The arrival of a new semester brings with it the faces of many Zags returning from their respective semesters abroad.
These Zags are coming home with relationships, lessons and memories that will last a lifetime.
Junior Bryce Kreiser spent his semester studying at Universidad Belgrano in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His best memory from his time in Buenos Aires arose in the midst of his day-to-day life.
One evening, before his host family dinner at 9:30 p.m., Kreiser ventured down the street to “shoot some hoops before dinner,” along with the other exchange student living in his home, Lucas. Upon arriving at the basketball court, “a couple of Argentine guys challenged [them] to a game of 2-on-2,” Kreiser said.
After playing three close games, ending with a loss for Kreiser and his housemate, they were invited to join “a more exclusive basketball group that met every week in a different part of the city.” What made this one of Kreiser’s favorite stories to tell from his time in Buenos Aires goes beyond basketball.
“I value this experience deeply for two reasons; First, Lala, the young man who invited us to the other basketball group, became a close friend,” Kreiser said. “Second, and more importantly, the night was a source of breakthrough for Lucas and I.”
The two had yet to bond during their time together and pickup basketball gave them a space to connect, and their friendship to evolve.
Brittany Robinson is returning to Spokane after a semester in Aix-en-Provence, France. Robinson’s fondest memory of her experience in France is the time she spent as a babysitter/English tutor for a French family.
“They were already fluent in English, so they actually taught me more French than I taught them English,” Robinson said.
Every Wednesday, she commuted to visit Theo, 13, and Juliette, 10.
“They had recently moved to Aix, just like me, and we bonded over that,” Robinson said.
They enjoyed playing badminton together in the park as Robinson shared songs with them by her favorite artist, Harry Styles.
“I loved the time each week to just be a kid with them,” Robinson said.
She is already looking forward to returning to Europe in the distant future to visit them.
“Don’t Forget Your Roots,” by New Zealand band Six60, guided junior Paulina Thurmann through her semester in Auckland, New Zealand. The lyrics read, “Don’t forget your roots, my friend / The ones who made you / The ones who brought you here.”
The indigenous people of New Zealand, the Maōri, deeply value connection to family as well as nurturing relationships.
"I've learned to strengthen my own relationships with those around me, while still being ‘armed with the power of my homeland’ and the comfort that it brought,” Thurmann said.
I, too, am a junior returning to Spokane after a semester in Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, Chile. My most memorable experience was on Oct. 19 and all of the days to follow as the country began to protest growing inequality in the country. Five friends and I happened to be on a rooftop wine bar in Valparaíso, with one of the best views of the city, when we saw the city go up in flames.
We knew things had been bad in the capital city of Santiago, but didn’t expect the violence to arrive at our peaceful home on the pacific coast. We watched from the roof in a mixture of awe and terror as estacion Bellavista (the metro-stop named Bellavista) went ablaze.
However, we were snapped out of our trance when we realized we had no way to get home — public transportation was down, and Ubering was going to cost $50. We made the decision to walk home, and spent the next 45 minutes debriefing what had happened as we walked along the ocean. I arrived home that evening to a worried host family, and the declaration of a national state of emergency.
The study abroad program enriches the Gonzaga experience and allows each student to grow from their time abroad.