London School of Economics (LSE)

London LL 2016    Having lived in Europe for thirteen years I was no foreigner to to the UK, but all my previous visits had been for leisure. I had always stayed in a hotel or a day trip, this however was going to be a two month stay in one of the largest cities in Europe. The largest city I have ever lived in was Dallas, but London was different from the moment I Landed. I took a taxi, not to a hotel or a popular tourist destination but to my accommodation at Sydney Webb house on the Southern Bank. I was about twenty minutes away from central London were all the hustle and bustle was going on. It was a bit daunting at first to get used to the fact that I was going to be staying in this room for two months on my own, the longest I ever have been away form family.

But the classes left no time for me to get homesick, from day one the program started with no intention of slowing down. The professor was engaging made the three hours go by in a flash, when I initially saw the timetable I thought “there’s no way I’m going to be able survive two months of this!”. While the lecture was engaging the class wasn’t a cakewalk, we had a paper due immediately for the second week, a presentation during the first two weeks then a final for the third and final week. Luckily the professor and the two TA’s were extremely helpful when it came to any questions relating to the course and the LSE facilities were amazing as well. This was the same for all sessions, the professors knew we only had three weeks to digest a semesters worth of material and they themselves tried to be available late into the night to help us succeed. It didn’t feel like a chore but a challenge.

London itself was amazing the summer I was there, no rain in sight and the atmosphere in the city was awesome due to the world cup going on at the same time. The city was full of people from all over rooting for their teams and you would not have a hard time to find fans from your favorite team.

Transportation in the city is what makes me miss it when looking at the DART system here in Dallas. It may be crowded and the tube can get delayed quite a bit, but the convenience is amazing and affordable as well. No matter where you needed to go either a bus or tube stop was there, and if that was not to ones liking then renting a bike or simply walking is also a possibility.

Of course I can’t talk about London without talking about visiting some tourist spots. I went to and recommend the Tower of London, for around 25 pounds you get to see three different museums, which include the iconic crown jewels and the crows of the Tower. Once you are done you can then walk over the London bridge and over to the eye of London. I also visited the Shard, the tallest building in London, from which you can admire the skyline of London.

The two months went by way to quick, but thanks to the time I spent there I was able to make friends from Korea, France, Switzerland, Brazil, Columbia, Austria and Australia. The amount of nationalities you meet in this program is incredible, even if you don’t learn much from the classes you will at least be meeting people form all over which easily was one of the more fun parts of the program.

I’d love to go back once more, but I hope others from UTD would make the trip over their and represent our school.

–  Eric Wiggins, Summer School Abroad, Summer 2018

Research Abroad in New Zealand

Research Abroad

[Photo Caption: Me in a clean room wear outfit in a dedicated photo lithography wear]

This summer I was able to do research in New Zealand. I reached out to a New Zealand university research laboratory that I was interested in (and was also a very good reason to travel) and the PI warmly invited me to spend the summer in her laboratory. I was placed under the graduate student who was excited to have me join his project.

As this was not a formal research program with no planned poster or paper due at the end, I had to monitor myself and my own achievements and goals. The goals I worked for were; getting a degree of responsibility and freedom in the project, and learning the various theories encompassed in the project. As my hand skills increased, I was given more and more responsibility with the project as I was trusted to be able to go through the steps alone- allowing the graduate student to work on other steps. Learning the theories of direct writing and polymer properties were difficult, but learned mostly as I worked with it. Learning that different temperatures and humidity affected the water evaporation rate which affected the success of the direct writing was learned through reading but seen in the practice writing.

I wasn’t just confined to the laboratory during my time in New Zealand. My graduate student encouraged and let me take time off to visit incredible parts of the country. In my first time traveling abroad, I was so excited to see so much and learn about this place on the other side of the world. The other people in the laboratory were not only able to give me advice on a research career and research topics and trouble shooting, but as well as direct me to different sites to see.

Traveling abroad isn’t delegated to those who are able to spend a couple months traveling without any responsibilities. You can pick up experience- tailored to your interests and not just within a program’s confines as UTD works with you to help you get there.

-Amanda Bacon, Independent Study in New Zealand, Summer 2018

As I Travel

Adiva Sahar - Ornamental Traditions   In the summer of 2018, I traveled to Islamabad, Pakistan in order to intern at the emergency room of the Shifa International Hospital. In hindsight, summer was not the best time to travel to a country with a continental climate, for the blistering heat and suffocating humidity made it difficult to fully enjoy the experience. However, the enriching hospital environment and the country’s rich culture made the experience worthwhile.

Interning in the emergency room was a unique experience. The socioeconomic gap in Pakistan is very large, and a major part of the population consists of the lower class, who usually do not have access to education. This became very apparent to me in the hospital setting. Because Shifa is a private hospital, the patients admitted were mainly of the upper class. The few members of the lower class that unknowingly found themselves at Shifa would end up having to refuse treatment because of the high costs. Often, it would be difficult for doctors to communicate the importance of their advice to the uneducated.

Besides my newfound cultural awareness, I also deepened my understanding of international hospital systems. The hospital followed the British system in much of their hospital organization, including the triage system. It was interesting to observe the differences between the American healthcare system and the one Pakistan has adopted.

Outside of the hospital, the streets were rich of Pakistani culture. Islamabad’s street food is delicious, and surprisingly very cheap. I often found myself on the side of the roads snacking on samosas, chaat, and meat rolls. Along with the numerous food stalls, the streets are lined with bazaars. People can be seen bargaining over a variety of items; from shoes to common household items, from jewelry to personal care products. For international tourists, everything already seems pretty cheap, or we don’t know about the culture of bargaining, so we tend to not bother with it. However, it makes you stand out amongst the common crowd if you don’t argue for a cheaper price.

Throughout my stay, I did a lot of shopping. I especially bought cultural items and enjoyed dressing up in traditional clothing. I visited places with historical and cultural significance and beautiful architecture, including the city of Lahore, Pakistan. And I ate a lot of food that I probably shouldn’t have.

By the end of my stay, I realized why study abroad is so important – you completely immerse yourself in a different culture, one that you are not at all accustomed to, and return with a newfound awareness and perspective of the world around you. I know I did.

–  Adiva Sahar, Internship in Pakistan, Summer 2018

What’s a better time to travel abroad?

Traveling thWeissfield for bloge world on your own could seem intimidating at first but what a better chance to do it when you’re still young. Interning abroad in Israel this summer gave me an opportunity to get professional experience outside the US, travel Israel, and form friendships that will last for years. The opportunity to go explore a new country on the weekends was incredible. Taking trips by myself, and with friends had a different dynamic than I initially anticipated, which taught me a lot about myself, creating memories for a lifetime. Traveling to the dead sea (the lowest place on earth), the western wall, swimming with dolphins in their natural habitat, and getting my scuba diving license at the 2nd most northern reef in the world have been incredible, and I wouldn’t change a single thing about it.

Please do yourself a favor, seize this amazing opportunity and go travel!

– Adi Weissfield, Internship in Israel, Summer 2018

Ciao Italia!

Ciao Italia!

Every tourist I met that had traveled to other countries always said Italy was their favorite. And now I see why. Italy has everything you could want in a study abroad trip. I mean can we just talk about the food for a quick second? I could not wait to wake up every morning and eat. The food is so authentic and rich with flavor; it is worth every calorie. It is fresh and even though you are eating lots of carbs it does not make you feel bloated or guilty. Every city has something different to offer. From the street food in Florence, to the sauce in Bologna, to the pasta in Verona, everything was life changing. Ten out of ten would recommend going out of your comfort zone with food in Italy.

Along with the food, comes the beautiful people who create it and serve it. Every one in Italy loves their country and could talk endlessly about it. The culture in Italy is so much more relaxed, completely opposite of the United States. Italians like to really appreciate their food and socialize so meals can last from two to three hours. Stores close everyday from one to three thirty in the afternoon and almost all stores close Sundays. There is also a huge tradition of having aperitivo in the evening everyday. Which is when friends come together to socialize over a drink and enjoy a dinner after their workday. This was one of my favorite things to do in Italy because you can see locals truly value the time they have to spend with close ones. Every Italian is so sociable and eager to make connections with new people.

Everything you think studying abroad will be is true! From the beautiful scenery, the delicious food, to the unforgettable people, it is all true. I never realized just how much studying abroad would change my life. With strangers, who ended up becoming life long friends, I made unforgettable memories. Everyone will experience different things like culture shock, homesickness, difficult people or even uncomfortable situations but that’s the beauty of getting to be in foreign country. It can help you appreciate the beauty of not knowing anything and leaving with a whole new perspective of life.

The little city of Verona will always have a place in my heart. And I will always recommend studying abroad to anyone who is looking for an unforgettable adventure.

-Vanessa Ortiz Non-Affiliated Program in Italy, Summer 2018

I Love Chinese Food

Chinese food for blog

Before I had the opportunity to visit China I frequently ate asian foods at ethnic restaurants in the United States. However, those experiences pale in comparison to going to China and eating traditional Chinese cuisine. In Nanjing I tried many foods I had never heard of or thought I would be eating. I enjoyed eating the dumplings, buns, noodles and rice dishes that had new flavors which were often quite spicy. I went to hot pot one night with a student volunteer and ate stomach intestine that I cooked myself in a hot soup. Nanjing also had a variety of soup dumplings that were made of shrimp, duck and pork. I learned the art of holding the dumpling with my chopsticks and sucking out the hot liquid before taking a bite of the delicious insides. The desserts were vastly different and often less sweet than American style treats. I had sesame ice cream, matcha frozen yogurt (frozen to pieces with dry ice) and hawthorn fruit coated in sugar. I also had a wide variety of boba teas that were all unique and I learned that people often go out and purchase milk tea and bring it along to food places to accompany their meals. At restaurants people would rarely drink any drinks from the actual restaurant especially not cold water like Americans have at every meal. I drank ginger milk tea, strawberry ice cream tea and lime kumquat tea. Then there were snacks. Never thought I would say that I love spicy dried tofu, sweetened dried plums or Chinese rice cakes covered with a glaze. I cannot do justice in describing how much eating your way through China is an essential aspect of traveling there. I cannot wait to go back and try more. The photo is shrimp soup dumplings and I hope it inspires you to head to China straight away to try these foods for yourself.

-Samantha Bell, Faculty-led at Southeast University in Nanjing, China, Summer 2018

 

Learning Mandarin

Bell for blogI think the biggest barrier for people learning Mandarin and attempting to communicate with natural born speakers is the different tones. In English we do not use tones as extensively and in China one voice inflection creates a different meaning. In class on the trip when we would practice tones it also seemed as though some of my classmates could not pronounce the Chinese tones because they could not hear the subtle differences. When I first began learning Mandarin someone told me that if you do not learn Mandarin before the age of 5 you will never be able to correctly hear and speak the tones like a fluent speaker does. I whole heartily believe this. On the trip there were times when I knew a Chinese word and would ask a student volunteer about the word and they would look at me with a blank face. I would repeat myself a few times and then they would finally repeat the word themselves with the correct tones and ask if that was the word that I intended to say. Overall, before the trip I knew that tones were an important part of the Mandarin language but after going to China and witnessing real time communication I saw just how vital they are to speak.
Since high school I have been interested in Asian culture and the Mandarin language but having the opportunity to visit China heightened that interest. Eventually I hope to be fluent in Mandarin even though I know that will be a tough task to accomplish. However, seeing the student volunteers be able to communicate effectively in English makes me believe that I have the capability. One of my biggest realizations from the trip is how far away I am from being fluent in Chinese. When I took Mandarin classes the hardest part for me was speaking and pronouncing the tones correctly. After spending a lot of time with fluent speakers I know that in order to accomplish my goal of being fluent I need to work on speaking the most if I truly desire to be able to communicate effectively. I would like to go back to China in the future when I am a strong speaker and be able to navigate the cities by communicating with locals in Mandarin.

-Samantha Bell, Faculty-led at Southeast University in Nanjing, China, Summer 2018

Making the Most of Traveling While Abroad

Esther Goldstein

People have different preferences for traveling, and you might discover yours while abroad. I realized that I like a combination of going on trips by myself and going with a small group of friends. I enjoyed traveling to places like London, Amsterdam, and Brussels by myself, but I realized that it’s less stressful to have a friend with me. This is because we can look after each other’s stuff at places like the airport. They can also help in researching sites to visit as well as how to get there. My travel buddies were my friends from China and South Korea that I met during my time in Liverpool. I was also fortunate that my friend from UT was studying in Edinburgh, Scotland at the same time I was in England!

Since I lived on campus, I was able to take part in trips organized by the residence halls for a discounted price. I went to Cambridge, The Beatles Story museum, and the Lake District on these trips and enjoyed meeting new people. A bonus of studying in the UK is that the universities’ spring breaks tend to last longer than in the US. Mine was three weeks long, and I traveled for almost all of that. While I got to see some great places in Italy, Greece, Scotland, and Ireland, it was also exhausting! I went with some friends on student tours in Scotland and Ireland. In Ireland I came down with strep throat and had to go to an urgent care center. My international insurance through UTD really came in handy here, because I was able to get reimbursed me for the medical care that I needed.

When traveling around Europe, I tried to plan things ahead of time to save money. Train tickets in the UK especially are less expensive if you buy them online and in advance. The catch is that you have to buy them for a specific time, which can be stressful if you’re not good at being early. I used a website called the Trainline to look at train times and prices throughout the UK, which is a great resource. In addition, when I flew on planes I always figured out how to get from the airport to my accommodation in advance. It can be disorienting when you’re in a place for the first time and have to navigate the public transportation there. One thing I learned from staying in England is to always pack an umbrella, because it can rain at any time!

When I first began to travel, I went to London for the weekend and came up with a long list of things I wanted to do there. I ended up packing too many things into my schedule and felt exhausted. As a result of a few trips like this, I realized that it’s not about the quantity of places I visit, but the experience. I began to appreciate the places I was able to see. It is okay to leave things “for next time,” even if that I might not get to visit again. Traveling is about enjoying whatever you get to see, and not about trying to shove everything you can into your agenda. After incorporating this idea, I felt less stressed out and was able to enjoy my travels more in some amazing cities.

– Esther Goldstein, exchange program, University of Liverpool, Spring 2017

London’s Calling

Sarah Kraman

I went abroad to Oxford and Cambridge to present my research. I want to start by saying, when I first found out about the opportunity, I scoffed. I thought there is no way I was going to get up in front of a room of people at Oxford or Cambridge and present my research. However, the harder I worked on my paper and the more time I thought about it, the more I thought when else in this life am I going to have this kind of opportunity? So, I decided to put my feet in the water and apply for a scholarship which would seal my fate, going or not. A few weeks later, my professor reached out and said I would be awarded the scholarship… there is was, I’m going.
A few weeks after that, my research was finalized, and I was heading to the United Kingdom for the first time.
The trip changed my life. I met some of the smartest people I have ever met on the trip. I learned from my peers, made new friends and most importantly discovered things about myself I didn’t know. Before the trip, I didn’t know that I could pack lightly. I didn’t know that I could present research and warrant applause from it. I didn’t know that I love London, I am fascinated with Oxford and Cambridge on a Saturday night can be a little dodgy. I am forever grateful for Dr. Carraher for organizing the trip and making each and every experience so memorable. Thank you and as they say in London, Cheers!

– Sarah Kraman, faculty-led program, Regional Management Area Studies – UK, Summer 2018

Seville Complete Blog

Carolyn Nguyen

Studying abroad in Seville, Spain was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever partaken in! I went with a group of friends from UTD using a program called GlobalED. This program was able to set up a custom wintermester program and provided an internship that rotated students through a hospital in Seville. We got the opportunity to shadow doctors, learn about the healthcare system in another country, as well as watch surgeries! The Office of Education Abroad was so helpful in setting up a way for us to receive credits for our study abroad internship!

Besides the internship in the hospital, we also got to take an intensive Spanish course. As a pre-med students living in Texas, medical Spanish is quite essential for proper and efficient patient communication. Even learning just conversational Spanish is enough to establish a sense of rapport with your patients. I can guarantee you that at my medical school interviews, my interviewers were looking for personal growth in the candidates. This program was always a conversation starter, especially since it shows a love for learning in order to better yourself as a future doctor. What better way to do so than to learn medical Spanish in its country of origin?

My favorite part about my entire study abroad was the cultural immersion! I got to live with a host mom that took care us as if we were her own children. She cooked us home-cooked traditional meals, packed us sac lunches for school and even got us gifts for the holidays. She was the one of the sweetest and kindest soul and I’m so glad I got to meet her during my trip. Experiencing Christmas in another country was also a wonderful experience! In Spain, they celebrate 12 days of Christmas. December 25th only marks the beginning of the festivities! On January 6th, the children receive their gifts from the Three Wise Men, thus marking the end of Christmas. But before that, there are beautiful parades where the children get to submit their wishlists and candy/toys are throw into the crowds. These parades were so exhilarating! Even though I am not Catholic, I attended mass during Christmas. It was one of the most beautiful processions I have ever participated in. The Seville Cathedral was otherworldly and it is the resting place for the remains of Christopher Columbus. It was so amazing to see the way the Spanish celebrate and worship during the holidays.

During the weekends, we took the opportunity to travel to other cities within Spain. I got to go to Madrid, Barcelona and Granada. Planning the trips were kind of stressful but completely worth it! My advice is to download the expedia app before leaving the US. That way you can get airplane tickets and hotels with US Dollars rather than having to deal with the exchange rate and foreign currency charges on using cards internationally. Each city had it’s own culture, traditions and atmosphere. Each was breathtaking in it’s own way. Seville felt safe, homey and traditionally Spanish. Madrid was like the Washington DC of Spain. It was filled with city life, lights and historical monuments/museums. Barcelona didn’t even feel like Spain anymore. They spoke Catalan and it was so artistically metropolitan. And Granada was a predominantly Arabian area with a lot of Moorish Empire influence still present. We tried to maximize our time in Spain and traveled like mad women. My feet were pretty much destroyed after the whole ordeal, but I can not emphasize enough how worthwhile each trip was. From the museums in Madrid to Park Guel in Barcelona to the underground Arabic spa in Granada, everything was life changing from start to finish.

If you get the chance, please study abroad! It is so eye-opening. If you choose to go to Spain, I highly suggest doing so in the winter. You’ll get to see the holidays and can even go skiing in the Sierra Nevadas. The summers can get up to 120 degrees so be aware! Take advantage of scholarships provided by the Study Abroad Office and have fun!

– Carolyn Nguyen, Independent Study/Third-Party Program, Fall 2017

From Culture Shock to the Best Semester Ever

 

Esther Goldstein

When I arrived in Liverpool, I exited the train station and got hopelessly lost trying to find a place to convert some money. After that, I found a place to buy a British SIM card and went off to find my new home for the next semester. The day was a whirlwind of getting lost several more times, moving into my residence, and meeting my new flatmates. It wasn’t an easy first weekend because I had to find a bunch of new things for my place, such as bedding and groceries. I wondered if I was cut out for life in Liverpool. I just needed some time to adjust, however.

The day before classes started, I met some people at the study abroad orientation session, and things started to turn up. I continued to explore the city more, and I really enjoyed how compact and walkable the city center was. Along with all of The Beatles attractions and strange accents, there were tons of shops, pubs, and restaurants to visit. I navigated my way through Albert Dock, which has an amazing view of the River Mersey on a sunny day. Although it was usually windy and cloudy in Liverpool much of the time, it made me appreciate the sunny days even more. Throughout my time there, I became friends with people from around the world. My closest friends came from China and South Korea, and I was able to learn more about those countries’ cultures through them. In addition, the University of Liverpool assigned all of the exchange students a study abroad buddy. My buddy introduced me to life there and was an awesome resource during my time abroad.

I loved how I could easily walk to the train station in Liverpool, and from there I could travel just about anywhere by train or plane. During the semester I went to the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Ireland, and Scotland! I had never been to Europe prior to my semester abroad, and I saw lots of amazing places through my travels. Overall I had a great semester, and I cherish all of the memories I made with my friends and while travelling.

Some of the things I learned were…
•   Take advantage of travelling to different countries while in Europe, because many of the countries are close to one another
•   Traveling can expensive between bus and train rides, plane flights, and eating out, so make sure to budget accordingly
•   Try to make friends with locals so you can learn more about the people living in your area
•   Take a light course load so that you have enough time to make travel plans and are not bogged down with homework

– Esther Goldstein, exchange program at University of Liverpool, Spring 2017

From“Hi” to “你好”

chinablog

“Welcome to China” I was officially 7,350 miles away from anything I have known. In a new country, a new culture, and a new language. Inside of me, there was a mixture, of excitement and terrifying emotions, but there was no turning back. I knew whatever would come I knew my new home would be overall an adventure.

Throughout my courses, I was able to learn about business in China and also internationally. It was incredible learning how China’s business relations are important and how it works with different countries and companies. I was able to experience in person Multinational Corporations (MNC) global strategy such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Forever21. Looking at the bigger picture made me realize how connected we are a planet. For this past century, we have increased connectivity more than any era before not only in business but politics, negotiation, social media, art, and other essential ways.

Interacting with students around the world and from China, with professors, and local individuals in the country showed me despite the differences we may all have at the end of the day we are all humans and how connected we are. Building friendships and relationships with people of a different culture and language opened my mind that we have to stay together to have an impact on global issues.

This journey was a growing path, an adventure of a lifetime and one of the highlights of my college career. This opportunity exposed me to a different part of the world, and this exposure challenged me to know more about the world. A Chinese proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

– Jennifer Garcia, exchange at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Fall 2017

Left My Soul in Seoul…

Blog - 3

Photo credit: Cindy Phong

I never imagined that a little country called South Korea would completely capture my heart. It was my first time ever visiting the country and I instantly developed an affinity for the bustling city. I lived in Seoul, a city rich in culture and modern technology, and couldn’t have asked for a better place to spend my semester abroad.
There are so many fun things to do in Seoul, from visiting all the cute coffee shops to picnicking on the Han River to singing at Noraebangs (Karaoke) to shopping at trendy boutiques …(the list goes on) and it’s dangerously easy to get carried away from school. My advice is to live your best life but prioritize! It’s no fun spending your last week abroad confined in your room studying 😦

Of course with moving to a foreign country, there are things no one tells you and that you have to learn on your own. From my experience a few random observations I made that I think are worth noting are:
· Learning Hangul, the Korean Alphabet, is the key to success
· It’s all about the Iced Americanos, Iced coffees don’t exist
· The man with the fruit truck has the cheapest fruits
· Korean beds are rock hard
· Dating culture is huge
· Drinking culture is huge
· Puffer jackets are a necessity in the winter

Overall, my time in Seoul was incredible. I’ll never forget the friends I made and the memories we made together, and the sweet souls that welcomed us strangers with kindness and love. From a business standpoint studying abroad is the easiest and most enjoyable way to broaden your experience and expand your network. From a student’s standpoint it was the funnest semester I have ever had and am so grateful for the memories and skills I gained abroad. Studying abroad was worth every minute and every dollar and I highly recommend it to anybody who has an opportunity to go.

– Kim Killen, exchange program, Korea University Business School, Fall 2017

Why I Chose Warsaw, and Why I Loved It

Blog Photo - Palace of Culture

Photo: Palace of Culture and Science from Centrum Metro Station

While deciding on an exchange program destination, I realized many students would immediately consider countries that are typical “vacation” destinations. Cities like London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, and Dublin are a few of the cities I heard my classmates consider first. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with these amazing cities and if you have your heart set on a “vacation” city, by all means, go for it. However, I decided to go a different route and couldn’t be happier about the way it turned out. I’ll go through several of the advantages I experienced by spending my exchange in Warsaw, Poland, advantages that you may have not thought of.

Firstly, while Poland isn’t a popular destination for American exchange students, it is for European students. So, I ended up being surrounded by dozens of European cultures, and I met very few Americans while I was overseas. It made the cultural experience that much more amazing. Not only has it made me so excited to go back to Europe, but now I have friends to show me around in The Netherlands, England, Ireland, Denmark, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and even Australia! It gets really easy to stick with the classmates of your own nationality, so going somewhere with no other Americans does nothing but enhance the experience.

Secondly, the cost of living is ridiculously low compared to the “vacation” cities. I would constantly hear about students studying in more expensive parts of Europe and how they would run through their scholarship money and how tight their budget would be. By choosing Warsaw, I essentially had no budget and my Erasmus+ scholarship was enough to cover almost the entire exchange period. I never felt like had to miss out of anything for financial reasons, and I was never stressed about running out of money.

Third, because of the amount of money I was saving coupled with the location of Poland in central Europe, I was able to travel a lot! I was able to visit far more “vacation” cities because I wasn’t living in one. I went to Brussels, Bruges, Rome, Athens, Krakow, Prague, and Copenhagen. The only reason there was room in the budget for all of those adventures is because I spent next to nothing in my daily routine.

I was able to enjoy all of these advantages without sacrificing any of the fun or experiences. The nightlife was incredible in Warsaw and there were plenty of cultural and historical sights to see. And best of all, I had an incredible mixed bag of cultures to experience it all with.

If you are still undecided on where to spend your exchange, I urge you to consider these thoughts while looking through your options. If you’re still trying to decide on whether or not to study abroad, I whole-heartedly encourage you to do it, and to do it as soon as you can. It changed my life and I’ll hang on to the memories forever.

Safe Travels!

– Joshua Duffy, exchange program, Kozminski University, Fall 2017

Building Confidence Through Studying Abroad

Blog Photo 1.19.18

Many have asked me, how did you have that confidence to study abroad and travel alone? My honest answer to this question is the confidence you see in me isn’t innate but is gained through my solo adventure. The confidence that you have before your trip or the lack of it should not be the determinant for whether you should study abroad. If there is a part of you that longs for adventures and enjoys discovering new cultures, you should go.

What I share with you here is raw and unfiltered because I believe what’s real is what can really motivate people to step out of their comfort zone. Signing up for an independent program and traveling solo around Europe was not my first choice. However, the desire to expand my horizon was bigger than my fear of all the things that could possibly go wrong.

No matter how used you are to being on your own, you will feel overwhelmed at one point. The panic will set in as it did for me right after I checked in to my first Airbnb. I spent days beating myself up for overestimating my confidence. It didn’t seem possible that I will be able to manage on my own for the next weeks, let alone months! But trust me, all of that will pass and you will wonder what was there to be panicked about. Being alone in a foreign place is not easy and might never get easy. Lonely is the feeling that I won’t ever get used to as I have learned through my solo adventure around Europe. However, when you focus on what you can do, you will realize that there is nothing you cannot overcome. The lessons and cultures I have learned and experienced, the people I have encountered, and the friendships I have made along the eight countries I have been to definitely worth the emotional discomfort. After all, “fear is only as deep as the mind allows.” – Japanese Proverb

You will learn the most when you venture out of your comfort zone. My life in Norway has rendered me a significant amount of knowledge, especially knowledge about myself. I learn how to be comfortable with being by myself. I learn that positive and negative factors in my life are completely dependent on whether I allow them to exist or not. I learn to be a more effective student because school can be challenging when you are studying in the most prestigious university in Norway.

– Grace Ngoc Nguyen, USAC program at University of Oslo in Norway, Fall 2017

Past the Comfort Zones

Nidhish Lokesh

PHOTO: COLORFUL TUCAN FROM PARQUE NACIONAL DEL IGUAZÚ

There is no better way to understand the scale of the world and of the human experience than by traveling. My study abroad in Buenos Aires has widened my perspective unlike anything I have done before. Many people feel more comfortable traveling to a country in Europe where English-speakers are common and it is very similar to the U.S; however, there are advantages to going somewhere out of your comfort zone too.

I picked Buenos Aires and the rest of Argentina primarily because I wanted to go somewhere completely different and immerse myself in a new language. In school up until college I had learned French, so I jumped at the chance to immerse myself in a Spanish-speaking country. Let’s be honest, Spanish is way more relevant where we are in the U.S. anyways. I was nervous going into the trip with only a semester of Spain Spanish under my belt, but excited to see just how much I could learn in my 3 months abroad.

At first I was quite intimidated here. My internship supervisor and office colleagues spoke about our projects entirely in Spanish, most of the nearly 3 million people in the city spoke Spanish primarily, and even my host spoke only in Spanish. I had no idea how I would learn enough of the language to do more than just survive. The first 4 weeks I took Spanish classes in the mornings before working on my internship projects in the afternoons. My language skills got so much better than I thought was possible – just from the immersion and daily practice. The biggest barrier was my own mental block of sounding like an idiot in a language I didn’t know. The key was to realize that it’s not a bad thing to sound like a fool sometimes, and to just keep practicing. Now, 7 weeks in, I can hold conversations with people I meet at the gym, market, or even at the barbershop about a variety of topics. My verbal understanding has gotten much better (it’s very different than Spain Spanish that we learn in the states, with lots of abbreviated words, slang, and different pronunciation rules) and I feel a lot more comfortable here. Buenos Aires has felt like home for weeks. That’s how quickly practicing something new can become natural. I even like the language better than English now – so many more ways to say things, and it’s more pleasing to the ear.

Comfort Zones don’t just extend to language, though. Studying Abroad is the perfect time to expose yourself to new experiences and try different lifestyles. For example, I was never a morning person before I came here, and I would deny the possibility of me ever being one to all of my friends. Then, I decided to try out a crossfit gym (never had tried crossfit before either), and now almost 8 weeks later I have been getting up at 6 every morning to go to the gym, then practice Spanish over breakfast with some Argentine friends, and then go to either class or to the office for work. As it so turns out, I really like mornings. Who knew? And having my butt kicked by a great workout every morning honestly feels pretty good too. It’s nice starting every day with a challenge.

Even now, with the internship portion in Buenos Aires coming to a close, I’m not going to stop pushing the limits of my own comfort zones. From here, I’m venturing out into the beautiful wilderness of Argentine and Chilean Patagonia. I’ve got some independent study projects I will be working on for professors back home while I get used to a new style of life – backpacking. I’ve backpacked once before, but it was only for 10 days and with guides. Now I’ll embrace the 6 weeks of backpacking through one of the most beautiful areas in the world with only my roommate. I’m sad to leave all of my friends in the city and a little apprehensive of the lifestyle change, but I’ll continue to learn more about myself. After all, how can you know what else life has to offer if you don’t step past your limits to experience it?

-Nidhish Lokesh, fall 2017 internship and independent study in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Be BOLD!

Alexia Blog Pic

PHOTO: MOUNT VICTORIA LOOKOUT IN WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND

I have been back from New Zealand for three weeks and it still feels like it was all a dream. Looking back at pictures makes my whole experience seem surreal. At first I was nervous about going because this was my first time travelling out of the country alone. Not to mention, it was the longest I was going to be away from home!

At the same time, though, I was so excited for the adventure. I was READY to experience life in a new way, which just so happens to be a concrete part of the deal when going abroad! You would think I wouldn’t be in much of a culture shock because Kiwi people still speak English but… that is not the case!

There are so many fascinating aspects of the country such as the diverse wildlife, incredible scenery, and the amazingly profound Maori culture. Everything about New Zealand was so different from the U.S. in the most refreshing way possible. I honestly didn’t even have much time to miss home because of all the fun experiences and places I was lucky enough to see while away (don’t tell my mom I said that, though).

I learned so much not only about New Zealand, but about myself (as cliché as that sounds). I pushed myself to do things I wouldn’t have ever thought about doing or would have had the courage to do at home, like skydiving! I’m still questioning why I did that one but, the fact of the matter is I am beyond happy that I made the decision to go abroad.

I want to inspire people to make the decision to be BOLD! The world is yours if you’re willing to immerse yourself in it. Take an opportunity to live life outside of your comfort zone! The memories you make are guaranteed to last a lifetime.

-Alexia Dos Santos, Internship in New Zealand, Summer 2017

Go Abroad, You Won’t Regret It

Concert (Vienna, Austria) - Ana-Maria Frampton, 2017Photo: Concert at Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria

Moving abroad? Easy. I was certain I had this whole “moving to Vienna” thing figured out before I even got there (not the case, of course). Arriving in Vienna wasn’t the tough part. The city is gorgeous, full of history, culture, and never-ending events to attend. Whether it was a festival by the Danube, or a pride parade in the center of the shopping district, there was always something to do. No, the difficult part was the day-to-day things you don’t consider. I didn’t speak German. Store hours? Everything is closed by 7 PM, and good luck finding a grocery store open on a Sunday.

It was frustrating at first, but once I figured out the small quirks of the city, I spent my days studying in cafes, touring museums, and traveling throughout Europe with a new set of friends. I even managed to learn a few phrases in German! Living in Vienna was one of the best experiences of my life, and the adventures I had there will stay with me for a lifetime. So take the opportunity and GO, somewhere, anywhere! You won’t regret it. Dankeschön and auf wiedersehen (thank you and goodbye)!

-Ana-Maria Frampton, exchange program at WU Vienna in Austria, Spring 2017