The Five Week Countdown!

The Five Week Countdown by Brittany Griffin

Hello Everyone!
It is so hard to believe that this experience is coming close to an end! I have five more weeks out of the nineteen that I am supposed to be here, which means that everything is going to go crazy fast. I am so grateful for this whole experience because if I stayed in the US, I wouldn’t have been able to grow as much as I have. In my opinion, the best way to grow in anything is to do things that are outside of your comfort zone. This trip has definitely revealed some things about myself that I might not have known, and I have been able to learn and improve from these inner conflicts.As far as teaching goes, I feel that I am getting to a point where I am comfortable with the idea of having my own classroom. I didn’t think that I would get to this point for a while, but I am so excited! Also, I have gotten the chance to develop more relationships with the kids, and they are really starting to grow on me. There are still many times during each class when I will say a certain word and they will have no idea what I am saying, or they will say a word in Spanish if they don’t know the word in English and I will look at them the same way. But, these kids have really given me a wonderful example of how to teach an international student. Since all of the students are speaking in their second language, I have to constantly think about their vocabulary limits.

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In addition, I am constantly reminded that each student has a story. Since almost all of the students at my school live a “Beverly Hills “lifestyle”, it would be easy to assume that they all have perfect lives, but that is far from the truth. There are so many students that are still hurting no matter how much stuff they have. I may not be able to fix their family issues, but I can encourage them. I may not be able to fix how they are treated at home, but I can give them a hug, which may be the only hug they get from anyone that day. I have definitely gotten a different point of view concerning the relationship between life issues and wealth. Even if you work at a rich private school, every kid who walks through those hallways have problems just like any other kid in the world.

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I have also been able to take a few trips since my last post. My first trip was to Arenal, which is a huge tourist spot to see an active volcano. During the trip, I did not do any exciting excursions up the volcano, but I did go to a resort that had twenty five pools of different temperatures. So, basically there were twenty hot tubs with about five cold pools. It was a great way to unwind from a full week of teaching by myself! Then, the next weekend I went to another active volcano, Poaz, which was amazing! For this volcano, you are able to walk all the way to the top and see the crater. I went with a group of wonderful girls and had a blast! When we all walked up to the crater, we couldn’t see anything because of the fog, but after the rain started, we could see everything. Unfortunately, being at the top was a lot colder than expected, especially with the added rain. Let me just say, that I am definitely concerned about going back to the States at the beginning of December because I have become a wimp towards the cold. Thankfully, we were all able to scurry down to the entrance and warm-up with some hot coffee. : D . We also got chances during the bus ride to stop and take pictures of the landscapes. So beautiful! Here are some of the pictures that were taken during the trips.

     “Who knows what will come up in these last five weeks, but I will keep you posted! Happy Halloween everyone”

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Join our staff member Megan Melbourne as she “Takes a Look Back on her Trip to England”

A Look Back on England: Megan Melbourne

Looking back upon my study abroad experience there are very few things I’d ever want to change about it. But, I’m sure there are several things I could have done to prepare better. So here’s some advice for future travelers based on the lessons I learned.First of all, I am a notoriously bad packer—ask any of my family! I over pack and somehow always pack too much of the things that I really don’t need and forget at least on vital item. When packing for England I had the notion that I needed only to pack nicer clothes rather than comfy, casual ones. I figured I’d want to blend in with the locals since they are notorious for dressing well, have amazing style, and reject the t-shirt and sweats stereotype of an American. I also naively believed that I wouldn’t really have much use for a bunch of t-shirts and other casual lay around clothes. Well, I was wrong. So, so wrong. T-shirts are glorious things: they are easy to pack, don’t take up much room, and let’s be honest what you want to wear when out doing outdoor activities, sleeping in airports, and laying around a manor in between classes. Granted, I loved myself for all the sweaters and cute British clothes I had to buy to make up for my lack of t-shirts. So, moral of the story, my number one advice for outbound students is to be sensible when packing. Think more about what you are most comfortable in rather than what you think you want to be wearing.

“Being abroad taught me to accept the change and the new, it taught me to jump at new challenges and experiences, and to never take any of it for granted”.

My other piece of advice though is to expect for the unexpected, especially, when it comes to your budget. I had spent an abundance of time by myself and with my parents making a budget for my trop and going through several different possibilities of weekend trips, flights, and accommodations. I believed that I was going into my semester abroad experience fully prepared and with plenty of money to do everything I wanted to. But, I quickly found out that my plan wasn’t so perfect. There are so many things that I hadn’t expected to have in my budget that made quite an impact. Such as laundry cost (it adds up), exchange rates changing, getting sick and needing a doctor or medicine, and most importantly food costs. There are so many possibilities of where your adventures can take you which means every more possibilities to spend money. Be sensible and plan for the unexpected so you aren’t making that phone call home half way through the semester asking for more money.  And lastly, embrace being able to be on your own.

“Studying Abroad is a chance to grow”.

I found that when I was by myself I could take it all in better and really had the opportunity to take it all in better and really had the chance to appreciate the small things at my own pace.  By the end of term trip to Italy I had pretty much given up on making an itinerary or planning anything with others in the group. Yes, I wanted to spend time with everyone and there were some activities that you just had to do with other people like going on a gondola ride. But, I was most looking forward to just wandering around Italy by myself and exploring. I had learned the joy of getting lost somewhere new and how peaceful it was to wander around on my own. We all spend too much time flying through our days and just checking things off our to-do lists without actually taking in what we are doing and seeing. This is without a doubt an American problem. And, if there were anything I should take away from my time abroad, it would be to not continue to live life that way. And, no one else should either.I myself have learned lessons on lessons and could come up with more advice than just these few tidbits. But, I think that learning all these lessons was my favorite part of my experience. If you go into something having every last bit of it planned out and never veering from the plan than there’s no chance of ever learning anything. And, without learning, there’s no chance for growth.

-Megan Melbourne

Welcome to Brazil Day’s World!

                                                      Welcome to Brazil Day’s World!                                                                                   brazilian-flagAugust 25th, great, school is in session!  I rush to get dressed, eat my favorite breakfast, and turn on some nice soothing music to ease my first day school gitters! Today I am feeling fantastic and excited to meet all my graduate peers! As I walked into class, my professor says, Attention! Attention, class is in session! “Good afternoon students, today is the day we play our icebreaker game”. “Lets go around the room and share our names, majors and background history”. As I think to myself,I smirked a little bit because I knew that this game would always be interesting if I was in the room. “Hello my name is…..Brazil Day and I am a……”. A student sitting on the far corner and yells out, “What, your name is Brazil”? I pause for a second, because I knew this question will come up during this game. “I am attending graduate school for political science, have two loving parents, a sister name India and Asia, and a brother name Houston”. Apparently this got everyone’s attention because the whole class start saying “ooo” “ahhh”. This was pretty funny to me because as normal as Brazil Day sounds to me, I always forget that when I just meet people this is their first reaction! 

One of the greatest things about having a name like Brazil Day, is having great parents who have traveled the world. Let me set the record straight, my name was going to be Iceland until my mother decided I had a little more flare and spunk then that! Since my parents been together they have traveled to some of the most breathtaking places in the world like India, Africa, Costa Rica, Brazil, China, and Belize. As a young girl, I always emerged myself into different cultures, cuisines and traveled to several places. I attended a Fine Arts School that also allowed me to appreciate the arts, history, dance, and music. This experience was unforgettable, and helped me grow as a individual.One of the greatest memories I had was traveling to the Bahamas with my family. I walked along the beautiful streets, visited local shops, and danced  with the locals. My experience in the Bahamas was surrounded by love, rich culture, and beautiful surroundings.

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303642_1978181815038_377772383_nAnother tradition my family does is buying something very special from every country and placing it around our house or our beach house. This tradition is wonderful because it allows my siblings and I to learn more about the countries my parents have visited!I believe that my parents passed along their “traveling dna” to me because I have also visited beautiful like Putero Rico, India, Brazil and of course the Bahamas. Although I was very young I have realized how grateful I am for all of the opportunities I have had traveling abroad.  I strongly suggest traveling abroad because life is so special and learning about other cultues is a very humbling experience. The moments I remember walking along the beach, with the warm sand on my feet, taking in the experience and appreciating this earth, was a moment I will never forget.

          

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No matter what culture, ethnicity, race or gender, We are all beautiful in our own way! Traveling abroad is a once in a life time experience and I encourage everyone to see the world! 

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!