[Guest Post]: We Made It

EIU student Samantha DeYoung is currently studying at University of South Wales for the spring semester. Follow her experience with her blog here.

January 3rd, 2015

After a very long two days of traveling, I am finally here! Sitting in my room watching netflix, it is raining, something I will get used to very fast here in Wales. Yesterday was definitely the longest day of my life, literally I was awake and traveling from 3pm Thursday when I left Pittsburgh until 3pm Friday when I finally arrived at the University. With two time changes, two fights, a bus, and a train, we finally made it. Our rooms are nice and have private bathrooms attached to them, our flat consists of 6 rooms that remind me of American dorms, all connected by a hallway that leads to our kitchen.

Yesterday at the airport, I was constantly looking for all of those gypsies I had been constantly warned about, and of course I didn’t see any at all! The airport atmosphere was very safe. Customs gave us all a very hard time since our course of study is only until April, but our documents say it is until June. We were met at the airport by a lady that showed us how to catch a coach to Cardiff. After arriving in Cardiff, we walked from the bus stop to the train station. From what little I saw of Cardiff, I think it will be very fun to visit and wander around down there. Everywhere we go people can’t understand us and they use words we don’t understand either. After several jokes made at our expense, the people here are beyond friendly and helpful. I have never had so many people offer to carry my bags and offer to show us where to go. People here go out of their way to help you, something very foreign to Americans!

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(Cardiff Train Station)

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(Castle on our way to the Treforest stop)

After climbing a mountain to get to the accommodations office, we were shown our rooms and could finally relax. Kait and I went into the Treforest village to buy shampoo, conditioner, water, bread, and soap for our rooms. The village is very cute and we passed a lot of small shops and restaurants. After stopping to get Chinese “Take Away” we walked over the bridge that crosses the railway and hiked back up to our rooms.

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(Our pretty campus)

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(The view from our Flat)

Everything has been very exciting so far, tomorrow we plan to go back to Cardiff to visit and to explore. We choose our classes on Monday and hopefully can start planning for all of our trips after that!

xoxo

Happy Lunar New Year!

Today is the Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year!

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The name of the holiday is based on the Chinese calendar being lunisolar which means the months coordinate to the cycles of the moon but the length is periodically adjusted to keep it relatively in sync with the solar year, which the United States follows. Because the Chinese are not the only ones who celebrate this holiday, the name Chinese New Year is interchangeable with Lunar New Year.

New Year festivities are a tradition for celebrating great ancestors, family, religion, and a surplus of abundance. Lunar New Year is celebrated through lantern festivities, fireworks, dancing, music, food, and relaxation. It is also traditional for windows and doors to be decorated with red paper-cut outs with themes of “good fortune”, “happiness”, “wealth”, and “longevity.”

Check out this from the New Dragon Dance Performers as they dance in honor of the Lunar New Year!

Every year for the lunar calendar is marked by one of the 12 zodiacal animals: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. This year is the year of the sheep, but there has been some conflict over what the Chinese word yang translates into: ram, sheep, or goat. The ancient Chinese symbol meant goat; so, those in China more commonly use goat as this years animal. People in other Asian countries disagree. In Korea, the symbol more commonly means sheep. All three translations are technically correct. I guess it just depends of what animal you can find in your area.

Do you want to find out what animal coordinates with your birth year? Click Here

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What can you do in the country you have chosen to study abroad?

Explore the places you can go when you study abroad!

Hello Everyone!
It’s Mary, the professional writing intern here at the Study Abroad Office. It’s been about a month now that I have been working with the office. For those of you that are trying to get all of your paperwork done for summer programs, you know that it’s been a hectic month. Now that summer program deadlines are upon us, I know a lot of you will be looking at semester programs for Fall 2015 and Spring 2016.

When making a decision about where you want to study abroad, one of the main draws to a certain country is what you can do besides studying. I have found a website that should help you figure out where you want to study based on what you can do around your school. You can also use this website if you have made a decision about where you want to go but don’t know what you want to do or can do when you get there.

This website is not a comprehensive list of every place in a certain country, but it can give you an idea of what you can do once you are there. I would recommend doing more research than just this site for a more complete list of places to visit and things to do.

Roadtrippers.com lets you browse by:

-Accommodations accomadations

-Attractions and Culture culture

-Food and Drink food

-Outdoors and Recreation outdoor

-Points of Interest points

-Camping and RV camping

-Entertainment and Nightlife nightlife

-Tours and Experiences tours

-Services services

-Shopping shopping

-Sports sports

-Motoring motorign

When you first get to the site, you are in the US. Simply zoom out and click and drag the map to find the country you want to explore.

A lot of countries in Europe offer cheap flights to other European countries; so, make sure to explore other countries besides the one you will be studying in. If you are worried about price, many of the attractions that you find on this website offer a price range when you click on them. You will soon realize that many interesting places to visit are low cost. Use this site and others to make the most of your time spent studying abroad!

-Mary Reber

Eastern Illinois University Study Abroad Program Ranking #14 out of 50 among the best Study Abroad Programs in America!

     Eastern Illinois University Study Abroad Program Ranking #14 out of 50 among the best Study Abroad Programs in America!
We are proud to announce that Eastern Illinois University Study Abroad Program has officially been ranked #14 out of 50 best Study Abroad Programs in America! We’d also like to give a special thanks to our amazing staff members, students, faculty, parents and third-party organizations for all your hard work and dedication!
                           14.-Eastern-Illinois
“Experience the world through Eastern Illinois University’s vast number of study abroad programs. Along with partner programs and third party programs, the University offers various faculty-led programs for students looking for a personal experience alongside trusted and expert faculty. Students have the opportunity to spend a semester in South Africa working in human services. Visiting cultural and historical locations, listening to guest speakers, and touring scenic locations are also part of the curriculum. Exciting weekend activities in the area include shark diving, sky diving, and bungee jumping”.
Check out http://www.bestcollegereviews.org/best-study-abroad-programs/ for more information on the top Study Abroad Programs Worldwide.
photo credit: bestcollegereviews.org

Making Volunteering apart of your New Year’s Resolution

How to Make Volunteering Abroad a Resolution You’ll Keep

Girl in Thailand

The New Year. Time to make resolutions for what we didn’t accomplish in the past year, and hope to accomplish in the coming one. Naturally, we at Go Overseas hope your resolution has something to do with meaningful travel, be it studying, interning, or — my personal favorite! – volunteering abroad.

If volunteering abroad is something you truly want to do, no reason should stop you.

We know things happen. Unforeseen obstacles, obligations, and busy schedules all join forces to keep you from following through with your plans. I also know that planning for and participating in a meaningful trip abroad is time consuming and can be a financial burden. But there’s one thing you should remember: it’s worth sticking to it.

If your resolution for 2015 is to volunteer abroad, I’m here to help you stay with that resolution, get out there, and do it.

Understand There’s a Solution for Every Excuse

Planning for a volunteer abroad trip is not something that just magically happens. It requires forethought, budgeting, research and preparation. With all of these tasks, it’s easy to procrastinate and not follow through. This is how your volunteer trip keeps getting pushed to the next year.

Maybe you think you can’t afford it financially or to take time off of work for an extended amount of time. Maybe your class schedule doesn’t leave much time to devote to volunteering abroad. Maybe there are so many volunteer organizations out there that you don’t know which to choose and get overwhelmed. Maybe the idea of going to a foreign country is scary and intimidating. Maybe you think you’ll miss your friends and family too much (hey, FOMO abroad is real).

Through talking with tons of people about why they don’t make room for travel in their lives, I’ve heard every excuse. There’s always going to be a reason not to go, but if volunteering abroad is something you truly want to do, no reasons should stop you.

As always, we at Go Overseas have solutions for each excuse you might have — and, in fact, have been blogging about them throughout 2014 and waaaay beyond that!

  • Where do you start? Go Overseas’ find a program search engine is one good place to start. Indeed also lists some longer term volunteer abroad options.
  • You don’t have the time? Maybe you really do. From short term programs to career sabbaticals; spring and summer break volunteer programs to post grad positions that will help you jump start your career: there’s a wide variety of options for you. It’s just a matter of finding one that fits your schedule.
  • The dreaded culture shock. You know my favorite part of traveling? Getting to a country and thinking “hey, what was I so worried about?” In the end, these differences are what make it fun, and scary as it may seem, international travel isn’t as intimidating in actuality as it is in your head.
  • FOMO. Especially if you’re going to be gone for a short term volunteer project, everything will be there for you when you get back. If you’re going abroad for longer, then I won’t lie. Things will change, and that’s OK. You’re getting a great experience as a volunteer rather than doing the same ol’ same ol’ at home.
  • Money. We often associate travel and vacation with expensive. However, traveling, living, and volunteering abroad is not the same as a 2-week vacation in Cabo, and definitely doesn’t have the same price tag. Sure, you may have to pay to volunteer abroad, but plenty of programs offer stipends, affordable costs, and opportunities to fundraise or apply a scholarship.

There’s never going to be a perfect time to go abroad, so just do it now! You won’t regret it ten years from now.

Set Actual Goals

The very first step in achieving your travel objectives is to actually set them. It’s easy to say you want to volunteer abroad next year, but what are you going to do to make sure it actually happens? How are you going to find the money? When and where are you going to go? For how long? With whom? What do you want to do?

It’s easy to say you want to volunteer abroad next year, but what are you going to do to make sure it actually happens?

Setting goals gives you both a long term vision while providing a short term motivation. Use the following list as a roadmap to help you see your goal of volunteering abroad through:

  • First, figure out what you like to do: This is important to do in general, but when it comes to setting your volunteer goals, you are going to be much more motivated to follow through with something if you enjoy it. Think about what you enjoy doing in life, be it working with healthcare, education, the environment, or maybe even something more specific like soccer or the arts. Decide if you like social or community projects better than research or construction projects.
  • Then — more importantly — figure out what skills you can offer: One characteristic of responsible volunteering is to be able to transfer useful skills to your host community so that they can continue using them after you’re gone. Figure out what you’re qualified to do, in addition to what you like, so that your contribution is more of an equal exchange, rather than you just learning something from the project without giving back. (For more information about who helps whom while volunteering abroad, read our article on who’s helping whom with volunteering abroad?)
  • Clearly identify your goals within volunteering abroad: They should be achievable goals, ones that allow you to clearly define exactly why you want to volunteer abroad. Avoid vague resolutions like “I want to volunteer abroad.” Instead, say “I want to apply my knowledge of women’s rights to at risk groups in Asia” or “I want to practice my Spanish speaking skills while volunteering at a summer camp in Chile.” Spending time thinking about what you want to accomplish in your life will help you narrow down your search and choose a volunteer program that’s right for you.
  • Write them down: This seems like a silly thing to do, but physically writing down your goals after you identify them makes them more real and holds you accountable. You can even write them down and hang them in your room or on your mirror so they’re always on your mind.
  • Break each goal down into actions and prioritize them: Once you decide where you want to volunteer abroad or what you want to do (like, volunteering in India, for example) assign two hours each week to researching different organizations. You should also research relevant issues and what the volunteer industry is like in that country — it’s part of being a responsible and informed volunteer. Start your budget and talk to your boss about your plans. Decide when you’ll go and for how long, buy flights, schedule vaccination appointments, and figure out what to pack for your volunteer trip.
  • Keep track of your progress: If you realize that it’s already March and you haven’t contacted any volunteer organizations, you are not staying on top of your goals. Set dates and deadlines ahead of time and make sure you follow through. You can also write down your timeline and hang it somewhere visible so you can keep track.

Following these tips will help establish a strong foundation for following through with your goals. You’ll be one step closer to making volunteering abroad a reality, but you’re not done yet!

Get Ready to Go

Vivian in Nepal

Photo Credit: Vivian Bi

When I graduated college, I had never planned a volunteer trip before. I didn’t know where to start. Then, I began researching different organizations and figuring out what I wanted to do. This first step was slightly easier for me, since I already knew where I wanted to go. If your destination is unknown, your first steps will look a little different, but either way, your pre-departure steps (which we brushed on in the previous section) will look a little like this:

First, you’ll want to choose your organization and destination. As a volunteer, it is your responsibility to make sure that the organization you choose is trustworthy, actually benefitting the community, and will keep you safe. If there are ever any doubts about the integrity of the organization,contact them and ask questions. Make them convince you of their sustainability and commitment to helping the community.

After you find a great organization, you can then pick your program and country according to your skill set and interests. If you are one of those brave souls who are taking a career break or volunteering post retirement, there are some great organizations with programs more suited to adult participants. Picking your program can be a tough choice, but also one of the most exciting parts of the process.

Next, decide when you want to go so that your program can start preparing for your arrival and you can prepare for your departure. Hopefully, by this step, you’ve already been in contact with the organization and both of you have some idea of when you’re looking to volunteer and for how long. Also, if there are any applications you need to submit, do so now!

Once you know you’ve been accepted, you’ll want to set a budget and fundraise. Research your estimated program costs, flight costs, vaccination costs, and any extra travel expenses you might have, and figure out how much money you’ll need to save. Many organizations offer fundraising platforms, but you can also get creative on your own.

Host a party where instead of gifts, everyone brings donations to help fund your volunteer project or host organization. On top of this, look at ways you can cut back on costs in your daily life. Here are 30 Ways to Cut Your Monthly Expenses, including things like bulk cook your meals at home, don’t buy take away coffee every day, and shop at thrift stores.

Following these steps worked for me, but it wasn’t everything. You need to frame your mindset around making volunteering abroad a priority. Without that commitment, you won’t have the motivation to make your travel aspirations come true. At the end of this getting started research process, you’ll likely be surprised by all the things you didn’t know about volunteer abroad, and it will likely seem far less overwhelming.

Why 2015 Is Your Year to Volunteer Abroad!

Do you need further encouragement to go volunteer abroad this year? Here are a list of seven benefits that will make all your effort worth it.

  • Learning something new: Whether it be a skill, language, or certification, your experience abroad will undoubtedly teach you something that can be used in your daily life.
  • Expanding your horizons: Jumping headfirst into an unknown country and culture is absolutely going to give you unique insight, change your perspective of the world, and give you something to think about after you return home.
  • Reevaluating your priorities: By taking on the role of volunteer, you will be able to take the focus off yourself and on helping others. This will help you understand what’s truly important in your life.
  • Talking about your cool new experiences: The next time the conversation turns to international relations at a party or meeting, you’ll be able to contribute with your thoughts and what you did while volunteering abroad.
  • Putting things into perspective: If you feel your life going down a road you don’t particularly love, do something about it. Now. If traveling and volunteering is something you’ve always wanted to do, start making those plans today. If you feel stuck or confused about your path, taking time off to travel is an excellent way to do some soul searching.
  • Helping to improve your host community: By transferring your skills to those in a developing country you are making a much more long lasting contribution. Like the old proverb, you’re not giving fish away for free, you are teaching people how to fish, thus providing them with skills to continue improving their lives.
  • Impressing college admissions or employers: In today’s emerging global economy, having experience with living and working in different countries is incredibly important. Instead of just taking a vacation, you can volunteer and then leverage that experience to get a job or get accepted to college.

This year, instead of resolving to buy a gym membership that you only use for two months, or to read those books that have been collecting dust on your bookshelf, make a resolution to take action. If volunteering abroad has always been a dream of yours, now is the time to make it happen.

Article provided by gooverseas.com

Meet our Professional Writing Intern,Mary Reber!

Welcome Mary Reber! 

Hello! My name is Mary Reber. I’m a senior English major with a minor in professional writing here at EIU. I’m excited to start working with the Study Abroad office for the spring 2015 semester as a professional writing intern. From my first look in the Study Abroad office, I feel like I’m going to enjoy the people, the projects, and the experience.

Although I have not participated in a study abroad program, I have had the opportunity to travel to Ireland as a teenager, and I look forward to a future of travelling to all sorts of different countries and experiencing different cultures. I have always been interested in travelling and was sad when I realized studying abroad was not going to be in the cards for me. Since I am graduating at the end of the spring semester, I will miss the chance to study abroad with EIU, but I know that learning opportunities don’t stop with school. I am sure I will still be able to learn all sorts of things in my travels in the future. I hope to get some ideas on where I would most like to travel by working with the office.

flag_of_irelandWhen I traveled to Ireland, I instantly fell in love with the country. The passing of life in Ireland is slower than it is here; everyone seems more relaxed. Of course, I spent most of my time travelling between B&B’s out in the country so my opinion negates city life. If I had the opportunity to go to school in Ireland, I probably would. My cousin Maureen actually decided to transfer to a school in Ireland after studying abroad, so the love of the country seems to be genetic.           

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Hopefully while I complete my work for the Study Abroad office, I will have the time to read through the guest posts to learn about the different countries EIU sends its students to study. I feel like getting the insider prospective of the country is the most helpful when you are choosing where to travel or where to study abroad.I am excited to start my work for the office come January, and you may be hearing more from me then. Thanks for reading!

Darius in the United Kingdom

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Darius Lee Francis, a Chicagoan and student at Eastern Illinois University, makes the long 4,000 mile journey to Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom, with the assistance of Panrimo and EIU.  He interned in Summerhall (Summer 2014). Summerhall is an arts hub for various arts performances and a venue for various events such as weddings, banquets, and parties.  Summerhall has a pub/bar, cafe, and catering department within.  The excitement does not end with Summerhall.  Darius traveled all over the United Kingdom and Europe and experience different foods, cultures, people, and fashion. Here is one of Darius’s blogs entry during his stay in Summerhall. If you would like to learn more about his travels in the United Kingdom check out his blog

The Internship 

The first week of my internship was interesting…
I walk up to this place that looks like a piece of a castle…it has old charm and is quite interesting.
I enter the building and the old charm continues…I walk to the reception desk…
“Hi, my name is Darius Francis, I am and intern from Chicago working with the events and programming team here.”
“OH! Hi, you are the person everyone has been talking about here! We all got an email about you, saying how you would be joining us!”
Anna, the sweet girl from reception! She was so nice and things never changed. Always greeting with a smile and her British accent could never do any harm.
“Well, Da-rye-us, uh.. I mean, how is it that you say your name?” she said.
“DARE-EE-US.” I explained.
“Well Darius, let me call Rupert, the Artistic Director, he has been awaiting your arrival.”
Moments later a long, lanky man, wearing a black suit with big black hair walks from the left corridor.  He looked a little confused, very artistic to say the least.
“Daarius!” He said like a Newyorker
“Welcome to Summerhall! My name is Rupert, I am the Artistic Director here at Summerhall.  You have been in contact with my wife, Anu, she is your internship coordinator. Let me show you around!”
At this time I was a little nervous. However,  I was exited to be in this new place.  Rupert took me on a tour of this amazing building called Summerhall. He explained to me that Summerhall used to be the Vet School for the University of Edinburgh.
All the original architecture was the same from when the school move to its new location.  Each room in Summerhall was still in it original state and kept its original name.  The most amazing of all the rooms was the ” Dissection Room.” this room was where the vet students dissected and learned about the interior of animals.  There was a large lift in the space, now used for DJs and others event things, previously was the lift used to bring up large animals, like elephants, and giraffes.
What an amazing and unique place to work.
After my tour of all the venues in the large and beautiful Summerhall, I was thoroughly confused.
The Dissection Room, The Small Animal Clinic, The Autopsy Room, The Main Hall, and The Old Lab, just to name a small few.  The place is a maze…
Rupert took me back around and to through the courtyard and up to the management office and showed me my desk!
Let me back track.  During the time of the tour, every time we saw someone, which was every five seconds, I was introduced to someone new.
Rupert would say,
“Hi ______, I am taking our new intern on a tour of all of our venues. He is from…Chicago…”
“The new person would usually gasp and say oh, you are from the States! C H I C A G O…Ive never been.
Why are you here?
We have such terrible weather.”
Okay, now back to my desk.  It was definitely more than I expected. Wonderful view and large windows in the office! Just what I like!
 HI13

Fashion & Shopping

Now, the fashion in the United Kingdom varies.  At first, one wouldn’t be sure what the trends are in a certain area. However, if you look beyond the surface, you will find that there many fashion statments being made in the UK.

Firstly, Harris Tweed.
There are many shops all around Scotland that sell Harris Tweed, and Cashmere.  I personally think that tweed looks grand.

Many people you see walking down the street will be wearing a tweed bag or purse. Sometimes you may even see a wallet or blazer made of tweed.

One day shortly after I arrived in Scotland discovered on my way to work, near the bridges, The House of Cashmere. 

Beautiful place with an equally as beautiful staff to match.  Now if you know nothing else, you should know that I am incredibly indecisive when it comes down to purchasing… well, anything.

Each day after work while walking home, for about 3 weeks, I would make sure I walked by The House of Cashmere and “eye” almost stalk, this briefcase that I wanted from the window. The Briefcase was make of Harris Tweed and leather.

The bag was constantly on my mind.

Some days, during those 3 weeks, I would even go inside and check on the bag, just to make sure it was still in good condition and just to hold it.

It was a little obsessive, I know.

Each time I entered the shop, the helpful, but never pushy staff, would act as if I had not been stopping in each day gazing at the bag.

On the Thursday of the third week eyeing this item I decided that I would purchase the briefcase.

When I entered the store I went straight for the bag.  Just then, I saw some one eyeing it up.

Now of course this would happen to me,  the day I want to purchase the bag, someone else is looking to destroy my dreams.

Just then, the kind staff member came up behind me and said,

” Hiya! Is there anything I can help you with…? ”
She saw me staring at the bag.

“Oh yes! have you made a decision on if you were going to by the briefcase?” she said loudly reaching for the bag.

At that moment I was so over joyed that she had the bag in her hands, for me!

I purchased the bag, and I am still in great love with my Harris Tweed Briefcase.

___

The day decided to come to Scotland, I knew that I wanted to wear a kilt. It was something that I thought would help me understand the Scottish Culture.

Prior to my arrival in Scotland, it was my belief, and the belief of many other Americans, that everyone in Scotland would be wearing a kilt!

Contrary to this belief, kilts are only worn for special occasions.  Weddings, Parties, Special events, soccer games etc.

While discussing with a Scottish friend, Chris, the American belief about kilts, he told me he had one of his own.

Originally, I thought I would be able to purchase one of my own.  However, after seeing the cost, my mind quickly changed.

So, I asked Chris if I could wear his…he agreed.

The rest is history.

___

Recently, I had the pleasure of traveling to Glasgow, London, and Paris.

The shopping in Paris, as you can imagine, is something that I had never experienced before…obviously.

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!