Guest Blog: A Close Call in Capetown

Guest Blogger: Gregory Bartolomei, University of Pittsburgh ’11
Program: Semester at Sea

I never could have anticipated the turn of events that marked my last night in Capetown, South Africa. What started out as an innocent night out with friends suddenly went sour, a close call that I was lucky to escape unscathed. My fellow travelers and I had met up in the city to share tales of our adventures after a week of exploration. One girl brought a South African friend, Dries, who invited us to go to a real South African party near his home in the Townships. My friends and I quickly accepted his request and spent the night celebrating with drinking, eating, dancing, singing, and talking. Continue reading

Sports and Travel

While Red Sox fans venerate Fenway Park, the same can be said of FC Barcelona fans and Camp Nou. As any college football fan in the SEC will tell you, the rivalries between their schools are inveterate and intense. The same is true in Australia, where 10 out of 16 Aussie-rules football teams vie for AFL supremacy in the Melbourne area alone. And as much as Americans cheered for our Olympians in 2008, we all remember the sheer spectacle the Chinese orchestrated in Beijing. Indeed, sports are just as meaningful a way to understand a foreign culture as they are a means of reflecting on our own. If you are studying abroad or just traveling and want to immerse yourself in the culture around you, be sure to take a look at what sports the natives are following. Here are just a few examples: Continue reading

7 Signs of Successful Study- Abroad Programs

Wendy Williamson, author and Director of Study Abroad at Eastern Illinois University, has just written a great bit of commentary about the differences between universities that encourage study abroad, and the ones that make it difficult for their students to do so, despite their message. This article, which appears in the Chronicle of Higher Education, addresses many issues in international education. It addresses program cost, academic credit, and the implications for foreign recruitment. Click here to read the article: http://chronicle.com/article/7-Signs-of-Successful/123657/

To Be or Not To Be (Together) : Long Distance Relationships

If you have a serious boyfriend or girlfriend and are planning on spending time abroad, you’ll have to face The Question: whether you should stay in the relationship during your trip or take the opportunity to be single and independent. Reasons for ending the relationship  before studying abroad can range from the hedonistic (“I want to meet foreign hotties”) to the healthy (“Spending time without a relationship will help us both grow”). Make a list of pros and cons if you have to: this decision will definitely impact your experience in the coming months. Continue reading

Ok, we get it, you went abroad!

Talking to recently-returned study abroad students can be fascinating, but it can also be frustrating. Friends come home bursting with stories- some talking incessantly about all the amazing things they did or bemoaning how much they miss it, or even making vague and earnest plans to return as soon as possible. Sometimes, it may seem like they have left their mind behind in their host country.
For some people, constantly hearing about a fantastic abroad experience can be a source of jealousy or annoyance. Not everyone has a chance to travel and it’s even harder to be stuck at home when you wish you were out exploring like your friends abroad. It’s always important to be respectful to your friends and family when you come home. Of course they want to hear about your adventures and share in your happiness, but don’t forget that everyone else has been living their lives since you were gone too. Continue reading

Host Families and Gifts From Home!

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While not all study abroad programs include a homestay, the experience of living with a local family can be a great way to immerse yourself in the culture. If you don’t have this opportunity, it’s always interesting to get to know the family of a new friend- a roommate or classmate from the nearby area who would be happy to have you come spend time in their home. You may find new perspective on your host country and make new friends in the process. Continue reading

El Camino de Santiago

“Joder…necesito una cerveza, y un cigarillo.” That’s what my art professor said to me as we hiked up the hill towards Santiago de Compostela, site of the tomb of Saint James the Elder. In English, his words translate to a four letter word, followed by an expressed desire for beer and cigarettes. Vulgar as it was, I thought it was funny. In centuries past, the trip to see an Apostle’s Bones might have commanded more reverence from pilgrims. But for a man who had done this multiple times, this was just another morning hike. For the rest of us on the trip, it meant something more. We were American undergrads, enjoying a week off from classes in which we could hike through the green hills of Galicia to make the pilgrimage. As a reward, we would have our very own document in Latin- the Compostelana, proving that we had made the trek.