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Muizenberg beach is famous. Colorful bathing huts recall a whimsical era where False Bay was a grand resort town for the rich and famous of South Africa. From far away vibrant colors grab your attention, but as you approach the bathing huts one starts to realize that they are unraveling. Chipped paint, broken rails, locked doors. An illusion. The past that they recall is one of grandeur, yes, but also one of racial divisions and oppression. Muizenberg was the beach for the rich and famous, and the rich and famous were all part of the white minority. Today, this beach is littered with families of different skin colors, and the symbol of white supremacy stands crumbling in the background. Yet this illusion is still invoked as the quintessential image of South African beaches, and from far away it is easy to pretend that all is well. My time in South Africa showed me that this is true for all aspects of life there - nothing is necessarily as it seems, and, when given power, illusions can alter reality.
It was a hot summer afternoon in the Sahara when I took this photo of the man who was leading our camel caravan. Right before he turned away to walk up the dune, he said to me "It is nice to speak in Arabic with foreigners, with students. Usually I have to speak in English or French or Spanish with tourists." I was traveling with a group of students from Duke and beyond who were studying abroad in Fez over the summer, taking class in Arabic dialect and Religious Citizenship. We were headed to a Berber campsite to sleep under the desert stars. At this point, I was already madly in love with Morocco- what beauty this country had, in its scenery and natural wonder, but also in its rich culture and welcoming people. My host family became my family, the busy, maze-like streets of the Medina became my path home. To any students considering studying abroad, take a moment to put down your camera and just soak it all in. Talk to everyone you meet and, if possible, in their native language. Make connections and form bonds, it's the people in the photos that truly capture the beauty, anyway.
The famous Musée d’Orsay clock has always been one of my favorite features of Paris. In this photo, my silhouette becomes an artistic addition to the image of the clock itself, much like I was becoming a cultural addition to my Parisian host family. My sister took this photo when she visited me in May. When I mentioned that my sister might be visiting, my host mom immediately offered to let her stay in the spare bedroom of the apartment. I then felt even more at home with Madame Brizard and I even got the chance to visit her again when I went back to Paris this winter break to do research for my thesis. I was so grateful to her and so humbled when she told me that hosting me was a wonderful experience for her as well. While my sister does not like being in pictures (she much prefers to take them), I love looking at this photo as a great memory of our time together in Paris, which also reminds me of Madame Brizard and how great it was living with her for six months.
Whatever your taste, we have it!
This student photo was taken in Spain, one of Duke undergraduates' favorite destinations for study abroad. Check out more student photos and postcards in our Media section.
This photo features students doing field work with the Duke/OTS Tropical Biology program in Costa Rica. Check out more student photos and postcards in our Media section.
This is a shot of a giant compass rose beside the Tower of Hercules, the world’s oldest working lighthouse, in La Coruña, Spain. We visited La Coruña during a group trip to Galicia, a northwestern province in Spain known for its lush mountains and beautiful rocky coastline. I decided to step back and take photographs of the compass from the ground so that each point on the compass could dominate the frame. Much like my experience in Spain, I was not quite sure where each direction was pointing: which was North and which was South, which provided the best views and which was easier to see, and which was the one I needed to take? Living in Spain was a very challenging experience, and I was often unsure about which direction to take next. However, I finally learned to forego the compass I had pictured, pick a direction, and see the beautiful horizon ahead. Spain suddenly became a rich and rewarding place to live, for which I am forever grateful.
Reach for the stars!
This student photo features Magnetic Island, off the coast of Northern Queensland, Australia. Check out more student photos and postcards in our Media section.
Take a bite out of the Big Apple!
GEO is home to Duke domestic study programs, including three in New York: Duke in NY Arts and Media (Fall), Duke in NY Financial Markets and Institutions (Spring), and Summer Internships in the City (Summer). Look for program information under "Programs" on the main menu.
Skiing in New Zealand is a wild experience. This day at Mount Olympus started with a white-knuckle drive up a mandatory four-wheel drive, ice covered, one-lane road to the base parking lot. Next, the use of a harness and "nutcracker" device are necessary to navigate the series of rope tows that yank you almost to the top. While some ski down from here, the real beauty of Kiwi ski fields is the hike to terrain. After a thigh busting ascent and a careful tiptoeing across a knife-edge ridge, we reached the top of the zone christened "Little Alaska" for its striking similarity to famed Alaskan spines. This photo shows the results of that effort: an expansive view over the sublime peaks and braided river valleys of the Southern Alps almost beautiful enough to overshadow the untouched powder on the way down.
We spent one of the first nights in India at a grandiose hotel aptly named the “Chumba Palace”. While it overlooked the beautiful lakes of Udaipur, it was a sight to behold in its own right. The open-air upper terrace was lit in an exquisite fashion that was only enhanced by the reflection off of the pool. In contrast to the dirty streets and slums found in the adjacent neighborhoods, it was a representation of the power and elegance to be found in India – a country said to have the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor. While of a more upscale nature than most sights, it was just a taste of the many scenes of beauty to be witnessed during our time in India.
Strapping on crampons, I flew south from Buenos Aires to trek across the glaciers of Argentina's Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the world's third largest mass of ice. The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the world's only advancing glaciers. As ice expands across the Brazo Rico of Lago Argentino, a dam forms between the mountains and the shoreline that halts the passage of water. As pressure mounts, water seeps under the glacier and begins to undermine its base, eventually forcing large chunks of ice to thunderously crack and plummet into the icy blue waters below.
Cross over to a new world!
This photo features Duke in Ghana students on a canopy walk. Check out more student photos and postcards in our Media section.
Explore new landscapes!
A view of the snowy landscape in Cappadocia, Turkey. GEO administers two programs in Turkey: Duke in Istanbul (semester) and Duke in Turkey (summer).
The first time I stumbled upon Jean Nouvel’s apartment building in Chelsea, I’d been gallery hopping with a fellow Duke in New York friend. Struck by the wonderful patchwork quality of the misaligned windowpanes forming a ‘gallery’ of sorts as a façade, I wandered into the structure to get a closer look at its framework. Looking up at the complex tangle of beams bordering both windows and empty frames, I immediately fell in love with the building as an aptly self-aware piece of architecture within its art gallery context. It wasn’t until I revisited the building later in the semester that I realized that I’d missed a crucial finishing touch: the mirror directly above me casting my own reflection into an ever-changing frame, completing the dynamic architectural gallery.
I did not know that peacocks could fly before traveling to Spain. Tucked away along the Spanish countryside on the outskirts of Alicante, we learned that they actually could. Carmen’s teahouse was as tranquil as it looks with beautiful views, peacocks running around and a relaxing environment. The tea at the teahouse was made only from natural and fresh ingredients like nearly all of the food in Alicante. The mint tea was made from real mint leaves and the chai from natural Indian spices and herbs. As we sat around the table tasting all the teas we were brought we all kept talking about how rich the flavors were.