Advisors and Providers: The Abroad101 Study Abroad Review Questions

Abroad101 has a 37-question survey of study abroad programs that has grown to be an industry standard. This review process is required at more than 30 universities and encouraged by providers and advisors at many others. As a standard set, these questions also give advisors and providers a means to benchmark their students against that of other institutions. In the spirit of creating best practice in the field, Abroad101 offers these time tested questions as a template for anyone looking to establish a review process for education abroad, we do hope that you will use our free tool to manage this process.

To start a study abroad review evaluation visit: https://www.studyabroad101.com/reviews/new

Download a pdf copy of our evaluation.

 

Student Advice: How to Settle in quickly during your first week at university

Guest Blog Post:
For those studying abroad for a semester you’ll no doubt want to settle in as quickly as possible to get the most from your time at university, and those eager to get their fill of overseas student life will no doubt be ready and raring to go.

However, when you finally get a few minutes to relax from the perils of filling in forms, organising your student accommodation and working out where the nearest bar is, reality of the whole situation may kick in and it can be quite nerve wracking. Knowing what to expect and having the standard worries and concerns can get a bit much.

During your first week you’ll be meeting people, trying out all the new places and learning all about your course. Therefore making the most of this week is a really good idea to set yourself up for the rest of your time there.

Here are a few of our tips for making your first week one to remember for all of the right reasons:

1) Be open to new things
There will be so many opportunities to try new things in your first week so you should try and be as open as possible to trying new things to get the most out of your experience! A great way to bond with your new housemates in your student flats in London with Urbanest and other great halls is to check out all the local clubs together or all the themed nights out. This can be a great ice breaker and you’ll get to learn all about the amazing night life in your new city. If you hear of something that doesn’t normally sound like your thing, give it a go as it can be a great opportunity to meet people and surprise yourself.

2) Do your best to avoid the dreaded ‘freshers’ flu’
Freshers’ flu is said to affect 90% of students during their first few weeks at uni even when it’s not Freshers’ Week! Do your best to avoid becoming one of them by keeping your strength up, eating lots of fruit and vegetables and taking vitamins. Freshers’ flu is usually due to lots of alcohol consumption so don’t be afraid to take a night off from all the partying if you’re feeling unwell, and make sure you get plenty of rest. There’s more on freshers’ flu here.

3) Try to avoid spending all your money
Whilst it can be tempting to have a massive blowout of your bank balance during your first week, it will be less exciting when you have to survive on next to nothing until your next loan instalment. Aim to set a budget and don’t take your bank card with you on nights out as alcohol can make you feel surprisingly generous, and you don’t want a nasty shock the next day when you check your account!

4) Get involved with societies
Every university has a huge amount of different societies available for you to try and they’re a fantastic way to meet new people. Moving to a new university in a new country can be daunting but getting involved with clubs and societies can really help you settle in. Don’t worry about whether there’ll be something you enjoy – trust us; there will be!

Steve Fleming is a guest contributor from London as you can no doubt tell by his English!

Tips for Writing a Review of Your Time Abroad

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Guest Posting By: Missy Gluckmann, Founder of MelibeeGlobal.com

Whether you have studied, volunteered, taught or been an intern abroad, the experience will have changed you and how you understand this diverse, beautiful and complex world.

It is natural to want to share your experience and provide feedback to others who are considering such a transformative journey.   Words like “life changing” and “awesome” almost immediately come to mind, ubiquitous for almost anyone who has traveled abroad to learn and participate in the world in a new way.  But these words don’t quite tell us about the depth of the international experience.  They give us a positive feeling, but aren’t particularly helpful when writing a review because they’re simply not reflective or descriptive enough to provide pertinent information to the next potential sojourner.

Here are a few tips about sharing feedback that will help others read between the lines of program materials and get a much better sense of how appropriate a program abroad is when considering personal and professional goals and dreams.

Tip 1: Reflect prior to writing

To be able to share feedback, one must take the time to practice the fine art of reflection.  Reflection involves looking back in the rear view mirror without interruption.  It is a period of time that is dedicated to putting down the smart phone or laptop and instead focusing on various memories that one experienced abroad – the little things such as what you ate for breakfast daily to the bigger things, such as when you interacted with a person from the host country and had an “a-ha” moment.  Reflection takes time; it is not a fifteen minute quiet period that you experience once. Rather, it is something that you do throughout your life.

Before writing a review, take some time to reflect.  If you wrote in a journal abroad, revisit it and take some fresh notes about how you now recall those memories, from the micro to the macro.  Look through your photos and videos too.  Talk with your friends in your home and host country about these memories and feelings.  Look for the new “a-ha” moments and jot them down.  You’ll start to connect the dots. This is when the words “awesome” and “transformational” begin to take more meaningful shape and can be expanded upon with much more depth.

Tip 2: Think Skills

Time abroad provides a new way to observe yourself and your home country, as well as the host country.  At times, it can feel like an “out of body” experience in that we realize we are seen differently than we are at home, that we have an identity that is reinforced or altered by experiencing another part of the world.

With reflection in mind, consider what you learned about yourself while you were abroad.  Does this feel like a difficult task? One method of tackling the enormous question of what you learned about yourself while you were abroad is to complete this sentence:  After being part of this international experience, I am more/less ______. Then ask yourself why that is.  Since many go abroad for academic programs too, it is important to ask yourself what you learned about your “academic” self also.  Try completing this statement:  After being part of this international experience, I am more aware of ________.  Once again, ask yourself why that is.

For example, “I am more aware of conversing at a low intermediate level of Arabic because I attended two hours of immersion Arabic five days a week with a very dedicated and supportive teacher. She took us out into the city via public transportation each week, forcing us to use our emerging language skills in a practical way. This accelerated my use of the language and inspired me to continue studying upon my return home.”

These kinds of insights are often a direct result of how the program you attended was structured.  This information can be invaluable to those who are reading your review and making those important decisions about where to apply – and it is much more descriptive than “My Arabic teacher was awesome.”

Tip 3: Avoid clichés

As alluded to in tip number two, we tend to overuse the following types of words and statements when describing how we feel about time abroad:

–        Awesome

–        Life changing

–        Amazing

–        Fun

–        It was great

While these types of words provide us with a warm and fuzzy feeling, they don’t provide enough detail about those particular nuances of the culture, program design, administration and so much more that people reading reviews seek.  By practicing the art of reflection and utilizing your vast vocabulary, you can turn a routine review into a more thoughtful, informative piece of writing.

For example:
“London was awesome! I learned so much about myself! I would do it again in a minute.”

vs.

“London’s architecture made me feel like I was walking through a film set every day. It inspired me to explore more books and documentaries about the Victorian period, which I learned about in my Victorian Literature 131 class.  We explored the various streets and buildings of London as part of our assignments, making the required reading come to life. This type of learning was much more experiential and it made me realize how much more I learn through this approach.”

Tip 4: Share Stories 

Reviews can be much more meaningful when they are shared through relatable storytelling.  While you don’t have the space to write a novella in a review, sharing a slice of those “a-ha moments” that you’ve reflected upon can be very useful in a review.  For example, when talking about social and cultural integration on your program abroad, you might share a vignette such as this, which offers a picture of an experience abroad:

“This program arranged for more than just the routine tourist outings.  For example, the coordinators took us to a small village outside of Otavalo, where we stayed with an indigenous family for two nights. We slept in simple cement block structures that were clean, and despite being basic, comfortable. We chopped vegetables for a  soup dish that is eaten at almuerzo (lunch) and learned to make bread with our host mother.  During the day we worked in the garden, fed the pigs and practiced our Spanish with the local workers. This type of social and cultural experience was included in the program fee. Other Americans  we met in Ecuador didn’t have this unique experience like our program.”

Tip 5: Be honest but constructive

While time abroad is typically extremely positive, there may be aspects of your experience that you were less than happy about.  When writing a review, it is important to take the emotion out of the experience and get to the facts.  It is also critical that you share recommendations or provide “work arounds” for others who may experience a similar situation.  Honesty is important, but so is fairness.  Share what you need to in a constructive way so that others can benefit from your feedback.  Diplomacy is key; your words will remain on the internet longer than you will be on this planet, so choose your words carefully and thoughtfully.

With these tips in mind, I am confident that you will craft a reflective piece of writing that others will rely on when making decisions about how to narrow down program provider options.   Your words can be the “game changer” for someone who is making those nearly impossible decisions about where to go. Thanks for “paying it forward” for the next generation of those going abroad!

 
About the Author:  Missy 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.

Atlas Sliced Tells Us About Teaching Abroad

THANK YOU so much for participating in the Google+ Hangout last night. You gals are awesome. It’s posted on my site right here: http://atlassliced.com/episode-slice-23-get-started-on-teaching-english-abroad

Getting TEFL Certified in Peru and Teaching English in Korea

If you had asked me at my university graduation where I would be and what I would be doing at couple years later, I would have never guessed teaching English in South Korea.

I thought for sure that I’d be in an office somewhere working for a nonprofit or a PR firm. In fact, I did get a job at a public relations firm but decided it wasn’t the right fit. Having grown up with parents who took me on exotic vacations, my desire to travel became too powerful, as I sat in my cubicle daydreaming of faraway places. So, I quit my job, took out some money from my savings account, and bought a one-way ticket to Cusco, Peru.

My initial plan was to volunteer in Peru. I helped paint a battered women’s shelter and took care of kids at a rural daycare. I loved it. Additionally, while there, I learned that my volunteer organization (Maximo Nivel) was a language institute and offered a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) certification program. After learning more about the program, I enrolled.

I thought to myself, “What better way to see the world than to teach and travel?” Teaching would be a great way to fund my adventures and explore different countries.

The TEFL certification program was an intense, 150-hour, four-week program. There were 11 people in the class, and we had superb instructors. We even taught practice lessons to real English students.

Sometimes the best things in life come when you’re not expecting them. This was the case for me at Maximo Nivel. However, if you’re looking for a good TEFL program, here are some of my top tips.

1) Take a look at what people have to say. Personal reviews are important. Do some online sleuthing and ask around.

2) Do an on-site course vs. an online course if you can. On-site courses are more expensive, but they are more conducive to learning. Also, in an on-site course, you’ll build relationships with your instructors and your peers. These connections might help you score a job later on.

3) Do a course that is 100 hours or more. Many schools prefer to hire teachers who have taken courses that are over 100 hours. It shows that you have spent more time training.

I’d also like to point out a few advantages of being TEFL certified. Let me make this clear. You can get a teaching job without a TEFL certification. But, here is why I advocate for getting one.

  • You’ll get more job offers and have more of a selection to choose from.
  • You’ll be exposed to different teaching resources and techniques, both on and off line.
  • You’ll learn how to write an international resume.
  • Your salary will be higher.

Now, you might be wondering where South Korea comes into play. After realizing that South Korea was a huge hub for English teachers and that the benefits were fantastic, I applied to teach English there through a recruiting firm. There are hundreds of different recruiting firms, each with different reputations, so make sure you do your research.

I ended up in Gangnam (just like the song from Psy) at a hagwon (private school) and experienced big time culture shock at work. The problem was that I didn’t do enough research on both the culture and the school. I thought I’d get proper training sessions and instructions on how to teach. This definitely didn’t happen. I was just given some books and told to teach the material to some four year-olds who had no clue what I was saying. I was at a loss for what to do considering the TEFL techniques I learned were mainly for adults. It was one of the toughest transitions of my life.

What can you do to avoid this situation? You’re in luck. Here’s some advice for finding the right school for you and adjusting to a new life abroad.

1) Talk to a lot of teachers beforehand who are the same gender as you. Men and women are treated differently in Korea. I faced a lot of sexism my first year there. Ask to talk to at least three teachers who work at your school. Keep in mind that the teachers they put you in touch with are the teachers who will probably say good things, which leads me to my next tip.

2) Stalk. Yep, I said it. When you hear about a potential school, do a Google Blog search and look for people who have worked there on LinkedIn. I have been stalked by potential teachers and always give them candid responses both through email and over video chat. Chances are most people are friendly and won’t mind talking to you about their experiences abroad.

3) When you arrive at your new city, join expat groups, visit expat bars, and connect with fellow teachers to exchange ideas on adjusting to the culture.

4) Explore. A new country is like a playground. Get out there and taste the local food, ride on public transportation, visit parks, and get lost!

Adventuring into new territory wasn’t easy at first. Despite being overwhelmed in the beginning, living abroad was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had. I not only met some incredible people, but I also learned more about myself as a person than any other time in my life. Being a global citizen opened my eyes to the vast beauty of the world and its habitants.

To anyone thinking about living abroad, do it. It will change your life for the better.

Wellness Wednesday: Intellectually Enhance the How & Why of Travel

The debated official number of how many independent recognized countries exist in the world is anywhere between 189 to 196. For the sake of my point, let’s say there are more than 180. That’s quite a lot! Each of them has their own unique culture, flavor, foods, and people. I don’t know about you, but in my lifetime, I’m hoping to see the same number of countries as the length of my hopefully long life!

I’ve always been fascinated about how each country I’ve been to has had a different impact on me. What’s even more interesting is that, while I’d done international travel prior to studying abroad, being overseas during college fundamentally changed how I desired to experience foreign countries in a much deeper cultural way. Subsequently, it then changed the types of fulfillment I craved in my international trips. Once you’ve been truly immersed in a culture and it’s people, you are no longer having the surface-level touristy drive-through experience that you would normally have if you only scratched the surface of a location for 1-2 weeks. Once you’ve walked the streets with the locals, lived in their city, learned how to make their food, and spoken their language – you my friends – will develop such a thirst for the “real deal” authentic experiences that cultures have to offer instead of staying within the confines of vacation packages you read about in magazines.

With that being said, I hope your study abroad experience creates within you a huge thirst and desire to see different cultures in a deeper way. While it’s wonderful to do the fun and exciting things that Fromers or Lonely Planet recommends activity wise, and I more than encourage you to do those things, what if you thought to yourself about what deeper culture experiences you could add on as well? I challenge you to ask yourself the following question: what do I want to experience in this country and what do I need to do to feel like I saw the best of it before I come home?

After experiencing expat living, you’ll find that you may want to use your study abroad experience as a template for how you want to experience future travel escapades. You’re not just seeing a new place; you’re expanding your worldview of how others experience life. Maybe prior to study abroad when you were planning to go somewhere, the activities in the forefront of your mind were based on popularized main destinations you heard about from peers. There’s nothing wrong with these! But now, I encourage you to think about having trips where you can create memories that are so vivid and authentic that you’ll be able to recall images that ignited all five of your senses at once.  By doing this, you’re doing more than just visiting a place; you’re having a deeper psychological understanding of that location.

I realize that what I’m telling you may be an amorphous concept, but I have a solution for that! Any time you go on future international trips, try to have a coupling of not only general tourists attractions (i.e. the must see stuff, cultural historic landmarks, local athletics, tours, etc.), but also challenge yourself to do a little research of off-the-beaten-path local cultural things you can do too. Ask yourself, “if I really want to experience the true culture of this place, what/where/and who do I need to see it with?” You may be surprised with the cool answers you come up with.

I can personally attest to this advice I’m giving you. Looking back, I am intensely happy that I took the initiative to go on an excursion to Nicaragua to a local village where they made pottery by hand as their town’s main source of revenue, when I spoke to local Maori people in the south island of New Zealand, and sat in a Buddhist temple in silence for hours in Seoul, South Korea. I experienced such a deeper sense of emotional and intellectual fulfillment in each of those countries. I wish this for all of you as well! Remember the words of the famous French writer and historian, Hilaire Belloc. “We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.”

 

Abroad101 Acquired by Ledra Capital and Education Entrepreneur Mark Shay

Pioneering Study Abroad review website to expand; focus on transparency and outcomes assessment

New York, NY (December 13, 2013) – Abroad101 <http://www.studyabroad101.com/>, the world’s first and largest study abroad review website, has been acquired from the Westonian Group by Ledra Capital <http://ledracapital.com> and education entrepreneur Mark Shay, a team with deep expertise in international higher education and technology.

With more than 20,700 reviews of 7,700 programs, Abroad101 is the leading student review site for study abroad programs. It provides a free service for universities and students to rate, review and rank student experiences in study abroad programs.  Abroad101 grew from one partnership at Tufts University in 2007 to more than 215 college partnerships today. The company was founded by Adam Miller, Mike Stone and Mark Lurie; MIT, Tufts and Harvard graduates, respectively.

Abroad101 is being acquired by Mark Shay and Ledra Capital, both of whom have been on the Advisory Board of the Westonian Group, the owner of Abroad101, since 2008.  Mark Shay was a co-founder of EDU Directories, a successful educational directory business that included the industry-leading StudyAbroad.com. Ledra has played an essential role for over thirty years in building the University of Nicosia system, the leading English language university system in southern Europe. Ledra actively supports technology that increases accessibility to higher education, including the free Abroad Office study abroad office administration software.
“Our goal has always been to increase transparency in the study abroad field and help students research their options more thoroughly,” said Adam Miller, Co-Founder and Chairman of Abroad101.  “I am delighted to know that Abroad101 will be in good hands for the long-term.”
“We congratulate Adam Miller, Mike Stone, Mark Lurie and the whole Abroad101 team in their success in establishing the company as a leader in the field,” said Mark Shay. “As accountability and outcomes assessment become more important in higher education, I look forward to working with host universities to help Abroad101 be at the forefront of this movement.”
 “We are pleased that we can help support the mission of Abroad101 to empower universities and students. We have been breaking down the barriers to international education for over thirty years and are a natural long-term home for Abroad101,” said Antonis Polemitis, Managing Partner at Ledra Capital. “I am excited about Mark Shay joining this effort as he brings decades of expertise in the education abroad space.”
“As study abroad becomes integral to every college student’s experience and more options are offered to students each year, a tool like Abroad101 helps guide both the student and his or her academic advisor,” said Michael N. DiMauro from the American Institute for Foreign Study, one of the largest study abroad providers in the U.S. And a long standing Abroad101 partner. “We are now able to demonstrate our excellent student outcomes to universities, which has been a very effective tool for us. I look forward to working with the new Abroad101 team.”
Financial terms of the transaction were not announced. Miller, Stone and Lurie will be leaving Abroad101 to pursue new startup opportunities. Abroad101 indicated that near-term operational plans for the business would be announced shortly.
About Abroad101
Abroad101’s mission is to promote global citizenship by fostering the most meaningful study abroad experience for all students through technology innovation.  Abroad101 empowers universities with its free market-leading online evaluation tool and provides an advertising and student recruitment platform to global program providers through its website StudyAbroad101.com and back-end subscriber tools.  Abroad101 grew from one partnership at Tufts University in 2007 to more than 215 college partnerships today.  Abroad101 is a 2010 winner of the MassChallenge Global Startup Competition. To learn more, visit www.studyabroad101.com. <http://www.studyabroad101.com.>
About Ledra Capital
Ledra Capital is a privately-held group of companies and foundations whose underlying mission has been to expand accessibility to higher education. It helped found the first university and medical school in Cyprus and, today, holds trusteeships or investments in leading tertiary educational institutions that serve nearly 10,000 students annually. It is an active investor in technology, real estate and business services that support its overall educational mission. To learn more, visit: www.ledracapital.com <http://www.ledracapital.com>

 

4 Cheap Places to Stay for Traveling Students

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 You’re a cash-strapped study abroad student but want to travel and explore nearby countries and more remote cities. In expensive countries, like those in Western Europe, you might want to consider utilizing a hostel instead of a hotel. This is a less expensive option and it makes your money go much further. However, if you are nervous about staying in a hostel, you can always rent a remarkably inexpensive hotel if you’re staying in Asia. There are plenty of hotels in Kuala Lumpur, for example that are both cheap and safe. You owe it to yourself to go online and investigate what hotels and hostels are available in every area if you plan on traveling the globe

What’s a student with wanderlust to do?

Choose from one of these budget accommodation options to stay cheaply (or even for free) anywhere in the world.

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Wellness Wednesday: Can a Semester Abroad Change your Career Path?

Rome SunThis Wellness Wednesday post comes from our expert on expat emotional health, Melissa Doman, M.A., LGPC, NCC.  In this post Melissa questions how a study abroad experience can change your career path.

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