Studying abroad is an adventure. You’re put into a new country with new customs and a completely different culture. This can be overwhelming and on many occasions cause you to think that you just wont be able to get through it. But one thing I have learned since I’ve been here is to enjoy the little things all around you. Sometimes we focus so much on all of our worries that we forget to see that we’re still breathing, the sky hasn’t fallen, and that life is still good. The best way I have been able to ground myself in reality and not the world of worry is by looking at the beautiful things in life. For instance, one of my favorite things when I first got to Seville, Spain was the orange trees. It was so fascinating how you can see an orange tree on every street and every corner. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the down town area or a small neighborhood. I soon fell in love with these trees and anytime I had a bad day I would look to the trees as a reminder that something is still going well. I found this to be just as helpful when I’m traveling as well. We all know that sometimes vacations can be just as stressful as everyday life and during those times its good to find that thing that reminds you to relax and not complain about every little thing. For me that is the sunset. When I went to a near by city called Cadiz during the time of the carnival I had the opportunity to sit on the beach and watch the sunset. This is probably one of my favorite things that I’ve done since I’ve been in Spain simply because I didn’t have to plan anything, pay money, or even worry about how it was all going to work out. I just had to sit and watch the sun do its thing. Since then, I always try to remind myself that it’s important to look at the little things in life not only to keep me grounded, but because the little things are often times the most beautiful things you’ll ever encounter!
It felt like we had been awake for nearly two days by the time our group gathered in the main lobby of our hotel in London to leave for our Blitz tour. The tour was to start at St. Paul’s Cathedral and cover locations around the city that had been impacted by the Blitz bombings during World War II.
Our tour guide, Andy, was an elderly gentleman with a witty sense of humor. He connected with our group from the very start of our tour and quickly our tired group began to laugh and the excitement of being in London grew.
Andy led us to the side of St. Paul’ Cathedral to begin our tour. Here he began to describe the damage the church endured during the bombings. He described how shrapnel from bombs had damaged windows and the sides of the church. The side of the cathedral by which we were standing displayed large cracks that he stated were from the Blitz bombings.
He told us about one bomb in particular that had landed just outside of St. Paul. This bomb never detonated and a “suicide squad” was assigned to dig it out of the ground and drive it out of the city in order to protect the church. This group survived the transportation of the bomb and was later honored for their bravery.
After walking our group around the cathedral and describing the damage, Andy led us to what became my favorite part of this tour. Just a quick stroll from St. Paul’s Cathedral sits another church that is known as the Franciscan Priority of Christ Church Greyfriars. Unlike St. Paul’s Cathedral, the only thing left of this church are the outside walls and bell tower. Instead of rebuilding the rest of the church after the war ended, it has since been altered into a park with beautiful plants and benches. Additionally, the large bell tower has been converted into an apartment space that is for rent.
In the middle of Franciscan Priority of Christ Church Greyfriars are six tall plants, three on each side. As we walked through the garden space, Andy explained that these are where the columns of the church once stood. This allowed me to better picture what the church once looked like before the Blitz bombings and appreciate the alteration of this space even more.
Seeing the damage still present in London from the Blitz bombings allowed me to better understand the intensity of this part of World War II and how England has since recovered.
Spending a week in Poland was an unforgettable experience! It was my first time ever in an airplane and outside of the United States! I was able to make some great friends while being on an amazing journey. The first half of our trip was in Warsaw, Poland, which is the capital of Poland. Eighty percent of Warsaw was destroyed in the second World War, so much of it is rebuilt. However, it is a beautiful city! While in Warsaw we got a walking tour of the city, went to the old town and to the Warsaw Uprising Museum, had time to explore, and saw the biggest shopping mall ever! I also rode a metro for the first time ever, they are so fast! Then we headed to Krakow, Poland. Krakow was not destroyed in the war, so the buildings there are all original. In Krakow, we visited the Wawel Castle and Cathedral, Auschwitz, and a huge salt mine. I feel very fortunate to have seen so many primary resources of history, and I am very thankful for my opportunities!
Spending my spring break in Berlin may have been the most exhausting vacation I’ve ever been on, and I couldn’t be happier about it. We spent six long days learning about German history, politics, and economics, all while being immersed in the nation’s capital. During the day, we typically had about six hours of planned activities, which included three hours of class every morning (which was a little daunting by the end to be honest, but the knowledge gained was so worthwhile), and one planned excursion out into the city.
The course taught is all about Germany’s political economy, from its functions as a market-based society with a strong welfare system that promotes the success and sustaining of middle-sized firms to its tackling of its difficult history in the faced of globalization. The experience of being in the country and viewing the lessons learned in class through actual lived experience changed my entire outlook on the world. I now understand more than ever that I had approached every lesson I had learned with an America-centered worldview, where the way that things are done in the States are the best way and that other lifestyles and forms of governance were simply what other nations did. But now, I see more than ever the America can learn a lot of lesson from nations around the globe.
I’m more exhausted than ever going back to class because of how jam-packed with activities my trip was, but, to be honest, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I’ve just spent the last week in Cuba and going into the trip I did not know what to expect.. I had heard about the water being contaminated, people living in poverty, and saw pictures of most of the infrastructures, but what struck me most was the Cuban people. They were all nice, friendly, and just happy to be there. Sometimes I take things for granted, but this experience opened my eyes about the culture in 3rd world countries. You can read about it, but until you actually travel to a place like this you will never understand – the no toilet seats/toilet paper in the bathrooms, paying to go to the bathroom, only using water bottles, a need for renovations and donoations. I also built an everlasting bond with my professor and classmates. I made friends that I wouldn’t have made without this trip. Because of the nonexistent cell service and lack of WiFi in Cuba, we were more likely to communicate and socialize with each other. Not using my phone for a week was a major difference to me and it took me a few days to get used to. This trip was amazing.
This has been one of the best weeks of my life! I have always heard that studying abroad was an amazing thing to do, but this has really surpassed my expectations. Attending lectures in Warsaw in a Polish classroom with Polish professors was such an amazing experience. It really has given me a new prospective on what international students go through everyday living in a foreign country. It has been great meeting new people from IU and bonding with them over the same experiences. I have made many new friends and have experienced so many different aspects of Polish culture. I have had the opportunity to try polish cuisine, museums, seeing and experiencing Auschwitz, while also learning about Poland’s struggles from the people that live in the country. This is an experience I will never forget and really hope I get to do it again soon.
For the spring semester of my 2019 junior year, I decided to study abroad in Florence Italy. After many frustrating upsets with scholarships and loans and a last minute packing fiasco, I finally got on a plane. I left January 9th from Chicago and after about 27 hours of no sleep I made it to the little Bed and Breakfast I would be staying at before heading to my apartment the next day(I got there the 10th, the program didn’t start till the 11th). I got into my room and asked the nice old Italian lady who owned the B&B where a good place to eat was, she directed me to a restaurant down the street where I would get a discount because I was staying at the B&B. I headed out at around 6:15 down the street towards the restaurant I arrived at a closed restaurant. I was unaware that in Italy, most restaurants don’t open till 7pm. So for about 45 minutes, I walked around trying my best not to look like a complete tourist. Finally the restaurant opened, I walked in to a very aggressive hostess, for a moment I thought that they were still closed till she pointed at me and very aggressively in the most Italian accented English ever, asked if I was by myself and if I would like to sit at table in the corner of the restaurant. I just shook my head yes, I was afraid that if I did anything different I would surely be scolded. I sat down and ordered a Calabrese Pizza and the house wine. With my meal came some fresh bread as well, which was about as dry as the desert itself. I tried the house wine,
On no, that’s bad
that’s really bad, we are 0/3 at the moment, but I still had hope for the pizza.
After a few moments and odd glances from others in the restaurant my pizza came.
“this is it,” I thought, time to try the best pizza ever, ya know, cause I’m in Italy the motherland of pasta and pizza. As the pizza was set down in front of me the delicious smell of salami and mushrooms overtook me. The moment of bliss was undercut as I noticed that…
Like someone used my pizza to make a small diorama of wetland or swamp,
Not only that but the pizza was much larger than I was expecting and many of the Italians in the restaurant were giving me looks, like “what is this tourist doing eating alone and why is he eating so MUCH alone as well?”
Oh boy, I’ve made a mistake
I attempted to eat and mostly succeeded, the flavor was good but the soupiness of the pizza ruined it for me, I would’ve had an easier time if I was brought a soup spoon instead of a fork and knife. I had to cut the pizza into slices then fold the middle up to the sturdy part of the crust so I could manage to eat it without spilling the pizza swamp everywhere.
I learned something that night, not all pizza in Italy is good, So check Yelp and make sure to head out at 7, but at least I got that discount. 🙂
When studying abroad, a lot of the experience is based on what opportunities are available while being in a foreign country. Cape Town has so much to offer, whether that is traveling, site seeing, or activities. School is often put on the back burner, even though it is the sole purpose of why individuals like myself have this incredible opportunity. It’s extremely difficult to feel out, explore a new place while taking challenging courses, and trying to adapt to the various styles of teaching.
I love the idea of a having a great time, but then you also have to draw a line of where you put school first and experiences second. Being in a country for merely 5 months sounds like an extended period of time away from family, friends, and significant others, but in the grand scheme of things it’s nothing. Trying to make the most out of everyday is important. There is no need to have a bad day, just some days and experiences are better than others. The internal struggles and battles that come from school are just a part of the process, but everything tends to be amplified in a new environment.
By making friends in various classes, I have found ways to become actively engaged inside and outside of the classroom. I have also joined various clubs such as: basketball, photography, and SHAWCO health. Each club offers a unique experience to learn and immerse myself in a new culture.
Time management is extremely important and staying on top of things is essential when studying abroad because believe me time is literally “slipping away”. Days turn into weeks in the blink of an eye. It feels like I arrived here just yesterday!
No matter what I am staying positive throughout all experiences and walks of life. When things get hard, push harder and never give up. Life is too short to stress the small things.
Cape Town, South Africa is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I am incredibly thankful that I have been afforded this opportunity.
This experience has been the best experience of my life. I have been able to learn so much about myself, new cultures and international business. This internship has put me on a path I never thought I would be on. I never believe I would travel to another country and be able to work. After just two months of doing this I have learned that I want to be able to do this for the rest of my life. It has also shown me how important it is to experience and learn from different cultures. This journey has put me on the career path I was almost meant to be on and it has opened my eyes to what I really want from my future career. Without this internship I don’t think I would have ever been able to figure out what I want to do in the future. This program will be a crucial part in what I will do in my future career. I was also able to travel and experience many other types of cultures. I was able to travel to Spain, Ireland, and the Netherlands. My favorite of these three was Spain. The culture there is very laid back and relaxed. I never felt like I was in a rush, it was a very relaxing place. All in all my trip overseas taught be a lot about myself and what I want in the future. I hope to travel to Europe again in the near future.
One year ago, I began the greatest adventure of my life. I spent 9 months, from September 2017 to June 2018 living and going to university in Canterbury, England, and it was the best 9 months of my life. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows; my grandfather passed away, I spent my first Christmas without family, and Paris was a disaster (Helpful tip, don’t carry your visa in your wallet. At least I still had my passport!). Nevertheless, my time spent in Canterbury at the University of Kent will stay with me forever.
I was so nervous and excited on the day I left home. A seven hour flight and I didn’t sleep at all. When I finally got to campus and into my room I was so exhausted, but still I couldn’t sleep. The south of England doesn’t look very different than Indiana, although it was a lot cooler. Travelling to another English speaking country is a bit less of a culture shock. I think the most shocking thing was that was thousands of miles away from home but didn’t feel any different. It’s like that moment when you turn 18 or 21 and you think you should feel like “an adult” but really it’s just any other day. Here I was in another country, living in a campus house with strangers, having to cook my own meals for the first time, yet it wasn’t as scary or different as I thought it would be.
Over the course of the next 9 months, I fell in love with Canterbury. I loved the cobbled streets in the shopping district, the gorgeous cathedral (despite all of the scaffolding for the repair work), I even loved trips to Tesco for groceries. Although the University of Kent Canterbury campus is about half the size of IU, I fell in love with it too. I joined the Literature Society and made great friends with whom I still speak. I also joined the rambling society, TreKent, and spent every other Sunday walking through the beautiful Kentish countryside. I made British friends, German friends, Italian friends, even some American friends from different parts of the country. I traveled to Ireland, Scotland, and Paris, toured the Warner Brothers Harry Potter studio, and visited English castles. But my favorite memories aren’t of grand adventures. They’re of finding the perfect ratio of milk and sugar to add to my tea, of setting off fireworks on bonfire night with my friends, having a picnic lunch at the Cathedral while we prepare for exams, and all of the pub quizzes, some we even won. I do wish I had done some more travelling, been to a few more places in Europe, but I don’t regret the way I spent my time. Now when I look back at the pictures I took, it feels so far away and I miss England desperately. I didn’t feel any different when I left home, but coming back from Canterbury I noticed a change. I was older and perhaps a little wiser, but I was also ready to move forward in my life, into the unknown.
One of the things people always asked while I was abroad was what I missed from home. I missed good peanut butter and movie theatre popcorn, volunteering at the IU Cinema, my cats, and, of course, my family. Now I have things I desperately miss from Canterbury: the pigeons outside my window, black currant jelly babies, meal deals with Cheese & Onion crisps, the view from our kitchen window (which wasn’t even nice), group trips to ‘Spoons or Nando’s, and, of course, my friends. I could keep on listing, but I think it would make me feel even more homesick. Homesick, because even though it was only for 9 months, Canterbury was, and always will be, my home.