Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sotiria S - Worms, Germany - Fall 2014

Hi CPP 250!
I have been in Worms, Germany for a month now! When I first landed in Frankfurt, I was so anxious! I wasn’t sure if I was ready for this since I was the only student coming to Worms from Elmhurst! I knew absolutely no one and that was very hard for me…but when I got to Worms, I instantly fell in love! The city is just so cute… I couldn't have picked a better place to be!
The first couple days were hard, since I didn't know my way around or anyone, but within the first week, I had met a lot of new people who were on the same boat as I was. I have met some pretty amazing people so far and can say that I know the city like the back of my hand! I feel as though I have been living here forever!

Classes haven’t started yet for us over here, which means I have had tons of time to travel. We went on a Erasmus trip to Berlin… and that was simply amazing! I was able to see so many places that Ive only seen in pictures! It is so amazing to say that I have been to the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie! During the trip, the other international students and I got to know each other so much better- and we've traveled outside of Germany since that trip! The best part about being in Europe is that everything is so close! A group of us just returned from Spain this weekend and that was such an amazing experience! I am so excited to have chosen Germany! There is so much more I want to say about Germany since one post just simply doesn't do it justice! But, if you've chosen to come to Worms for your time abroad… you are in for a REAL treat!

Megan W - Dublin, Ireland - Fall 2014

My First Impressions of Living in Dublin, Ireland

This is a lake in the Wicklow Mountains in Glendalough, which is
one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.

Living in Dublin, Ireland has been everything I expected and more. So far I have been having the time of my life in Dublin. Dublin is a beautiful city with a lot of entertainment and Irish culture and history. I have travel a lot around Ireland in the past month. I been to the coast, the country and the city. Some places in Ireland that I have travel to in Ireland is Glendalough, Cork, Cobh, Galway, Blarney Castle, Aran Islands and Howth. Each of these cities were beautiful in their own way. I have been to the Dublin  City Center a lot and feel comfortable walking around the city without getting lost. The only thing that is a challenge for me is that class is very different from what I am used to at Elmhurst. Here at University College of Dublin we only get assessed on our learning two times in the whole semester where at Elmhurst we have quizzes everyday and test every two weeks.  My advice for anyone studying abroad is to take every trip you can that your university offers you since you will be able to see the country you are studying in. Another advice I would give a person who is going to travel abroad is to go travel to other countries since it is so easy to do while you are here in Europe but remember your school and studies come first. And just live life to the fullest while you are studying abroad because you might not get this opportunity again so take full advantage of it. 
This is when I went to Cork and visit Blarney’s Castle and kiss the Blarney stone, which was an amazing experience. 

Alex K - Oxford, England - Fall 2014

Hi! I’m Alex and I am studying in Oxford, England, as part of the CMRS program. Oxford itself is a very interesting town; it’s a motley collection of the medieval and the modern. You have buildings dating back for centuries mixed in with street markets and performers. They’re not all your average performers either. One of the more interesting ones I’ve seen is the Bubble Bunny, a man who wears a bunny suit and blows bubbles as he waves to the people on the street. It’s kind of bizarre, but certainly original. I love the architecture of Oxford too; the buildings that neighbor each other are never from the same time period, as they are in America, but rather from many different time periods, so you may find building from the 17th or 18th centuries right next to one from the 20th. And that doesn’t even include the schools, which are so gorgeous that walking past them without marveling is a feat.

                My fellow students and I are all working on our first major paper, and we’ve all been faced with one of the biggest dilemmas that I think a CMRS student can face: do we devote all our time to our studies, or do we go out and see the country? Focusing on your work here is very important, because that’s what you’re here for; but if I had one piece of advice to you, I would tell you to go out and experience as much as you can in your time here. This is an experience you only get once, so don’t let it pass you by. England has so much to offer in terms of sights and experiences; there are so many incredibly historic places, and it is absolutely nothing like what you’d find in America. Not that I’m suggesting that you blow off you work, but do your best to find a happy medium between studying and traveling, even if that means really exploring Oxford, because Oxford is not short on interesting sights. Make a list of all the things you want to do during your time here, and then tackle as many as you can. You’ll never regret living in the moment!

Amy C - Dublin, Ireland - Fall 2014

I would say the first day or so were the only stressful days so far. This was because we had no means to getting basic apartment necessities including sheets and dishes and common every day items. We slept on our mattresses with only a mattress pad! Once we had the opportunity to go shopping, we settled in very quickly. We discovered how to get into downtown Dublin our second day where I took this picture, my new home! 
This picture was taken one of my first days in Dublin. I love it because I cross this liffey nearly every time I go into town, which is very often. 
This picture was taken in Glendalough, with some of my Elmhurst friends and some of my new friends. I love this picture because I already can’t imagine this semester without them, and I had no idea who they were before I came here. It is true what they say, that you meet some of your best friends abroad!

Darinka P - Dublin, Ireland - Fall 2014

Hello fellow study abroad students!  Get ready to have the time of your lives abroad!  I’m Darinka, a senior nursing student studying in Dublin, Ireland.  I remember being in your shoes and being both excited and terrified at the same time, but honestly I did not realize what I got myself into until I arrived at O’Hare airport to start the adventure of my life.  So far, my experience here has been unreal!  Ireland is absolutely breathtaking!  From the city, to the hills, to the cliffs and to the sea, every ounce of it is stunning (Google images doesn’t do it justice).  Dublin is small in comparison to Chicago, but enormous to every Irish person I have met.  The city has so much
culture, history, pride, and energy!  Grafton Street, one of the main streets in the city, is always booming.  There are street performers day and night and people out and about all day.  Also, I have never ate as much gelato as I have since I have been here.  Okay now, let’s get serious for Alice.  When it comes to culture shock, I can’t say I have experienced it yet.  It definitely helps that English is the common language here.  Granted they have accents that can be difficult to understand at times.  I would definitely encourage everyone to always stay busy and join as many clubs or activities as possible to get your mind off not being at home.  Another piece of advice, (provided by Alice), pack half as much clothes and twice as much money! Everything abroad is expensive and whatever you can’t bring, you can buy. Save your money to explore, it’s worth every penny!  So far, all I have been doing is traveling within Ireland, but my abroad adventures are soon to start and I cannot wait for them to begin! Enjoy every minute of your time abroad and say yes to everything! …unless you are about to get taken. 

Ellie A - Dublin, Ireland - Fall 2014

Hello all!
My name is Ellie Anderson and I am a senior nursing student studying in Dublin, Ireland! I am so glad I chose to study abroad, it was really one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! I love exploring our campus (University College Dublin), Dublin, and Ireland itself. I have not really experienced any culture shock yet, but I’ve been so busy with exploring, traveling, and joining clubs (like windsurfing!), and that’s one of the best pieces of advice I can give, stay busy! Join clubs, go on day trips, and travel as much as you can. I’ve done things I never would have done before, like standing on the edge of a 400ft cliff, and have plans to travel to places I couldn’t have imagined I would go, like Morocco!! Traveling can get expensive, but it’s worth every cent and keep telling yourself that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and it will make looking at your bank statement a little easier. Time flies by so fast when you’re abroad, I cannot believe we’ve been here a month already! So enjoy every moment, take a day to sit at a park or peaceful place to take it all in, do everything you possibly can, and have the time of your life!!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Tatiana R - Freiburg, Germany - Fall 2014

My First Impressions of Living in Freiburg

When I chose Freiburg im Breisgau, I had not expected it to be exactly the type of town I was looking for. With the view of the surrounding hills/mountains, the perfect suburb to city layout (with quick and easy transportation), beautiful buildings, the friendly people, the almost staggering amount of cute little kids, and even the green/liberal attitude. That being said, I've grown up bilingually, English and German, with both citizenships, so Freiburg has been my window into future opportunities and lifestyle, not just here but also the rest of the country. So far I've been living in Freiburg for almost a month, and its been really wonderful, but has also had some very strange issues.

Most German students are still on vacation until school starts late October, meaning that our apartments are pretty empty. This means the rest of the students in my program almost feel like the only people we can talk to are the other people in the IES Language and Area Studies program, which has already become an issue. Most of us have already gotten so used to seeing each other that we have already gotten slightly sick of the others.

This is the first time I can completely say I'm on my own, so this has been not just an adventure of life abroad but also my first stroke of independence. With that there have been some things I really had not expected. First off, finding garbage cans has been difficult, something I would have taken for granted back in America, but when you do happen to find one, you will have to sort it in some weird system that only Freiburg follows. Also if you happen to be away from your apartment and need to find a bathroom, it can be very difficult to find one that is readily available, i.e. not in stores. Wifi, or WLAN, is non-existant unless you have an awesome roommate who lets you use his on your phone, so you will definitely buy a data plan with either AldiTalk or O2. Side note, Freiburg has one of the highest populations of dreadlock wearers. Okay, I don't really know if that's
true, but they are everywhere! Lol.

Katie V - Dublin, Ireland - Fall 2014

Hi CPP Class!
My name is Katie and I’m a senior nursing student spending the semester in Dublin, Ireland. So far, I have been having the time of my life! Dublin is such a fun city, and Ireland is incredibly gorgeous. Everywhere I go is beautiful- the coast, the countryside, even the downtown. It’s fun being in a country that has so much history. I have been here for about a month now and I am already comfortable navigating the city. Almost every time we go to downtown Dublin, we run into someone we know. I’ve met so many people here from the US, which I wasn’t expecting. It truly is a small world. 
Fota Wildlife Park in Cork, Ireland. It’s about 3 hours away from Dublin and it is one of the most fun places I’ve ever been! Kangaroos are everywhere, not in cages or enclosures.

Class here is very different than at Elmhurst, especially concerning nursing classes. At Elmhurst, we (the nursing students) usually have a quiz every morning before class starts, and several assignments due per week. Here there are 2 large assignments at midterm and final for each class, and that is the whole of our grade. That is probably the biggest change for me, but I’m confident that I will do well in school here.  If I could give any advice to those studying abroad, it would be expect to spend much more money than you plan on spending (especially if you are going to a country that uses the euro), to not stress yourself out about packing (you can always go shopping for things your forgot-pack light!), but most of all have fun and soak everything in because I’ve only been here a month and it’s gone by so fast! If anyone is going to Ireland to study abroad or has any questions about anything in general, please don’t hesitate to ask me! J

The coast that is about a 20 minute walk from campus. It’s such a calm place that is different from the beaches at home.

Rachel T - Dublin, Ireland - Fall 2014

I am currently studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland at the University College of Dublin. The car ride to the airport was a silent and awkward one filled with anxiousness, fright, doubt, you name it! But when I landed and got on the bus to campus, my first thought was that Ireland wasn’t very different than the US. They speak English and a lot of the buildings are pretty new and modern. I feel comfortable here and I’m looking forward to all the new experiences I will have in the near future.
It has been about a month since I’ve landed here and I already feel comfortable navigating the streets of Dublin’s City Centre. 
In front of Temple Bar, a place I typically gravitate to at any time of the day because of the liveliness and music. There are tons of great restaurants in this area too!

Ireland as a whole is a beautiful country and there are plenty of tours and weekend trips you can take part in. My advice for anyone going abroad would be to take advantage of the trips that the University offers; they plan tours, activities, lodging, etc. Sometimes trips are free and other times they are at a great discounted price. I have already had the opportunity to hike the gorgeous Wicklow Mountains in Glendalough! Additionally, I am looking forward to traveling to Donegal, Ireland for a weekend of adventure which includes kayaking, rock climbing, and sailing. The weekend after I will be traveling to Northern Ireland to visit Belfast, Giants Causeway, and Dunluce Castle! The Fota Wildlife Park in Cork was amazing, Blarney Castle was a sight to see, and I’m still waiting to see Trinity College’s library! The point is, you will find plenty of things to do in your host country. You will learn so much about the country’s history and culture if you just explore!
The river running between the Wicklow Mountains. This place is one of the most beautiful I have seen in my life! 

There are so many opportunities to travel and meet new people while you are out here. Try to keep an open mind and it’s not so bad to have a casual conversation with a native at a pub or even in a cab. One night, while taking a cab, a friend and I had a friendly chat with the cab driver. Turns out he was a firefighter for Dublin’s Fire Brigade! He invited us to the firehouse the next day and he gave us a tour of the trucks and even let us spray the hose! You really never know who you will meet when you are out here!

I hope all of you are excited as you plan your study abroad experiences! Get ready for the time of your life! If anyone has any questions feel free to respond to this Blog!  

Theodore C - Hirakata, Japan - Fall 2014

For my study abroad experience, I knew that I wanted to go somewhere truly different. I did not want it to be somewhere that I could easily get around using only English as I felt that it would take away from my experience. This in turn ruled out most of the western world, so I then turned my search eastward. One country that immediately came to mind was China, but political developments at the time me uneasy about studying there. I also want to be somewhere that I could easily study the influences of the western world and learn about the current state of East Asian relations. So I ultimately decided to go to the land of the rising sun: Japan.
Usually when you bring up Japan, most people begin to conjure images of Geisha, Sushi, Samurai, or Anime in their heads and while these are certainly all aspects of Japanese culture, I soon discovered that they were only fragments of a much larger and beautiful picture.
Upon my arrival in Japan, I was instantly hit with a sense of euphoria and wonder that has yet to dissipate.  Japan has one of the oldest and most unique cultures in the world, and its presence can be felt in everything from basic house manners to social interactions. Everyday feels like an adventure as I try to adjust to this fascinating culture and begin to understand its inner workings. Learning how to speak and write, while difficult, has been extremely rewarding. I get a rush every time I am able to successfully read a sign or menu. The people I have met here are also one of a kind. Two of my good friends are Argentinean and have helped expose me to the surrounding area and life at Kansai Gaidai in general. One of the things I enjoy about my University is the diverse student body. I like going to the student lounge and just talking with random people about where they are from and what their views are on current events. I find it fascinating to hear about how people perceive the events and getting to learn about their individual countries. I can’t wait to continue my adventure and further expose myself to note only Japanese culture, but those of my fellow students as well.

Jennifer G - Oxford, England - Fall 2014

What to say about Oxford in just one post? Extraordinary. I have been in Oxford for just over three weeks and I feel as if I have learned and experienced so much. In this short time here I have been able to travel and see Bath, Wells Cathedral, Glastonbury Abbey, Hampton Court Palace, and London. The CMRS program is heavy with work and time management is key (as I’m beginning to figure out). But while work is heavy here, it doesn’t mean I cannot go out and have an adventure every now and again. The professors here (called Tutors) care about your education, but they also care about your life. They don’t want you cooped up in the library all day studying; they want you to go out into the world and experience everything life has to offer in Oxford. As the saying goes, some people live to work while others work to live. People in Oxford are definitely the latter. I am expected to work hard but I’m also expected to have some fun once in a while.

The biggest difference between this program and Elmhurst, besides being in a different country, is the responsibility we students have. I meet with my tutors only once a week to receive an assignment and then don’t see them again until that assignment is due. The responsibility of my education falls on my shoulders from start to finish. I don’t have a professor helping me out every step of the way. I am expected to do my work and ask for help when needed. This may seem daunting for some, but believe me when I say this is the most gratifying work I’ve done since I started college. I am in charge of my own education and my own work.  This may be a tough program academically, but it can also be the most rewarding.
Studying abroad can be intimidating for most, but for me, studying abroad has helped myself become more independent and has helped me realize that taking chances is well worth the risk. This trip was a risk for me and so far has been the best experience of my life.

I know I cannot possibly sum up all of CMRS in a single post, but for any who are interested, I post occasionally on this blog to let people know what I am up to here. Feel free to browse my blog and ask any questions you might have.

Sharon C - Derry, Northern Ireland - Fall 2014

Hi, I am Sharon, a Junior studying in Northern Ireland. This is a wonderful country. It is really green! Something that I wasn't able to see a lot in California. Classes had just begun and it is really different from back at home. I am studying at University of Ulster at Magee Campus. It is a pretty small city but it is an old city with lots of historical buildings and stories. 

For the past 3 weeks that I've been here I had visited many places but one of the best places I would pick so far is the Giant's Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. They were just BEAUTIFUL, so amazed the whole time. Everyone was just repeating the phrases, "WOW!" "That is so amazing!" "It's so beautiful" It was indescribable, So far my experience here has been awesome, except the fact that it is a little hard to understand English with the accents. But other than that it is just an incredible country!

Colin C - Dublin, Ireland - Fall 2014

It is a dream come true to finally arrive in Ireland. My whole life I have wondered where my family comes from and it is exceeding all of my expectations seeing it in person. I am having a grand time in Dublin and exploring around. It is some good craic (or how you say in the states fun)!  Everyone here is very nice and helpful! They are willing to talk off your ear while you listen to a great story!

My advice is to work hard before you study abroad and save up. When you get to your choice of destination you don’t want to say “no” to some experiences of a lifetime. I am excited for more to come and see more surrounding areas! Cheers, be patient soon you will be abroad and love the experience! 

Alex M – Limerick, Ireland – Fall 2014

Hello from Ireland!  I can’t believe that I’ve only been here for about three weeks so far. I already feel as though I’ve done so much! I’m studying abroad through IFSA-Butler, so as a part of my study abroad experience all of the students studying abroad in Ireland through IFSA-Butler met up in Dublin a couple days early for a few brief orientation sessions. We spent two nights in Dublin before heading off to our respective Irish universities, and doing so was an amazing way to start off my time in Ireland. I got to meet a group of other student who were also studying abroad at the University of Limerick, and we all got to know each other pretty well by the end of the weekend! Dublin was a beautiful city; while we were there we were able to visit some of its most famous attractions like the Guinness Storehouse and Temple Bar, while the experience also served as a great way to introduce us all to life in Ireland before heading off to our schools!

The University of Limerick is located just outside of the City of Limerick. Buses regularly travel between the campus and the city center, making transportation between the two really simple! I have heard many people say that the University of Limerick’s campus is the most beautiful campus in Ireland, and I can see why! From the building designs to the pieces of art located all over campus - not to mention to amazing view of the surrounding landscape – the University of Limerick is gorgeous. That being said, one of the first things I noticed was how friendly everyone was. Every person I met - be it another student or someone working in a shop in the city - was genuinely friendly and helpful. Making friends wasn’t difficult.  I live in apartment-style housing on campus in a flat shared with five other people: a guy and a girl from the United States, a girl form Canada, a girl from Belgium, and a girl form Ireland. In the short amount of time that we’ve been here, we’ve all gotten to become really close friends.
I joined a club on campus called the Outdoor Pursuits Club (OPC), through which I’ve been able to do a whole range of great activities like rock climbing in The Burren and hiking in the Ring of Kerry. Additionally, through the International Society on campus I’ve been able to achieve my life-long dream of visiting the Cliffs of Moher. So far my trip has already been unbelievable, and it’s still only the first few weeks.

So far I haven’t had any huge moments of culture shock. While at times the accent can be hard to understand, I really haven’t had much trouble with it, and the words/phrases that they say differently here haven’t been too difficult to pick up on! Not to say that the culture over here isn’t completely different from that of the United States, but I like the differences and actually feel like I can often relate to the way of life over here than I can back at home. This so far has been an invaluable experience, and I already feel like I’ve made what will become life-long friends from all over the world. I could write for hours about my experience so far, but I think I’ll leave it at this for now.  If there’s any question in your mind of whether you should study abroad or not, just do it. You’ll never regret it. 

Rebekah S - SIT Chile - Fall 2014

SIT: Chile, Comparative Education and Social Change

It has been a month since I left the good ole USA to embark on a new adventure in Santiago, Chile.  The city is a lot bigger than I had expected. Santiago is about double the population of Chicago…you can just imagine what that means for the buses and subway during rush hour! Santiago is very diverse and lively all day, overall great atmosphere.

Chileans speak very fast and that is still something I’m getting used to. They also like to cut off the end of words and they have a lot of “chilenismos,” which are slang words that are specific to their country. The people are very friendly though and everyone loves to talk to us foreigners. We have noticed they ask where we are from, what we are doing here, and then the third question is always “Do you have a boyfriend?”
Every day I take the bus to the university. Our program consists of 17 students from all around the U.S. Our schedule this month has been having class from 9-4, Monday-Friday. It has been grueling but we’ve had the chance to go on class field trips to museums, visit schools and have attended seminars at the university we attend. I knew very little about Chilean history so it has been eye opening to learn about all that has shaped the country and the people here. With that it has been fascinating to then meet those people who lived through so much!

One of the best things about this program has been living with a host family. I now have a younger brother and sister. They seem to love having me here. I’ve had the chance to go hiking with them and we’ve played lots of soccer (fútbol). Talking with my host mom as well has helped me a lot with the language.
We just finished celebrating Independence Day! It was fun to be here for, what I think, is their largest celebrated holiday throughout the year. My host siblings had the whole week off of school. For most jobs the workweek ends on Wednesday at about 1pm and every business is closed on the 18th (Independence Day) and the 19th. They basically party from Wednesday night until Sunday night. I spent the 18th with my family and we had a BBQ at our house and had other family over for the day. We ate so much meat. They also put avocado on everything, which I think is fantastic! Around the city in a few neighborhoods there are “fondas,” which are large community festivals where lots of families go to celebrate. It reminded me of a county fair kind of event. There was TONS of food, drinks, games, a small concert playing, little shops, and of course it was all overpriced. Overall, it was a great 4-day weekend for our group.
We are going to start traveling around Chile more this month and even get to go to Buenos Aires, Argentina for 2 weeks! Seriously let me know if you have any questions! Nos vemos. ¡Chao!

Will H - Bamberg, Germany - Academic Year 2014/15

Hello my name is Will. I am currently spending the year studying in Bamberg, Germany.

When my plane landed in Nuremberg I was amazed at how easy it was to get around. I took a subway, a train, and a short bus ride in order to get to my flat in Bamberg. The whole trip only cost around 15€.

When I finally arrived at my flat after a long day of travel I was ready for sleep. For about the first 5 days I was in Germany all I did was sleep. The jet lag was a lot to handle.
Since I have been in Germany I have been to Nuremberg and Munich. I have a trip planned to England for in week to visit some friends.

Compared to Elmhurst the school in Bamberg is completely different. The campus is spread out all over the entire city. You could have a 40 minute walk or a 10-15 minute bus ride from your flat to a university building. The bus is free when you have a student ID. With 15,000 students Bamberg is similar to a big state school back home. In addition the class are also very different. The registration is very different and is done entirely on your own.

The language barrier is not to much of a problem. Almost everyone under the age of 50 will speak decent English.

Managing your expenses is a very important part of living and traveling abroad. The easiest thing you can do is buy your own food from a local supermarket. If you don't know how to cook, learn. I spend about 30€ a week on food and I am eating very well. I eat different types of meat, vegetables, fruits, and various snacks. I have only eaten out 2x since I have been in Germany. Making your own food or bringing your own food will save a lot of money. A meal out will cost on average around 6-8€ and that doesn't include a drink.

Although I have only been here a few weeks it has been an amazing experience that I never want to end. 

Monday, April 07, 2014

Shelby S - Kansai-Gaidai Exchange, Japan - Spring 2014

Study Abroad Kansai Gaidai Spring 2014, Hirakata City Japan
I knew that I had always wanted to study abroad in Japan I just was not sure exactly where in Japan. I have been in the Tokyo area many times before so I knew I had to do something different this time. I choose to go to Kansai Gaidai University which is in the Kansai Region of Japan. It has been such a great experience so far. In my seminar house I meet people from all over the world. Many of the friends I have made here do not speak English as there first language. I am not only learning about Japan’s culture but cultures around the world (Korea, China, Sweden, etc).
The atmosphere at Kansai Gaidai is so friendly. Everyone on campus is willing to help you and in the Seminar houses everyone is so friendly as well. It really makes the experience much more special knowing that people are so willing to help. I’ve only been here for a couple months now but the friendships I have made are stronger than my friendships back home. Coming abroad really opened up my eyes to how different people are but so similar at the same time.

Famous Tori Gate at Miyajima Island, depending on the tide level you can go and touch it.
Since being in Japan I have been to Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Miyajima island, Yokohama, Yokosuka and a few more places. It is so easy to travel in Japan, and the train are so “Benri” aka, convenient.  What I like about the Kansai region compared to Tokyo is that it is much more relaxing here and there is so much history to see. When I go to Tokyo it is exciting but I only go shopping. In Kansai I site see at temples, shrines, and see many wandering friendly deer! I have seen so much already but still have much more to see. Coming to Kansai Gaidai has been a great experience and I wish I could extend my stay. If you come here you will not regret it.

The campus seems much bigger compared to Elmhurst.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Carmen S - Gold Coast, Australia - Spring 2014

Hello from Australia!

My name is Carmen and I am currently spending the semester at Griffith University in Gold Coast.  I live a block away from the beach in Sufers Paradise, Queensland where I relax at almost everyday.  My experience has been undescribable so far.  My first few days were in Brisbane, where we walked along the river and through the Botanical Gardens.  It was the most beautiful city I've ever been to.  Jessica and I then flew up to Cairns for orientation where we went scuba diving (I touched a sea turtle and got stung by a jellyfish but it was totally worth it!), hung out with Kangaroos and Koalas in the Rainforestation, and hiked through the Botanical Gardens.  I highly recommend going to Cairns, it was well worth the trip and there were so many things to do there!  Jessica and I later went to Sydney for the weekend!  Although it was raining the whole time and I didnt pack well, we still were able to see everything we wanted to in the short amount of time.  Bondi Beach was only an hour bus ride from Sydney and that was probably my favorite part because it was the most beautiful beach I've ever seen.  We then hiked through the Blue Mountains where I was attack by leeches and we saw the 3 Sisters, still worth it. 
 Lately, Ive been doing my best to stay focused on my school work in this beautiful weather.  I tried Kangaroo meat and LOVED it.  A group of us also took surfing lessons last week and I just signed up to become a licensed scube diver!  
We plan on traveling to New Zealand soon and hopefully see more of Australia.  I've loved every second of the trip so far and I cant wait to see what else I can see and learn!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Alex O - Sicily, Italy - Spring 2014

Hello all Study Abroad candidates! My name is Alex, I like you was at a point where I was considering going abroad, and the only advice I can offer is this: DO IT! I am almost two months into my semester in Sicily, and this has been something out of a dream. Traveling halfway across the globe has a profound impact on the way you process and receive information both academically and culturally, this became clear to me the first week of classes here. While attending regular class, I am constantly learning during my free time. The language barrier is not as bad as I first thought, it took me a while to gain the confidence to just take the initiative to try and talk to the locals and I found that they are salt of the earth, kindly people. The city in which I'm staying is from the 7th century B.C. so while I'm not a huge architecture buff, I'm quickly becoming aquatinted with ancient structures from Greek, Roman, Norman, and Spanish history. The food is immaculate here, and the cost of living rather low if you shop smart (which is a valuable skill you should start practicing now) and avoid frivolous goods. This is only a portion of the joy and discovery I've been exposed to thus far and I cannot appreciate the decision I made to come abroad anymore than I do now! I hope to hear from any and all of you with any questions about your own abroad experience! Ci vediamo! 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Carolyn P - Semester at Sea - Spring 2014

Greetings from Myanmar/Burma! I am a junior participating in the program, Semester at Sea, and having the time of my life. So far, our ship --the M.V. Explorer-- has sailed to Hawaii, Japan, China, Vietnam, Singapore, and here we are, leaving Burma and beginning our journey to India tomorrow! It's a crazy, hectic life but I am loving every second of it. I think I've done more in the past two months than I've done my whole life leading up to this. I'm learning a lot about myself, the world, and life in general. Actually, I'm probably finding more questions than answers. I can feel myself changing in ways I hadn't expected. I'm seeing a lot. In Vietnam, I crawled through the Cu Chi Tunnels used during the Vietnam War (or the American War, as they call it there- it's fascinating to see things from the other side). The past few days I explored Burma-- a country in transition recently and still today. It opened up to tourists only two years ago and it's going through many social and political changes. Seeing the poverty has prompted me to grapple with topics like privilege, quality of life, and my role as a global citizen. One thing that has struck me here in Burma is the general attitude toward life and tourists. The people have been so warm, positive, and enthusiastic in greeting us-- so eager to show us their country. I visited a school, several markets, and an elephant riding camp, all of which were great experiences. I'm glad that I still have about half (two months) of the program left, because I'm not ready to go home... I'm ready for more adventures! Anyway, I hope the study abroad planning process is going well for you, CPP students. I know it is a lot to pull together and sort through, but it will definitely be worth it in the end. Best of luck and hope to hear from you soon! -Carolyn

Monday, March 03, 2014

Amanda D - Wollongong, Australia - Spring 2014

Wow it was humid.  The heat and humidity hit me when I stepped off of the plane, officially ending the 14 hour flight from LAX to Brisbane.  The second thing to hit me was the all of the tropical plants!  There were even more palm trees than LA.  Even though I was extremely exhausted from flying to the other side of the world, I had no problem stopping to take a few pictures.  Maybe it was the honeymoon phase kicking in but everything looked beautiful.
Aside from the scenery, the next thing that I was so impressed with was how easy it was to make friends.  Aside from a pair of best friends, no one else knew each other and everyone was open to meeting new people.  My Globalinks group was a few people short of 200, most of them female, who were going to go to various universities along the coast.  I was able to find 16 people who were also going to go to the University of Wollongong.  We quickly grew close together threw all of the activities that Globalinks had planned for us. 
The food is great.  It was really hard to not eat any of the rich food for the first couple of days.  Everything looked so good.  One of the first new foods I tried was Vegemite.  It's actually not that bad.  Many Australians actually hate the stuff but it is common to find Australians who have eaten it by the spoon full since they were kids.

In one of the pictures that I provided I posed with a group of my friends when we were getting ready to scuba and snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef.  In the second picture I provided, some of my friends and I entered a didgeridoo playing contest.  Everything was so much!  Even when school starts again, Globalinks and the University Constantly plan fun things to do. 

Erik P - Hong Kong - Spring 2014

After my 14 hour flight from Chicago to Hong Kong, I was ready to drop my bags in the airport and fall asleep in the “claim your baggage area.”  Walking towards the exit I was searching frantically for a window to look outside at anything “foreign” I could lay my eyes on.  Once I got on the taxi I rolled down my window and stuck my phone out and recorded everything I saw, which mostly consisted of large housing complexes.  I wonder if I looked like a foreigner with my phone out of the window.  Once I arrived to my hostel I set everything to the side and fell asleep.  Waking up I decided to have breakfast in a nearby cafeteria and was astonished at the beautiful view of campus there was.  I would soon find out that every building in the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) had some sort of scenic view outside of the windows.  CUHK is known as the most scenic campus in Hong Kong because it is built on a hill surrounded by a few other hills/mountains.  I was pleased with the selection of food in the cafeteria (my first meal was roasted duck with white rice), very pleased with the prices (average meal cost 22 HKD about 3 USD) and was even more pleased to hear all of the staff speak in English (English is a major language in Hong Kong).  The first week at CUHK was basically an orientation of sort for all the international students.  I was pretty amazed to hear that about 50% (200) of the students studying abroad this semester were all from the US! That is a ton.  In this orientation there was a Cantonese survival seminar that basically taught us a few phrases that would be very helpful [m goi (mgoy) is basically the magic word here; it means excuse me and thank you depending on the situation].  After the third day at CUHK I realized how health conscious this city is.  In the subways you will commonly see people with face masks, not because they think you are sick (common misconception), but because they are sick and they do not want to infect others.  My first outing to the city was to Victoria Peak, the tallest mountain in Hong Kong Island.  In this peak you are able to see a magnificent view of Hong Kong Island at about 500 m high.  Overall Hong Kong is a small scenic city with a great club scene, a quality and inexpensive transportation system, and a large selection of inexpensive tasty food.  If you have any questions regarding CUHK and/or Hong Kong I would gladly answer them!

Isabel J - Oxford, England - Spring 2014

Greetings all! If you’re reading this then either A. Congratulations! You’re thinking about studying abroad in Oxford/England, or B. You’re my mother who’s managed to find yet another way of keeping tabs on me while I’m abroad. Hi, Mom. Yes, I’m eating well. No, I’m not coming home with a British fiancé. Yes, we can Skype later.
It’s only been about three weeks since I’ve arrived at the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (CMRS, which is associated with Keble College), but I’m already quite familiar with the streets of Oxford and I’ve even gotten a chance to explore London for a weekend! But more on that later—let’s go back to day one.
I was the second person to arrive in my dorm, so I was able to unpack and start exploring early in the day. The first thing I noticed was the wildlife. In other words, PIGEONS. PIGEONS EVERYWHERE. They’re such a problem that we have to have spikes on all of the windowsills after a particularly adventurous birdbrain sauntered right through an open window into the kitchen in search of a snack. They’re not as devious as the Elmhurst squirrels, but they definitely have them beat as far as their ability to organize an aerial attack. I really wish I was joking, but let’s just say, after arriving in England your first order of business should be investing in a quality umbrella… and not just because of the rain…
Speaking of which, we’ve been quite lucky here. It’s been sunny the past couple of weeks which is unusual for Oxford. It has been raining on and off but nothing more than a light sun shower here and there. But remember, your umbrella will be your best friend while you’re here. That, and your Bod card.
The Bod card is your way of access to the Bodleian Library, which is perhaps the biggest and most beautiful library in the world. They receive something like a thousand new books every single day, so if you’re a bookworm like me, a trip to the Bod is like reaching Nerd Nirvana. Unfortunately they don’t allow pictures inside, but if you’ve seen that one scene in Harry Potter where Harry’s sneaking through the library in the middle of the night, then you’ve seen the Bod.
Another connection to Harry Potter—my head tutor, Dr. Bernard Gowers, worked on the set while they were filming in Oxford! He was the official owl sitter. He’s also a delightfully quirky person who really goes out of his way to make sure everyone is adjusting smoothly to life in Oxford. In fact, that’s been consistent with all of my tutors here. They genuinely care for their students’ mental health just as much as they do for their academic success, if not even more so. It’s definitely a change from the states, where everyone lives to work. Here, people work to live. They take the time to actually relax during meal times, and finding a balance between work and pleasure is highly valued in British culture. Don’t get me wrong, the tutors here expect a lot from you (they ARE Oxford professors, after all), but they also don’t want you to be so work-oriented that you miss out on exploring the incredibly beautiful city.
Of course, you cannot go to England without visiting London. I could easily write five more blog posts about my weekend there, but I’ll keep it short and sweet: don’t miss out! Take a bus and just adventure for the day! Exploring the city was like living inside a postcard; everywhere you turned there was another historic landmark, another fascinating discovery, and another prime photo op.
Whew, I would love to go on, but I’ll stop here. If you have any specific questions, don’t be afraid to ask! Good luck on your pre-study abroad journey. It can be stressful, but believe me, it’ll all be worth it.

XO Isabel 

Kirstie W - Freiburg, Germany - Spring 2014

I am living my dream every day I wake up in Germany. 
I started off on a bad foot.  When I arrived in the air port my plane was very late and I had no clue where I was, where to go, and no way to communicate with anyone.  I met an American and a German who helped me find my way.  I handed the address to the taxi and he drove me to my dorm, but I had no keys, I didn't know where I was living, and it was very dark and late.  Some Germans helped me and let me into my building.  I could not get into my room, but my nice German roommate was helping me and being very nice.  I ended up sleeping with my roommate from my program for the night.  Besides that, I was so happy to finally be in the country I dreamed about.  I really am bad with public transportation and directions, but somehow I am still here so I survived.  If anyone is bad with directions or scared that they cannot speak the language or understand anything that is no problem.  Someone will speak English and if not sharades is a really good way to communicate.  The whether is very interesting.  I never thought scarves were important, but it is definitely important here.  I am glad I bought boots for every day use, also.  Good jeans that you can wear a few times without washing is important, too.  Definitely, a person just needs t-shirts, jackets, good jeans, boots, one or two nice outfits, a decent amount of nice casual, and everyone dresses pretty practical and comfortable in Freiburg.  And definitely getting a bicycle was a fantastic decision.  I recommend that to anyone.  Bring your own special school supplies like pens.  I realized I should have brought more of my personal care products.  Everything here is pretty expensive, and I cannot go to Walmart to take care of all of my needs.  Really, not having a Walmart is such a problem.
On another note, travelling is amazing!  I love trying to speak with the natives in their native tongue and the sights are straight out of a film from when knights and princesses existed.  Everything is different and breath taking.  There is an adventure around every corner.  I realize that I have not done a good job of exploring my surroundings, and I definitely should do more of that.  I feel like I am in a fairy tale wherever I go and whatever I do in Europe. 
By the way, I ran into my RA from Elmhurst!  She is doing her J-term and I ran into her at a museum in Berlin!  Crazy! 

Jacob H - London, England - Spring 2014

Expectations are Dumb. AKA, Go with the Flow. 

The following is bullet  list of commentary on the study abroad process and a few relevant passages pulled from the actual blog about my travels. 
  • Expect there to be problems with some Elmhurst office while you are away. I have been totally taken off of  ResLife's radar and am not getting emails about the room selection process for next year. If not for my friends currently at EC, I would have missed the sign-up deadlines. However, the worst problems have been with Student Accounts. After confusing my bill with another student's bill and then charging me double tuition and using a wonky exchange rate, they are finally in the process of getting me all the surplus scholarship that I need to fund my time here. Still, I only have been paid half of what they owe me and communication has been all but dropped. I have no doubt that it will all come through, but it is incredibly inefficient. 
  • Culture shock is real. Don't deny it, don't think you're immune. You aren't. I am in England--arguably the most similar culture to America and it is hitting harder than when I am in Africa. 
  • Direct enrolling is hard, plain and simple. I'd probably do it again (as opposed to program style) and admittedly I am not the most social person in the world but be prepared for an uphill battle to making friends in your 3 short months. Year-longers are a whole different beast. 
  • Don't expect for lecturers to acknowledge your foreigness. You are not going to have your hand held like at EC, many of the schools that accept study abroaders are large institutions. You won't be told when you have papers due, your wont be given a rubric or style sheet, you won't be given grader preferences. You'll just have to produce your best work. 
  • When looking for flights to your location, use Student Universe and STA Travel for the best student flights. If you are still displeased with prices, the best regular search engine I found is www.triplaunch.net which seems to be better for longer flights and more remote locations (like Africa and SE Asia). 
  • Make lists, make goals, make budgets. Be happy.
And now for some relevant excerpts from my travel blog--Chronicles of a Gallivanting Interculturalist.

"The assessment scheme is totally foreign to me as well. Each class seems to require two essays (about 5 and 7 pages) and I may have an exam. Other than that, no activity counts for points but there really aren't that many other activities to do anyway so it's a mute point. The professors assign lots of  reading and then we discuss it in seminar. Attendance to seminar is compulsory."

"As I indicated in the last blog post, Queen Mary looks like what I think of when I think college. Weird Architecture? Check. Bold Colors? Check. Lots of crazy geometric designs to inspire creative thought? Absolutely."

"While the view is nice, the skylines of Europe really cannot compete with American cities. The buildings are simply not as tall (however it could be argued that they have more aesthetic value). For example, the tallest building in the European Union, The Shard, which is located in central London is still 150 metres shorter the Sears Tower (which is still the tallest building in the USA: deal with it New York). Honestly, London's skyline looks more like that of Detroit or St. Louis than New York even though it's population is equal to the latter."

"I am not sure if it is a cultural difference, a college policy, or both but it is difficult to find students with laptop computers taking notes in class. People here still overwhelmingly use pencil and paper and when they do pull out something more technologically savvy, it is usually a tablet with a plug-in keyboard. My laptop is not huge--but it's certainly not small (it had to be my sidekick at summer camp and in Africa you can bet it's durable) and I usually feel like I am hauling around a huge machine from the 90s."

"The campus security here is a bit overzealous with fire alarm testings..."

"I submitted my first paper last weekend on a topic we had not discussed in class and the professor didn't take time to go over expectations in class. It's not that I needed him to--I had a prompt and a very rough rubric, but it's just a cultural difference. The lecturers here truly are lecturers, not teachers. Said differently, it is their job to lecture, not to teach you anything."

To find more observational commentary and humour from this author or to simply learn more about London, South Africa, or Namibia, please visit the source blog, jlhnamibia.blogspot.com. If you have any questions about traveling out of the country (especially to southern Africa) and find my opinion enlightening feel free to email me - just ask Alice for my e-mail address. 


Melissa M - Barcelona, Spain - Spring 2014

They say that New York is “the city that never sleeps,” but people who say that have clearly never been to Barcelona. So far, being in Barcelona has been one of the most wild and unique and exhausting experiences of my life. All the articles that I read before-hand that talked about their late eating and going out schedules were not kidding. A normal night with my host family consists of dinner at 10pm ending around 1030 or 11. While the first few nights it was a bit difficult adjusting to the late eating hours, it has become progressively easier and more natural to eat later. On top of these late dinners, if we want to go out, high time for heading out to bars or clubs doesn’t start till 1am or 2. Needless to say, the nights in Barca are filled with so much life and fun.

Even though I’ve been here almost a month, I still marvel at the city and all of it’s life and energy. It really never gets old. I think one of the things I like most about the city is that there’s always something to do. Living in the center of Barcelona, there literally isn’t any time for me to be bored. On any given day I can visit Las Ramblas, head to the shopping district, travel to one of the many museums, eat tapas and drink sangria, walk by the beach, visit a different district and shop small specialty boutiques and stores, go to cathedrals and take pictures of Roman ruins; the list is endless. I truly can’t stress enough how happy I am with my decision to study in Barcelona. Everyday I learn more about myself, others, and the many different cultures I am faced with. So far, Barcelona has stolen my heart and I don’t think I would have it any other way.

Beth K. - Granada, Spain - Spring 2014

Because of lovely Chicago weather, I arrived in Spain nearly a day later than planned. After three flights, a night in Miami, and lots of time spent at airports, I was finally in Granada. The anticipation of studying abroad can be very nerve-wracking and extremely exciting. I think the most important thing is to have an open mind and a willingness to learn (and you will learn a lot!). My first 48 hours were filled with getting to know my brand new friends and our new home. We have students from all over the States and from many different backgrounds, but our common experience here as a bunch of college kids who left home for four months to explore and learn together here in Spain created an automatic bond. This city is such a wonderful mix of hustle and bustle and beautiful views of the Alhambra (an old Muslim palace) and the Sierra Nevada mountains. This past weekend our group visited Toledo and Madrid and, while beautiful, I felt so sure that I chose the perfect place to study. I couldnt be more thrilled to call this city my home for the next four months. Studying abroad truly is an unforgettable experience and amazing opportunity. Best of luck to those of you planning your own adventures and feel free to ask me any questions whatsoever!


Elyse C. - Rome, Italy - Spring 2014

Hi CPP class!

Rome is absolutely AMAZING! It is hard to get used to the infinite amounts of history and art surrounding me everywhere I go! Everything looks as if I could see it in a travel catalog! I walk everywhere and since almost all the roads are uneven cobblestones, even in good walking shoes, my feet are sore! Italians drive small cars and zip so quickly past us while we walk to school and it is true about their parking, it does end up being on sidewalks! Besides those minor details I have really enjoyed my 1st week, my host parents are great cooks and I'm starting to make some good friends. I have found that less Italians speak English than I expected, so knowing Italian is necessary, but I am getting by and learning more of the language every day! Meals are quite different here from the food to the time of day we eat, lunch is around 1:30-2 and dinner around 8:00-8:30, I'm still getting used to this part! I hope you're getting excited about studying abroad and my other piece of advice is fill out your visa form asap! lol
p.s. the first picture is the Pantheon and the second picture is at the Trevi Fountain then the Spanish Steps