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!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Why not Edinburgh?

Looking for a place to study abroad and you just can't quite decide on a country because you simply want to go everywhere? Maybe you're just looking for a spring break program. Well my first experience abroad was spent is Scotland and it was a beautiful journey. I would strongly encourage anyone to study in Edinburgh or even just to visit. The city has beautiful architecture letting you see a time long before your own, amazing people who love to talk to foreigners and endless opportunities. So you may be thinking, why Edinburgh? I am going to go through the top ten things to do in Edinburgh so if you are just there for a short time or will be living there for months you should be able to accomplish some or all of these must see and do things in Edinburgh.

Scott Monument
Right on Princess Street in the heart of Edinburgh lies the Scott Monument in all of it's glory. The Scott Monument is the largest monument to a writer in the world. It is dedicated to Sir Walter Scott. This iconic landmark is the centerpiece of the city and is a must-visit while in town. Admire the beautiful architecture of the monument and climb the 287 stairs to the top to admire the beautiful view.
City of the Dead Tour
Scotland is known for it's truly morbid and haunted history. Truly find yourself in Edinburgh's past with the world famous Edinburgh Ghost and Underground Tours. View some of the cities old vaults that lie beneath the city sidewalks. For around 30 years, the vaults were used to house taverns, cobblers and other tradesmen, and as storage space for illicit material, reportedly including the bodies of people killed by serial killers Burke and Hare for medical experiments. As the conditions in the vaults deteriorated, mainly because of damp and poor air quality, the businesses left and the very poorest of Edinburgh's citizens moved in.  If you are up to learning about some of Edinburgh's haunted history and ready for a memorable experience in Edinburgh then these tours are just for you. Trust me, they're a scream.
The Elephant House
Harry Potter fan? Then visit the White Elephant, the place where the magic began. This is the location where J.K. Rowling sat with a coffee in hand, maybe even a scone and wrote all of the Harry Potter books.  Enjoy a nice cup of coffee, my favorite was the Cafe Mocha and a chocolate brownie, and bask in the hip and magical atmosphere. After you are finished be sure to visit the cemetery behind The White Elephant, this is the place where gravestones inspired some of J.K. Rowling's character names, such as Thomas Riddle.
Whistle Binkies
Get a feel for the city and its night life at Whistle Binkies right on the Royal Mile. They offer a variety of live music every weekend and the place is hopping with natives to the city so you can truly immerse yourself in the culture. Take your girlfriends or your mates into town and chill out in the booths listening to music or get up and dance the night away!
Arthur's Seat
Climb a dormant volcano right on the outskirts of the city and get a view to die for. A short walk from Edinburgh's Royal Mile, Arthur's seat lies in Holyrood Park. The top is very windy, but the view of the city is rewarding. It is quite a hike and you will definitely be feeling it the next day, but boy is it worth the view.
Calton Hill
Visit one of the most beloved spots in the city. The view from Calton Hill has inspired visitors and locals for generations. From this point in the city you can see for miles. Also while at Calton HIll be sure to visit some of the city monuments such as the National Monument and the Nelson Monument. The National Monument was inspired by the Parthenon because Edinburgh has a lot of Greek influence and was often referred to as the Athens of the North. The monument was built to commemorate the Scottish servicemen who died in the Napoleonic Wars, but was never finished and only half of it stands today. It is still quite hauntingly beautiful if you ask me, but it was often referred to as Edinburgh's shame. The Nelson Monument looks somewhat like a telescope and was built in honor of Lord Admiral Nelson who died in the Battle of Trafalgar.  The hill hosts a variety of events year-round one of the most popular being the Beltane Fire Festival in April. It is quite a unique experience and this hill was one of of my own personal favorites in the city.  
National Museum of Scotland 
The National Museum of Scotland offers endless exhibits to look at and endless knowledge to gain. Not to mention the architecture is beautiful. The museum has certain exhibits that only stay for a small time frame, so be sure to  catch some of those because they are rather fascinating.
Edinburgh Castle
This is such a unique castle and offers such a beautiful experience. The castle was built on an extinct volcano and is now called Castle Rock. The castle through the centuries has been a military base and a place of royal residence. Part of the castle today is devoted to a war memorial and is quite magnificent. This castle, along with a lot of other Scottish attractions offers panoramic views that are out of this world.
Princess and George Street
Take a stroll along two of the most popular streets in the city. Both streets offer endless things to do. Hope off the bus on Princess Street and be right in the middle of a very alive city. While I was in Edinburgh I loved all the opportunities Princess and George Street gave me. I always had something to do.
Princess Street
George Street
Portobello Beach
Beach, huh? You probably do not think of hitting up the beach while you're in a place like Scotland, but Portobello Beach is a must see. It offers such a unique experience at a beach that is so different from the one you'll have in a tropical place. Take a picnic, walk through the little shops, wade through the water or just go to watch the sunset. It is a very tranquil place, where the sky seems to go on forever. While I was there my friends and we got caught in the middle of a flash parade for Saint Patrick's day. It was quite the experience and one I won't ever forget from Portobello Beach.
Edinburgh, my beautiful home away from home. That city will forever hold a piece of my heart. These were some of my favorite places in Edinburgh and where I spent a great deal of time. Looking at these photos and writing this blog post makes me miss it even more. What I would give to sit on Calton Hill right now or relax with a cup of coffee at The Elephant House. Edinburgh will make you fall in love with a city more than you ever though possible and if you do choose to study abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland or even just visit, I hope the time you spend there is just as magical and life-altering as mine was. So my question to you is, why not Edinburgh?

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Main Six

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville's Education Abroad Office has endless amounts of programs that you could study abroad with. Our office however, likes to highlight our main six study abroad programs. These programs are the universities we have the best relationships with, know the most about and we can guarantee will offer the best support. These six programs are in Italy, Japan, Spain, England, Australia and Fiji. Over 10,000 students from 250 institutions have participated on on our six Education Abroad Programs. These programs have a lot to offer students; a great deal of student support from knowledgeable on-site staff, exciting excursions and co curricular activities, and unique opportunities to integrate into the institution, community, and culture abroad.  They offer students an experience of a lifetime, colorful opportunities and I hope after reading this you find the program just for you!

#1: The American University of Rome, Italy
Rome. Who doesn't want to go to Rome, I know I do. AUR is perched high above Rome on the Janiculum hill, just above the famous Trastevere district.  Founded in 1969, AUR is one of the oldest degree-granting American universities in Italy.  With a total enrollment of about 500 students, the university attracts students from 40 countries worldwide, bringing a unique international perspective to the campus. Occupying a single, self-contained campus, AUR offers spectacular views of Rome.  The campus includes two main buildings, a library, and gorgeous gardens and terraces for studying or enjoying conversations with classmates from around the globe.  The surrounding neighborhood offers a range of shops, restaurants, pubs, and cafes, and all of Rome’s historic museums, theatres, monuments, and galleries are just a short bus ride away, making it easy to experience all that the city has to offer. You can study at AUR over winterim, summer, for a  semester or a full academic year. If that doesn't just sound like the most wonderful Italian adventure, then I don't know what does.

http://www.uwplatt.edu/education-abroad/aur-rome-italy

#2: Nagasaki University of Foreign Studies, Japan
When I think of Japan, I think of a very unique and different culture from that of the United States of America. NUFS was founded in 1947 and is fully accredited by the Japanese Ministry of Education.  With a total enrollment of about 800 students, international students from around the world account for nearly 40 percent of the student population, bringing a unique international perspective to NUFS. The current NUFS campus, built in 1996, is located on the northern border of Nagasaki City and its suburb of Togitsu.  Nagasaki, a city of about 500,000 people on the western island of Kyushu, is built around a natural harbor and climbs up the surrounding steep hills. The city boasts spectacular views and proximity to natural sights such as its rugged coastline, beaches, islands, volcanic mountains, and a national park. You can study at NUFS for either a semester or a full academic year. Ready to have your life enriched by a vastly different culture? Then NUFS is just the place for you. For more information please visit the link below.

http://www.uwplatt.edu/education-abroad/nufs-nagasaki-japan

#3: Spanish-American Institute of International Education, Spain
When I think of Spain I think of beautiful architecture, unique food and a dynamic and happening culture. SAIIE is located in the heart of medieval Seville.  Founded in 1984, SAIIE instructs American students studying abroad through UW-Platteville Education Abroad and offers an intercultural learning experience through academics, excursions, conversation partnerships with native Spanish speakers, volunteer opportunities, and internships.  In addition, SAIIE serves as a language academy for international students wanting to learn English, bringing a unique international and intercultural perspective to SAIIE. Occupying a single, self-contained building, SAIIE is just minutes from many of Seville’s famous sights.  The surrounding neighborhood offers a range of shops, restaurants, cafes, and pubs, and Seville’s museums, galleries, monuments, and nightlife are easily accessed by public transportation or are within walking distance.  With a population of 750,000, Seville has all of the advantages of a big city while still maintaining Spanish charm and culture. You can study at SAIIE over winterim, summer, for a semester or full academic year. Wouldn't you like to be charmed by the Spanish culture? I know that sounds wonderful to me! For more information please visit the link below.

http://www.uwplatt.edu/education-abroad/saiie-seville-spain

#4: St. Mary's University, England 
Ready to have the time of your life while living in one of the most famous cities in the world? Then this program is just for you. Founded in 1850, St Mary’s University is the only Catholic university in London and the largest in the UK. The Catholic ethos of St Mary's University provides students with a values-based education that is open to all, and where all students and staff are respected and valued.With a total enrollment of about 4,000 students, international students from around the world account for nearly 10 percent of the student population, bringing a unique international perspective to St Mary’s University. The beautiful St. Mary's University campus is situated on the grounds of the historic Strawberry Hill House making it a welcoming community for students. At St Mary's University students get the best of both worlds with our beautiful green space close to the hustle and bustle of Central London only 25 minutes away by train. At the same time students have all the advantages of the restaurants, cafes, pubs, and malls of nearby Kingston and Teddington. You can study at SMU for the summer, a semester or for a full academic year. Wish to see Big Ben, ride the London eye, visit Buckingham Palace and other endless possibilities? Then, SMU in London is the perfect opportunity for you! Visit the link below for more information.
 
http://www.uwplatt.edu/education-abroad/smu-london-england
  
#5: University of Newcastle, Australia  
When I think Australia the typical tourist thoughts come to mind, kangaroos, everyone can surf and an eternal summer,. but Australia has so much more to offer then just those things. UoN is an Australian public university established in 1965 comprised of five campuses.  Conducting groundbreaking research in health and medicine, science and engineering, and energy and the environment, UoN consistently ranks in the top ten universities for research.  And with a total enrollment of about 36,000, the 7,500 international students from 115 countries bring a unique international perspective to UoN. Callaghan, the main and largest campus, is located in the Newcastle suburb of Callaghan, just seven miles from Newcastle city.  The campus is comprised of over 345 acres of natural bushland and includes university buildings and lecture halls, sporting fields, a sports and aquatic center, and four residence halls.  Newcastle city, which is easily reached by train from the UoN campus, has a population of over 155,000 and offers a range of shops, restaurants, pubs, cafes, museums, galleries, and nightlife.  In addition, Sydney is just 101 miles, or two hours by train, away and can be easily been reached for a day or weekend trip. Students can study for an academic year or semester at UoN.You can study at UoN for a semester or for a full academic year. Visit the link below for more information.

http://www.uwplatt.edu/education-abroad/uon-newcastle-australia
  
#6: University of the South Pacific, Fiji 
Small island, rich culture, numerous beaches and no snow? This program is sounding better and better. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't mind skipping out on the Midwest winter!USP is a public research university owned by the governments of 12 member nations: the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.  With a student population of 22,000, USP attracts students from the South Pacific, Asia, and Europe, bringing a unique international perspective to USP. USP’s largest campus is the Laucala Campus hosts 11,000 students in Fiji’s capital city, Suva, on the island of Viti Levu.  The Laucala Campus consists of two campuses, upper and lower, and is approximately 10 minutes by bus from central Suva.  Suva city offers a wide variety of shops, restaurants, nightlife, cafes, pubs, theatres, and open markets, and there is a range of outdoor activities such as surfing, hiking, and swimming to be done just outside of the city.  With a population of 172,000, Suva has all of the advantages of a big city while still maintaining Fijian charm and culture. You can study at USP for a semester or a full academic year. Outdoor and city activities? Count me in. This program has an endless list of possibilities! Visit the link below for more information.

http://www.uwplatt.edu/education-abroad/usp-suva-fiji

These are the main six programs UW-Platteville has to offer, don't they all sound just wonderful? I know if I could and I had the funds and time I would go on every single one. These six options have so much to offer a student who wishes to study abroad and are so well constructed. Which in reality every student should have the goal to study abroad because it changes your life and as you get older your commitments only grow, so go now while your young and more carefree. It will not only enrich your education, but your life as well.

I hope I have now sparked your interest in one of our six programs and you will start your application today! Your adventure with Education Abroad awaits!

Want more general information about our Education Abroad Office. Visit the link below. 

http://www.uwplatt.edu/education-abroad

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Money. Money. Money.


Money. Money. Money. This always seems to be the biggest concern from students when they are considering studying abroad, I know it was one of mine and it is also one of the biggest reason's a lot of student's have also chosen not to go abroad. Well let me outline something very clearly, DO NOT LET THAT FEAR STOP YOU FROM HAVING THE EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME. You can always earn money, it's always a possibility. How will I get the money to go abroad? How much does Education Abroad cost? Are there scholarships available? What about financial aid? These are all questions so many students continually have and I am going to try and clear some of it up for you!

The main point is that no, Education Abroad is not free, but there are so many ways to earn the
money to go abroad. No one program costs the same amount and you also have to consider outside costs like traveling and living expenses. If you plan far enough in advance you can spend your summers working like I did to raise the funds to go. The University, the Education Abroad Office and many outside sources like the internet, offer a variety of scholarships and financial aid will apply just like it does back here on campus. The following is a link to the scholarships we offer.

http://www.uwplatt.edu/education-abroad/education-abroad-scholarships

Alright now let's get more creative and think more on a fundraising level! The following are ideas for raising money online or offline to go abroad.

To get started with:
Make a Video
Videos are such a key in today's world and they are such a key in marketing yourself. They are a great way to raise money and make people aware of your future plans and endeavors. There is a great app today called Adobe Voice and it is such an easy, quick and useful tool in making a meaningful video and telling a story.
    Writing Your Campaign Description 
    Keep it positive and consider what would inspire you to give to others and that will give you an idea of what direction to go in with your video. Make sure you explain why you want to go abroad and how much you will grow from it. Really highlight on how the funders' money will be used, how much it means to you and how it will only improve your education. Highlight on the fact that you are not asking people to fund a vacation, but so much more, a life-changing experience.

    To highlight more on earning money online for Education Abroad here are a few tips:
    How to Ask for Money Without Making it Awkward
    Now it's really time to put on your thinking cap! For each level someone donates at you can come up with your own little reward. People like to see where and what their money is being used for, so it's important to make them a part of your experience with Education Abroad. For everyone that donates $10 dollars you can promise to send a postcard. For those who donate $25+ keep a video blog for them and send a post card. If they donate $100, you can give them a video shout-out from a landmark in your destination country and share it with them via Facebook or email. This will really mean a lot to people if you take the time to recognize their efforts to support you.
    SHARE!
    Share your video and campaign on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Really any social media you are on that is one more face your campaign and video reaches. Even branch out and write personal email to people to fund your trip and include a link to your video. Go above and beyond to get it out there, make your goals known.
    Reach Out to Extended Networks
    This campaign is a great reason to expand your current network and demonstrate your initiative, for future prospects. If you are traveling to Spain, reach out to the Spanish Club on campus or your local Spanish Culture groups; find Spanish Speakers Associations or Spanish Education Organizations using LinkedIn and other online resources. Inform them about your desire to learn the culture and language through an immersion experience and the incentives you’re offering donors.
    Highlights on earning money offline for Education Abroad: 

    Arts and Crafts
    Sew, knit, make Christmas wreaths, whatever! If you like to craft then do so while earning money towards Education Abroad. Ask people to fund your trip in return for a craft or piece of art work. If music or writing is your thing host a concert at your university or a poetry slam. 

    Bake
    Hold a bake sale or sell hot chocolate. In this cold weather especially on campus students would love the opportunity to  stop quickly and buy some delicious treats and a hot chocolate to warm them up. You could also cater one of your family or friend's holidays. Some people hate to cook for the holidays, so offer to take it off their hands in return them making a donation to your travel fund. 

    Athletics 
    Alright so, if you partake in any sports ask people to donate for every win, shot, hit or milestone you mark. If they do then make a video and dedicate the achievement to them! Like to stay active while raising money? Partake in a marathon or a tough mudder! You could even create and host your own tournament, like a Dodgeball Tournament and have the proceeds go towards your travel fund! 

    Entrepreneurs and Educators   
    Time to get down and dirty! Rake leaves, shovel snow, mow lawns or tutor for tips! Get friends together to host a talent show for donations. Babysit or nanny for contributions to your travel campaign.Talk to local cultural groups and businesses that might help you sponsor an event or even your trip, in exchange for volunteering or supporting their products/services.

    A few last words: 
    Remember to give THANKS to all the people who funded and supported your journey. Let them know just how much it meant to you and how without it everything you have gained and experienced with and through Education Abroad would not have been possible without their help. I hope this post has been very helpful to anyone looking for ways to raise money to go abroad or had any questions about scholarships or financial aid. Remember to not let the fear of raising money to keep you from going abroad, it is an amazing opportunity and it's one you won't regret.    


    This blog post was adapted from an article done by NAFSA. 

    Tuesday, November 11, 2014

    A Student's Perspective-Matthew in Fiji

    This week we have a student's perspective from Matt. Matt studied abroad this past Spring 2014 for the semester. Matt chose to take his journey with Education Abroad in Fiji and if it doesn't just look and sound absolutely amazing. I hope you enjoy reading about Matt's time in Fiji!
     
    Bula!
    My name is Matthew Grieser, I am one of the Education Abroad Ambassadors for the Education Abroad Office located on campus. While studying in Platteville can be fun and all, studying abroad is a great opportunity to learn more about different cultures and yourself as a person along with some new interests. I studied abroad in Fiji in spring of 2014 and it was the best decision I made while going to college.
     
    Traveling to an exotic location for vacation is always great, but studying abroad is so much more.
    If you spend a semester abroad you are able to live in a foreign country for five months. This opens
    opportunities that would never be available to people just on vacation. Some of these opportunities
    include staying in rural villages with locals and really learning their culture and traditions, learning some of the local language, and be considered a local yourself. There are so many things to do in Fiji! I’m a biology major and while I was there I was able to study Marine Science courses and take field trips out to island reefs and learn about marine life which is very difficult to do in Wisconsin. I was also able to go zip-lining for the first time, climb several mountains and go on some amazing scuba dives! Along with all of this there are many more awesome things to do in and around Fiji, who doesn’t like sitting on a beach at a resort for the day!
    School at USP is similar to school at Platteville. There’s block scheduling with some science
    courses having labs and every class having a tutorial; which is a class where you go over things you talk about in lecture. Classes meet two to three times a week, plus lab and tutorial if you have them. The campus is located in Suva which is the capital of Fiji, however it’s not right downtown so it feels like you are away from the big city. Although it is very easy to hop on a bus or in a taxi and get downtown in five minutes where there is an abundance of restaurants and shopping centers. Studying abroad for a whole semester can sound intimidating; however it can open you up to so many other opportunities for the future and make you learn so much about yourself as a person that if you have the chance it is hard to say no. For me personally, studying abroad was the best decision I ever made, it gave me great opportunities, it showed me what direction I wanted to take in life and it opened me up more as a person, changing me for the better as a result. If you study abroad you won’t regret it, and hey, you might even have a little fun too!
    If you desire more information about Fiji or just studying abroad in general feel free to drop by
    the Education Abroad Office in Royce Hall and talk with myself or many other people working in the
    office, they are a great resource for information! My office hours are Mondays from 2:00 to 3:00 and Thursdays from 12:30 to 1:30.

    Vinaka!

    Matthew Grieser
    Education Abroad Ambassador
    University of Wisconsin - Platteville


    You can tell from reading what Matt wrote above that he really had his life changed by Education Abroad and made some lifelong friends along the way. The Fiji program Matt went on is one of UW-Platteville's main six programs and it is becoming increasingly popular. I'm sure Matt has plenty more to talk about from his time spent on this program, so feel free to come in, see Matt and hear a little more about Fiji!

    Wednesday, November 5, 2014

    A Student's Perspective-Jonathan in England

     This week we have a post from Jonathan who studied abroad in London, England at St. Mary's University in the Spring of 2014. Not to far from where I studied in Dalkeith, Scotland. Just a short 5 hour train ride away! That's what's so amazing and beautiful though about not only the UK, but Europe in general. It's so simple to take a train, flight or bus and be in a different country within a few hours.  London was an amazing city to visit and it was exciting to read about an adventure from someone who lived there for an entire semester, to learn what London is really like and to really see it from a resident's perspective.  I hope you all enjoy Jonathan's story, I know I did!

    Greetings!

    Let me introduce myself! My name is Jonathan Brumm and I am one of the Student Ambassadors for the Education Abroad Office on campus. Although I enjoyed my studies as an English Education major at Platteville, I took the plunge and studied abroad at St. Mary’s during the spring semester of 2014. I just wanted to share a few of my insights with you about the whole “international education” experience.


    While I am sure many of you have traveled around the United States and world, I would like to clarify that an education abroad is nothing like a long trip. The program at St. Mary’s reserves an expectation that their students work before they play. But hey! Don’t think that your time there will be completely absorbed by classwork: there is a historically engrained expectation in England (especially London) of young adults being independent. During the school week, most classes typically meet just once or twice so that you may engage with your peers and educators and spend your mornings and afternoons casually focusing on studies. After the day finishes, which can often be in the early afternoon, the time for exploration and leisure begins!

    Neatly situated just outside the hustle of central London, St. Mary’s is planted in between the two residential hubs of Twickenham and Teddington right on the River Thames. Southwest London is known for its safety, quiet green parks and friendly folks, but also for a perky nightlife and shopping culture. It is only a short train ride into the center of the city, which makes exploring London more convenient. While I would like to say it is easy to unlock all that London has to offer, the sheer amount of pubs, museums, concerts, theaters, palaces and castles is overwhelming. And that is not to mention what the rest of Europe has to offer!


    I advocate that you imagine the differences between the experiences you will have during a semester at Platteville with the one you will have at St. Mary’s; conjuring ideas and dreams of life in England will really put you in a great mindset! I know that through your prospective process you have been hearing past study abroad students passionately—sometimes obsessively—describe how much of a valuable experience they had while overseas. While it’s great to hear those broad encouragements, I suggest that you come and visit me or my other peers in the Abroad Office so you can get a more personalized idea of what a semester abroad can be!

    I have office hours from 12:00-2:00pm every Wednesday, so feel free to drop by for a chat! Otherwise, I have numerous pockets of free time in my schedule throughout the week during which we could set up a meet.


    Cheers!

    Jonathan Brumm
    Education Abroad Ambassador,
    University of Wisconsin – Platteville

    As you read from above Jonathan had nothing but good things to say about London and St. Mary's University. Each Education Abroad Program offers such a unique and different experience, there's simply something for everyone. I know I wish I could do them all, if only travel was free! If you would like to learn more about studying abroad in London be sure to come in and visit Jonathan during his office hours. I'm sure he has countless stories to tell, we all do.  

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014

    10 Tips to Studying Abroad

     So many people let their excitement of studying abroad get the best of them and they forget some major keys in studying abroad. Don't get me wrong you should lose yourself in Education Abroad because you find yourself there too, but you also need to keep your head on your shoulders as well. I've thrown together a list of 10 tips I think are important to remember when going abroad. 

     

    1. Stay aware of current events at home and abroad
      -It's important to know what is going on in the country you will be living in so be sure to watch the news or read it online. Current events are very important to know and how they will be affecting the country your living in.
      -It is also important to keep up on the news at home so you know what you will be coming home to and what are important things in that might be affecting loved ones back home.
    2. Be cautious and aware of your surroundings
      -Take caution and know your surroundings, know which areas are safe and which ones are more dangerous.
      -Try not to be out alone at night
    3. Photocopy important documents
      - You can lose or replace documents very easily when abroad so be sure to leave copies of all your important documents with your home university and family in case of emergency.
    4. Keep up with currency exchange
      -Currency differs all around the world and it is important to know the country you are studying in and the current exchange rate. It helps you manage your money better and determine your expenses.
      -Here is a helpful link to Oanda, a great Currency Converter!
                        -http://www.oanda.com/
    5. Register your semester with Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
      -Registering with the U.S. Embassy is one more way to insure your safety and notify the your home country of your trip and that you will be out of the country for some time, so if they need to find you it is possible. 
    6. Get to know your host culture
      -In some cases while studying abroad you might be staying with a host family. This is your chance to fully immerse yourself in the culture and it's values.
      -Learn the country's customs, ask what the rules are and ask what they expect of you.
      -Respect cultural differences.
    7. Set a budget
      -Money will go fast while you are abroad so be constantly aware of how much money you have to spend and what you want to spend it on or what extra trips you may want to take.
    8. Journal
      -Journal, blog, whatever just get everything your doing down so you can look back later at all of your memories.
      -You may think there is no way you could forget some of the memories you make, but sometimes you forget the little things and its nice to have that simple reminder to always put a smile on your face. 
    9. Seek out resources
      -Know all emergency numbers just in case, you can never be too cautious. 
    10. Have fun, learn about the culture and make friends
      - Take every opportunity thrown your way to grow as a person, have a grand adventure, travel, make life-long friends and become much more culturally diverse!

    In the end really just let the experience of education abroad change your life. As humans we are constantly searching for a purpose to life and why we are here. We are always trying to create a life we are proud of and when we are met with the end of our life's journey, one we can look back proudly on. Education Abroad if such a wonderful opportunity and is one of those life-defining moments, so truly let it be something that you can say changed you for the better.