The Dreaded #Physical!

Had my annual #physical for the #Chinese residence permit & #Visa! 😷

Managed it alone without a #translator – quite a feat! Look at my bold self go 😜

For #China 🇨🇳 you need: Blood Analysis, Urinary Analysis, X-Rays, Ultrasound, ECG/EKG, and Blood Pressure.

 The X-Rays 📷 are competely #Topless with other people (men included) waiting in the room 😱 for their turn – no protection. 😓 The ECG requires baring it all in front of a major, street level window with no curtain and a ferris wheel🎡 right outside❗ Goodbye dignity, hello #crosscultural oversharing! 😂
What’s Your International Hospital Story?!?
 

International crises heighten study-abroad awareness

“International crises heighten study-abroad awareness”

by Vanessa Miller via “The Gazette

Today, it’s Belgium. Before, it was France.

There also is Brazil, where the Zika virus is rampant. And tomorrow could bring an earthquake, tsunami or hurricane somewhere else.

The drumbeat of terror attacks, health risks and natural disaster crises around the world has directors of growing university study-abroad programs continually monitoring international security updates and advisories. Program heads on Iowa’s campuses were paying attention Tuesday, for example, when news broke of more terror attacks — this time in Brussels.

None of Iowa’s three public universities have students studying abroad in Belgium right now, but Iowa State University — for one — has an exchange program planned there in spring 2017. ISU’s study abroad director, Trevor Nelson, said he doesn’t foresee Tuesday’s attacks derailing that program.

“But we have to monitor the situation and make the best determination about whether you are putting students in harm’s way,” he said. “At this point, I don’t believe we are in a position to put that program on hold.”

Nelson said study abroad programs these days have to be “more diligent in terms of monitoring what is happening in other parts of the world.” But, he said, that’s not necessarily indicative of a more dangerous international study environment.

Rather, he credited it — among other things — to a rise in students taking advantage of the opportunity.

“It’s partly a facet of the number of students who are now studying abroad,” he said. “And they are going to every continent.”

When Nelson started as the ISU study abroad director 25 years ago, about 200 students were involved. In the 2015 budget year, ISU sent 1,633 students oversees through a variety of study programs to every continent including Antarctica.

“And the type of students who are studying abroad has changed as well,” he said. “Twenty-five years ago, those who went on semester long programs tended to be self-starters and more independent and resilient than today.” . . . .

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10 Myths About Studying Abroad

“10 Myths About Studying Abroad”

via “Lone Star College

Ten Myths about Study Abroad

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25 Things I Wish I Had Done Differently When I Studied Abroad

“25 Things I Wish I Had Done Differently When I Studied Abroad”

by Rachel Taft via “Go Abroad”

reflecting on a study abroad experience

Lucky duck that I am, I had the fortune to study abroad multiple times in college. My first time studying abroad in Florence, Italy, was a learning experience. When I decided to study abroad again in Thailand, I was able to take a lot from my first experience to make sure I picked a program better suited to my personal study abroad style. I was also able to do some things I’d wished I had done before, and avoid doing some things I had wished I hadn’t done.

Even still, now that I am a few years out of college and into the “real world,” I can look back on my study abroad experiences with a new perspective and see even more things I wish I had done a little bit differently. Becoming more involved in my host community and immersed in the host culture and language were two big stand-outs, but there a number of things that I now realize I could have done to really maximize my study abroad experience.

I definitely wouldn’t say I have any regrets, but here is my best study abroad advice. Read on for the 25 things I wish I had done differently when I studied abroad:

  1. Researched programs extensively. I took at face value the list of options my Study Abroad Office gave me, and I wish I had looked at a site like Go Overseas to compare options and read reviews from program alumni. I would’ve put in the extra legwork to get papers signed and credits transferred so I could do the study abroad program that best suited my academic goals.
  2. Reflected more on what I wanted from my program provider. I found that I preferred a more integrated, hands-off (and cheaper!) program, which was not what my first study abroad experience was at all. Knowing what you want from your program from the start will make things go a lot smoother.
  3. Gotten more involved in my host community. I didn’t try to seek out volunteer orinternship opportunities — or even extracurricular sports or interest groups — and I really wish I had. This is an important part of becoming immersed in the culture and feeling like your host city is really like a home.
Thai friends

Be sure to befriend the locals
  1. Pushed myself to improve my language skills. It’s so easy to fall back on English, especially if you’re living with other study-abroaders. I wish I had tried harder to live completely in another language and to make the most of my language learning while abroad. Furthermore, I wish I had continued to practice my language skill when I returned home.
  2. Studied somewhere offbeat. Italy was great, but it is one of the most popular study abroad destinations. Thailand was an improvement, but I sometimes wish I had pushed myself to go somewhere even more unique or off-the-beaten path, somewhere that makes people go, “You studied WHERE?” when I tell them about it. A strange, little-known country, or even just a really small, out-of-the-way town. Maybe even somewhere a little intimidating, where I would be constantly challenged.
  3. Stayed longer. One semester is great, but what a difference one year could make. A semester flies by, but I think you could really call a place home, and really see a change in yourself, after you’ve lived abroad a year.
  4. Made more local friends. The less integrated the school, the more effort required to meet locals. I interacted more with other Americans and foreign students than those from my host cities, and now I regret not having more of those connections. . . .

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3 Ways to Tout High School Study Abroad in College Applications

“3 Ways to Tout High School Study Abroad in College Applications”

by Brian White via “Yahoo News!

There are many reasons to pursue a study abroad program while in high school, including opportunities for cultural exchange and personal growth. On a more practical level, you may also find that studying abroad in high school can be a tremendous advantage come college application season.

The key lies in finding the right balance between emphasizing the experience and recognizing that it is just one aspect of you, the soon-to-be college freshman. To help ensure this balance, be honest, maintain perspective and discuss your high school study abroad experience in the right areas of your application , such as these three places.

1. The activities section of the Common Application: As you may already know, the Common Application includes an activities section. While it is technically optional, this portion of the application is an ideal opportunity to discuss your high school study abroad experience.

You can list up to 10 activities here. If the majority of your extracurricular involvement revolves around after-school groups, you may find that you have this in common with many applicants. Listing your study abroad experience first may help you stand out from other students.

In the description of your high school study abroad activity, you will see two fields. The first allows you to name the activity. If you assumed a leadership role during your study abroad experience — such as assisting in the organization of expeditions to local attractions, or rallying your fellow students for service projects — this is a great place to state your role in a few succinct words.

Do not force the issue, however. The name of the organization you traveled with is also sufficient for this field.

The second field allows you to describe your study abroad experience. No experience as profound as learning and living in a foreign country can be adequately summarized in the space that the Common Application allows.

Instead, your goal is to pique the interest of the admissions counselors who will review your application. Choose several moments from your high school study abroad experience that are especially relevant to your academic and career goals, and highlight those.

2. Your personal statement: There are two potential areas where you can expand on your study abroad experience : the personal statement and the additional information section of the Common Application. Study abroad experience is a gold mine for college application essay topics, but you risk sounding one-dimensional if you use this experience in both areas.

In many ways, the additional information section is like a second college application essay. Consider reserving the traditional personal statement for a discussion of some other aspect of your academic life, and then u s e the additional information section to reflect on your high school study abroad experience. The exception to this advice is, of course, if you had a deeply life-changing experience that far eclipses any other aspect of your life.

If you choose this route, write a brief essay that outlines your experience and how it affected you. Begin with your summary and your lessons learned, and then delve into the specifics of where and when you studied abroad.

Include details about your living situation abroad — did you live in a home or a hostel? You should also mention your degree of independence, such as if you did daily or weekly independent travel. And don’t forget to include and any language skills that you developed. . . . .

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How to fly with a bike: The cheap and easy method

“How to fly with a bike: The cheap and easy method”

via “Two-Wheel Travel”

How to fly with a bike: The cheap and easy method

If you plan to travel internationally with a bicycle, at some point you will be required to put your bike on a plane.

Taking a bike on an airplane as luggage can be a gut wrenching proposition.  In addition to the various and variable  fees imposed by the different airlines, there is the matter of packing and unpacking your bike for air travel, sourcing packaging materials and protecting your bike during transit.

The first time we combined bike touring and air travel I tediously and meticulously removed and bubble wrapped every single piece of both bikes, right down to water bottle cages.  I packed the pieces in re-enforced cardboard bike boxes, marked FRAGILE on every possible surface, crossed my fingers and was generally tense throughout the entire experience.   The whole process took about 1.5 hours per bike, on each end of the journey.

Other than the time and labor and stress involved, all went well.   We’ve done it few times since…  It always works, but it’s expensive, time consuming and stressful.

Isn’t there a better way to fly with a bike?

Pack your bike in a clear plastic bag.

With multiple benefits over packing a bike in a cardboard box, this is now our preferred method for flying with our bikes on an airplane.  At first we were skeptical, and honestly if we weren’t forced into using this technique by the lack of bike packing resources at the southern end of our Destination Dubrovnik tour last summer we would have never tried it.  It does feel a little like stepping off a cliff, until you realize that your bike will be treated much more carefully when packed in a clear plastic bag.

4 reasons why we like this technique.

  1. SimpleIt’s a plastic bag.  Think a big sandwich baggie for your bike, hold the mayo.  The CTC Plastic Bike Bags is specifically designed for this purpose.  If you order one before your trip, you can carry it in your panniers and it’s reusable.  No need to source anything at the last minute.   If not you can make your own.  In Dubrovnik we used a home-made version by doubling over clear plastic sheeting and duct taping the edges.  Slide the bike into the bag, fold down the top and tape it.  Natch!
  2. Quick– Total packaging/unpacking time including removal/reinstallation of pedals etc.. is about 15 minutes on either end of the trip.  This is fabulous compared with the one hour minimum build/pack time per bike when using a bike box.  With the plastic bag method almost the entire bike remains intact.
  3. Cheap – If you plan ahead. (Not our strong suit) then use the CTC Plastic Bike Bag or similar.  At present it retails for $13.50.  Not bad.  If you need to make your own, then the price is a little more variable, since you have to run around, find plastic sheeting and duct tape, which depending on your location at the time, may or may not be simple to locate. Still you shouldn’t have a problem.  Our homemade bags, sourced and made in Dubrovnik from plastic sheeting from the local garden shop cost us around $35 for two bags, not counting bus tickets running around town to find plastic.  Still a bargain when you consider how smooth the whole thing works. . . . .

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A Girl’s Guide to Surviving Study Abroad

“A Girl’s Guide to Surviving Study Abroad”

by Zoe Radner via “Huffington Post

2015-07-29-1438138960-3702975-girlsguide.png

A smart girl’s tips for traveling abroad

While traveling abroad may be an equally enthralling experience for all, we ladies are faced with some unique challenges we must conquer during our journeys. Everyone receives the standard advice when traveling– tips to avoid pickpockets, find the best food and score the best deal on souvenirs. Aside from these more common suggestions, women must be equipped to deal with a whole other set of unique struggles.

Makeup Mishaps
Makeup is something I found to be one of the biggest nuisances during my travels. It’s a hassle to lug around a bag full of all your lotions, powders, creams and pencils when traveling continuously, or even over a short weekend trip. Not to mention, some of my most expensive and revered powder was smashed or shattered in a single instance of plane turbulence or mishandled luggage. Few things are more devastating than opening your bag to find that your nearly untouched Nars bronzer has crumbled into oblivion. To avoid mishaps like these, make sure you’re only packing the essentials for your trips. By bringing only what you can’t possible live without, you reduce the hassle and the threat of damage. If your powder does smash, a trick I’ve learned is mixing a little water in with the pieces, pressing it down to reform in the container and letting it dry.

Time of the Month Troubles
I was warned on multiple occasions prior to leaving for Europe that normal tampons, like Tampax, would be harder to find once abroad. While you don’t even want to imagine having to deal with a period while trying to explore and enjoy Europe, if you’re traveling for an extended period of time there’s a good chance you’ll have to. More often than not, I was able to find a completely normal selection of tampons in grocery stores and pharmacies across the continent. However, I have heard of people being unable to find tampons with applicators in some cities. Yikes. To salvage your European adventure while plagued with period, make sure you pack extra lady products in your bag, as well as Advil or Ibuprofen and water. . . .

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