Author Archives: DUAbroad

About DUAbroad

The University of Denver sends over 70% of its undergraduates on study abroad programs.

Academics at Home and Abroad

It’s week 6 and most of us are finally seeing (or starting to) see the light at the end of the tunnel after the dark, sleepless nights of midterms swept over us. Surprisingly enough, this quarter has been really difficult for me. As if reverse culture shock wasn’t real enough, my academic life has spiraled a whole 360 as well.

Being abroad for the past semester was quite different then the pioneer lifestyle I was adjusted to. I went to the Pablo de Olavide University (UPO) in Sevilla, España and needless to say school was quite different over there. For starters, I was able to stack my classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, with a short cooking class on Tuesdays that ended about halfway through the semester. Coming back to DU, I was facing a schedule with four classes and two labs taking up all of my week, Mondays through Fridays; Fridays being my heavy days.

Homework was really slow, which I loved because it gave me a chance to relax and take random strolls through the plazas. The big projects I had to do were mostly in groups, so I would meet my classmates at different cafes until we found the one with the best Wi-Fi connection or the best tapas; which brings me to the topic of my favorite class: The tapas cooking class! Every week we created different dishes with different variations of the dish. For example, if the dish for the week was paella, between our four different groups in class, we made chicken paella, shrimp paella, pork, etc. We also made two different dishes each class, since in Spain they eat two different course, kind of like your appetizer and then your entree. At the end we would all try everyone’s dishes and eat together like a family. This was probably one of my favorite things I did in Spain because I was able to fully emerge myself in their culture in the kitchen and I loved trying all the different dishes and drinks!

Being back at DU has been a love hate relationship really. I have a busier schedule now and even though I feel more productive, it can be a bit overwhelming. Readjusting after a much more relaxed semester abroad has been a challenge, especially when I’m not taking a cooking class to de-stress, but at least I was able to get a taste of both academic worlds. Studying abroad taught me so much more than international finance and management, it taught me a different skill set; a new way to retain information in a different language, how to commute on the metro, how to make some delicious tortilla Española and how to enjoy all that life has to offer from a new-found perspective from across the world.

Gladys Week 6

Gladys Juarez, Study Abroad Assistant

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Behind My Favorite Photo From Abroad

One of my favorite memories from studying abroad was the time that I snuck into a private beach for the Egyptian military. It was the middle of July and it was ridiculously hot in Alexandria. Luckily the city enjoys the cool breeze from the Mediterranean, however the humidity and congestion of the city make you feel like a walking puddle in a polo.

The public beaches in Alexandria are plentiful, yet they are very crowded and not the cleanest places. So one of my program chaperones wanted to take us to a more secluded beach in the Montaza Gardens and Palace. This place is stunning with lush gardens, a royal palace and hotel directly east of central Alexandria. The public beach there was crowded, and with a group of American students in a crowded beach, we garnered a lot of attention. So our chaperone had a friend who was in the military and had access to one of the private beaches in the gardens. This beach was strictly reserved for the military and their families. Our chaperone and his friend had to distract a security guard to check the few guests that he was allowed and then sneak the rest of us through a fence.  Nobody noticed the additional Americans at the beach, however luckily there were enough locals for us to pass as other people’s guests.

Week 5 Blog

The scenery at this beach was everything we wanted. Open space, privacy, and cleaner that most public beaches. This was our first beach day in our program and one of the few that we were able to have. In the picture above you can see part of the beach looking west along the Alexandrian coastline stretching for miles rimmed with endless apartment buildings. It was quite the luxury to go to the beach and enjoy clean waters, sands, and do some language study in the sun at an uncrowded beach.

Eric Boscan, Graduate Study Abroad Assistant

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Coping with Returnee-ism

Oh boy. You’re a returnee. You’ve just gotten home from abroad. Now, you’re responsible for validating your existence and entire experience in a 30-second-or-less recap where you attempt to explain a roller coaster of emotions, a sense of self-actualization, loneliness, elation, and tangible experiences. Good. Luck.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve learned the greatest deflecting tactic on the planet:

Acquaintance A: “How was your trip?”

Me: “It was amazing!!!”

For most people, that interaction will suffice. They’ve engaged you to a surface-level point where they’ve shown enough interest to maintain your relationship, but still remain depth-free, and while you’re stricken with guilt knowing you’re telling a minuscule portion of your experience, you are more than happy to avoid talking about your trip’s pit falls and focus on the amazing parts. Win-win.

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I visited the Miyajima Shrine in Japan, which was actually amazing

Acquaintance A: “What made it so amazing? What did you do? Were there any difficult parts? ”

Once the second probe happens, you buckle down. They’re really interested. You’re not getting away scot free. Winter is coming.

You have to understand, I’m extroverted and still hate this part. I like to think of myself as articulate, but have an extremely difficult time encapsulating the holistic nature of a trip abroad. The peaks feed into the troughs, which then feed into the peaks, in an endless cycle that still affects me well after my return.

For example, during my study abroad program, I directly enrolled in the University of Salamanca, meaning I set up my own classes, lived with a host-family, and didn’t have an immediate support group of Americans I saw every day. I loved the freedom of this lifestyle, where I didn’t have to answer to anyone but myself, but simultaneously was driven crazy by the amount of time I spent alone. Working through the loneliness, on the flip side, remains a great point of pride for me, as I found my own inner strength and moral compass, but doesn’t take away from the fact that I was really lonely at times. In short, my experience was a double-edged sword, which was not always easy to explain. Returnee-ism reared its ugly head.

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The positive, amazing hike side of my double-edged trip to British Colombia      (negative side not pictured)

So, here’s my advice for dealing with returnee-ism:

  1. First, accept the fact that these interactions are going to happen, and are going to happen whenever you come home from an exciting place. I just got home from attending two of my best friend’s wedding in Japan a month ago, and I dealt with the exact same questions I faced coming home from Spain.
  2. Second, if the trip didn’t have a frustrating aspect, then you’re either remembering incorrectly or lying to yourself. Overall, my trip to Japan was one of the best of my life, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t low points. The longer you live somewhere, the more this is magnified. Even if you can’t explain the complete nature of a trip to someone else, be as truthful as possible. Gilding or demonizing your trips can discount what you learned from them.
  3. Third, debrief. I went to Israel during December of 2014 and had an interesting experience, but one that was really frustrating as well. I wrote a blog on it, which really helped me put my trip in perspective. I’m in the process of writing one for Japan, and always travel with a journal. Find whatever mechanism is best for you to debrief, it’ll do you a lot of good.
  4. Finally, internalize everything, and go out again. Each time I’ve traveled after my study abroad experience, either domestically or internationally, I applied what I learned before and gained new skills to boot.

-Max Spiro, Graduate Study Abroad Assistant

 

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Enjoying Drinking Responsibly While Abroad


Drinking Responsibly While Abroad

You’ve packed your whole life and multiple seasons of clothes into a suitcase, bid farewell to your parents and once again to your childhood bedroom, stuffed your body in an airplane for an inhumanly long flight and finally you‘ve landed in a faraway place ready to begin what you’ll call for the rest of your life “my study abroad experience.” You’re confronted with a sea of differences; new culture, new friends, perhaps a new language and most likely a new set of laws concerning alcohol. While the rules don’t change when it comes to the risks of drinking, in order to get the most out of your time abroad, there are some things you should be weary of if you do choose to drink.  If you do choose to drink while in your new “favorite country” that “you’re never ever leaving” be sure to keep the following tips on hand.

  1. Some people will drink but not drinking is a viable option.

It’s never a problem to opt out, whether it’s because drinking isn’t for you, or because you’re just not feeling it that night. This is really just a general rule of thumb when you’re abroad but certainly applies to drinking: While it’s important to have new experiences while you’re abroad, to try new things, and to have fun, it is just as important to use your best judgement, and to make decisions that are right and fitting for YOU (you know yourself best!).

  1. Just because the bar never stops serving doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop drinking.

You may find that other countries don’t stop serving alcohol at 2 a.m. as they do in the U.S. The longer you stay out drinking, the more dangerous drinking becomes. Be your own boss and decide what time is too late for you to keep drinking. Also, keep in mind that while the nightlife may be vibrant and alive, life also exists during the day. You don’t want to miss out on day adventures because you’re trying to catch up on sleep.

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  1. Just like the language and culture, the alcohol is different too.

Drinking is always risky business, but in other countries you should know that alcohol can be regulated in different ways and sometimes is more dangerous. For example, liquors like absinthe (a liquor more than two times as strong as average hard liquors in the U.S.), while illegal in the U.S., is legal and popular internationally. Don’t accept strange drinks and read labels if possible. Even beers can be deceiving in many foreign countries, some containing three times as much alcohol percentage than the average 4-5% American beer. If you are eager to try new things, chances are you will have the opportunity another time and can research and ask questions about this strange new alcohol the next day before you decide to try it.

  1. Know what drinking past responsible limits means for your own body.

This may mean for you having no more than one drink but just because for your new cool friend from Chile or Italy, it means having less than five, by no means do you have to try and assimilate to this part of their culture. There’s no such thing as a language barrier when it comes to saying no to another drink that will put you over the edge. Simply shake your head and use hand motions or just learn how to say no, it can’t be that hard!  If you don’t already know what responsible limit works for you, only have one drink and see how you feel. You may find drinking is not a responsible or comfortable choice for you at all.

alcohol

  1. Plan Ahead.

Drinking without a plan is never a good idea but doing so in an unfamiliar setting can make for a disaster. Before taking a sip of alcohol, know where you plan to go, how you plan to get there, how much you want to drink of what, and most importantly HOW and WHEN you want to go home and then make a back-up plan! Write the details down if you need to (bus lines and times, cab service phone numbers, etc). If you take a bus to one place, by the time you are ready to leave the same bus may have stopped running until the morning and you may need enough money for a taxi.time

  1. Stay in control.

College students studying abroad across the world end up in hospitals all the time due to their decisions to drink irresponsibly and put themselves in situations where they don’t have fair judgement. Never drink so much that you are unable to make decisions you are uncomfortable or incapable of safely making while under the influence. Remember this: You can never blame the outcomes of your actions on the fact that you were drinking, you can only blame the outcomes on the fact that you chose to drink. That said, keep in mind whether or not choosing to push the limits of responsible drinking will put you out of control and if you’ll end up having to wonder if the outcomes of your actions would’ve been more favorable had you not been drinking.

  1. Laws change but the rules don’t!

You may be able to drink if you’re not 21 or not get kicked out of the bar at 2:01am but the rules about staying safe when drinking don’t change when you cross the border. Here are a few fundamentals to remember when drinking in any location:

  • Eat! Eat a real full meal before drinking!
  • Drink! Drink WATER before you start drinking alcohol.
  • Water-Alcohol-Water! Drink water in between alcoholic beverages.
  • Pace yourself! The night is young but so are you and you’ll have plenty more time in life to drink in the future so take at least 30 minutes to 1 hour between each beverage.
  • Stick together! Friends who stick together, stay safe together! Don’t let your friends leave your sight or be afraid to suggest they stop drinking if you’re worried about their safety. Getting a friend water could never do harm, chances are you need some too.
  • Never take drinks from strangers! Only accept drinks you saw being made and never leave your drink unattended. Having your drink drugged while outside of the U.S. is even greater of a reality, don’t trust anyone with your drink and if you’re unsure it’s safe, don’t be afraid to pour it out!
  1. The fun stops when you put yourself or others in danger.

Drinking past responsible limits or without taking proper precautions can turn a night of fun into a nightmare. Educate yourself on responsible drinking through these tips and be sure to put them into practice in real life. Stay away from situations where you’re more susceptible to crime and other risks. Keep in mind the stereotypes others may have of you because of your nationality, it unfortunately may be that you are an easy target for pickpocketing or other crimes. Never forget to be proactive and cautious of your surroundings when drinking. Always watch your back, and keep your belongings in front pockets and backpacks and purses close to your body. There’s one thing you can prevent from ruining even a day of your studies abroad and it’s an unfavorable experience with alcohol. Enjoy your time to the fullest while away from DU but enjoy it with your safety and wellbeing in mind!

  1. Know how the culture treats alcohol.

Some cultures will add pressure to drink, even sometimes to drink in excess. However, always be culturally sensitive. While you may observe people appreciating and enjoying one or two glasses of wine, drinking in excess is not acceptable at all. You may even be in a country where alcohol is illegal or socially unaccepted. Do your research, ask locals, teachers and your host family if you have one about the norms surrounding alcohol if you do choose to drink. Remember you are an ambassador of not only the United States but also DU.

  1. Learn to say cheers in the language!

Ask a local for proper pronunciation:

Spanish – Salud! Arabic- فى صحتك (fa sahatek)
French – Santé! Thai – Chok dee
German – Prost! Swedish – Skal (said like skawl)
Chinese – 干杯!Gan1Bei1! Japanese -乾杯 (kan pie)

drinking

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The 5 Stages of Post-Abroad Metamorphosis, Contemplation, and General Tears

Of course post-abroad adjustment can be broken down into pre-determined stages! As you head out on the next great adventure, keep these 5 stages in mind to make re-adjustment smooth sailing:

1. Dazed and Confused

Why is it light out at midnight? Shouldn’t we be eating breakfast right now? No? It’s 4 pm? What? I slept for 14 hours? You don’t say…

So you’ve probably experienced jetlag. You have never experienced the post-abroad apocalypse that will herald your return. Not only are you coming off of 5 months of adventure and mischief, but you just traveled umpteen hours, probably said emotional good-byes and hellos to your families in their respective countries, and – oh, yeah – changed time zones. Even if it’s just one or two time zones, you won’t be operating at full power for at least 2 days or 18 hours of sleep, whichever comes first. Prepare to be a little kooky. There is no better remedy than sleep. And probably whatever food you’ve been massively missing while abroad (For me, it was cheese. Clearly I didn’t go to Europe). You’ve just got to ride it out. Or sleep it out, I guess.

2. Articulation

Did I mention I just spent 5 months in Ecuador? Oh I did. Well did I tell you I climbed a volcano? Oh I did. Well did I show you my slideshow of 436 photos? Oh you already sat through it. Well did you get the highlight commentary? Oh you did. Well when I was in Ecuador…

So I studied abroad in Ecuador.

When you come off of the adventure high, you naturally want to share that with everyone you come in contact with. That’s fine. Your life was pretty cool for a few months and you just experienced something once-in-a-lifetime. Also fine. BUT YOU CANNOT TWIST EVERY CONVERSATION TO MENTION YOUR STUDY ABROAD. THE PEOPLE GET A LITTLE CRANKY.

Sorry to be so emphatic. Of course, it’s going to be a topic of conversation as most people you know want to hear about your trip. You will get really good at the highlight-reel speech. But post-abroad, you will certainly run across one of these chatterbox people, and you will most certainly be aware of every minute detail of their time abroad. You will be talking about Abstract Algebra or the new shampoo you just purchased and SOMEHOW it will connect to an experience in Spain, or traveling in Paris, or hiking the Great Wall in China, etc.

Don’t be that person.

3. Cultural Sensitivity

“Sheesh. Gustavo is, like, so culturally insensitive. I mean, he’s telling me about how he didn’t have running water the whole time he was abroad. Can you believe it? I’m just like; Dude, what can you even be complaining about? I didn’t even have water.”

Shockingly, your experiences make you a more enlightened person to various degrees. Who would have thought. Seeing how non-Americans live will be eye-opening for most people, and this can never be a bad thing, however, upon your return it is tantamount to remember that not everyone – even your friends who have also studied abroad – will have seen, felt, and experienced what you have. Their context is entirely different. Don’t write them off as culturally insensitive jerkwads, realize you too have blind spots. The hardships you experienced abroad are nothing to brag about – use them to inform what actions you take post-abroad.

4. Relativity

What is even the point of this homework stuff? Why do grades even matter? It’s just one person’s subjective viewpoint that is largely not representative of the “real world” anyway!

This stage is crucial, heartbreaking, and almost universal.

There will be thrown books. There will be late assignments. There will be tears. The only solace is that as you are contemplating just giving up on the 50% of your homework you actually complete, every other study abroad returnee is right there with ya. After learning so much – largely outside of a classroom – 16 credit hours worth of class time just seems rather superfluous. Winter quarter can be a dark time.

Remember this as you sit in your café registering for classes while abroad – don’t overload. Simply getting to class on-time, and not Latin American “on-time” (ie: 10 minutes late) will be a struggle.

5. Wanderlust

You’ve gotten a taste and now you’re addicted. To the getting lost and crowded buses. To the daily rain and astounding lack of edible cheese. To the street food out of tiny bags and terrifying traffic. To the solitude. To the language. To the adventure.

This stage doesn’t just end – you get to keep it the rest of your life. From here on out you will be questing for new travels and leaping at every opportunity to dash across the globe. You may have only studied abroad for months, but the effects last years.

To all those leaving in a matter of weeks or months – best of luck! All of the returnees – those of us in “stage 5” – would love to go with you.

– Maddie Doering, MSID Ecuador 2014

Maddie Doering

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Career Skills From Study Abroad

Over the last two months students across the country have been completing their undergraduate and graduate degrees. As many students graduate and search for jobs, it is important to reflect on experiences in school and the skills acquired that are applicable to potential employment opportunities. Studying abroad is an experience that students acquire a wide range of skill that are useful to the job market. Here is a list of a few skills to consider that may be relevant to place on your resume:

Cultural Adaptability

Many employers today realize that they work and serve people with various mid-sets, beliefs, and expectations based on their cultural background. Students who go abroad and become aware of cultural differences and expectations, and learn to easily adjust their own cultural norms and expectations to be able to function with daily tasks in different settings. How people approach cultural differences affects how an organization operates within their policies, procedures, and how business is accomplished. Whether in an entry level or managerial position, this can be a helpful skill to avoid many misunderstandings, frustrations, or stress.

Intercultural Communication

A skill that goes hand in hand with cultural adaptability is intercultural communication, or sometimes called cross-cultural communication. This is an important skill to have, especially if you are looking for employment that involves communicating to people from different cultures and languages. Intercultural communication is awareness of how people communicate and interact and the role of culture in communication. Studying abroad exposes students to the nuances of communication in a specific culture or country and how people receive information.

Language Skills

Learning a language abroad is a common objective for students and can be a part of their degree studies. Knowing another language can be helpful as a diverse skillset that can be applicable to communicating to people who may not use English as their first language.

Independence/Self-reliance

Studying abroad exposes students to a degree of independence and the ability to navigate long processes and solve problems. This sense of self-reliance is a good source of confidence and can help in both professional and personal pursuits.

Global Consciousness

Today, the world is becoming more and more globalized, and students to spend more time abroad are able to gain a wider perspective of the world operates. The increase of global communication and technology exposes more organizations to people that vary in global perspectives. Global consciousness is applicable to your professional life and can help you and your organization develop a greater appreciation for global politics, economics, education, and societal issues.

Country/Regional Skills 

Familiarity of a specific country or region is a useful skill to have for many employment opportunities. The knowledge acquired from study abroad exposes students to cultural and language skills that are unique to a region or country, whether or not that place is part of your academic focus.

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Top 5 Must-Try Korean Teas

Koreans, and many of Korea’s neighbors drink tea. I knew this before studying abroad, so I brought my mom’s favorite tea with as a gift to share with Koreans to provide a small comparison. Here is a list of teas I was introduced to while studying abroad.

생강차 Ginger Tea

Ginger tea is considered a medicinal, and believed to ease fatigue, warm the body, and neutralize toxicity in the body. Koreans will often drink this tea at the first signs of a cold to prevent it from getting worse.

If you are interested in trying ginger tea, I recommend going to a local store that sells Korean foods and look for a glass jar where the ginger is mixed with honey and sugar. All you need to do is drop a heaping spoonful into glass of hot water, stir, and viola!

Tea2유자차 Citron Tea

Yuja is a type of citrus fruit; in this tea slices of the yuja, including the rind, are cut and mixed with sugar or honey. It is a great drink for winter, and if you find the ginseng flavor too strong citron tea is a delicious tasting alternative for fighting off colds.

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보리차 Barley Tea

When I stayed with a Korean family for a week I was surprised that they boiled all of the water they drank, even though the water from faucets was deemed safe for consumption by the government. Often, instead of drinking plain water, they made tea. One of the teas used to substitute plain water is barley tea. Unlike most Korean teas, barley has a nutty flavor. It is also good for digestion.

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It can be purchased in single serving tea bags, or in larger pouches when used for larger quantities of water. You can also buy bottled barley tea and can find it in almost every convenience store.

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현미녹차 Roasted Brown Rice Green Tea

Roasted brown rice green tea is also a popular in Japan, and goes by the name genmaicha. I love the nutty roasted flavor in this tea. If it is an option nine out of ten times I will choose roasted brown rice green tea over plain green tea.

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Flowering Teas

If you have the opportunity, I recommend going to a tea cafe that is known for serving flowering teas. A small tightly bound ball of tea is dropped into a cup of hot water. Then watch as the ball blooms into a beautiful flower and creates a pleasant tea for you to drink.

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