IE3 student in Australia
Lydia in Australia

In June 2008, I flew to Coffs Harbour, Australia to intern at the National Marine Science Centre (NMSC) as a Research Assistant to two professors, for six months. One of the research projects involved diving the reefs for monitoring projects and the other was a lab-based climate change research project. Within the first few weeks of my internship, I came to realize the diving project was never going to happen. Disappointed by the turn of events, I turned lemons into lemonade and devoted my time to work on the climate change research project.

Lydia Kapsenberg with a sea urchin
Lydia Kapsenberg with a sea urchin

To my complete surprise, I thoroughly loved the nitty-gritty lab work. My supervisor and I went snorkeling at least once a week to collect sea urchins and ran experiments that sometimes ran late into the night. I was in charge of the lab and monitored the experiments and animals every day. In December, NMSC paid for me to go a scientific conference in Sydney where I listened to world-renowned scientists talk about their research. Needless to say, when my time was up at NMSC, it was hard to leave!

Upon my return to the U.S., I had new passion for marine biology and climate change research. I remained in close contact with my supervisor in Australia about the status of our experiments and the results. As I neared graduation at OSU, I decided I wanted to continue similar research in graduate school. My relevant research experience at NMSC gave me the passion and the scientific background I needed to skip a Masters program. Now, one year after my return from Australia, I have been accepted to a Ph.D. program at the University of California Santa Barbara starting in fall 2010.

Lydia Kapsenberg in Australia
Lydia Kapsenberg in Australia

My IE3 story is one of complete success. I chose the IE3 program simply because there was a marine biology internship available in Australia, and I thought an internship would help me figure out my future. Little did I know, or expect, that the cancellation of the diving research project would benefit me and put me directly on the path towards a PhD. IE3 has been an invaluable experience both academically and travel-wise. To those students debating international internships, I say: DO IT! The benefits may stretch well beyond your expectations!

Iceland’s hydrogen economy and reliance on geothermal energy make it a model for sustainability. Tor Benson explores some of the sites that make this North Atlantic nation so unique.  OSU students can see for themselves this summer on the study abroad program Iceland: Civilization and Sustainability.

Tor Benson exploring Iceland's waterfalls
Tor Benson exploring Iceland's waterfalls

My second weekend in Europe I received an invitation to go Arnar’s family’s summer house for the weekend which is about an hour out of Reykjavik. It is very common for an Icelandic family to have a “summer” house where they go and relax from after a busy work week. On our way to the summer house we stopped by a pumping station that provides hot water to the city which is used to heat their houses and shower.  A favorite area to have a summer house is near the Golden Circle which is within an hour of Reykjavik. The Golden Circle is known for its geyser called Strukker, a waterfall called Gullfoss (The largest waterfall in Europe by volume), and the Althingi which is where the first Icelandic and arguably the first democracy in the world was established. The university has a tour at a reasonable price of around 25 dollars but the personal tour with Arnar’s family was a definite plus. On Sunday Arnar, his girlfriend and I went to the Althingi which is a very picturesque location overlooking a valley and lake.

Althingi -- Iceland's parliament
Althingi -- Iceland's parliament

With one in ten Icelanders writing a book, it is no surprise that we met an Icelander who is writing a book on day hikes around Reykjavik and charged us about 15 dollars a trip to go on a hike with wherever he was going on Saturdays and Sundays. On one such trip an Estonian friend of mine from my Icelandic Vocabulary course invited me to go along for the first time. On this trip we along with two girls from Spain, two guys one from Austria and one from Germany along with our Icelandic guide, Gunnlaugur or Gulli, and three Icelanders. We drove about two hour north of Reykjavik and hiked/climbed a 2800 ft mountain. On my second trip I invited my friends from my dorm and met up with four other international students. We went to a 2400 ft hill overlooking Reykjavik and went to a neighboring town and went swimming. There are twelve swimming pools in Reykjavik alone and cost about a dollar fifty to use the pool, hot tub, and sauna.

The Blue Lagoon is a favorite spot to relax near a major renewable energy source
The Blue Lagoon is a favorite spot to relax near a major renewable energy source

When my father came to visit I decided it was time to spend the money and go to the Blue Lagoon which is about ten dollars for students going to the University of Iceland but around thirty-five for adults. It is something to see and well worth the money. It is a natural hot spot that was deepened but has a very characteristic blue color due to silica and sulfur present in the water along with algae. The boiling water is initially pumped out of the ground and used to drive turbines and then cooled to about 100 degrees and added to the lagoon.  It is situated in an old lava field about a half hour out of Reykjavik making it a favorite stop off before the airport.

The first week of November four exchange students rented a car for a day trip to Snaefellsnes Peninsula to see Snaefellsjokull. Jokull in Icelandic simply means glacier, with Vatnajökull in southern Iceland being the largest glacier in Europe. I had been to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula a month before but the roads were just as clear and the weather was even better. When you have a full car of people it is relatively easy and cheap to rent a car. After the glacier we drove to a fishing village called Riv and found some Icelandic horses that were more than willing to accept a carrot. No horses have been imported to Iceland since the 1600’s making them very distinct in their low stature.

Icelandic horses are known for their distinct stature and bloodlines
Icelandic horses are known for their distinct stature and bloodlines

I know it’s Winter break, but study abroad scholarship deadlines for summer, fall, and academic year-long programs are going to come up fast!  The Boren campus deadline is in January, PKP is in February, and there are more in March and April.  Now is the perfect time to get started!

By applying for scholarships, you’re essentially asking a stranger to help you pay for your experience abroad. You have to make your request stand out!   Here are a few tips to make your application the most convincing one possible.

• Review eligibility criteria & ensure you meet ALL necessary requirements before applying! If you meet some, but not all, or have any questions, contact the giving organization.

• Learn about the organization providing the scholarship.

o Why did they create the scholarship? What do they hope that students will accomplish with the money?

o Be sure to address how you fit those interests/needs in your application, particularly the essay.

• Answer all the questions they ask in the essay.  Your essay should address every point they’re looking for in a concise, and engaging manner.  Remember that the essay is usually your only chance to distinguish yourself from the rest of the applicant pool!

• Proofread. Then proofread again. Even one error could take you out of the running. Watch for tricky misspellings like “aboard” vs. “abroad”. Take advantage of the Writing Center for something this important!

• Choose references wisely. If your scholarship requires references, put some thought into who can best represent you.

o Make sure your reference(s) know you well and are appropriate for the scholarship.  (Never use a family member as a reference!)

o Get to know professors before references are required, or at least hold on to some of your papers/assignments to help jog a professor’s memory of you.

o Provide a summary of the scholarship program so that the professor can speak to your abilities as they relate to that organization.

Those are just a few things you can do to make sure you’re the best candidate possible. For more information on scholarships, and upcoming deadlines, see the scholarship listings website.

Good luck!

Avelino Solomon was a recipient of several OSU and outside scholarships for his experience through the College of Business in Thailand
Avelino Solomon was a recipient of several OSU and outside scholarships for his experience through the College of Business in Thailand

Education Abroad and Funding: What you should know!

So you think going abroad would be cool, but there’s no way you can afford it? Before you make that decision, be sure to check out the facts!

Fact one: What’s the bottom line?

How much will your time abroad cost? You can get a budget estimate through your program provider online and/or from your study abroad advisor! Be sure that budget includes big things like flight and insurance as well as day-to-day expenses like local transportation and laundry.

Now you have a final cost.  If this is the program and location for you, let’s look at the other facts.  But if it’s more than you want to pay, how about looking at other options? Is there a cheaper program in the same country, or another country that would work?

Fact two: Financial aid can help!

Because you are an OSU student going on an approved OSU program, you will be eligible for financial aid just as you would here on campus – with one key difference. We’ll pass your study abroad budget on to the Financial Aid office. If your program costs more than regular OSU attendance, and you haven’t already maxed out your aid, they can offer you options to help meet the cost!

But you can’t get financial aid unless you file a FAFSA. So make sure to file it as early as possible to get the ball rolling. And don’t fear loans. If you’re committed to making it happen, have a plan in place…and if you happen to get scholarships to replace the loans, so much the better! And that brings us to our final fact.

Fact three: Scholarships are out there.

There are scholarships available from a variety of sources here at OSU, as well as private organizations, and even the federal government! These range greatly – from $500 to up to $20,000. As you can imagine, some of these scholarships are highly competitive.

In general, there are more scholarships available to students who can demonstrate severe financial need, those in non-traditional study abroad majors (such as science or engineering), and/or those going to non-traditional countries (outside of Western Europe and Australia). By going off the beaten path, you may be able to find less expensive opportunities with more scholarship money available. In addition, many scholarships or program fee reductions are available for students who choose to stay for an academic year versus a term/semester.

Many scholarship deadlines will come up around 4-6 months before you go abroad, but some are more than a year in advance. Be sure to start looking early!

Fact four:  It’s worth it!

An experience abroad is an investment in yourself, as well as your future.  You can gain wonderful personal and professional skills by studying or interning abroad (cross-cultural communication, independence, adaptation, creative problem-solving, self-confidence, and more!).  Beyond these specific skills, an experience abroad is truly a life-changing experience.  Do it – it’s worth it!

We are pleased to announce an exciting International Education Week!

International Education Week is observed across the United States and around the world each November, the week before the US Thanksgiving holiday. This celebration was founded in 2000 as a joint initiative of the US Department of State and the US Department of Education in their efforts to promote programs that prepare US Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the United States.

Here at OSU, we have nearly 20 events happening to celebrate this important occasion.  The week kicks off with an special keynote speech from OSU’s own International Service Award recipient and Anthropology professor, Sunil Khanna.  Sunil will be speaking on the topic of “Global Encounters: What is it like to live and learn in the unfamiliar” on Monday at 2pm in MU 206.

We continue that day and throughout the week with special information sessions on study abroad opportunities:

  • in specific countries like Iceland or Antarctica (& warmer places too!);
  • at specific times of year, like summer study abroad;
  • or for specific majors, like studying engineering abroad!

We’ll also hold workshops on international careers, study abroad scholarships, and the International Degree.

We’re also proud to celebrate the international atmosphere we have right here on campus!  The department of Foreign Languages and Literatures will host a film festival every night of the week in Owen Hall.  INTO OSU will feature an open house & fair on Tuesday evening in the newly renovated Heckert Lodge.  University Housing and Dining will be cooking up a “Taste of the Mediterranean” at Marketplace West on Wednesday evening.  There’ll even be a Dance Party with DJ Arndt Peltner of Radio Goethe at Club Escape that night!

No matter what your tastes, we’ve got something for everyone.  Check out our schedule – we look forward to celebrating with you!

Photo courtesy of Tor Benson
Photo courtesy of Tor Benson

Tor Benson has 21 things to love about inimitable Iceland.  OSU students can find their own this summer by attending the Iceland: Civilization and Sustainability program.

1)    Every McDonalds in Iceland closed

2)    Highest number of books published and sold per capita — with one in ten Icelanders writing a book in their lifetime.

3)    21 HOURS of daylight in Reykjavik and 23 in northern Iceland on the

longest day of the year.

4)    Northern Lights (aurora borealis )-in the winter

5)    Blue Lagoon

6)    Three Miss World titleholders call Iceland home

7)    Two multi-time winners of “World’s Strongest Man”

8)    All Icelanders speak Icelandic, Danish, and English fluently

9)    According The Human Development Index Iceland is the most gender-equal country in the world

10)   No standing army- “Our only army is the Salvation Army”

11)   Northern-most capital in the world

12)   Life expectancy of 81, which is three years longer than the US.

13)   70% of Iceland’s energy comes from renewable resources-80% of

Icelandic homes are geothermal heated

14)   Three Hydrogen-powered buses in Reykjavik and public hydrogen filling stations

Photo courtesy of David Noakes
Photo courtesy of David Noakes

15)   Telephone book lists by first name

16)   Iceland has a list of 1500 names that people must choose from to

name their children-or petition the government to approve a name.

17)   A variety of dairy products including Skyr- sorta like thick

yogurt only much better, and flavored yogurt that they put on cereal.

18)   Nightclubs are open until 6 A.M.

19)   Europe’s largest glacier covers 8% of Iceland, and glaciers cover

a total of 11%

20)   You can’t pass fifth grade until you can swim

21)   Licorice-Iceland’s unofficial candy

Reykjavik Skyline, photo courtesy of Tor Benson
Reykjavik Skyline, photo courtesy of Tor Benson

Photo courtesy of Michael Donatz
Photo courtesy of Michael Donatz

Michael Donatz is spending a year on the Math in Moscow program, which he petitioned to attend through International Degree and Education Abroad.  Michael is a major in mathematics and international studies.  He also just got the great news that the American Mathematical Society has extended his scholarship of $15000 for the entire year in Moscow. Follow him at

Sorry for the post title, I thought I’d offer a viable explanation for the lack of posts. Actually, I haven’t been to prison (yet), nor have I been married to the love of my life (a proposition slightly more unlikely than the first). I’ve just been having the time of my life.
Classes have started already. In fact, we’re just now writing our midterms and it is is week eight already (of fifteen weeks). Classes are hard. Very hard. I’m taking four math classes (algebra, knot theory, topology, and ergodic theory) and a class on Russian language. Each class lasts for three hours, with some short breaks in the middle.

Now, we all know I love math. And the math here is terribly interesting. No not just interesting, but amazing. However, it’s impossible for me to digest that much math in three hours. It’s lead to a lot of changes in the way I learn. I’m used to sitting in lecture three times a week for an hour, understanding the lecture more or less, and then getting on with my day. But the lectures here feel like a… well like a hammer. If I try to understand as we go along in the lecture (which is taught a fairly clip pace), I will be knocked out intellectually for the rest of the day. So my reaction has been to go polar opposite of my previous strategy, now I take notes (that’s a first for those who are curious) much to the exclusion of immediate understanding. So that adds another time sink outside of class in addition to the grueling, but interesting homework problems.

Without going into too much detail (gotta leave the boring narration for the slideshows that you’ll be dying to see), I’ve been wasting my time around Moscow. I’ve made a bitching set of friends who against all reason put up with me and my Russian. Interestingly enough, the overwhelming majority of them are linguists. Go figure. We’ve been to dachas (think a cabin and you’ve got it) in the outskirts of Moscow, and a citywide scavenger hunt in the capital of an oblast a couple of oblasts away (oblast = state). With the other international students, we went to St. Petersburg shortly after we got here. In Moscow, I happily wander and get lost. Stumbling on a few of the innumerable state sponsored (read : free) museums, concerts, and galleries. While none of the muscovites I know play any instruments (yet! one’s picking up the accordian, another the harmonica. Should I try my hand at the banjo?), but they all know plenty of musicians which makes it easy to find a small, out of the way concert to go to.

I’ve only begun to see the big, and the small of Moscow. The known and the unknown. I have my eyes set on getting to know this city, but also on the rest of Russia. With the renewal of my AMS scholarship, and my visa extended to July 31st, I have seven weeks of vacation in the winter (from a week before christmas to the second week of February), and ten weeks after the program ends (a week before my birthday). I’m like a kid in a candy shop. I have my eyes set on too much of europe and asia, and already I’ve fallen in love with what I’ve seen of the country, the culture, and the people.

The highs are higher, and the lows lower in Russia. Perhaps this is a mix of the emotional rollercoaster of living in another country, the cultural differences being a double edged sword (they both clarify and obfuscate ideas and people), and the beauty and difficulty of the language. In any case, I miss my friends and family (I wasn’t homesick until part of home, Dad and Amy, visited last week), but love the people I’ve met here.