About the Authors

16 St. Olaf College-affiliated scholars and adventurers living peripatetically through the Fall of 2012:

Mark Allister, from San Diego, CA.

Mark Allister is Professor of English, Environmental Studies, and American Studies at St. Olaf, and is looking forward to eating his way through the Middle East. He’s currently writing a book on the indie rock band Cloud Cult.

Meredith Allister, from Boston, MA.

Meredith has spent the majority of her career in the health care software industry.  She is hoping to use this term abroad to gain an understanding of international health solutions and processes.  This is her first time in the Middle East and she is looking forward to the sights, sounds, tastes and learning opportunities that this incredible trip will provide.

Christina Andeweg, Junior Political Science major from Urbandale, Iowa.

While her family is thankful for a four month break from Christina’s cooking, the activity she will miss most while abroad is making up recipes and cooking strange food. Despite this disappointment, she is looking forward to trying even stranger food in the Middle East and hopes to learn some Moroccan cooking from her homestay family.

Lizzie Carlson, Political Science major from Northfield, MN

An avid runner and tennis player, Lizzie doesn’t know if she’ll be able to keep up her exercise routine in the Middle East but will stay active avoiding gluten and stray cats. She is looking forward to having a family in Morocco and although her previous bad experiences with horses make her skeptical of riding a camel she is excited for the opportunity.


Duncan Cleveland, Junior Psychology major from St. Louis Park, MN.

Duncan, in addition to speaking in the third person, enjoys playing dodgeball and watching movies. He is most excited for exploring the ruins and tombs of Ancient Egypt and avoiding all mummy curses within. He hopes to go into the field of cognitive neuroscience eventually.


Mike Gallagher, German and Political Science major from Minneapolis, MN.

It’s impossible to make Mike write a short bio about himself but otherwise he’s pretty agreeable (after he’s had his Turkish coffee). Mike thinks stray cats are “adorable” but wouldn’t touch them with a ten-foot stick. Anyone know where you can find an ethernet cable in Istanbul?


Alex Harris, Psychology major from Wales, WI.

Alex is still slightly unsure of how she wound up in the Middle East as she’s used to staying well inside her comfort zone, but she’s decided now is the time to not just climb, but burst, out of the box.  She’s nervous about haggling, language barriers, and sufficient access to peanut butter.  Once she arrives back home, Alex intends to study psychology, linguistics, and neuroscience, although she’s open to inspiration from her time abroad.

Matt Johnson, Junior History major from Sudbury, MA.

Matt’s primary interest is American history but he figures it might be a good idea to immerse himself in a few cultures that predate his own.  Accustomed to bar-codes, he has made it his goal to haggle with a merchant for at least one item during his time abroad.  He is prepared to walk away if his final offer is not accepted.

Lauren Kalish, Junior Soc/Anth and German major from Syracuse, NY.

Instead of packing cute clothes, Lauren opted to bring a whole pharmacy along with her in the hopes of warding off foreign diseases. She did, however, find room to bring two of her childhood stuffed animals, as she never travels anywhere without them. Lauren is very excited for this traveling opportunity and can’t wait to throw up the peace sign at every possible moment.

Ben Keisling, Senior Physics major from Portland, OR.

Ben was afraid of ovens until he was 18 and is excited to think about the Geology of the Middle East when we are on excursion (did you know that as recent as 6 million years ago the Mediterranean dried up?!). Maybe after St. Olaf he will go to graduate school in earth science. He loves using foreign public transportation and secretly hopes to get lost often.

Meg Kirchhoff, Junior Dance major from Fon du Lac, WI.

Meg loves miniature things like tea sets and babies. Meg can’t wait to further explore the beautiful and historic Middle East. Meg is especially fond of the adorable cats roaming around Boğaziçi campus and seems to be considering adopting one to nurture for the rest of the semester (does anyone know if Egypt Air allows cats?).


Amy Lohmann, Junior English major from Northfield, MN.

Amy is an avid doodler and nickname enthusiast. She is looking forward to seeing legendary historical sites and observing how Middle Eastern ice cream compares to its Midwestern counterpart. After St. Olaf Amy hopes to find work in the world of either publishing or journalism.

Jessica Moes, Junior English major from Hastings, MN.

Since the age of three, Jessica has loved playing in the sandbox and reading about princes in the desert (think The Little Prince and Aladdin), essentially making Term In the Middle East the culmination of some strange, lofty childhood ambitions. This will be the longest she has gone without hair dye. Though she prides herself on what may be her most successful and efficient packing endeavor ever, she has still managed to cram more stuff in her suitcase than both Michael and John own at home. Combined.

Katrina Puskala, Senior Soc/Anth major from Plymouth, MN.

Katrina is a lover of all things blueberry and is extremely fond of the winter months. She is looking forward to learning about the cultural differences within the middle east and eating all of the fantastic food! She may continue on to graduate school for Sociology, but plans on taking her time getting there!

John Schwirtz, Junior Political Science major from Bloomington, MN.

An unapologetic coffee snob, John is thrilled to visit a region known for its coffee and tea culture. He is very excited to learn about the political challenges facing the region and studying the ways in which these countries develop and enact their foreign policies. He is also excited for falafel.

Katie Sieger, Junior English major from Duluth, MN.

Katie will most likely be paying overweight baggage fees to every airline taken during TIME as she is a notorious over-packer and enthusiastic shopper. She is excited for everything, especially trying to barter for evil eye jewelry in the Grand Bazaar and eating lots of falafel in Egypt. An ardent dog lover, there is a distinct possibility she will come home with a few stray dogs in tow. She is most worried for any weird bugs the group will encounter and expects the boys to be in charge of disposing of them.




One Response to About the Authors

  1. Mary Ann says:

    Ben, I love the blog! I am so happy to hear of the adventures of your group and so thrilled that you all to get this wonderful opportunity.

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