In the summer of 2019, I made the exciting decision to live my dream of exploring London and decided to study abroad at the University of Westminster. During the process leading up to my travel, I had help from my university’s study abroad office, CEA Study Abroad advisors, and encouragement from my family. Before embarking on my journey, I reminded myself, in the words of George Washington Carver, “Education is the key to unlock the golden doors of freedom.” I love this quote because I believe education can take me anywhere across the globe as long as I desire it. During my time in London, I took advantage of various opportunities presented to me. I wanted to share my experience and provide some tips for encouraging any students looking to study abroad.
I never go anywhere without reading about it first. When it comes to traveling, I read extensively about the places I intend to visit. Why? Reading up on my dream destinations allows me to be a more excited, inspired, and practical traveler than I would be without the help of numerous paperbacks and publications. With such an abundance of information available at our fingertips, it can be difficult to know where to start when researching new spots to vacation or planning your next big trip abroad. While most of us are stuck at home during this pandemic, we can only dream of being able to travel for pleasure again. But that time will come again and once your flight is booked, there’s nothing better than sitting down with a great novel, set in the idyllic spot you’ll soon be exploring. Literature, guidebooks, and travel magazines are the three types of paperbacks and publications you should read before setting off on your next adventure.
Literature: Bringing the Excitement & Awe to Travel
Whether you’re jetting off for a European summer or packing the car for a road trip through the mountains, you can’t forget your literature. Reading a novel set in the spot you’ll soon be visiting allows you to familiarize yourself with the destination. There is nothing better than visiting a landmark or driving down a road you read about in your latest book. It’s incredibly exciting to be present in the setting of a great novel and see with your own eyes what you could once only imagine as you read. If you’re heading to Rome anytime soon, I recommend Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons. After finishing the novel, I traveled to Rome for the first time and stood in awe of the small country set inside the city that connected with the book. The same can be said for reading Brown’s The Da Vinci Code if travel to Paris is in your future.
If you’re a less experienced traveler or are just looking to stick a bit closer to home, Elin Hilderbrand writes novels that will have you finding the next flight out to the Massachusetts Islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Having visited Martha’s Vineyard myself, I love nothing more than to read all about the tumultuous relationships that she creates within the five small towns on the vineyard. I can’t think of a better way to get excited about an upcoming trip than to read a powerful story about it.
Guidebooks: The Practical Info You NEED to Know
Guidebooks may not sound like the most exciting thing you’ve ever read, but they can’t be beat in terms of practicality. Rick Steve’s guidebooks single handedly saved me numerous times on my travels through northern Italy. Rick writes guidebooks intended for Americans traveling abroad in Europe and his tips on getting around, hotel and restaurant recommendations, and careful analysis of all the best spots are a must-have, especially for first-time travelers. I didn’t carry much as I walked the Italian streets, but I always had Rick Steve’s Italy in my backpack. Don’t overlook guidebooks when you travel; these books provide some of the best information about amazing spots you don’t know exist and that you’d likely miss.
Travel Magazines: The Best Inspiration
If your idea of preparing for travel is looking at pictures of your idyllic destination on Instagram, travel magazines are perfect for you. Magazines like AFAR and BudgetTravel snap the best shots and offer great advice on how to spend your time, whether that be in one of the hottest cities or a quaint, coastal town. There is no better way to gain inspiration for your travels than to browse a travel magazine. Setting your eyes on a coastline or skyscraper that you’ve seen in a hundred different photographs is a gratifying feeling. You’ll be elated after experiencing firsthand what you’d previously only ever seen on a glossy page.
I firmly believe that there is more than one way to transport yourself to a new place. Whether you’re planning for an actual trip or simply dreaming of a future trip, literature, guidebooks, and travel magazines allow you to visualize, prepare, and dream about a destination before you arrive, enhancing your experience as a traveler. This is a short list of paperbacks and publications that inspire me as a traveler, and it’s by no means exhaustive. I am always looking for the next great story that will have me dying to visit a new place. If you do one thing before you travel, let it be to read.
Everyone hears about study abroad options when in college, but did you know that you can intern abroad, too? As someone who loves to travel, I wanted to study abroad in my college career. However, I realized that I was too involved in my extracurricular activities to take a full semester off. Also, the thought of being gone for four months made me nervous.
Luckily, a friend told me about a summer internship abroad program through her school. I was intrigued and decided to look into some programs that were available at my school. Since my school didn’t offer a program in the city I wanted to be in, I applied to a program from a different school as an autonomous student.
After applying, I received an acceptance email along with the details of the program. I was excited for this opportunity; however, I knew this wouldn’t be the cheapest way to spend a summer. Most internships abroad are unpaid. Fortunately, my parents were excited and pushed me to take it for the professional and personal experience. I was officially participating in an eight-week program based in Barcelona working a global business internship for university credit.
Now, several months after I returned, I can say it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I was lucky to have parents who supported me, adventurous friends who inspire me to take risks, and the opportunity to do something like this for my career and personal growth. I recommend this type of program to any business student that wants to get work experience and see the world over a summer vacation. Check out the intern programs that your university offers and see if there is a fit. If there isn’t a perfect program, don’t get discouraged. Check out online programs and other universities to find your match!
I couldn’t believe it was finally happening. After months of convincing my parents, filling out paperwork, and taking extra classes to make this possible, I was finally going to Australia. I was so ready to have the best semester of my life! As I began my study abroad journey in February, it quickly became one of the best months of my life. There was something about Australia; there was a certain charm to it that made me fall in love instantly. I had quickly made so many memories, and met so many people from all around the world, it was unreal.
Then the virus hit. Something I would have never imagined would be an obstacle became a reality. I can’t even describe the emotions that went through my mind the week my mom told me to come home, but that week was one of the hardest weeks I’ve ever had to go through. After being home for 2 weeks now, I’ve had some time to process my experience. Maybe this will help give others some insight, too.
In the digital era staying connected to those you love no matter the distance has become infinitely easier than it once was. Phone calls, social media, texting, and video calls allow for communication over land and sea, so why does it feel so hard to truly connect with those you aren’t physically present with? This is a feeling that can be overlooked and overwhelming to those who decide to embark on a study abroad adventure.
When I was preparing to study abroad, I checked my packing list a dozen times. I triple checked my class schedule and researched my destination. I prepared myself mentally for possible culture shock, the stress of travel and school combined, and having to meet all new people. I didn’t think about the struggles that would come from staying in touch with people back home. After participating in a summer abroad, having a partner study abroad, and a friend move to another country, I have become well experienced in bridging the distance.
Personally, my biggest struggle with staying connected was getting over the mental barriers that would stop me. I am someone who suffers greatly from the feeling of missing out and when separated this feeling would come from two directions. I would fear missing out on opportunities in my own life and fear of missing important moments in my loved one’s life. I would want to be out experiencing the world around me, while also terrified of leaving the house in case someone would call to talk.
While I was abroad, I spent days in my room when I should have been experiencing the culture around me all because I wanted to continue to call, text, and video chat my friends back home. The feeling of missing out was also extremely challenging when my partner was studying abroad. In a relationship it can be hard to take a step back and understand that a partnership is two individuals coming together in love, but they are still individuals. It is OK and encouraged to have your own experiences apart from your partner. You must trust your partner, yourself and the relationship. While distance might be separating you physically, that does not mean you aren’t together.
Apart from the mental, there are also physical barriers to overcome. It is important to research messaging applications that are used in the country you are visiting, and if you will want to communicate solely over WiFi or not. Some applications are not as popular, efficient, or even functional in other countries. Research recommendations such as this one for application ideas. I am a huge fan of video calls when talking to those who are overseas. It allows for face-to-face connection even if there is a physical barrier between you. I never appreciated that connection until it was the only way for me to see the people I love.
Once you have your means of communication, it is time to consider what to do when talking. While it is nice to sit down and have a catch-up conversation about what is going on in your different lives, this can get redundant and boring over time. I suggest finding things that can be done together while on the phone. My favorite is sitting down and watching a movie together. I did this with those I loved by downloading a screen sharing software on my computer and pulling up Netflix, or any other movie sharing website. I would then video-call the person with whom I was sharing my screen and we would commentate, laugh and cry together while watching a movie. This made it feel as though we were truly together and allowed for a bonding experience while apart.
Staying connected can be hard, but it is possible. Many students travel for a semester, go to school far from home, or move away after college. You can still get the feeling of being with those who are far way with the help of technology. The biggest block is often a mental one. Be open to new experiences. This will allow you to stay connected to the world around you and to those you love.
Studying abroad is something that has impacted my life immensely and I believe there are a lot of great reasons why everyone should study abroad. Especially in college when you have more free-time and aren’t tied down to anything, studying abroad can help you learn more about yourself and another country. While there are tons of reasons why, here are my top five reasons why everyone should study abroad.
Study abroad is on the rise in colleges and universities. Everywhere I seem to look I see multiple opportunities to go overseas, which is great. When I began my higher education in a two-year college, I was determined to go study abroad. However, I discovered something even better, a program where you take a class throughout the semester at your home institution and then go on the adventure of traveling abroad for that class over a span of 10 days. I did this in my Spring 2019 semester by studying British literature and traveling to the United Kingdom. This travel option won me over immediately and it also worked well with my work schedule and other prior commitments.
I wanted to share the insight I got, so let’s explore the three reasons why I choose to travel abroad instead of studying abroad and how it might benefit some students better, especially the ones that work part-time or full-time in the workforce.
The biggest turn away for studying abroad is the cost that is associated with the program. Most students are either not able to afford the venture or not eager to let go of such a chunk of money for only a semester of study. I found that traveling abroad for a short time decreases the amount you pay and provides scholarship opportunities from the institution, unlike study abroad scholarships that are usually offered through an abroad company nationwide. Choosing to travel abroad directly through my community college meant I only had to pay half of the amount required because of the scholarship opportunities that I sought. Know you don’t have to pay a lot to go abroad if you just keep your eyes peeled for opportunities.
The Time Commitment
The length of study abroad programs does vary based on the location and the semester, but it still requires a full commitment for that length of time. Some students might have the freedom to live in a different country for a whole semester, but most students might find it hard to ask off that long from their part-time or full-time jobs or other commitments. Traveling abroad is usually a shorter span, which is a lesser time to disconnect from your life at home. Going to Scotland and England for ten days was a flexible time frame for me because it allowed me to see a lot in a shorter period and it didn’t hinder my work schedule.
This one will differ from student to student regarding studying abroad and traveling abroad because they provide different opportunities and perspectives. Some students prefer to venture off and embrace life abroad for a longer time, however, not everybody will be the same. I found within myself that I could not leave for that extended time because of the reasons above and that I was not ready yet to plunge into that prolonged experience. Moreover, traveling abroad offers that overseas experience without the long commitment from studying abroad and I found that beneficial in my undergraduate life.
Every student has a different path to their degree, which means that they can choose whether to study abroad or travel abroad. Personally, I loved traveling abroad because of those three reasons, and I am looking forward to traveling abroad again, this time to Moscow and St. Petersburg in May 2020. As I mentioned, I will be taking the class portion at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and then I will travel to Russia afterward. I hope you found this article helpful in deciding on whether to venture off on a big adventure with study abroad or get a taste of the travel without the big-time commitment. Regardless, I wish you all safe travels!
Have you ever considered studying abroad during college? Would you like to be an exchange student? Spend a semester or May-mester outside of your home country? An even better question might be, have you visited your university’s study abroad office to learn about the opportunities available to you?
Well, if you are looking to develop the critical skills needed to compete in today’s global economy, including foreign language fluency, strong problem-solving and analytical capability, a tolerance for ambiguity, and cross-cultural competence, then you probably should give studying abroad a second look.
Last summer I studied abroad to Japan and South Korea with the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University. The first half of the trip was spent in Tokyo, exploring their culture and mass communication in the media. The second half of the trip was spent exploring Seoul and all of the cultural and communication in the media differences between the two vibrant cities. While exploring Seoul, I was introduced to cultural norms that I have not witnessed so drastically before.
Individualism through fashion
As I walked past packed consumers in huge shopping districts, dripping in Gucci and Balenciaga, I quickly realized how important material items are for South Koreans. It was also evident that the young Koreans were aware of the latest fashion trends and wanted to show their peers that they were put together and always wearing what was in style. The young Koreans also practiced individualism through their style; they really expressed themselves through fashion. Since South Korea is normally a collectivist society, I found it interesting that the teenagers and young adults tried to break that societal norm through their fashion.
Despite the lack of individualism in the older generation’s fashion, they were still up-to-date on the trends and always perceived to look professional and put together. It was very evident that physical appearance is an important aspect of their lives.
E-commerce trends for marketers
After doing some research about South Korea and its marketing strategies, I came upon an article that went into more detail regarding Korean’s e-commerce presence in particular. I found this section intriguing because there were so many filled brick and mortar stores throughout the city. E-commerce sales make up over 20 percent of total retail sales in Korea. A lot of this is because of the fact that South Korea has the “highest internet penetration rate in that region.” With consumers constantly online and their smartphones being their number one rated device for online shopping, it is efficient for them to make their purchases there rather than in store.
Marketers need to notice this and be proactive about it. One of the main ways they can go about this is through social media. In 2017, 84 percent of the Korean population was an active social media user and that number has gone up. Marketers can use social media influencers as opinion leaders and place advertisements on social media to market to the 84 percent of users. The main social media platform used among the consumers is Facebook; it is also the most used social media among companies in South Korea. With that being said, Facebook would be the best outlet for marketers to put advertisements.
While studying abroad in Tokyo and Seoul, I immersed myself in the eastern culture and all of the differences it has from western culture. I learned how important physical image is to Koreans and how marketers can take that and use it to their advantage. Due to their access to such good internet infrastructure, Koreans are constantly on their mobile devices and purchasing products from them. South Korea is a great place for marketers to get involved in the consumer’s materialistic and tech savvy culture.
Going abroad gave me a great look into another country and afforded me the chance to apply my academic studies to a specific industry. I highly recommend studying abroad to college students considering the opportunity.
South Korea: Buying and Selling. Export Enterprise, 2016. Nordea. Accessed 30 May 2019.
The opportunity for students to study abroad has adapted immensely in the past years to make this an opportunity available for practically any student interested. There are many factors that must be considered when tailoring this experience to be the best fit for each student, and while each factor limits options in one way or another, each provides a great way to narrow down the abundance of programs. Additionally, once you have made the tough selection of a program, there are many more steps to be completed before finally being able to depart on this life changing experience. While this process may seem daunting, and certainly will not be done overnight, here are several important tips for planning and preparing for your study abroad program, including a timeline and resources to streamline this process.
Where to look
There are many factors to consider when selecting the best program for you. Whether your decision depends on the duration of the trip, classes offered, available scholarships, a specific region of the world, or anything else on the ongoing list, there likely is a program that fits your unique combination of desires. When navigating through this decision process, there are many resources to help you sort through the many study abroad program options. Many universities host study abroad fairs on campus each semester, where representatives from various programs set up information tables, hand out flyers, and happily answer general questions. This event is a great place to begin exploring study abroad opportunities available for students at your university.
Additionally, many universities host general information sessions on campus to help students learn how to navigate the study abroad search. Each school’s website and search engine are different, so attending an information session provides useful insight to tools you can use to begin narrowing down your program selection.
Once you have narrowed down your options to a small selection of programs that are a good fit for you, it is a great time to schedule an appointment with a study abroad advisor. Study abroad advisors are a fabulous resource for answering program specific questions to help find which program on your narrowed down list stands out as the best fit for you.
When to start
From beginning the study abroad search, to applying to your selected program and finishing pre-departure materials, there is a large amount of timely work involved. In order to avoid getting overwhelmed by this process, it is important to give yourself plenty of time to select and apply to any program.
Depending on your selected program, you may have to schedule multiple appointments with your academic advisor and your study abroad advisor. Applications are often due a few months before the start date of any program. Once your application is accepted, your work is not done. There are many pre-departure tasks to complete. There is also the factor of taking placement exams, applying for a passport and/or visa, and filling out many forms and documents. Beginning your program search one year prior to the time you wish to leave for your program is ideal. This allows ample time to use your school’s program selection resources to research the details of your selected program, plus complete the application process and all other tasks required before your trip.
Going abroad is one of the best things you can do as a college student in order to learn a new culture and be immersed with different types of people. Allowing yourself sufficient time ensures that you do not overwhelm yourself with this process and are fully prepared to enjoy your experience of a lifetime.
Taking classes and working an internship all while being abroad with friends? Yes, please!
Summer break offers many different opportunities for students. They can take classes, work an internship, travel, all while still wanting to have time to socialize with friends. I struggled trying to decide which option was right for me. However, after doing research about different programs offered at my school, I found an option that allowed me to experience all four at once.
This past summer, I participated in Georgia Tech’s Leadership for Social Good study abroad. Through this program, I took 9 credit hours that apply to my minor and got a deeper insight to the nonprofit world. I worked an internship with a Hungarian social enterprise, AndiJoga, where I was able to apply the lessons I learned in class directly to an organization. Over the six weeks I was abroad, I was also able to visit six different countries, make 19 new friends, and create countless memories.
Most students who have had the opportunity to study abroad say it is an amazing and magical experience. However, time flies when you’re abroad and before you know it you are back home. Re-acclimating to your old life can be really difficult. So, here are five things you can do – abroad and at home – to make coming back a little easier.
Keep a Journal
You experience a lot while abroad and it can be hard to keep track of everything you do and see. The easiest way to avoid forgetting parts of your experience is to keep a journal. Take a few minutes every night to describe the day’s highlights in a journal or in a document on your laptop. Journaling helps you unwind after a jam packed day and is a great way to immortalize your experience. Looking back to your journal after your trip will help you remember all you did. You can also share your journal with family and friends when you’re tired of recounting your study abroad story for the millionth time.
For most of my life I grew up in the same city, lived in the same house, and attended 12 years of school with all the same people. I’ve even been told my five-year-old self and I look exactly the same. So one could guess change probably isn’t my forte. Despite that, I still feel change is good for you so I decided to make a change and move all the way from Southern California to Boston for college.
Finding my new happy place
The most important thing I learned when I tried to adapt to life in Boston was the importance of keeping one’s routines. For me, this mostly meant taking the things that made me happy in one place and doing them in the new place. In Boston, there is a ton of beautiful greenspace and scenery, so I love to explore the city and find new spaces to just lay down and have a picnic, read a book, or even do some painting. Another one of my favorite things to do in Boston is walk along the harbor early in the morning. With only a few dog walkers out, I can take in the quiet scenery while relaxing and eating breakfast. These explorations have been a way for me to learn more about this new place and make it more familiar instead of daunting.
Mapping a new adventure
Boston finally evolved into a place I call home, but now I’m about to start the whole scary process of drastic change again as I’m moving to London. Luckily this time it’s only for four months for study abroad. But no surprise here, I’m still afraid of change. Though, if I’ve done it once I can do it again and this time, I have some experience to help me along. Exploring the city was one of the things that first made Boston feel like home. By applying this routine to London I hope to make it feel more like home, too. Now there might not be a harbor walk near me in London, but I know there are other equally beautiful, serene places that I can make the time to go to in the mornings. It might not be home, but keeping these routines can bring the feeling of home to London and make this drastic change a little less scary. All I need is a map.
A once in a lifetime opportunity. That’s how people often describe their study abroad experiences. While you do have your whole life to travel, studying abroad is a different way of experiencing what the world has to offer. Having just returned from four months in Europe, I feel inspired and refreshed. I was able to absorb various aspects of life over these past few months, being fully immersed in constant change. Finding the right program for you may take time, but will ultimately be so worth it. This blog article will share my top five reasons why every student should study abroad.
# 5 – Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone
Traveling isn’t always easy, especially when you travel in large groups of travelers with different habits. You’ll spend time scheduling trips that may not go as planned, and that’s okay. While you’ll be taking classes during your time studying abroad, you’ll likelylearn more from your experiences outside of the classroom. You may pick up on certain words of a new language. The people will make your trip special – those you travel with regularly and the people you meet along the way. Locals will ask you thought-provoking questions about America. Your perspective and outlook on life may change.
# 4 – Get to Know Yourself Better
You will learn how to handle different situations, figure out how to overcome challenges and understand how to deal with new circumstances – sometimes on very little sleep. You’ll continually be on your feet as you aim to “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints”. Some long nights may be followed by early mornings, but even the lightest sleepers learn to squeeze in some rest on planes, trains, and automobiles! Most of all, you will learn how you react in new situations.
The night before I left for my semester abroad, I was terrified. I started to worry that I wouldn’t make any friends and that I’d be missing out on all of the fun things happening back in Chapel Hill. I kept unpacking and repacking my suitcase, worried that either I hadn’t packed enough or that I packed too much. Once I arrived in Madrid, I felt a brief lapse in my fears. The first week abroad is exciting because you meet a ton of new people while exploring your new surroundings. After that honeymoon period ends, you begin to realize just how far away from home you really are.
Studying abroad is daunting for everyone, but even more so for homebodies like me. I decided to take a leap and spent this past semester in Madrid, Spain. It truly was one of the most incredibly rewarding and unnerving experiences I’ve ever faced. Although living in another country is a huge change, there are ways to make your experience more comfortable. I promise that it is possible to enjoy a semester abroad even if you’re worried about the distance. I have a few suggestions that I will share in the hopes that it helps you feel a little more at home while far from it.
Old Habits Die Hard
One of my first suggestions is stick to your usual routine as much as possible. I found a lot of comfort by keeping up with my hobbies. I love to run and made sure to stay active while abroad. I even signed up for a half marathon at the end of the semester so I would have something to train for and look forward to. This will add consistency in your schedule, so you don’t feel like you have lost all control.
Another way to stay connected is to schedule FaceTime calls with family or friends to check in. There is nothing like a video call with a familiar face to cheer you up when a bout of homesickness comes along, but always keep in mind the time difference! If your family is able to visit you while abroad, it’s a great chance to show them around your new city and it can help break up the long stretch apart from one another.
Take A Day
In the beginning of the semester, I felt like I always had to be exploring new places every second of every day or else I was wasting my time abroad. I soon realized that it is ok to sometimes just take a break and watch Netflix. I also figured out where my favorite spots in Madrid were and got to know these well. Trust me, you begin to feel more like a local and less like a tourist if you’re in a city for enough time.
If the fear of missing out is holding you back from an international experience, don’t let it! Even though studying abroad is a step outside of your comfort zone, it is a great way to become more confident and independent while visiting some amazing places along the way. And if you ever happen to be in Madrid, eat some churros con chocolate for me.