Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Cassidy Cooper

¡Hola and greetings from Viña del Mar, Chile!
During my first month in the southern hemisphere, I have experienced much more than watching the toilet flush in the opposite direction!  Chile is an amazingly unique country. From the desert in the North, the glaciers in the South, the ocean in the West, to mountains in the East, Chile embodies a wide range of climates and landscapes to explore. So far, I have climbed a mountain called La Campana, surfed down the sand dunes called Dunes de Concon, and roamed the streets in the famous city of Valparaiso (pictures included). Within the next month, I plan on traveling to Valle de Elqui, a desert valley in the North, and then onto Torres del Paine, a national park of Patagonia in the South.
Chile isn’t only just a scenic destination, it is also a place of striving globalization. As an emerging global market with the strongest economy in South America, Chile is an ideal country to study international and sustainable business. My university, the Universidad Adolfo Ibañez, is the third top business school in Latin America. My professors come from all over the world with life times’ full of experience. The learning and studying doesn’t only come from a classroom, we are actually out in the city observing and evaluating businesses and their marketing environments.
Living independently in another country has taught me an entirely new meaning of independent. In a culture where washing machines are hard to come by and the use of water is slightly marginalized, there have been many struggles adapting to this developing lifestyle. But with these obstacles have come many rewards such as being able to shop and bargain at the local farmers’ market every Wednesday and Saturday and the burst of joy of finally being able to find peanut butter after a month of intense searching.

I have made many friends from around the world who are greatly improving my abroad experience; International students from over a dozen countries who are experiencing Chile for the first time along my side, and Chileans who have been incredibly helpful in navigating this new culture. It is crazy to believe I have only been here for one month. I am excited to see what else I’ll find myself experiencing and doing over the next five months!

Gabrielle Wethor

This is my first time visiting Europe, so upon arriving I had no clue what to expect. I’ve spent the vast majority of my life living in the Midwest so this whole experience has been completely amazing. Stepping off a plane and walking down a street where I cannot understand a single word people are saying was definitely a culture shock. I spent my first few days in Austria in Vienna, which was easily the most beautiful city I’ve been to so far.  St. Stephen's Cathedral was my absolute favorite part of Vienna, I took the vast majority of my pictures there. After spending a few days in Vienna I traveled to Salzburg where one of my biggest dreams came true, I was able to see where my favorite movie, The Sound of Music, was filmed. It was truly an experience I will never forget. After two days of exploring Salzburg, I hopped on the train and made it to my final destination, Innsbruck. 
I’ve been in Innsbruck for three weeks now and I honestly feel like an entirely different person than when I arrived. Even in the first week I felt my whole perspective on the world change. Spending so much time with so many people from so many different cultures has been eye-opening. The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far, is that while the world is diverse, beautiful, and amazing in so many different ways, there is no place that compares to the United States.
The weeks before the semester started I did what any student about to leave home for six months would do, I dreamed about Austria, the mountains, and the possibility that I would fall in love with the country and want to stay forever. While I still think Austria is as beautiful as a dream and I am looking forward to the next 4 months of being here, I will be happy to return back home at the end. This experience has taught me that everyone needs to leave their comfort zone for a few months to truly appreciate what life is like back home. Even though traveling to the Land of Oz was an amazing experience for Dorothy, as she says in the movie “There’s no place like Home”. While I miss home and my family so much, I am so excited for the travel plans I have for the rest of the semester.
Courses have been great so far, the professors have all been very helpful and very respectful about the fact that I am an international student and I do require some extra help. While I have only been in courses for three weeks, I am enjoying the topics I have studied so far and I’m excited to learn as much as I can from this country before I leave. While I am here I am also working an internship with a company called PDAgroup. I’m a research intern helping to better the business practices of the company. I’m loving my work so far! It has certainly been interesting working in an office that speaks German (all the work is in English though). Gaining the international business experience will be so helpful for me in the future and will add more to my resume.
Overall I could not be more happy with how this trip has gone. Between the friends I have made, the great courses, and working a nice job, I have gained so much from this trip.

Mackenzie Hoffer

I’m already half way done with my experience in India and I feel like I am just now getting into the swing of things. Switching from the United States to India has definitely been an adventure; there are very few things that I have found to be the same between the two.
Coming from a very punctual culture, I’ve learned to go with the flow a little more. Nothing goes according to plan, and the window of when I will see the shuttle for class is a good thirty minutes. People are always late, including the teacher, and rescheduling a class for a Saturday is “no big deal.”
The University of Hyderabad offers Integrated Masters and Ph.D courses. With the school structure being different in India, most of my classmates are around 20-22 and will be graduating with their masters within a year, if not this year. The looks I get when I say I’m working on my undergrad are at first amused and then confused, until I explain the schooling gap.
With that being said, the teaching style is very simple and old school. We have lectures, a paper or presentation half way through and then a final and maybe a test somewhere in-between. The first month of the semester I sat in class just trying to decode some of my teachers thick accents, but it’s gotten better. The test styles are different in the sense that we are given one or two questions and a booklet of five blank pages to fill with everything you know, answering or relating to the question. It’s a little intimidating when my hand is cramping on the third page while I watch my classmates ask for a second booklet.
While I’m surviving the school aspect of study abroad, I am thriving in travel. India has so much to offer for a young traveler. Travel is inexpensive and each place is so different, from the landscape to the local language. Planning isn’t a necessity, making an indecisive 20-something’s trips always fall into place.
Since being here I’ve seen the Taj Mahal, spent the night on a houseboat, saw the Dalai Lama, swam in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, and experienced cities in-between.

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