Student studies abroad three semesters, makes lifetime of memories

“Student studies abroad three semesters, makes lifetime of memories”

by Matthew McClure via “The Lamron”

Coming to Geneseo, I knew I wanted to study abroad for at least a year. I knew I wanted to go beyond my past linguistic and travel experience in Europe. This semester, I am returning from three semesters of studying abroad in Vietnam, Canada and Haiti. Study abroad has been an incredibly formative part of my undergraduate career—and my future plans—in both expected and unexpected ways.

The Global Service Learning Program in Borgne, Haiti proved to be a turning point for me. Through this program, I applied my interests in foreign language, intercultural competence and international education to connecting communities in Borgne and Geneseo. My experience in spring 2013 not only focused my academic interests, study abroad plans and career goals, but also had a lasting impact beyond that one semester. My service learning project became the design and organization of a Haitian Creole language preparation component for the course.

Immediately after the Global Service Learning Program, I knew I wanted to learn Haitian Creole and return to Borgne to help develop our program and relationship with the community. I traveled to Boston to attend the Haitian Creole Language and Culture Summer Institute, working with leading Haitian Creole scholars and collecting resources and teaching methods in order to help improve our Haitian Creole crash-course at Geneseo. As a result, I was selected to the Clinton Global Initiative University in 2015 to help support the first public library in Borgne.

In the fall of my junior year, I spent my first semester abroad in Vietnam. I went into the semester expecting a wildly new experience; one where I would learn an exotic new language. What I got was a semester where I was not only independent, but also the only native English speaker in my class. After learning Vietnamese, I could communicate with the locals and also speak to the internationals that spoke English. I met an extraordinary variety of people, both in Ho Chi Minh City and on my travels in Southeast Asia.

Perhaps the most surprising group I met in Vietnam was the Saigon Swing Cats. I had fallen in love with swing dance my freshman year, but I did not expect to find a club in Vietnam. It was a fascinating mix of locals and expatriates—mostly young professionals—gathering together to dance a vintage American dance. This is where I saw the overlap between my international interests and my dance interests. . . .

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9 AMERICAN HABITS I LOST WHEN I MOVED TO GERMANY

“9 AMERICAN HABITS I LOST WHEN I MOVED TO GERMANY”

by Vanessa Van Doren

1. Idle chit chat

During my first days of work in Germany, I made sure to be super friendly to all of my coworkers. Whenever anyone passed me in the hallway, I would grin maniacally, wave, and yelp, “Hi! How’s your day going?” The responses ranged from bemused looks to a total lack of reply. Confused but not discouraged, I continued trying to work my charms on my new friends.

One morning, I passed Roger, the department’s statistician. I laser-beamed him with my eyes and yelled out my usual “How are you?!” He paused for a moment, staring at me bewilderedly and scratching his fluffy, mad-professor hairdo.

“Do you really want to know?” he asked, one eyebrow raised.

“Uh, yes,” I stammered, unsure of what to make of this.

Twenty minutes later, he was still going strong on a breathless diatribe about how the students’ inferior grasp of basic stats and unbearably messy datasets were contributing to his ever-increasing workload.

Eventually sensing my discomfort, Roger paused and gave me a blank look. “Well you asked,” he muttered, rolling his eyes before continuing down the hall to his office.

2. Thin skin

Germans don’t like small talk, and they don’t like bullshit. Idle comments and feel-good messages have no place here. German flirting is particularly brutal; “Your big nose looks good on your face” is about the best compliment you can expect to get in Germany.

3. Fear of nudity

Especially in the former East, Freikörperkultur, or free body culture, is an important part of German identity. Decades of oppression led to a particular appreciation for the experience of freedom and nudity without a direct relationship to sexuality.

This can sometimes be difficult for Americans to buy, particularly when your coworkers casually invite you to the office’s nude sauna or suggest a naked swim in a nearby lake. Adjusting to this culture without getting weird took some grit, finesse, and more than a few awkward encounters.

4. Expectation of safety above all

The pervasive fear of litigation that infuses most public activities in the United States is virtually nonexistent in Germany. Germans take a much more casual, reasonable approach to public safety. On a hike in Sächsische Schweiz, a beautiful, mountainous region of Saxony, I once commented on the lack of guardrails and warning signs surrounding the steepest cliffs. “Only an idiot would fail to realize that a steep cliff is dangerous,” my German co-worker stated matter-of-factly.

A few months later, after a particularly brutal snowstorm, I remember seeing an older gentleman faceplant on the ice while waiting for the tram. He stood up, casually wiped the trickle of blood from his forehead, and resumed his position on the platform without so much as grimacing.

I love this attitude.

Every year, a local artist would put on a crazy party called “Bimbotown” in one of the warehouses in the Spinnereistrasse neighborhood of Leipzig. The party was crawling with machines that this artist made — giant metallic worms slithering across the ceiling, bar stools that would eject their occupants at the push of a button from across the warehouse, couches that caved in and dumped you into a secret room, beds that could be driven around the party and through the walls. It was an incredible event that would have never been allowed to happen in the US because of all the safety violations — someone could hit their head, fall off a bed, get whacked in the eye. And it was one of the best parties I’ve ever been to. . . . .

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Why Every College Student Should Study Abroad

“Why Every College Student Should Study Abroad”

by Dana Covit via MyDomaine

Why Every College Student Should Study Abroad

I was an early adopter of the school of adventurous escapism. I read the Harry Potter series ravenously as a child more for the idea of landing somewhere new and exciting than for the magic that lured most of my peers. Later in life, I read Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and pledged, in the way teenagers do, to always lean forward into that “next crazy venture beneath the skies.” So, when I was rounding out my second year in college and the possibility of traveling abroad presented itself, I didn’t hesitate one bit. So off to Buenos Aires, Argentina, I went for six months. And oh man—it’s a good thing I did. Here’s why every single college student should study abroad if they can, from someone who is very thankful to have had the experience.

It’s an incredible chance to see the world.

Having grown up in New Jersey and vacationed at a summer camp not even a mile from my house, I was anxious see it—see it all. Thankfully, studying abroad is a unique opportunity to live somewhere new, no strings attached, and explore the region with minimal responsibilities interfering. Academic requirements vary depending on exchange programs, but many build in three-day weekends to allow for plenty of weekend travel. In my experience, traveling as a post-grad adult is often wedged between stressful periods of work and responsibility. Getting time off is a challenge. Scrounging up the funds and coordinating conflicting schedules isn’t easy. Travel has never been as painless as travel while I was abroad.

My advice for when you’re there? Do it all. Go on that daytime excursion. Drop the money on that plane or train ticket. Squeeze as much out of a whirlwind 24 hours as you can. Every opportunity you have to travel while you are abroad is special and worthwhile.

It’ll extract you from your college comfort zone.

And, well, this is a very good thing. It can be scary to leave the comfort of home—of friends, a city you know well, a routine you’re accustomed to. That’s natural! When I first arrived in Buenos Aires, I was overwhelmed by the pollution in my neighborhood, by the bus schedule, by the language that I thought I knew how to speak. But as far as personal development goes, being surrounded by people who are just like us—from similar backgrounds, with similar belief systems—is stunting. The goal of college is very much to remove us from our comfort zone. Think of studying abroad as doing so tenfold. It’s totally unnerving, but worth it in every way. . . . .

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STUDY ABROAD: HOW TO BALANCE CLASSES, TRAVELING, BUDGET AND SOCIAL LIFE

“STUDY ABROAD: HOW TO BALANCE CLASSES, TRAVELING, BUDGET AND SOCIAL LIFE”

by Globe Trottica 

Come on, That psychology paper and creative writing assignment can be done on Sunday night! Paris is calling our name; the crepes and the wine are going to be half gone when we get there,” said the Devil.

“Don’t listen to him,” said the Angel. “School is more important, Paris isn’t going anywhere. Succeed on these assignments and get plenty of rest. You can go to Paris when you’re older.”

Damn, the Devil and the Angel are at it again, playing with your mind while you’re studying abroad. Which one would you choose? How about neither?

Balancing your social life, traveling, budget, and classes can be quite difficult. I was always guilty of picking traveling over studying (at least I admitted it!), and it was sometimes difficult to make it to class. However, there is an almost perfect balance between the four. You just have to figure out what works best for you. That’s why I’m here to give some study abroad tips on balancing classes, traveling, social life, and budget.

Classes

This is where you can be your biggest enemy. Don’t take a ton of classes, and don’t take 2 classes so you’re struggling to graduate when you get back to your university.

Scheduling

You get to make your schedule before the semester begins. I chose all classes that were on Mondays and Thursdays, so I always had a 3 day weekend. Thankfully, all of these classes also fit into my major. In my opinion, this was a wonderful choice, and if you can, try and do it. Why? You have more time to travel on the weekends!

Although you won’t be traveling every single weekend, you will thank yourself for clearing up your schedule. You’ll also give yourself more free days to explore the city you live in, and have more free days to get a lot of your homework done.

Study Abroad Tips

Wake up earlier

One hour earlier. You’ll be surprised with how much you can get done when you have that extra hour. Who needs sleep when they’re studying abroad anyway? The day I left for Amsterdam, I woke up an hour earlier, finished an essay, and handed it in on my way to the airport. I had nothing to worry about the rest of the week.

Get smart about studying

Take pictures of your textbook pages, take notes, screen shot those articles, whatever you have to do. Bring that on the plane or bus with you. Think about it, you’re sitting in a seat for 2+ hours, doing nothing, while you could be studying! Start your essay when you have downtime before dinner at your hostel, or are relaxing before a night out.

Get creative here. I once wrote an entire essay on my phone during a flight, which I then emailed to myself when I had Wifi. The weight was lifted from my shoulders the entire week. . . . .

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10 Things You Should Know Before Studying Abroad

“10 Things You Should Know Before Studying Abroad”

by Lindsay Robbins via “Sr Trends”

Studying abroad is an exciting and rewarding experience, but it definitely requires a lot of research and background knowledge. When I left to go to Barcelona,  I thought that I was pretty well-prepared, but I quickly realized that I was not, at all. There is a lot more to it then just going to school and having fun on the weekends (or weeknights). Here are some things you should definitely know before you leave to go abroad.

10 things to know before studying abroad

1. Make sure your credits will transfer.

This is so important. I know, I know, you already know. But, my Freshman year I knew a senior who had to take 24 credits each semester because she had studied abroad the spring of her Junior year and none of the credits transferred. You don’t want that to be you. So check, and check, and check again. Once you get there, check again. Don’t wait until you’ve come back, and your school says that you’re missing 16 credits to realize that none of them transferred.

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2. Learn Military time.

This is a useful skill to have. Since pretty much every other country besides the United States goes by military time, it’s handy to know. I was pretty lucky since I have been using military time since I changed my Facebook language to English (UK), which changed all the times to military time, so I had become familiar with it. But booking plane tickets and things, everything is in military time, which can get confusing if you don’t know it. (14:00 does not equal 4pm).

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3. Know some background information about your country.

It’s good to have some information about where you are staying, so you aren’t the ignorant American stereotype. Also, studying abroad is all about immersing yourself in a different culture, and learning about it, so you can have a head start if you do some research beforehand. At least know who the President or leader of the country is. Also, know what is going on politically, economically, etc. When I was in Spain, there were a lot of riots going on because of the poor economy. Frequently on my way home from class, I would see protestors walking down Passeig de Gracias. One day, a lot of teachers were cancelling classes because huge riots were taking places, and when I went to the scene after, there was graffiti and trash every where. So read up at least a little so you know current events and won’t accidentally get stuck in a riot. Or, as what happened on our first week, there was a street festival right outside, ending with a carnival! So if you have some information, you’ll know how to find these. . . . .

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Dispatch From Levo’s Lady Abroad: 10 Travel Tips for Exploring Any City

“Dispatch From Levo’s Lady Abroad: 10 Travel Tips for Exploring Any City”

by Lila Barton via “LEVO

Dispatch From Levo’s Lady Abroad: 10 Travel Tips for Exploring Any City | Levo League |
        Education, travel 2, lifestyle 2, traveling alone

Now that my time here in Florence has come to a close, I want to share a few things that helped me make the most of my experience. Exploring is an important part of life, as it forces us to learn new things, step outside of our comfort zone, and grow as individuals. But you don’t have to travel across the world to explore a new city. Maybe the most important city for you to see through a new lens is the one you’ve lived in your entire life.

If you’re going abroad, I hope these travel tips help. If not, try applying them at home. You may be surprised by what you find.

1. Spend (the first) two weeks being a tourist.

It’s easy to say, “I have four months to do that: I’ll do it later.” But the time goes by quickly. I made the mistake of saving a few major things for the last minute, and with only a few days left, including finals, it’s going to be hard to get everything done. If you need some help getting started, we found the best guidebooks to be those byRick Steves. His walking tours are genius, and he’ll help you get the most out of your time and money.

2. Take a cooking class and explore the local cuisine.

Every culture has a unique cuisine so be sure to learn a few tricks to take back with you! Local markets are a great resource for seeing how food is reflected in a culture, and they often have foods for you to try that you might not normally order.

3. Travel with a backpack when you go off on your weekend adventures.

It will force you to pack light (see Amanda Pouchot’s packing tips). Old cities with cobblestone streets are also not the best for wheeling around suitcases, and if you’re late for a train or your flight, you’ll be glad you can easily run to catch it.

4. Explore your city without a tour book.

This is how you find the hidden gems not overrun by tourists: talk to the locals, who know the good spots. These places will become some of your favorite, as you truly see a city when you get lost in it. I frequently returned to my spot in Florence.

5. Study the language before you go, and when you arrive, find a language partner.

Locals will appreciate your effort over perfection. If you’re applying these tips toward your hometown, sign up for a language partner through your local university. Who doesn’t want to be bilingual?

6. Hang with the locals.

You’ll get a real feel for the culture and may even become friends with a few people along the way. Language partners are a great resource for finding the right places.

7. If possible, live with a host family.

You’ll be immersed in the culture and see how families live, and you’ll see a huge improvement in your language skills. Warning: You will not be comfortable at all times, but that’s okay. You will leave with a much stronger appreciation for what you have back home, and new relationships you’ll forever value . . . .

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ADVENTURE COUNTDOWN: 33 DAYS

“Adventure Countdown: 33 Days”

by Whitney Blake via “Whitspeaks

Whoa. Thirty Three more days until I take my first flight alone and my first flight over 6 hours.

Im not even gonna lie, Im nervous. Like really nervous. The kind of nervous where my OCD planner self is absolutely freaking out at night before I fall asleep; mainly because there is an 8 hour difference between when my flight arrives in Rome and when my best friend arrives. 

I know thats not a big deal for the brave or travel-savvy, but for a girl who has never flown alone and doesnt know Italian, it’s a big friggen deal.

We are figuring out our plan today, and I can already feel the weight lifting off my shoulders. From picking our hostel and finally booking it, to me looking at a map and having a real game plan – it’s those little details that are helping me take a deep breath and mentally prepare.

Erica, my travel buddy, is such an experienced traveler seeing as she just finished up the Semester At Sea program and is doing an internship and taking courses in Spain now. No big deal, right?! Check out her blog here to read about her adventures from Burma to China to South Africa and beyond.

Now that I’ve shared my anxiety with the world Im sure you’re wondering what Im doing, besides biting off my fingernails, to prepare for the biggest adventure of my life!

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Things to do ONE MONTH before backpacking through europe:

/ / Make a trip calendar, if you havent already.
Narrow down where you want to go (generally speaking) after you get to that first city. We will definitely be going with the flow, but there are a few reservations that are cheaper (and guaranteed) if we make them in advance. Plus my family wants to have an idea of where I will be!

/ / Make hostel/hotel reservations.
Im a major planner so obviously I want to know that I have a bed with my name on it when I get there. Truly I think this is my biggest fear, besides getting insanely lost haha.Student Universe has been my favorite reservation site in all of the planning process, and I am making most all of my reservations there.

/ / Reserve flights/night trains that will get more expensive and may fill up

NOTE: dont reserve your small train rides while in the US. Tickets will be much more inexpensive to book while in Europe. Just be flexible with when you can leave and arrive, and look into getting a Eurail pass while in the US if you are going to be doing a lot of travelling.

/ / Find your backpack. 
You can choose to either buy or rent one so do your research and TRY IT ON. This thing is going to have your life in it for a few weeks and it is essential that it fits. Also, be sure to check airline restrictions so you are aware as to whether or not it can be checked, etc.

/ / Make a plan to get your crap back home.
Cool, so you’re travelling with just your essentials on your back, but how are you planning on bringing anything else back home? Mail it? Another Bag? For me, I am going to buy a small, and very cheap, suitcase when I get to Germany for my study abroad session so I can buy a few more clothes and stuff that thing to the brim with goodies for my family and friends! Then I will simply check it onto the flight when I head home. Much cheaper and faster than mailing a giant box internationally.

/ / Finish up your online shopping.
No one wants to pay for expedited shipping when they are already doling out thousands for this trip to begin with. Things I bought online (from Amazon):
Brita water bottle (with a filter in it) / / $9 / / my water will taste better anywhere! plus I can fill it up at the airport!
4 x 4GB memory cards / / about $6 each / / DO NOT buy just one big memory card. If you lose that thing your entire trip is lost and you will probably spend days crying. Avoid the tears and spread out the photos onto multiple cards . . . .

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