Monday, October 19, 2015

10 Reasons to Travel Alone

Fears. People have countless, strange and irrational fears. Ones that are unexplained. Like myself for example, I fear chickens. You might wonder why, but that is a story for another time that has to do with being traumatized by them as a child. One of the greatest and most common fear people have, even if they won't admit it, is being alone. I think this is one of the silliest fears, but also one of the greatest to overcome. As the great Oscar Wilde once said, 


“I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.” 


These words have always spoken to me. You need to learn how to be just Kate, just Alex, just Mary, or just magnificent, just outspoken or just adventurous. Whoever you are, you need to find out who that is without someone else, without your family, without your friends or without your boyfriend. WHO ARE YOU? Just you. This is also one of the most crucial times in your life to develop and find who you are, your college years. One of the most rewarding, self-finding,and self-fulfilling things you can do with your time in college, is spending some of it abroad. I have created a list of ten reasons why traveling alone is one of the best things you can do.

It will boost your confidence. 
When you travel alone you only have yourself to turn to. There is no one to rely on but yourself. So if you are traveling in a country you are not familiar with at all and you can not only survive, but get around well, it's hugely liberating. You fly alone, take buses alone, talk to locals alone, while possibly being in a country with a language you do not speak.   
It will make you adaptable.
Traveling is never perfect, but that adds to the magic of it. There will be times you miss a flight, a train or a cab. There will be times you lose luggage, don't understand the language or have to eat something you are not familiar with. All of this will make you adaptable to situations, adaptable to change.

It will allow you to meet more locals and immerse yourself in the culture.
When you are traveling alone you are more observant of everything going on around you. It opens you up to meeting more people and truly immersing yourself in the culture. If you are alone, you are not relying on someone else and you look more approachable versus if you are in a group. Traveling alone, you will be the only one from your culture versus being in a large group of say, Americans. You will be able to recognize more aspects of the culture and immerse yourself in their way of daily life, acting and living.

 It will make for more meaningful experiences.
When you travel alone the memories you make are simply your own. The experiences you have are only yours to share. Every decision you make will be your own so you can't go back and be upset because you did what your traveling companion wanted to do instead of what you really wanted to do. 

 It will make you assertive.
It is up to you when traveling alone to make all the decisions, so if you are indecisive this might also make you a more decisive person! When you are abroad and have to complete tasks you've never done before, like taking a bus in Spain, any accomplishment makes you feel on top of the world. You learn how to assert yourself in a variety of different situations and with a range of people.

  It will help give you direction.
Sometimes getting lost helps you find yourself. In college many of us have no idea what we want to do with our lives. Sure, we know people we love, hobbies we like to do and maybe changes we want to make in the world. Many of us struggle with deciding how to find a career that makes our soul happy. Travel will help you find that passion and it will lead you to it. You might be lost when you start your journey abroad, but I promise when you return you will have a much better sense of where you're going. 

It will inspire you.
It's hard to explain exactly how travel makes you feel, but the one word that comes to mind is alive. It allows you to break out of your comfort zone and it feels like a breath of fresh air. You will come back feeling inspired. Inspired to travel again, inspired to be the best person you can be and inspired to find happiness in the little everyday things. Never again will you feel like what you're doing has no purpose. Going abroad is achieving such a huge goal and it inspires you to achieve anything you set your mind to. 

It will make you independent.
If you can travel the world solo, you can do anything on your own. You won't hesitate when you return home to go get coffee solo or to go to an event alone and make new friends. In fact it's activities like those that you will be excited for, that you will part-take in more. You will have a greater appreciation for doing things alone, more so then ever before. 

It will give you perspective. 
We all have perspective, but when you travel alone that perspective changes drastically. You meet people from other cultures and they show you a way of looking at the world you never knew. You become aware of new issues that the world faces and even learn to have a new way of looking at issues you already knew of. You realize through travel what a small place you occupy, but what a large difference you can make.

It give you adventure.
One of the best words to ever grace language: adventure. Adventure is all about having exciting and unique experiences. When you travel alone very step you take will hold an adventure in itself. Traveling alone will also help you realize how to create adventure out of the simplest things. 
There you have it, the ten reasons to travel alone. There are countless more of course! Don't you feel a little fearless already? Being alone should not be something people fear, but something rather they should embrace. You can do it, I know you can. Come into the Education Abroad Office today and start your solo travel journey. This is one decision you won't regret. So throw off the bowlines and sail away from the harbor because there is a whole world out there to get lost in. So tell me, who are you?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

New School Year, New faces, New Opportunities

 Hello again from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Education Abroad Office! Morgan Budde signing in here again for another year as the Professional Writing Intern in the Education Abroad Office. Students have returned to campus for yet another great year and I am so excited to be writing to all of you from the Pioneer Planet blog once again. Many of you are probably thinking, classes already? Is this really September though? Feels more like July! Yes it is that time of the year, no matter what the crazy Midwestern weather tries to tell you. This also means it's that time of year to start looking into when you can study abroad! The office is off to a booming start with countless students already coming in with interest, and I cannot tell you how fantastic that is to see!

I thought I'd start the blog off this year by introducing a few new faces to the office. This year we welcome two new interns to the office as well as two new staff members in the Education Abroad Department.

Sami Sonkowsky- Interim Outreach Specialist 

Sami Sonkowsky is a new addition to the UW-Platteville Education Abroad Office as of June 2015 as the UW-Platteville Education Abroad Interim Outreach Specialist. Sami coordinates, markets, and advises on the UW-Platteville Education Abroad programs for both UW-Platteville and non-Platteville students.

Sami is currently a graduate student at UW-La Crosse and is studying Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education. Sami is a 2012 graduate of UW-Whitewater with a B.A. in Spanish with an emphasis in professional business. As an undergrad, Sami participated in a study abroad program through UW-Platteville at the Spanish-American Institute of international Education (SAIIE) during the Spring 2012 semester.

In addition to her degree from UW-Whitewater, Sami is TEFL certified from the TEFL Institute in Chicago, IL and has taught English and Science classes abroad in Madrid, Spain. Sami’s passion for education abroad was ignited from her own experience studying abroad in Seville, Spain and she hopes to share that passion by helping students reach their own study abroad goals.

Alyssa Shaff- Program Coordinator
Alyssa Shaff joined the UW-Platteville Education Abroad Office in July 2015 as the UW-Platteville Education Abroad Program Coordinator. Alyssa advises UW-Platteville students on education abroad options and application procedures, coordinates short-term faculty-led study abroad programs, and oversees the Global Exploration Living and Learning Community.

Alyssa earned her M.Ed. degree in College Student Personnel Administration and her B.A. in English Literature and Spanish from Marquette University, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  She has previous experience in international education as the Marquette University Office of International Education Graduate Assistant, Marquette en Madrid Study Abroad Ambassador, and as a study abroad participant at the Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain. Alyssa has a passion for learning about new cultures, languages, and all things international.

Carl Hatfield-Marketing and Outreach Intern
Carl Hatfield is majoring in Biology with an emphasis in Pre-Physical Therapy here at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Carl always aspired to live a life full of adventure and meet people from around the world. He first found out about Education Abroad through upperclassmen that had previously gone abroad. Once Carl took a leap of faith and decided to go forward with his dream of traveling the world, his life has been full of successes that he never would have imagined getting out of his education abroad experience.

Carl studied Marine Science at the University of the South Pacific in The Fiji Islands. His time there was well spent in regards to what he experienced. His memorable experiences in Fiji were endless, including having the opportunity to scuba dive with sharks. Meeting students from around the world and creating relationships with the locals was the best part of the adventure. The semester was not long enough, as he began to feel like a local himself.

Carl served as an Education Abroad Ambassador for the 2014/15 academic year and is excited to transition into his new role as Education Abroad Marketing and Outreach Intern. He believes that this positon will produce strong challenges for him in his final year, but more importantly he knows that he will leave with a lifetime full of memories and hopes to play an important role in encouraging other UW-Platteville students to study abroad.

Nicole Maala- Marketing and Outreach Intern

Nicole is an Engineering Physics major and is also pursuing a minor in Spanish. She will be starting her fourth year this fall.

In the fall of 2014, Nicole spent a semester studying engineering at Jönköping University in Sweden. It was phenomenal to learn and experience the Swedish language and culture, and while she was there she was able to travel to visit other locations as well including Norway, Russia, Estonia, Finland, Denmark, Germany, the Czech Republic, Spain, and even Iceland. The friendships and memories Nicole made with Swedish and other international students alike were incredible, and they will always stay with her. The following semester, spring of 2015, Nicole studied engineering at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. She had an amazing experience taking courses, making even more international and Australian friends, and exploring the beautiful country.

She has previously worked on campus through the DRIVEN Scholars Program, and truly enjoyed helping and connecting with her fellow students. Nicole is very excited to continue to do so through the Education Abroad Office. It is an unforgettable experience to study abroad, and she would like to help others see their dreams to travel and explore the world become a reality.

We have an amazing, talented, creative and driven group of people in the office this year, and it is going to be the best one yet for the Education Abroad Office. The best part? We all love education abroad and are proud advocates with a passion for helping students go abroad. Call, email or just walk in and set up an advising appointment today to learn more about education and to learn when and where you can go! This year we have many new opportunities for students to go abroad. We have added two exchanges to our programs. One will be located in Scotland and the other in Korea. We also have a great list of short-term programs this year around the globe, the perfect way to wet your feet with education abroad. College is a short four years, so the best time to start looking into going abroad is, now! After all, if not now, when?

The link below will take you to our website so you can start your journey with education abroad today!

Let's have a great year and I look forward to seeing all of you around the office!



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.