You Can Get Paid To Study Abroad

london-westendI have used this outlandish claim as the headline in my Study Abroad How-To Course giveaways in the past. It strikes a lot of people as “spammy” and unrealistic because it is. Most people don’t get paid to study abroad. I don’t think this is because they can’t. I think it’s because they haven’t made it a priority.

Precisely because it seem unrealistic, it never gets honestly tried.

There are two keys to getting paid to do what you want (not just travel goals, any career, too!)

  1. Let people know that you want to get paid to do what you want (in detail). Then, while you wait for opportunities to show up, be generous with your time, attention, and support and help other people out. They will help you in return.

I was paid to go to Germany for free earlier this year. One of my best friends from high school got a full-ride two-week trip to Israel over winter break. These opportunities were both offered to us. We didn’t even have to ask for them because people knew we wanted them.

This isn’t just due to luck. It’s mostly because the people around us already knew that we wanted to travel. We made it a priority and we were vocal about it, and then when the opportunity came up we were both front-of-mind. People who had money paid us to go because we were the first people that came to mind.

Even more recently, I got to give two friends of mine a free trip to India because they were the first people that came to mind when someone offered me a video production trip that didn’t work with my schedule.

You can be the first person who comes to mind in your friends’ heads when they hear about travel opportunities, simply by talking about your dreams and desires.

If you let the people around you know what you want and you are helpful and pleasant person to be around in the meantime, when they find an opportunity that looks promising they will be more than happy to let you know!

  1. Actively look into ways to make your dreams happen. This means looking up and interviewing people who have done it before, apply for grants, scholarships, and any other opportunities you can dig up.

You can find help for doing these things all over the web. Google “how to interview famous people” or “how to apply for grants and scholarships” to get started right now. It’s seriously that easy.

That’s it!

 

  • Let people around you know what you want out of life.
  • Take just a little time each day to look into how to make those things happen.

 

Big things will happen if you let people know that you want those things and make yourself valuable. You’ll find unusual opportunities if you keep an eye out for them. Those are the most unusual and effective lessons to getting paid to do what you want.

These tips may not be the usual advice for “how to get paid” to do something, but because they’re unusual they work extraordinarily well. Remember to be persistent, optimistic, and find ways to help out.

If you like the sound of that and you’d like to learn more about how to apply creative persistence to the rest of your study abroad journey (from getting scholarships to finding affordable plane tickets) check out The World’s Best School: Travel – my online course that helps students find social support and study abroad, even if they think it’s impossible at first.

Guest Blogger –

Steve Moraco

Founder, StudyAbroadBook.com

Steve@StudyAbroadBook.com



10 Things You’ll (probably) Forget to Pack when You Study Abroad

10 things you'll forget to pack
Studying in another country is a life-changing adventure, and challenges are a welcome part of the learning experience. However, it’s easier to immerse yourself in a new language and culture when you’re prepared for some of the most common challenges. Packing lists are excellent resources as you plan ahead, but they tend to focus on the bare necessities. If you haven’t studied abroad before, you might assume these checklists are comprehensive. Take it from me: they’re not.

During my semester in China, there were a few crucial items I wished I had brought. Even though I followed the suggestions of many study abroad packing lists, I learned some lessons the hard way. Through trial and error, I discovered a few extra things that students should pack to make their study abroad experience better, easier, and more comfortable.

Whether you’re still researching your options or you’re getting ready for an extended stay in another country, keep these ten commonly overlooked items in mind as you prepare for your journey.

Your Favorite Movies

moviesYour time abroad will be packed with exciting new opportunities to learn, socialize, and explore. However, during the course of several months, some downtime is inevitable. Make sure you bring DVDs or digital downloads of at least a few favorite movies. They’ll remind you of home when you’re homesick, distract you if you’re actually sick, and entertain you on rainy days. Movies are also a great way to connect with new friends and introduce them to American pop culture.

Downy Wrinkle Release Spray

downyIrons aren’t exactly lightweight, and you may not have access to them in your dorm, hotel, hostel, or host family’s home. After your clothes travel thousands of miles in a cramped suitcase, Downy Wrinkle Release Spray will be your best friend. Just follow the directions on the bottle to remove any wrinkles and make a good first impression with your professors, host family, and new
classmates.

Playing Cards

playing cards A deck of playing cards is a universal source of entertainment, crossing language barriers and age groups. Thanks to games like solitaire, they’re also insurance against periods of boredom. Pack playing cards in your bag and bust them out if you want to socialize with new friends or kill time.

 

bootsRain Boots

Don’t ruin your shoes and track water all over your host family’s floor like I did! Umbrellas may be relatively easy to find, but it’s much more difficult to find a sturdy pair of rain boots in your size. Instead, bring your own all-purpose galoshes to prevent soggy shoes and socks. They’ll make it easier to navigate campus and city streets on rainy days (you won’t have to walk around puddles). Plus, they come in many fun and colorful styles which make for a great icebreaker!

(gift idea source: http://www.tonyastaab.com/2012/12/delicious-pairings-a-last-minute-gift-idea.html)


gift pack

Small Gifts from Home

Whether you stay with a host family or make friends who live nearby, you’ll receive plenty of hospitality from locals when you study abroad. You may even receive gifts from teachers, hosts, and fellow students. Show your appreciation with unique gifts from your hometown or home state. Monetary value isn’t important; it’s truly the thought that counts.

 photo heart

Photos from Home to Hang Up

Don’t underestimate the value of seeing the smiling faces of your friends and family every day. If you get overwhelmed by language difficulties or struggle to make new friends, personalizing your living area will cheer you up. Incidentally, personal photos also help when you’re feeling the opposite of homesick. If you’re having such a great time that you start to dread your eventual return, remind yourself of the family members and friends waiting for you.

sweat pants

Pair of Sweatpants

When I prepared for my trip, I focused on packing light and preparing for different seasons and outdoor conditions. I didn’t put as much thought into my loungewear, so I only had a few lightweight pairs of pajama shorts. Sweatpants are a warmer, more modest option for students with host families. They’re also super cozy and comfortable! Bring a pair from your college or favorite sports team to remind yourself of home.

packing listItemized List of Checked Baggage

As you pack the luggage you plan to check with the airline, make a detailed inventory of each item. You may have to claim damages for lost luggage or replace missing items, so it’s important to know exactly what you packed. Just in case, add an extra outfit to your carry-on luggage too. I rolled up a lightweight, wrinkle-proof dress and extra pair of underwear. That way if your checked luggage does get lost, you can enjoy the comforts of clean clothes while you figure things out.


suitcase
Lunchbox

Your school will probably have a cafeteria or nearby restaurants to frequent for lunch. However, if you want to save a little money you can make your lunch at home and bring it with you in a lunchbox. Bringing your lunch is a great way to enjoy fresh ingredients from local markets and experiment with cooking at home. Ask your host family if you can wrap up leftovers to have for lunch the next day. Some host families may even make lunch for you to bring to school. Hard lunchboxes can be difficult to find overseas, so consider bringing one with you from home. It also doubles as a separate storage container in your suitcase!


sheetsPillowcase and Sheets

You’ll probably stay in more than one place during your travels, especially if you plan to visit other cities and countries during your study abroad experience. Student hostels are cheap and convenient, but they’re not exactly famous for cleanliness. If you’re a germophobe like me – or you have nightmares about bed bug infestations – I highly recommend bringing a clean pillowcase and set of sheets. Lightweight “sleep sacks” like the cocoon travel sheet save space in overnight bags.

 

What Else Should You Pack To Study Abroad?

I hope this list comes in handy as you explore your study abroad options or prepare for your upcoming trip. However, if you’ve already completed a study abroad program, you know these ten suggestions are just a starting point.

If you learned any packing lessons the hard way, help future students avoid the same mistakes. What do you wish you had brought with you on your study abroad? Let me know in the comments!

 

Our Guest Blogger – 

carly smith

Carly Smith has been traveling to Europe since she was a kid. Wanting to experience something out of her comfort zone, she recently returned home from a semester abroad with Go Abroad China at Fudan University in Shanghai. She is now back home in Oregon working on her degree in Journalism and can’t wait to see where she ends up next. Follow her on twitter @carlyabroad

 

Study Abroad Update from the Middle East

October 2015 –

There is war raging in parts of the Middle East and that has impacted everyone in the region. Those involved in international education face an anxious group of current students and a concerned, if not skeptical group of future students. We thought we’d ask how a few of the universities in the region are coping with the situation. Here’s what they say.

From Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates:

AmericanUniv sharjahThe American University of Sharjah (AUS) enjoys all of the safety and stability that the UAE has to offer.  In contrast to many countries around the world, including the USA, the UAE has experienced very minimal terrorist activity, violent incidents, or property crime.  The country is known for its political stability, careful visa screening policies, and strict security measures. Dusk arrives between 6 and 7 pm throughout the year, and women especially enjoy freedom to walk safely around the city centers after nightfall.  In addition, the UAE maintains one of the most diverse populations in the world, and is tolerant and welcoming to people from various world cultures and religions.

The standalone AUS Campus located within the University City complex is similarly safe and secure, with an on-site Health Clinic (including Ambulance), major teaching hospital located just around the corner, campus-wide security officers on staff at all hours, a special division of the police stationed at the two access gates to campus, and a Police College located just next door.  We send our students to study abroad, often to the USA, and I always find it rather ironic when I have to calm the fears of local parents who worry about sending their students to a place where there are so many campus shootings, etc.!

From Beirut, Lebanon:

AUB life has been safe and thriving, thus no recent announcements in the last 15 months have needed to be made except for health precautions when the university wAmericanUniv-Beirutas closed for the dust storm. When the University needs to communicate an important announcement regarding safety to the AUB community, this information appears on the AUB homepage and is also sent via SMS so that messages are instantly received on users’ (students, faculty & staff) mobile phones.

Most international students, especially visiting international students, take advantage of the weekend trips and events organized by the Office of International Programs (OIP). OIP follows a safety and security protocol for these trips, and it’s been pleasing to learn (and experience!) how much they are enjoyed and taken advantage of by all international students. Furthermore, students are given a number of campus resources to reach out to for informed travel, including suggestions of where not to go. Ultimately all decisions regarding travel to, from, and within Lebanon are personal ones.  Students, families, and schools are encouraged to discuss the security situation in the country and arrive at informed conclusions that satisfy their personal comfort level.

At AUB, we are committed to campus and neighborhood safety, and to be as effective as possible in a crisis situation.  AUB cannot however guarantee political certainty so ultimately whether or not a student decides to attend AUB comes down to personal choice.  AUB receives on average 50 visiting and exchange students per semester and about 22% of its student population is international.

From Dubai, United Arab Emirates:

AmericanUniv DubaiThe economic progress and broad-scale success of Dubai have captured the imagination of the world. Dubai’s booming prosperity and its safe environment attract thousands of visitors every year. At The American University in Dubai (AUD) students live and study on a campus where over 100 nationalities are represented. Every academic year AUD receives over 100 study abroad students who travel comfortably in the region and get fully immersed into its cultural diversity and thus get a unique international exposure. In addition, AUD is located in a very vibrant area of Dubai – Media City, in proximity to Nakheel metro station.

The American University in Dubai ensures that the utmost security and safety measures are taken on its campus at all times. AUD’s Security Office is reachable 24/7 through the Security Supervisor, or the Security Emergency Number; the security guards are present round-the-clock on campus for the sake of the students’ welfare. Students must always be collaborative and present their student AUD ID at the security gates or whenever asked by the security guards inside the campus. AUD security guards have the right to expel from campus or deny entry to students who refuse to present their AUD IDs. All visitors wishing to enter our campus are allowed access either by prior invitation from a member of the AUD community, in which our security team verifies immediately with the concerned AUD member before entry of visitor; or if the visitor wishes to visit our Admissions team, they are allowed access to that department directly, which in all cases they are asked to leave their national ID at the security gates, and are given a visitor’s badge to wear during their stay on campus.

For any emergencies out of our institutions’ control, the security team at AUD involved the Supervisor immediately and contacts Dubai Authorities and Dubai Police for further guidance if needed.

As you can see from each of these accounts, the universities in the region are moving forward with their educational mission and taking precautions to keep their students and international visitors well cared for. As Americans see in the news, tragedy and random violence occurs worldwide and is a concern for us all. The war that rages on in some parts of the Middle East does cast a shadow over daily life in the entire region as well as the world, and at the same time life goes on.

We highlight three universities that openly welcome study abroad students and are committed to bringing a rewarding and worthwhile educational opportunity to future students. Each hopes you will consider spending some time on their campus and experience the best of what they have to offer. Check out what students have to say about their experience by reading the reviews:

http://www.studyabroad101.com/programs/american-university-of-sharjah-sharjah-direct-enrollment-exchange

http://www.studyabroad101.com/programs/american-university-of-beirut-beirut-direct-enrollment-exchange

http://www.studyabroad101.com/programs/american-university-in-dubai-study-abroad-in-the-middle-east

 

At risk of being cliché, we leave you with the widely referenced quote about travel: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
 Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad

 

 

Five Reasons to Consider a Long-term Study Abroad Program

Review_30573_Photo__f9d7So you want to see the world, and you’re enticed by all the short-term programs out there. A few weeks in Sweden, a stop in Germany, and a long weekend in Belgium. Sounds like a good deal: you get to see lots of places in a short amount of time, right? Well, it’s a good start, but I’d like to propose a deeper adventure. I wouldn’t want you to miss out on some life-changing opportunities. As someone who spent a year studying at a university in Toulouse, France, I can tell you from firsthand experience what you will gain if you decide to go the distance and chose an immersion program:

Make Lasting Friendships

Relationships take time to cultivate. You may begin to make friends on a summer program, but if you stay for a year, you’ll have a chance to make lasting friendships not only with other study abroad students, but also students from the host country. Doing class projects with French students and living in a student residence gave me the opportunity to meet American, international and French students with whom I studied, cooked meals and even went to Barcelona and Dublin. Who knows, you could even develop a romantic connection that inspires you to stay for even longer!

Cultivate a Deeper Understanding of the Language

What if you accidentally told your host family that you were pregnant when you meant to say you were full? Well, spending longer in your destination will sharpen your language skills to the point where you won’t be making silly mistakes like that anymore. Going to class everyday, speaking to classmates, neighbors, and your local grocery clerk will put you on the fast track to fluency. Your improved language ability will improve your grades, communication skills, and make you more qualified for jobs that list bilingual as an asset or requirement.

Really Get to Know the Culture

How many kisses do you give when greeting someone in Normandy? (4!) When do you use informal and formal parts of speech? Which words are OK to shorten? Which fingers do you hold up when you mean 2? While some of this can be learned beforehand, most cultural competency is learned by repetitive practice. If you’re only in a place for a few weeks, how will you get to know its people and customs? Long-term programs give participants the opportunity to become aware of stereotypes and biases they may have subconsciously been subscribing to before living in the country. You will also learn about beliefs held by host country natives about Americans! By developing a deeper understanding of the host culture, you will be able to communicate better with people from all countries because you will learn how to put your “American” beliefs aside in order to really understand where someone else is coming from. This skill comes in very handy for networking, international business, and simply communicating with people different from ourselves.

Make Progress Towards your Degree

I was a French major, so for me it was easy to find classes that counted towards my major in France. However, you can make progress towards your major, minor or general requirements while studying abroad. If you plan carefully ahead of time by making sure the host university offers the kinds of classes you want (biology in Australia, literature in England, computer science in Chile, fashion in Rome, etc.) you can stay on track for graduation or even get ahead! Talk to your department chair and study abroad advisor for more information. In addition to meeting graduation requirements, study abroad (especially long-term programs) looks impressive on a resume or grad school application and can help you stand out in a crowd.

Learn about Yourself

Aside from the practical reasons listed above, living in another country enriches your life personally as well. How do I set up electricity in my apartment? Open a bank account? Plan a trip to Argentina? Where do I go if I get sick? You learn your limits, become more independent and open-minded, develop resiliency and the ability to cope with difficult situations. Instead of someone planning everything for you and telling you where to go and what to do, you are in charge. Because of this, the victory of solving a problem such as finding an apartment or even finding your way home is that much more satisfying. Once you’ve accomplished the challenge of really living abroad, you have some bigger questions to answer: Do I want to come back and live here? Will I inspire others to take on the challenge? Where will I go next?

 

My study abroad program affected me so profoundly that I ended up working at my university’s study abroad office for three years. I then lived in Paris during my graduate studies and again while writing a book about my study abroad experience: Pas Possible: Falling in and out of Love with France, available on Amazon. I invite you to read the book if you’re curious about what it’s like do an immersion program, live in France, or both. Still not sure? Go out there and see for yourself!

Read Jessica’s study abroad review on Abroad101.com

 

Guest article by:

Jessica Pasa

French Teacher

M.A. French Studies NYU

Author of Pas Possible: Falling in and out of Love with France

Blog: Jessica’s Franglais

London for Foreign Students: 8 Things to Get Set Up Before Moving

london-westendIf you’re moving to London as a foreign student, there are some things you should probably tend to before you arrive in Great Britain. Here, find a list of some of the most important things to take care of in advance before your move.

1. Find an international students club to join. Your school is an excellent source for finding or forming such groups, and joining one can ease your anxiety about life away from home.

2. Set up a bank account before you head abroad. This can be done once you arrive, of course, but you will likely find greater peace of mind knowing you are already financially established, at least in terms of being able to use bank services. Having an account where you can instantly access your savings is an easy way to get set up before your move and should help ensure you don’t get into any tight financial situations.

3. Figure out your phone situation. Will you be adding global roaming to your plan? Does your carrier offer this service? Roaming cell service can be costly, so you might want to consider long-distance phone cards as another good option for staying in touch with friends and family back home.

4. Tie up loose business ends. Anything that you’ve signed a contract for previous to your move must be addressed. From apartment leases to gym memberships, don’t just assume you can cancel services you’ve signed up for anytime without penalties. You’ll need to be sure you’ve fulfilled your contract, have an out-clause or be willing to pay what are likely to be high fees.

5. Be sure all personal documents and account information are correct and valid. This includes any identification, your visa, social security card, credit cards, and contact information for any important people or entities you may need to speak with while abroad.

6. Update your mailing address. Before leaving for London, advise your current local post office, friends, family and account services departments for any accounts you have of your new address and phone number.

7. Make a list of your personal London goals. Before you leave, make a checklist of all the places you want to visit, things you want to do and foods you want to try. As you live abroad, check things off and add new items as you accomplish them.

8. Pack smart. Find a suggested packing list specific to London here.

Happy travels, and “cheers” to your new adventure!

Guest Posting from Victoria Moretti, a professional writer from the UK who contributes to Abroad101 from time to time. Victoria loves to write about businesses and macro economic affairs that move the needle. Her other loves include travel, long walks and flat whites.

Challenging Stereotypes of “Dangerous” Locations Abroad

 

Celebrants dancing during the color Holi Festival

Celebrants dancing during the color Holi Festival

I wanted to go to India when I was in college, but at the tender age of 19, I was too nervous to seriously consider applying for a study abroad program there. It seemed too far away and because I didn’t know enough about the country or culture, it felt overwhelming. I was concerned about where I’d live and how I’d be received by the locals, and wondered if I would be “safe.” I did get to India many years later, ironically traveling to several cities alone as a woman– and it was one of the most memorable cultural experiences of my life. I didn’t feel nervous or unsafe as a woman traveling solo. I did my homework while planning my sojourn, knowing where to go, how to dress, and how to ask for help if I needed it. Yet, according to the World Terrorist Index, India was ranked sixth in the world for terrorist activity in 2014.

We live in a world that highlights horrific acts of terror on the nightly news, conditioning us to imagine fear at every turn. Many parents and students from the United States don’t realize is that being involved in a terrorist incident is statistically highly unlikely, yet safety from such attacks becomes a topic of conversation more frequently than one can imagine in a study abroad advising session. Statistically, a US citizen has a similar (or lower) chance of being killed in a terrorist attack than the following occurrences:

  • Being killed by a piece of furniture in your home
  • Dying in a heat wave
  • Being struck and killed by lightening

As a seasoned traveler and advisor, the metamorphic transformation that I see happening through education abroad, particularly when students go off the beaten path (e.g. not Western Europe), demands discussion. How can we encourage more students to participate in all that these countries and cultures have to offer, despite an assumption about lack of safety? And how do we address the real or implied reasons to be fearful?

Here are some considerations for education travel abroad:

  • Recognize that safety cannot be guaranteed anywhere in the world.

The reality is that no one can guarantee safety at home or abroad. What we can do, with intention, is to learn about the local customs and norms to have a better understanding of what is happening around us in any new environs and choose to be aware, not paranoid. After all, educational travel abroad is about getting outside of our comfort zones.

For example, I’m sure that if I had studied abroad in Ecuador, I likely would have been told by the program administrators and faculty not to ride in the back of a pick-up truck because it would be unsafe. When I lived there for two months, I made a point to do just that. Why? Not because I like to live on the edge and thought it was terribly risky of me, but rather because it was what people there do – and the danger of doing so at that moment seemed negligible (and it was). It gave me a different perspective, I learned, and I got home in one piece.

  • Read reviews by students who have been there

I’m fascinated by how students perceive their time abroad, especially when they challenge themselves to go to places that are less traditional for educational travel. One of the best ways to do this is to read reviews at Studyabroad101.com to observe true accounts and perspectives of what is happening on the ground.

I really appreciated this student’s viewpoint of time spent in Lebanon, a country that despite offering study abroad opportunities in English, still reminds people of my generation (e.g. parents of college age students) of the 16 year Lebanese Civil War that ended over a decade ago:

“The same amount of danger that exists anywhere else in the world exists here. It’s just that the type of danger is different. I remember someone asking me if I was afraid to go to school in America because I might be shot. I asked if they feared getting on a bus for it might explode.”

This mirrors the feedback I received from a millennial who recently taught English in Lebanon for several years. She cherished her time there, didn’t feel unsafe – even taking a morning solo run in Beirut as part of her daily routine.

If you’re thinking about going abroad, check the Safety sections of each student’s program review (like this one in Cameroon). They will rate safety by the number of stars (1 – 5), typically commenting in the Safety section, and occasionally in the “A Look Back” section.

  • Know the facts about risk

My colleague, former FBI Agent Steve Moore, has told me more than once that road accidents are the biggest risks for US Americans travelers abroad. The Association for International Road Travel affirms that road crashes are the leading cause of death and injury for healthy Americans traveling abroad and young people, ages 15 – 24. Joining the Association for International Road Travel is an affordable place to start, as they offer data on road safety by country.

Excessive alcohol consumption is a growing problem for this same age group IN the United States, but it is compounded by laws abroad that often allow for young people to drink alcohol at a younger age and often at a higher percent of pure alcohol content. Fortunately, SAFETI offers an alcohol awareness video , available “by suggested donation”, to facilitate dialogue about this important topic. SAFETI also offers free handouts for administrators and students on the topic.

Any organization sending students abroad should plan to partner with campus or regional health care facilities to educate about the specific risks of alcohol consumption. Combined with a clear policy about expectations of behavior, this is key to minimizing the middle of the night panic phone calls about a program participant’s potential alcohol poisoning or worse.

  • Remember Culture!

Culture impacts behavior. Understanding the “whys” of other people’s behaviors is essential to feeling and staying safe. Morocco offers a terrific example of the need to consider culture when contemplating safety; this review of a program in Morocco is illuminating:

It takes some adjusting of behavior to feel safe in Rabat, mostly because of the harassment and unwanted attention. It is also not safe to go out at night in most areas, unless you plan on taking a taxi home. I had my cell phone stolen off a bus in one instance. However, in Morocco, this is par for the course and Rabat is actually a fairly safe city once I adapted to the standards of appropriate behavior.

To have a better understanding of this feedback, I asked a friend who lived in Morocco for several years and served there through Peace Corps for her cultural insights and personal story. This is what she had to say:

I won’t soon forget the first day when my parents came to visit me in Morocco. We were in a mid-sized city and I lost a small purse with my phone, identity card, money, social security card, and other important information. When I called my cell phone, a gentleman who found it – a taxi driver – picked us up, took us to his house where he left the purse for safekeeping, gave it back with everything still in it, and then drove us to the place where he had found it. While I can’t say this would happen in every city in Morocco, it was a wonderful introduction to the country for my parents. I am often asked about safety and can truthfully say it’s no less safe than anywhere else in the world. In particular, tourists or foreigners are looked out for by the police and other officials. Because tourism is such an important part of the Moroccan economy, the government is incredibly conscientious to be sure travelers have positive and safe experiences.

When considering culture, we are given clarifying information about behavioral norms that guides us in our interactions. As a result, we may feel more aware and therefore secure in new surroundings. For example, this young woman’s evaluation of her study abroad program in Morocco references “harassment and unwanted attention” – yet this is something that can be explained by culture. (You can read a complete cultural analysis about it here.) It is key to remember that culture lends information about behaviors of a group of people, but there are individuals within every culture, which reminds us that one incident of petty theft is not representative of an entire country.
Knowing cultural norms can prevent skewed perceptions of safety.   Ideally, program administrators and faculty are spending more time on cultural competency to empower travelers to be more aware, respectful, and self-assured in country. Looking for another resource on culture? Better Abroad is a great portal to understanding the impact of culture on the educational experience abroad.

  • Challenge stereotypes at every turn

One of the most profound conversations I had in India took place between me and an 8 year old boy in the holy city of Varansi. When he learned that I was from the United States, he asked me where my gun was. It was a reality check for me. I had been smacked in the face, verbally, with a stereotype of my country – that we are all gun toting beings, who value packing a pistol as a means to independence and safety. It took some time for me to convince this young boy that I didn’t even think I knew anyone from my country who owned a gun and that I had never even seen one with the exception of police and hunters. His perception came from American films – where violence is glorified. Our conversation encouraged me to challenge my assumptions about other places, and to reflect on those of my own country.

Before traveling, make a list of stereotypes about the country you’re heading to. Then task yourself to learn about your host country before departing – by reading, watching appropriate documentaries, doing informational interviews with people from that country in your home country, and reading the news online via another country’s online account. You’ll learn a lot about where stereotypes come from and how to combat them before jumping head first into the “fear” zone unnecessarily. Next, make a list of what attributes someone from another country might associate with Americans. This may include things like loud, gun toting, violent, sexually promiscuous, and wealthy. Do you agree with the list of stereotypes? Where do you think they come from and how do you think they impact interactions between people that can lead to unsafe situations?

I think back to my younger self, a girl who wanted to escape to India and see the Taj Mahal, and to better understand the diverse cuisine and spirituality. I wish I could tell her that fear is really a limiting word that we plant in our minds, and they it can take root and prevent a lot of beautiful experiences in life. I wish I had access to this student’s review of a program in Bangalore, which mirrors my adult experience in India (although I’d substitute the word “are quite wild” for “follow less rules”):

Beggars frequently come and ask for money. But beyond that, the violence level in Bangalore is far less than it is in US cities. Guns hardly exist among the public, and the people are not generally violent. The most unsafe thing in Bangalore is honestly crossing the road – because traffic patterns are quite wild.

With these handful of safety tips in mind, how will you reassess where is safe to experience education abroad? Where will you not only imagine going, but ACTUALLY going and writing about to your younger self in the future?

 

Missy Gluckmann

Melissa Gluckmann, contributor to the Studyabroad101 Blog and founder of Melibee GlobalMissy Gluckmann is the Founder of Melibee Global, which aims to elevate the discussion about education abroad, culture, diversity and the lifelong path to global citizenship by offering trailblazing toolsspeakers and professional development for the global education and travel communities. Raised in New York, Missy has lived abroad three times and traveled to dozens of countries. Missy currently resides in North Carolina and experiences culture shock there on a daily basis! She can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

Big Life Lessons Learned During a Short-Term Study Abroad

Hampton Court Palace

You don’t have to spend an entire semester abroad to learn valuable life lessons. Nearly 20 years ago, I spent just six weeks studying through the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Oxford University, and I learned lessons that are with me today — ones I wish I had with me when I headed to Oxford.

Adaptation is Key

The first thing I learned when I arrived in Oxford was: I would have a roommate. I grew up with my own room. I shared a room with my youngest sister for about a year; I was six. The closest to dorm living I’d been was sharing a bathroom with my sisters, and since I was so much older than they, I usually had it to myself. I had just six weeks in Oxford — I had to learn to adapt to my surroundings quickly, especially with weekend trips taking up precious free time.

Set Goals

David E. Smith of National University and Darryl J. Mitry of Norwich University completed a research project surveying students in short-term study abroad programs similar to the one I attended. They found that students who set goals before going into their programs, such as develop cross-cultural skills, were more likely to meet those goals. One of the goals I set for myself was to get a B-average in my courses. I usually maintained closer to a 3.7 at my home university, but this was Oxford — I knew it would be more difficult. I returned home with two B+’s. Had I gone there without goals (or with the goal of simply drinking my way through the program), I would have likely accomplished nothing.

Look Beyond

The most important lesson learned during my program is that it’s important to look beyond. Look beyond the situations in which you find yourself. I thought I’d come home from Oxford with a fun English accent. I sounded like my roomie from Detroit instead and discovered I could pick up just about any accent I wanted. I learned to look beyond the goals I set for myself during the program. A 3.0 average? Boring. How about those B+’s? At Oxford? These days, I use goal-setting for career and lifestyle choices, like improving my time management or working out more often. Three times a week? Too easy. I work out five. No matter the setting, looking beyond the goals you set for yourself can help you accomplish even greater things.

Go Forth and Learn

Your goals are your own, and if you choose a short-term or a long-term program, you will come home with life lessons of your own. Just don’t forget to set at least one goal, even if you start small.

by H. E. James

Guest blogger:

H.E. James-headshotHattie is a writer and researcher living in Boise, Idaho, who has traveled throughout Europe and has spent countless hours in the car travelling the around the United States. She has a varied background, including education and history as well as journalism. Hattie enjoys sharing her passions through the written word. She is currently spending many sleepless nights seeking her graduate degree but always sets aside time to enjoy a good cider.

5 things to do before studying abroad

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Anyone who has ever studied abroad will tell you that it was one of the best experiences of their life. What’s not to like about seeing a new part of the world, making new friends, exploring independently, and making memories that will last a lifetime? But before you head off, there’s a few things you need to do. To make it easy for you, here’s five simple tips to make your year abroad go smoothly.

Choose the right program. Do you want to study abroad for a full year or just six months? Most universities tend to offer half-year courses for exchange students, but there are longer courses on offer. Read as many reviews as you can, speak to former students who took the course, and ask for advice from your university’s study abroad adviser. Honestly, you will have an amazing time regardless of the program, but it’s still important to choose the right program for you!

Pack light. Some students who study abroad choose to ship a few boxes over to their new destination, but some take the bare minimum and buy what they need when they arrive. From my experience, I’d suggest travelling as lightly as possible, especially if you’re only there for six months. You can buy all your essentials in your destination country, and it’s a great way of getting out and exploring your new town or city at the same time.

Want to work while you’re abroad? This is a great idea to earn some extra money in your spare time and blend in with the locals. Of course, you’ll want to travel around your destination country, so you’ll definitely need the money! That said, you’ll need to make sure you’re up to speed with employment legislation and find out if you’re eligible to work or if there’s any documentation you’ll need to arrange before you go.

Work out where you’ll live. Some universities offer accommodation for exchange students, but some will leave that up to you to sort out. Don’t assume that your accommodation will be sorted and ready for you when you step off the plane – find out where you’ll be staying and if you need to make any arrangements yourself.

Write up a budget. Never done this before? Well, now is the time to learn! If you’re studying in Eastern Europe or South East Asia, you’ll find the cost of living to be significantly cheaper than what you’re used to – but you may end up spending more if you head to Australia, the UK, or one of the Nordic countries. It’s important that you have a general idea of how much you’ll be spending on a monthly basis and you’ll probably find in your first couple of months, you’ll end up spending way more than you originally anticipated!

See your doctor. No one likes going to the doctor, but this is really important, especially if you’re travelling to somewhere off the beaten track. You might need certain immunizations or medication, and if you’re on repeat medication, order enough to cover you for the length of your study period. You’ll also need your doctor to write up a letter to accompany your medication, as customs often ask to see this when you arrive.

It might seem like there’s a lot to do before you head off on your study abroad adventure (see here for a few more tips), but once you’ve got it all out of the way, you can do all the fun things – like planning your weekend getaways, making travel plans, and reading city guidebooks! There will no doubt be things you can’t plan for and a few bumps along the way, but hopefully these tips will help you hit the ground running.

 

Guest Posting from Victoria Moretti, a professional writer from the UK who contributes to Abroad101 from time to time. Victoria loves to write about businesses and macro economic affairs that move the needle. Her other loves include travel, long walks and flat whites.

Generation Study Abroad

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Abroad101 has joined IIE’s Generation Study Abroad with the hopes of doubling the number of American students who go abroad.  The following article comes courtesy of IIE and hopefully brings more students and their parents to believe that study abroad is an essential part of the college experience.

Top 5 Reasons to Study Abroad

We believe that study abroad should be an essential component of a college degree, however according to the Open Doors 2013 Report on International and Educational Exchange less than 10% of the 2.6 million graduates last year studied abroad. It’s time to make a change and give all students what they need to succeed in today’s interconnected world!

  1. Globalization is changing the way the world works. Employers increasingly seek workers who have both cross-cultural skills and cutting-edge technical skills.
  1. Competency in languages other than English is increasingly important. Today’s graduates are just as likely to work with people from Beijing and Bangalore as those from Boston or Boise, making the ability to work across cultures essential to success in all arenas.
  1. Study abroad opens students’ eyes to new ways of thinking, instilling a more informed approach to problem-solving in cross-cultural contexts.
  1. Many of the world’s most influential innovations are originating from the collaboration of cross-cultural teams, often located continents away.
  1. Study abroad has been shown to improve grades, boost confidence, and help with college graduation and retention rates.

#GenerationStudyAbroad | www.generationstudyabroad.org
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Top Study Abroad Foodie Cities in Abroad101 Rankings

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Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thai food is popular worldwide, so why not go to the source! Study abroad students rave about the cuisine in Thailand and it’s way of mixing sweet, salty, sour and bitter tastes which balance together to give that distinctive taste of Thailand.

Why you should go:  “Man oh man, Thai food is scrumptious, and it was so fun to roam the street vendors looking for food” Jaiden D, Western Washington University

What you should eat: Eat EVERYTHING. It’s amazing and so cheap. Watch out for those chilis though!

Chiang Mai is RANKED #1 in the Abroad101.com Top Foodie Cities for 2014

 sorrento-italy

Sorrento, Italy

This relaxed town on the Amalfi Coast, Italy’s “Coast with the most” is known for its fresh markets with abundant citrus fruit, wine, nut and olives. A draw for tourists and students alike, especially those interested in the hospitality field.

Why you should go:  “My appreciation for Italian food has gone through the roof.” Antonio S, University of Notre Dame

What you should eat: It’s Italy, there’s food everywhere! Where do I start?!  With so many options, the food opportunities are endless! Best I’ve ever had, go for dolce and gelato and il leone rosso

Sorrento is RANKED #2 in the Abroad101.com Top Foodie Cities for 2014

Florence-italy

Florence, Italy

Florence is the heart of Tuscany and Tuscan food is known to be simple and abundant with local produce, mellow cheeses and grilled meats and especially white beans as the staple. Florence is one of the most popular study abroad destinations and from the reviews, food is a big part of the attraction.

Why you should go:  “The food does not get better than Italy!” Dylan N, The University of Texas at Austin

What you should eat: The food in Italy is out of control! Is there any explanation needed? The food is AMAZING? Gusta Pizza is a must. So is the very first gelato shop you come to when you cross the Ponte Vecchio (GET PINEAPPLE GELATO–it is the best here!)

Florence is RANKED #3 in the Abroad101.com Top Foodie Cities for 2014

Madrid-Spain

Madrid, Spain

Known as a gastronomic paradise because of it’s incredible choices of food to eat and wine to drink, Spain’s capital has it all, from small portion Tapas to full course meals, a capital of amazing food!

Why you should go:  “Even as a vegetarian coming into a very meat- and fish- centered diet in Spain, I loved the food during my stay, both at home and out and about.” Savannah C, University of Iowa

What should you eat: Two words: Jamon bocadillo. And… A favorite thing is to go get tapas in town near the Plaza de Cervantes – a cold cerveca con limon and a plate of olives is one of best things about Spain.

Madrid is RANKED #4 in the Abroad101.com Top Foodie Cities for 2014

Cordoba-Argentina

Cordoba, Argentina:

The traditional dishes of Cordoba have been greatly influenced by Italian and Spanish cuisine, not surprising when you discover that many Argentineans are originally of European descent. Argentinian take pride in their world famous “asados” (char grilled meat), pasta and the Argentinean empanadas – who can argue?

Why you should go:  “I am a vegetarian, which may seem strange since Argentina is known for loving meat, but my host mom made great food, and there were other options when going out to eat.” Bethany K, Morningside College

What should you eat: The Empanadas are AMAZING!!

Cordoba is RANKED #5 in the Abroad101.com Top Foodie Cities for 2014

 

Milan-Italy

Milan, Italy

Milan is the largest of the three of the Top 10 Foodie cities in Italy and according to student comments it’s 5 STARS every day!

Why you should go:  “Everyone knows that Italy is famous for their food and it certainly lived up to my expectations.” MacKenzie K, Bentley University

What should you eat: It’s Italy. Food is great, especially if you know where to go. In Milan definitely go for aperitivos.

Italian food is amazing! Try many different things, a favorite being gelato (anguria is a favorite flavor), and polenta.

Milan is RANKED #6 in the Abroad101.com Top Foodie Cities for 2014

Gold-Coast-Australia

Gold Coast, Australia

Your first thought of Gold Coast is beaches and natural beauty, but all those visitors gotta eat. According to one guide, there are 965 restaurants in Gold Coast, odds are you’ll find an American student in one of them.

Why you should go:  “it was really great to try all of the classic Aussie food (fish and chips, kangaroo burgers, sausage sizzles)” Andrea T, University of Dayton

What should you eat: Brekkie is big down there, and VERY good! There is everything you could think of. Guzman y Gomez is the equivalent to Chipotle, and there are many asian restaurants. Try all of the different types of food in Australia, like kangaroo meat and vegemite, and don’t forget the Tim Tams!

Gold Coast is RANKED #7 in the Abroad101.com Top Foodie Cities for 2014

Aix-en-Provence-France

Aix en provence, France

In the top food cities every year, Aix is a true culinary gem. Cafes once frequented by Cézanne and Hemingway are now popular hangouts for the creative study abroad students, others find hidden delights in the back street boulangeries.

Why you should go:  “French baguettes and cheese + all of the fresh foodstuffs from the market are what you dream of.” Kevin Y, Cornell University

What should you eat: Any of the sandwich shops in the city center are fantastic, but be sure to check out Mezzo di Pasta for a nice hot lunch and Nikolas for a great pita. Have fondu at “La Louge”, frog legs (delicious BTW!) at “Carrefour Cafe”, and an amazing French dinner at “Mas de la Pyramid”. Although expensive, food and cuisine in Aix tastes great, and is usually local-grown, and organic. Make sure to taste the Provençal specialties and visit the markets.

French food is heavenly. Don’t miss the macarons!

Aix en provence is RANKED #8 in the Abroad101.com Top Foodie Cities for 2014

San-Jose-Costa-Rica

San Jose, Costa Rica

Local ingredients make Costa Rican cuisine so attractive and so affordable. Fresh fruit like no other place in the world: in drinks, on salads, mixed in Casado is just the beginning, a seafood paradise as well with fresh catches from the Caribbean and Pacific.

Why you should go:  “All the food was fresh and while I thought I would never want to eat beans and rice again I truly miss it.” Caitlyn T, University of Memphis

What you should eat:  San Jose has so much delicious fruit, it’s magical!  It isn’t Mexican food so don’t expect tacos, burritos, enchiladas and such everyday. Healthy in type and portions! If in San Jose, try Casa Mundo and La Musa Confusa!

San Jose is RANKED #9 in the Abroad101.com Top Foodie Cities for 2014

Pune-India

Pune, India

Reflecting a shift in demographics with more students from South Asia studying abroad, Pune brings the Maharashtrian thali to the Top Foodie list for the first time – you’ll be especially surprised at the deserts!

Why you should go: “I ate with gusto, because every food was new for me, and was very yummy.” Toniann M, Georgetown University

What you should eat: Restaurants in Pune are a great way to explore the city and culture through the immense variety of dishes. Moreover, the streetfood is a necessary component to Indian cuisine as well. Don’t be afraid of trying a new dish (even if you don’t know how to pronounce it), you never know if it might become your favorite one! Food is cheap, delicious, and full of surprises. Try everything!

Pune is RANKED #9 in the Abroad101.com Top Foodie Cities for 2014

 

Want to find out about the rest of the Abroad101 Rankings? Visit our RANKINGS page for Top Providers, Programs, Most Livable Cities and more . . .