Demystifying Hostels: 4 Reasons to Ignore the Horror Stories

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

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

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

The Hostel in Edinburgh, Scotland

The Hostel in Edinburgh, Scotland

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

Livingstone Backpackers in Livingstone, Zambia

Livingstone Backpackers in Livingstone, Zambia

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

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

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Responsible Travel: Volunteer Around The World

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

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

Livingstone Zambia

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

Volunteer Abroad

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

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

It’s Your Chance to Have the Summer of a Lifetime!

Our deadline for summer faculty-led programs is January 31st! Don’t miss the opportunity to have a summer you will never forget. There are so many options to choose from, and we can help you find the program that fits best for you!

Always dreamed of traveling to Italy? We have two programs there this summer! Want to improve your Spanish? Head to Argentina! Maybe a tropical destination is more your style- apply to go to the Bahamas! There are also a variety of other subjects such as business, biology, music, english, and more! Click on the photos below for additional program information.

Stop by our office in 1207 Blair Hall with any questions you may have, and get started on your applications today! An amazing summer awaits!

Mediterranean Cuisine: Florence, Italy

Mediterranean Cuisine: Florence, Italy

The Good Life: Italy

The Good Life: Italy

Summer in Salzburg: Austria

Summer in Salzburg: Austria

Summer in Argentina: Cordoba, Argentina

Summer in Argentina: Cordoba, Argentina

Health and Wellness for Life: Novi Sad, Serbia

Health and Wellness for Life: Novi Sad, Serbia

Science and Schooling: Andros Island, Bahamas

Science and Schooling: Andros Island, Bahamas

Summer Archeology: Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

Summer Archeology: Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

Incredible India: Creating Global Educators - Hyberabad, India

Incredible India: Creating Global Educators – Hyberabad, India

Intercultural Communication and Co-Cultural Experiences: Ireland

Intercultural Communication and Co-Cultural Experiences: Ireland

Nation Building in the New South Africa: Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Kruger National Park, South Africa

Nation Building in the New South Africa: Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Kruger National Park, South Africa

Sustainability, Energy, and Development: Barcelona, Spain

Sustainability, Energy, and Development: Barcelona, Spain

Business Study Abroad: European Union - Croatia and Spain

Business Study Abroad: European Union – Croatia and Spain

Plant Usage and Culture in China: Beijing, Xi'an, and Sichuan Province, China

Plant Usage and Culture in China: Beijing, Xi’an, and Sichuan Province, China

The Sport Industry in the United Kingdom: Winchester England (with field trips to London)

The Sport Industry in the United Kingdom: Winchester England (with field trips to London)

English Literary Landscapes: Grantham, England

English Literary Landscapes: Grantham, England

Photo Contest Awards Ceremony

International Education Week

Via Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

The votes are in! Although the photo contest has ended, there will still be an awards ceremony to honor the winners and celebrate International Education Week (November 11-15, 2013)! Everyone is invited to attend, whether or not you have studied abroad. Not only will you have the chance to see beautiful works of art, but you will have the opportunity to experience the world through the lens and eye of students who have been able to see these amazing sights firsthand. The top 15 photos will be on display at the event, and the captivating images of our winners will be worthwhile to stop in and see. Office of Study Abroad staff will also be available to talk about upcoming Summer 2014 faculty-led programs for all who are interested. Admission is FREE and refreshments will be provided!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013
6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Tarble Arts Center Atrium

The photos will be on display at Tarble Arts Center for the week of November 11-15, and then will be moved to a display at Booth Library through the end of the semester.

For more information, check out our website, or contact us at goabroad@eiu.edu with any questions you may have.

Opening Up To Other Cultures

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou

Studying abroad can seem overwhelming at times, especially if you have not traveled before. Going abroad with the right mindset can make a major difference in your experience and can help you to truly enjoy other cultures and make your trip the best that it can be.

One of the most important things to remember when traveling someplace new or unfamiliar is to keep an open mind and embrace other people and their cultures. This is applicable whether you are overseas or right in your hometown. You may be surprised to find that you have more in common than you think with people who seem so different than you.

Be careful not to judge others for the differences that you do find. Instead of thinking that what they eat, wear, do, etc. is strange or weird, ask why it is they do what they do.  Many times, when meeting people from other countries or cultures you will discover an interesting story or custom that is tied to that person’s background. This may all sound easier than it actually is. As human beings, it is our natural instinct to judge others who are different from ourselves. But over time, you will find that you can change your behavior to be much more accepting of those with different backgrounds. Especially when going abroad, view differences with others as an opportunity to engage with them and find out more about their culture and customs they participate in. You will gain more by doing so than you ever could from reading about it in a textbook.

So the next time you cross paths with someone unlike yourself, take the opportunity to start up a conversation with them. We would love to hear about how it turns out! Already have a great story about connecting with other cultures? Feel free to share it with us!

Study Abroad Photo Contest!

Paris

Photo courtesy of Betsy: Paris, France

As you all may have heard, the Office of Study Abroad is hosting a photo contest for all EIU students abroad as well as study abroad returnees! Submit your best photos for the following categories:

  • Landscapes
  • People
  • Food
  • Architecture/Monuments
  • Funny

You have until Friday, October 25, 2013 to submit!

We will select the top 3 photos in each category, then post each category’s top 3 to our Facebook page during the week of October 28 – November 1. Each category will be posted on a different day, and the photo with the most likes that day will be the overall winner of the category. There will be a judging panel to determine the top 3 overall winners of the competition.

REQUIREMENTS:

  • Each student can submit a maximum of 2 photos per categoy
  • Photos must be high resolution
  • Filters (black & white, sepia, etc.) will be accepted, but any other edits/photoshopping must be disclosed with the entry and we may request an original copy
  • Include your name, email, major, year in school (if applicable), and the location of the photo
  • Submit photos by emailing us at goabroad@eiu.edu, on our Facebook page, or share them with us via Dropbox

AWARDS CEREMONY:

The winning photos will be mounted and displayed at the Tarble Arts Center Atrium during International Education Week (November 11-15, 2013). There will be an awards ceremony open to the public on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 from 6 to 7:30 pm. Refreshments will be served.

*Prizes are TBD! Check out our website for the most up-to-date details.