The Temple Summer Study Abroad Program in Jamaica is unique and separates itself from other programs because it combines service and learning. It stresses ecological perspectives and group dynamics. I have only been in Jamaica for a week and I am starting to appreciate life in a way I am not used to. I am much more mindful of my surroundings and the people around me.
In order to go on this program, you had to sign up to live at Carleva Bay Villa; a beach house decorated in Caribbean decor. Of course, I did not hesitate at the sound of “beach front villa.” It is simply stunning. There are 3 bedrooms, occupied by 12 Temple students, and there are 5 main common areas in my house.
Mrs. D and Lisa occupy the kitchen and create authentic home made Jamaican dishes for us to eat morning and night. Lunch is on our own and that offers us a chance for us to go into Yallahs Square and immerse ourselves in the local neighborhood. I always believed food brings people together, so in this short amount of time we have gotten very close to our chefs. We even call them by their pet names, which is an intimate custom in Jamaica. Pet names are given at birth and only significant others address the other by their pet name. We eat our homemade meals in a large dining table that seats up to 20 people. At my house in NJ we do not usually eat as a family. That was a habit I always wanted my family to have. Here in Jamaica, I feast with my new study abroad family.
The living room is connected to the dining room. Here you can find pictures of local landscapes mounted on the walls and antique African wicker seating. Lovely white mesh curtains flow in the wind as our home is ventilated with the ocean breeze. Jamaican homes are constructed in ways that allow a constant ebb and flow of ventilation and this can be done through intricate wall openings. I am finding my courses to be writing and reading intensive, so this living room offers a place where you can study peacefully. Most of the students study here, sipping on fresh mango and ginger juice to pass the time.
Adjacent to the living room is the outdoor atrium. This is where classes take place. Not many people can say they get to learn in an environment like this. It may be outdoors, but it is still very conducive to learning. The sun peaks through the open ceiling and the breeze flows in from all directions. No matter what room I am in, I hear the calm ocean tides and smell the salty beach air. My senses are always stimulated and this keeps me awake for our 2 hour class. So far we have read and discussed books like Globalization: A Very Short Introduction, by Manfred B. Steger and Learning Through Service, by Christine M. Cress. Each of us in the group brings new knowledge and insight to class and I learn something new everyday. For example, Julia’s finance background sheds light on the economic side of globalization whereas Mara’s Africology background informs us on more cultural aspects.
After a long day of studying, walking around Yallahs, and swimming in the clear blue ocean, you can find me rocking away on a bed that hangs from a shady tree encompassing the backyard. It is a great place to unwind and one time I fell asleep without even trying to. I looked up and woke up to the dark starry sky. I have never seen this many stars in my life before. I wanted to stay out there all night, but I thought I’d sleep early so I could watch the sunrise, too. I made my way over to the outdoor showers. We have the option of showering inside, however, you have to turn the water pump on. These days, I want to take advantage of this beautiful country and do everything outside. As I washed the sand off my body, I looked up and saw the half crescent moon. Every night in the shower I look up and take note of the the moon phases. It is the little things like that that truly ground me. I have seen my share of places, but never before have I felt so connected to a place, both physically and mentally. I am amazed by how fast I was able to consider Carleva Bay Villa my home.