Spanish dialects around the world while Studying Abroad

So you want to study abroad to grow your Spanish skillset? Learning the second most spoken language in the world will be great for your future career, building deeper relationships, and is an extremely marketable skill. There are at least twenty countries in the world where Spanish is an official language. If you can’t visit them all, how do you choose just one? Hopefully, this blog will help you decide which one is best for you! I have studied abroad as a student, and have participated in site visits as an employee of a Spanish immersion-focused study abroad program Sol Education Abroad (SOL). At SOL, a question I often get asked is how the Spanish accents vary. In this blog I will focus on dialect and the main reasons why I have loved my time in each of the Spanish-speaking locations I have been to.

”Buenos Aires is full of public parks with art installations everywhere, like this giant bench!”

My study abroad experience took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina during the summer of 2015. When deciding which country to study abroad in, my study abroad advisor told me that Buenos Aires would be a perfect fit to build my Spanish skills. “If you can understand the Argentinian accent, you can understand any Spanish accent!”

I quickly found out she was right! Porteños, or people from Buenos Aires, have a unique accent that took some getting used to. I learned about three main differences that set porteños apart. The first difference was that instead of pronouncing double l’s like in “calle” (street) with a “ya” sound, they pronounce it with a “sh” sound. Secondly, I noticed that “vos” is used instead of “tu.” Along with this, “vos” has its own unique conjugation that I had to learn. Instead of “tu entiendes,” porteños would say “vos entendés.”

“A lovely sunset off the coast”

It was a challenge at first to adapt to these new rules, but it forced me to work harder at my comprehension skills. Interestingly, the pronunciation particularities are really only prevalent in Buenos Aires. If you travel to other parts of Argentina, you will hear a more neutral Spanish spoken. My time in Buenos Aires will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the first time I traveled by myself, and my first time riding in a subway!

For my next trip, I traveled to Costa Rica for two weeks in the summer of 2017. Luckily, the Spanish spoken in Costa Rica is extremely neutral. Some people even describe it as not having an accent at all. This makes it very easy to understand, and because of that, it is an excellent destination for first-time travelers or students who are starting to learn Spanish. I also found that everyone I encountered – host families, waiters, tour guides, and store owners – were all very patient with me and were helpful if I happened to say something incorrectly.

“The view from out host family’s house, which was amazing to wake up to”

A major reason why I love Costa Rica and think it is a perfect location for students is that it is well-suited for weekend travel. Costa Rica is quite small and has such a variety of ecosystems to discover. The bus system is simple, and if you travel with a study abroad program, your directors will usually help you book your own excursion!

“My co-worker and I at Manuel Antonio National Park!”

Next on my list was Spain! I traveled to Spain in April of 2019. First, I spent a weekend in Madrid, then two weeks in Granada.

“Enjoying the sunset in the Albaicin neighborhood in Granada”

I had always been warned about the Spanish accent and the “Spanish lisp” but had no problem understanding it. I learned that the lisp is used to differentiate the pronunciation between an “s” and “c” or “z” (which are pronounced with a “th” sound). The Spaniard accent definitely has a different rhythm than the Latin American Spanish I was used to; however, I always felt like I was able to understand everyone, so don’t be steered away from this enchanting country!

One of my favorite things about Spain, and Granada specifically, is the “tapa” culture. Tapas are a small snack that is brought out with each drink order. In Granada, these were always free, unlike the rest of Spain. If you plan it right, you can have a free “dinner” while exploring some of the best restaurants and bars that Granada has to offer!

“The tapa that came with my glass of wine – caracoles! (snails).”

My most recent trip has been to Oaxaca, Mexico. I have been living in Oaxaca for the past four months and am loving my time here! I have discovered that Spanish in Mexico is relatively neutral. There are slightly different accents depending on which part of the country you are in, much like the United States, but they have not been difficult to understand.

The Santo Domingo church in the heart of Oaxaca, Mexico

One tricky thing is that Mexicans are notorious for having a lot of slang terms. It can take a while to pick up on all of them, but you’ll certainly fit in once you do! Out of all of the Spanish-speaking countries that I have been to so far, Mexico has the most slang words. I’m learning that there is probably so much slang because Mexicans like to have fun, even with their language!

Enjoying a hike through Hierve El Agua, a petrified waterfall just outside of Oaxaca

You can’t go wrong with whichever Spanish-speaking country you chose to study in! Any study abroad experience will help you advance your comprehension, speaking skills, and world-view tremendously.

The best suggestions that I can give are to stay with a host family and speak Spanish to as many people as possible. Living with a host family is where you will get the majority of your exposure to the Spanish language and immersion in the local culture. You are able to speak Spanish without judgment and your family is always happy to help you with any doubts or questions. I also encourage you to meet as many locals as possible. Speaking with locals will do wonders for your Spanish conversation skills. Hopefully, you will have the chance to travel to numerous Spanish-speaking countries and become a master of this beautiful language!

Author:

Monica Guajardo with SOL Education Abroad

I Went To Study Abroad For 1 Semester And Stayed For More Than 4 Years!

By Lewi Blake – MoveYourLifeAbroad.com

Studying abroad changed my life.

In 2011 I took a GAP year to Bordeaux, France so that I could learn how to speak French, travel around Europe and experience a new culture. This was one of the best decisions I ever made because the 1 semester I was meant to study abroad for turned into 4 years.

Studying French In Bordeaux

I attended the University of Bordeaux III where I studied a French language course. This course gave me the ability to speak French fluently in less than 6 months. From that, I was able to take the B2 DELF exam (this is the diploma required to attend University in France). Originally only meaning to stay in Bordeaux for 1 semester, I decided to stay for a full year because I was having such a great time.

Studying during the day, working at a bar in the evenings and traveling to neighboring countries on the weekend was the norm. I was really able to discover parts of the world that I hadn’t even dreamed of visiting before. I was even lucky enough to go snowboarding in the French Alps for a week.

After my amazing year in Bordeaux came to an end it was time to go home. The only problem was that I wasn’t ready to leave yet. After a little research, I looked into studying a University Degree in France.

Funnily enough, all that was really required for me to study a University Degree in Paris was the B2 DELF diploma that I had completed 6 months prior.

University In Paris

In 2012 I started my Bachelor of Business Administration degree at the Paris Business College. Living in Paris was quite different to living in Bordeaux. The people were different, the weather was a lot colder and everywhere I looked was covered in rich culture and history. It felt like living in a completely new country. I was spending a lot more time with French people as the majority of students at the University were French. This enabled me to experience what the French culture was like first hand and really cement my French speaking abilities.

Everyday on the way to University I would ride past the Eiffel Tower on my bicycle and wonder if I was dreaming. I was living in the “city of love” and I was loving it!

The Paris Business College offered me many opportunities to study abroad while I was there. I decided to study abroad for a semester in London and a semester at the International University of Monaco.

Living The High Life In Monaco

Moving to Monaco completely blew my mind. I was living in one of the most expensive and glamorous places on Earth.

As you can probably guess, as a student that worked part-time in a bar and writing articles online, I wasn’t able to afford to live in Monaco. Instead I lived in Nice which was only 30 minutes away. My day-to-day life in Monaco involved riding my motorbike along the French Riviera to University every morning, relaxing on the beach with friends in the afternoon and working part-time at a crazy bar in the evenings.

To say life was great would be an understatement.

I settled in so well that I ended up staying in Monaco and finished my degree over the next 2 years.

Conclusion

  • Studying abroad gave me the opportunity to study in 3 different countries and live abroad for more than 4 years.
  • And you know what, more than 6 years have passed since I first studied abroad and I’m still living overseas to this day.
  • I’m not in France anymore but I’m living in South America. After learning Spanish in Guatemala for a few months I’ve moved to Ecuador where I’m currently residing.
  • Not too bad when you think about how much the course of my life changed from one decision that I made when I was 18 years old.
  • That is the power of studying abroad!

About The Author

Lewi is the founder of MoveYourLifeAbroad.com. For the past 6 years, he has been traveling and working his way around the world. He is extremely passionate about travel and loves sharing his knowledge with others because he believes everyone should have the opportunity to live abroad. In his spare time, he enjoys having a few cheeky beers with friends and riding his bicycle around town.

Studying Abroad Online vs Classroom Education

 

Plenty of wise men throughout the years have stated that true education is a never-ending process. Whether you aim to maximize your income prospects or if you simply want to know more about the world we live in, there can be no doubt that furthering your education is one of the best roads you can take in life.  Combining travel and studies has been show to provide a powerful combination of experiences and give students not only a memorable experience, it is often referred to as life changing. Not too many college alumni will say a campus-based Chemistry class was life-changing, but if that course was taken while the student was overseas, then wow!

Whereas once upon a time the only way to earn college credit was by physically attending a place of learning, nowadays the online revolution has swept up the educational system as well. In fact, in this day and age you can even study abroad online, as many top schools throughout the world allow students of all nationalities to earn prestigious degrees without ever setting foot in a classroom.  If you have the discipline to balance both study and travel, then you might want to create your own personal hybrid program and take online courses while you trek.

 

Cost

In most parts of the world, getting a good education isn’t cheap. With skyrocketing tuition costs and relatively meager employment prospects for recent grads, it’s fair to wonder if higher education is actually worth the investment. Additionally, going the traditional route will also lead to incurring substantial fees for room and board, plus all the extra costs related to moving to another country. Opting for an online education tends to be comparatively cheaper overall, especially when it comes to schools that focus solely on long distance learning and have lower overhead costs as a result.

Accessibility

A significant part of the traditional college experience is related to the idea of going away to another part of the country or the world, where new people and experiences await. While this kind of thing can undoubtedly seem exciting when you’re young, for people who already have to balance familial obligations and maybe even a full-time job with their educational goals, it often is a bridge too far. Online education comes with the possibility of handling coursework right from the comforts of your home, which doesn’t require any commute time at all. But some online education providers also offer the possibility of traveling to their respective learning facilities on short-term internships, thus giving prospective students the chance to broaden their cultural horizons as well.

Experience

The feeling of being in a classroom surrounded by your peers is something that’s treasured by many, and it’s a big part of why traditional education is still the norm all over the world. But online education has also come a long way from its humble beginnings, with schools now boasting cutting edge online platforms replete with videoconferencing options and personalized mentors. Of course, not actually being in a classroom means you can self-regulate study pace, thus allowing you to complete a course on your own schedule, with dedicated teachers just a click away to provide support whenever you need it.

Course accreditation

By receiving accreditation conferred to it by a respected external body, an institute of learning receives an official seal of approval that certifies its tional programs. In most countries, this kind of quality assurance is provided by a government organization, and can be of great importance when looking for employment later on. In this regard online schools have traditionally lagged behind their competition, but nowadays a simple online search is all you need to find out if the program you’re thinking about applying for is accredited or not.

Directional City Signs

Overall effectiveness

Probably the most important thing about earning a diploma is its inherent value in finding a great job. To that end, it can be useful to check the track record of all your prospective schools and see what their post-graduate employment levels look like. If you’re looking for immediate employment, you’ll often find that online institutions tend to focus more on teaching you job-ready skills in growing industries such as Accounting or Workplace Health and Safety than traditional learning facilities. Additionally, reputable institutions will also have a dedicated network of alumni, whom you can contact to learn more about how they benefited from attending their respective schools.

 

It’s clear to see that studying abroad online offers all the benefits typically associated with traditional classroom education, while also being considerably cheaper and more accessible. It may not be for everyone, as some people will likely miss the feeling of being in a real classroom, but for those who enjoy its myriad perks, online education can be a real game-changer.

 

Confirm the Quality

Before you make your final choice it is important to confirm you plans with an advisor to make sure your plans are in synch with your educational goals.  For those earned academic credits to help you in your career, you do want to make sure they are credible, recognized and applicable.

WHO SHOULD STUDY ABROAD

India-Manipal-Manipal Univ

WHO SHOULD STUDY ABROAD

This is the third in a series of posts about “who-what-when-where-why-how to study abroad.” This post will address the “who” part of the question. This series is written for American students interested in studying abroad, but it provides useful information and thoughts for everyone.

Living in a foreign country is not for everyone, and that’s perfectly ok. The problem is that some students misunderstand what studying abroad is about, and end up in an environment that they didn’t expect and don’t enjoy. So before spending considerable time and money you should take a moment to consider if studying abroad is something that would suit and benefit you.

KNOW THYSELF

Studying abroad is an experience that would be extremely valuable for the majority of students, so it’s easier to talk about who should think twice before studying abroad. In my opinion, the most important issue is the popular confusion between living abroad and traveling abroad, because expectations (and ultimately the overall experience) hinges on initial motivations.

One of my pet peeves is being asked how I managed to travel for twelve years. This is the question I sometimes get when I tell people that I lived overseas for twelve years. It’s immediately clear that they see me as a kind of global Christopher McCandless, hitching rides from one place to another with a dusty backpack and not a care in the world. Living abroad is not like that. For whatever reason, American culture confuses being abroad with travel, and travel with vacation. Disappointing experiences abroad often stem from this confusion.

Close your eyes and picture yourself “studying abroad.” Do you see yourself sunbathing on a beach, taking selfies in front of the Eiffel Tower, or partying with exciting foreigners? Then you’ve probably fallen prey to this popular misconception. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being excited about those things and looking forward to them as part of your experience, but if they are your primary motivations then maybe you’re really looking for a vacation. A vacation is about getting away from reality and enjoying creature comforts, living abroad is about embracing an unknown reality and getting outside your comfort zone. If the latter sounds exciting to you (and it’s completely normal if that excitement is mingled with nervousness), then you probably have the right kind of personality for studying abroad.

Getting out of your comfort zone has become something of a cliché, so let’s look a little deeper. Do you enjoy meeting new people, trying unknown food, visiting unfamiliar cities, or starting new activities? These things define life as a foreigner and will be part of your daily experience, at least for the first few months. Everything is new, from figuring out where to do your grocery shopping to creating new social circles. This is intimidating to everyone at first, but if you already dislike change in your home country and a life of constant adjustment and unknowns sounds terrifying then you should seriously examine your motivations for studying abroad. Similar to this is homesickness, which is something everyone deals with to some degree, but if you’ve had recent experiences when being away from home for more than a couple weeks was nearly unbearable, then there’s no reason why being in another country would magically change this and there’s a good chance you’d have a very difficult time getting much enjoyment from living abroad.

To be fair, I have known people who went abroad because they were introverts, homebodies, or generally unadventurous, and they wanted to change those characteristics. In most cases they were quite successful in these goals, so clearly all personality types can benefit. I think the key is entering the experience knowing that it will be hard and wanting to grow and change as a result, so again the key is a willingness to step outside comfort zones and embrace the new and different. You can be even more sure of your readiness if you close your eyes and see yourself practicing a foreign language, experiencing how people live differently from you, and discovering new food, music, art, sports, hobbies, and passions that you never knew existed. These are the defining features of study abroad.

LET’S GET PRACTICAL

Moving on to more practical concerns, Matthew Karsten sums it up well when explaining why he never studied abroad: “Like many people, I assumed it was expensive, I’d fall behind in credits, would have difficulty with the language, and was nervous of the whole idea.” (http://expertvagabond.com/reasons-to-study-abroad/) He goes on to explain why all of these were misconceptions. If fact, because American tuition is higher than in much of the world, studying abroad can often be managed for the same cost (or even less! https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2014/10/29/7-countries-where-americans-can-study-at-universities-in-english-for-free-or-almost-free/ ) as a semester at your home university. Likewise for falling behind academically, there’s no reason why studying abroad should slow you down if you plan carefully. There are study abroad programs designed for practically every major imaginable (and studyabroad101.com is a great place to start with this list of study abroad programs by major: https://www.studyabroad101.com/subjects), and if you go early in your college career you will have considerable flexibility in taking courses for GE credit. Finally, foreign language is definitely a perk of studying abroad but not at all a prerequisite. You could study in one of many English speaking countries like Ireland, New Zealand, or South Africa, or a country where English is commonly spoken like Sweden, Singapore, or Ghana. There are also countless programs taught entirely in English all over the world, so don’t let a lack of foreign language skills slow you down. For better or worse, studying in a foreign country does not mean studying in a foreign language. So, none of these concerns should stop you from at least researching your options further.

However, there are other practical elements that should give you pause. If you do all the math, apply for scholarships, and realize that in the end you’ll go deeper into debt in order to study abroad, then you need to think carefully about what it will bring to you in terms of career opportunities and academic advancement. As valuable as it is I’m not going to tell you that studying abroad is worth any cost at all, especially when there’s the option to wait and plan for a tuition free graduate degree abroad, for example. Health is another factor, although I’ve met people who went abroad despite being blind or in a wheelchair, so there are ways to make it work with proper preparation. But in general living abroad means being ready for the unexpected, so if you have a condition that means an unexpected event could result in a life or death situation, then you need to be sure that the benefit to you is worth the higher level of risk that your situation entails. Being in a serious relationship is also a factor. Long distance relationships are not impossible to maintain, but it definitely adds a strain and requires discipline from you to invest time into the relationship despite being far away. Could the two of you study abroad together? Would you be able to visit each other every few months? In all these cases of financial, medical, or relationship concerns, consider short term study abroad program for two to four weeks. That would mitigate the risk, and if you absolutely love it then you’ll be able to plan for a longer program with the confidence that it’s worth it.

Some readers probably found this article because they’re wondering if they’re old enough to study abroad. I see this more as a question of maturity, since there are some 14-year-olds who are absolutely ready and others of any age who will well suited for the challenge. More and more high school students are studying abroad, whether for a few weeks or a year, but it’s more complex than for college students because it’s definitely not cheaper than studying in a public high school at home, the program needs more oversight and adult supervision, and it can be difficult to make sure that credits abroad fit into the standard high school curriculum. That said, as I will detail in the “When to Study Abroad” article next week, if there’s a will and a way then the sooner the better! As for maturity, it goes back to the first section of this article: If you’re ready to embrace change, accept differences in people without judgement, seek opportunities for personal growth, and the idea of being pushed out of of your comfort zone sounds like an adventure, then you’re probably mature enough!

READY FOR A BIGGER CHALLENGE?

There’s a final question about who should study abroad in a challenging country. There will be a lot more information about this in the “Where to Study Abroad” article, so don’t miss that. In that article I will explain why I strongly recommend studying in a less mainstream country (i.e. outside Europe). However, this means that everything I’ve said here about evaluating your flexibility and openness to change counts doubly. Living in Paris or Rome is already a challenge, even though the way of life is not dramatically different than in the US. Before considering a less-developed country you need to do some deeper self-examination. How would you respond to suddenly not having electricity for a day? How would you handle standing out as a foreigner everywhere you go? Could you cope with the presence of critters (bugs and small reptiles) in your home? Are you ready to eat something you can’t identify? These are just a few examples, so be sure to read about the experiences of students who lived there in study abroad reviews and blogs, and ask yourself honestly if the challenges they faced would prevent you from enjoying the overall experience. That being said, and as I’ll explain in a future article, greater challenge means greater reward!

SUMMING UP

Ultimately there is no solid checklist or personality test you that can clearly demonstrate how well suited you are to studying abroad, so I can only stress the importance of internal evaluation. If the idea of being immersed in an entirely different culture fills you with excitement rather than fear, if meeting a new circle of people sound like an adventure rather than hell, and if being pushed out of your comfort zone to do new things sounds like an opportunity for growth rather than senseless torture, then you’re probably the type of person who would thrive abroad. If that’s your case, then no logistical concerns should stop you from at least taking the next step in researching your opportunities. There are programs to advance every major, scholarships abound, and medical obstacles can be overcome. Talk to your academic advisor, do some more research, and pursue the goal!

You should be very cautious, however, if your list of primary motivations for studying abroad make it sound like a long vacation. Likewise, if you find yourself saying things like “I just need to get away,” or “I need a break from my problems here,” then you’ll probably be disappointed to discover the truth of the saying “wherever you go, there you are.” We have a way of taking our problems with us, and a new environment do not magically transform us unless we are first open to changing and growing irrespective of the environment. If your motivations are good, however, I truly believe that nothing will help you grow and learn faster than studying abroad.

Feel free to share this article with someone who’s considering studying abroad, and all comments or questions below will be answered. Next week we’ll discuss “When to Study Abroad,” so don’t miss it! Thanks for reading!

Caleb House –

Caleb House grew up in Northern California and has lived in the Czech Republic, Japan, India, Tanzania, France, South Korea, Germany, and Côte d’Ivoire as a student, teacher, volunteer, backpacker, researcher, and administrator. He holds graduate degrees in Modern Global History from Jacobs University Bremen and in International Management from the Burgundy School of Business. He recently married his soulmate in her tiny village in France, and the two currently find themselves in Washington D.C. He is preparing the launch of his website, HowToGoAbroad.com, and in the meantime can be contacted with questions on his Facebook page “How to Go Abroad” or on Twitter @HowToGoAbroad.  

 

Awesome Amsterdam Adventure

4 out of 5
IES Abroad: Amsterdam – IES Abroad in Amsterdam
Lauren M (Environmental Studies, Macalester College)

Awesome Amsterdam Adventure!

Netherlands-Amsterdam-IES

4 stars

 

 

 

4 out of 5

IES Abroad: Amsterdam – IES Abroad in Amsterdam
Lauren M (Environmental Studies, Macalester College)

I learned a lot about myself as this was my first time living on my own. Also learned how to bike a whole lot better which is definitely a skill to hold on to. Became a better traveler, came out of my shell, and overall just a great personal growth and cultural experience. Read my full review at: https://www.studyabroad101.com/programs/ies-abroad-amsterdam-ies-abroad-in-amsterdam/reviews/32014

 

What is it to Study abroad in snowy Russia?

“Study abroad”, this phrase contains a lot of stories, means, and riddles. Every day, people choose where to show their abilities and skills. Many foreign students prefer Ural Federal University in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Yekaterinburg is located on the eastern slopes of the Ural Mountains. You can make only a single step between the different parts of the world, because this city is a natural boundary between Europe and Asia.

groupUral Federal University gives the opportunity to study different discipline in English. Department of marketing communications and branding invites you to be trained in two programs in English: Bachelor of Advertising and PR and Master Advertising and PR. If you have wish to enroll on these programs, you will get a chance of getting full or partial scholarships.

What attracts students in the Urals? Fabrice Fosso from Cameroon came to Russia to study Advertising and PR Master Program. He believes that the standard of living in Russia is, no less than in Europe, but much cheaper. Another advantage, which he has mentioned, is the opportunity to get a scholarship for study. It`s time to find out: “What is it to Study abroad in snowy Russia.” Many students have developed their principles and rules of behavior in Russia.

studentsPeople have a lot of stereotypes about Russia, but Rastha, a student from China, has denied all stereotypes, he said: “Bears, balalaika, vodka, where is it? I only saw the birch and matrioshka.” Arriving in Russia, you can dramatically change your opinion about everything. Yes, Russia is a very harsh country, but even here you can find happiness, as Anindita Mukherjee from India did, “Traditions in Russia are very different. For example, Happy ticket – happiness can be found even in the public transports.” But what is the secret of Russia? Dr. Rahman Matiur told us about it, he said: “Open your heart, and Russia will be opened by you.”

3 studentsTo communicate with people is very important, so Dr. Saugata Santra advises “Don’t be shy. Russian people are very sociable.” Everyday Eder Cordero from Mexico meets with the Russians, and that`s what he says about them – “Russian spirit, Russian soul, Russian temperament is a powerful rod. If you meet them once, then remember it for a long time.” The study of the Russian language is included in all Master programs. It’s pleased to learn Russian with Russian girls, Abid Abidullah noted – “Russian girls are very beautiful and modest. I lose the power of speech seeing their smiles.”

Many young people are afraid to leave their homes, but if you listen to Adadi Parise from Pakistan then we can understand how people are mistaken, he says that if you come to Russia, you will not regret. “Dear Students, Russia is huge. It’s time to open it to the world”- Guillanme Ore from Cote D’ivoire.

snowy day“All in all. People need to be active, ambitious, courageous, sociable, friendly, creative, tolerant if they go abroad.” Fabrice Fosso advices, these qualities would be useful for you, if you decided to link your lives with Advertising. If you want to be successful, communicative, creative, then welcome to UrFU! After studying at Ural Federal University, you will know how to build a successful business with Russia. You’ll find useful contacts. You’ll find close friends.

Elvina K

Elvina Kurbanova is a student at Ural Federal University in Central Russia who shows that study abroad is not just an American phenomena.  Her study abroad story is summarized in this study abroad review

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

 

 

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.

Study Abroad Advantage member Allie Bunch interview

studyAbroadAdvantage-luggageTag

 

 

To draw attention to The Study Abroad Advantage professional networking group on Linkedin, we prompted our members to nominate a student with the most professional study abroad review. Our winner, Allie Bunch, talks more about her time away from Clark University and what it was like to study at one of the most elite universities in the world, The London School of Economics. Allie will soon be completing her degree at Clark and is ready to be hired! Read this interview and learn about her growth and maturity through study abroad. 

Join the Study Abroad Advantage on LinkedIn

 

1) Tell us a little about your background, did your parents attend college?  Do you have siblings in college?

Both of my parents attended college – my father graduated with a BSc in Education and my mother with an AA in Apparel Design. They have always encouraged and supported me in my pursuit for higher learning, and as their oldest child they are experiencing all of the firsts along with me. This year, my younger sister started at Endicott College, also in Massachusetts, so we are definitely a family driven to be educated.

 

2) We assume that you studied abroad as a Junior, is that correct?

Yes, I was abroad during my Junior year.

 

3) You took the path of a full year abroad, and you chose one of the top ranked universities in the world. Two pretty bold steps.  Most people don’t know much about Clark, but they do about LSE, tell us more about why you chose this path and what you expected?

I grew up in Seattle, Washington, so when it was time to pick a college, I seized the opportunity to make a big change. I moved to Worcester, Massachusetts to go to Clark University in no small part due to the university’s strong study abroad program. During my Sophomore year, I had the opportunity to work in the Office of Study Abroad/Away and learned about the LSE program during my first week on the job. I remember leaving work that day and calling my parents to inform them that I would be spending my Junior year in London. I was in my second year at Clark I was ready to make another big change, and this program was exactly what I was looking for. I felt that a one-semester program wouldn’t satisfy me: I’d just be getting settled in by the time I had to turn around and come back. Education opens up a lot of doors, but what many people – especially young adults my age – don’t realize is the opportunity that education can give you to explore. I’d already gotten a taste of that when I moved from the West Coast to the East Coast, and I was lucky enough to recognize that opportunity for a second time. As an adult in a professional setting, there are not many chances to travel and engage with other cultures for extended periods of time, but being a student provides almost a built-in excuse to really discover what’s out there.

 

4) From your review, you seemed to have a pretty remarkable experience, in the review we asked if it was worthwhile, did it also meet your expectations?   

I think one of my strengths that has been long in development is the ability to go into things with a very open mind and very few expectations. I went to London expecting only new experiences and challenges, both of which I got in abundance. I experienced living in the heart of a big city, interacting with many different cultures on a daily basis, and being in a location from which I had access to other countries almost as easily as one can access neighboring states in the US. The first trip that I took outside of the UK was to Spain for just three days, and the ability to hop from country to country was unique and endlessly exciting. I am also thankful that I was prepared for challenges, because studying at the LSE is undeniably one of the hardest things I have ever done. I was not only adapting to a new education system, but that education system was also the most rigorous I have ever faced. This was important to me, though. Obviously spending a year at a less-challenging institution sounded appealing, but I wanted my experience to contribute to my future through both experiences as well as education, and I think that my time at the LSE will do this throughout my lifetime.

 

5) You refer to the GC – the General Course, which sounded like it was filled with foreign students, what percentage were Americans?  Are they what you expected?  How did you get along with the non-American, non-British students?

It’s funny that you ask this, because as I look back, most of the friends that I remain in touch with were other American students. I think that this is partially due to the house I chose to live in, Northumberland House, which housed more students from the US than some of the others. I didn’t mind this so much though because I was able to interact and engage with students from other areas through my classes and my involvement in the LSE Dance Society. I found that in some cases, the students who went abroad to the LSE with friends from home tended to keep mostly to themselves, but for the most part everyone was friendly and willing to branch out very quickly.

 

6) Tell us a bit about the differences of the campuses and how you think that will affect the outlook of where you look for work.

Worcester is as different from London as night from day. Clark is located in an area of Massachusetts that has certainly seen better days – Worcester was a booming city in the past, but has since fallen off since the decline of its manufacturing industry. Though there are many colleges and universities in the city, there is very little else when held up next to London. I lived in Northumberland House, which is between Trafalgar Square and the Thames; literally in the center of London. Every morning I walked to school on the Strand with businessmen and women and every evening I made my way back through crowds waiting outside of theaters for the next big musical. I’m no stranger to big cities after growing up in Seattle, but London is a different breed and will absolutely affect where I decide to settle for work. I loved and thrived in the business and bustle of the city and ideally would seek out a job in or close to a similar city, with lots of opportunities to travel and experience more of these around the world.

 

7) You mentioned tying into the LSE Alumni network, how do you plan to do so, how has it gone so far?  Do you have any tips for future students?

Unfortunately, the bulk of the LSE Alumni network caters more to students in the UK and greater Europe. However, there is an organization here in the States called Alumni and Friends of the LSE (AFLSE) that alumni can join for a membership fee. I haven’t pursued this avenue yet, but might consider it in the future. For now, I’m happy working on my own as sort of an ambassador for the program, especially among my peers and younger students looking for a challenging and rewarding study abroad destination.

 

8) You’ve joined The Study Abroad Advantage group on Linkedin and sound like you plan to use your experience at LSE to separate yourself from other job seekers, how do plan to do that?  What are your talking points?  How are you translating your comments about growth and maturity into door openers for work?  What else can you offer in the way of suggestions to students about to study abroad?

I think that my time at the LSE sets me apart from my peers because my experience is unique and shows my ability to adapt and face challenges head-on. I think that the most important thing for me is that I really proved to myself what my capabilities and strengths are. Of course having the title ‘London School of Economics and Political Science’ on a resume will look good on its own, but I would stress to a potential employer that it’s really what I was able to take from my studies and from my time abroad as a whole that will distinguish me from other job seekers. To students planning to study abroad, I would say avoid entering into the program with expectations of how you think it will be. Prepare, of course, for the rigors of the program and for immersion in a different culture, but be ready to adapt and be excited to be surprised. Regardless of the program, it will be an incredibly rewarding experience.

 

9) If you’ve not landed a job yet, here’s your chance to show-off – why should someone hire Allie Bunch?

I learned a lot during my year at the LSE, and not just about political science. I learned so much about myself that I am excited to apply to whatever job I find myself in: I’m wildly ambitious and have a much more adaptable mind than I ever realized. I surprised myself, really, by how well I did in the program, and I think that’s because I am driven to go above and beyond everyone’s expectations of me – including my own. I am self-sufficient and determined. I am highly responsible, a practiced communicator, and a fast learner. I showed myself that it is when I am faced with new challenges or when I find myself under pressure that I thrive. It is these skills, and others, which I will bring with enthusiasm and passion to any job.

 

Study Abroad – See sports you NEVER expected!

A lot of attention is paid to sports in the United States, but the craze for competition goes well beyond American shores. For those of you who love sports and can’t imagine a semester without the sports pages, ESPN or sports talk, don’t worry there’s hope abroad. In America we love our football. In Europe they have..well, football and in Australia they have.. well football. The Aussies may also call it Footie and the Europeans may call it The Beautiful Game and for those of you considering study abroad it is yet another chance to experience cultural immersion.

From Finland to East Asia let’s explore some of the silliest, wackiest, and most outrageous competitions around. At first glance these sports will make your head spin, but pull up a chair, pop open a beverage, stoke up the grill and join the global tailgate, because sports abroad can be as entertaining as it gets!

photo courtesy of The Georgetonian

photo courtesy of The Georgetonian

First stop Finland:

Land of fine chocolates, fiord hockey and cheerful shoes. Finland has been the butt of many jokes about cultures both strange and exotic. But really, she’s a good country and one that plays host to one of the world’s most triumphant competitions known, in Fin-speak, as Eukankanto. Translation: Wife Carrying.

The pictured ‘carry’ is known as Estonian style. Wife Carrying is a heralded sport in it’s European home that not surprisingly has penetrated other cultures across the continents. On competition day, an annual event, wives will enjoy having their husband lunge through sandy, fenced, and wet obstacles all while just inches from their partner’s bum. Ultimately, the prize to gain is not the glory of “World Wife Carrying Champion” but rather the grand prize of your wife’s weight in beer.

mighty-morphin-power-rangers-team-copy

Next stop, Japan where you might have thought Sumo was as strange or bizarre as it gets. No, we found a sport that may have started as a training regiment for Power Rangers. It is called Bo Taoshi and it looks something like this:

 


(YOUTUBE LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNVkXNdH2mA)

The object of the game is for the defending team to keep its pole at full mast for as long as possible. As you can see from the video, there is an attacking team that will scrape, claw, fight, and even walk on you to bring it down. The match ends when the pole is tilted to a 35-degree angle from its 90 degree start. It doesn’t seem like there a lot of regulation but there is surely a lot of participation. It cannot be for the faint of heart since the Japanese military uses it as a training exercise for recruits. This bizarre sport should probably be reserved for adults considering its extremely physical nature, but I for one would love to be in the Fujitsu super box watching this one replayed over and over!

Buzkashi

Moving away from the made for TV sports, our last comes from Central Asia, the region consisting of countries like Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan. There you will find something very out of this world and something that I can assure you the NCAA will never sanction on campuses. It is a very widely played sport in this area and also the national sport of Afghanistan called Buzkashi. Translation: Goat Bashing.

photo found on http://www.ontravelarabia.com

photo found on http://www.ontravelarabia.com

Okay so it isn’t exactly how it sounds. Goat Bashing is more of a relative translation. The sport more so involves the use of a goat and probably more bashing of other riders instead of the goat…which starts the game dead. The fierce competition begins with a dead goat lying on the ground and 10 men on horseback. Basically the object of the game is to snag the goat up from the desert ground and carry it to the goal. Matches can be played as teams or individually where every rider plays for their self. Some of these matches see hundreds, maybe even thousands, of spectators during the season that spans from November to mid-spring. Before anyone gets too judgmental, try to imagine what your typical Central Asian resident would think of the BCS Championship or the Final Four and all of its unbridled enthusiasm. Fun fact about Buzkashi, it was actually banned by the Taliban regime but since their ousting from control, the sport is being enjoyed by Afghanistan’s people once more.

If you love sports like I do, and you want to study abroad, let me assure you that missing one Iron Bowl or Red River Shootout, Holy War or World’s Largest Cocktail Party (all annual rival Football games for you non football lovers) for the likes of Buzkashi, Bo Taoshi or Eukankanto is, as they say, PRICELESS! People everywhere share a love for competition and it can be a way for you to connect with the new environments that lie ahead of you. Competition is in our blood and can often be very healthy, unless you are the goat! If you’re headed for a part of the world that Fox NFL Sunday doesn’t cover then I’d say explore what kinds of sports satisfy the locals. You can bring your culture to them, tailgate and chant and maybe even participate if you try hard enough. If not, then no worries. Kick back, see the sights, and have faith in the thought that you definitely aren’t the only one to do a double take at some of these bizarre events.

Interested in exploring sports abroad? Visit Abroad101.com for programs all over the world.