Friday, March 27, 2015

Updates on Beautiful and Laid-Back Fiji

Bula, everyone!

So far my study abroad program is amazing! Fiji has so much to see and so much to do. Weekends are spent on the beach mostly. The biggest surprise is how laid back everything is here. Fiji time should be adopted by everyone, just saying.

As of right now I am involved in a Bollywood dance group. We just got our outfits yesterday, and they are so sparkly and flowy. My goals for that are to learn all the dances and perform in as many events as I can. We have our first event coming up soon and have learned two minutes of choreography. It is so much fun, and our group is made up of American, Australian, Canadian, Belize and one Fijian students. Normally Fijians don’t join, but they let my best friend here in.

I met Minal at a welcoming meeting for Wantok Moana. It is a group of Marine Studies students. The group can help with internships and connections, and it does activities like speakers in the field and reef cleanups, just to name a few. Our little corner of international students has also adopted a street dog. Her name is Suva and she follows us everywhere. She will go shopping, sit in class and play around the house with us.

The main difference I have noticed here is that the labs are so different. I have had to hold down a live chicken while measuring its glucose levels. The following two weeks we worked on toads, testing the calf muscle and heart under different conditions. We did blood pressure and heart rates on our selves the following week. All of that was just one class. For a different class we went snorkeling yesterday and counted different organisms in the ocean. I have a field trip tomorrow were we will spend all day out at the ocean and in a forest collecting samples. All my classes have field trips, but there is one in a couple of weeks were we will spend three days out collecting our own data. .

One of the best times here was a couple of weekends ago when all of us went to Beachcomber Island for a friend’s birthday. The celebration lasted three days on this glorious island where we snorkeled, played volleyball, laid in the sun, danced and met amazing people from around the world. It was definitely one of my favorite times here. Bonus, I didn’t get sun burnt on that particular trip. There were no worries and plenty of fun! We got to learn the Fijian Macarena called the Bula Dance. 

Overall my time here has been amazing, and I don’t want it to end. I would recommend Fiji to anyone who wants a relaxed lifestyle.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Jaan Iddings' Chilean Adventures

Hello from Viña del Mar, Chile! I am very excited to share details with you about my first month here in Chile. I arrived two weeks before classes so I could get a grip on the city before beginning a busy schedule with school. This city is amazing and rich in culture. To start, you do not need to own a car because anywhere you want to go you can take a small bus (called a micro) or a taxi. I was able to explore the city and find the local markets and tasty restaurants. The name of my university is Universidad Adolfo Ibañez, a top three business school in South America. For our orientation we traveled to Santiago, the capital of Chile and met the other students. Ever since then I have gotten really close with them.

Chile and the United States are very different. Here in Chile there are stray dogs all over that blend in as a part of the culture. The University I attend is beautiful. It is on a hill above the city with gorgeous modern architecture. During the day you can see the entire city and beach and at night all the street lights come on and the large shipping boats look like small cities on the water.

I am taking international businesses classes that are very interesting. These are my first business classes I have taken, so I am constantly learning new concepts and I love it. All of my classes are taught in English and my hardest class is taught in Spanish. I am learning tons of new Spanish business words that I hope to use in future careers working internationally. Here at school I met many international students from all over the world. They are from Australia, Spain, Netherlands, Singapore, Germany, France, Switzerland, Korea and Canada. Not only am I getting to know about Chilean culture, but also the culture of all of the international students countries. Also, I am sharing how we do things here in the United States.

This picture with Matt, myself, Cassidy, and Savannah (fellow UNO students) is our hike of La Campana. It is a National Park here in Chile that has breathtaking views. As you can see, we climbed so high that we broke through the foggy clouds and were able to be standing higher than the clouds with a spectacular view.

This is me on top of the sand dunes in Concon, Chile, a neighboring city to Viña del Mar. That night a few international students hiked up the dunes and watched the sunset over the ocean. It was an incredible experience.

Here I was climbing some rocks that went out to the ocean. I was trying to get closer to see the wild sea lions and pelicans that were on nearby rocks. Unfortunately I was splashed by waves and got completely soaked shortly after the picture was taken, but it was 100% worth it.

I am only one month down out of six, so I am excited to see what Chile brings me. I have future plans of going to Patagonia, the southern tip of Chile and possibly Bolivia. I will also do some networking to see if I am able to get any future careers here in Chile.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Annie Spielman

UNO's Annie Spielman gives us an insight to what it is like to study abroad in Belgium:

What an insane month it’s been! It’s only been a handful of weeks and I already know that studying abroad is the best decision I’ve made for myself. I have learned so many things that being home wouldn’t have even been able to scratch the surface. From personal to academic experiences, studying abroad has taught me so many things already.

Studying in Gent, Belgium has introduced a lot of cultural difference I didn’t even imagine were possible. Personally my biggest struggle is the language barrier. Before I arrived, I had an app on my phone to try and learn Dutch and assumed there would be English translations as well. Menus, food labels, and street signs- everything is in Dutch. There is very rarely an English translation so it’s often a guessing game of what you’re ordering at a restaurant or when buying groceries. It’s an excellent way into forcing yourself to try new things! My second biggest struggle is remembering that being a native English speaker and/or from America, some people will just not understand your personality, humor or the reason you do the things you do. It seems that coming here Belgians and other international students had a very strong opinion on Americans and they seem to be set in that. It’s hard to communicate the way you’re intending with non-native English speakers, but it really helps when those people are interested in really understanding you and open to challenging the stereotypes.
My favorite part of studying abroad is all the people I’ve met! It’s crazy to think that I now have friends from all over the world; keeping it close to home with St. Louis to thousands of miles away in Sweden.  I am normally a shy and quiet person, but moving to a foreign country for 5 months has forced me out of my comfort zone to meet people who I know will be lifelong friends. Academically, my favorite part is learning from a completely different perspective. At home a lot of my courses are taught from a book or just grading on assignments. At Artevelde, almost all of my classes are collaborative. I have a group project or assignment in almost every class, where I get experience working with people who see the world from a different point of view than I do. As a Journalism student, being able to communicate with different types of people is so important and my studies while being abroad gives me real world experiences I would not have gotten if I stayed at home. My goals for the rest of my semester abroad is to do really well academically and continue to branch out and take the opportunity to experience new and exciting things!

Since I live in a dormitory with other international students and local Belgian students, my dorm president really likes getting all of us together so we can really get to know each other. We have a lot of group dinners and dorm-wide bonding activities like game night or going out together. It’s definitely a close-knit group. It makes being so far away from home a lot easier!

Being in Belgium, it’s so easy and relatively cheap to travel to the neighboring countries. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to travel all around Europe. Recently I got to spend my 21st birthday in Amsterdam, which was a fantastic experience. My favorite part of the trip was visiting the Anne Frank House. Getting to see something that is so historically significant was truly a moving experience and truly was something that I will never forget. This past weekend, a large group of students around Gent went to Paris. It was even more beautiful than I imagined. My favorite thing was the Eiffel Tower, of course! Grand structures are the perfect way to realize how small and insignificant you are, in the best way possible. It really puts your life problems into perspective. Traveling is such an incredible experience and I think it’s so important for people to take the chance and go as far as you possibly can. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

My Semester in Cork, Ireland

My Semester in Cork, Ireland

Studying abroad has been a wonderful experience and I am extremely thankful to have been given this opportunity to learn about another culture and to learn about myself as well.
            I have done so many wonderful things while being here including kissing the blarney stone, visiting the Mitchelstown Caves, visiting the FOTA wildlife park, seeing the Rock of Cashel, the Cliffs of Moher, Giant’s Causeway, and so much more! I’ve also visited many cities already including Cobh, where I was able to visit the Cobh museum and learn a lot about the Titanic, as Cobh was the last place the Titanic picked up passengers. I’ve also been to Belfast where I had the opportunity to learn and speak with members of both the loyalist and nationalist parties. I was taken to the wall that is in West Belfast that still currently separates the Loyalists and the Nationalists and had the opportunity to learn about the political conflict in Belfast. I have also been to Dublin for a short trip and plan on returning again before my semester is over. This weekend I am traveling with my program to Edinburgh, Scotland and I am very excited to experience the culture there!
            I have been doing many things here is Cork as well! On Tuesdays I go to the Blarney Hotel with some of my friends and we meet the locals there for a music session. It is a lot of fun because anyone can play and we have even been taught some traditional Kaylee dances! It has also been a great opportunity to talk to the locals and learn about their culture as well as they have the opportunity to learn about mine; not maybe people here are very familiar with the Midwest so it is interesting to hear their perceptions of what it is like. I have been to many restaurants and pubs while being here as well; I was told by many that one of the best ways to get to know Irish culture is to eat Irish food. So far my favorite dish has been a dessert that is called Moss: it is made of Seaweed, sounds a bit dodgy but it is really quite fantastic!
            While in Cork I am attending University College Cork (UCC) and studying literature and writing. My classes have been going very well so far and my professors are extremely nice and have a lot of great insight to offer. Classes here are very different than back home, as they don’t generally give assignments since your grade in the class is typically based on one essay or one exam at the end. A lot of the studying and learning is very individually based and you are expected to do lots of independent reading and discovering, which is very interesting because you get to pick and choose what you want to focus on in the course. My favorite course thus far is my course titled Personal Life and Family Policy where we look at Irish law and how it relates to the family and we are also looking at the dynamics of families and how they are affected based on your geographic location. I also really enjoy my Women’s Literature class where we have read many great pieces and are looking at the three branches of women’s literary criticism. While in Cork I have even been able to go on a hike with the mountaineering club here at UCC; it was a wonderful experience and a great way to see the countryside! This week at UCC is Raise and Give week, meaning there have been lots of student activities in order to raise money for various charities! There has been a color run, bonfire, many contests, and lots of music for students to enjoy.
            So far it has been a fantastic semester and I am looking forward to everything I will be doing in the upcoming months, thank you again for making this possible!


Laura Capel

Monday, March 2, 2015

Hello from Northern Ireland!

A letter from UNO's Haley Ferguson:

March 1, 2015

Hello from Northern Ireland!

I am currently beginning the sixth week of my studies here at Ulster University in Coleraine, and time is absolutely flying by. In the month or so that I’ve been here, I’ve already learned so much both academically and generally, I’ve met so many amazing people and have had so many great experiences. I’ve gotten a feel for the way of life here in Northern Ireland (although there is still so much to learn), I’ve gotten to travel throughout Ireland a bit already, and have so much more planned! One thing I definitely have not gotten used to yet, however, is having cars come at me from the left side of the road! I may or may not come home remembering how to drive.

The education system is quite a bit different here. First of all, there are only three years of study rather than four. So, although I am in classes with mostly final year students, I have been in school longer than all of them, which is a little strange! Also, there are many more nontraditional, or older than college-aged, students at home than there are here. I have seen maybe two or three people in my classes in total that are nontraditional, which I find interesting. Another thing that is different about the system here is that much more time is expected to be spent outside of class, so I've spent a much shorter amount of time actually in class. Although my classes are worth the same weight as they would be at home, I’m only spending about eight hours a week actually in classes. However, they expect students to be spending about three hours per class per week doing actual independent study which is included in the course, and then much more studying on top of that.

Another big adjustment I am trying to make is living in a very small town! The campus that I’m on is pretty removed from town, so to get into town, we have to either take the train or bus, a taxi, or prepare ourselves for a forty-five minute walk! It has been great to get adjusted to using a public transportation system since at home, I am so accustomed to just jumping in my car to get to wherever I need to go. Although most people here do have cars, most university students do not.

So far, I have been trying to get acclimated to my classes, so the only trips my five American roommates and I have gone on are day trips to other parts of Northern Ireland and a weekend trip to Dublin. Both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are such beautiful places, and there is so much to see and so much varying geography within a relatively small country! About 15 minutes away from campus, we have a places called the Giant’s Causeway, which is honestly the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. We have already take a couple of trips there! Next weekend we are headed to London, and about three weeks after that, during Easter break, I am going to Belgium and Germany, and then Spain and Portugal for a week! It is wonderful that countries are so close together here since at home, traveling across the country would be further than any trip I’ll be making here.

This experience has already been life-changing for me. Adapting to living in any new place is hard, but I’m so thankful that Northern Ireland is where I have been selected to go. In a short month, I have already met amazing friends that I know will last a lifetime and seen places I never would have had the chance to see. I am definitely still adjusting to the way the education system works here, but I am figuring it out! I am so happy to have been given this opportunity and I cannot wait to see how much more I will learn in the next three months in this beautiful place!

Haley Ferguson

Friday, February 27, 2015

AIFS Scholarships

 March 1st is the deadline for AIFS Summer Scholarships. Along with our general scholarships, we currently have (5) $1000 scholarships available for the University of Maynooth program.
· April 15th is the deadline for AIFS Fall Semester Scholarships. Scholarship material and requirements can be found on our website.
Below are a few of our summer programs that have specific major/areas of study focus.
University of Limerick, Ireland:
· Business Program: The Kemmy Business School: Summer School in Responsible Business will offer three modules under the unifying theme of ‘Responsible Business.’ Students will choose one 3 credit module from the following options:
o Finance/FI4000 (3) | International Financial Markets and Trading
o Finance/AC4000 (3) | Corporate Social Responsibility
o Business/MG4000 (3) | Business Tools for Social Projects
· Engineering Program: Engineering students may select the following course offered by the Department of Mechanical, Aeronautical and Biomedical Engineering which is suitable for students from all areas of Engineering. Please note this is a 4.5-credit course which meets for a total of 67 hours.
o Engineering 400/ME4000 (4.5) | Technical Communication for Engineers
· Urban Laboratory Architecture Program: The Urban Architecture Program aims to make architecture relevant to governance everywhere and draws on a fast-paced design studio environment run by a team including architects, engineers and philosophers from all over the world. AIFS students will have the opportunity to collaborate with a select group of students from the University of Limerick’s innovative architecture program. Beyond architecture and urban planning, the program targets graduates from a variety of disciplines that bring a specific interest in architecture. Students on this program take both courses listed below for a total of 6 credits
o Architecture 440/AR4407 (3) | Architecture Intelligence Unit
o Architecture 400/AR4000 (3) | Limerick: Local History and Urban Governance in Architecture
Shakespeare Globe Education Theater Program:
3-week summer program at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, England
Open to college freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors
Minimum 2.5 GPA required
Students earn 3 credits studying the works of Shakespeare and all aspects of theatrical performance
Courses offered in literature, theater and acting skills
Spanish and Soccer: Granada, Spain:
3-week summer program in Granada, Spain, combines 2 weeks of Intensive Spanish language with 6 days of non-credit soccer training with professional coaches
Open to high school graduates, college freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors
No previous Spanish language study required
Minimum 2.0 GPA required
Program fee includes tuition, housing, meals, soccer training with professional Spanish coaches, excursions and cultural activities, day trips, and more. Optional AIFS Flight package available.
Travel Programs:
Chinese History and Culture:
3-week intensive introduction to major themes and events of Chinese history
Open to college freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors
Minimum 2.5 GPA required (lower GPAs will be considered on a case-by-case basis)
no previous Chinese language study required
Earn 3 semester credits
Study in Beijing (6 nights), Xi’an (4 nights), Chengdu (3 nights), Shanghai (3 nights), and Hong Kong (5 nights)
Business and Politics in the E.U.:
4-week comprehensive introduction to the European Union for business, finance, marketing and political science students
Open to college juniors and seniors (sophomores considered on a case-by-case basis and must meet prerequisites)
Minimum 2.5 GPA required (lower GPAs will be considered on a case-by-case basis)
Earn up to 3 semester credits
Prerequisites: MGT 4200 – Introduction to Business and ECN 4110 – Introduction to Macroeconomics or equivalent.
Study in London (8 nights), Paris (4 nights), Brussels (3 nights), Strasbourg (2 nights), Munich (2 nights), Prague (3 nights) and Berlin (4 nights)
Formal classroom teaching in London plus extensive field trips in all cities
European Art and Architecture:
4-week comprehensive survey of western European culture emphasizing art and architecture
Open to college freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors
Minimum 2.5 GPA required (lower GPAs will be considered on a case-by-case basis)
Earn 3 semester credits
Study in London (6 nights), Amsterdam (3 nights), Paris (5 nights), Lucerne (2 nights), Venice (3 nights), Florence (4 nights) and Rome (4 nights)
Fashion Marketing and Merchandising:
· 4-week comprehensive overview of the fashion industry witnessed firsthand in 4 fashion capitals of the world: London, Milan, Paris, and Florence
· Open to college freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors
· Minimum 2.5 GPA required (lower GPAs will be considered on a case-by-case basis)
· Earn 3 semester credits
· Study in London (8 nights), Paris (5 nights), Milan (4 nights) and Florence (6 nights)

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Land of Oz: My semester in Australia

UNO's very own Shelby Larson is Studying Abroad AGAIN, this time in Australia! Check out her blog to see what it's really like to study in this amazing county.

Although I've had an amazing three week vacation to start off my semester, I've also had a long week registering and enrolling in classes for this semester. I anticipated taking a few classes that (might) transfer into my Women's and Gender Studies major back home, but when I sat down for enrollment I found myself discovering classes that I didn't even know existed! As it stands, I am currently enrolled in three subjects: Sex, Gender, and Identity; Gender, Culture, Society and Health; and Diversity, Democracy, and Dissent (this class is actually worth 2 units, so I'm technically enrolled in the equivalent of 4 courses). I'm so excited for classes to start, because these courses sound really interesting!

Amidst registering and enrolling, I've also had a slightly disturbing dose of reality about this upcoming semester. During the "Need to Know" session for international students, I experienced what I can only describe as a massive wave of a reality check as it crashed onto my shoulders. Although I have studied abroad before, this is the first time I've done it all by myself. I have Sean and his family a few hours away in Geelong, but when it comes to the day-to-day life at uni, I'm completely, 100% on my own. As shocking as this revelation was, I cannot help but think that this is what will define my experience. Only I can make this semester an experience worth remembering, and as frightening as that is, I cannot help getting a little excited. It shocks me how comfortable I'm getting with being outside of my comfort zone.

Till next time, lovely people! xoxo