Author Archives: DUAbroad

About DUAbroad

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

Introducing our 2014 DUSA Bloggers!

We are excited to announce our DUSA bloggers, who will be writing (and perhaps sharing some videos, too) during their study abroad this year.  We can’t wait to follow along with their experiences all over the world!

 

Emily S.

Emily S.

Emily S. is a marketing major (French minor), and she will be studying in Wales at Bangor University.

Emily L.

Emily

Emily L. is a Spanish & psychology double-major, and she will be studying at Universidad Pablo de Olavide with ISA in Sevilla, Spain.

Faith

Faith

Faith is an ecology & biodiversity major, and she will be studying at the University of York in York, England.

Kim

Kim

Kim is a biology major, and she will be studying in Zanzibar, Tanzania with the School for International Training (SIT).

Madeline

Madeline

Madeline is a mathematics & economics major, and she will be studying in Quito, Ecuador with MSID.

Zoe

Zoe

Zoe is a History major, and she will be studying in Caen, France with Academic Programs International (API).

Welcome 2014 DUSA bloggers!   We can’t wait to see what the world brings you (and what you bring to the world)!

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Combating the Wanderlust

I have been back from abroad for 6 and a half months and I’m itchy. Rather, I’m not itchy, but itching: itching for an adventure. I had the incredible privilege to visit 8 countries while I was abroad: Spain, England, Ireland, Croatia, Belgium, Germany, Morocco, and Norway. I spent a weekend exploring the nooks and crannies of the Medina in Marrakech. I stayed in the home of a Catalonian named Sergio, who graciously opened the door for me at 6:30am when I had forgotten my keys. I stayed in the Roman emperor’s palace in Split, Croatia where I casually jumped off cliffs in my spare time.

Coming home, however, was just as exciting. I had missed my friends, and readjusting to the life of a college upperclassman in the U.S. was it’s own adventure. I was living off campus for the first time in my own house, began to explore Denver, and had plenty of schoolwork to keep me occupied. My lust for adventure and travel lay dormant.

But when it came back, oh did it come back with a vengeance. This summer, I’ve had the pleasure to continue working at DU’s Study Abroad office. Most recently, I have been updating our database on all 176 programs we offer and mapping the location of each one. This, however, comes at the price of wanderlust. As I’ve been perusing websites, reading syllabi, and looking at program cities on Google Maps, it seems every other thought is: how much would a plane ticket to (blank) cost?

Me after the Barcelona, Real Madrid match in Barcelona

Me after the Barcelona, Real Madrid match in Barcelona

So, for all you fellow returnees out there, my best advice for you is to make a bucket list of activities to quench your thirst for adventure. Here are a couple suggestions that I’ve taken to heart:

  1. Go outside! Colorado has 53 peaks over 14,000 feet (4.3km) in the air and fantastic camping for all levels of outdoorsmen/women. Take advantage of them and explore.
  2. Obtain a skill. This can range from learning how to cook to getting scuba certified or obtaining your motorcycle license. It’ll open doors in the future.
  3. Go on a road trip. A lot of times we forget just how incredible the United States is compared to the excitement from abroad. Assemble a crew and drive somewhere you’ve never been.
  4. Foodies of the world, unite! Denver has a plethora of awesome international restaurants, with delicious Indian, Moroccan, Ethiopian, Vietnamese, and Japanese options that are relatively inexpensive. Try food from around the world.
  5. WATCH THE WORLD CUP. The world is competing in the World’s Game until July 13th. Cheer on your native or adoptive country in homage to your time abroad.
  6. Read a book. They say the greatest part of reading is that you can travel 1000 miles without taking a single step. For those of us who enjoy extracurricular reading, but never seem to have the time to do it, carve a chunk out of your Netflix time to read.

In the end it may not be the same as abroad, but at least it will keep you occupied. Best of luck on your next adventure!

-Max Spiro, Peer Advisor

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7 Tips For Study Abroad 7 Years Later

Today we have a guest blog post from a DU study abroad alumn.  Patrick Dichter studied at Aix-Marseille Université in southern France through ISEP. He graduated in 2009, majoring in International Business with minors in French and Finance. Patrick went on to complete his MBA at DU in 2010 and has worked for an online marketing startup before launching his own business, The Passport Protector LLC. 

I feel old. Seven years have already flown by since I studied abroad during my junior year at University of Denver. In my mind, it feels like yesterday that I got lost arrived on campus in Aix-en-Provence, France.

Now my journey has come full circle – the chance to share some ‘wisdom’ and a business I’ve launched because of that important semester. So here we go….7 Tips for Study Abroad 7 Years Later:

1. Soak up Every Single Second

The summer before I left my aunt sent me an email saying, ‘what I wouldn’t give to sit in a French café and do nothing but read for hours on end.’ Weird, I thought. But now I understand how time just seems to stop in those cafes yet real life is too busy for a 30-minute lunch.

2. Step outside your comfort zone. Then take two more steps.

The best times I had were the adventures that made me a bit nervous. And I can’t remember a single Skype session with friends from home, nor do I wish I’d spent more time using wifi. Get off your computer and into the world.

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3. Buy a local flag.

I can’t take credit for this idea, but it’s priceless. Buy a flag from your city or local soccer club to have all your friends from your program sign. Last night of the semester, everyone can jot down a note or memory.

4. Follow your heart.

Americans tend to be very logical or follow the rules. Your semester abroad is a great time to live it up and roam free. Buy that plane ticket to Morocco. Stay out late. Squeeze in one more excursion. Besides, spring semester you’re one year away from graduation.

5. Lean into the language.

If English isn’t the primary language in your city, don’t fight it and lean into it. It’s hard when you can’t read everything or keep up and express yourself. But the sooner you embrace the challenge, the easier it’ll become. Make a note to write down words you don’t know; try the native language first with locals, not English; focus on progress, not perfection.

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6. Appreciate student living abroad.

So your dorm room might be small and your budget is never big enough? There’s a huge difference between living in a city for months and all the graces that come with being a student, versus every other time you’ll travel. The next time, you’ll be rushed to cram everything into 2 weeks. Or you’ll have work emails to answer. Or you won’t know the city like a local. Or you’ll be too old for late nights and too accustomed to the finer things like nice hotels.

7. Take care of your passport with The Passport Protector!

I tried to return to Europe last summer for a two week trip. But as I was boarding the plane, I got stopped by a gate agent because of ‘wear and tear’ on my passport. It was up to date and in decent shape. Unfortunately the airline said they could get fined and I didn’t have any control in the matter. So we lost 4 days and $2500 for me to replace my passport. Thus I came up with a new product – The Passport Protector. It’s a hardcore case with innovative minimal design. Waterproof, impact resistant, and won’t get lost. Plus for every one sold we donate a portion to study abroad scholarships. Check out our crowdfunding campaign to buy one and spread the word: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-passport-protector/x/7035073

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Staying Connected Abroad

Taking a smart phone overseas and using local Wi-Fi on campus or in coffee shops can often be the most effective way of keeping in touch with friends and family back home. Make sure to keep your phone on airplane mode to avoid any additional charges from overseas use.

Here are some apps to help ease communication:

  • Skype enables you to video call or instant message from computer to computer or from your smart phone for free. You can also use Skype to make reduced rate phone calls to a phone back in the U.S.
  • Viber allows you to call mobile to mobile for free, as long as each phone has internet access, either through Wi-Fi or 3G. You can also send free international text messages. The app integrates your address book, showing you which of your contacts already has Viber.
  • WhatsApp – An instant messaging app that is free for the first year of use and 99 cents per year after. It allows you to text message people anywhere in the world for free, and allows you to share photos rapidly. WhatsApp uses the phone numbers in your address book to show friends and family with WhatsApp automatically. It also has a neat group chat feature too.
  • iMessage – the default texting on iPhones works through Wi-Fi just like other apps. Text your contacts in the same way as you do back in the U.S. As with iMessage, Facetime will also enable you to video chat internationally as long as you have Wi-Fi access. However, be forewarned that iPhones are not as popular overseas as they are here in the U.S. Make sure you download a separate app!
  • Touchnote – Allows you to create postcards on your phone, combining a photo and text, before printing it and sending it to any address in the world for $1.99 per postcard.

Finally, if you’re in a Wi-Fi spot and looking for other places for using Wi-Fi, the app Free Wi-Fi Finder works around the world to keep you connected for free. It maps free Wi-Fi access close to you.

-Callum Forster, Peer Advisor

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Becoming a flexible person through Study Abroad

People spend a lot of time talking about how study abroad will open your worldview and help you appreciate other cultures—this is ABSOLUTELY true and something we at the OIE hope you all get from this experience.  People also talk a great deal about how study abroad can strengthen your resume and make you a stronger candidate for jobs—something I know this blog will be discussing in the coming weeks as well.

However, I want to also bring some attention to the fact that study abroad can help with something else—it can be one more exercise in becoming a more flexible person and help you to adjust to any new scenario that comes your way.

I studied abroad twice as an undergrad—once in the UK and once in Chile—and both experiences certainly helped me with that process.  While I come from an immigrant Latino family and have spent a lot of time in Latin America visiting family, Chile was a new experience for me, as was the UK.  The fact that I had to figure out how to adjust to life in a completely new environment—and do it on my own—helped me develop my ability to be flexible as a human being.

Stephanie picture 1

Me on Easter Island June 2007

Figuring out where to go for goods or information; learning to observe what is going on around me to get a better sense of the big picture; paying careful attention to make sure the person I’m talking to is actually understanding what I am trying to communicate; learning to live without daily luxuries I couldn’t bring with me or couldn’t justify buying for such a short period of time: these are all skills that have served me incredibly well, both in my personal and professional life.

Personally, being open to big moves to new places and taking advantage of international opportunities that have come my way is something I definitely came to appreciate through study abroad.  I have moved around the US several times to start new jobs and in each case have been able to look at the move as an adventure, and have been able to design a mini-strategy for myself to help make each new city home, much like I did in the UK and Chile.

Professionally, my ability to observe what is going on around me has also come in handy.  Starting a new job is always an exercise in coming in to a new “culture” and using the same skills I developed when adjusting to a new community abroad has helped make my transitions into each new job as seamless as possible and helped me manage the unavoidable confusion and stress that comes with being the new person and being unsure of what you’re doing.

My internship placement in Nicaragua summer 2011

My internship placement in Nicaragua summer 2011

In both of these scenarios the main skill set is the same—being FLEXIBLE and comfortable with not knowing everything that is going on.  While study abroad won’t be solely responsible for helping you develop these, it is one more experience to help hone these skills—skills you’ll be able to take in every new opportunity or situation that comes into your life.

Me ending my last job, which had me touring the US raising awareness of international human rights. Out last big even in Washington DC 2013

Me ending my last job, which had me touring the US raising awareness of international human rights. Out last big even in Washington DC 2013

-Stephanie Roberts, OIE Advisor

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Readjusting Post-Study Abroad

A few weeks ago was my birthday. Things were going wonderfully, and then I received this text from my friend:

“Happy birthday, my dearest! And to think we left Beijing one year ago today.”

I read it and was dumbstruck. I clearly remembered my birthday one year ago, when my friends and I caught a cab to the Beijing Capital International Airport. It was early, barely 6:30 am. I was ready to return to the U.S., but I also wanted more time in this historical yet modern city. Although I wasn’t flying directly home (there was a detour to Hong Kong), it was the day I left my school, program, and friends from abroad.

Only now, one year later, am I beginning to see how my study abroad affected me when I returned to the States. Initially, all I could comprehend were the immediate things—how clean Colorado’s air is, how much more natural it was to use chopsticks and how clunky silverware seemed. My first quarter back at DU was overwhelming; academics, work, and relationships were different than I expected. As weird as it may sound, I yearned to study Chinese all day and eat sumptuous Beijing cuisine. Yet I had to focus on my final year of undergrad in Denver. It was intense. Things that seemed trivial to me were actually part of a large readjustment process I didn’t realize was happening.

For example…when I initially started drinking coffee again it was like drinking an energy drink. Even coffee overwhelmed me! I mediated this by ordering a tea tumbler off Amazon so I could drink the loose-leaf tea I had brought back from China.  Coffee gets me too caffeinated; I prefer to drink it slowly with friends now.

Readjusting Post Study Abroad_Michelle blog

Also, there were many times post-China I felt silly or disjointed while speaking. I’d pause or not be able to describe something as prolifically as I wanted to—the Chinese word was more immediate to me than the English word. There were three distinct times when I forgot “student” in English. There are countless times when my tongue has been tied.

Ultimately, two things have helped me readjust post-study abroad: 1) getting a routine and 2) working on communication.

This quarter has been my most stable quarter since being back. My routine is also the most stable now since being back, and I love it. A stable routine is one of the most grounding things I have experienced post-study abroad. Also, communication may seem simple, but after returning from another culture, changes in communication styles is undoubtedly one of the most important things to pay attention to.

Not everything ends just because you and your friends are getting on different flights with different destinations, but change is inevitable. Perhaps you won’t notice the change right away. Still, I recommend focusing on communication and establishing a routine—especially if you are gone for a longer amount of time.

Michelle Yeager, Peer Advisor

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Where’s The World’s Fair?

I have a question, have you ever heard of the world’s fair or the world expo?

There was a time

When the world came together

To celebrate humanity

Art and technology

And the future

The dirty little secret?

There still is.

 

(From Where’s The Fair? Trailer- Documentary directed by Jeffrey Ford)

Why do I ask? Because I worked there! It was an amazing summer internship as one of 40 Student Ambassador’s at the USA Pavilion for the 2012 World Expo in Yeosu, South Korea.  It’s quite a neat story that I’ll tell you more about in an upcoming blog post.

Where's the fair blog

I haven’t watched Where’s the Fair? yet, and don’t know if I can agree that it’s a dirtly little secret, but I definitely feel like the general American populace has been left in out of the loop.  The World’s Fair exists! It just changed names and is now referred to as the World Expo. I was surprised and excited when I learned these events have continued to operate every 2-3 years at 3-6 months at a time.

So what happened? Why aren’t they publicized like other world events like the Olympics? Why doesn’t the US host them anymore?  Well, I’ll share a little insight that I’ve gained through working at the USA Pavilion.

Firstly, legislation prohibits the use of US taxpayer money for US participation in World Expos.  All other nations participate through either a combination of government funds and corporate sponsorship, or rely solely on government funding.  For over a decade, USA Pavilions have relied on corporate funding.

Secondly, each expo’s USA Pavilion is a non-profit entity created for that specific year’s expo, and then the non-profit dismantles.  US participation in World Expos is the product of a public partnership with the newly founded non-profit funded by corporate sponsors.

The next World Expo is taking place in Milan, Italy in 2015; after that we’ve got Expo Astana 2017 and Expo Dubai 2020. So, for any students who speak Italian, Russian, Kazahk, or Arabic, OR students who want to be a part of an international event, check to see if you can work at one of the upcoming expos or for the USA Pavilion!  Milan’s theme is Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life—food!  The US announced its participation in Expo Milan in March, 2014.  The reason it is announced so late, unlike other countries who confirm their participation in future expos before the current one is completed, is because of the funding issue.  Because funding isn’t guaranteed, neither is our participation.  Instead of concentrating efforts on planning and refining the design, operations, and experience that the Pavilion, valuable time is lost in order to raise the money necessary to run the pavilion.

World expo World expo 2

Finally, the US is no longer a member of the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE), therefore it does not get a vote in determining which country will host a future expo.  Until the US pays dues and is reinstated as an active member it is unlikely that another World Expo will be held here.

Overall expos are great opportunities to show off new developments in technology, knowledge sharing, and celebration of culture. I hope that Americans become more aware of this event, begin to take part in it, and maybe even push for the US to rejoin the BIE so we can host once again.

Fair blog

 

Emilie, Peer Advisor

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