Carly Clark is a junior at Oregon State. She is majoring in History and minoring in Spanish. Carly studied abroad in Chillan, Chile, fall term 2012 through OSU: Universidad del Bio Bio.  

Three months, four countries, and countless unforgettable memories later; I accomplished a childhood dream to study abroad. During fall term 2012, I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel abroad and study Spanish in the South American country of Chile. I traveled to Chile with 17 other students from Oregon State in search of life changing experiences and a unique opportunity to study Spanish in a native Spanish speaking country. What none of us expected is that we would create deep roots and a second home in Chile.

During my time in Chillan, Chile, I had the unique experience compared to the rest of the group. I arrived two weeks later due to my sister’s wedding. The rest of our group had two weeks to get use to the new surroundings, the language barrier, and ultimately settle into our new lives in Chile. At the beginning it was difficult, overwhelming and unlike anything I have ever had to overcome, but in the end it did not hold me back thanks to the help of my host family, friends, and our program coordinator. Through everything, I have created lifelong friendships and our group has become my second family. Our classes were very different than I expected. Our professors were very easy going, patient, and encouraged us to travel and to learn more about the Chilean lifestyle and culture.

The Chillan, Chile study abroad program offers students an unique opportunity to fulfill their Bachelor of Arts language requirements in three months, while learning about an entirely new culture in a foreign country. My initial intention to study abroad was to finish my second year of Spanish in three months, but what I did not expect to happen was to find a passion in learning Spanish and to continue my education working towards a Spanish minor. Oregon State offers a wide variety of study abroad programs with endless possibilities. I considered studying abroad in Spain or Costa Rica, but something stood out about the Chile program. When talking to the program coordinator, Lucia Robelo, and past program students, I could see how enthusiastic they were about the program – learning a foreign language and most importantly how their lives had changed. Chile had become their second home. In the end, I felt Chile was the best program for me, and I was right!

During my time in South America, I traveled to Argentina, Uruguay, and topped it all off with a trip to Machu Picchu in Peru. Buenos Aires, Argentina, the birth place of the Tango and some of the best vino (wine) y carne (steak) in the world. Six other students from the program and I ventured to Buenos Aires in early November. We spent a week in the country’s capital as well as a day in Uruguay. We drank the wine, ate the steak, danced the Tango, and experienced the Argentinean lifestyle. Uruguay was an unplanned day trip, but ended up to be one of the most memorable adventures I experienced in my three months abroad. Rounding out my three month stay in South America, two others and I traveled to Peru in early December to visit one of the 7 wonders of the world, Machu Picchu. After living out of a backpack for 7 days and hiking through the Peruvian rain forest in a straight down pour, we finally arrived at the city of Aguascalientes below the site of Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu was one of the most remarkable and breathtaking experiences of my life that I will never forget. Throughout all my trips, nothing was more important and exciting than meeting natives from the different countries I visited. I truly enjoyed learning about their experiences and culture.

On my last day in Chile, I was very excited to board the plane and begin the long 22 hour trip home to the U.S.  After the plane left the runway, I knew I would not be saying “goodbye”, but “see you soon” to my Chilean family, friends, and my second home in Chile. In the future I hope to return to Chile to visit my Chilean family and friends, but until then we all have remained in close contact. My study abroad experience was like nothing I have ever experienced or expected. It was BETTER! I was emerged into an unknown culture, community, country, language, and overall way of life. I can proudly say I have grown as a person and have the utmost respect for other cultures in the world. I would recommend studying abroad to any student interested. It is not impossible!

If someone were to ask me when I was beginning my first year of Spanish if I planned to study abroad or if I would continue studying Spanish after I fulfilled my foreign language requirements. I would say it was very unlikely. However, the unexpected happened; I studied abroad in South America and I am currently six credits away from completing my Spanish minor. After my experiences abroad, my life and goals have changed for the better. I graduate next spring with a degree in History and a minor in Spanish. After all the life changing adventures I have been fortunate to experience within the last year, I have created one life goal for myself: to maintain my Spanish language skills.

Alfonc Rakaj is a senior at Oregon State University, majoring in Political Science and International Studies. Alfonc interned for the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland through IE3 Global Internships.

During spring ’12, I interned at the Scottish Parliament located in Edinburgh, Scotland. Although, I was only there for ten weeks, the amount of learning, self-discovery and experience complimented my studies and enriched my perspective of the world, which lead to a profound level of self-formation. An internship like the one at the Scottish Parliament is truly a learning process, whose essence can only be attained through experience.

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Commemoration

Even though I was born and raised in Albania, the experience furthered my understanding of multiculturalism. What I have come to adopt as normal for Albanian culture and the American culture, which has become my own to a certain degree as well, was put to the test. While Scotland shared similar cultural attributes to other European countries and the United States, it was fascinating to discover how Scotland was very unique in its own way.

As an intern, I participated in various activities: exit polling in suburbs of Glasgow, (yes, there were times when I couldn’t understand a word they were saying), parliamentary sessions, meetings with various parliamentary committees and receptions. Also, I worked on some very interesting legislative topics. I conducted research on various topics from the history of the Sikh to complex topics, such as the regulations of the European Union on the licensing of Notified Bodies, who are responsible for conducting conformity assessments, directly linked to the products used for plastic surgeries. At other times, I read submissions of interest groups on specific pieces of legislation that was being considered, particularly health care reform. It was vital to stay informed about current events.

Parliamentary Building

Overall, the research allowed me to better understand Scotland’s culture. The process helped me connect with the office staff that I was working with. I was struck by the sincerity and dedication they work with to represent the interests of the residents in Scotland.  I found this particularly useful as I have encountered a multiple situations where people have prejudged me based on my field of interest. I now have personal evidence that there are good politicians in this world. The international internship not only encouraged my carrier goals to become a politician, but also revived my passion of why I originally wanted to be one.

The Scottish Parliament internship is unique in the opportunities it provides for professional and personal growth. It compliments one’s studies, while furthering one’s knowledge about the world around us and most importantly ourselves. As it was the case when I came to the United States from Albania, I grew to appreciate  Oregon State and Corvallis more due to the distance. While costs, rightfully, may make a student hesitant to go abroad, it is important to remember that it is through traveling and experiences, such as an internship, that we become richer.

Armelle Denis teaches French and Anthropology courses at OSU. She is in Angers, France, during the fall term ’12 as the visiting faculty for AHA International.

Bonjour from France! In between taking my daughter to school and eating croissants, I am stepping into my role as Visiting Faculty for the AHA program in Angers, and working to develop courses for incoming students (who will arrive in 3 weeks exactly!). It involves making extensive use of the myriad resources that the OSU library offers to OSU students and faculty, like E-journals, E-books, and scan and deliver. It’s a little like being on campus while actually living 8,000 miles away!

AHA Angers students in front of the Château d’Angers in Angers, France.

I will teach two courses during Fall term: one about contemporary issues in France (such as immigration, issues of national identity, French perceptions of Americans…), which will closely follow the news as it happens. The other class will focus on regional cultures and identities, those cultures and identities that remain vibrant well into the 21st century in all corners of France. We’ll pay special attention to the Breton culture, because Brittany is only 60 miles away from Angers, because the Breton regional movement has been and remains particularly active, and because I feel strongly attracted to Brittany. See, my father hails from outside of Vannes in lower Brittany, and while he has never passed down any of the Breton language to me, I vividly remember from my childhood hearing him speak Breton with his mother — a strange and harsh sort of language, mysterious and beautiful nevertheless. Through this course, I get a chance to delve into Breton culture, explore its history and discover what makes it still so vibrant in the hearts of Breton people.

One of those things, contributing to the strength and resilience of Breton identity, is music: traditional songs played on traditional instruments or blended with newer musical genres (rock, pop, rap even!). Breton music, like other Celtic musical styles, is essentially dance music, and people congregate to this in night-time dancing festivals all over Brittany, called festoù-noz. With my class, we’re hoping to attend one or two of those night festivals, learn some good moves and feel first-hand the sense of community that arises there. Fun times ahead!

More details will follow — in the meantime, here’s a little gift: a good website that will give you an idea of the various regional musical styles in France:  Enjoy!

Shanna Woodruff in Brisbane, Australia

In 2007 I decided to serve an LDS mission where I spent 18 months in Southern Argentina. For the first time I was completely immersed in a whole new language and culture. I saw things like one man with four kids on a bicycle, a dog that rides on top of the car (and barks at people), penguins that walk around your feet, and huge whales alongside the dock. Argentina became a second home to me. Upon my return I determined that just visiting a foreign land isn’t as amazing as living in one. This experience later led to studying abroad at Macquarie University in Australia, and completing an IE3 Global Internship experience with the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia, Africa. It is safe to say that I am completely addicted to traveling abroad.

Now as an International Ambassador and IE3 Peer Mentor for OSU I have the opportunity to help other students prepare themselves to go abroad as well. As I talk to other students about where they want to go, applying, preparing, and everything else to travel abroad, I want to make sure their experience is as spectacular as possible. Traveling doesn’t have to empty your bank account, be a frightening experience, or ruin your plans for getting a degree.

Being an Animal Behavior and Psychology major I had no clue how much traveling abroad would actually help me with the my hopes for a future career. I was able to take classes specifically on animal communication in Australia that isn’t offered here at OSU.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Later I had hands on experience doing research with cheetahs in Africa.

Working with the International Programs is like the dream job for me because I frequently get to talk about my experience during the First Steps Meeting, help others make a plan for their own experience, and learn about all the amazing programs offered at OSU. The only unfortunate part is that I hear about so many amazing programs I just want to go abroad every second! Going abroad really is the experience of a lifetime.

Samantha Pride in Costa Rica

Samantha Pride interned in Costa Rica through IE3 Global Internships in Summer 2008. She graduated from OSU with a B.A. in Sociology and International Studies in Spring 2009 and since then, she’s been working in Philadelphia through the City Year program.

One of the reasons I chose to participate in the City Year program was because I liked the idea of working on a team in a community and school for positive change. Working with youth was something I’ve never done so I saw that as a challenge. Also, it was a great opportunity for leadership in project and event planning.

The challenges of the program included working on a diverse team in an underperforming, underfunded and persistently dangerous high school with a 36% graduation rate within a school district that has been struggling for decades to make audacious and sound changes without consistent leadership. As a mentor and tutor it was my business to not only make sure teenagers understand the material in class, but also to know and discuss their difficult home situations. I found myself doing all the little things such as help with homework, work resumes, calling the doctor, talking to teachers, etc. It tore my heart apart along with the rest of my team to see the challenges students faced.

However, gratification eventually comes. “Joys” and “Ripples” as City Year calls them are shared at the end of day, and could be something like a student pulled their grades up, avoided a fight or had made enough progress on their senior project to be back on track for graduation. At the end of the year my team went to see our seniors graduate, which many were the first in their family. It was a huge relief to see these students succeed. 

My IE3 internship in San Jose, Costa Rica was at a small non profit organization working on social justice issues. The skills I learned there were very helpful with the City Year program. Being flexible was something I cultivated in San Jose, and that same comfort with constant change is necessary at my school. The Latino population there was 50% making my language skills from Costa Rica extremely useful. Additionally, while in San Jose, I worked with other interns from different areas of the United States. Working on projects together we learned how to use each other’s strengths to complete assignments. At City Year with a bigger and more diverse team, I continued to learn the importance of listening and consensus building.

Moving into my second year in City Year, I will now be responsible for eight people and their service in a school. My goal this year and something that I would encourage others to reach for is creating a welcoming environment wherever you work, and setting high expectations for yourself and your team. Even if your goals seem impossible, I can say that after every time that I doubted myself, or my team, I felt silly because we always pulled off events and difficult situations.

during the summit for MERCOSUR. From left to right: Hubert  Laferrière, Vice President de Grand Lyon, France; Sergio Barrios, Director of International Relations (my boss); me; Miguel Lifschitz, Mayor of Rosario City Hall; Cecile Durant, intern from France.
During the summit for MERCOSUR. From left to right: Hubert Laferrière, Vice President de Grand Lyon, France; Sergio Barrios, Director of International Relations (my boss); me; Miguel Lifschitz, Mayor of Rosario City Hall; Cecile Durant, intern from France.

Cayla Lopez, Political Science and International Studies Degrees, spent Summer 2009 on an IE3 internship for Rosario City Hall

After only a month in Rosario, Argentina, I already am planning my next trip back. At this point, I am even seriously considering a more permanent return. That is just how much I have grown to love Rosario and all its offerings.

My internship here at the International Relations Departament of the local city hall has been very dynamic and at times unpredictable. Most of my time in the office has been spent doing translation work for various international contracts binding the city of Rosario with other cities all over the world.

Rosario has really pushed forward in the last decade to promote the internationalization of its goverment, enterprise, and people. Apart from playing an important role in MERCOSUR, similar to North America´s NAFTA, Rosario has been acknowledged on numerous occasions for its success in the area of international relations.

MERCOSUR was initially founded by Argentina, Paraguay, Urugauy, and Brasil, but now includes Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, and Peru as associate members. The overall purpose of this network is to promote free trade and assist in the movement of goods and currency across South American borders. Over the past few years MERCOSUR has contracted various binding agreements to further stabalize its horizontal structure that links local South American governements with one another. As a result of this horizontal foundation, each signatory country is able to combine its resources and promote its activities with overall economic power of MERCOSUR.

I was fortunate enough to be present for the 14th Annual Summit of the Mercociudades, which was hosted by our department here in Rosario. This once in a lifetime opportunity provided me with first hand experience collaborating and networking with diplomats from all over the world. My role as an intern was to chaperon a group of the representatives around the city to each of the events. Needless to say, this included many perks on my part! Not only was I able to sit-in on many of the conference discussions and observe the various viewpoints from each city that was representated, but I was also permitted to attend the social outtings and planned activities.

Throughout the entire week of the conference, I attended several cultural shows, fancy catered dinners, and cocktail parties. I was even invited to go on a private yacht tour along the breathtaking river that borders the city of Rosario. This was by far the most memorable part of Rosario so far.

Outside of work, I have been keeping myself quite busy spending time with the close knit group of friends I have made. Typically our time is spent having an “asado” or going to a nearby park to drink “mate” and play fútbol. The time I spend at home is greatly cherished and quite relaxing. My host mom and her friend who also lives with us are both exceptional cooks and every dinner for me is like dining at a 5-star restaurant. By the way for any of you who decide to study in Argentina after reading this, the desserts are to die for here! Luckily I have joined a local gym and go nearly everyday to counter-balance my increased intake of sweets! This coming weekend I will be participating in a 15 km run so wish me luck! The rest of my down time I fill with attending my digital photography class, reading books in Spanish, and just having insightful conversations with random strangers and taxi-cab drivers.

One would expect that life in a city the size of Rosario would be a lot more fast-pace than it really is, but I am honestly glad that it is not. I have grown to love the long dinner conversations, walking aimlessly down the boulevards while window shopping, and just enjoying life here in my new paradise.

Matt Jager, BA in Music, BA in International Studies, 2009
Matt Jager, BA in Music, BA in International Studies, 2009

Matt studied at the Universidad de San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador for a year, and then returned the following Christmas for a special research project.  His goal?  To listen to and be inspired by the sounds of Ecuador.

I have always been interested in a diverse range of topics.  When I came to college I had difficulty choosing a degree, because I did not want to limit myself by choosing just one field of study.  After a lot of soul searching, I finally decided to study music, a longtime love of mine.  However, I still wanted my education to have a global scope.  I needed to be able to learn the technical aspects of music, but I thought it equally necessary to be cognizant of the worldwide issues that are dramatically shaping the world that we live in.  Fortunately I found the International Degree, which allowed me to expand the reach of my studies.  Through my thesis project, a soundscape composition exploring Ecuadorian culture through its sound environment, I was given the opportunity to utilize what I had learned in music to explore themes such as globalization, modernization, intercultural interaction, sociopolitical disparities, and other prominent issues.  The whole experience, from studying abroad, to the research, to the writing and composing, turned out to be profoundly moving.  I can easily say that my international experience has been one of most beneficial aspects of my education.