Tarangire National Park – The Only Place I’ve Ever Felt Truly Happy While Being Bitten By Bugs

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Submitted by Maggie Rodney, Global Ambassador in Tanzania

Tanzania Abroad101

Baby zebra! Isn’t it just the cutest creature on the face of the planet? (No offense to my dog.) I would love to take one of these home with me.

Our group went to Tarangire National Park yesterday, and it was by far the most amazing place I’ve ever been. Again, I keep having to remember that I haven’t even been to Ngorogoro or the Serengeti yet, which are going to be the first wonders of the world I’ve seen. But, regardless, Tarangire was absolutely fantastic.

First of all, it looks like a scene straight out of The Lion King. I saw at least three structures that looked like Pride Rock and I wanted to go check them out to see if I could find Simba (which, I have learned, is “lion” in Swahili).

Tanzania Abroad101

The cheetah goes after its prey. I wouldn’t mind bringing this home, either, but I might have to declaw it first.

Second of all, I saw some things that I never thought I would get to see in my lifetime. Within ten minutes of being in the park, I had seen a cheetah go on the hunt and take down a dik dik. Just watching it run reminded me of the many hundreds of times I had watched that on Animal Planet, and I still cannot believe I got to see it from less than a hundred yards away.  Then, we spotted baby zebras and elephants. We had already seen some pretty young ones at Lake Manyara, but these were brand new.  The baby zebra was still fluffy and red, and was probably the cutest creature I’ve ever seen.

Then came the real highlights – lions! We saw two adult lions from pretty far away, but I was able to get a pretty good picture. Later, we got a call on the radio that a lion cub had been spotted. When we got to where it had been seen, we were told that it was hiding in the bushes, and to just hang tight for a little while.  Here is where I learned the most important lesson of these game drives – PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE. Unfortunately, convincing a group of teenagers to sit still for 20 minutes is difficult, but ten minutes after we drove away there were multiple calls on the radio saying it had come out. So, I missed my chance at seeing it. Which now ranks as one of the biggest regrets of my life. Lesson learned. But the day ended with a monkey leaping through the window of the car I was sitting in and our driver having to chase it out – absolutely hilarious.

Tanzania Abroad101

The lionesses we spotted… Note the zebra standing to the left looking slightly confused. These lions were sitting less than ten feet from an entire herd, and neither species really seemed to care.

Of course, as the world tends to work, something had to be just not quite perfect.  Tarangire has tse tse flies, which is basically the African equivalent of a horsefly. Somehow, my car ended up in an area with lots of flies, and little wildlife – luckily, I avoided bites, and the ones where we are don’t carry disease anyway. But the day definitely could have done without those. We WERE the only ones who saw any lions, though, so we like to think it balanced out.


“Classroom” Observations of Wildlife in Tanzania

Submitted by Maggie Rodney, Abroad101’s Global Ambassador in Tanzania


Jambo! The last few days here at the Moyo Hills Camp have been insane, so hopefully I’ll be able to fit everything in – I doubt I will. We spent Friday and Saturday exploring Lake Manyara National Park. We saw giraffes, elephants and zebras from only about ten feet away, and even more animals from less than 200 feet.  Continue reading

Thinking of the perfect gift for your host family


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So you’ve packed your clothes, guidebooks, cameras, and other essentials from home that you’ll need while you’re abroad. Before trying to stuff the last couple square centimeters of your luggage with items that you probably won’t even use, be sure to save space for a gift to give your host family! Not only do you want to make a good impression and show your gratitude for opening up their home to you, but if it’s done right, this small gesture can be a great way for them to get to know you! Some of the best gifts are those that spark meaningful conversations that can set the tone for the rest of your stay.  Continue reading

Istanbul, Turkey: Initial Impressions

Istanbul, Turkey

Rachel in Turkey!



Submitted by Rachel Whitcomb, Global Ambassador in Istanbul, Turkey

Merhaba (Translation:Hello) from Istanbul! After AIFS’s quick excursion to Athens, the 17 of us in the program made our way to Istanbul to begin orientation/registration for our 7 weeks of studies at Boğaziçi University. While about half of us are here for history, many people are taking classes as diverse as sociology, business, marketing, psychology, literature, philosophy, and of course, Turkish.

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Maggie Engaging with the Locals in Tanzania

Submitted by Maggie Rodney, Abroad101’s Global Ambassador in Tanzania

Kifaru (Rhino)...My home for the next month!

Hey all, Maggie coming at you from Moyo Hill Camp in Tanzania! I’m officially halfway through my second day of classes here, and I’m actually pleasantly surprised at how acclimated I feel, which I did not expect. All of the people in the program – students, staff and professors – are really amazing people. The students all seem extremely interested and willing to explore everything around us, which I think is absolutely crucial to having a successful time here. The professors all have extensive study and knowledge in their fields, and all seem so excited to be teaching us what they know. Although, they like to call me out on the fact that I’m a finance major, and pretty much the only non-science major here. But, really, that shouldn’t stop anyone with an interest in the subject from coming; I have had no trouble so far with the coursework thus far, and we’re pretty well under way. I would suggest that anyone thinking about coming has at least a basic understanding of biology, though. Continue reading

Global Ambassador, Rachel, in Istanbul, Turkey!


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Merhaba! My name is Rachel Whitcomb and I’ll be spending the next 7 weeks in Istanbul, Turkey, through AIFS. I was raised in Colorado, went to high school in Maryland, and am now entering my senior year at Seattle University where I’m double majoring in History and Voice Performance. I am incredibly excited, scared, anxious, and thrilled to be embarking on my first study abroad experience!

Studying abroad has always been on my radar since coming to college but I began to worry that I wouldn’t be able to fit it in when I decided to take on my second major. My compromise was to do a summer program. I chose the AIFS Turkey program because it was the longest one I could find, I could choose from a huge variety of classes, and it was a totally unique place to study. There are also many weekend trips to visit art, architecture, and ruins including a day in Athens, Troy, Edrine, and guided tours of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, and many more! I was also looking for somewhere that would take me out of my comfort zone and get me as close to a semester abroad program as I could. I have high hopes that this one will do the trick.

One of the things I’m looking forward to the most is seeing how the people of Turkey come together to celebrate. Community and cultural activities are universal and are a huge part of why I wanted to study abroad. If I could bring a gift to my host country to tell them something about myself, I would “bring” them a music festival. I’ve been to many, and it’s a beautiful way that I see humans coming together, strangers becoming friends, through something we all love- music. Sure, we don’t get to shower, and we eat PB&J for three meals a day, but we get to dance and listen to music together, doing something we love. I’m excited to see how people are brought together on the other side of the world in Istanbul.


A New Home for Abroad101!



It seems like just yesterday we were running Abroad101 from a basement-turned-office or from the bustling corners of One Marina Park. Now, we’ve officially been in our new office for one whole week! Last Monday, several of our staff packed themselves into a small UHaul and happily lugged office furniture along with other goodies (think exercise bike) across Boston. We’re now officially located at 107 South St, Boston MA!

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Photo Friday: The Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival, a national holiday in China, is set to be held this weekend throughout the country! For the Chinese, this day means no work or school, eating rice dumplings and watching thousands of people race intricately designed dragon boats on the nearest body of water.

Below, see a few photos from the big event!

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Dragon Boat Racing

photo credit: 
Mr. Wabu

Dragon Boating

photo credit: 

Excursions Around Madrid!


Francesca relaxing in Madrid!


Submitted by Francesca Limjuco, Summer Global Ambassador in Madrid, Spain

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Last weekend, I caught glimpses of the old and new Spain. Here is an account of my cultural and gastronomic discoveries around Madrid over the last few days:


Museo de America – My Colonial History of Latin America class had a field trip in this museum which sits on top of a hill overlooking Madrid. I’d have to say that their most interesting exhibit is the Escenas de Mestizaje. These paintings depicting Spaniards and natives in interracial relationships and their consequent offsprings were painted in South America during the Conquest were popular souvenirs for Spaniards to bring back home. In all honesty, I was slightly offended although amused by them and I told my professor that it reminded me of a bad episode of The Family Guy. It just goes to show that racial jokes have come a long way and will probably never get old so there’s no point in being offended. The only thing curable is ignorance.


Toledo – A day trip to Spain’s former capital is a must to see intercultural influences between the Muslims, Jews, and Christians. The synagogue will make you feel as if you were in a mosque Morocco and the Cathedral which brought together all of Europe’s best artists during the Renaissance will leave the beholder awestruck.

Teatro Joy Eslava – Although exhausted from an entire day of sightseeing, I could not stay at home on a Saturday night! With two friends from Texas, Jennifer and Alicia, we partied until the Metro opened in one of Madrid’s oldest theaters turned night club. We were well taken care of by two muy locas Madrileñas, Jennifer and Olga who is Alicia’s intercambio. I realized that college kids everywhere aren’t that different. We all like American TV shows and we love to dance to European house music.


Palacio Real – I spent the afternoon exploring the Royal Palace. My highlights were the chapel and the Royal Armory with suits dating back from the Crusades.








Although not exactly the weekend anymore, every day seems like Friday in Madrid because there’s always something going on. After class, I wanted a relaxing place to write so I went to Chueca to find a café. Mercado San Antón – There’s an actual market on the first floor where you can pick out raw food, have it cooked however you want it, and served on their beautiful roof top terrace. They also have an international selection of already prepared food on the second floor. I recommend ordering tapa portions from various stalls so you can try a little bit of everything as the prices are reasonable and according to weight. Diurno – My favorite café in Madrid is actually a DVD rental shop. Not only is the coffee great, you get a friendly intellectual vibe. Chueca is Madrid’s gay district but is popular in general with all young locals so people at the next table readily welcome conversation.


Lady Gaga Concert in Brisbane!

-Submitted by Meg Bauer, Abroad101’s Global Ambassador in the Gold Coast
So, if you didn’t know I am obsessed with Lady Gaga! When she came to Pittsburgh, I tried so hard to get tickets. Tickets went on sale at 10:00 and I called at 10:03, and they were SOLD-OUT!! I was so depressed.
Before I left for Australia, I knew Lady Gaga was going to start her “Born This Way” tour in Asia and knew she’d be in Australia around the time I was getting ready to leave. Her tour dates weren’t announced yet when I first got here. So she announced her concert dates for Australia, and one was Brisbane. She would be in Brisbane while I was still here! When I found that out, I just HAD to get tickets!! My friend, Trevor, and I decided we would go together! Yay! I bought my ticket in March, so all I could think about for 3 months was the Lady Gaga concert. Continue reading