Back in New York!

Hey everyone!


Throwback to my second day in Jamaica. I was standing in front of a mural on campus representing all the majors a. UWI.

Its been a week and change back home and although it feels great to be home, I also feel like a piece of my heart is in Jamaica. The amazing people, children and places in Jamaica taught me so much about myself and the world around me. Reflecting on my experience has made me realize how grateful I feel for choosing to study abroad but studying abroad in a complex but beautiful place like Jamaica.

As much as I am missing all the amazing people I met in Jamaica, I am also equally missing the University of the West Indies campus and Rex Nettleford (My Hall). I loved living in Rex for the month because this is where I met friends and created memories. Alex and I would go on our “fruit adventures” to find guineps and mangoes all around campus! UWI is such an amazing campus.

This study abroad is just the beginning for me. This experience has given me ambition and drive to keep traveling the world and learning about new cultures and interacting with new people.

I love you Jamaica!

#SabInJam #StudyAbroad

Ending my last blog with the Jamaican Island vibes!

I love listening to this.. It makes me happy! Hope it does the same for you!








NYC bound…Bye Kingston!

Tomorrow is my flight back to NYC and it sure is a bitter sweet feeling. As of right now I am very excited to see my family and eat some American food although I feel like I am leaving apart of me here. Jamaica has shown me some much in just this month. I have learned Jamaican Patois/ Patwa and eaten amazing beef patties, rice and peas and jerk chicken. I have truly immersed in Jamaican culture by being here for one month, that was the perfect amount of time for me.

One of the hardest things for me is saying bye to the friends I have made at UWI (University of the West Indies) and knowing I wont see the children at the YMCA again. Without all the campers and friends I made this trip, the trip wouldn’t of been so amazing. The hospitality and generosity I have experienced here is infectious.

I know in a couple of days I will experience reverse culture shock and miss Jamaica so much!


Just a tropical picture for you all! (French Mans Cove)

Things I will miss:

  1. YMCA campers
  2. Jamaican friends
  3. The squad being all together
  4. Mangoes
  5. Guineps
  6. RED STRIPE (Jamaican Beer)
  7. My water brand being “WATA”
  8. The blue mountains
  9. Our driver Mr. Micheal
  10. Palm trees
  11. & much more.

I am beyond appreciative for this opportunity and for the Gilman Scholarship that I received to come on this trip. This was an unforgettable experience.


#StudyAbroad #Jamaica #SabInJam

The video below is from Chronixx taking place in Kingston. We visited a lot of these places in the video! Awesome.


Traveling through Jamaica has been amazing!

IMG_5386“Bless up everyone and welcome!”

Before I jump right into the amazing places I’ve been in Jamaica, i need to speak on my beautiful experience as a volunteer at the Kingston YMCA. Unforutnately, this is my last week here in Jamaica and it is truly a bitter sweet feeling. Saying goodbye to the children at the YMCA was very emotional. One of the campers ran to me before I left with tears in his eyes saying “Ill miss you and thank you for being such a good friend.” I was on the verge of tears. The children at the Kingston YMCA impacted me in ways they will never know. The project “the squad” did at the YMCA turned out great. Each one off us did an activity with our group and cleaned up the backyard. Our time at the YMCA was a great one.

Traveling Jamaica has been awesome. Places we have visited include French Mans Cove, Dunns River Falls, Museums about Rastas, Tainos, Jamaican music, The Carnation Market in downtown Kingston, the oldest newspaper in the Caribbean (The Gleaner) and much more. Exploring Jamaica has been so interesting. Below are so great photos I have taken with my phone and GoPro! Also a cool video from Dunns River!

All the places Ive been to in Jamaica all has given me vivid memories of this trip, that will last a lifetime! #Grateful.

I wanted to eat what was in the coconut so the vendor poured the water in and scraped on the inside of the coconut into the bag.Coconut water in a bag from Carnation market.


Alex and I enjoying the beautiful ocean at Dunns River Beach!

IMG_5365YMCA campers give the best hugs!

The squad at French Mans Cove.The Squad always posing for pictures! #GoPro

                       DCIM100GOPRO At French Mans Cove!

This was in the country side of the Blue Mountains. Beautiful Mountain behind me!   Pit stop in the country side in the mountains!



At the Gleaner Newspaper. This where production happens!


#StudyAbroad #Jamaica #SabInJam


Kingston is my classroom!

When I thought about studying abroad, I thought about the world being my classroom and that is exactly what I am experiencing here in Jamaica. One of the coolest parts of this trip is that Professor Brown is also here to guide us and teach us things along the way. As Dr. Brown would say “Its all about navigating the space and bringing it to the contemporary.” Even while we are driving from destination to destination there are always questions and discussions along the way. I appreciate all the conversations we have because we are not looking at examples from a textbook… we are looking at everything with our own eyes.

New Paltz classes vs. Jamaica Study abroad learning? Like I said completely different because what you are learning is right beside you or not to far away. Being in Jamaica with the group and the professor is so great because we learn from each other and from Dr.Brown. There is so much about Jamaica that one begins to understand when they see it with there own eyes. Jamaican history runs deep from the indigenous Taino’s, colonialism, slavery, emancipation, to independence and present day.

COOL FACT: Taino’s named for “Jamaica” was “Xaymaca.”

We also have three books we are reading in Jamaica which help us further understand the culture. The first book is In Focus Jamaica by Peter Mason,  Rastafari by Barry Chevannes, Britain’s Black Debt by Sir Hilary McD. Beckles.

JSLP 2016 had the privilege of meeting Sir Hilary Beckles- Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies at the UWI Mona, where we discussed Britain’s black debt and reparations for the Caribbean slavery and native genocide. Sir Beckles was so intelligent about the subject, It was so amazing to be having a discussion with such a smart man who has made an impact throughout the Caribbean and continues to make a difference. I encourage anyone who is reading my blog to look up Sir Beckles and reparations for the Caribbean. By the way this was one of the most amazing parts of the trips for me! Who gets to sit with the author of many books/ Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies everyday? I will never forget that day.

Volunteering at the Kingston YMCA is also an amazing part of learning about the Jamaican culture. Being counselors to the children and working with the other Jamaican counselors is a great way to see what it is like to live in Jamaica with the different conversations with the children and adults. Just by talking to the counselors, I have learned so much about Jamaican that tourist going to resorts would learn.

Before the trip, I was warned about the danger in Jamaica but throughout the time Ive been here I have learned that people here are amazing, joyful, smart and much more but the under development of the country is what keeps the people from progressing hence why reparations from Britain is important. Jamaica and its culture has influenced many others in many ways through music, food and much more. Jamaica deserves respect for what is has been through and how the people continue to strive everyday. I am tremendously happy I made the decision to study abroad in Jamaica.

I cant leave this post without thanking Professor Brown for coordinating all these great and educational outings for us. Also thanks for teaching me “how to navigate the space,” where ever I am! 🙂


Beauty, love, kindness and much more!


Here is the song by Chronixx called Smile Jamaica! This song is so touching and shows exactly how beautiful the people and the culture is!

Welcome to Jamrock!

WAHHHH GWAN? Bless up!

I have been in Jamaica for  2 weeks now and I am slowly falling in love! Although I have felt every feeling there is to feel in the last two weeks, I still love it here. My many feelings include happy, sad, joyful, excited and much more but for the most part happy. I say all these emotions because this trip is a roller coaster but one of the best roller coasters I ever been on.

The heat is “no joke”, once you walk out you are sweating and I have like 1,000 mosquito bites. The only pro of the sun the sun is my banging tan. Anyways, what makes me super happy about Jamaica is the food, people the culture and the MUSIC!  What is cool about this experience for me is, I know many Jamaican people at home so it doesn’t feel different to be around many Jamaicans. What feels different is to actually be in Jamaica.

Hence the name of the program Jamaica Service Learning Program (JSLP)… we are working closely with the Kingston YMCA with the summer camp and with the Alpha Boys institute. Collectively as a group we all wrote a proposal to give to the YMCA so we can do a project of our own before we leave. Our aim is to leave the YMCA with something that will be long term! I will further explain that in my next blog post!

Many young boys here are at risk to many things here in Jamaica so these amazing institutions give young boys and girls and outlet. The YMCA provides summer camp activities and much more, there is a pool and activities throughout the year. The Alpha Boys Institute is a Day school for young men which provides landscaping, woodwork, music and screen printing. Pretty Amazing, I must say!

Please check out the websites for more cool details down below! Super cool stuff!

Kingston YMCA 


One of the KINGSTON YMCA campers. He is an awesome kid who loves the pool and shares with all his friends! “Belly full?” is what he always asks his friends. Cutie!

Alpha Boys Institute


This is a cool photo I took while some students were passing by! #AlphaBoys


My Snapchat filtered photo embracing the culture with my new long braids! “Lit” 🙂


My experience so far…


The Squad all collectively decided to get braids/plats so we can fully embrace the hairstyles we see around plus they are so cute. We spent one whole day at the salon getting our braids done. This was a new experience for some because we had to buy hair so it could be installed and look longer and thicker. It was a cool experience to do it altogether. I ended up leaving in the braids for about 5 days…I loved them but they got loose really quick.




I love working with the Kingston YMCA Summer camp because the kids literally make me melt. They are so sweet and so smart. I got my first choice to work with the 5-6 year olds. What I’ve noticed in the week that I’ve been there is that resources are short but the staff and children make it work. The children all have so much innocence and are so well mannered. My favorite memory so far is watching the children share food when their food when their friends are hungry. After lunch they always ask each other “belly full?” I love watching them interact and make sure one another is okay. Whoever thought you can learn so much from children. I feel so privileged to be working with amazing children.


My group playing the relay race water game! I loved watching them smile and play this game! Priceless!


Sparrow was showing me his skills on the Piano. Being an Alpha boy as a child he learned how to play many instruments.

At the Alpha Boys school we got a chance to be on the radio show “Ask Sparrow.” Wondering who is Sparrow? Check out this link Who is Sparrow? We had the chance to be on the radio show and  asked Sparrow questions about himself, Jamaican culture, sound systems and the Alpha Boys School. That was a great time because Sparrow was full of great energy.

FOOD TIME!!!!The food is delicious!!!! Jerk chicken, Jerk pork, Oxtails, rice and peas, Ackee and saltfish, festival (fried dumpling) and Pineapple soda. I love the food although some dishes may be really spicy and I need tons of “wata!” So “wata” is the actually brand of water bottles here. There is also a fast food franchise in Jamaica called Island Grill where you can get some of the delicious traditional foods.

My favorite food from Jamaica is oxtail. When I got oxtail, I was beyond excited. I got it from a little to go restaurant on the side of the road where I also got fresh limeade. It was delicious. I will definitely miss that when I leave.


Two Little Bird Lyrics from Bob Marleys song at his House!


The Bob Marley Museum was amazing! “IRIE!” Bob Marley bought a house on Hope Road in Kingston when he became wealthy. In this house there were displayed albums, his room with many original items, including his slippers he got from an African tribe, and his studio and much more. I also learned bout his albums and how he was shot at and left to Europe. This was a great experience but I cannot leave out our amazing tour guide! Her name was Susan Maxwell , she was so energetic and had the whole group singing and enjoying themselves. She would constantly say “Irie” which is a word for great or “lit.” Check out the video below of me and her singing Bob Marley’s Two little birds.’

This is Susan singing with me! She is so dope!


I am having such a positive experience with all the people I meet here in Jamaica. Today I was walking over to the Devon House ( A mansion owned by the first Jamaican Millionaire) to get patties and there was a man under a mango tree just eating mangoes and I say “Bless up and have a good day.” When I return he says “ I appreciate you and gave me a mango. It was delicious! I can’t forget the guineps, I bought a bushel of guineps for 100 dollars and ate them right away. I have learned that many Caribbean Islands have different words for guineps. Puerto Ricans call them “IMG_4974quenepas”, Dominicans can them “limonsioes”, Bajans call them “ackees” and Colombians call them”mamosillo.” Whatever the name I don’t care, they are the best! The guy who sells them already knows me!

I can never forget to mention the amazing friends I have met on UWI campus. Shout out to Adrian, Garfield and Jermaine for being their for us! You guys take the time out of your day to talk to us, educate us on your culture, cook us food, give us recipes and let us meet all your amazing friends. I am so grateful!

I am having an amazing time here in Jamaica.


Irie and One Love! Below is one of my favorite songs right now!

Enjoying my new home, Jamaica!

July 5th, 2016 was my second full day in Jamaica! So far I have been very happy although that is not how I felt initially. Leaving New York was super difficult, I was feeling paranoid and anxious because of the unknowns. My flight was delayed about two hours so I got to Jamaica later than expected but none the less my flight was interesting. The people were very vibrant and talkative during the delays which was nice. I was already getting a sense of the Jamaican culture just from my plane ride.


My first full day in Jamaica was tiring but awesome. Getting acclimated to the sun and humidity is definitely challenge! The sun the first day made me exhausted but the tour of the University of the West Indies (UWI) made it all better, especially with “the squad.” The UWI campus is beautiful, “hugggggee,” and has a lot of historical background. The campus was previously 2 plantations where slaves harvested sugarcane. There was an aqueduct connecting the Mona plantation and Papine plantation which is still around the campus.

Fast Fact: Bones of the slaves have been found on campus during the construction of several buildings on campus and were put to rest elsewhere.


Behind me is part of aqueduct and further in the  distance are the famous Blue Mountains.


In front of the campus library where there are many services and many rare Caribbean manuscripts.


This is UWI’s chapel where many different religion’s services are held. This is a special place on campus. Inside there are flags of all the countries that make up the West Indies.



This is one of the murals on the campus. It is breathtaking because of the the different people and components.


The Jamaica Squad

The Jamaica Squad after we got our UWI ID cards. We were finally official!


This was the bus we traveled in for half of our tour! “Repping” UWI hard!

After the tour,  it was off to get my Digicell phone. I don’t have much service here so I bought a cell phone to stay in contact with everyone. My Digicell phone is an android. I am now fully connected and can call anyone in Jamaica. Lit!

The first night sleeping in my room was great! I was exhausted from the walking and sun. The dorms are very different from the ones I am used to in New Paltz, they are smaller but yet very comfortable. When I first walked in I was so relieved to see a fan, it is very much needed. I leave my windows closed most of the time because of mosquito’s and am being really careful this time around because of Zika. There are no glass on the windows just the winding metal shutters with no screens. All the dorms are also very colorful… I love it! We also have a huge outdoor quad where the squad comes out to get wifi and to chill.

Check out this video from UWI’s Youtube Channel!

Also do not forget to keep up with me on Instagram using the hashtag #SabInJam for my most recent post!



2 weeks away from my study abroad program in Jamaica? WOW!

Hey, whats up and hello everyone! My name is Sabrina Bergas and I am going the Jamaica Service Leaning Program (JSLP) this summer with Professor Latasha Brown. Just a quick summary of what I will be doing there…

  • Taking 6 credits learning about  Jamaica’s socio-political history, contemporary issues and much more. The country, culture, food and people will be our classroom.
  • Working with the Alpha boys institute while tutoring, learning and getting to know the boys who live there.
  • Volunteering at the Kingston YMCA.
  • Visiting many historic and touristic sites.

Check out the JSLP Facebook page here: Jamaica Service Learning Program Facebook



So now let me get into what I am feeling! I am super excited but also very nervous. I have traveled abroad once before to Chile with the YMCA Global Teens in 2012 but it was not as long as the JSLP, which is one month. Even though I am feeling a little nervous, I am ready to take on Jamaica! I have been watching   Jamaican movies, reading the Gleaner (the Jamaican Newspaper), watching documentaries on Bob Marley and Marcus Garvey, listening to some good reggae and having my little dose of some oxtail and rice and peas while still at home, in the Bronx.

Golden Krust is a Jamaican restaurant I visit in the Bronx when I am in the mood for " The best patty ever!' YUM!

Golden Krust is a Jamaican restaurant I visit in the Bronx when I am in the mood for “The best patty ever!” YUM!


Jamaica is a great place for me to visit and immerse myself into the culture because I have a lot of Jamaican friends that I now can connect with. Growing up in the Bronx, I have been exposed to the Jamaican and West Indian culture and I enjoy it so much. Throughout my life, I have eaten Jamaican food and listened to reggae. I love reggae!! Reggae has been a big part of my life since I was born. This trip is going to be awesome and I am looking forward to not only the food and music but the service learning I will be doing with the students of the Alpha Boys School.

While I am in Jamaica I will also be using instagram to document my journey. I will be using the hashtag #SabInJam

My first post is shown below.

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 8.18.22 AM

This is my instagram picture captioned: It is becoming so surreal for me that just in one month I will be studying abroad in Jamaica! I am so ready to embrace the culture, the people and everything this trip will bring. I am so excited to learn about such an amazing place with vibrant people and music. I am going into this with an open mind and open heart… Oh an open belly! 🇯🇲 #StudyAbroad #TheCountdownBegins #JSLP #SunyNewPaltz #NpAbroad #Travel #SABINJAM

I have been reading a book called “In Focus Jamaica” to prepare myself before I actually get to the island. I have to read this book before leave to Jamaica on July 3rd and so far I have enjoyed reading this book. As I read I am finding that my Puerto Rican history is some what intertwined with the Jamaica history. The same native people (Tainos and Arawaks) that were in Jamaica were also in Puerto Rico. This book is teaching me the in’s and out’s of the Jamaican culture such as the history of the island, music, tourism, food, household situations and more.

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 8.01.22 AM

My favorite show in the world is Huang’s World on Vice Land and when Huang went to Jamaica I was so excited to watch the episode… Here is a deleted scene from the Jamaica episode. You will learn a little but about sugar cane in Jamaica.

Bob Marley is a pivotal person in Jamaican music history and this is my favorite song! Just remember… everything is going to be alright! 🙂


First Impressions on Rio de Janeiro

Getting off of the plane in Sao Paolo, Brazil on January 6th, 2016 was like stepping into a whole new world, where I didn’t understand anything that was going on around me. It was the first time in my entire life where I couldn’t speak the language, Portuguese. Coming from a background of English and Spanish, I had to work hard to keep up. Some of the words in the Sao Paolo airport shared the same roots with Spanish – estaçáo meant estación and pessoas translated to personas – so I was able to get a round a bit. What stunted me was oral communication… I knew nothing. At this point, I was aware that I was in a completely different country with a completely different language and that I was going to be here for another 6 months. It all happened so fast. At one moment, I was in New York, waiting in line and saying goodbye to my family members, and the next I was in Brazil.

From Sao Paolo, I needed to board a connecting domestic flight to Rio de Janeiro, which meant that I had to find my own way around the international airport. Luckily, many of the workers in the airport spoke a little bit of English, which at the point seemed easier to communicate with since everyone was just confused by my Spanish (later I would find that what people prefer is Portunol, a mix of Spanish and Portuguese that helps foreigners better understand Brazilians.) After finding the right terminal, I geared right to where the small plane that would take me to Rio awaited. While on the line, I noticed a guy on SnapChat, writing English. I instinctively tapped him on the back, eager to talk to someone who could take be back home. His name was Deonte and as it turned out, he was also studying abroad at a PUC in Curibita, Brazil, and was originally from a small town in California, but was traveling to Rio in order to see what was up. I took the opportunity to introduce myself and learn about what Brazil was like so far for him — he’d been in the country for a total of 6 months. At that point, we boarded the plane. I sat in the 13th row, next to the window.

The best part of sitting next to the window was that domestic flights fly significantly lower than international flights and January 6th was a clear sky kinda day. As I entered Rio de Janeiro from above, I could clearly see the outlines of the city’s skylines, highlighted by massive, colorful favelas interspersed along the city’s skyline. Unfortunately, I kept looking for Christ the Redeemer as my guiding star while staring out of the window, and to no avail I couldn’t find it.

Once landing in Rio things got busy. I stepped out of the terminal and saw that PUC’s concierge was standing right in front, holding up a sign for visiting students to see. Thankfully Deonte was with me to talk with the man because if not, I wasn’t sure how I would have got around. More students began piling in and I got acquainted with everyone around me by means of speaking English. It was then that I learned just how wide speaking English spanned.

We piled into the car and got driving to drop all of the girls off. When we got to my apartment, I was stunned. I was going to live in the famous bairro of Copacobana, on the boarder of Ipanema, for the next 5 months, right on the beach. I could literally walk 1 minute and be on the beach. Upstairs, I noticed that my room had a balcony and I fell in love. I also was so happy that I got paired with a girl from New York as well! As soon as I got in, we decided to go to the beach and drink some capirinhas, because, what better way to relax after a 17 hour flight?

Stay tuned for more to come! 🙂

Arrival at “fin del mundo”

December 16, 2014- Tuesday (Buenos Aires- El Calafate- Ushuaia)

By 4:45AM I was awake and packing up my things; I must have checked the room about six times to make sure that I had everything. The hotel provided breakfast which consisted of pastries, orange juice, coffee and tea. The breakfast is quite different from the typical American breakfast; it was much lighter and the pastries served seemed more like something that would be eaten as a dessert in the states. Around 5:30AM we departed for the airport, arriving around 6AM…but it was the wrong terminal, so we had to get back on the bus and go over to the domestic terminal where we checked our bags and headed for the gate. The security in the domestic terminal was very lenient, we were allowed to bring water, weren’t required to take out liquids or remove our shoes, much different from any security in the states. It was kind of nerve wracking for some other students to see such relaxed security, but while discussing it we figured it is likely this way because Argentina doesn’t have many reasons to be as uptight about airport security, especially with domestic flights. The terminal was very small, much smaller than any airport I had ever been in, which was very different from the international terminal in the same airport, which we passed through last night, which was huge. While waiting for the flight myself and some other students formed a little circle where we started to get to know each other better and begin to connect, which made me feel much more comfortable.002We began boarding the plane around 7:50AM and took off around 8:15AM for a 3 hour flight to El Calafate, where we stopped for about 20 minuets while other peopole got off and others boarded. The scenery in El Calafate was beautiful, much like a desert and drastically different than the scenery in Buenos Aires, which made me wish i had a window seat on the plane. The water was so blue, almost turquoise in colour which was a stark contrast to the reddish brown sandy and rock surrounding the water. Around 12PM we took off again and started on our way to Ushuaia.

The airport in Ushuaia was quite small and looked much like a ski lodge. It was a bit cooler that it had been in Buenos Aires, where it was about 80 degrees. When we stepped out of the airport there was the most beautiful mountains (The Southern Andes) right in front of us. They were like nothing i had ever seen before, i instantly took out my camera and continued to take pictures until we arrived at the hostel. The hostel was not what i had imagined,005 it was actually quite nice. There were 4-6 people to each room; each room had three sets of bunk beds. After arriving we had a quick meeting with the professors joining us on the trip, and then we were free to go and explore Ushuaia.


Arriving in South America

December 15, 2014- Monday (Miami to Buenos Aires)

This morning I woke up around 4:45AM to get ready to arrive at Miami International Airport around 5:30AM. I checked in and checked my bag with Aerolineas Argentinas. I was nervous about checking my bag, worried about it getting lost or damaged (the kind of things you always hear about, but hope never happen to you), as well as getting to the gate on time because this is my first international trip. After passing through security I met with the rest of the AUIP group at the gate and anxiously waited for the flight to begin boarding. We boarded the plane around 8:00AM; the plane was bigger than any I had ever been on before. We took off around 8:45AM for a flight that took about 8 hours.

We arrived in Buenos Aires around 7PM; the 8 hours did not feel nearly as long or tedious as I had anticipated. Before claiming our bags we had to go through customs (bring on the first interaction in a Spanish speaking country… for someone who doesn’t speak Spanish). The customs workers at the kiosk didn’t look very happy about a group of American students coming through, but they appeared to understand the general lack of Spanish language skills among us. That night we stayed at a Holiday Inn,  which was much fancier than any Holiday Inn I have ever seen in the states, with a large grand piano in the lobby, a steak house, and an large outdoor infinity edge pool.


After finding our rooms the group came together for dinner at the bar (since us college students probably cannot afford a steak house), but it ended up being quite a struggle. The servers had a hard time understanding us because they spoke very little English, which also meant we had a difficult time understanding them because most of us had absolutely no Spanish language skills whatsoever. One thing that became painfully obvious is that instead of just saying that i should learn Spanish before the trip, i should have actually done it. Now, i recommend to anyone travelling abroad, try to learn the basics of the local language before arriving. Anyway, after much confusion and a bit of waiting, we ate and returned to our rooms for the night and prepared to wake up early once again to catch our flight to Ushuaia( YAY!).