OSU Abroad

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OSU Abroad

Selvas y Playas

November 23rd, 2015 · No Comments · College of Agricultural Sciences, Ecuador, IE3 Global Internships, International Degree, Returnee, Uncategorized

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

November 16th, 2015 · 3 Comments · College of Liberal Arts, Costa Rica, IE3 Global Internships, International Degree, Mexico, Returnee, Spanish, study abroad, Uncategorized

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!


Down at the Barbie

November 9th, 2015 · No Comments · Australia, College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Exchange, Returnee, study abroad, Uncategorized

 3105824455Jarinn Settsu is a senior in Kinesiology through the College of Public Health and Human Sciences and an International Ambassador for the Office of Global Opportunities. Last winter/spring semester, Jarinn travelled to Sydney, Australia on an OSU Exchange Program for the adventure of a lifetime. Read on to learn about his favorite parts about being abroad in a strange, new culture!

My most memorable experience about studying abroad in Sydney, Australia was definitely, as cliché as it is, having barbeques by the beach. During the barbeques I had the unique opportunity to try some food native to Australia. I’m not talking koala burgers or quokka sausages, but I am talking about Kangaroo steaks and emu burgers. The reason why these barbeques were the most memorable experience of my time studying abroad is because it gave me the opportunity to interact with people who lived in Australia their entire life and from people from all over the world.

At these barbeques, there were people from the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia, from Florence, Italy to Beijing, and all the countries in between. It allowed me to learn not only about my culture and the Australian culture, but cultures all over the world. It’s amazing to see how, no matter where you may live in the world, there are always things you’ll have in common with someone. The differences you may have, whether it be cultural or specific interests, are ways to learn about cultures from people who actually grew up in that culture and get a first hand account of their life and rich history of their culture.20150621_142856

The Australian culture, words can’t begin to explain the Australian culture…but I’ll try. The Australian culture is centered around the history of the native Aboriginal people. Because of this, it only seemed right to dive right into trying to learn the history of the Aboriginal people. One way I tried to immerse myself in the Australian culture was through the playing of the didgeridoo. Lets just say I’ll stay in school. But it was an amazing way to learn the stories and history played through the didgeridoo. Although we may come from all backgrounds, countries, and religions, there are some things in the world that people can bond over. Whether it be, food, music, and the desire to experience new cultures outside of our own. We just need to be open and willing to take the time to learn about cultures other than our own, and I believe studying abroad provides you the opportunity to do so.Sydney Darling Harbour (1)

I came to Australia wanting to learn more about the Australian culture, but I left with the experience of learning about cultures all over the world. That’s something that would take years of studying in the classroom, but I was able to in a matter of 15 barbecues.


Abroad, Friends and Sunsets

November 2nd, 2015 · No Comments · API, College of Engineering, Italy, Returnee, study abroad, Uncategorized

Graham DiNicola is a International Ambassador in the Office of Global Opportunities and a civil engineering major through the College of Engineering. Last winter and spring term, he studied abroad in Florence, Italy through API. In this entry, he shares some of his favorite memories from being abroad. Read on to learn more about the authentic Italian experience!

 Face_Picture“There are some days when no matter what I say it feels like I’m far away in another country and whoever is doing the translating has had too much to drink.” – Brian Andreas

Nearly everyone has those days dreaming about being far away from reality, but how many actually experience this dream where translating is necessary? Let me start by saying that based on firsthand experience, even if whoever is doing the translating is as sober as Sister Maria, there is nothing more that will stress you out than being yelled at by Italians. As you quickly learn, it is not the path you take that gets you yelled at, but the adventure (even if you do get lost) – and this journey is certainly one that will not be easily forgotten.

Embarking on a new scene in life is intimidating – looking at two bags, traveling to a new country with no familiar faces – now that is…. Let’s just say an experience that not many get. Traveling was nothing new to me, but accepting a new home in Florence, Italy – that was something I could never fathom, only dream about and it turned into reality.

People may say that study abroad opens up your eyes, and it certainly does; but living and studying in a new place does more than this. You become a new person, picking up on cultural aspects that many are often too blind to admire or take for granted. These realizations often come about from the people that surround you on this abroad experience.

Ian Bickerton was an older Australian Professor who wore two different socks that he claimed represented the Democratic and Republican parties and did this to demonstrate the contradiction that he is. Mix this in with his dry sense of humor, a colorful ascot, and his liberal view of the world; I was bound to learn more than just Globalization from Professor Bickerton.

Professor Bickerton was a man full of life lessons, many applicable to Florence. The first, flights are scheduled to be missed. Because of this, seeing Eisbach (the wave people surf in Munich, Germany), and enjoying a meal in Marienplatz in the shadow of Neues Rathaus became realities – did I miss my plane? No, but I was the last to board it.

Architecture_PictureThe second, I should wake up every morning and go to a bar (Italian – coffee shop) and read. If by the third morning the barista does not have my order memorized, I should find a new bar. This lead to the biggest realization that the Italian culture is focused on quality – their attire, food, wine, city (the list could be an entire blog itself). It purely is the Florentine way of life.

This quality was something that I was longing to return to even when visiting other cities and countries such as Venice, Rome, Cinque Terre, Greece, Switzerland, Germany, France, and Ireland – it was the glow of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (The Duomo) that greeted me home. The Duomo is something so ornate and colossal that started construction over 600 years ago – and is still being completed to this day.

That is one thing about Italians; they love the slow pace of life – even if it takes 600+ years to complete a task. Getting your day started at 8am, working at your own leisure, afternoon naps, two-hour dinners, and gathering in the plazas scattered about the city – this lifestyle is centered around enjoyment and happiness, something I got very used to. When the nights engulfed the streets of Florence, families would emerge, children would play in the plaza while the parents enjoyed a bottle of wine and the company of others – this gateway to darkness Sunset_Picturewas so beautiful, it can never be put into words.

Our nights would often start with live music, a glass of wine, and a view of the entire city of Florence at the Plaza De Michelangelo. These sunsets were so perfect that pictures could never embrace the full beauty. It was a reminder of the untouched beauty such a place and culture hold – for it was here that I felt humbled and the happiest in my life. This was quality at its finest – from structures to sunsets, it was this slow pace, fineness of quality, and recognition of the importance of happiness in that solidified the Italian culture.

FoodThis finesse in the Italian culture carried over to the best dinners I have ever experienced. Sitting down with the actual owner of Trattoria La Burrasca – where the menu was hand written every day based on what was available fresh from the Mercato Centrale – was an experience in itself. The meal over fresh caprese salad, gnocchi, and Florentine steak is something that one cannot simply arrange. It was an adventure that we stumbled upon – and from it gained a weekly dinner with an even better friend.

It was these types of experience that made me realize that study abroad was not just traveling and studying, but finding a new home – for when the tourist season arose, I was just as fed up with the amount of people that had flooded the city as an actual Italian. For over the course of a semester, I had learned more than I ever could have imagined – about myself, about academics, and about the world we live in – with one aspect shining through – the most important things in life can only be experienced firsthand, not taught or read about – only experienced.

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


Allyson Satter

October 26th, 2015 · No Comments · College of Public Health and Human Sciences, IE3 Global Internships, Returnee, Uncategorized

Allyson_FaceAllyson Satter completed an international internship in Loni, India with IE3 Global during the winter term of her senior year. Majoring in Public Health through the college of Public Health and Human Sciences, Allyson chose a program centered on social medicine and its impact on populations within rural communities. Read on to learn more about the culture differences that stood out to Allyson and how she used this internship to further her career!

At one point, going to India was just a dream. I was a freshman looking at another student’s blog and wishing I could experience the same program. A couple of years later, I found myself sitting in LAX waiting for my 16 hour direct flight to Dubai and then to Mumbai. India now holds some of my fondest memories, not a single day goes by without something popping into my mind.

As a graduate in Public Health, this was the perfect way to end my Bachelor’s degree because I was able to apply it to real life scenarios. I remember sitting in one of my Public Health classes and thinking “what the heck am I going to do with this degree? Where do I even start?!” India led me in the right direction; I realized how much I loved promoting health, wellness, and community resources after I spent 3 hours teaching Indian children at a private school in Loni. 72 hours after I returned to Oregon, I found myself in an interview for Kaiser Permanente and was hired 3 hours later. I would be lying if I said India didn’t come up in my interview, it practically related to every question! I am grateful for the opportunity I was given in India, as well as the doors it has opened for my future and the lifelong friends I have made. I encourage every student to break out of the mold and push the boundaries we have been accustomed to; be a minority, experience a new culture, and embrace what the world has to offer.

Here are some interesting things I learned about Loni, India:

  • No one really shakes hands; it caught me off guard when someone actually did. But, on your birthday everyone shakes your hand!
  • There is always room. i.e. a family of four on a motorcycle, 10 people in one cab, or people just hanging onto the outside of a car/bus/train.
  • Forget about PDA, it is just unacceptable in rural areas. However it is perfectly acceptable to hold hands, hug, and lean on the same sex, but homosexuality is not acceptable. Trust me, I am confused too.Allyson_Kids_Outside
  • A milk shake is not actually a milk shake. You may get flavored milk or a smoothie.
  • When you order a grilled cheese, make sure to say hold the corn…but really, it normally comes with corn. Weird.
  • Anytime a person of higher authority walks into a room, everyone must stand until they are told to be seated.
  • Oh you want a pizza? Enjoy your ketchup pizza sauce.
  • Your personal space vanishes once you land in India, an entire road could be available but a stranger will still brush up against you.
  • Every dish can be eaten with your hands i.e. rice, Dahl, soup, you name it.
  • There are no voicemails, the phone just keeps ringing, and ringing, and ringing.
  • Eggs are considered a meat (aka non-vegetarian).
  • Small white squares with a green dot in the middle indicate a product is vegetarian.
  • Restaurants take pride in calling themselves 100% vegetarian. Some even get a little crazy with 200% vegetarian, overachievers.
  • I still haven’t figured out why, but many pastas taste sweet.
  • His and Her cologne are advertised with the saying “0% Gas,” I am still trying to understand what that means.
  • Expect a little masala (mixture of spices) in your lemonade.
  • Speaking of masala, they have masala EVERYTHING. Chips, candy, top ramen, fruit, soda, water, you name it. India loves masala.
  • “Red Label” is a brand of alcohol and not a great word usage to describe the chocolate bar you are looking for…whoops!Allyson_Hand
  • Milk comes in a plastic bag.
  • Instead of just saying my cousin, you specify female/male by saying my cousin brother or cousin sister.
  • There is a cheese commercial where kids make a sub sandwich and say “American!” and then boom, they are Cowboys and Native Americans.
  • There is a lack of structure, or maybe a sense of entitlement among individuals. Do not be surprised when someone cuts in front of you.
  • The caste system still very much exists, unfortunately. You only marry within your caste, and even how you speak to a person depends on your caste.
  • When you cross the street make sure to look both ways, and then look again, and again, actually just keep looking until you get to the other side. They are supposed to drive on the opposite side as the U.S. but that doesn’t always happen, no one follows the rules.
  • All tea and coffee is made with milk and sugar, you won’t get black anything unless specified.
  • There are countless commercials about fairness cream or face wash, forget Jergens natural glow, my skin tone is in style here!
  • Every girl has their nose pierced on the left side, I have met one woman with it on the right like mine.
  • Rings on the second toe symbolize a married woman, as well as gold necklaces.
  • There is cilantro in every dish.
  • Noodle dishes are titled based on their spice level. Mild is Shezwan, medium is Singapore, and hot is Hong Kong. But no one knows why they chose those names.
  • Eye glasses are referred to as specs.
  • If you run out of minutes on your phone, you obviously cannot make any calls/texts, but others can still call you.
  • Cricket is some serious business, you know a game can take 8 hours? ONE game!
  • Tapestries surprisingly don’t exist in India, unless you are expecting a picture of the last supper.
  • When it is your birthday, you can expect to have your friends feed you cake. Just picture a line of people putting cake in your mouth. Mmmm.
  • As a sign of respect, you touch a person’s feet and then touch your chest.
  • The guest truly is god, prepare to be pampered in every way imaginable.Allyson_School_Kids

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


Meet a Resident Director: Sylvie Brugerolle

October 19th, 2015 · No Comments · Exchange, France, IE3 Global Internships, International Degree, Resident Director, study abroad, Uncategorized

Sylvie Brugerolle is a Resident Director with IE3 Global in Poitiers, France. In her entry, Sylvie shares what 25 years of experience with international students has taught her. Read on to discover more about life in France and the challenges and joys of studying abroad.

What brought you to be a Resident Director?

Sylvie BurgerolleA fantastic opportunity! For a year, I welcomed an exchange student into my home. It was a wonderful experience and at the end of that year I learned that the program was looking for a coordinator in my city, so I applied with enthusiasm. I was selected even-though my studies and previous professional career didn’t specifically prepare me for the work; I am trained as a lawyer and worked as a financial advisor in a bank.

25 years later, I continue to be glad that I chose a different direction professionally and transitioned to a career rich in human and cultural connections.

What are some unique aspects of your city and country?

The history of the city primarily. Poitiers, one of the oldest cities in France, has an exceptional historical, cultural and artistic heritage. In addition, the long academic tradition (more than five centuries!) makes the medium-sized city one of the youngest and most dynamic in France – and one of the most international as well. Poitiers is the city in France where the ratio of students to inhabitants is the highest and one of the cities welcoming the largest number of international students. There is always something to do in Poitiers and international students, whether they come for a large city or a city of more modest size, appreciate the active cultural life.

The location of the city is another plus. Situated an hour and a half from Paris and Bordeaux (and soon less than an hour with a new high-speed train line!), the geographic location in the center of France permits one to travel easily in France and Europe.

What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?

Whenever I have a free moment, I pick up a paint brush to decorate any of the media I can find – canvases, furniture and porcelain.

What are some of your favorite aspects of being a Resident Director?

I greatly appreciate the aspect of “multi-tasking” inherent in the resident director position; academic, practical, psychological, administrative, and sometimes legal. It is not a position with the threat of routine or boredom.

My greatest joy, confirmed each year, is to observe how the students change during their stay. The maturity and independence that they gain over the course of the experiences they have, the challenges they face and overcome, to see how, cut off from their cultural and emotional supports, they find in themselves the capacity to adapt and develop a new openness.

What are some of the challenges of your job?

Multi-tasking, which I highlighted above as my favorite aspect of my work, isn’t paradoxically always the easiest to manage. My priority is to make myself immediately available to the requests of students no matter what administrative tasks I might be in the middle of doing. It is sometimes difficult to predict one’s schedule because one never knows the tasks the day will bring, what question or request the students might have that needs to be attended to: discuss a course with a student?, respond to questions about a misunderstood grade?, consult about a relationship with a professor?, manage the relations between a student and their host family?, console a student?, search for the best price for a train ticket with a student preparing to travel?, find new accommodation for a student?, assist with an administrative task a student must complete?, etc., etc. And all of this might fall into your lap at the same time!

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

The first is realizing that the French they practiced in their courses in the USA isn’t really what they hear in France. Young French people speak at great speed, not well-articulated and use expressions that are typically foreign. Visiting students cannot allow themselves to doubt their abilities so that they don’t get discourage. If not, the student risks seeking refuge in their comfort zone by searching out the company of other English speakers.

Then, they have to understand and adapt to the French university system which is quite different from what the students are familiar with. Professors are less accessible to students, administrative assistance less available, more autonomy in the work expected from the student and grading of homework is more strict.

What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?

To leave behind all expectations, to exercise patience, to understand that their host country doesn’t always work according to the system they are accustomed to in the USA and to have a deep store of good humor available.

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

Today we find in France, as a result of globalization, more or less all of the products sold in the USA. Don’t hesitate to bring a little of your world with you, however – a favorite book, photos of your friends and family to share with others, a collection of quotes to read on challenging days, your favorite candy.

Why do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?

Mark Twain said “Travel is fatal to prejudice, intolerance and narrow mindedness”. Leaving your comfort zone to adapt to another language, another culture, another educational system, another environment is indeed an unparalleled opportunity to exercise your thinking in the complexity of the world, to make it more open, imaginative and connected.

Go to Oregon State University’s Office of Global Opportunities for more information on international programs, scholarships and more!


Meet a Resident Director: Maria Keane

October 12th, 2015 · No Comments · IFSA-Butler, Resident Director, study abroad, Uncategorized, United Kingdom

Maria Keane is a Resident Direcctor for IFSA-Butler in Ireland and North Ireland. She has had the opportunity to work in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Maynooth. Her position allows her to work directly with international students studying in Ireland to help them make the most out of their time abroad. Read on to learn more about her experience!

MariaWhat brought you to be a Resident Director?

I spent my early twenties travelling the world and working abroad. By the time I was 20 I had worked in four countries, and at twenty-four this had grown to eight including China and Australia. I always tried my best to get the most out of every minute while I was away. When I started looking for a ‘real’ job I wanted to work in an area that would enable me to use my experience to help others away from their home country. I know that living abroad is one of the most challenging but rewarding and fun things you can do, so working with IFSA and helping students to make the most out of their time abroad was a perfect fit for me. I guess I am one of the lucky ones who actually love what they do. I care about our students and want each one of them to leave Ireland having had a semester that opened their eyes to new experiences and always remind them that they are strong, capable global citizens.

What are some unique aspects of your city and country?

I live in Cork, Ireland’s second biggest city. Cork people are known for their immense pride and we are never short of reasons why Cork is in fact a far superior city to Dublin. The Dubs may think otherwise, but they are wrong!
I think the most unique thing about Ireland is our people. We’re a talkative and inquisitive nationality, who loves to know what’s going on with everyone, everywhere! You hop into a taxi for a five minute ride and come out having been asked about fifty questions ranging from political views to best value supermarkets. It’s all harmless chat and it just shows that we are interested in learning about people. This inquisitiveness also means we are great explorers – Irish people are found in every corner of the globe and are always ready for a chat and cup of tea.

What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?

I trained with the Moldovan State Circus as a clown! Okay, it was only for a day, but it was the hardest day’s work I have ever done. I couldn’t walk for about a week afterwards, but it has left me with some pretty great party tricks!

What are some of your favorite aspects of being a Resident Director?

I love that every semester is different. Although our program core is pretty constant, our incoming students always bring such a sense of anticipation and excitement with them that it’s hard not to pick it up. I really like working on our program and making slight changes to ensure that our students get off to a good start at orientation and have a great semester. It’s exciting to keep on top of what’s happening in Ireland so that we can share this knowledge with our students.

What are some of the challenges of your job?

I guess I would have to say that dealing with a major incident is always quite challenging, but luckily we get very few here. Ireland is a safe country and we don’t get natural disasters, so we are quite fortunate. That being said, things can happen. Although it is hard at the time, I believe having us here to help out does make it less stressful for the individuals involved.

It can also be challenging to get through orientations in January and September without gaining ten pounds – we feed our students a lot while they are in Dublin for orientation and I find it hard not to tuck in too!

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

I think that homesickness, while not affecting everyone, can be very upsetting for a small few. It’s something I have had to overcome myself so I know how hard it can be. Luckily, I think most of our students feel they can reach out to us for help if they are homesick and we can nearly always help them to feel better.

What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?

Go for it! You won’t regret it. Don’t worry about the small stuff – apply, get accepted, get on the plane and we’ll help you with the rest!

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

You can get everything you need right here and pretty cheaply too. I’d be more inclined to say don’t over pack as you want to leave room to bring stuff back.

Why do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?

A sense that they are more competent, capable people than they were when they arrived.

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


10,278 Miles to Cape Town

October 5th, 2015 · No Comments · College of Liberal Arts, IE3 Global Internships, Returnee, Uncategorized

Morgan Thompson is a student at Oregon State University studying Sociology and Psychology with a minor in Communications. During the  winter of 2015, she decided to intern with IE3 Global in South Africa. Most of Petting a Cheetah at the Animal Sanctuarythe work that she completed was centered around Human Rights and the political history of South Africa. Read on learn more about her life-changing experience! 

One of my most memorable days in Cape Town was a very physically and emotionally straining day. This was the day I visited Robben Island. Robben Island is the Alcatraz of South Africa. It is internationally known for the fact that Nobel Laureate and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island for 18 of the 27 years he served behind bars before the fall of apartheid. Kgalema Motlanthe, who also served as President of South Africa, spent 10 years on Robben Island as a political prisoner, as did the current President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma.

Prison cell of Nelson MandelaOur tour began with a forty minute boat ride from the downtown waterside of Cape Town out to the island. We were fortunate enough to get seats on the smaller jet boat that made much faster time! The first half of the tour was by bus around the island showing off the different prison sections, the housing for the guards and officials, the nature scenes of the island, and the Leper sections. Robben Island was also where people suffering from leprosy were sent for many years to be kept in isolation from the general population.

The second half of the tour was through the actual prison. This section was led by a former political prisoner who had spent 18 years of his life in this prison. It was heart wrenching to hear of the torture and abuse that these individuals who were fighting for freedom, equality, and the end of Apartheid faced. It was especially powerful to hear the story from Robben Island Political Prisoner-Tour Guidea former prisoner and really made me realize how recent these events transpired. It really made me think how fortunate I was to be born into the circumstances I was and the sacrifices many people made to make that possible.

This was a very humbling experience that really made me realize that a violation to human rights anywhere is a violation of human rights everywhere, and that it is our responsibility to learn from the mistakes of the past. This experience gave me the courage and motivation to change my career focus and spend my life making the world a better place for all.Group Photo on Robben Island with Table Mntn and CPT in backgroud

To learn more about study abroad and internship opportunities at OSU, click here!


Fueled by Curiosity

September 28th, 2015 · No Comments · College of Engineering, Returnee, study abroad

Jordan Mach. (4)

While at Oregon State University, Jordan Machtelinckx majored in Civil Engineering and International Studies, and spent a semester in Cape Town, South Africa in the Spring of 2012. Since his graduation, he has embarked on a journey to explore Eastern Europe and Asia. In this blog entry he articulates how his perceptions of various cultures have changed. Read on to learn about an Oregonian’s experience across the world!

In travelling to entirely unfamiliar places, I have been happily overwhelmed by the complexity and relationships of cultures. Currently on a journey to experience the spectrum of culture and landscapes across Central Asia, I am constantly surprised by the way seemingly different cultures are actually hugely related. I’ve come to realize that geographically neighboring cultures which have always seemed, in my inexperience, to be similar have been, in actuality, historically unrelated until relatively recently. The bottom line is that cultural and political borders are not the same.

I must admit that I have little background knowledge on the subject compared to those who may have studied it academically so my revelations may come without surprise to many, but jumping into the trip with no preparation was a conscious decision on my part. I have been lucky enough to travel by numerous methods for various objectives, but this trip was fueled by little more than curiosity for what I might learn along the way.Jordan Mach. (1)

For example, hitch hiking across Turkey illustrated the difference between the European-style west side and the Central Asian east side with its significant Middle Eastern influence. Meeting the inhabitants of various backgrounds along the way piqued my interest about the cultural history of the area and motivated me to dive into some articles on regional history that provided headaches of confusion rivalling those of my time as an undergrad in engineering. Trying to research more about the boundaries of Kurdistan led me through articles that felt like condensed political science courses and clarified why so many residents of Turkey identified themselves to me a bit differently than others. Some were proud of Turkish heritage, some of Kurdish heritage, and some of each group embraced Arabic language to varying degrees. I was fascinated to see the associations of these cultural distinctions with my geographical eastward progress.

Language itself is a cultural attribute I have always taken interest in. It was news to me that before Ataturk (modern Turkey’s first president) circa 1928, the Turkish language useJordan Mach. (3)d an Ottoman script which was closely related in appearance to the modern Arabic script. Crossing from Georgia to Armenia brought me through a small Georgian region where most residents are Muslim Azerbaijanis. Despite the Azerbaijanis being separated from Turkey by Georgia and Armenia, which both use vastly different languages and alphabets, they are in fact historically most related to the Turkish culture (not to be confused with the country of Turkey… that’s the confusing part). In researching the next leg of my journey I discovered that the Kazakh language was originally written using an Arabic-derived script as well, and is actually also a Turkic language. Simply because Kazakhstan now uses Cyrillic, I had always associated both the language and the culture with those of Russia instead.

Coming across these kinds of discoveries as I move eastward was exactly what I was hoping for when I (didn’t) plan this journey. With my lack of previous knowledge I find it hard to retain all the details of this region’s cultural, political and linguistic history I learn along the way, but I am pleased with myself at the knowledge I have managed to retain. I consider myself well-educated in various domains, but the culture and history of this part of the world was not one of them. Wandering across it with no itinerary has proved to be an efficient method of satisfying my curiosity and exposing me to culture and history at which I am – all pride aside – a complete novice.

Jordan Mach. (2)

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


Meet a Resident Director: Madeline Lennon

August 20th, 2015 · No Comments · IE3 Global Internships, Resident Director, Spanish, study abroad

Madeline-Lennon (1)Madeline Lennon is a Resident Director with IE3 Global in Santander, Spain. Originally from Ireland, Madeline has a passion for travel, adventure and Spanish culture. Using these skills, she helps students studying abroad make unforgettable memories, lifelong friends and develop a love for Spain. Read on to learn more about her exciting position with IE3 Global!

What brought you to be a Resident Director?

I was living and working in Santander, teaching English as a foreign language in the Language centre, Centro de idiomas de la Universidad de Cantabria (CIUC) where the Oregon students have classes. Someone was needed to be the on-site Coordinator, who was based in Santander, was a native speaker of English and interested in working with study abroad students, so that somebody turned out to be me! That was over 10 years ago now and I feel I was really fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time!

What are some unique aspects of your city and country? 

I’m actually from a small town in Ireland, and I am still very much Irish at heart! My ‘adopted’ country is Spain. It is a fantastically diMadeline-Lennon (3)verse country; each region has something wonderful to offer, from distinct cuisines and traditions to art, history and architecture. From the smallest village hidden in the mountains to the bigger cities, there really is a lot to see and do and tons to experience! Santander, where our program is based is a really beautiful medium sized city, lying on the north coast on a Peninsula completely surrounded by golden beaches. Inland it’s surrounded by the mountains. It really is picture postcard stuff!! It’s an incredibly easy city to get around in, it’s not too big but, better still, it’s not too small. It has a wonderful lively, compact city centre, with all modern amenities and everything in walking distance. The students reside with families near the centre of town and are also in walking distance from the University.

What I particularly like about the city as a base for a study abroad program is tMadeline- Lennon (4)he fact that it is very safe and is not over run with English speakers, like you might find in the larger cities of Madrid, Barcelona or Sevilla. While there are other foreign students around, many from the European Erasmus program, they are also here to immerse themselves in Spanish language and culture. I also love the fact that we have an international airport with low cost flights to many Spanish and European cities. The bus and train system running from Santander is also really good and there are plenty of destinations and combinations to choose from. The program is structured in such a way that students are free to travel most weekends.

What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?

Gosh, difficult questionMadeline-Lennon (7)…I have quite a lot of contact with the students, generally seeing them on a daily basis, and over the duration of the program a relationship builds up; we talk quite a lot and do activities and excursions together so I get to know the students quite well and they get to know me. In result, there’s probably not much ‘important’ stuff they don’t know about me. However, I don’t think I have ever mentioned that I came second in the All Ireland under 8’s 80 metre sprint; I was 7 years of age.

What are some of your favorite aspects of being a Resident Director?

My favorite aspect of the job is the interaction with the students and teachers. I have always found that the students who sign up for study abroad programs to be fantastic to work with. I have met so many really nice people over the years; every group is different so it always feels new. I really enjoy forming part of the team.

What are some of the challenges of your job?

This is 10 week intensive immersion program so it is all engines go right from the start. The first week is crucial to a successful program. There is a lot going on and you have to be a step ahead of everything, whilst making sure that everyone is settling in and doing well. I am very fortunate as our students have been well informed and guided by the staff in Oregon before coming here. That really helps making the transition period a lot smoother for everyone.Madeline-Lennon (6)

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

Again while it is true to say ‘Spain is different,’ it is a modern country in the European Union, so I think the initial challengMadeline-Lennon (8)e of deciding which study abroad program to choose and then setting out and organising it! It’s plain sailing after that, at least on the Santander Program.

This immersion program is not just about learning a language though, the students LIVE here for a term and that involves adapting to a new country, language, host family, teachers, classes and timetable to name but a few! All of these are challenges, and while not to be taken lightly, our students rise well to the challenge and by the first week most students have adapted and are living life like the locals. In fact it usually turns out that the biggest challenge the students face is the reality that after 10 weeks the program does comes to an end and they have to go!

What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?Madeline-Lennon (10)

Be prepared to immerse yourself in all aspects of the program and take advantage of all the opportunities to practice Spanish that come your way. You will learn more Spanish here in one day of class than a week of classes in the States, better still; the classes are only a part of your day. You live with a Spanish family and have Spanish conversation partners, and it’s all in Spanish! It is practically impossible not to greatly improve your language comprehension.

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

A genuine interest in doing a study abroad program and in learning Spanish. On a practical level, comfortable shoes for walking and a rain jacket. On an even more practical level I think less is more when packing, as you might want to pick up some stuff along the way and you’ll need the space to get everything back.

Why do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?

To be able to ‘take-away’ you have to also ‘eat-in’. Meaning, to really benefit, you have to give it your best, and really want to make it work. By doing this, students gain on all levels. Academically students obtain a major boost, a fast forward in their language capacity. On a personal level students ‘grow’ and gain more confidence, a better understanding of themselves and others, more insight the world and their relationship with it and their part in it. Study abroad is such a unique experience, something you have to do to really know what it’s like.Madeline-Lennon (9)

To learn more about study abroad programs offered in Spain, click here!