Alicia, Student Blogger: Choosing my Program

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Cuenca, Ecuador via

While I am majoring in Special Education, I am minoring in Spanish at Eastern Illinois University.  This minor requires the preceding 2000-level classes, plus 12 credit hours of upper-division (3000-4000) classes.  I came in with 4 years of high school Spanish, then took the last 2000-level class, FLS2292 in the fall. The 9 means that it was honors, so I felt prepared for my first 3000-level class in the Spring.  I took FLS3050, Spanish Conversation this past spring, for 4 credit hours.  This left me with 8 to go, and after some number-crunching, I realized that I would not be able to graduate in 4 years with my major and my minor unless I took at least 8 credit hours outside of the normal fall and spring terms.

Background information to the background information: I am at EIU on two scholarships.  One is the Special Education Teacher Tuition waiver from the State of Illinois, the other is a Presidential Scholarship from the Pine Honors College at EIU.  The two scholarships combine to equal a “full-ride” but both are only good for four years, hence the desire to graduate in four years.  The other piece of this puzzle is that Presidential Scholars at EIU are required to complete a “University Experience.”  This is basically an experience outside of EIU (a neat job, an internship, or, commonly, a study abroad trip) that is going to make you a better student/person.  Lastly, Special Education is a mostly American concept, and education classes taken abroad for this major do not transfer.  So it was either gen eds, or Spanish classes, and by the end of this Spring semester, I’d just about finished my gen eds.  Besides, most gen eds must be taken as Honors in order to meet the 25 credit hours requirement, as most advanced classes are not offered as honors, and Special Ed does not offer departmental honors (go figure).

Back to why this blog exists… When I started looking into ways to graduate in 4 years, a study abroad trip met all of my needs.
I didn’t want to take more Spanish classes at a university. CHECK.
I needed at least 8 credits.  CHECK.
I wanted to complete my University Experience early in my college career.  CHECK.
I wanted to get out of Illinois (I love my home, but we all need a break sometimes).  CHECK

So, after several meetings with the Office of Study Abroad and my wonderful advisor, Evan (MAJOR SHOUTOUT), we decided that the Yanapuma School of Spanish in Quito (or Cuenca), Ecuador, made the most sense to finish my minor. So we worked out all the details that I’m not going to type, and I got set to go.  I registered with Yanapuma, did allllll of the required stuff for EIU (health verification, copies of documents, orientation, and the like), started buying the things I’d need (including plane tickets, yikes!!), and applied for scholarships.  As most people know, Illinois is in a state of financial crisis, and that crisis directly impacts my lovely home, EIU.  Regardless, I went ahead and applied for scholarships from the Department of Foreign Language, Office of Study Abroad, and the Pine Honors College.  After confusion, and more budget crisis nonsense, I was blessed enough to receive ALL THREE.  These three scholarships cover almost my entire trip, and I cannot say enough about my wonderful university and the opportunities that they give their students.  Not only did they help me arrange the whole thing, but many students, professors, and staff advised me throughout the entire process, AND the university is practically paying for my trip while asking for almost NOTHING in return.  #fortunate #foreverEIU  So here we are!

I’m staying in Quito, Ecuador, with a fantastic host family.  I’m here for 8 weeks, taking 3 hours of classes every weekday morning, and I’ll get 8 foreign language credits as a result.  There will (hopefully) be posts about my host family, and all of the things I had to do for the University Experience.  For now, I’m going to sit on my balcony, eat my lunch from the panadería, listen to my host family dote on their lovely dog, and look at this beautiful city in the mountains.

 

Kristen, Student Blogger: From the Middle of the Atlantic

5/16/2016~writing from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean
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Ciao everyone! I am Kristen Rohrer and I am starting my travels to Turin, Italy for the next 6 weeks today! I have started this blog to a) provide a source for other first-time study abroad-ers/out of America-ers traveling to Italy, b) anyone interested in studying abroad with EIU’s partner, University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC), c) update my friends and family, and d) there may or may not be a scholarship involved. So I will be posting at least twice a week for the next 6 weeks!
Let’s quickly recap what I learned not to start doing at 8PM the night before your flight:
-figure out the baggage size limit or the type of luggage you can have because you’re too lazy to navigate the website
-realize you might not have the right electric converter because you simply went on Amazon and searched for an American-to-Italian converter.
-accidentally not talk to your mom for 2 weeks and than need to catch her up in the middle of it all to make it a late night for the both of you
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In all honesty, there are plenty of sources online for how to pack for your destination country online. For Turin, it is known to rain a lot, they use public transportation more often than their personal cars, have weather of 70s-80s at this time, have cobblestone streets that make uncomfortable shoes undesirable and it is “more Italian” as it isn’t as touristy as Florence, Milan and Rome. It is located a quick (less than 4 hours) away from at least Milan, the coast, and France. Most everyone on my trip got connected through email and then Facebook and a messaging app called GroupMe about a couple months ago. Most all of us hope to be visiting other cities on our weekends. The classes and group flight was organized by the University of Torino and we were told we have 57 students participating this semester, from 25 different colleges and 23 different states.
Alright, so I am writing this post on my flight from Chicago to Frankfurt, Germany. It’s just over an 8 hour flight, but things are going pretty smoothly so far. My parents and sister were so kind to so spend their day driving me to O’hare for my 4 o’clock flight. Once I checked in and attempted to convince my worried mom that everything was going to be okay, I headed through TSA. Rumors had it that yesterday it took 3 hours to get through security but luckily, it only took about 20 minutes. 10 minutes was time of which it took for me to get my passport, state ID, computer, iPad and phone out of my too perfectly packed carry-on and personal bag. Once everything got packed again, I headed for my gate where I followed a girl in that I recognized from the GroupMe. We found the other 3 girls on the group flight with us and got to hang out for a couple of hours to get to know each other before getting on the plane.
Currently, on the plane, I am sitting next to 2 brothers who are a junior at NIU and a freshman at a college in Elgin. They have been super cool and fun to hang out with so I lucked out! They are touring Saudi Arabia briefly and then visiting family in Ethiopia with their parents. Maybe this is normal, but we passed right over the Statue of Liberty on our way out of the country. Too bad it was covered by clouds… But the flight info map on the wall showed us where we were at in time so my x-ray vision could pretend to see it. I will be getting to Germany at 7:15 AM where we will meet up with more USAC students and fly out to Turin at 12:05 PM. It is so crazy that I’m headed to a different country. Woohoo!!! Can’t wait to get there.
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On Being the Ultimate Chronicler: Making Memories Last

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Studying abroad is all about exploring: exploring yourself as an individual and a young professional; exploring new places; exploring cultures and the world around you… exploring yourself within the culturally diverse world around you!  Each day abroad will bring about a multitude of memories that will forever be a part of you. However, memories fade, and as much as we’d like to be able to bottle them up in a jar and keep them precise and perfectly in-tact forever, we can’t, which is why the value of some sort of documentation throughout your study abroad trip is exponentially heightened.  Check out our list of various ways to be a top-notch chronicler on your study abroad adventure!

  • Journal.  Journaling not only allows you to document the happenings of your study abroad experience with a sense of personal intimacy, but it also gives you a space to vent, reflect, ponder, and track your developmental process throughout the journey.  It is a beautiful tool to getting thoughts and ideas off of your chest, even if you’re not quite ready to share them with the world.
  • …but maybe you are eager to share your thoughts from abroad with the world?  Start a blog!  Blogging is a handy e-version way to document your trip in both words and pictures and share it with your friends, family, and possibly even strangers who may be curious about your location, program, or studying abroad in general.  This also will prevent you from having to repeat your stories over and over again to your curious loved ones.  If they question you about what you’ve been up to, direct them to your blog!  Commonly used free and user-friendly blog hosting sites include Blogger, WordPress, and Weebly.
  • Vlog.  Video blogging or vlogging is the new version of blogging.  Grab your video camera and record yourself talking, exploring, and going about your day-to-day!  Vlogs can be easily shared for free through YouTube.  For inspiration, check out a vlog series from EIU’s very own Rachel R., who is currently studying abroad in Seoul, South Korea!
  • Intimidated by committing to a consistent, in-depth journal?  Keep a daily one-sentence journal that is manageable and allows for brief documentation of each day’s most memorable moment summarized in one simple phrase.  Even consider using an e-based version like a daily Instagram post.
  • Collect the little tangible memories from your adventures (ticket stubs, public transport cards, coins, pamphlets, maps, brochures, receipts, business cards, preserved flowers or leaves – anything your heart desires!) and compile them to create a DIY travel scrapbook, like this one here!
  • Instagram.  Whether you create a separate account for your travels or use your personal account, get creative and post photos on Instagram.  You know what they say, a picture’s worth a thousand words!

How else do you like to document your experiences?  Share them below!

Ciao for now,
EIU OSA

Recognize Us?

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SMILEY LITTLE MEERKATS | PHOTO CREDIT: ANNA TOWER, FCS IN SOUTH AFRICA, 2013

We got a face lift!

Welcome back to our new and improved EIU Study Ablog!  Start by checking out our about page as well as our past and present student blogs.  We hope this resource serves as a place to live vicariously through our students’ experiences as well as get tips and tricks to making the most of your study abroad adventure.

Now this is where you come in.  To maximize our potential, we are seeking dynamic, creative, insightful writers to post diverse, exciting content for our blog.  If you’re currently a) studying abroad b) reminiscing about your life-changing time abroad* or c) planning your upcoming study abroad trip, then we want to hear from you!  We’re looking for both one-time spotlight posts and program-long editors – the choice is yours!

Interested?  E-mail the OSA GA Rachel at ralindhart@eiu.edu for details.

Merry Meerkat Wednesday!  We’ll see you back here soon.

*study abroad alumni: need ambassador hours?  write a post to earn some time!

The Truths About Studying Abroad

“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.” Azar Nafisi

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Everyone will tell you how cool it is that you are studying abroad. How much fun you are going to have. How many cool sites you are going to see. But did anyone tell you how much you were going to change? Did they tell you that once you leave you will not be returning home the same person you once were? Did they tell you how differently you are going to see the world, your country, and your peers? If someone did tell me then I did not listen. I knew I would have the time of my life in London, but I never thought it would actually ‘change’ me. Now I have been wrong before, but never this wrong. I came back different. A good different. Coming back a changed person is one of the many truths about studying abroad.

 

 “Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life” Michael Palin

Another truth about studying abroad, you will get the travel bug. The travel bug is the best/worst illness you will ever get. Here is why it’s the worst (I am a firm believer in bad news then good news). Unless you become a flight attendant or some other really cool job that allows you to travel you cannot satisfy the urge to travel. You want to travel ALL THE TIME. I see no problem in traveling all the time, but my bank account sees something completely different. Now here is why it’s the best. You are curious and you know that there is so much more out there than the Midwest. It also makes you want to find adventures anywhere, even in the Midwest. You just want to go. Whether it be on a road trip to a new city that is six hours away, or a ten hour plane ride to a different country. As long as you are exploring the travel bug is not biting.

 

 “The fact is, with every friendship you make, and every bond of trust you establish, you are shaping the image of America projected to the rest of the world. That is so important, so when you study abroad, you’re actually helping to make America stronger” Michelle Obama

During your time abroad you will meet and connect with many new and different people. The friends you live with and meet abroad will be different than any friend you will ever have. You open up to them quicker, you grow so close to them nearly instantly, and you learn to trust them so fast. All of this happens so fast because when you are abroad everything is heighten. It is not a comfort zone, so you make them a comfort zone. The friends you meet abroad are the friends that you have no problem spending a twelve hour bus ride with to Amsterdam or going on a six day trip where you are together 24/7. You all have an incredibly special bond because they get it. They understand how it felt to see the sunrise over the Thames at 5am. They know what you mean when you say how small you felt on top of that mountain in Scotland. They tasted that delicious macaroon under the Eiffel Tower, and remember how rich it was. One of the truths about studying abroad is you will meet friends who will last a lifetime and who will always understand you.

 

“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves.” Pico Iyer

-Jordan Nelson

From the Office of Study Abroad, Thank you Jordan for your enlightening blog post

 

Meet your other new Peer Advisor

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Hello all! My name is Stevie Fanale and I am another one of your new Peer Advisors in the Office of Study Abroad.  I am a senior FCS student with a concentration in Apparel and Textile Design, a minor in Print and Textile Design Technologies, and a minor in Entrepreneurship… I know, it is a mouthful.

For as long as I can remember I have always loved to travel.  Growing up, I was fortunate enough my parents would take us on family trips to a new place about every summer.  My first vacation out of the country was when I was ten years old to Geneva, Switzerland; Garmisch, Germany; and Venice, Italy.  This is when my love for Europe and the European lifestyle began.  We went back to Germany and Italy after my sophomore year of high school and visited nine different Italian cities in a week and a half.  It was then that I knew I had to return to this beautiful country again one day.

From the moment I committed to Eastern Illinois University, I began familiarizing myself with the Office of Study Abroad website and programs that are offered here.  I then found the program for Florence University of the Arts.  After only visiting the fascinating city for one short day, I longed to go back there.  From the start of my freshman year, I was set on studying abroad in Florence for Fall of my junior year, until finally deciding to do the four week Independent summer study abroad session following my sophomore year of college.  I went into this experience not knowing a single sole on my trip.  As an introvert, this made my loved ones a little nervous, but I was too excited for the experience that lied ahead to back out now.

I arrived in Rome early morning on June 1st, 2014.  The only two EIU students going on my abroad trip were already waiting at the airport with a sign that read “Sta Certonda Fanale.” I now realize “Certonda” does not actually translate to anything, but it is the thought that counts! Instantly, us three strangers became best friends.  The first week of my program was traveling through the Lazio and Tuscany regions with 75 other abroad students and our two FUA professors, Umberto and Tiziana.  Throughout this week I made friends from Tennessee, Florida, China, and Panama.  It is such an eye opening experience to not only live the Italian lifestyle, but to do so alongside people who live much differently than me as well.
Once in Florence I took advantage of the slow paced lifestyle, and revolved my days around pizza, pasta, and gelato.  Spent my weekends with new friends exploring other Italian areas such as Cinque terre, Capri, Pompeii, and the Amalfi Coast.  The three weeks studying in Florence quickly passed.  It was harder than I ever imagined to say goodbye to a foreign city, which I had made my home, and strangers who had quickly become family.  The last weekend I had the most liberating experience of all, traveling on my own to two Italian cities.  I advise any student studying abroad to have at least one trip for individual travel, although I would emphasize to be sure you are traveling alone to a place you will feel safe.  Traveling alone motivated me to communicate with locals more, venture into uncommon stores and restaurants, and breathe in all that the Italian lifestyle has to offer.

I would like to introduce my favorite quote, by Brenna Smith, which I discovered while abroad: “Travel.  The best way to be lost… and found…at the same time.”  As cliche as it is, I truly did find myself while abroad.  I was forced to find my independence, confidence, and abilities to step out of my comfort zone and communicate with others.  Graduation is quickly approaching and I am applying to jobs all over, with confidence that my experience in a foreign country could assist me to navigating a whole new city on my own again.  I am specifically applying to jobs that list travel as a requirement to continue to fill my passion for travel into my future career.  I am even looking at a few possibilities over seas… one can dream, can’t she &#X1f60a

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Putting a Face to a Name: Introducing a New Peer Advisor

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Hi! I’m Clara Mattheessen  a new Peer Advisor in the Office of Study Abroad! I am currently a senior History major with a business minor expected to graduate in May. I’m a Disney lover, history nerd, a self-described walking infomercial, and Instagram lover. If I’m not in Coleman or this office chances are I’m playing in the pep band at a basketball game!

I was lucky enough to have found my passion of travelling and adventure during High School. I took a trip with about forty other people my age between my sophomore and junior years of high school to the United Kingdom and Ireland. It was an eye opening experience.

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Southampton and an infamous red phone booth!

Flash forward to my sophomore year of college I was ready to take on the world. I nervously walked into the study abroad office idea in mind, I was going to study in the United Kingdom. I came in with a university and program in mind, the University of Winchester. Less than six months later I was living the most exciting adventure of my life up until that point! From getting lost in Rome at 4 am to discovering Dublin with a group of wonderful friends, I was living the life (I mean minus the fact I lost my wallet and american cellphone don’t loose those it’s a bad time). The international student society at Winchester created an excellent community between my Irish friends my English friends, my French friends, and my American friends they all led me to have a great time and felt very welcome. Welcome enough I got to stay with one of them when I went solo travelling last summer.

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My friend, Cora and I on our last night in Rome!

This past summer I was really lucky to go on a second study abroad program! It was a faculty led programs led by Dr. Elder and Dr. Eydt-Bebe, we looked at the German Memory Culture of World War II in the present and directly after the war.  It was really exciting to see all of the World War II sites in Berlin and Munich (I mean if you’re a history nerd like me). It was interesting to compare the two different programs. A faculty led and a direct enroll. For me I loved the direct enroll because I was immersed in the culture and the people but I also loved my professors and peers that accompanied me on my faculty led because I know I can go see them when I want.

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My statue impersonating skills are on point.

After the three week program was over, I was lucky enough to be able to do some solo travel. Meeting up with friends I hadn’t seen in a year and even years. Solo travel is honestly one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done. You’re on your own doing what you want with no one to judge you what and how you’re doing it. My favorite type of travel is pair travel because you aren’t completely alone but you can definitely solo if you need to. It’s nice to have a friend to recap your days with and take pictures of you! (You can have only so many historical places selfies before you get sick of them)

My graduation date is fast approaching but I know one thing for sure, Study Abroad is my passion. It teaches and helps people to understand more than they could just staying in the same cornfield. I’m going to leave you with a favorite quote from Mark Twain:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime”

With that I hope to see you soon!

Surviving the Holidays Abroad

happy-holidays.jpgThat time of year is upon us once again. It’s time for the holidays! Good food, family and the joy of giving (ok,and receiving) are in store. The days drag on as we anxiously await the day that we can leave workor school knowing that we won’t return until the next year. We bask in the comfort of familiar sounds, smells, and colors. We’re all familiar with the reds and greens of the holidays, but for many students studying abroad this year the holidays may be characterized by another color: blue. No, I’m not talking about the actual color blue, I’m talking about the holiday blues that many exchange students experience during their journey abroad.

Being away from home is always hard, but during a time of year normally reserved specifically for family and friends, it can be even harder. Many exchange students find it difficult to fully enjoy the season knowing that they’re missing everything going on back home. But never fear! I’ve created a list of the top five things that you can do to beat that holiday blues.

1. Celebrate! 

Just because you’re not in your home country doesn’t mean that you can’t get into the holiday spirit! Talk to your family about the holidays in your country and how you celebrate. Most families will be more than willing to put the effort in to make you feel more at home. Even better, if there’s a holiday that you celebrate in your country that your family doesn’t, ask them to celebrate with you. Give them at least a two- to three week heads-up and let them know how to prepare. Welcoming your family into your culture is a great way to spread some holiday cheer.

2. Keep in touch, but not too much!

It’s a fact: the holidays are going to be the hardest time to be away from home. You will miss your family and friends, the food, even the mysterious stain on your Aunt’s rug will seem like something that you simply can’t survive the holidays without. You’ll want to talk to your family to catch up, so do it! Exchange students may feel like they have to ‘starve’ themselves of communication from home, but that’s not the case. Talking with family and friends is perfectly acceptable, as long as you do it with a certain amount of moderation. Schedule definite times to talk with everyone, but be aware of when enough is enough. Be polite to your host family, you’re in their country to experience how things are done there, not to reminisce about home with friends. So get your fix of family and friends and then rejoin your host family to enjoy the holidays together.

3. Stay busy!

It’s always good to have some free time, but spending the entire day lazing around will lead to nostalgia and self-pity. So find something to do. Start an art project, make plans with friends, take up a new instrument, or exercise. Having some things to do will keep you from sinking further into yourself and instead bring out your inner go-getter.

4. Talk about it.

You really want to tell someone how you feel, but you don’t want to be that person who always whines about everything. It’s ok! It’s totally healthy to want to express how you feel.  There’s a difference between constantly lamenting about your problems and having a rational conversation about why you miss home. Find a confidant — a classmate, a host sibling, another family member, anyone. Having someone to talk to during this difficult time will prove invaluable in those moments when you feel like you just can’t hold it in. Not to mention that confiding in someone shows them that you feel close enough to share your feelings and will lead to a stronger relationship.

5. Enjoy the Art of Giving.

Whether you celebrate the holidays being celebrated in your host country or not, it’s always good to buy (or make) at least a little something for each member of your host family. It doesn’t have to be a huge, expensive gift, just something thoughtful that shows that you take a genuine interest in their likes and dislikes. Gift giving will also show your family that you’re eager to take part in the holiday traditions and culture and that you consider yourself a part of the family.

Possibly the most important point is to breathe. Take a deep breath. Things will seem overwhelming at times; there’s no doubt that you’re going to feel a little homesick, but during those moments of panic when you’re not sure you can’t do it try to remember all the things that are going right. You’re having an amazing experience with an extremely generous and welcoming family. You get to learn a new language, a new culture and make new friends. Things are really pretty great. So shake off that loneliness and get into the holiday spirit, you’re never too far from home to hear the jingle bells and savor in an all-new season of celebration.

Source Credit: http://greenhearttravel.org/high-school-abroad/high-school-spain/five-tips-to-beat-the-holiday-blues-while-studying-abroad

International Education Week 2015

     International Education Week Final Product 2015

EIU will join the world in celebrating International Education Week from November 16-20, 2015. International Education Week is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. This joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education is part of our efforts to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the United States. – See more at: http://eca.state.gov/programs-initiatives/international-education-week/

Monday, November 16th 

  • Study Abroad Information Table, MLK Union, in front of the food court, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Global EIU:  Stories of Cross-Cultural Adventures and Adjustment, Charleston/Mattoon Room, 12 – 1:30 pm

A panel of EIU faculty members and students from around the world and the USA will share their experiences  adjusting to other cultures.  Snacks and drinks will be provided.

Thursday, November 19

  • Study Abroad Fair, University Ballroom, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • Explore the range of EIU-sponsored study abroad programs.  Study around the world with Eastern faculty members from a range of disciplines.  Options include spring break, summer, and fall semester.

Friday, November 20

  • Study Abroad Information Table, MLK Union, in front of the food court, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Ongoing, Monday-Friday, November 16-20

  • International Exhibition, Booth Library

Take some time to explore a variety of items representing the home countries and cultures of Eastern’s faculty.IEW events are sponsored by:  the Association of International Students, the International Education Council, the Office of International Students & Scholars, and the Office of Study Abroad

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Get ready to get Spooked! Top 6 Destinations to Celebrate Halloween Abroad

Top 6 Destinations to Celebrate Halloween Abroad

Haunted Mansion

Across the globe, people tell tales of ghosts and strange sightings; it is one thing that all cultures have in common. For those who want a little more mystery in a tour, here are some of the most haunted places in the world that travelers can visit. Who says dead men tell no tales?

Highgate Cemetery

London, UK

Highgate Cemetery

One of the most haunted places in London caused quite the scandal in the 1970’s. Highgate Cemetery got a lot of notice from the press when multiple sightings of a tall man in a top hat with glowing eyes dubbed the ghost the “Highgate Vampire.” Other ghost sightings and strange noises among the cemetery’s 53,000 grave sites have made this area a popular visit for those interested in the haunted and spiritual.

The graves themselves are interesting to see. One gravestone is in the shape of a grand piano. Another is representative of pop artist Patrick Caulfield.

The east cemetery has some of the more famous graves, such as German philosopher Karl Marx, Victorian novelist George Eliot, and author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams. Admission to the West cemetery is by guided tour only as it has some of the more interesting history. The best part is that having a ticket to the West cemetery will allow one entry to the East cemetery that is good for one month.

How to Get There – Take the Northern Line on the tube to the Archway stop and exit towards Highgate Hill. Then, take the bus (210, 143, 271) two stops to Waterlow Park. The gates are a five minute walk through Waterlow Park.

The Stanley Hotel

Colorado, USA

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado was the inspiration for Stephen King’s bestselling horror novel, The Shining. The book was later made into a film and is known as one of the greatest films and one of the scariest films of all time. The hotel has a wide history of being haunted, mostly by past staff and ghosts of children who used to stay there. The most prominent figure is of Ms. Elizabeth Wilson, the chief housekeeper in the early 1900’s. She takes special care to those staying in room 217; all the ghosts are apart of making visitors feel welcome by unpacking for them or tucking them in at night.

The Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel gives historical and ghost tours to both guests and visitors. Tours can be in the day or night and some are more focused on ghost hunting than others.

Staying at the Hotel – Among the many packages the hotel offers, those interested in the haunted aspect of the hotel should book the Ghost Adventure Package. The experience includes a room on the fourth floor, a K2 Meter, and a redrum mug per person. Upgrades to a haunted room are available at check-in.

Bran Castle

Romania

Bran Castle, Transylvania

What better way to celebrate everything spooky by visiting Count Dracula at his home? Bran Castle is thought to be linked to the Dracula legend. Dracula is derived from the Romanian words for devil and dragon. While there is no proof that Bram Stoker knew anything about the castle, it is still an interesting visit especially to those who love vampire lore. The interior of the castle, with its narrow corridors and secret chambers, could very easily house a vampire. The castle has only recently become open to visitors as a museum of Romanian royal history and culture.

How to Get There – From Bucharest, Romania’s capital city with an international airport, visitors must travel by bus, train, or car to Brasov. Brasov has many hotels with an easy distance by bus or car to Bran Castle. There is also some smaller lodging in Bran itself.

The Catacombs

Paris, France

The most haunted place in Paris is underground. The Catacombs, now an official museum in Paris, holds 6 million people, most of which are stacked on top of each other and lining the walls. The skeletons are placed rather artistically; there is a heart shaped arrangement made of skulls and tibias in one section.

The Catacombs have intrigued visitors since the late 18th century, including Napoleon III and Charles X, however it was very recently re-opened to the public after the vaults were strengthened.

Parisan Catacombs

Students get a discounted entrance ticket for only four euros and teachers are able to go for only six euros. There are many stairs to get in and around the catacombs, so the tour is not accessible for persons with limited mobility.

How to Get There – The metro has a stop right next to the entrance to the Catacombs at Denfert-Rochereau, which is on line 6. The nearest train station is the Gare Montparnasse which has access to line 6 of the metro.

Xunantunich

Belize

Xunantunich, Belize

One of the many trips for SyFy’s “The Ghost Hunters”, Xunantunich is the location of Mayan ruins near the Guatemalan border in Belize. Xunantunich means “Stone Woman” in the Maya language; the “Stone Woman” refers to the ghost of a woman dressed all in white with red eyes who haunts the sight. Sightings date back to the late 19th century and continue today.

Mayan ruins all throughout Latin America have a dotted history of hauntings or extraordinary occurrences. In some, shrunken heads have been found among other mummies and ancient relics.

Visitors must take a tour to explore the ruins as they are fragile and are still trying to be preserved. There are many Maya ruin tour companies that visit Xunantunich that offer transportation and a historical background of the site.

The Vaults and Mary King’s Close

Edinburgh, Scotland

All of Edinburgh’s underground has some history to it, but the most interesting are The Vaults and Mary King’s Close. Both of these sites have haunted tours all year round from different companies.

The Vaults are a series of chambers underneath the South Bridge in Edinburgh. For the first 30 years, the vaults were used for business and pubs as well as storage for illegal substances. It is rumored that the serial killers, Burke and Hare, kept bodies in the vaults for medical experiments. An excavation in the 1980’s found toys, medicine bottles, and plates in the vaults proving that people had once lived there. While the Vaults are now mostly used for ghost tours, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe uses them as a performance venue hosting over 60 shows a day.

Mary King’s Close, Edinburgh

In the 1600’s, Mary King’s Close was a bustling market area in Edinburgh. 400 years later it has found itself buried underneath the Royal Mile. Many myths and legends surround the close, including one that involves the Black Death; it is rumored that plague victims were quarantined in the close and left to die, then, the city built right on top of it to further stop any risk of plague.

What other destinations around the world would you recommend checking out this Halloween? Share your favorites with us in the comments below!

credit:goabroad.com