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OSU Abroad

Meet a Resident Director: Rachel

May 6th, 2015 · No Comments · API, Resident Director, study abroad, Uncategorized, United Kingdom

API-Leeds RD Rachel WellbornIn college, Rachel Wellborn got a taste of the life of a Resident Director while living with American students at her university. Years later, she is the Resident Director for Academic Programs International (API) in Leeds, United Kingdom. Rachel loves showing students the culture of Leeds, her favorite places to go, and especially loves introducing students to new (and delicious) foods!

What brought you to be a Resident Director?
When I was at university myself, I lived with an American study abroad student and I helped her and her friends adjust to life in the UK. It seemed like a natural progression into this job, although I had many other careers in between. I have lived a lot of different places, and I love telling students the types of things I wished I had known about on my own journeys of discovery in other cultures.

What are some unique aspects of your city and country?
Leeds is unique in many ways – it is a large city (750,000 inhabitants) but the centre, which has some of the best shopping for miles around, is best navigated on foot. It is home to two unique Edwardian cinemas, dating from 1911 where we go for British movie nights, and at least three country houses (think Downton Abbey), plenty of live music venues, splendid Victorian glass covered shopping streets, the largest indoor market in Europe, and the ruins of a great Gothic Abbey – Kirkstall Abbey, known as the Jewel in the Crown of Leeds. Leeds is a student’s best bet for a fully integrated experience in the UK, living in the same flat as British students and studying with them. Americans are still something of a rarity in Leeds, so most British students are desperate to get to know you. :) Leeds is also geographically the very centre of the UK, so it is halfway between London to the South and Edinburgh to the North. It has the largest train station in the UK outside of London and very easy links for travelling around the UK and in Europe.

What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?
I have traveled alone for months around much of Central and South America and speak fluent Spanish. I also worked as a reinsurance broker in London for a number of years.

What are some of your favorite aspects of being a Resident Director?
I see educating young students from the US as something of a mission – to help them see a world outsideAPI Leeds - group meal the US, that is not wrong, just different, and sometimes even maybe possibly better in some ways (shock, horror!) . I also like disproving the fallacy that British food is bad. Being something of a foodie myself, I absolutely love it when a student tells me that they came expecting the terrible food that they had been told about prior to arrival, but in fact they haven’t had a bad meal since they arrived. I love introducing students to fish and chips, toad in the hole, Sunday Dinner, a proper curry, the delights of a full English breakfast and not forgetting the institution that is Afternoon Tea.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
A lot of work goes into the smooth running of the programmes and ensuring that the excursions and cultural events come off as planned. When it works well, it is a great relief, but this means that our students don’t see all the effort that went into it. I have had students ask me what my other job is when I am not with them. To say that this is a full time job is an understatement, so for them to not comprehend the amount of work that goes into it can be a little frustrating at times.

What have you seen as the biggest challenge for incoming students?
Adjusting to the independent nature of our university system. There is a lot of independent research and studying required and the entire grade can be based on just one final unseen exam. This is a bit scary for someone coming from the US system.

What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?
Just do it! You will love it! I have never had a student come to Leeds who didn’t love it and wish that they had come for a year instead of a semester. You should prepare yourself mentally by reading up on the British education system and trying your hand at independent study. You should also read about all the fabulous places you can visit while you are here, both in the UK and Europe.

What is one thing you think students shouldn’t forget to pack for life in your country?
An umbrella for the changeable weather, and an open mind :)

What do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?
It’s not wrong, it is just different and you only regret the opportunities you pass up.
API Leeds - Ireland

To learn more about the programs offered at OSU, follow this link!

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Meet a Resident Director: Diana

May 4th, 2015 · No Comments · IFSA-Butler, Mexico

Beginning her love for travel during her own study abroad experience, Diana Arízaga has the pleasure of living in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico as a Resident Director for IFSA-Butler. She uses this position to help students make the most of their study abroad experience and learn about the culture of Mexico. 

Diana Arizaga - IFSA Butler RD Mexico (1)

Diana is the third from the left.

What brought you to be a Resident Director?
My own experience as an exchange student –back in the day– provided me with the basics of learning to navigate and negotiate different realities. I soon realized that the world out there is so interesting and cultures and culture-learning is complex and fascinating at the same time. I started to apply this learning to my every-day activities: new jobs, professional relationships, and the way in which we learn and teach began to made more sense! Then I decided that this is what I wanted to do and I have been, for the last 25 years working as an assistant director and now as a Resident Director, dedicated to fostering an environment conducive to this type of learning for my students.

What are some unique aspects of your city and country?
Mexico is an amazing country, full of contrasts, rich history, wonderful food and interesting traditions. Despite the current situation, it is worth getting to know. Mérida, located in the South-East of the country is still, in my opinion, waiting to be discovered. This city is a living laboratory of the ancient Mayan culture and the contemporary ones. The Mayan influence is present everywhere: architecture, food, traditions and rituals. This mixed in with the non-Mayan (Spanish descent, Lebanese and Mestizo) populations, make for an incredibly diverse and interesting place. Although, it does help to be located so close to the Caribbean.

What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?
This is a tough one; they seem to know everything about me (and my husband). Particularly towards the end of the semester we become very familiar with each other. Perhaps the fact that had I not had this job, I would be doing something related to art.

What are some of your favorite aspects of being a Resident Director?
Watching students go from very shy, afraid and quiet to self-confident, independent and outspoken in a very short time. I truly think it is an honor to be able to witness this change, it is something their own parents may not see. I truly appreciate this.

Diana Arizaga - IFSA Butler RD Mexico (2)

Day of the Dead Celebration

What are some of the challenges of your job?
With Mexico being so much in the news for the wrong reasons currently, my biggest challenge for the last four to five years has been trying to very intentionally change the narrative of war and destruction, to one where we can showcase and try to focus on the good things about this place. We still have beautiful sunsets on the water, are able to taste the freshest of foods, discover beautiful things and meet people that warm our hearts with their actions. Ultimately, just trying to see beyond the negative and focus on the amazing and the positive. This can be very exhausting at times.

What have you seen as the biggest challenge for incoming students?
Context and awareness. I know this does not say much, but when students begin to think about the appropriate contexts for pretty much everything and start to become aware of this, they really start to appreciate their experience. This, obviously, is one of the most difficult things to do, and it does not happen automatically upon stepping foot in a different country. It happens with time, preparation and patience…a little sense of humor comes in handy too.

What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?
Embrace change, be flexible and enjoy everything, the little and the big things. This experience will not repeat. You may be back to Mérida a million times after being here for a semester, but the way you will see this place for the first time and the people you will see it with, will always stay with you. The thoughts that go through your head when you see Chichen-Itzá or Uxmal, etc., for the first time, are indescribable and yours only. This can be applied to everything you do when you study abroad in a different country for the first time.

What is one thing you think students shouldn’t forget to pack for life in your country?
Flexibility, a positive attitude and a great sense of humor. Everything else, you can find here.

What do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?
Develop a sense of context and awareness. This can be applied to everything in life.

To learn more about studying abroad through Oregon State University, check out this link!

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Jump First, Think Later

April 30th, 2015 · No Comments · College of Science, Exchange, Returnee, study abroad, United Kingdom, University Honors College

Ally5Ally Malone is studying Chemistry and is in the Honors College at Oregon State University. Currently an ambassador for  the OSU Office of Global Opportunities, Ally is a travel enthusiast. In fall of 2014 she went on exchange to Lancaster University in  Lancaster, United Kingdom. Read on to hear about hiking,  exploring and learning abroad!

The Lake District in Northern England is known for its tremendous views, rigorous hiking and stormy weather. Luckily for me, Lancaster University is situated right on the outskirts of this National Park. Although I wouldn’t call myself an experienced hiker, I was determined that the best way to see the English countryside would be to join the Lancaster University Hiking Club.

The first trip to the Lake District proved quite challenging. We took a large coach down windy cobblestone streets to the small town of Langdale. There were three hikes to choose from with varying levels of difficulty. Being ambitious and a little clueless of the length of a kilometer, I excitedly chose the hardest hike and was soon on my way down the rolling, green hills to the trail head.Ally2

The first three kilometers were up make-shift granite stairs that climbed over 1500 feet to the top of the small mountain. The heavy morning fog clouded the entire view of the valley and made it seem like I was floating amongst the clouds. Despite my gasping for air and the persistent stich in my side, I found the strength to continue to put one foot in front of the other.

At the top, the fog had lifted with the defrosting of the morning and the view of the cascading valleys below was astonishing. It was here that it dawned on me just how outrageous it was that I came to England, utterly alone, and felt at ease and comfortable.

The journey of this hike stands as a symbol for my entire experience in England. It wasn’t always easy and I had to constantly work to survive in the new culture, but the ups and downs made the experience richer and more rewarding than I could have ever hoped for. If I had to take away just one thing from my time abroad, it would be to take chances on new experiences that challenge my knowledge and body and trust myself to succeed.

Ally3

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Meet a Resident Director: Ryan

April 29th, 2015 · No Comments · IFSA-Butler, Resident Director, Returnee, Spanish, study abroad, Uncategorized

Ryan in Spain l Ryan LorenzRyan Lorenz is a travel enthusiast. After his travels to both England and Kenya, his journey lead him to being a Resident Director for IFSA-Butler in Spain. Currently living and working in Barcelona, Spain, Ryan loves to help students fall in love with this unique city.


What brought you to be a Resident Director?
Good fortune! I never planned to work in study abroad, although I was a study abroad student in London back in ’84. That experience opened my eyes to the wider world, and led to my Peace Corps stint in Kenya. From there, it was one small step to being a study abroad director. After 26 years of doing the same I cannot imagine a life different from this one!

What are some unique aspects of your city and country?
Spain is not a nation. It is many! Four distinct nations and languages of which the Spanish language is only one. One can say the same about Barcelona and Catalonia, which is not only Catalan, Spanish and European- but also Chinese, Russian, Pakistani…the whole world lives here! I have lived here for seven years now and still find it complex, interesting and wonderful.

What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?
I have fabulous stamp and comic collections.

What are some of your favorite aspects of being a Resident Director?
My own abroad experiences have transformed my life. I love watching others make the same journey. Feeling like I am part of that change really energizes me.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
Dealing with ignorance and inappropriate behavior. Fortunately this only applies to a few students! The rest are fabulous.

What have you seen as the biggest challenge for incoming students?
Adapting their homegrown expectations to a new cultural environment. That is normal, of course, but slows down their ability to fully comprehend their new and temporary home. I also think that some students have a very short attention span, which is a real handicap when trying to figure out what is going on around you when you understand few if any of the cultural cues.

What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?
Lower your expectations. Less is more. Better to dig deep than skim the surface…you experience less yet more profoundly.

What is one thing you think students shouldn’t forget to pack for life in your country?
The right attitudes! Flexibility, patience, and a sense of humor.

What do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?
No matter how much you think you know, you in fact know very little. Learning is constant and continuous.

To learn more about going abroad at OSU, check out this link!

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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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