How to Pick a Program Based on Your Major

Lyndsay Toll - OSU Spain F'12 (6)A common concern with going abroad is taking the classes required for a specific major or minor. Depending on the student’s circumstances and what their academic adviser suggests, it is definitely possible to take courses abroad that count as major/minor requirements and Baccore.

To help in this process, the Office of Global Opportunities has put together curriculum integrations  for many of the majors offered at OSU. These documents give suggestions of study abroad program that line up with courses needed for certain majors. They also list the steps to planning a successful study abroad trip or international internship.

The key to getting specific classes while abroad is to start early, do your research and communicate frequently with your academic and study abroad advisers.

Jacobi_Sarah_Senegal_FoodWhen first sifting through the programs offered, there is a helpful tool on the right side of the screen that will allow you to narrow your search to programs that have a specific academic emphasis. This does not guarantee that all classes needed for that major will be offered, but it is a useful initial check point.

Some international universities have a list of courses that are available to study abroad students. To view these, go to the international university’s website and explore the International Students section.

There are student ambassadors in the University Plaza Monday through Friday from 10:00-5:00pm ready to help you. You can also visit the International Resource Center in the new Student Experience Building to talk to an Ambassador Monday through Friday from 10:00-1:00pm.

The Difference Between Exchange, Program Provider and Faculty Led Study Abroad Experiences

Santilli_Tony_Nepal_DhawalgiriMt.While it is true that every program is unique in its location, housing, class-experience and price tag, study abroad programs typically fall into one of three main categories: Exchange, Program Provider and Faculty-Led Programs. Finding which type of program is best for you is a great starting point in your study abroad preparations.

An Exchange Program is when a student from OSU switches places with a student from an international university. While abroad, the OSU student will pay their tuition and fees directly to OSU, exactly as if he/she was staying on campus for that term.  Room and board payments will be made to the international university, and housing accommodations vary from program to program. Exchanges are often more hands-off than other programs, leaving it up to the student to plan excursions and choose course-work. Lastly, Exchanges typically have earlier application deadlines than other study abroad programs and are more competitive.

Marek_Charlene_MilanItaly_TickledNext are Program Provider study abroad experiences. OSU’s Office of Global Opportunities partners with national organizations to send students abroad. Examples of program providers are API, SAS, SIT, GEO, IFSA-Butler and CIEE. Students who participate in these programs pay all tuition and room and board fees directly to the program provider. Each program provider has specific scholarships that can help reduce the cost of participating. Often, these programs will provide excursions to neighboring cities or areas.

Lastly, Faculty-Led Programs are programs that range from two to ten weeks that are designed and executed by an OSU faculty member. The focus of these experiences varies greatly from program to program, and they can be major or research specific. Often, there are classes or workshops that students are required to attend to prepare for the experience. All tuition and fees are paid directly to OSU. For more information on a specific program, contact the faculty lead.Newhouse_Mindy_Italy_Untitled (3)If you have any questions about the different types of programs, don’t hesitate to contact a Student Ambassador at intl.ambassador@oregonstate.edu.

How to Finance a Study Abroad Program or International Internship

There is no doubt that there is a stereotype that all study abroad programs cost an outrageous amount of money to participate in. However, many students are surprised to hear that studying abroad can be financially similar to a term at Oregon State University. Studying or doing an internship abroad doesn’t have to be an expensive venture, and where you go can dramatically impact the cost. Here are a few steps to help you plan for an affordable journey of a lifetime!

First, you should decide why you want to go abroad. Is it to explore a new culture? Improve language-proficiency? Gain professional experience? Once you have goals clearly laid out for you trip, you can begin looking through programs that fit your needs. Not all programs are financially equal, and you can reduce the cost by picking a certain region or type of program. For example, on exchange programs, where you trade places with a student at the foreign university, you pay the same tuition rate as you would if you stayed at OSU.

Next, you should begin to navigate the scholarships webpicture (3)page to find ones that you qualify for. The Office of Global Opportunities offers over 30 scholarships for study abroad and international internship participants. Although some of the awards are based on financial need, there are some that don’t consider this. Career services in Kerr Administration is a great resource to help you write scholarship application essays or create a resume.

Another great resource is the financial aid office. You should begin to explore what is offered in terms of grants and loans. It is possible to increase the maximum loan amount if your study abroad program increases the cost of attending OSU significantly. Did you know that most scholarships through OSU and outside organizations can apply directly to your abroad program? Check with your scholarship provider or the financial aid office to see if your scholarship will help you go abroad.

On the Office of Global Opportunities site, there is a budget calculator that allows you to input all of the costs of going abroad (plane ticket, tuition, meals etc.) and calculates the total cost of the program. This tool is useful in comparing different programs. Ben-Spearing-CCF-F13If you have any questions on your search to find the right program for you, feel free to contact the OSU GO office at intl.ambassador@oregonstate.edu. Or stop in the office any time Monday through Friday from 10:00-5:00pm to have a student ambassador help.

Antarctic Study Abroad – Part 2

Danita Dahl is majoring in Animal Sciences through the College of Agricultural Sciences. To experience research in the field, she traveled to one of the remote places on Earth, Antarctica! This OSU faculty-led program combined in-class instruction, online activities, field activities and assignments to learn more about this interesting place. To read Part 1 of her entry, click here!

Drawing_PenguinsMany of us stayed up to see the promised first ice of the journey, and it was worth the wait.  The first glimpses of frozen land and ice was not only a great feeling of being found within the expanse of ocean, but also the realization that we were on the cusp of our achievement of a goal to get to the remotest place on Earth.  The next morning we awoke to the grandiose Lemaire Channel and all stood on the bow and watched as the captain navigated the narrow waters.  Between the ice patches I saw the profoundly deep blue water reflecting the snow-capped cliffs and I could feel the truly untouched beauty and danger of the Antarctic.  Standing on the bow, there was a charged feeling running through my body – we were so close now that we would be at our first landing site within the next couple of hours.

The bird watching shift just after leaving the bow seemed like a blur.  We had stopped seeing as many birds circling the vessel and more penguins in the water and on floating ice.  Right after breakfast I ran to my room, gathered my gear, and was the first down to the gangway –20 minutes early.  Entering the zodiac I was reminded of the younger brother from the movie ‘A Christmas Story’ since I and everyone around me were so bundled up it was slightly difficult to sit down.  Once off the vessel I wasted no time readjusting my gear as I wanted to be one of the first up to the untouched areas around the penguin colony.  I, however, was rapidly slowed since every step I took I sunk into the snow up to my knee.  As soon as I got up to the penguins I forgot about watching them and started stripping layers.  After I felt as if I had broken through a high fever I took a moment to remember where I was and enjoyed watching the penguins waddling purposefully on their “penguin highways” as other passengers passed my location in the search for a larger group of penguins further into the excursion site.

Penguin_RaceFor the next few days we continued our journey in much of the same manner with two excursions a day which allowed enough time for us to watch the comedy of the penguin behaviors, sleepy seals, and some quiet solitary contemplation among the wilderness and ice.  As we continued our observations we found that Gentoo penguins ruled the area and the circling pelagic birds were getting harder to find.  We camped in the Neumayer Channel, built a snow penguin, acted like tourists with the penguins similar to locals watching our hilarious absurdities, and ended up waking up to strong winds making packing up an adventure in itself.  On Christmas day I took the polar plunge with a few of my new friends I had made on this journey.  The cold did not hit me right away, but rather seemed to wait and hit me all at once like a thousand needles jabbing into my extremities.  Looking back, I regret nothing.

When we finally calculated all of our data for the research paper the seemingly noticeable trend was very unnoticeable on paper which led to a lot of “insignificant trends” in our final evaluation.  The classroom experience prior to the trip related greatly to both the landscape, ice, and wildlife as well as the on board lectures.  It gave a great base knowledge so that we could understand the magnitude of what we witnessed along our journey.  In the end, Antarctica is truly a remote and untouched gem of the world and I am proud to state that I am an ambassador in keeping it that way and hope to inspire others to do the same.Penguins

To learn more about international opportunities at OSU, click here!

Antarctic Study Abroad – Part 1

Danita Dahl is majoring in Animal Sciences through the College of Agricultural Sciences. To experience research in the field, she traveled to one of the remote places on Earth, Antarctica! This OSU faculty-led program combined in-class instruction, online activities, field activities and assignments to learn more about this interesting place. Read on to experience what it is like being Antarctica! 

FaceAntarctica is a vast continent with untamed beauty and remoteness that can’t help but to have an effect on its visitors.  The reasons I signed up for this adventure were two-fold: I wanted to travel to a place like I had never been before and I wanted to see what it was like to conduct research in the field under Fish & Wildlife.  During my journey I was able to connect the class experiences with my field experiences, but now that I have been back for two weeks, I still feel that I have not fully realized Antarctica’s personal effect on me.  It is a location that truly emphasizes how small we are in the world and yet how connected everything is.

Our last stop on the South American continent was at the current most southern city in the world, Ushuaia.  I say the most current because our guide in the area noted that there is an island just off the coast of this pleasant city that is becoming more populated over the years and may end up taking its title.  The day we departed Ushuaia the temperature was 7ºC.  It was cooler than Buenos Aires where we had come from, but was still nice weather since it was summer in the southern hemisphere in December.  Many of the members of our group noted the beach dresses and swimming suits in the shop windows and the fact that this did not reflect the local’s attire as they were all wearing jackets and long pants.

As we departed the port aboard the ship, I saw seagulls and during dinner we noted a large gathering of shag.  We had heard a lot in the classroom lectures about the Drake Passage that we would be going through around midnight that night.  Many of the researchers who had spoken to us during that time had stated that the Drake is not too bad until it is.  This is because this passage is located between Cape Horn and the northern tip of Antarctica where the Southern Ocean’s movement, previously unimpeded, must bottleneck through this narrow and relatively shallow waterway.  Even at dinner we were unsure what was truly waiting for us ahead.  Although we had been told by the captain that it should not be too rough, it did not put everyone at ease and much of the first conversations on the vessel were about possible sea sickness and the precautionary measures people had taken to dampen any effects of the new sensations of being on the water.

Much of these first days reminded me of summer camp since they were packed full of lectures, equipment hand out and fitting, safety drills, and environmental protocol briefings.  The vessel, the Academik Ioffe, carried approximately 100 passengers and crew.  Our group consisted of thirty of those individuals and we quickly broke into smaller groups in order to get to know each other easier – not on purpose of course, but this is what I have found happens when you are traveling in a large group.  Throughout the trip people transferred from group to group and we ended up getting to know each other pretty well.

On the first day that we awoke on the vessel we started our research objectives – which for us meant 15 minute shifts of bird watching from the bridge deck that were scheduled just prior to the meals.  Our journey through the Drake Passage had turned out quite mild and our weather was truly spectacular, although windy, with 4ºC air temperature and a long day in store starting with sunrise at 4:30 am and sunset not until 10:10 pm.  My group started the shifts that morning and we encountered many more species of birds than we had seen closer to shore.  We noted blue petrels, wandering albatross, cape petrels, and black-browed albatross in our log.  This change in diversity did not surprise me since in class we learned that you often see more types of pelagic seabirds further from the coastlines.  This also looked like a good start to our project since if this trend extended our full journey southward it would prove our hypothesis.Landscape

Many of us chose to spend any free moment outside admiring the vastness and trying to get the first glimpses of unique birds, any whales, or ice that was to be seen.  I found myself in awe of the flight patterns of the albatross – although we had learned of these magnificent birds in class you do not get the true value of the size or grace of these animals until you are close up in their environment.  This is also the time that I truly appreciated the fact that this enormous continent of Antarctica is out there and that over 90% of the world’s population of almost 7 billion people would never see it and never get to feel the rolling waves from horizon to horizon seemingly dropping off the end of the world itself.  I imagined being one of the first explorers and realized, quite clearly, why they might have assumed that the world was flat with an image of this water flowing furiously downward forming an implausibly large waterfall into nothingness.

That night, making good time at 12 knots, we crossed the Antarctic convergence, which is a climatic boundary between the colder water with lower salinity surrounding the continent and the contrasting waters north of the convergence.  This quick change provides a bounty of nutrients and is where the northern and southern foraging seabirds overlap.  We learned in class that this area provides significant support to the Southern Ocean ecosystems through an up welling of deeper water as well as the temperature regulation of the oceans as a whole.  This transition was quite noticeable to the passengers of the ship since the temperature at wake up was hovering around -1ºC.  However, this was alleviated with the lack of 12 m/s winds which had been replaced with mere 9 m/s gusts.

During my shift, just before lunch this day, was an eventful one.  We were the first to spot penguins!  They were porposing chinstraps off the port bow of the ship which occasionally stopped to preen themselves seemingly oblivious to the ship just behind them until we were almost on top of each other.  This day, December 20th, we also got the pleasure of witnessing humpback whales in action.  These two events made this day special to me since I and the other passengers became members of an exclusive few who get these memories forever.  The field work was conveying what seemed like a good trend of continuing progression of the seabird diversity with today showing the greatest diversity seen on the trip thus far.  This night it was difficult to sleep because we knew what that night and the following day would bring us – the first sightings of sea ice and the first steps onto land in the Antarctic!

To learn more about international opportunities at OSU, click here!

“Give it a Go”

Elliot Nelson is majoring in Political Science and minoring in Writing through the College of Liberal Arts. Last summer-fall semester he traveled to Sydney, Australia to participate in the IFSA-Butler study abroad program at the University of Sydney. Read on to learn about his experience being immersed in such a unique and exciting culture!

Elliot with a native koala“Give it a Go” are words that Aussies take pride in, and I initially heard them from a high-ranking University of Sydney official during my first time on campus at a meeting for exchange students. Although I felt like I knew what those words meant, I would later realize I didn’t quite have a grasp on them like I do now. The official said that while we’re on this finite, once-in-a-lifetime journey, it’s important to immerse ourselves in the culture of this world renowned city. Whether that be trying a “coat of arms pizza” with kangaroo and emu on it (Aussies are the only people in the world to eat the two animals that appear on their coat of arms) or simply enjoying a night out in the city near the largest natural harbor in the world, Sydney Harbour.

In front of the University of Sydney

I chose to study in Australia because, one, it’s about 8,000 miles away, so I didn’t know if I’d ever get the chance to visit again, and two, I’ve always had an urge to go to Australia since studying the breath-taking country in grade school where we got to go to Outback Steakhouse for a field trip. And yes, there are Outback Steakhouses in Australia.

I was nervous to go to Australia because I didn’t know anyone else going. I’d later find out that I was the only student out of about 45 in the program to be from a school on the West Coast. What I thought would be a bad thing ended up being possibly the best thing for me. I was able to connect with kids from across the USA, and realized that even though I was about 8,000 miles away and knew absolutely nobody, I could not only get by, but also thrive.

In front of the Sydney Opera HouseWhen my parents came to visit me at the end of my time in Australia, we went to Hugh Jackman’s Broadway to Oz show in Sydney. One of the stories he told hit home. He told the audience that when Steven Spielberg called him to ask if he’d host the Oscars, he responded by proclaiming, “Sure, I’ll give it a go.” Jackman was initially embarrassed because he couldn’t believe that he used the words “give it a go” in a conversation with Steven Spielberg. However, he realized it’s the Aussie way, and the Aussie way helped drive his career to where it is today.

KangarooIf a high-ranking University of Sydney official and Hugh Jackman tell you it’s the Aussie way to give something a go five months apart, then it really is the Aussie way. What changed for me when Hugh said those words towards the end of my trip was that I actually gave it a go in Australia all by myself and loved it. From eating Tim Tams to bussing up the East Coast in 9 days and 9 nights with 60 exchange students, I know that my experience is something that can never be taken away from me and gave me a new perspective on many things. I highly recommend going to study abroad anywhere—especially in Australia—because then you too will have the privilege of gaining a new perspective only studying abroad can give you that you can’t put into words.

To learn more about international opportunities offered by Oregon State University, click here! 

Instagram Photo Contest Winners

OSUGO IEW Photo Contest 2015Thank you to everyone who participated in the Office of Global Opportunities’ Instagram Photo Contest. It was a huge success! The pictures posted served as a great reminder of the amazing opportunities that going abroad has to offer.

As promised, here are the winners:

Julie Stark participated in an IE3 Global internship in Loni, India. She was able to gain medical experience at the Center for Social Medicine, which is a clinic inside of the Pravara Institute of Medical Sciences.

Sergio Valenciano embarked on an exchange program through the College of Business at Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands.

Cindy Her went abroad on a Faculty-Led program in London, England. This program focused on the cultural and judicial system of England.

To learn more about international opportunities at OSU, click here! 

KOBENHAVN

Russell Barnes was a senior majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering through the College of Engineering when he studied abroad in an OSU exchange program in Copenhagen, Denmark. This program allowed him to take classes at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) for a whole semester. Read on to learn about the challenges and benefits of being abroad in Denmark!

Copenhagen, DenmarkIt wouldn’t be a proper blog post about studying in Denmark if I didn’t mention the part about actually living here!  Taking trips earlier in the semester worked perfectly because I was able to wind them down in the second half and spend more time in Copenhagen as the weather slowly improved.  I didn’t understand how seasonal affective disorder could exist until coming to Denmark in January when, even during the daytime, the sky still didn’t quite reach full brightness. It’s funny looking at the photos from earlier in the semester when it was dark, cold and snowing because our daylight hours now surpass Portland by about two hours, and they’re growing longer each day.

Something that I won’t miss about Denmark is shopping for food.  Grocery stores are small and with a limited selection, and, like most businesses here, their hours are shorter than what I’m used to.  Some stores call themselves 24 hours, but what they mean is that they’re open til midnight.  The packages of food are also smaller, so I wound up going grocery shopping with two to three times the frequency that I would back hoFoodme.  A good effect of this is that it’s easier to keep stocked with more fresh food when you’re going more often.  Also, I think it’s funny how bewildered people are when they see me eating potato chips with lunch.  They see chips like how we might see popcorn or Mike and Ikes: something that you only eat during movies or parties.

It has been awesome being surrounded by people from all over the world, and I have learned so much about different cultures and countries.  Some groups of students tended to band together with peers from their own countries, U.S. students included, but I tried to avoid doing that because the whole point of the exchange program is to be around people of other cultures.  In fact, I’ve barely seen the other OSU exchange student here, and I think that we’re both perfectly okay with that.  Even with that in mind, it’s still cool meeting other Americans here because everyone else is from the East Coast or Midwest.  Seeing how multilingual young Europeans are makes me wish that we had better language education, but I think that there is a lot more motivation for Europeans to learn other languages than there is for us because of their high language diversity and the utility of English skills in the working world.

 

To learn more about international opportunities offered by Oregon State University, click here!

Selvas y Playas

Wes Brown is studying Bioresource Research through the College of Agricultural Sciences and International Studies. Last summer, he participated in the IE3 Global International Internship Child Family Health International (CFHI) in Ecuador. This entry is an excerpt from his blog post for IE3 Global about a particular experience that stood out and made a lasting impression.  


Wes with Gustavo's family memberMe and two other students in the program set off on an 8 hour hike through the Amazon Jungle. It was possibly the most difficult backpacking route I have taken. A foot deep layer of mud constituted our trail for a majority of the trek, we got stuck in the mud and our boots pulled off, we walked over steep hills and through rivers, and even got our path blocked by a poisonous snake that can jump a meter.

We hiked all this way because we wanted to stay with a Shuar family and learn about their lifestyle and culture. It is humbling to have learned that the same trail we hiked in 8 hours, a Shuar family will hike in 3-4 hours, carrying a box of chickens, and children. When we arrived we were greeted by a Shuar man named Gustavo and his family.  Gustavo has a wife and 8 children. Once his children grow up, they get married and make a home next to the original so the children and their families all live together. Traveling through the forestNeedless to say, we were surrounded by adorable children.

They let us stay in a beautifully constructed Shuar hut and provided our meals, which consisted almost entirely of bananas. The first day we spent trekking through the jungle to a sacred waterfall. The Shuar have an interesting ceremony they use when they want to know what the future hold. The person must fast for about 4 days then journey into the jungle to the waterfall. At the waterfall he/she must drink a prepared concoction of herbs and jungle plants that act as a hallucinogen. They sit at the waterfall and say that the user can see visions of themselves in the future or potential future husbands or wives and children. This is in fact what Gustavo has done before and found out who he was to marry. We said goodbye to Gustavo and his family and headed back to Puyo exceptionally dirty and covered in mud from the hike.Wes near the beach

To learn more about international opportunities at Oregon State University, click here!

Learning to be Flexible


Courtney Kutzler is a senior working towards an undergraduate Psychology and 
International Degree. Last year, she completed back-to-back abroad programs in Miguel de Allende, Mexico through IE3 International Internships and a faculty-led program in Costa Rica through the Department of World Cultures and Languages. Since returning, Courtney has spent her time advising students who want to go abroad with her position as an International Ambassador through the Office of Global Opportunities. Read on to learn more about her unique experience!

One of the 4 year old boys I worked with.jpgMy first few days in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, I was overwhelmed and felt as though I did not know a single word in Spanish. Throughout my first week, I was constantly lost and confused. As I explored the streets, I learned that many of the people I met were welcoming, understanding, and helpful.With the progression of the next few weeks, I could not stop smiling as I walked around in the community and at the daycare I was interning at. I knew I belonged there because experiences like cleaning up poop from one of the kid’s pants or dissolving temper tantrums, that can be seen as difficult aspects when working with children, only motivated me more to continue interacting with them.

One stormy day, I was invited to play soccer with some of the friends I had made (other volunteers and locals). The plan was to get together at 3PM, but we didn’t leave until around 6PM. When my friends arrived, we all piled into the bed of a pickup truck that rattled as though it would fall apart at the next speed bump. There was lightning in the distance and I could see storm clouds rolling in. My initial thought was that if we had left when we planned to, we wouldn’t have had to worry about the storm. In that moment, I reminded myself that this was just part of the adventure.

My friend, Noel, drove a few miles out of town to a seemingly random field. We got out of the truck with our soccer ball and started to warm up. The teams were boys versus girls. The game was fast and with the wet ground and the lack of soccer gear (e.g. shin guards and cleats) we were covered in mud, sweat, and bruises by the end. Even more noteworthy, we all could not stop laughing. This experience was one of the many highlights from my experience in Mexico.       During my time abroad, I got to practice Spanish and learn about the culture. I did this with my friends, colleagues, and the children at the daycare. I learned and experienced important aspects of the culture by trying diffA friend and I on a weekend trip to Guanajuatoerent foods, learning about the history of the town, playing/watching soccer and boxing, and talking with an open mind and heart to everyone I met.

One of the skills I developed that I am the most proud of is the ability to adapt and be flexible. When something was supposed to start at a particular time and didn’t (like playing soccer), I always would think of it as part of the adventure. At the daycare, a lesson plan or activity would not take the time that was planned or the children would need extra time or support to complete it. Or there was some time for unstructured free time. In these moments, I got the opportunity to think outside of the box and problem solve.

The challenges above helped me grow both personally and professionally. The patience and interpersonal communication skills that I gained through speaking in a second language, attempting to understand individuals’ perspectives different than mine, and applying the knowledge that I’ve gained at Oregon State University about working with cultural groups and with children are invaluable. I knew at the end of this internship that I would utilize these skills on future trips abroad, working with individuals from different backgrounds in the United States, and in my future career.

Immediately after my return from Mexico, I prepared for a study abroad in Costa Rica. I knew this experience would be different than my internship. I was anxious about possible problems, but I was able to embrace it and I was excited for what might not “go as planned” because I’ve learned that those experiences are usually the ones that stand out and are the most meaningful.

After arriving in Costa Rica, I found myself homesick from Mexico. At first, I felt like I Ziplining over the cloud forest!shouldn’t be homesick over a place that I had only lived in for 10 weeks. However, after reflecting further, I was thrilled that I had such a meaningful experience in Mexico that I missed it so much. I was able to apply many of the social skills I had learned in Mexico, but I was aware that the culture was different and I continued to be sensitive and learn from and about those differences.

In Costa Rica, one of the most significant aspects for me was to have a host family. At first, it was uncomfortable. My family was very welcoming and friendly, but I was still a stranger occupying their house. It took time and many discussions for us to get to know each other before I truly felt at home. I got a better sense of the culture as I talked to them and was included in family activities. One important activity was watching soccer with the whole family and all of their friends. My host mom would make a huge meal and we would all watch the game together. This summer, Mexico and Costa Rica played against each other during the Gold Cup. Of course, I was asked who I was going to be rooting for. I made the mistake of outing to everyone that I wanted Mexico to win. The whole night my family called me Mexicana and made a point to cheer every time Mexico messed up or if Costa Rica got the lead. This experience made me feel more connected with my family because all families have differences, and in the end, we were all still having fun and bonding. I now know that I always have a home in Costa Rica.

The classes I had in Costa Rica and the experiences with my family improved my Spanish speaking and understanding. Both experiences gave me the ability to be more culturally aware, tested my adaptability, and improved my understanding of two very different cultures. Mexico was an experience that centered around my work environment and colleagues while Costa Rica focused on learning Spanish and utilizing it with my family and the rest of the community.

My best advice to others planning on going abroad is to connect with as many people as possible. This can be done even with a simple genuine smile or by spending time talking to a stranger. These connections will be helpful while abroad and can be life-long academic, professional, or familiar contacts. Lastly, make sure to keep an open mind and take advantage of opportunities that occur when abroad. (I was told once to always say “yes”…of course, within reason.) These are the experiences that will create massive personal growth and memories that will always be with you.Dia de Guanacasta

To learn more about the international opportunities are OSU, click here!