Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Student's Perspective-Brittany in Australia

This week we have a blog from Brittany, a fellow intern and friend in the Education Abroad Office. Brittany studied abroad Fall 2013 at the University of Newcastle in Newcastle, Australia. I know from all of Brittany's stories, just how much Education Abroad changed her life and the amazing memories she made. Australia sounds beautiful and has endless opportunities. If her experience doesn't make you want to go abroad, I don't know what will!

With so many places to study abroad how do you know what program is the right one for you? I’ll give you a little insight on how I made my decision. I was a freshman and I attended the Education Abroad Fair where you can see and hear about amazing places to study abroad. I walked into the fair not knowing what to expect and I left with a passion to study abroad. While walking through out the fair I came across the poster for Newcastle, Australia and became intrigued. It was so beautiful and everything about it seemed so wonderful. I was sent more information on this program and set up a meeting with one of the interns in the office. We talked about Australia and I knew it was the place for me. My parents travel a lot and a few years before I came to Platteville they took a cruise to Australia and New Zealand. After returning they showed me pictures of their time and I fell in love. I knew I had to go there someday and studying abroad was the perfect chance. 

I decided to study abroad in Newcastle, Australia in the fall of 2013 (1st semester of my junior year).
I was so excited! My dream of going to Australia had finally come true. Leaving my friends and family for 4 and a half months was hard, but I knew that the experience I would get in return would be the time of my life! I was greeted in Newcastle by Rayna and Jason; our coordinators (also known as my Australian parents). Upon arrival I also got to meet the other 13 individuals I would be spending the semester with. Throughout my time in Australia I had the opportunity to do so many amazing things. I climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge, went jet boating on the Sydney Harbour, traveled to Melbourne, Cairns, New Zealand, and Whitsundays, and most importantly I got a different view of the world. I met so many great people and I now have friends all over the world. I loved learning about new languages and cultures. My passion for travel was born in Australia and never left me even though I came back to the states. It’s the little things that make your experience a great one; like having your roommate become your best friend, spending every weekend exploring new places and meeting new people, attending classes in a new setting, and having the people that your study abroad with become your Aussie family. I left my heart in Australia and I knew that when I left I would return someday.
Upon returning from Australia I had the opportunity to be a Global Amigo, be an International Orientation Leader, and most importantly become the Marketing and Outreach Intern for the Education Abroad Office. My last year and a half on campus has been great and I am so glad that I have had the chance to be involved in so many great opportunities. During my intern position I had the opportunity to talk with heaps of students about studying abroad. Not just in Australia, but everywhere. It’s honestly one of my favorite parts of the job. I got a chance to talk with people about my amazing experience and my life changing time. Talking about my experience with students made me realize how much I missed it and how much I really wanted to go back. I graduate in May and I have decided to work/holiday in Newcastle Australia. I have decided to go back because studying abroad changed my life and I love the country. 

My heart is still in Australia and I can’t wait to make more memories. You have the world in your
hands and you can do anything and go anywhere you want, why not go discover what is out there. Do it while your young because you don’t know where life to is going to take you. Studying abroad taught me to take risks and to do things that are out of my comfort zone. Moving to Australia is a big risk and is a little bit out of my comfort zone, but I see an opportunity in it and I am going to go for it. I don’t want to go through life always asking myself, what if? In the end we always regret the chances we never took. If not now, when?

Your Fellow Adventurer,


So as you can see from Brittany's time abroad she  truly admired her time in Australia so much that she is moving back! It really is a beautiful experience to fall in love with a country. Once you get the travel bug it never goes away, but rather becomes a lifetime love affair. The University of Newcastle is one of UW-Platteville's main six Education Abroad Programs. Our office knows endless information about it and if it sounds like the right fit for you come into the office today to learn more! Every country, not just Australia, has so much to offer and it's own unique experiences. It doesn't matter what country you start your journey in, just as long as you do.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Opportunities Are Endless

I know, I know I talk about how much Education Abroad gave me all of the time. I really am just trying to solidify just how much it did give me! It gave me independence, confidence, friendships, the world and the ability to create myself. My time abroad was one of the best four months of my life, thus far. I will forever remember the country that changed my life for the better and the memories I made with the people there along the way. I also just want to highlight how much Education Abroad can give you once you are back on campus.
I never new just how much Education Abroad would change my life. After my four months abroad it opened my eyes and gave me a whole new perspective on life and the world. Education Abroad was a goal of mine for so long, I just couldn't imagine being done with it after getting off that plane in Minneapolis in May. Then the opportunity came about to work in the Education Abroad Office as an intern. Initially, I was interested and applied. I ended up getting an interview and then getting the job. I never realized just how connected I could stay to my study abroad experience once I was back on campus and that when I left Scotland my journey with Education Abroad didn't have to be over. You can apply to be an intern in the office, become an Education Abroad Ambassador, help with our various presentations and share your experience, become a Global Amigo and mentor an international student studying at UW-Platteville or you can become involved with the International Club. The opportunities are endless.
Education Abroad has continued to open doors for me and I think it will for the rest of my life. This is now my second semester working in the office and I can honestly say has it changed my life. I love my job and it has allowed me to continue my journey with Education Abroad. It has allowed me to write, advise students going abroad and help them follow their dreams and it has given me great friendships. I have learned valuable skills that will benefit me in the workplace one day and have truly put myself into a job and given it my all. I have met so many more amazing people working through the office, my bosses, my co-workers, the ambassadors and countless students who all have the same dreams and passions as I do to travel the world. It's truly uplifting to work in a field like Education Abroad. They say if your passionate about something you should dedicate your life to it, so that is what I intend to do. I have met some great friends and I even went on a cruise with three of them over Spring break to the Bahamas and had the most amazing time. Learning about new cultures and exploring a new country is always an adventure, but when you have great friends by your side through that journey it makes it so amazing it's hard to put into words.

Words will never be able to fully express everything Education Abroad has given me, the way it has altered my life forever and the amazing people it has placed in my life. It allowed me to find my place on campus, where I belong. Education Abroad sent me to a different country, but it also made Platteville, Wisconsin feel like home more than it ever had before. I always knew Education Abroad would change my life, but I never the opportunities it would continue to give to me, even after it was over. So go abroad because it is the gift that will keep on giving the rest of your life.



Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Blogs from Abroad

I am a huge fan of blogs and blogging myself. I especially love travel blogs and that is why I love the part of my job that allows me to blog to all of you. I love being able to tell my stories, experience, helpful tips and hopefully inspire at least one person to study abroad from the sentences I write. In my previous blogs I have constantly reiterated what a life changing experience studying abroad is and I have endless good things to say about my own personal experience with it. So now I am going to  pass it on in this blog to current students abroad through the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and let their experiences convince you how amazing of an opportunity Education Abroad is. Here is a little overview of who is blogging abroad and the links to their pages! I know I love reading about their experiences and it makes me want to go abroad again even more than I already do.

Hannah Corwin, a High Point University sophmore English major, is studying at St. Mary's University in London, England for spring 2015.

Tori Walsh, a UW-La Crosse sophomore Psychology major, is studying at St. Mary's University in London, England for spring 2015.

Samantha Johnson, a UW-Platteville senior Music Education major, is studying on the UW-River Falls International Traveling Classroom program in Europe for spring 2015.

Becky Saladino, a UW-Platteville senior Biology major, is studying at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji for spring 2015.

Annelise RotiRoti, a UW-Platteville junior Engineering Physics major and French minor, is studying at L'Universite de Technologie de Belfort-Montbeliard in Belfort, France for spring 2015

Sara Drinkwater, a High Point University sophomore Business Administration major, is studying at the Spanish-American Institute of International Education in Seville, Spain in spring 2015.

Nathaniel Knautz, a UW-Platteville senior Industrial Technology Management and Spanish major, is studying at the Spanish-American Institute of International Education in Seville, Spain in spring 2015.

Rachel Young, a UW-River Falls sophomore Education and Spanish major, is studying at the Spanish-American Institute of International Education in Seville, Spain in spring 2015.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Go Abroad, Then Land the Job

We all know Education Abroad is a great overall experience for an individual, but for your future it could also land you your dream job. Today in the job market, employers are realizing how important it is for their employees to have knowledge of the world and be aware of different cultures. Education Abroad really just makes a person more self-aware and willing to break out of their shell. It is a truly unique experience that really makes you stand out from your peers. The number of bachelor students who went abroad in 2012-2013 was only around 14.3% and the total of US students who went abroad, this includes all college programs, is just a slim 1.5% of students. You could be a part of this number.

I haven't gone abroad yet...
Well my first question is are you crazy?! There is whole world out there for you to experience! You need to get on the bandwagon now and look into some different options for going abroad. I know students don't go abroad or think they can for a lot of reasons. More often than not students don't end up going abroad during their college years because they face financial or time restraints. Be sure to really plan ahead and decide when is the best time for you to go. There are endless opportunities and if leaving during the semester isn't a choice, then look into going abroad Summer, Spring Break or during Winterim. If you can't afford going a whole semester or year then just shoot for a short-term option. That way, you still get the international experience and you don't have to miss a semester on campus. Even having that two weeks of international experience will put you one step above someone else who didn't spend any time abroad in their undergrad, when applying for a job.  

I kind of look at it like this, you spend the money at your home campus to go to college, why not spend the money and study in a different country. When it comes down to it, Education Abroad is an investment in yourself. Who doesn't want to invest in themselves, believe in themselves and truly better themselves in all aspects? It's also an investment in your future and like I said earlier, an investment in one day helping you land that dream job. We are human, we never stop growing and Education Abroad is one more of those experiences that really promotes personal growth. Think of the world as your textbook, you will learn more from it than any other textbook you have ever had. The possibilities are endless and I promise you, you will not be disappointed!
I've gone abroad, how do I market that?
Great, I am so glad you took that step outside your comfort zone and lived, saw and breathed a different part of the world! Welcome to the club, you will never forget those memories you made abroad or the friends and that country will always be your second home. However, now you are home and maybe you're a little confused at how to market your time abroad when applying and interviewing for jobs. I hope I can help you out and set you in the right direction!

You need to be specific on your resume in what you did exactly abroad: volunteered, worked or studied. Getting involved while you're abroad can also be a great idea, just one more thing to add to your resume and to your experience. Really emphasize on not only your resume, but your cover letter what you did, learned and how these skills will benefit you in the work field. You can highlight all the ways it made you grow as well. Whether that be your confidence, ability to adapt, independence, your problem-solving skills, complex thinking skills or your flexibility. How did your experience improve your leadership skills? Having leadership skills in the workforce today, as we all know, is huge. These are some points you could use to really sell your Education Abroad experience to employers. Also, make sure you really emphasize the learning experience and don't make it sound like a big vacation, anyone can take a vacation.
So Education Abroad not only gives you the chance to grow personally, but it also gives you the opportunity to one day land that job you've been dying to have. It's all about how you market your experience and how that time abroad makes you more unique than the other applicants.  If you have not gone abroad yet I hope this blog opened your eyes to what you are missing and just how much Education Abroad can influence your life. If you already have gone abroad then I hope you took something away from this blog that will help you in your future when applying for jobs! I know I am closing in on the ending of my college career and I want more than anything to express how much Education Abroad changed my life in hopes of getting a job I love.
Even First Lady Michelle Obama realizes and stresses the importance of Education Abroad. In the words of Michelle Obama, "When you study abroad, you are help making America stronger."

View more about Michelle Obama on Education Abroad at the link below. Great read!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Life Happens

Life happens. It never goes as planned, no matter how much you plan in advance for it. You graduate high school, the place where you think you are invincible and have limitless time. You then go onto college where you spend four years figuring out what you want to do with the rest of your life. It's like society has set this model of what the "American Dream"  is. It goes like this: mainly people graduate, get a job (if they're lucky), get married and have children (sometimes). Then when they are say 35, have a big white house, a husband and those 2.5 kids they wonder okay, what next? I have succeeded, I accomplished the American Dream. I say, break out of that mold, live the life you want to live. Don't get married, never have a kid, become the crazy old cat lady or do it all out of order. Life is not meant to have a mold and people need to start realizing their own dreams versus the ones they think they have because society tells them too. Basically, what I am trying to get across is, that life happens and before you know it you have so many more commitments than you did just a few years previous, whatever those commitments may be, kids, a husband or 10 cats. I guess as I get older and my college years dwindle, I have been thinking a lot about the future and what it holds, what direction I will go when I graduate college. I just keep thinking of how fast time goes by and to not waste a second. It's so hard to explain in words, but going abroad really just makes you feel alive in a way you haven't before. You have these moments abroad where you just are so utterly amazed by the moments you are in, you never want them to end. It's a beautiful feeling. So while you are young, in college and this time is all about you, study abroad. Be selfish. You are only young for so long, so be selfish with who and what you give your time to. I can tell you from experience that your time spent abroad will never be wasted.
 All I know is growing up my mom always inspired me with her travels of going abroad to new places all through her 20's and I couldn't wait for it to be my turn. When it finally was my turn, it all went entirely too fast. Once you go abroad it changes you in so many ways when you come home, you have often altered, but everything at home is the way you left it. To be honest, some days it's hard to be back in my same routine I had before I left. I just feel like I am dying for another adventure and routine is so difficult. You just catch the travel bug and are constantly looking for ways to go back abroad, new adventures are always waiting to be had. I know what you're thinking, I just have so much going on with school, I don't know if I could leave for a whole semester. How will I afford that? These are all reasonable questions and ones you must address, but just stop. Just stop thinking of why it wouldn't work or why you can't and start thinking, HOW it will work and HOW you are going to do it one way or another. That's where I am right now in fact, figuring out how I will go abroad one more time before I graduate. It is really just the commitment you put into it and the effort you put into going.
There are so many study abroad options to choose from, there is something for everyone. I knew study abroad was my goal so I spent an entire summer working endlessly at two jobs to raise the money to go. You know, yeah I did give up my social life for the summer, but the experience I received in return for that summer was so much greater than what I gave up. I know now that I can always look back proudly on my time in college and remember traveling a new part of the world, I am a part of a slim 5% of students in the United States who go abroad every year and that is something to be proud of. Wouldn't you like to join that small percent? In the end, I hope I can inspire just one soul looking for an adventure, to go abroad. If you go abroad early enough in college then you always have the option of going again, but even getting to go once is a gift. Take the chance, be selfish and go abroad. Better yourself. Get lost and find yourself. Education abroad gives you the opportunity to create yourself. Opportunity is knocking at your door, but it won't always. So take the chance because before you know it, life just happens.   

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Everyone Has a Country Bucket List, Here's Mine.

When people often think of going abroad they think they of all the hot tourist places like Italy, France, or Australia. Yes, all of these countries are amazing and have so much to offer, but what about the countries that are off the beaten path? Why not taken the path less traveled and go to a country that not many can say they've studied abroad in? After going abroad and studying in the United Kingdom my eyes were opened to the world and more possibilities. I have fallen in love with countries that I have never even been to. Before I left for Education Abroad I dreamed of seeing places like Italy, and I still do, but now the top of my list consists of Croatia, Thailand, and Iceland. They are countries I had never even thought of, but now I can't get out of my head. These destinations are huge spots that Europeans like to spend their holidays at.

They are countries that tourists often turn their blind eye towards, but also might hold the most unique experiences. Going somewhere like the UK my first time abroad was amazing, but culturally it was pretty similar to the United States. There are differences, but not like going to Thailand where the culture is largely different from that of the United States. Once you take that first step abroad you start to get braver, more adventurous. You think hmmm....well maybe I could go to a country where they don't speak English or maybe I could go to a country that I normally would have perceived as being completely outside of my comfort zone. They say to take the path less traveled in life and studying abroad in one of these countries, would definitely be the path less traveled. I can't tell you enough how much Education Abroad opens your eyes. It makes you well-rounded, independent and just aware of what is going on in the world around you. It forces you to leave that little Midwestern bubble so many of us grew up in.

Why not go to Thailand ride an elephant, buy some fruit from a floating market, go to Bangkok or visit Wat Arun also known as the Temple of Doom. Thailand has endless possibilities and offers a diverse experience.
Krabi Island, Thailand
Wat Arun, Bangkok, Thailand
Iceland, you're probably thinking why would I ever want to visit a country that is called an ice land? Because it is spectacular, that's why! Go visit the geysers, watch whales of the coast or visit Landmannalaugar which contains mountains, lava fields and a volcano. What a site it will be! 
Landmannalaugar, Iceland
When I tell most people I want to visit Croatia they just give me a blank stare, most people have never even heard of the country. I hadn't either until I saw a picture advertising for it in a London tube station and let me tell you, I was hooked. Croatia has a lot to offer. I am pretty sure I talk with my boss Melissa, everyday, about how I want to go to Croatia. If you do find yourself in the country, first I am insanely jealous if you are, and second be sure to visit the country's most breathtaking park, Plitvice Lakes National Park, swing by Zadar an old historic town of Croatia, and if you have a chance sail the Adriatic Sea along the Croatian coast.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Dubrovnik, Croatia
You know that spot right outside your comfort zone that so many of us hate visiting? Well let me tell you folks, that is where the magic happens, where life happens. So going abroad is scary enough for you and out of your comfort zone? Then great! Visit Australia or Ireland, but just be sure to take the countries off the beaten path into consideration. Visit them one day, maybe when you're a little braver and the world doesn't seem like such a big and scary place. I will never regret where I studied abroad, but I do wish I had taken a look at other countries that were more culturally different as well. Then again, I never would have discovered Croatia if I had not been in that London tube station. All I know is when I get to the end of life I want to be proud of the life I have lived and know I explored every inch of this beautiful place we call earth. Life is supposed to be full of adventures, making mistakes, getting lost and finding yourself along the way.

This week in class my professor gave me some great advice and I just though I'd share it with you all. It really just spoke to me.

" Life is messy, especially those lives well lived."



Friday, December 19, 2014

So...You're Going Abroad

Well here it is, what we have all been barreling towards, the end of the semester is finally here! I sure hope finals week has treated you well! With the end of the semester being here that also means the departure date for many of University of Wisconsin-Platteville's study abroad students. Whether you are studying abroad in Winterim or the Spring semester, the dates are quickly approaching! First off can I ask, will you put me in your suitcase and take me with you? Just kidding, kind of. You may be filled with nerves, are bursting with excitement and definitely have questions. I remember the first time I studied abroad, I was a wreck the entire week before I left.  I can assume you are feeling so excited because you are leaving the United States possibly for the first time on your own or you could be feeling like you might be sick for the very same reason. I just want you to know you are not alone in the way you are feeling, it is completely normal. To comfort yourself, think of what a great accomplishment this is going to be and how independent you are going to become after the journey you take with Education Abroad. Think of all the friends you are going to make and how many different parts of the world you are going to see. Think of all the amazing memories you are going to make that you are going to cherish for a lifetime.

I can tell you in that week before I left there were points where I got so nervous I thought maybe I shouldn't go, but then I realized how utterly ridiculous I was being and going abroad is a once in a lifetime kind of experience. I was that girl who came from a very small Iowan town, surrounded by very small-minded people. It's crazy the things that going abroad does to a person. I never like to think I was small-minded because I always had such a desire to see the world and experience other cultures, but I can't help but admit before I went abroad I probably also had some of those same small-minded Midwestern beliefs and studying abroad widened my perspective and opened my mind to so many possibilities. I could never go back to the way I was before I left. Only 5% of students go abroad in the United States, wouldn't you just love to say you are part of that 5%, that you took this leap into the complete unknown and had an experience that changed your life forever? I know I would love to study abroad again and if possible, I will before I graduate! Let me tell you a few tips that might ease your nerves a little about going abroad or just to reassure you that you have made the right decision.

Home will always be there.
Opportunities like Education Abroad won't always be available to you. Take comfort in the fact the home will always be home and you can always go back. You can't however always see other parts of the world. The older you get, the more commitments you start to have. The more commitments you have, the more difficult it is to just take off and travel , that's why college is the perfect time to travel and if you have taken the leap and applied to Education Abroad I am so happy for you.

You will not be gone forever.
Some of you may be going abroad for just a few weeks, months or even a year, but let me just solidify this, YOU WILL NOT BE GONE FOREVER. Time passes so quickly and in the grand scheme of things the time you will be away from home studying abroad is just such a small fraction of your life. Also, I know from experience how quickly time passes when you are abroad, mainly because you are having the time of your life. I was abroad for 4 months, but it really felt like two weeks, and although part of me was ready to see home, the other part of me felt like I was leaving what had become home to me in those 4 months.

Family and friends can come visit. 
I know, I know. You can't help but think how much you will miss all your closest loved ones and how will you go without them for that long. The plus side is they can come visit! That possibility is always present. There is also always Skype, Face time, Facebook and other endless ways to stay in touch and see each other via the internet. Plus you will make many new friends who will become your little study abroad family.

Do not pack your entire closet.  
I know you're thinking how is this tip supposed to help calm my nerves? Well let me tell you, I know you are probably packing and repacking your suitcase like crazy. You're probably thinking, oh I need this and that, but you don't. I'm sure this is only adding to your nerves and really isn't helping the situation. Although people have probably told you this a million times, don't over pack. Only take what is necessary. You can and will want to buy so many things while you are abroad, you will want that extra room to bring them home with you. Let me tell ya, shipping packages home is not cheap! Plus, buying clothes abroad and dressing like the locals is part of the way you can immerse yourself in their culture in just one more way!
Studying abroad just changes so many things in your life, it's hard to put it all into words. The more you travel, the more places you find that feel like they could be home. You begin to leave your heart in so many places and with beautiful people that will forever hold a part of your heart. In some ways you won't ever truly feel at home again because of this. Although that seems like a terrifying fact, you will love it because it makes you feel so alive, so free. I hope after reading this you feel a little less stressed and now the excitement is more present then the nerves about going abroad. When you first step onto that plane remember that step is the first step of your new adventure, the first step to the rest of your life.

Now go on, have an amazing journey. Your adventure awaits!