Global Ambassador, Rachel, in Istanbul, Turkey!


Want to read insider reviews from fellow study abroad students? Click here to find your perfect study abroad program!


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.


Excursions Around Madrid!


Francesca relaxing in Madrid!


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

Want to read insider reviews from fellow study abroad students? Click here to find your perfect study abroad program!


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.


What is there to do in Chengdu, China?

Chengdu is one of the big cities in China so there is a lot to do. In my short five weeks, I found several must-see sights you have to do when you visit Chengdu.


Chengdu, China

Hangin' at the park in Chengdu!

1) Parks: Chengdu has so many parks!!!! And every park is so unique and amazing.

I went to 2 parks while at my stay in Chengdu.

My favorite by far was Ren Min Park. First off it is completely free to get in and there is so much to do there. It was so good that I went back twice more. The first time I went I actually joined in a Chinese flash mob to the song…Milkshake by Kelis as the intro song.




Continue reading

Maggie in Tanzania!

Ngorongoro Crater Safari - Ngorongoro Conservation Area - Tanzania, Africa

photo credit:

The below was submitted by our Global Ambassador, Maggie, in Tanzania. Maggie has been in Tanzania since June 9th and this post was written before she left about her hopes and desires for the program.

Hey All, My name is Maggie Rodney. I’m nineteen years old and I’m about to be a Junior at The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. I was born and raised in Danbury, Connecticut, but currently, when I’m not in school, I live in Boulder, Colorado.

Now, on to the interesting stuff – my trip abroad! On Saturday, June 9th, I’m headed off to Tanzania for a thirty day wildlife conservation program with the School for Field Studies.

Continue reading

Our Summer Global Ambassador, Allyce, in Viterbo, Italy!

Submitted by Allyce Morino, Abroad101 Global Ambassador in Viterbo, Italy

Ciao! My name is Allyce Morino, and I will be studying with USAC’s 5-week summer session in Viterbo, Italy! I was born and raised in Modesto, California, which is about an hour and a half east of San Francisco. I am in my final year of college at California State University, Stanislaus, where I am majoring in English with a minor in Journalism. I am so excited to travel to Italy and share my experiences with the world and provide advice for students planning to study abroad in the future!

Continue reading

Side Trip to Sydney, Australia!

Submitted by Meg Bauer, Global Ambassador in Brisbane, Australia.

My dream of visiting Sydney, Australia came true!

Ever since I watched Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s movie “Our Lips Are Sealed,” I’ve always wanted to go to Sydney, Australia! I’ve dreamed of seeing the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Sydney, Australia

Meg in Sydney, Australia!

Continue reading

Meet Francesca, our Summer Global Ambassador in Madrid!

Madrid -Palacio Real noche

photo credit:

We are pleased to introduce Francesca Limjuco, who is a well traveled student from the University of Nevada – Las Vegas, and is participating in USAC’s month long program in Madrid, Spain! She has previously studied abroad in the Philippines, Italy, and China, so we can’t wait to hear how her prior study abroad adventures have prepared her for a summer in Madrid! The following is Francesca’s first post, describing a recent trip to the Museo Nacional de Antropologia and what that experience meant to her.

Continue reading

The Most Interesting Facts About Singapore

Submitted by Alexandra Markus, Global Ambassador in Singapore: Spring 2012

Singapore MILO

Yummy treats, Singapore style!

It’s been a month since I returned from Singapore and I still miss it a ton. Studying abroad has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Although my grades are unlikely to be as good as expected due to the strict bell-curve and the high caliber of students, I met some amazing people whom I will never forget and hope to see again. Below are the most interesting facts about Singapore that I’ve learned during my time abroad. Take the opportunity to study in Singapore!

Continue reading

Chengdu China: The Food!

The Food in Chengdu is: Hot, Oily, Hot

chengdu heaven twice cooked pork
photo credit:

List of Chengdu’s Famous Cuisines:

1) Hotpot (四川火锅)- which is basically oil or some sort of broth that is really hot and used for dipping like the American “melting pot” or like a fondue!

2) Twice Cooked Pork (pic above)

3) Mapo Tofu (回锅肉)

4) Kung Pao Chicken (宫保鸡丁)

Continue reading

Study Abroad Nightlife on the Gold Coast of Australia

Submitted by Meg Bauer, our Global Ambassador on the Gold Coast of Brisbane, Australia.
Want to read more of Meg’s posts from Brisbane? Click here.

Gold Coast Australia
Hottest Nightclub in Australia!

The Gold Coast is always popping no matter what day of the week it is. I’ve never experienced such a crazy and busy nightlife before. It’s never boring!

Below you will see hot spots for everyday of the week:

Surfers Paradise is where the majority of the clubs/pubs/bars are. There’s one to fit everyones needs. If you never know where to go, just go to Surfers Paradise and walk around and you’ll find at least one place that is jamming that night.

Sunday: Waxy’s Irish Pub in Surfers Paradise. Every Sunday there’s $2.50 steaks and $2.00 beers. You can’t beat those prices! It’s an Irish Pub, so you know you’ll have a good time no matter what. Also, on Sunday’s they have live bands that play there a lot. When it gets crowded, they open up the second level of the pub, so the party never stops no matter how busy it gets.

Monday: SinCity in Surfers Paradise. Every Monday night is Industry night. SinCity is my favorite night club by far. The music is really good. They play alot of mixed stuff, which I love. Drinks are also pretty cheap. They always have specials too.  The dancing is alot like what you’ll find in the states.

Tuesday: Shooters Night Club in Surfers Paradise. Tuesday is Uni Night. All of the Uni students go here and get drink specials. Also, anytime you have no idea where to go, go to Shooters. It’s free entry all the time for Griffith Uni students as long as you show your id. The drinks might be a little more, but since you get in free, it evens itself out. The dancing and music are great too.

Wednesday: Escape Night Club in Surfers Paradise. There’s a $15.00 Cover Charge which includes your 1/2 shot basic spirits until midnight.

Thursday: Parkwood Tavern in Southport. This is within walking distance of Uni. Every Thursday is uni night. It’s free entry and it’s always busy then. It’s always crowded, when it’s one of the bigger places. It’s always a good time because it’s all uni students that go. There’s also really well-known Australian DJ’s here on Thursdays.

Friday: Melbas on the Park in Surfers Paradise. Every Friday night is Sweet Sensations Night. There’s topless men that walk around with sweet treats, like cupcakes, chocolates, and cookies. Ladies get in free all night. Everyone gets in free until ten. There’s also two levels at this club. Both are open at all times.

Saturday: Anywhere you go is great! All of the night clubs are busy. Saturday nights are of course the busiest! The Gold Coast is the place to be. You’ll always find the nightlife fun!

Want to read insider reviews from fellow study abroad students? Click here to find your perfect study abroad program!