“I have a feeling we’re not in New York anymore…”

Photo by Jamie Sebesta.
Photo by Jamie Sebesta.

This astute observation was first made famous by Dorothy Gale in “The Wizard of Oz,” though of course she said Kansas instead of New York and was talking to her terrier Toto at the time.

Surprisingly enough, over this past mid-semester break Manhattan College students found themselves murmuring something close to these words at one point or another while on international trips the school had to offer. Cbviously they were not gaping at the realm of Oz when they did so, but perhaps the new worlds of Scandinavia, Haiti and London were not quite so different.

MC’s L.O.V.E (Lasallian Outreach Volunteer Experience) program hosted three excursions over winter break to New Orleans, Ecuador and Haiti. Academic trips offered by the school’s Study Abroad Program included destinations of Scandinavia, Paris and London. Explorations of new places come with the awareness of cultural differences, a lesson learned by all students on their voyages.

Junior Nelson da Luz participated in the L.O.V.E. program that ventured to Haiti, known as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. When asked what moment or experience prompted him to think “wow, I am not in New York anymore,” he responded that “everyone was incredibly friendly.”

“‘Hellos’ and ‘how are you’s’ were exchanged so easily,” he explained. “Almost all the people we met lived in pretty poor conditions, but still managed to give off a massive amount of positivity and welcoming to our group. Trying to bring that back to New York is a goal of mine, but it isn’t proving that easy to accomplish.”

“Everyone was so nice and would say hi to us (Bonjou or Bonswa depending on the time) and they were willing to strike up a conversation with us,” fellow trip-goer and junior Kyle Kennedy added, citing the same surprising realization as da Luz. “In New York, some people would have looked at us like we had three heads if we did that. We met some amazing people with amazing stories and we all felt at home by the end of our stay.”

Kennedy said that “besides the obvious views I saw from the back of the pickup truck going from the airport to the Brothers’ house,” he found that the most “out of New York” moments were “the relationships we had with the people we met.”

Hopping across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe brings us to the next few destinations visited by MC students. Though hours in these places had to be spent on academic classes, students still had plenty of time for experiences out of their American element.

“The craziest thing for me was visiting this commune in the middle of Copenhagen,” junior Andrew Baumgartner said. “It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.”

“There is graffiti everywhere and dogs roaming free and everyone is so polite and respectful.  There are awesome shops inside of boarded up houses and places to skateboard every which way. And no street lights, so it made it hard to navigate.  Also they sold weed openly in the streets, which is obviously the coolest.”

Senior Zach LaRose had a bit of a simpler culture-shock moment in the region.

“In Scandinavia they wrap their hot dogs in bacon,” he said. “It is this kind of ingenuity that we lack in America. It is also delicious.”

The last stop is London, England, where certain European practices proved difficult for college students to get used to.

“You know you’re not in New York when you can be 18 years old to drink, or when you start thinking you’re British and can do the accent and get made fun of by the locals,” sophomore Shannon Butler said.

Junior Kat Budlong had to make similar adjustments to the different systems in England. “You know you’re not in New York anymore when you have near death experiences crossing the street because you forget that cars drive the opposite way in Europe.”

Though there were probably countless instances over winter break that made MC students think, “I have a feeling we’re not in New York anymore…,” perhaps just having the thought at all proves how great these experiences truly are.