OSU Abroad

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OSU Abroad

Meet a Resident Director: Réka

April 23rd, 2015 · No Comments · API, Resident Director, Returnee, study abroad

reka1When Réka Futász was a student, she embarked on her own study abroad journey to Brisbane, Australia. Inspired by her trip, she is now a Resident Director with Academic Programs International (API) in Budapest, Hungary. Now, she gets to help other students love studying abroad as much as she did!

What brought you to be a Resident Director?
I studied abroad in Brisbane, Australia and enjoyed it a lot. As a Resident Director I can help students get the most of their study abroad experience and provide a safe environment for them to experience a kind of lifestyle that is very different from what they are used to at home.

What are some unique aspects of your city and country?
Budapest is a city of about 2 million people with a very lively cultural life, so there is always something new to see. We are also very close to many popular destinations in Europe that are easily accessible by train or low-cost airlines. Vienna is a 2.5-hour train ride away and you can get to Berlin, Paris or Rome in under 2 hours by plane.

What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?
I am a certified scuba driver and got my license on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

What are some of your favorite aspects of being a Resident Director?
I love seeing students become more and more independent as the semester progresses and seeing them discover new things about themselves. It’s rewarding to see when students’ friends and family come to visit them and they are proud to show off their new home and all the places they have discovered in Budapest.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
Many students travel all over Europe during the weekend, so sometimes it can be difficult to get them to stay in Budapest. We can show them cultural events/venues they would not necessarily go to on their own, like the flea market or the nearby Buda hills, where you can go on wonderful hikes.

OSU student Natalie Suderman is on the far left!

API Students on a trip to Transylvania, Romania. OSU student Natalie Suderman is on the far left!

What have you seen as the biggest challenge for incoming students?
The language barrier and getting used to the fact that they do not always understand what people are saying around them. Our students all take Hungarian at the university, so that helps a lot as the semester progresses. Also, the first few days of getting used to the public transportation system can be challenging for those who are not used to it back home, but once they get the hang of it, students love how they can get everywhere quickly using their unlimited public transportation passes. Also, our academic system is different from that in the United States: there is much more emphasis on independent study and fewer teacher-directed homework assignments, so that’s an adjustment for students.

What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?
Make sure you read up a little on European history and politics. Corvinus University has many international students from all over Europe, and politics in general is a common topic to talk about here, so it helps if you know some of the basics!

What is one thing you think students shouldn’t forget to pack for life in your country?
Waterproof and comfortable walking shoes – we walk everywhere and use public transportation. And warm clothing for the winter – it is cold November through February (we get snow most years), so a sweatshirt is not enough!

What do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?
Learning how to function as an independent adult, including being able to navigate foreign places confidently on their many trips around Europe, adjusting to living in a student apartment, being responsible for making/buying their own food and keeping the household together. Because Corvinus University has students from many nationalities, learning how to collaborate on group projects with students from various backgrounds can be challenging, but ultimately very rewarding.

To find out more about Réka’s program, check out this link!

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Meet a Resident Director: Karla

April 22nd, 2015 · No Comments · API, Chile, Resident Director, study abroad

API-Chile-RD-Karla-MaldonadoKarla Jofré Maldonado has always had a love for travel and adventure. Currently, she has the opportunity to share that love of people and culture with students as a Resident Director in Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, Chile. Through her position with Academic Programs International (API), she gets to inspire students every day.

 


What brought you to be a Resident Director?

I thought it would be a good experience for me because it sounded really exciting and new. I love different cultures and people so it seemed to be the perfect job, and it is!

What are some unique aspects of your city and country?
Chile is well-known for our wine, landscapes, and fresh food- but API-Chile-Valparaísomostly for being very friendly people!  The whole country is really interesting. We have five World Heritage Sites, officially named by UNESCO, and Valparaiso, where one our programs is located, is one of them!

Vina del Mar (another city with an API program) and Valparaiso are very different ‘siblings’ that complement each other well. The first one is a beautiful beach city full of life and good restaurants, while Valparaiso is a funky, street art capital with many cafes.

What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?
I played violin for 7 years. I stopped playing when I was 13 and never touched a violin again!

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

I love sharing my knowledge of my country, people and culture with students while learning new things from them! I also love working with API.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
Sometimes students don’t embrace certain aspects ofAPI-Chile-students Chilean culture because they are afraid of trying something new. For example, they may prefer to go a well known fast food restaurant instead of trying local food. That is challenging because they want to feel at home by going to places they already know, but they are only making the process of leaving their comfort zone harder.

What have you seen as the biggest challenge for incoming students?
Overcoming anxiety when speaking Spanish. Typically, students know a lot more Spanish than they think, but they are so focused on trying express themselves perfectly that they don’t give themselves enough time to adjust to the language and culture.

What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?
Be open minded and understand that things abroad are not better or worse, they are just different!

It is ok not to know everything, but do some research before going abroad. Sometimes students forget that while it’s summer in the USA, in South America we are in the middle of winter!

What is one thing you think students shouldn’t forget to pack for life in your country?
I want to say hiking shoes because there is so much to do here, but I think that the only thing you really need for living in Chile is a good attitude towards adventure and new experiences.

What do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?
Be patient with yourself and others. Give yourself some time to adjust and let others do the same.

If you think that going abroad will make your problems disappear, think again! Your problems or daily inconveniences will be exacerbated by the fact you are far away from your family and friends.

You are here to learn, but that process includes mostly learning about yourself.

To learn more about attending Karla’s program, check out this link!

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Meet a Resident Director: Susie

April 17th, 2015 · No Comments · AHA, Resident Director, study abroad, United Kingdom

 Susie_Thomas_edit
Dr. Susie Thomas is not only a Resident Director with AHA International in London, United Kingdom, but is also a published literary scholar focusing highly on
British authors. As a Resident Director, she oversees academic programs, teaches courses, and ensures that the students are enjoying their stay in her beautiful city. Read on to learn more about all that London has to offer!

What brought you to be a Resident Director?
I have been teaching literature courses on AHA’s London programme for many years, and I enjoy working with American students.

What are some unique aspects of your city and country?
London has a wealth of history and it is also a modern multicultural city with cutting edge theatre, arts and technology industries. Most of the major galleries and museums are free. The AHA centre is located in the heart of Bloomsbury, so the British Museum and the British Library are just a stroll away. All of our programmes offer excursions to other places in the UK, including Wales, Scotland, Bath, Oxford and Brighton. From London, students can also visit other European cities very easily.

What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?
When I was studying for my doctorate at the University of London I used to work on a carnival during the holidays. We went all across the U.S. and once we even went to Costa Rica.

What are some of your favorite aspects of being a Resident Director?
I love opening doors for students and telling them the good places to go; whether that’s a museum, a theatre, or a favourite Indian restaurant. I take the students on lots of walking tours of the city so that they really get to know it.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
As a literary critic, the biggest challenge for me has been mastering budgets! However, getting the best deals means that we can offer the students lots of educational and fun excursions.

What have you seen as the biggest challenge for incoming students?
Since we speak the same language most students do not have much difficulty settling in. Some students find living in a big city a challenge and some miss their family and friends. This usually passes very quickly! The London centre provides a home away from home, and Mary (the Assistant Director) and I are always around if students want to chat.

What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?
Be willing to try new things and be flexible!

What is one thing you think students shouldn’t forget to pack for life in your country?
Students can find everything they want here but it’s certainly useful to bring a laptop.

If you want to learn more about attending Susie’s program, check out this link!

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Meet a Resident Director: Michael

April 16th, 2015 · No Comments · AHA, Resident Director, study abroad

michael_williams
Michael Williams has lived and worked in Ghana for over 20 years. Passionate about international education, he is a Resident Director in the coastal town of Accra, Ghana, through AHA International. Read more to discover more about studying abroad in Ghana!


What brought you to be a Resident Director?

I served as the Resident Director of the CIEE Ghana program during its initial 12 years, from 1994 to 2012. Afterwards, I remained in international education, in Ghana, by setting up the Aya Centre, a single purpose, multi-service organization designed to enhance the learning experience and cultural awareness of persons traveling to Ghana. Thus, I had the requisite experience to serve as the Resident Director for the AHA Ghana Program.

What are some unique aspects of your city and country?
There are many unique things about Ghana. The most obvious is that Ghana is the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to have gained its independence from European colonialism. It’s also worth noting that the Ghanaian people are famous for their warmth, hospitality, and friendliness. Moreover, the country itself is very stable and peaceful—devoid of the very divisive ethnic, religious, and political cleavages that plague so many other countries in Africa in particular, and the world at-large.

What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?
That I have 6 children, all of whom are females.

What are some of your favorite aspects of being a Resident Director?
I enjoy helping students to explore Ghana and, by extension, different aspects of themselves. So much of their future is being created here, and I enjoy being a part of that process.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
The main challenges center around Ghana’s status as a developing country. It’s economic, technological, and industrial underdevelopment can weigh heavy on everyone, but especially on persons from highly developed countries. Helping students to adjust to that is never easy. Of course, this is also one of the advantages of studying in Ghana—to see and understand how the majority of people in the world live in a globalized world characterized by so much poverty and inequality.

What have you seen as the biggest challenge for incoming students?
The biggest challenge for incoming students revolves around their effort to adjust and adapt to a country that is so culturally different than United States. However, this is a challenge that can not only be very gratifying, but should also make the entire experience worthwhile.

What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?
They should read as much about Ghana as they can. They should also keep up with its current events. Students should come prepared to accept Ghana on its own cultural terms without comparing it (favorably or unfavorably) to the United States or any other country. I believe this applies to any country one is planning to visit.

What is one thing you think students shouldn’t forget to pack for life in your country?
Anti-Malaria medicine. Malaria is largely preventable and treatable; still, it’s very important to respect it as a potentially harmful disease if you don’t protect yourself.

What do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?
I believe they should return to their home country with a greater sense of their own humanity, and the importance of what each of them do in life and its affect the rest of humanity.

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

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Meet a Resident Director: Marie

April 15th, 2015 · No Comments · IE3 Global Internships, Japan, Resident Director, Returnee, study abroad

Marie Sato was greatly affected by her time studying abroad in the United States. She loved it so much, she decided she wanted to help other students feel the same way about her country! Marie is a Resident Director through IE3 Global at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan.

Marie at Home l Marie Sato
What brought you to be a Resident Director?
My study abroad experience in the U.S. was one of the most influential factors in my decision to work for the IE3 Global program in Japan. I can’t express how much I was supported by my friends, roommates and friends’ families while I was in an unfamiliar place and studying in a foreign language. This stems from my strong sense of obligation (giri), in which individuals repay each other by returning gifts (okaeshi) given to them.

What are some unique aspects of your city and country?
Tokyo’s railway system is one of the very unique aspects of Tokyo with 13 subway lines and more than 100 surface routes. Also, students can do many activities in the limited time. Visiting museums, Japanese Gardens, Akihabara (a district in Tokyo), shrines, cat cafés and many other places is possible every weekend. Many students visit Kyoto, Osaka, Hokkaido, Okinawa and many other places in Japan during vacations. It is difficult to decide where to begin exploring given the many options!

What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?
I am a chocolate lover. Students who visit me eventually discover that I always have chocolate in the drawer in my office.

What are some of your favorite aspects of being a Resident Director?
One of my favorite aspects of being an RD is having the chance to learn from both students and host families. It is not easy being away from family and friends and attempting to live in a country where English is not the first language, but I have been able to see how both students and host families try to learn from each other through personal acts of kindness beyond the language barriers. Another great aspect is seeing students again when they return to Japan. Some of them come back as JET English teachers and some of them come back to spend time with their friends or host families again. I have already seen 5 former students in 2014-2015 and enjoyed talking about their memories of being in Japan and their future goals.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
Being on duty for 24 hours is one of the challenges. I actually receive emergency phone calls from students and host families in the middle of the night almost every year. Saying goodbye to students is also another challenge of my job. Their time in Japan feels short to me as I enjoy spending time with them and seeing how they improve in Japanese and learn the Japanese culture.

What have you seen as the biggest challenge for incoming students?
Commuting on the crowded train in the morning rush hours is the first and biggest challenge for incoming students. However, the new experience makes students understand that they are in a different country. Without a manual or guidebook, they learn how to stand and use their cell phone in the very limited space on the train; they learn to adapt.

What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?
Students can start preparing for study abroad in Oregon. Some students say in the first meeting or write in their essay that they would like to experience “cultural exchange” but students have the chance to help the exchange students and other students from other countries on their own home campus. Students can also start researching places they would like to visit in Japan and make their own list of “Things To Do in Japan”. If students are not taking a Japanese class at their home university, I would highly recommend that they find Japanese students on that campus and start a “language exchange” so that they won’t be nervous communicating with their Japanese host families and Japanese friends when they arrive in Japan. These preparations will make the beginning of the new life in Japan start smoothly.

What is one thing you think students shouldn’t forget to pack for life in your country?
I think I would say to pack one thing which makes the student feel happy. It could be an English book, organic food, or cheese flavored Doritos. Some students have been missing many foods which they can’t easily get in Japan. For example, Reese’s chocolate is one thing students have a hard time to finding here.

What do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?
Through a study abroad experience, students can find different values from ones which are closely tied to the way students have been raised in their countries. It is important to step outside to see and feel different values through diverse experiences in a different country. Students will be able to use their experience to achieve future goals, even those beyond language, race, culture and religion.

To learn more about attending Marie’s program follow this link!

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Meet a Resident Director: Heidi

April 9th, 2015 · No Comments · Environmental Science, Resident Director, SFS, study abroad, sustainability

The Turks and Caicos islands are located south of the Bahamas in the North Atlantic Ocean. On these islands, Heidi Hertler is a Resident Director with the School for Field Studies (SFS). After spending nearly 20 years in the Caribbean, her passion for the ocean, science and students has flourished. In this entry, we get a sneak peak into studying abroad and living in paradise.

SFS-Heidi-Hertler-ocean
What brought you to be a Center Director?

I am a School for Field Studies (SFS) alumna. As an undergraduate, this program changed my life and has since greatly influenced all my career choices. I have made the Caribbean my home for nearly 20 years. In this time, I have lived by the SFS philosophy – teach environmental problem solving by working on real problems defined by the communities where you are located. Four years ago, I accepted the position of Center Director at the SFS Center for Marine Resource Studies in the Turks and Caicos Islands. As Center Director, I strive to provide students with a clear understanding of the value and management of environmental resources in a local context. I am extremely excited to live and work in the TCI and in an environment where I can have such an effect on the local community and future scientists.

What are some unique aspects of your city and country?
There are over 40 islands and cays that make up the Turks and Caicos Islands and each has many unique aspects – small fishing communities (South Caicos), large cruise ship terminal (Grant Turk), high end development (Providenciales). The SFS Center for Marine Resources is located on South Caicos. South Caicos is a beautiful island rich in natural resources (fishing capital of TCI) and local history (salt industry) with relatively little development (one small hotel). The climate is dry and almost desert like. At the Center’s door step are shallow and deep reefs, extensive seagrass meadows, mangrove forests, and white sand beaches. The local community is a confluence of many different cultures – TCI Islanders, Haitians, Dominicans, and West Indians – this diversity is a great opportunity to learn about Caribbean life.

What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?
We all live and work together – research, site clean-up, kitchen crew, card games, outreach, sunset viewing. By the end of the semester, there is not much they don’t know about me or any of our staff.

What are some of your favorite aspects of being a Center Director?
Working side by side with students and community members to collect data that will directly impact local decisions and environmental policies.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
Every day there is a new challenge, where do I start…Managing logistics of a large center on a small, remote island would be the “challenge of the week”.

What have you seen as the biggest challenge for incoming students?
South Caicos is a physically demanding environment. The amenities (fresh water, shopping, food varietySFS-Heidi-Hertler-diving, etc.) are limited relative to a student’s home environment. On top of that, our program is 6 days a week. Most adapt and leave with a great sense of connection to the island. Many of our students apply to return as Interns at our Center or another SFS program.

What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?
Embrace the experience. Take every opportunity to explore the country and meet with the people. Disconnect from the internet – learn to play dominoes. Stop and watch the sunset. Take a swim in the ocean every day. Always remember we are all guests in the country.

What is one thing you think students shouldn’t forget to pack for life in your country?
1. Mask, fins and snorkel – you will use them more often than anything else. 2. Sunscreen and bug spray– second in use to mask, fins and snorkel. 3. A desire to be in the field learning.

What do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?
You are living in a community that is different then you are accustomed to – things are better and worse. Study abroad challenges any preconceived ideas that you might have.

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

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Nutrition Intervention in Northeast Thailand

April 8th, 2015 · No Comments · CIEE, College of Liberal Arts, College of Public Health and Human Sciences, research, Returnee, study abroad, Thailand

Rosa Keller was drawn to Thailand because of her love for Thai food. In fall of 2014, she studied in Khon Kaen, Thailand, through CIEE. At Oregon State University, Rosa is majoring in both Nutrition and Anthropology. During her time abroad, she was able to integrate her knowledge of people and food by conducting a nutrition intervention in rural northeast Thailand.

Rosa and Children l Rosa Keller
Before traveling to Thailand, I had no idea how much I would learn about intervention planning, public health, and group work. Having so much freedom and knowing that the work we were doing was really helping people live healthier lives gave me so much motivation to do my best. The last couple of months of my time in Thailand were dedicated to conducting research, planning community visits, and finally, implementing a public health intervention based on community need.

Our group conducted a nutrition education and a diabetes screening intervention in a rural villageCuisine l Rosa Keller in northeast Thailand. We decided to focus on these topics due to an increasing rate of Type-2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) in Thailand, specifically in the northeast region. Our initial research concluded that Nonsang Village had a high prevalence of T2DM but a low rate of diabetes screening. Additionally, we observed a lack of awareness of healthy portion sizes and dietary practices. Our research in the community led us to develop our intervention.

First, we held a community dinner where we educated villagers on healthy portion sizes, mindful eating, and the biological and behavioral factors that lead to development of T2DM. All of the Rosa1food that was prepared for the dinner was either grown or purchased from the village to ensure that the meal was sustainable. The menu included things like steamed veggies, chili sauces for dipping, omelets, and spicy green papaya salad, with fruit for dessert. The following day, we worked with the Health Promoting Hospital and village health volunteers to hold a T2DM screening session. For both events, there were around 30 participants in a village with a population of around 500 people, which was our expected outcome.

Overall, the intervention was a success; but, most importantly, through our experience we were able to build a strong relationship with the community. I truly hope that our intervention empowered the villagers to eat healthy and be more mindful of their dietary intake. Through this intervention, I was able to learn how community participation is an important asset to a successful intervention.

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Meet a Resident Director: Marie

April 7th, 2015 · No Comments · API, France, Resident Director

Marie de Rocca-Serra works and lives in Grenoble, France. As a Resident Director with Academic Programs International (API), Marie loves to share this beautiful city, located at the foot of the French Alps, with students.


What brought you to be a Resident Director?
I did an internship with API in Grenoble and loved it! I had found the job I wanted to do!

What are some unique aspects of your city and country?
France: Our history, art, cuisine, and French art of living!
Grenoble:  Its gorgeous scenery, making it THE outdoor destination in France, its great location (3 hours from Paris and 3 hours from the Mediterranean), and its comfortable city size.

What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?
That I have 2 grandchildren (3 in August!)

What are some of your favorite aspects of being a Resident Director?
Being in touch with these young adults, seeing how they grow from their arrival to their departure, and making them love France even more!

What are some of the challenges of your job?
Always being dynamic and enthusiastic even if it’s my 50th time at the Eiffel Tower!

What have you seen as the biggest challenge for incoming students?
Trying to be immersed in French culture when they’re so connected to home via social networks!

What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?
Be ready to go out of your comfort zone, and be curious and motivated to learn another language.

What is one thing you think students shouldn’t forget to pack for life in your country?
Hiking shoes and warm jackets.

What do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?
Developing their curiosity and  interest in others and the world.

Marie1

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

 

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Meet a Resident Director: Maria

April 1st, 2015 · No Comments · AHA, Resident Director, study abroad

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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