On the same Paige


Ohana Sarvotham

Paige Olowu `22 is offering advice about well-being on-and off-campus.

Paige Olowu

I just accepted an internship abroad for the summer and I’m slightly nervous about the street harassment culture there. Any tips? 

First of all, congrats on the new internship — traveling abroad is such an exciting adventure! I want to recognize the major step you’re taking to venture into a space that may be new and unfamiliar to you. While I was not a part of the 50 percent of students who participated in a program abroad before graduating, I do have a couple of tips that I picked up through research and from traveling with family. Exploring a new country can often also mean exploring a new culture. There may be different attitudes, morals and protocols that require some navigation and adjustment.  

For general concerns about cultural differences, I recommend that you: 

Research the culture. Spend time learning about customs, values and norms of the country you will be staying in.  

Be aware. While you’re there, pay attention to the way people around you interact with each other.  

Plan ahead. Try to arrange your accommodations and transportation plans well in advance. 

Trust your instincts. Even if something presents itself as a norm, if any part of the activity makes you feel unsafe then you can remove yourself from that situation.  

For concerns related to sexual safety, I want to stress that there is no universal way to respond to being violated. It’s important to allow yourself the grace to be right where you are at any given moment. For these times, I recommend: 

Have a relationship with your program staff or supervisor. They can help guide you towards resources or support services in a foreign country.  

Keep in mind the support resources you have here. Friends and family are great resources to lean on in times of need. You can also talk about options with our Title IX Coordinator Bailey Asberry or reach out to confidential resources such as Grinnell Advocates.  

Take note of local authorities. I recognize that it is not always attainable for individuals to report instances of sexual violence to authorities in their home country let alone abroad, but I want to present it as a potential option. 

Preparing for an immersive experience abroad will require taking a number of steps to ensure a smooth transition. These steps may range in difficulty from remembering to buy a travel plug adapter to being cognizant of some preventative measures above that you can take to make your trip as comfortable as possible. Happy traveling! 


Why is it so hard for me to stop talking to someone I broke up with, even though I know it’s not healthy? 

I want to applaud you for even taking the steps to recognize unhealthy behaviors when you see them! It’s natural to still care for a former partner after a breakup, so please be patient with yourself. The love and affection that you carried for someone likely will not disappear overnight. It will take time to heal from the experience. Changing the way in which you communicate with a past partner can be one of the biggest challenges in navigating a new era of your relationship. 

It may feel frustrating to find yourself drawn to some you don’t believe you should associate with; in these instances, it is best to acknowledge those feelings and try to understand what prompted you to reach out or respond to a message in the first place. This process may involve being mindful of your triggers, letting go of old memories and focusing on creating new ones. It may be helpful to practice self care like spending time with those important to you, engaging in hobbies and activities that bring you joy and concentrating on your personal growth. 

When you find yourself struggling, it may be helpful to seek support from friends, family or a trusted counselor. They can provide guidance and support as you navigate this difficult time. Remember, you are not alone and with time and care, you will get through this.