From the streets of Seville, Spain; Rome, Italy; and Ifrane, Morocco, a wave of Belles have returned home to Saint Mary’s this week. Despite the snow and ice, many Belles say they are happy to be back.Sophomore Cassidy Miller said she always knew she wanted to study abroad, but it was not until she heard from a Belle who had spent a semester in Italy that she knew she wanted to go to Rome.She said the hardest part about coming back to campus was the overcast and frigid temperatures.Besides the language barrier, Miller said the hardest part about studying abroad in Rome was doing her homework.“It’s a lot busier, because there’s a lot of people in the city — not that they’re always in a rush or anything, but there’s always things to do, a lot of shops and restaurants,” she said. “It was a different experience for me to try and finish schoolwork while still trying to experience and see everything in the city. When you’re here [at Saint Mary’s], you do your schoolwork and then go back to your room. There, I was sitting in my room until I realized that I should be out exploring things.”The best part about studying in Rome was her proximity to the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica, Miller said, and that there was always something to do in Rome. However, coming back to campus has been difficult because she has to find more ways to keep herself occupied, she said.“Living in Rome, there’s something new to do everyday,” Miller said. “Here, I’ve been trying to find some things to do in order to keep myself busy so I don’t have so much downtime that I start to miss it.”Junior Sophia McDevitt, who studied in Ireland last semester, said sharing her study abroad experience with her friends was difficult at first.“The most obvious challenge to me was that all my friends had met all these new people and so many relationships had subtly shifted and I had missed it,” she said. “I suddenly showed back up and had to figure out everything that had and hadn’t happened, while also digesting what I had just experienced.”McDevitt said opening up to fellow Belles who did not or will not study abroad was also challenging.“I knew a lot of my friends had wanted to study abroad, but because of their scholarships or their majors they couldn’t,” she said. “So, I wanted to make sure it didn’t sound like I was bragging when I talked about the Spanish friends I made at dinner in Alicante or how beautiful the Swiss Alps were or how I loved sitting around and talking with my European friends from all different countries. Instead of talking, I found myself holding it all in.”But McDevitt said once she started sharing her experiences abroad, she found students were interested and encouraged her to open up more.“Once I started sharing, I was reminded that those who care about me cared about hearing what was on my mind,” she said. “Now, I find myself sharing random tidbits more often as things pop back into my head.”Although the weather may be dismal, the friendships may have shifted and the days may be monotonous, Miller said the best thing about being back on campus is reuniting with her fellow Belles.“Coming back can be a little bit scary because you do get so accustomed to the culture over there, but as long as you keep yourself busy and have supportive friends, that makes the transition back to campus a lot easier,” she said. “There’s comfort in the sisterhood here.”Tags: Saint Mary’s study abroad, SMC study abroad, winter break
The 24-year-old Frenchman, who spent the second half of last season on loan to Spanish club Real Betis, has attracted interest from Betis, Celta Vigo and Elche in recent months. But despite agreeing a fee – understood to be in the region of £2million – with the Black Cats some time ago, Betis were unable to table personal terms which were acceptable to N’Diaye. However, it is understood a further round of talks is due to get under way with no other suitor having pushed home their interest. Sunderland are keen to offload the player, signed in January 2013 by then manager Martin O’Neill, as they re-shape their squad after last season’s remarkable fight for Barclays Premier League survival. They have already signed seven new players and have high hopes of adding to that list as sporting director Lee Congerton and head coach Gus Poyet focus on their remaining targets with the closure of the summer transfer window looming. However, the likes of N’Diaye, fellow midfielder Cabral and central defender Modibo Diakite, none of whom have been given squad numbers for the new season, are expected to leave. The rebuilding plan is being complicated somewhat by the Black Cats’ pursuit of top target Fabio Borini, who remains frustratingly out of their grasp. The Borini camp has indicated the Italian wants to fight for his place at Liverpool this season, having enjoyed a successful campaign at the Stadium of Light last time around, and the collapse of Brendan Rodgers’ move for QPR frontman Loic Remy has weakened Sunderland’s armoury. Poyet has been bullish about getting his man in recent days, but the point where the club will have to admit defeat and move on to other options should no deal be struck is fast approaching. Press Association Sunderland midfielder Alfred N’Diaye could finally be on his way out of the club as talks resume over his future.