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OSU Abroad

Meet a Resident Director: Maria

April 1st, 2015 · No Comments · AHA

Maria Nelida de Juano was inspired to be a Resident Director for AHA International after her time studying abroad in Portland, Oregon. Now, she lives and works in Rosario, Argentina and has been helping students experience it’s beauty for fourteen years.

Fall group at the Reception1

What brought you to be a Resident Director?
I was an exchange student in Portland, Oregon, many many years ago, so I experienced the importance of a study abroad experience in my own life. It was definitely a life changing experience for me! While I was working at UNR as a teacher in 2001, the opportunity arose to start creating study abroad links with Oregonian universities. We have been receiving 4 groups per year (during Spring, Summer Session 1 and 2 and Fall), ever since.

What are some unique aspects of your city and country?
Rosario is located on the shore of the beautiful Parana river that comes from Brasil and overflows into the Rio de la Plata. It is about 3 hours distance from Buenos Aires. This is a very rich region of the Pampas to grow soy and other grains. Argentina has been heavily influenced by migration coming from European countries, so it is different in some ways to other Latin American countries, and at the same time, shares some trends with them. Students will have a unique experience here, different from what they have in mind for a typical Latin American life.

What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?
Before they come, they do not know I keep dear friends in Oregon from my time as an exchange student, and that I have warm feelings for the landscape there- for Mt Hood and the Willamette river! I will help them learn to love our culture as I learned to cherish the Oregonian culture.

What are some of your favorite aspects of being a Resident Director?
I feel I have the possibility to be in touch with a student’s spirit for some time, while they are away from home. Our team knows that we are dealing with this very precious material, and if we can help the students to walk through this experience successfully, the whole world will be open to them. So I feel responsible for helping them to do so!

What are some of the challenges of your job?
Sometimes students are stuck to the images of experiences they bring from home that were told to them by their friends. I insist on explaining them that each study abroad experience is unique, and they must be open to live their own!

What have you seen as the biggest challenge for incoming students?
The language!  Especially when they come with very little knowledge of Spanish.

What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?
To be interested in living different experiences from the ones they have at home, and to be flexible and open to new things. They will make many new friends here and they might act differently form their friends at home.

What is one thing you think students shouldn’t forget to pack for life in your country?
Friendship. Argentinian people are very sociable and they easily make friends that last.

What do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?
Students should be open and interested in making friends and understanding the society and culture.

AHA student at Iguazu falls
To learn more about attending this program, follow this link!  

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Meet a Resident Director: Esteban

March 12th, 2015 · 1 Comment · API, Costa Rica, Resident Director

Esteban López lives and works in Costa Rica.  He works with Academic Programs International (API) overseeing programs in San José and San Joaquín de Flores, Costa Rica. In this entry, Esteban tells us about the beauty of Costa Rica, and reminds us not to forget a good attitude and a baseball cap when traveling to his country.

Esteban

What brought you to be a Resident Director?
I used to teach Latin American Literature for U.S. college students. When API was looking for someone to work as their Resident Director for their Costa Rica programs, I got the opportunity to participate on the interviews and at the end, I was lucky enough to get the position as Resident Director for API.

What are some unique aspects of your city and country?
Costa Rica was the first country in the world that abolished the army in 1948. Costa Rica has reserved lots of areas for natural conservation, National Parks and reserves. Costa Rica is rich in flora and fauna and has many different climate zones within a small country.

What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?
They don´t know I have a big passion for books and classical music. Also, that I used to have a pony tail for more than 20 years. :)

What are some of your favorite aspects of being a Resident Director?
Being a RD keeps me young, also thanks to my position I have had the opportunity to explore my own country and culture along with my students. Their questions keep me always researching to learn more about Costa Rica. Also, the most rewarding thing is by the end of the program, we send the kids back home with their backpacks filled up with nice experiences, love for this country and people, and so much personal growth. To know that I was a little part of that makes me very happy.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
Dealing with personal issues of my students is always challenging. We all are different and I have to be wise whenever a difficult situation arises for one of my students. You always need to remember that being abroad could be difficult for some of them, and to remind them that you are there to help them no matter the nature of their problems

What have you seen as the biggest challenge for incoming students?
Perhaps the Costa Rican ways of doing things. At the beginning of the program learning about streets, addresses, directions could also be challenging. Depending on their Spanish level, this could be also a challenge. And of course, every students feels culture shock to a different degree.

What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?
I recommend this program for students that love to do outdoors activities; that rather prefer open air morning activities than going out at night. They have to be also ready for sunny hot days and rainy cloudy days, in our country this changes doesn’t depend on the seasons, it could change from one day to another, from one hour to next, hahaha.

Also it is important to come to the country with an open mind for social and cultural differences and to deal with a Central American society, where things may not be as structured as they are in the U.S. This could confuse you if you are not ready.

What is one thing you think students shouldn’t forget to pack for life in your country?
A baseball cap (hat) and umbrella!

What do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?
Humbleness. Once you see the world, once you go out of your small bubble, you realize how big the world is and little you are. How many lives there are, how many life histories, and how many people. You see how diverse and beautiful the world and people are. You start thinking less about yourself, but at the same time, you appreciate more what others do for you, and their friendship.

If you want to learn more about Esteban’s program, follow this link!

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The Best Time in Her Life: A Mother’s Perspective on Education Abroad

March 10th, 2015 · No Comments · College of Public Health and Human Sciences, IE3 Global Internships

Laurie Armatas has been a Registered Nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital in the labor and delivery department for 20 years. Her daughter, Hilary, is following in her footsteps in becoming a nurse. While majoring in Public Health at OSU, Hilary went on an IE3 Global Internship to Durban and Cape Town, South Africa, to be part of the Child and Family Health International program. In this entry, Laurie writes about how it felt to send her child to South Africa, and provides a mother’s perspective on education abroad.

Hilary in Cape Town, South Africa.

When Hilary heard that she had been chosen to go to South Africa on a medical internship with IE3 Global she was ecstatic. She had spent a year working to accomplish the goals she had set for herself that would make her a desirable candidate for the program. As her mother I was incredibly happy for her, but I must confess that there was some trepidation. She was going to be traveling half way around the world, and immersed in a culture she knew very little about.

Working in the health care field myself, I worried that practices in a developing country may not be what I believe to be safest for the practitioner. Would they teach her to wear protective covering when needed? Would there be resources available to provide the protective covering for her? I also worried that she might not realize what she needed to do to be safe, not just in the hospitals and clinics, but out in the communities as well. What would the families she would be living with be like? Would they support her if she needed it?  I gave her far more instruction than I’m sure she wanted or needed, and then I left her with probably the most important advice…get all she possibly could from the experience, open her eyes as well as her mind, and enjoy herself!

She followed my suggestions and had what she describes as the “best time in her life”. She was pretty sad when it was time to come home. The adjustment once home seemed to be hard. Her situation is likely different from others because she came back to hear she had been accepted into nursing school and would be leaving her friends at Oregon State to pursue her nursing degree. In any case, she came home a more mature and self-confident person, with clearly defined goals in place. The experiences she had in South Africa really helped her fine tune the path she wants to travel and the goals she wants to meet.

My advice to other parents whose children are heading off to experience the world on an IE3 Global internship would be to learn what you can about the culture they will be immersed in so you can help them to be safe (they will probably think you are being overprotective), stay in contact with them (we used Whats APP on our cell phones ), and they will likely need (want?) more money than you think. Hilary earned all she took with her, but ended up borrowing some so she could do the once in a life time things that came up (bungee jumping and caged shark diving!!!). Finally, I would advise parents to send them off to have the “best time in their life”.

When I was in nursing school there was no treatment other than supportive care for HIV/AIDS. Hilary’s internship opportunities taught me that it is now considered a chronic condition that can be well managed with available resources and education. I think it would be fulfilling to help provide that, and to be a tiny bit instrumental in improving the health status of a population in need. Because of the amazing experiences Hilary had, we are talking about the possibility of going back together once she has finished nursing school to volunteer in a medical venue.

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Meet a Resident Director: Amanda

March 5th, 2015 · No Comments · Australia, Resident Director, SFS, study abroad

Amanda Freeman is a director with The School for Field Studies (SFS). She works in the Centre for Rainforest Studies, which covers 153 acres in the northern part of Queensland, Australia. Every day, she is surrounded by wildlife, nature and amazing students!

Amanda FreemanFeb2013
What brought you to be a Resident Director?
I had been an SFS faculty at this centre for several years when the Resident Director position became vacant. I was keen to take on a different role in the organization; one with more opportunity to facilitate SFS involvement in the local community and to play a greater part in research planning.

What are some unique aspects of your city and country?
Well, it’s certainly not the city. We live and work in a beautiful rural area surrounded by tropical rainforest. We’re also lucky to live in a very vibrant and friendly community. Of course our wildlife is unique – where else can you see platypus and tree-kangaroos for instance?

What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?
I once got lost on my own study site – so when I am drilling home those safety messages I am talking from experience!

What are some of your favorite aspects of being a Resident Director?
Every programme I get to meet another group of enthusiastic young people who are experiencing our environment through fresh eyes.  It makes it seem fresh, new and exciting for me too.  I also love working to find more ways that our staff and students and the local community can work together and help to make more opportunities for our students to be actively involved. On a day to day basis the work of a RD is also very varied; I’m certainly never bored!

What are some of the challenges of your job?
It is sometimes challenging to work with different nationalities and different generations.  On the other hand, that is also one of the most satisfying and interesting parts of the job.  Of course, being on the other side of the world in a different time zone I can’t just pop down to a HQ colleague’s office for a quick chat so communication is sometimes a challenge. Weather is sometimes challenging but we work around it.

What have you seen as the biggest challenge for incoming students?
A few students struggle to let go of home for a while. It is challenging for students to be fully involved in their time here while still trying to keep up with all their friends and family back home.

What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?
Like most things in life, you reap what you sow. Get involved, make the most of every moment – you may not come this way again.

What is one thing you think students shouldn’t forget to pack for life in your country?
Their sense of humour.

What do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?
Be open to new experiences and different points of view.  Everyone has their story.

To find out more about Amanda’s program, follow this link!

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Meet a Resident Director: Gerardo

March 3rd, 2015 · No Comments · Costa Rica, Resident Director, SFS

Gerardo Avalos lives in Costa Rica and works with The School for Field Studies (SFS) helping to spark student’s interests in ecology and sustainability. Atenas, Costa Rica, where Gerardo’s program is stationed, is small, yet beautiful. Gerardo invites OSU students out of their comfort zone, and into Costa Rica.

gerardo-avalos
What brought you to be a Resident Director?
I served as a Tropical Ecology Faculty for 6 years before moving into the Resident Director position. By training, I am a plant physiological ecologist with interests on multivariate statistics. Being a scientist is different from being an administrator, but I wanted to develop the SFS Center in Costa Rica in new directions. In addition to consolidating our academic program, I wanted the center to be a model farm and an effective research institution to generate information about the management and conservation of natural resources for our clients in Costa Rica (national parks, protected areas, and local communities) so that our students could get not only an authentic educational and research experience, but leave behind a positive footprint on the country.

What are some unique aspects of your city and country?
The center is located in the town of Atenas, just 40 min away from the airport and the capital city of San Jose, and about 1 hour away from the nearest national parks (Poás Volcano in the Central Mountain Slope and Carara along the Pacific coast). Atenas has only 20,000 inhabitants, but despite of being small, it has all the basic services. It maintains a very traditional Costa Rican community, with coffee farms covering 40% of the area. Here, students can see a representative part of Costa Rican rural communities, traditional coffee production, and the celebration of local holidays like Independence Day and the ox cart parade. Atenas also has a very diverse international community. This area of Costa Rica presents some of the most pressing problems of the country as a whole, such as water production and conservation, urban expansion, waste management, and conflicts between these issues and biodiversity conservation. Costa Rica has maintained a leading tradition of democracy and political stability in Latin-America as well as of biodiversity protection. It is also one of the most biodiverse countries in the Neotropics with about 5% of the estimated number of species concentrated here. In terms of running a program like ours, these conditions have many advantages. Field trips could span strikingly different ecosystems in one day. Students can compare and contrast different agricultural models and different community profiles superimposed on different ecological conditions. This is an ideal country to study environmental issues and analyze the balance between biodiversity conservation with economic growth.

What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?
I spent one year at the School of Fine Arts at the University of Costa Rica studying history of art before switching to biology. I have an artistic side, and still do a bit of pastel and water color painting. I can also do cartoons, and have illustrated a children´s book. I did a bit of scientific drawing as an undergraduate student at the Biology Department at the University of Costa Rica.

What are some of your favorite aspects of being a Resident Director?
Observing the transformation of our students when they first come to the center and seeing how much they change and have learned from the program before they leave is very rewarding. Students could move on to graduate school, or to jobs that employ an environmental component, so you can see that the program has had a critical impact on them.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
This is mostly a balancing act. This goes across the board in terms of making sure the program works in all aspects. We plan our semester way ahead of time, looking at lecture schedules, community outreaches, field trips, and our week-long trip in Nicaragua. A program this complex is not an easy feat to accomplish. It requires experience and team work. Keeping a good team is critical for the program, the consistency of the educational quality we provide, and the professional development not only of our faculty, but of all our staff members. We are talking about a staff of 17 people, 9 of which function to support the program in terms of maintenance, cleaning, and cooking. It takes a long time and effort to form a good team.

What have you seen as the biggest challenge for incoming students?

This is a residential and very structured program. Students need to adjust to community living. They compromise to change certain behaviors for the benefit of the internal community, and abide by the sustainability contract (which a previous group of students proposed a few years back). Implementing down-to-earth changes (improving recycling, water, and electricity use, for instance) could be hard, representing a compromise and a more conscious awareness on the consequences of our actions on the capacity of our planet to provide services. Being less resource-demanding does not mean a decrease in our quality of life. Being closer to nature has multiple benefits that improve your perspective on life. Unplugging from the internet and decreasing the use of your gadgets and social networks is also an important challenge for many students.

What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?
Be open to new experiences; do not have preconceived expectations because every session is different and unique. What you positively learn from this will affect your life in the long-term.

What is one thing you think students shouldn’t forget to pack for life in your country?

A good pair of binoculars and a digital camera.

What do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?
Humankind is very consistent across the board. We have an amazing capacity for ecological and cultural adaptation. However, we also have a puzzling aptitude to repeat the same mistakes. Learning that deep inside, across cultural borders, we are all the same, and have invented ingenious ways to adjust to challenging ecological conditions (hopefully without repeating the same mistakes) is the key to a more sustainable future. Respecting and appreciating the diversity of ways to relate to nature is something you cannot learn from textbooks. You need to step outside your comfort zone and see the world.

To find out more about Gerardo’s program, follow this link!

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Meet a Resident Director: Aynn

February 26th, 2015 · No Comments · Resident Director, SIT

Aynn Setright lives and works in Managua, Nicaragua. Aynn is an resident director for SIT study abroad programs. She has been a director for 16 years and is currently overseeing the SIT Nicaragua: Youth Cultures, Literacy, and Media program.
Aynn at her Desk in Managua l Aynn Setright

What brought you to be an Academic Director?
Well, I’ve lived in Nicaragua for nearly thirty years now!  For the first ten years, I lived in rural Nicaragua and worked in community development.  When I moved with my family to Managua in 1994, I started graduate work at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN- Managua) which introduced me to the academic world.  By the time SIT opened a program in Nicaragua in 1996, I was working on linking activism with academics and I served as the rural coordinator for the first SIT Study Abroad groups. Then I was named Academic Director in 1999, and here I am!

What are some unique aspects of your city and country?
Nicaragua is a great place to experience Latin America with an edge.  Because of its turbulent past Nicaragua has not grown much in terms of tourism, though it IS the safest country in Central America.Student in the Field l Aynn Setright

The country is divided into three regions, the Pacific where the colonial cities and program base of Managua is located, el Norte (The North) where most of Nicaragua’s coffee and tobacco is produced and the Caribbean, where the Afro-Caribbean influence is the strongest. We visit all the regions of the country on academic excursions and travel to Havana, Cuba for a 10 day comparative study of Youth and Cultural Expression.

Our program site in Managua is said to be the inspirations of U2s’ song “Where the Streets Have no Names” because of the 1972 earthquake the streets have no names, but on nearly every corner of Managua there is a story to tell from the Insurrection and Revolution of the 1980s-1980s.  The country is also a young country with 35% of the population under the age of 15.

What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?
I’ve never studied Spanish!  I learned Spanish completely by immersion have interpreted Spanish for years but know very little about Spanish grammar!

What are some of your favorite aspects of being an Academic Director?
I love turning students on to Nicaragua.  This whole country, and the people in it, make a great 20140905_110516classroom.  And I love introducing Nicaraguans to engaged, intelligent young people from the United States, so Nicas can see it is not like on TV.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
Helping students understand the need to be autonomous and independent, but at the same time representatives of and part of SIT Nicaragua.  We’ve worked very hard to establish solid, respectful relationships in Nicaragua – we need our students to understand that they are a part of that!

What have you seen as the biggest challenge for incoming students?
It is hard to get adjusted to the heat, and the rhythm of going to class in Managua. Students are exhausted at the end of the day for the first couple of weeks, but it is important for them to develop habits to take care of themselves. Some helpful habits are getting exercise, staying hydrated and spending time with their homestay families and to not fall into the trap of free time connected to Facebook and friends or family in the USA. It is a challenge sometimes for students to really embrace being in Managua, because it is not familiar.

What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?
Come with an open mind and be ready to embrace Nicaragua – it’s hot, sweaty, and complicated!  It is a 20141022_132537country that gets under your skin, which is the title of the Nicaraguan author, Gioconda Belli’s autobiography – Country Under My Skin.

What is one thing you think students shouldn’t forget to pack for life in your country?
A sturdy water bottle!

What do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?
The most important take away is to gain understanding and appreciation for different perspectives. Things are complicated, there are a lot of nuances to understanding these different perspectives.  Be open to understanding and don’t make your time studying abroad just about travel, make it about learning.

If you’d like to learn more about going on Aynn’s program, follow this link.

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Meet a Resident Director: Silvia

February 24th, 2015 · No Comments · AHA, Italy, Resident Director, study abroad

Silvia Minucci has a passion for languages, travel and students. She is a resident director for AHA International managing the AHA Siena Program in Siena, Italy. In this entry Silvia tells us about her life, and the life of students of this town in Tuscany.

Silvia Minucci

What brought you to be a Resident Director?
During college, I studied Foreign Languages and Literature and specialized in literary translation. My dream was to work in the international field. I started working at AHA Siena in 1999 as an assistant, and since 2005 I have been the Resident Director. From day one, I fell in love with my job, and I have never stopped enjoying it.

What are some unique aspects of your city and country?
Siena is set in the heart of Tuscany, surrounded by gorgeous landscapes, from Chianti vineyards and olive groves, to the chalk hills and cypress trees of the Val d’Orcia. Siena is an ideal town for a study abroad program, large enough to offer a wealth of opportunities to study arts, history, culture, tradition and Italian language; yet, small enough to be safe and user-friendly, manageable, not overwhelming, and packed with architectural and artistic treasures. Students can walk around Siena and really “live” what they are studying in class. Siena’s central location allows for easy travel opportunities: it’s just over an hour from Florence by bus, 3 hours from Rome, and 4 from Milan. Siena is considered a student town, as many Italian (particular from the South of Italy) and international students come here to attend the Universities.

What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?
My first love in languages is Russian. I studied Russian and lived in Russia for a year. I even wore a Russian Princess-style, white-fur-trimmed dress at my wedding!

What are some of your favorite aspects of being a Resident Director?
I love the social activities with the students. I love showing students things I know they have heard and read about for years and finally get to see. The reaction of students when they stand in front of the Michelangelo’s David for the first time is priceless.

AHA Study Abroad Students l Silvia MinucciWhat are some of the challenges of your job?
I feel very protective of my students, like an “Italian” mom!

What have you seen as the biggest challenge for incoming students?
Homesickness. Many students don’t expect to be homesick, so it’s a big surprise to them when they are, and we need to help them to deal with it. However, the ones who are most homesick at the start usually end up having the best experience!

Having studied abroad myself in France, Great Britain, Ireland and Russia, I understand students’ adjustment difficulties as they adapt to living in Siena. Of course, studying abroad is a big challenge, starting from the moment you step off the plane, but it’s an experience that will change your life and one that you will never forget.

What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?
Be prepared to accept that things are different from America, but to see the differences in a positive way.  For example, we don’t have Starbucks here, so we can’t get a tall pumpkin spice latte to go, but you can have a great cappuccino standing up at a bar with the locals!

What is one thing you think students shouldn’t forget to pack for life in your country?
Comfortable shoes! The streets here are made of large stones and there is a lot of walking to do when you are sightseeing.

What do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?
Being able to see your own country from a “foreign” point of view, from a different perspective. You’ll find some things that you look at in a more critical way, and many things that you appreciate even more than before.

To find out more about going on Silvia’s program, follow this link!

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Meet a Resident Director: Mary

February 20th, 2015 · No Comments · India, Resident Director, SIT, study abroad

Mary Storm is a resident director for SIT Study Abroad in New Delhi, India. The OSU approved program that she facilitates, focuses on National Identity and the Arts. In this post, Mary tells us about her job, and gives a glimpse into her world.

Tea Time with Mary l Mary Storm
What brought you to be a resident director?
I completed my Ph.D. in South Asian art history at UCLA, so I spent a lot of time in India doing fieldwork as a graduate student. I came to love, not only the arts of India, but India itself. One day (many years ago) I decided that I would like to be immersed in what I study; I’d rather live and research in the same place.

What are some unique aspects of your city and country?
Delhi is a huge crazy city and just like NewExcursion l Mary Storm York, Tokyo or other big vibrant cities, it has its ups and downs. Delhi has many layers of history, back into antiquity, because of this there are monuments hidden away all over town. You’ll be walking down a road in a modern residential neighborhood and suddenly come across a 13th century building. As the capital, it has great exhibitions and arts festivals. There are good restaurants, shops and medical facilities.

What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?
I have a diploma from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, but I cook mainly Middle Eastern food. I am a dedicated vegetable gardener, and I have two much loved dairy cows.

What are some of your favorite aspects of being a resident director?
I love to see students rise to meet the challenge of living in a very different culture. We see students arrive in India shy, hesitant and unfamiliar with Indian society. They usually leave confident and excited with a world of new skills and knowledge. Studying abroad truly can change lives.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
We travel a lot during this program. Travel logistics are difficult in India, and Alternative Classrooms l Mary Stormwe spend a lot of time fine-tuning schedules. I give about 1/3 of lectures, but it can be a challenge working with other academic schedules. India is infamous for government bureaucracy and we must negotiate that.

What have you seen as the biggest challenge for incoming students?
Physically: the heat and dust of India can be hard, and some students have tummy troubles. Socially: Learning to negotiate different gender expectations and notions of social behavior can be difficult for American students.

What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?
Come and join us! Experience a very different part of the world; come with “an open heart and a strong back.”

What is one thing you think students shouldn’t forget to pack for life in your country?
Curiosity.

What do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?
Humility and open mindedness.

To learn more about Mary’s program, follow this link!

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Meet an Exchange Student: Emily

February 13th, 2015 · No Comments · Australia, College of Business, College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Exchange

Emily (front left) and friends at an OSU football game. Go Beavs!

Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Emily is a direct exchange student from the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia. This is a College of Business international exchange program offered to students intrested in studying international business. Arriving here in Fall to study Business and Exercise and Sports Science, Emily tells us about her time in Beaver Nation.

What inspired you to pick OSU?
I had heard great things about OSU from people who had studied abroad here in the past and I also loved the idea of living in a college town on the West Coast. Before applying for OSU I hadn’t heard much about Oregon but I was excited to explore such a unique state.

In what ways is OSU different from your home university?
There are honestly too many things to mention. However, the college sport has stood out as a big one, the atmosphere is amazing! My home university is in the suburbs of a major city so most people live at home and commute to uni everyday so living in a small college town surrounded by students has been a big change but so much fun too.

In what ways is OSU similar to your home university?
They both have great international/study abroad programs and the staff have been great on both sides of the world. Both have a very diverse range of study options and are in great locations that make it easy to travel on the weekends and during breaks.

What is one memorable experience you’ve had in Oregon?
People making fun of my accent! No matter where I go or who I speak to there’s always someone who will mention it. It’s always fun when my friends and I come across words that we say differently or have different meanings. We speak the same language but you’ll be amazed at how many times we can’t understand each other!

What are some of your favorite aspects of studying abroad?
I have loved meeting new people and discovering what its like to live in the PNW and other places within the US and around the world. I’ve also really enjoyed trying new foods, experiencing ‘college life’ and learning about American culture, which I’ve found to be quite different! I have also loved having the opportunity to be independent and travel!

What has been one challenging aspect of studying abroad?
Being away from family and friends during celebrations such as birthdays and Christmas was tough, but having such incredible friends here at OSU made it so much easier to be away from home.

How will your time abroad affect your future career or life?
This experience has taught me a lot about who I am and who I want to be. Although I’m still not entirely sure what I want to do in terms of a career, my experiences here have definitely confirmed my love for travelling and exploring. I have had the opportunity to develop new relationships with people, deal with tough situations and find my way around the world- which are all skills that can’t be taught in a classroom but will definitely have an impact on the rest of my life.

What is one “take away” or lesson from this experience?
‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone’. Go for it.

What is one thing, person, or experience you are excited to reunite with when you return to your home country?
I’m definitely most excited to see my dog when I get home! Being away from him for so long has been one of the most challenging parts of this whole experience.

What is your message for OSU students considering studying abroad in your home country?
Go for it!! This has honestly been one of the most rewarding, challenging and exciting experiences that I’ve had in my life and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I now have close friends in Oregon and all over the world, I’ve learnt so much about the American way of life, and I’ve discovered a new meaning of the word ‘independence’. For those looking to study abroad in Australia, don’t be turned off by the wildlife! It’s not as dangerous as you think!

If you’d like to learn more about going on exchange to Emily’s university, follow this link!

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Studying Abroad, Continued?

January 29th, 2015 · 1 Comment · International Degree, Returnee, study abroad

While at OSU, Charlene was an Environmental Science and International Degree student with a minor in German. She studied abroad at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg (Freiburg, Germany) on the OUS Baden-Württemberg Exchange Program during the 2012-2013 academic year. Now, she has moved back to Freiburg to attend a Master’s program. In this entry, Charlene writes about the challenges associated with returning to live in to the place she studied abroad.

One morning last December I was completely absorbed in thought while on my way to class.Profile l Charlene Marek It was raining and I was waiting to cross the street. I was in Freiburg, and had been for about three months. During those three months I had moved twice, completed three Master’s courses and been selected to be a student representative for our class generation. But this morning, my mind was reaching back into the not-so-distant-past. If you’ve been abroad before, you know that those experiences never leave you. I had spent my junior year in Germany and my senior year back at OSU, devising my return to Germany for graduate school.

On this rainy morning I asked myself if I was really back in Freiburg; the Freiburg I longed for during my senior year in Oregon. My Master’s program is in English. This is both a blessing and a curse in Germany. Although I can study with ease, it is often difficult to find time to practice German. This time in Germany, my life is completely different than it was two years ago. After my first time abroad, I arrived back to the states to finish my last year at OSU. I came home with a suitcase and a bag of “post-study-abroad-blues”. It was difficult to readjust to every day life and culture in the United States. Yet, here I was on this dreary morning, standing in Germany once again, feeling just as disjointed and unprepared for re-adaption back into Freiburg as I had felt when returning to the U.S. a year before.

As I stood underneath gloomy skies akin to those in Corvallis, I began to reflect on my readjustment to the United States. I suddenly felt a tinge of regret and bitterness when I remembered how I had struggled to re-embrace my own culture the previous year. Why was I reflecting on this? Wasn’t I happy to be back abroad? I was just beginning to come out of my re-culture-shock phase of living in Germany again. Many things in Freiburg were different than I had remembered and, many things had simply changed while I was gone. I had also changed through my re-adaptation to the United States. I began to realize these circumstances and feelings were very similar to how I’d felt in the United States, so why had I now been re-experiencing this in Freiburg?

Quite simply: each study abroad experience for each person, each place and each purpose, is very unique and individual, maybe even one-of-a-kind. It is not something to be recreated, even when we consciously or subconsciously decide to do just that! I realized I had subconsciously hoped that my journey back to Freiburg as a Master’s student would return me to that romantic junior year of study abroad when German culture, language and the irrevocably liberating independence of living abroad for the first time, were all so foreign to me.

It finally dawned on me: we are responsible for the interpretation of our own experiences.

Returning to your first study abroad destination again for an extended period can allow you to better process and reflect on that remarkable experience, especially in fully unpacking and contextualizing its significance in your life. But don’t forget, life’s a trip- it takes us places- but never in reverse. New adventures lie ahead.

Hiking in Germany l Charlene Marek
To read Charlene’s entry about her first time abroad follow this link.

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