Coming to America: A riveting journey

I was born in a suburban community in Lagos, Nigeria. I have always loved travelling and learning about new cultures. When I was in high school, I got a scholarship to study in England for 3 years. This was my first experience outside the hustle and bustle of Lagos; the Nigerian city of dreams. I fell in love with the United Kingdom­— so I decided to take my Cambridge exams in the UK. I made the decision to experience American culture after I completed my A-level Cambridge exams. I registered for the SAT and ACT examinations, and I also applied to different universities in the United States. My experiences in America have been LITERALLY life changing. I came to the United States alone when I was 16 to attend university; I came here during the most formative years of my life— I have learned various cross-cultural skills and gained valuable life experiences. I believe studying abroad has made me stand out as responsible and independent. I advise every individual in college or high school to try studying abroad; it will be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. Plato said “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the dark.” Don’t be in the dark, study abroad!

Jori’s Incredible Adventure

                                     Agra

 

September 11, 2014

We took our tour bus from Jaipur to Agra and that was a long car ride! But we did see some very interesting things! But on the way we stopped and visited the imperial “ghost city” Fatehpur Sikri. This place was beautiful with intricate details.

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When we arrived to Agra we were all very happy to get out of the car! We went to our hotel and believe it or not this hotel was even nicer than the rest! The structure was beautiful and the decor was modern.We got a chance to relax and get settled in and snoop around! I love doing that in hotels! We hit the hay early that night because in the morning we were getting up super early to go and see the Taj Mahal at sunrise! I couldn’t believe that I was actually going to see (with my own eyes) the Taj Mahal. I felt like I was in a dream! We were all very excited to see this wonder of the world! We had a wonderful tour guide who had given tours to many famous people! He has even worked with American producers for films and such. He was great and knew all of the perfect spots to take your picture!jori-india-and-others-918 jori-india-and-others-920I cannot explain the shear beauty I saw while looking at the Taj Mahal it is simply gorgeous. I even told Laura, this wont seem real to me until I physically touch it!

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After the Taj Mahal we came back and ate breakfast. We had some free time so we went swimming. The pool was a lot of fun and we played Marco Polo with Yajur and he had never played before so that was fun teaching him some games in the pool! One day when we were there it was Raksha Bandhan, which is a Hindu celebration where you honor the special bond and love that you share with your brother. You give them a special braclet called a Rakhi. Since my brother was back home Laura and I made Yajur our honorary brother and we each gave him a Rakhi. It was really fun and I think that he enjoyed it! And it is tradition for the brother to give his sisters something and he got us these really cool cell phone holders and clip on the inside of your purse  so you can always find it! He was the best and I miss seeing his smiling face!!

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The last place we went was the Agra Fort or the Red Fort. This fort was made out of beautiful sandstone. There is a balcony here that looks out over the Taj Mahal. When you take a picture it looks like you are holding the Taj Mahal in your hand!

My Indian Experience

September 11, 2014

If I could take this trip over again I would in a heartbeat. I decided to study abroad at the end of my schooling at Eastern. If I could start back again as a freshman I would go on as many study abroad trips as possible! It is a wonderful way to experience different lifestyles, cultures, and ways of life while taking classes towards your degree! I will never forget all of the wonderful memories that I made. I absolutely loved the group that went to India. You create friendships that will last a lifetime and you get to meet wonderful people. This trip had opened my eyes to a lot of different things in this world. It has taught me to always be myself, not to sweat the little things, and to give everything a chance because you never know where life will take you.
My name is Jori Leigh Wilson and I am EIU Study Abroad.
If you want to follow Jori’s blog, http://jorisincredibleadventure.wordpress.com/

 

 

Are you ready to go Above and Abroad? Jo

Are you ready to go Above and Abroad?
Join us for our Annual Study Abroad Fair, Wednesday, September 10th 2014 from 10am to 3pm in the MLK Jr. Union University Ballroom! The Study Abroad Fair will include information about universities and colleges around the world and passports. You will also get a chance to participate in raffles, and speak with faculty members from the Office of Financial Aid and Health Services, to prepare you for your trip overseas.Remember, the Study Abroad Fair is the one of the first steps to making this a reality!

[Guest Post] From EIU to Taiwan

Hello, everyone! I’m an EIU alumna and current employee at HESS International Educational Group in Taiwan.

Overall, my experience teaching and living abroad has been filled with incredible moments and opportunities. I taught children’s English classes for a couple of years before moving into the human resources department at our company’s corporate office. I’ve lived in Taiwan for almost five years, and while I could go on and on about my experiences here, I will try to keep it to just a brief snapshot.

EIU alumna Amy Simpson accepts a 2013 Employee of the Year award from the CEO of HESS International Educational Group at the company’s year-end banquet in Taipei, Taiwan.

EIU alumna Amy Simpson accepts a 2013 Employee of the Year award from the CEO of HESS International Educational Group at the company’s year-end banquet in Taipei, Taiwan.

The first thing that stands out is something frequently mentioned about Taiwan: the people. The locals are unbelievably welcoming and helpful, and the foreigners come from all over with their own little piece of the world to share.

It’s not unusual for Taiwanese people to go out of their way to personally escort you to a gas station across town or chase you down the street to return the wallet you’ve left in a restaurant. Likewise, it’s commonplace for foreigners to strike up a conversation about which neighboring country is best to visit or invite you to join them at a dinner table. The people I’ve met have helped me to embrace Taiwan and enjoy all the things it has to offer.

When you live in a different place, you also start to re-evaluate the way you look at everything around you–and the way you look at yourself. You start to realize both how big and how small the world is.

Last Thanksgiving, HESS asked teachers what they were thankful for. We made videos depicting what we loved about Taiwan, teaching, children, friends, family, etc. It was an open-ended invitation to capture the truly enjoyable parts of life. We compiled those videos and called it “The Thank You Project.” (You can view the whole project here)

In my HESS Thank You Project video, I talked about a former teacher who used to say, “The more you know, the more you know the less you know.” This is definitely true of my time in Taiwan. There’s always something new to learn, always a challenge to be faced, always an opportunity to learn and grow as a person. For better or worse, as soon as you feel like you have something all figured out, you’re reminded you that you don’t. This can be a frustrating thing, but it can also keep you fresh and open-minded. If you can embrace those opportunities to grow, there’s always something new and exciting to experience.

It’s interesting to hear about perspectives, and there are plenty to be found all around us. If you haven’t already, definitely consider living, teaching, or traveling abroad to experience things that you might not get to at home. If you’re thinking about teaching abroad, I would recommend Taiwan as a great starting point.

New teachers strike a pose during their July 2014 initial training at the Main Office of HESS International Educational Group in Taipei, Taiwan. HESS provides all the support and guidance newcomers need to settle in and start their journey abroad successfully.

New teachers strike a pose during their July 2014 initial training at the Main Office of HESS International Educational Group in Taipei, Taiwan. HESS provides all the support and guidance newcomers need to settle in and start their journey abroad successfully.

Lastly, to everyone, I would encourage you to step outside your comfort zone and be willing to embrace the good as well as the difficult. Given the change, it will broaden the way you look at just about everything.

I’m happy to discuss any of these topics further, so feel free to email me at amy.simpson@hess.com.tw. Thanks for reading!

Q&A: Teaching in South Korea

Former study abroad student Missy Muser has returned to South Korea to teach English after recently graduating from EIU in 2013. Read on to find out more about what it is like to live and work in another country! Missy Abroad

1. You loved South Korea so much that you just had to return! What is the best part about teaching in South Korea?
One of my favorite things about Korea is how friendly people are.  Every time I’ve been lost (which will happen at some point any time you travel) someone was always willing to help.  Half the time, I didn’t even have to ask.  They just saw my look of complete panic or distress and would try to help.  Another fun thing about Korea is that it is different from the States.  You really do get to experience a culture that is different from your own.

2. Teaching abroad can be quite different than studying abroad. What was the most difficult part in adjusting to your new job?
Teaching and studying abroad are very different.  I studied abroad in Korea just for the summer so it felt almost like a holiday.  It was easy to meet people through the program or on campus.  I still find it fairly easy to meet people because other foreigners are often in the same situation as you are, and many Koreans are intrigued by foreigners.  I don’t know how many random conversations I’ve had walking down the street or waiting for a bus or train.  Obviously, they aren’t always lasting friendships, but not everyone you meet back home would be either.  The major difference is the amount of free time; full time jobs are serious work.  Just writing this makes me miss the flexibility of university life.  I’m a little outside of Seoul and work until 9 pm so during the week I can’t do as much.  The weekends are where travelling and meeting new people really comes into play.  Or meeting up with those awesome people I’ve connected with that sadly don’t live right in my area.  Public transport is easy and affordable here thankfully.

3. How prepared were you when beginning this new job, and what do you think could have helped prepare you even more?
I did not go to school even remotely for teaching English so I took an online TEFL course to help feel a little more prepared for the actual job aspect.  For the day-to-day living, I studied abroad first so I could get an idea of Korean living.  On a personal level, I felt very prepared to live abroad and to take the leap away from family and friends.  Technology makes it easy to keep in contact and a year goes by quickly.  If anything, I loved the challenge of being forced to be completely independent.  I knew I could handle living abroad on my own, so I was more worried about actually teaching.  I was nervous the first few days, as everyone is at a new job, but it becomes routine quickly and you learn all the ins and outs fast.

Missy Abroad2

4. What is it like teaching in a South Korean school?
Korean schools can vary.  There are public schools which offer more vacation and can be a little more secure, and then there are Hogwans (private schools) that are easier to get a job in but you do want to pay close attention to your contract and to try to make sure your school is a good school.  If there is already a foreign teacher at that school, try to get as much information from them as you can. Also, manners are quite different in Korea compared to the US.  Try to be as respectful as you can and your boss or co-teachers might give you some hints towards how to act.  Just be polite and they usually understand you have different ideas of what manners are.

5. What is it like where you are living?
Now I’ll be honest… I don’t absolutely love the town I live in.  It’s pretty grey and there isn’t a lot of nature incorporated through the city.  But it is easy for me to travel into Seoul which I do like.  I also wanted to be near the town I studied abroad at so I could visit friends and walk down nostalgia lane. All cities surrounding Seoul seem to have plenty of coffee shops, food joints, bars, buses, and are usually close to some form of outdoor trail or hiking area.

6. What do you do in your free time when you are not teaching?
I enjoy hiking and reading a lot.   I can easily spend a good majority of my time doing either of those.  Korea does have a lot of baby mountains and they are fairly big into hiking.  Sometimes it can be more stairs than trail, but it’s still beautiful and a great way to spend the time. There are also a lot of groups that do hiking trips, kayaking, ultimate frisbee, language exchanges, etc through social media networks.  Awesome way to meet people who have similar interests as you. Also, you get to meet people from all over the world.  I love being in a group and being able to listen to all the different accents or languages. And, of course, there’s always food.  Now some food you will miss with a fierce sort of ache.  Normal tacos or a killer homemade sandwich would be glorious at the moment, but there’s so much food to be had here.  They have restaurants everywhere and a wide range of types of food.  My first time trying Vietnamese, South African, or Nepalese food were all here.  And they were all delicious.  They have cheap street food you can get for a dollar or Korean barbecue for maybe 7. Again, the public transport is simple and cheap so it makes it possible to travel around and see new areas.

Missy Hiking

7. ​What advice do you have for other EIU students that are considering teaching abroad?
Do it!  Seriously, just go for it.  You learn so much about yourself and about others.  It’s a great chance to earn money, travel around, make friends with people you may never meet otherwise, and, if you are an actual teacher, you get the added bonus of experience.  Even those, like myself, who have no future plans of being a teacher, the experience here has still taught me a lot of skills that will be beneficial to any future jobs.  The Internet makes it so easy to keep in touch with those that matter back home.  Also, if they matter, they will still be there a year or more from now.  It’s a great way to get into the travelling mindset.  I’m already making plans for a year in New Zealand, a month in Europe, a summer in Alaska, moving west coast in the States, looking into programs in South America… and so forth.

We’re Off to San Diego!

From Sunday, May 25th through Friday, May 30th, EIU Study Abroad staff will be in attendance at the 2014 NAFSA Annual Conference and Expo!

NAFSA San Diego

Check us out at the Technology Fair on Friday, May 30th from 9 to 10:30 am where Marissa and Molly will be talking about how to create and manage engaging content that encourages international exploration while providing valuable information and educational resources. New to social media? No problem! We will set you on the path to “#connectingtheworld… One Hashtag at a Time” no matter what your technological experience!

Follow us on @EIUStudyAbroad to keep up with us at NAFSA and all things study abroad! If you are also attending and would like to meet up, give us a shout out and we can plan to chat!

Holi is Over… Now What?

Holi

Are you still craving more color? Here are 5 ways to feed your Holi withdrawals:

1. Find a Holi celebration at another University
Keep an eye out for events at other Universities near you. They may be having their own Holi celebration as well!

2. Check out festivals around the US
“Festival of Colors” is celebrated around the US. Check out their upcoming schedule here!

3. Do a color run
Color runs are usually 5K fun runs that take place all over the country. There are many different companies that organize color runs, so it shouldn’t be hard to find one in your area! The Color Run, Run or DyeThe Color Vibe, and Color Me Rad, are a few you could look into.

4. Brush up on your Holi history
Learn more about the legends behind Holi: The Festival of Colors so you are more knowledgeable about what you are celebrating during next year’s festival!

5. Watch the highlights from Holi 2014

Take a look at the photos from Holi 2014 here.

 

We hope to see you all again next year, and don’t worry- we will have lots more color!

It’s Back: EIU Holi 2014!

Huh? What is Holi?

  • Traditional spring festival celebrated by Hindus, commonly known as the “Festival of Colors.”
  • Celebrated all over India and Nepal since ancient times, Holi welcomes the coming of spring.
  • In most of India, Holi is celebrated the day after the full moon in March each year.
  • Large bonfires are lit to ward off evil spirits on the eve of Holi.
  • The day of, people flock to the streets, armed with Gulal (colored powder). People of all ages and professions can be found splashing water and Gulal on friends, family, and passers-by.

Wanna go to Holi?

  • Holi will be celebrated on Friday, April 25th, from 12 – 2 pm on the Library Quad.
  • Free Gulal and plenty of water will be made available.
  • Music and a photo booth will be on site.
  • There will be free giveaways of sunglasses and sport towels, and we will be hosting a raffle.
  • Those participating are encouraged to wear a white t-shirt or other light-colored old clothing.
  • This event is FREE and everyone is encouraged to join in!

Can’t Get Enough?
Check out some of the highlights from last year’s Holi event at EIU.

Be on the lookout for more info to come! Follow along at #eiuholi

Demystifying Hostels: 4 Reasons to Ignore the Horror Stories

Forget the stories you’ve heard about horrifying hostel experiences. Hostels are not at all terrifying places that should be avoided. Many can actually be rather enjoyable, and can even save you loads of cash.

Save money
Those are great words to hear, especially when it comes to travel. You have already been paying airfare, fees, and countless other expenses to see the world, so saving a little money here and there can be a big help. Some hostels can be as little as $5 per night. Hostels are a great alternative to staying in a pricey hotel or apartment, and they can have a whole lot of other benefits as well!

Meet lifelong friends from around the world
One of the best parts of staying in a hostel is the people you will meet. Living in close quarters with a bunch of people that you do not know can make you feel uncomfortable, but you will quickly become close friends with many of them and will have the opportunity to hear many unique and interesting stories about other people’s travels. You may even meet people that have great travel tips for you that can be a big help during your trip. Stepping out of your comfort zone to meet other people from around the world will result in an experience that you will not regret.

The Hostel in Edinburgh, Scotland

The Hostel in Edinburgh, Scotland

Weekend trips on a budget
Hostels are a perfect choice for weekend excursions while studying abroad. Taking weekend trips to neighboring countries or cities is common while abroad, and a great opportunity for seeing the world on a budget. You can find affordable hostels to stay in for the weekend that can save you heaps of money on your weekend adventure.

Livingstone Backpackers in Livingstone, Zambia

Livingstone Backpackers in Livingstone, Zambia

Spur of the Moment Experience
Staying in a hostel you are likely to meet other people and find that they are doing something more exciting than what you had planned or something new you had not heard about before. This gives you the option to be spontaneous and tag along with your new friends on an adventure and get the most out of your travels.

Have a hostel experience to share? Tell us in the comments!

Responsible Travel: Volunteer Around The World

Think its too late for you to travel the world? Think again! Although your time as a student may be coming to and end and it may be too late to study abroad and gain course credit, volunteering abroad will always be an option! Or maybe you’ve studied abroad already and are looking for another opportunity to travel the world. Volunteering is a great choice! Instead of saving up for that family vacation or a spring break on the beach with your friends, why not give back and participate on a volunteer trip instead?

There are all kinds of volunteer programs that you can find to fit your interests and needs. Some of the most common types of programs are teaching abroad, wildlife conservation, marine conservation, or internships abroad. I recently returned from my own volunteer experience in Livingstone, Zambia on a teaching program and had an amazing time.

Livingstone Zambia

Volunteering opens up the opportunity for you to travel while also giving back to a community in need. Connecting with the locals, being immersed in their culture, and living a different lifestyle in a different part of the world is an experience beyond what words can describe.

Volunteer Abroad

Outside of the local culture, you can be exposed to a variety of other cultures and people from around the world. On my volunteer trip I stayed in a house with other volunteers that came from all different countries, and we all became good friends that still keep in touch even though we are hundreds of miles away from each other.

Finally, with my program we had the weekends off from volunteering so we had time to take part in various activities and weekend trips. There are so many opportunities that volunteering abroad has to offer, and it is a great way to travel responsibly no matter what age you are.