Parking, especially here at Duke-campus parking passes don’t come cheap (Blue Zone anyone?)
5)    Typical costs, the occasional fine, gas etc.

If you have considered all these factors and still want/need a car here are some important tips:
-    Shop around, don’t just grab the first car you see. Do your research!
-    Test drive the car
-    Get it inspected by a mechanic
-    Run the VIN number to make sure it hasn’t been in a major accident or flood
-    If you do decide to buy the car make sure you have completed the necessary paperwork, get the title in your name etc.

Remember a car is a significant investment and so make sure you are happy. Ask questions, try and get a better price, and most of all don’t ever feel pressured into buying.

You want to hop in the driver’s seat, buckle up and drive away knowing you made the best choice possible. For more information check out the IHouse website!

Tierney Marey
Undergraduate at Trinity School of Arts and Social Sciences ‘17
Sydney, Australia
 

Departments: 

There are 0 comments on this post

Pages

Subscribe to RSSInternational House