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.

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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.

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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! 🙂


Can I go back??? – Missing Jamaica Already!

Heyy Everyone!!

Been home for a  couple of weeks now and I sure do miss JAMAICA!!

The overall experience was amazing!! I learned so much about the Jamaican Culture and its History! Being there for a month was definitely a great way to learn and be present with the everyday life in Jamaica.

This trip has encouraged me to look into abroad opportunities helping or working with children for a greater cause. Being able to work with the Alpha Boys, be apart of their school life and watching good and not so great things occur within the their home just grew my interest to continue to work with children, especially those of Black and Latino decent. The boys have so much potential, amazing dreams to be someone great, and so much talent1 They taught me so much about life and the little things to appreciate despite what goes on around me. We all grew close to the boys and allowed them room to be open and share their unique personalities and talents. This was my favorite part of the day being able to share our experience with the alpha boys! We had soooo much FUN interacting, teaching, learning and talking with all of them!

If I have the opportunity to do this trip again – I would not second guess it! Not only did I learn and immerse in the culture and life of Jamaicans but I was apart of a great experience learning, growing, adapting and making a difference!

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Last Day with my students before they are sent to another institution or back home! 🙁


Boys Excited about the World Cup!!! They love Football (Soccer)!!!


Playing their favorite sport !!

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Sugar Cane!!!

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The Best and Sweetest Teacher(middle) with her teacher assistances!

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The Classroom!


Being Outdoors!



Jamaica we miss you!!!


The Jamaican!!!

Hey everyone!!!

We are in our last week of our study abroad trip with the Jamaica Service- Learning Program! Boy, it has been an eventful 3 weeks thus far!!! We continued to learn a lot about the history of jamaica by visiting many historical places such as the Bob Marley Museum [Bob Marley’s home till he died in 1981], Tuff Gong Studio [Largest Caribbean studio founded by Bob Marley], the National Gallery [public art museum], the Afro – Caribbean Institute of Jamaica and the Jamaica Memory Bank [collects documents and research about Jamaica’s cultural heritage], Emancipation park, and the Gleaner (Newspaper publishing company).

Here are some pictures of the wonderful, interesting, historical adventures of Jamaica!!!

2014-06-18 16.08.18(Emancipation Park-symbol of our Freedom to Hope, to Excel and to Be!)

IMG_20140609_120850(JSLP ’14 with Ky-mani Marley at the Bob Marley Cafe)

2014-06-09 13.34.03(real life size Bob Marley Statue #OneLove) IMG_3891 (after our Devon House Tour – Huge House)2014-06-12 13.10.12(Tuff Gong International #ONELOVE)


We have been staying at the University of Mona and everyone has their own rooms with common area to share. The girls are on one level and the guys are on the lower level. We enjoy our own rooms for personal space but at the same time, we all have had at least one or more conversations with the another on this trip within the common area.  We have cooked together, went to the supermarket to buy kitchen supplies and ingredients. We have played Uno, card games, dominoes and just laughed, talked while enjoying each others company. This trip has brought many of us closer than before (some more than others) but overall we have been enjoying our time and the company of everyone participating on this trip!!!

The food has been great!! We had the chance to try jerk chicken, curry, seafood, rice and peas, pasta and other regular american foods! I think our favorite thing to eat are riped plantains (it has been apart of every meal lol). Below are two pictures of food from the “streets” and a home made meal being cooked.

2014-06-14 17.58.15(where we got some awesome food – we call it street food)2014-06-02 21.51.58(cooking in our kitchen at UWI- making boiled dumplings with salt fish and beans)


Aside from all the historical adventures we have spent a lot of time at the Alpha Boys Home! We have planned activities for both inside the classroom as well as outdoors for the boys to enjoy their time! In the classroom, we assist the teacher in charge or lead an activity. Outdoors we play all sorts of games with the boys! We definitely enjoy our time here at the Alpha Boys School!

IMG_3961IMG_3968IMG_3959IMG_39552014-06-13 15.41.17

One more week, or just a couple of days and its all over 🙁

YESSS!! To the Experiences!!

Hey Hawks!


How are you guys doing? Hope everything is well on your end.


I am doing great!! so no need to worry. I  just ended my second week and I am starting my third week  in Jamaica. I have been exploring this great big island of Jamaica with open arms and eyes. The sights are breathtaking and so is the culture. The experiences that I experienced are by far the best that I have ever had because each place and event that I have been to has something new to offer. Fox example, my group and I visited the Bob Marley Museum earlier this week. Although I am a Bob Marley fan, I thought I knew everything  to know about the greatest Jamaican artist but I guess I was wrong. While visiting and touring the museum, I learned even more information about who Bod Marley was. Towards the end of the tour we even ran into one of his sons Kymani Marley, who also is a musical mastermind as well.

IMG_20140609_120750 Kymani and I (Bod Marley’s son)

As the week continued, so did my adventures. We visited Tuff Gong Music studio, here we had a chance to meet where other legendary artist go to create music, Jamaica’s Fine Arts Galleria, Devon House whom was the first Jamaican millionaire, Ocho Rios beach and many more . I have come to learn that within the Jamaican culture music is used for and with everything. It has the ability to heal people, to create a community, to express yourself, to show passion and so much more.  I have experienced this while working at the Alpha Boys School each day. Our culture and experiences are indeed different but are similar also. Connecting with the Alpha Boys has been mainly through matching our cultures, music styles and experiences. It just warms my heart to see them so engaged with us.

The food in Jamaica is TO DIE FOR!! It is so deliciously fresh and tasty, literally I just can’t get enough. Since i love spicy food, Jerk chicken is my number one choice everywhere. They grill the chicken on a iron grill and it has the best spices and smells like heaven (or close to what I think heaven might smell lol). I will definitely have to learn how to cook this type of chicken so that I may share it with my family back home.

IMG_1751 Oxtail, rice and peas with festival

lg_29618_0 Jerk Chicken on the grill!!!


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At Alpha Boys!

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Tuff Gong Studio

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Personal selfies!!



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