Indiana University Overseas Study

Dominique Saviano - Florence, Italy

Being abroad for only a few weeks has already been a life changing experience. I have now been in Florence, Italy for exactly two weeks and have already accomplished more than I could have even imagined. This trip has been a whirlwind of chaos, excitement, and nerves and I could not be any happier. Leaving the day after the end of the semester was something that was very stressful, from trying to move out of my dorm and back into my family’s home, to packing up my stuff to live in a foreign country, on top of studying for finals is something that I would never have imagined accomplishing, but I did.

I left for Florence on Saturday, May 7 and arrived Sunday morning into Rome from Chicago and then proceeded to take a train from Rome to Florence. Arriving at the hotel on my own was intimidating, but once I got there, everyone was friendly and welcoming. My program is set in Florence for six weeks and there are about thirty people participating. Together, we all stay in a hotel which is on the top floor of a building that has amazing views of the center of Florence.

view of duomo

This is the beautiful view of the duomo from the rooftop of our hotel!

Read the rest of this entry »

Rachel Larsen - Copenhagen

Let’s be real: everyone who studies abroad is so excited about the place they will be visiting and the people they will meet, not necessarily focusing on the courses being taught. As obvious as it might seem that STUDY abroad has quite a bit of work associated with it, it seems like some of the students who are studying around me are baffled by the expectation to complete work at such an exciting time. Along with studying during your adventures, students have all of these amazing plans that they know will absolutely work out 100% of the time and will be perfect and be life changing…

I think it’s time to set some realistic expectations for what you might experience while studying abroad. Read the rest of this entry »


Amanda Duba - Venice, Italy

Monday, May 16th
Pre-departure. 3:47am.
3 days until lift off.

I wonder if mom is tossing and turning as much as I am, only a few more nights to be under her roof. I do not have a feeling of regret or guilt about leaving, but there is a sadness and longing to be with my family and friends I am saying goodbye to. The last supper with dad was tough to walk away from; so long to the meals shared with a panting dog under the table. Six weeks isn’t that long of a time, but six weeks is kind of a long time.

I leave for Italy in 2 days. I will be studying printmaking and bookmaking with 15 other students in the small calles of Venice for six weeks. Upon arrival, I will receive a vaporetto pass and an apartment key to which I will be paired with a roommate. We then have until Monday to explore and “get lost in Venice”, as Ed, our professor, requested. He asked that we explore our new home and get a taste of the Venezia culture.

Calle: [kah-yeh] narrow street
Vaporetto: [Vahp-oh-ret-toh] water bus

Starting Monday we begin our immersion into the intaglio style of printing and then compiling our work into an artist book we can present upon our return. We will study 9am-3pm Monday through Thursday and travel throughout the country on Fridays. The rest is up in the air for what sorts of activities will be filling up my days.

intaglio – a printing process that uses an etched or engraved plate; the plate is smeared with ink and wiped clean, then the ink left in the recesses makes the print.

Per Ed’s request, I hope to lose myself in the best of ways. This past semester was mentally, physically, and spiritually demanding that led me to an exhaustion I like to describe as beautiful. Though I went through trials, as all college students do, I was led to this trip. I hope to lose the worry, the stress, and the wrinkles(?) this semester brought about, breathe in the Mediterranean air, and gawk at the vibrant buildings, sunsets, and personalities that I will experience over the next few weeks. I hope to hold on to each moment, though it may be fleeting, with a delicate grasp and recognize that this is a trip of a lifetime. I get the chance to study art, not only historically, but as a practice in the art capital of the world, home to some of the worlds most beautiful basilicas, palaces, and galleries.

I feel peaceful as I pack my bags, knowing that what I leave behind may or may not be different when I return, but I will for certain be different. I will be vibrant, I will be knowledgeable, and I will be found in a way that I can not yet define.

Amanda Duba - creating and experiencing art in Venezia

Bitter Sweet

Alexa Stegemoller

It’s finally beginning to set in that I only have four weeks left in this beautiful city. It seems like mid-semester break was just yesterday, yet here I am reminiscing on the trip. I had two weeks off and began the holiday by attempting to survive a classic Australian vacation in Bali. I suffered some extreme food poisoning but managed to make it out with nothing but great memories. I was even fortunate enough that my amazing mother was willing to meet me in Australia for the remainder of the break. We met up in Cairns and made our way down the east coast until we made it to Adelaide.

posing in front of rice fields

The rice fields of Bali

My mom and I exploring the Grampians National Park

My mom and I exploring the Grampians National Park

Our trip was near perfect and it meant the world to me that she made the trip, but it made me miss home more than I’d like to admit. Now as the semester is coming to a close, I’m torn between returning home to my friends and family while also dreading the day I have to say goodbye to the friends I’ve made here. I’ve become so accustomed to the lifestyle and feel as if I’ll have more culture shock returning home than I did when first arriving here.  My friends have become my family and St. Mark’s College has become a community I can’t imagine not being a part of.

My Australian soul mates/flat mates, Bree and Miz

My Australian soul mates/flat mates, Bree and Miz

In these remaining weeks, there are countless events to attend and countless assignments to complete, yet I plan on enjoying every second of it. My friend will be coming to visit next week and will give me the perfect excuse to do all of the tourist attractions in Adelaide that I’ve continued to put off. After her visit, the weekends are booked with 21st birthday parties (mine included) and end of the term college events. The busy calendar along with final exams, will hopefully keep my mind off the inevitable goodbyes looming around the corner.


Sarah Monnier - Berlin, Germany

I do not speak German. This is the primary thought that is constantly resurfacing in my mind as I prepare to study abroad in Berlin for one month this summer. Other concerns come up as well, for example: how do I finish the required reading for this course when I’m still worrying about my spring classes that only end two days before I take an 11 hour plane ride by myself to the Tegel Airport in Germany?

I recently studied abroad in France as part of the Footsteps of Ernie Pyle class through the IU Media School. We explored London, Normandy and Paris while researching Ernie Pyle and his coverage of World War II. Being able to communicate with the people I encountered in their own language or understanding descriptions in museums made me feel more a part of the country and connected to what I was learning. A particular high point was when other French-speaking visitors to Paris asked me for directions, thinking I was a Parisian, something I gave away immediately when I replied in French corrupted by my Hoosier accent. I am dreading coming across as ignorant or unintelligent for not knowing the local language as I explore Berlin.


Berlin is a city characterized by its past, something that can be easily traced by looking at the variety of architecture and styles in both the East and West.

But really, I am more excited than worried. Sure it would be nice to be able to talk fluently to the people of Berlin but I’ve never let a language barrier stop me before. I work at Walt Disney World and I can tell you I’ve had hundreds of memorable, albeit mime-like exchanges with the South American tourists who visit in the summer, and I don’t speak Spanish or Portuguese either. Regardless, I have downloaded the Duolingo app in a last-ditch attempt to learn as much as I can before my arrival. So far I know the words for beer (Bier), bread (Brot) and hello (Hallo) so I would classify that as basic survival skills.

I have a few days before I arrive at the hotel in the center of Berlin that will be my home for the month of May. They have told us we are staying in the Mitte district in Germany’s capitol city. Located in what used to be East Germany, Mitte is now considered the hippest area of the city, I will report back on that soon. A large part of the course is looking at how Berlin’s history is represented and preserved, to be observed in the present day. There are innumerable reminders throughout the city of its past; from what remains of the Berlin Wall to the Soviet graffiti in the Reichstag, the home of Germany’s parliament.

Sunset at Reichstag

A visit to the Reichstag awaits on the second day of class. The Reichstag is situated in the western half of Berlin but directly behind it the eastern half begins.

Like every student preparing for study abroad I have a passport (complete with a deadpan, deer-in-headlights snapshot of myself), an adapter for all the necessary electronics and a Pinterest board full of articles listing the 115 places I have to visit while I’m there. I am also excited to see how the authentic German food differs from the sauerkraut, sausage and potatoes my dad always made when I was growing up. I’m guessing that Germans don’t cook theirs crock-pot style in the garage for several hours, my dad’s favorite strategy to prevent the entire house from smelling like the pickled cabbage. So I guess all I can do now—besides finishing finals and actually packing—is accept that things are probably not going to go perfectly the way I plan. I’m probably going to be lost more often than not. I’m probably going to have to use a lot more hand gestures than Germans are used to. But as corny as it sounds, I’m probably going to have one of the best adventures of my college career and I can’t wait.

Sarah Monnier - exploring the history and memory of Berlin

Fly Me Away!

Rachel Larsen - Copenhagen

T-minus 4 weeks before taking off on the journey of a lifetime. I’ll be honest, this is a really odd feeling. While it seems like there is so many things I should be preparing for, its difficult to figure out exactly what that is. I’m picking up on a little bit of Danish (Jeg er tale lidt dansk), and I’ve started looking at what I’d like to do with my free time while in Denmark and during my stopover in LA.

Without a doubt in my mind, the hardest thing I’ve done so far is scheduling the actual means of travel.

I love to fly and I’ve scheduled quite a few domestic trips for conferences and previous study experiences. International travel is a whole new ball game. I’ve laid out some tips for students to get ahead of the flight-booking game that may make it a little easier for you on your journey than it was on mine.

1. Change Your Departure City

I understand that flying out of the airport 30 minutes from your apartment is probably the easiest, but it may not be the cheapest. I love Indianapolis and the airport is amazing for domestic flights. The international airfare through Indy is much more expensive than anywhere else I looked. By choosing to fly out of Chicago, my flight was almost $200 cheaper. Not to mention, I get to stay with a few friends before and after the trip in Chicago!

2. Round-Trip or One-Way? Read the rest of this entry »

New Insights


Warning: most of this blog is me nerding out about how neat Planet Earth is.

A few weeks ago at a market in Sydney, I had a heart-to-heart conversation with a vendor at one of the booths about the Great Barrier Reef and the implications of climate change on humanity. We talked about the threats that our ecosystems are facing, and just how big of a role these reefs and oceans play in Australia’s economy and in the world.

Thinking about that conversation afterwards, it was one that I would never think of having back in Indiana. Being born and raised in landlocked Indiana, I never spent time around the ocean. It was never a major focus in any of my classes, let alone being talked about around the dinner table or at random markets. Yet, it’s such a common thing for Australians to talk about conserving their oceans and reefs and the threats among them.

For that reason, living next to an ocean and a place with such incredible wildlife has completely expanded my horizons of thinking about water, Earth, and everything that’s inhabiting it. In Indiana, I’ve studied aspects of biology that are equally important, but different nonetheless (IU, I still love and appreciate you!).

Over Easter, I took a trip to see the Great Barrier Reef first hand after I had been hearing all of this talk about it, and it turned out to be the most remarkable experience I’ve ever been blessed to have. I had never been snorkeling, let along scuba diving, and doing so blew me out of the water (quite literally). I felt like I was put in a scene straight out of Finding Nemo—bright corals, giant clams, schools of fish around my head, and even a shark that swam beneath me. While the reef in itself left me speechless, I also saw part of the reef that looked like it hadn’t fared so well. I saw fields of white, bleached coral in the distance, completely vacant of life that had once inhabited it. In these moments, it was easy to see the implications of climate change and how devastating it truly can be. Once I had seen something so lifeless that once had so much beauty, it was impossible for me to not feel passionate about the conservation of it.


Once in a lifetime experience at the Great Barrier Reef.

The great thing about this experience and passion has been that I keep learning more and more about it in my classes. Something about the Great Barrier Reef gets brought up just about every other class because of how intertwined it is with all of biology. I’ve been able to study the biodiversity of molluscs in class, and the next week actually measure this diversity on the beach for ourselves. We’ve gone out on a boat to collect samples of plankton in the ocean to study them even further. Definitely different experiences than biology labs in Indiana!

Australia beach

Studying mollusc diversity on this beach

So, a piece of advice for prospective study abroad students: go somewhere that will actually be beneficial to your major in ways that your home university cannot. I know studying abroad usually appeals because it seems like you’re going on a 6 month vacation (and you’re not completely wrong), but it is also an opportunity to completely reignite your passions or discover passions that you never knew you had. I have always been passionate about wildlife and the environment (a big reason why I’m studying biology), but being here has struck a different chord in me. It’s a new aspect that I would have never gotten in Indiana, as much as I love and miss it. As students, it is so necessary to keep learning through experiences and exploring, not only from textbooks and lecture slides. While that may not mean visiting the Great Barrier Reef for everyone, it could also mean going to see a landmark or exploring a new city. We live in an incredible world!

cliffs overlooking the ocean

Exploring the coasts of Australia

Hollay Paddack - exploring the ecological diversity in Australia


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 300 other followers

%d bloggers like this: