Majors Abroad: Andrea Idso Puts the Zeal in New Zealand

Andrea Idso (that’s “eyed-so”), ’12, hails from “The Claw” and is a double major in English and Communication Studies. Last year, she studied in Palmerston North, New Zealand with her traveling buddy Oliver (pictured on shoulder). You can read about her adventures in Kiwiland at She is very excited to experience summer for the first time since 2010.

Andrea submitted the photos below: Franz Josef Glacier, Cathedral Cove (think second Narnia movie), and a secret hot springs she and her friends found after solving a riddle in a guidebook. Perfection.

Whitworth English Blog: Did you pick New Zealand or did New Zealand pick you?
Andrea Idso: I’d actually had my heart set on Scandinavia. If you’ve talked to me for 10 minutes you know about my love for Norway, but ISEP didn’t offer a program there. So I began looking at Sweden, thinking I could hop over to visit my Norwegian cousins over Christmas, but the Swedish school didn’t have the classes I needed. Because of my connections in Norway, I decided I’d make the effort to go back another time, so I began looking elsewhere.

Being quintessentially American (that is, monolingual), I wanted to attend a school where English would be spoken. I’d spent a couple of days in New Zealand in 2007 but that trip got cut short. During my brief time there, though, I fell in love with the beauty of the country and found the people to be friendly. When I saw ISEP had a school there, it quickly rose to the top of my choices. I wanted a more in-depth, less touristy experience of the country.

WEB: What was the biggest surprise about living there?
AI: I couldn’t go a day without running into an American or some sort of American media. It made me realize just how pervasive our culture is. Although it seemed to bother me more than the Kiwis, I was a little embarrassed that America throws its TV shows, film, music, and news onto other countries when they already have a unique, fascinating culture of their own.

WEB:  What was the greatest challenge?
AI: Initially, I’d say the greatest challenge was training myself not to see cultural differences through an ethnocentric lens – learning to think, “That’s different” instead of, “That’s weird.” I made an effort to adopt the colloquialisms and the differences in spelling and grammar; to try the food; and to get to know more about their history. The result was outstanding. If you spend enough time in another culture (and even nine months felt too short), your definition of normalcy changes. Instead of simply thinking of myself as an American tourist who spent time in New Zealand, I feel like I’ve got a foot in both countries.

WEB:  How has this study abroad experience affected your writing?
AI: When I returned I had to retrain myself to stop writing “favourite” and “uni” and “flatting” (though I still write like that when talking to my Kiwi friends on Facebook).

WEB:What advice would you give to students who are considering studying abroad?

AI: 1)    Now is the time! I’m serious. Do it now before you’re settled down with a career/family/other “adult” responsibilities. You’ll probably come back poor, but it will still be worth it.

2)    Go for as long as you can. I went for nine months (and definitely felt the equivalent of buyer’s remorse on the flight over – “Why did I choose to come for so long?!”), and now all those months feel like an extended dream. Unless you absolutely can’t make it work, go for two semesters. One is not enough.

3)    Make friends with the locals. There’s nothing wrong with making friends with the other internationals, but it’s incredibly easy to get sucked into that group and not branch out. Strike up a conversation with at least one local student in each of your classes. They also make the best travel buddies because they know where to go and what tourist traps to avoid. They also tend to own cars/camping equipment/other things you can save money by borrowing (shout out to Suzie!).

4)    On that note, take every opportunity you can to travel. At my school, and many others, it was easy to create schedule with three-day weekends. Our mid-semester breaks were two weeks long. These times were ideal for traveling, and even though you’ll probably learn a great deal in class, your traveling experiences are what you will remember.

Internship Spotlight: Alyssa Explains It All (About Working for Gray Dog Press)

EL double major Alyssa Parkinson (’12) recently spoke with Whitworth English Blog about her rad internship.

Whitworth English Blog: Alyssa, tell us about yourself.

Alyssa Parkinson: I’m from Santa Clarita, CA, where the mountains are made of course giant hair and need to be brushed once a week or else disastrous wildfires occur. I just finished directing and acting in Almost, Maine, the culmination of my BA in Theatre. I am in charge of the Velociraptor Revolution and am currently accepting applications. Check out my blog: or email me for more information at:

Vive le dinosaure.

WEB: OK, great. Sign me up. Also, please describe your internship. What are your duties?

AP: I am the intern at Gray Dog Press, a small independent publishing company in Spokane. I am in charge of marketing for three authors, which entails emailing fifty people a day asking them for reviews or interviews of books, getting in touch with distribution companies and television and radio, and research, research, research.

I also design flyers for books and help with the design elements of books in the process of publishing. I copyedited my first entire book and I am currently copyediting a second book for the company. I recently designed a little logo that will be seen throughout the most recent book in process, which was surprisingly exciting. I try not to get too excited, though, because as our final edits draw near, it could be taken out.

WEB: What do you like most about your internship? 

AP: Gray Dog Press is unique because it doesn’t treat interns like interns. I’m left on my own a lot to learn and try to make things happen. I feel like after this, and my crazy years lifegaurding and mixing acid for the pool, I can handle literally anything. It helped that I had extensive knowledge of InDesign and PhotoShop.

WEB: Right on. What have been the biggest challenges? 

AP: The biggest challenge has been keeping optimistic. Research can get lonely and it can feel like there are few rewards.

WEB: How did you hear about this internship? 

AP: An email was sent from the English Department—thanks! And Jaquelyn Wheeler gave me a run down on what I could expect as she had done an internship with Gray Dog last summer. But don’t wait for emails—there are hundreds of companies out there seeking applicants with information available on their sites.

WEB: What advice would you give to students who are considering internships?

AP: You HAVE to get out there and try what you think is your “ideal”  job. I worked as an assistant make-up artist to a professional make-up artist based in LA last summer. I thought make-up was my dream job, but I realized that it was not something I was inspired by or invested enough to do long enough to actually break into the make-up world.

Try things out so you can rule things out, and so you can learn things. After this internship, I feel like I could go into marketing, become an agent for an author—anything. In college is the time to experiment because you have a huge support group to fall back on. Internships prepare you for what you think you would never be able to do, or show you the truth of what you once believed would be your perfect job.

Majors Abroad: Katie Palmer’s Postcard From Milan

Katie Palmer, second from left, is a junior English major from Snohomish, WA. She spent a month in London on a Jan-term trip and is now studying in Milan for four months. Learn more about her adventures abroad at
Katie provided these photos of the Duomo (“perfect example of Gothic architecture,” she writes) and of a fashion show she attended during Milan’s fashion week.
Hello dear Whitworth English department!
I have been studying in Milan, Italy for three months now and I have fully come to understand why the “Eat” portion of Eat, Pray, Love took place in Italy. It’s pasta, pizza, and gelato every day, and somehow it never gets old. Aside from eating, I’ve been traveling a lot. So far I’ve touched down in London, Paris, Berlin, and Venice, and have an upcoming trip to Stockholm in the works.
English-wise, I’m taking a class on Dante and Machiavelli which is interesting, but oh so easy compared to Whitworth English classes. I’m missing the challenge of Whitworth. But then again, I have gelato.
I hope all is well in Westminster!
See you this fall,
Katie Palmer