Indiana University Overseas Study

Erica Ewen

As I really get settled in to my temporary life in Berlin, I’ve experienced a few things that are a must if you are ever to make it here yourself. Most are free or only cost a few euro and are well worth the time and money – you won’t regret it!

The Berliner Dom (or cathedral) is a must see and I highly suggest you purchase the audio tour version, which is just a headset you rent that accompanies you for only 3 euro extra. The architecture and history of the Dom are amazing and it is in the heart of Berlin’s Museum Island, so it doesn’t have to be your only stop!

inside the Dom

Other than the main room of worship, there are multiple other floors you can access along with the crypt in the basement and a 360 degree walkway around the top of the Dom which comes with unbelievable views!

looking over Berlin

Another must-see in Berlin on Sundays is the flea market in Mauer Park. It has a little bit of everything for everybody with street music, food, and knickknacks galore. I sipped on some fresh squeezed orange juice while walking around, looking at the many interesting things different people had to offer. One of my favorite booths had boxes and boxes full of the neatest doorknobs. Odd find, but I’m sure they would give flare to any welcoming door.


The doorknobs and OJ were just a drop in the bucket of what this flea market had to offer. I went back last week just to watch the people and get more juice!

If you’ve done all these things in one day, odds are you are ready for some food! A Turkish-German staple here in Berlin is the Döner. It comes in many variations depending on where you get it, but always has meat, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and an array of sauces, if you so choose. It is comparable to a Greek gyro, but is really in its own category.


I’ve had several since I’ve been here and I haven’t had a bad one yet. I can already tell I’m going to miss them when I’m back home. A few more weeks to go, but I’m loving it here!

Erica Ewen - exploring German History through experience

 Debora Estrada Lobo - Seville
Deborah Estrada Lobo - Seville Debora is a Journalism major minoring in Marketing and Spanish. During her time abroad, she hopes to immerse herself in the rich Andalusian culture, get a first-hand glimpse at the life of a Sevillano and explore various countries and cultural differences across Europe. Through her blogging, she hopes to provide interesting stories and numerous insights on traveling and living abroad.
 Vincent Halloran - Buenos Aires
Vincent Halloran Vincent Halloran is a Political Science major with minors in History and Spanish. He chose to study abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina next fall in order to solidify his fluency in Spanish and to experience a society that is dramatically distinct from the United States. He looks forward to learning more about Latin American perceptions of the United States as well as how Argentine political and economic methods compare to those in the U.S.
 Maria Kalas - Valparaiso
Marie Kalas Marie Kalas is a double major heading to Valparaiso, Chile. Studying the Psychology of Language through the Individualized Major Program and Spanish, Marie is looking forward to finally being able to speak fluent Spanish. Marie plans on blogging about her submersion into the Spanish language through her schoolwork, the Chilean community, and her homestay family.
 Adam Pease - Madrid, Spain
Adam Pease Spending his Junior Academic Year in Madrid, Adam Pease will be pursuing courses related to his majors in Spanish, Art History, and History. Outside of academics, Adam is excited to immerse himself in Spanish culture by exploring nearby sites, restaurants, and museums. Along the way he hopes to reach a higher rate of proficiency in the Spanish language. His posts will reflect, among other things, his passions for visual art and social history, as well as provide a first-hand experience of living apart from family in a new country.
Frankie Salzman - Jerusalem Franklyn (Frankie) Salzman is a double major in Jewish Studies and Religious Studies with a minor in Biblical Hebrew.  He will be spending the academic year at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  He chose this program for its reputation here at Indiana, to be able to further his language studies of Hebrew, and to deepen his jewish culture and connection to the Jewish state.  In his blog, he hopes to portray what life is like as a student in Jerusalem and Israel, partly touching on the experience of celebrating Jewish holidays in a now majority setting, but also on what it is like to live in one of the most important cities in the world.
Emma Storen - Cape Town
Emma Storen Emma will be studying in at the University of Cape Town in South Africa for the entire fall semester. She is entering her senior year at IUPUI and majoring in both International Studies and Economics, with a focus on social and economic development in Africa. She previously studied in Rwanda during the summer of 2014. She is most looking forward to experiencing the diverse culture of South Africa, and examining the development and history of the nation first hand.

Maddie Hineman - Copenhagen

hygge (n.)

A Danish word that every tourist in Copenhagen has heard. It’s a word that can’t be translated into English, rather a feeling–something you must experience. I’ve been in Copenhagen, Denmark for 4 weeks now and the three definitions below is what I’ve experienced and what I’ve noticed most about the Danish culture.

  1. The Danish concept of creating warmth, connection, and well-being.
  2. Presence. Committing spirit, pleasure, and warmth to ordinary rituals and gestures that comfort and make us feel rooted and generous.
  3. The appreciative method of giving and receiving that occurs while around the table for a shared meal, sheltered from the rain at the bus stop, or alone in bed with a hot water bottle and a good book.
Maddie and friend overlooking Copenhagen

On top of the Church of Our Savior

The past couple of weeks I’ve done some incredible things. I’ve seen the city from what I’ve been told are the three best views of Copenhagen, ran around the streets for the best ice cream, and ran through the beautiful gardens and parks. But what catches my attention the most are the people within this city and how they treat one another. The first night I went out in Copenhagen, it seemed almost impossible to go start conversation with the Danes. They sat in large groups and wouldn’t even make eye contact with us. Well, we just assumed that we were Americans and they didn’t want to talk to us–typical.


A stroll down Nyhavn

But the next time I noticed this kind of behavior with the Danes was when a few of us took a walk down Nyhavn (New Harbor–the infamous Copenhagen picture we all know and love). We were just walking–wasn’t expecting to make conversation or meet new Danish friends. What we slowly realized was what they call hygge. And I’ve started to recognize it as the days pass by.

Paludan (one of my favorite cafes to work at)

Paludan (one of my favorite cafés to work at)

Now when I go to a cute, little cafe and see two Danes interacting and conversing, I see their full attention go towards the person(s) they are with. They don’t have their phones out or look around to see what other strangers are doing. They’re making eye contact, nodding their heads, and genuinely enjoying each other’s company. They’re making connections and living in the moment. People always say, “live in the moment,” but it has a whole new meaning here than in the States. With wi-fi being my only way to communicate, it’s been easy not to look at my phone during the day (given that I only have wi-fi at home). I want to bring this hygge feeling back home with me when I leave here in two weeks. Because of this, I’ve learned more about the people I’ve met while abroad and taken the time to enjoy my experiences with them and grow. It’s amazing what can happen when you put your phone down, stop worrying about others around you, and be present with the people you’re surrounded by.

The epitome of hygge. My entire floor and our RA enjoying a night in with some candlelit laughter and conversation.

The epitome of hygge. My entire floor and our RA enjoying a night in with some candlelit laughter and conversation.

Maddie Hineman

Sarah Whaley

Finally I’ve wrapped up the ‘study’ part of my study abroad. With my final essay submitted for assessment, I now have time to assess my experience so far. For all the good that has come out of the past four months in this beautiful country, I’ve also had to learn some hard lessons. Thankfully, the hard lessons have all ended in soft landings.

Hard Lesson #1: Australia is not always hot.

It is nearly winter here on the opposite side of the world. And with the exception of the past couple days, it’s been cold. I’d say freezing, but that would be a misstatement. It has yet to drop below freezing, but my new Aussie experience of the world means a little chilly feels a lot colder than it would back home.

I arrived to high 90 degree Fahrenheit temperatures, and the change from then to now (low 40 degree Fahrenheit temperatures) is biting. Perhaps the change wouldn’t be so bad, except I was overly optimistic with my packing. Lots of short sleeves and tank tops and very few sweaters.

Soft Landing #1: Staying warm is cheaper here than at home.

Luckily, K-mart in Australia is alive and well and $10 sweaters aren’t hard to come by. I’ve been able to fill out my wardrobe with warmer pieces of clothing and now have practical souvenirs to bring home. I was also able to find an inexpensive electric heater and an $18 blanket to make falling asleep easier. I love the blanket so much I might even pay extra for it to be shipped home.

Preparing to Kayak

International friends and I bundled up for a chilly day of kayaking with dolphins.

Hard Lesson #2: When they say don’t procrastinate on your Uni assignments, they mean it.

The booklet given to me before I left home clearly laid out the ways in which study in Australia is different than study in the U.S. Mainly it warned about slacking off because there are less assignments throughout the semester. Though there are less assignments, the ones you are given are worth more.

For the first half of the semester, I did a good job of working ahead on assignments and turning them in sometimes a week ahead of time. I felt more relaxed than I’ve ever felt throughout my Uni career. Then mid-semester break ended and the assignments started piling up.

Instead of being worth 10 to 20 percent of my grade, the assignments were worth 25 to 40 percent. I had a major exam and two major research essays due in a span of two days. Perhaps I wouldn’t have reached the level of anxiety I did if I had worked further ahead instead of procrastinating and binge-watching How I Met Your Mother.

Soft Landing #2: I survived Uni.

Though the past week was stressful trying to finalize my Uni assignments, they are now complete. I almost don’t know what to do with myself going from being overwhelmingly busy to completely free. My classes ended earlier than many of my friends’ and while they’re studying I’m seeking out my next victim to distract with a game of cards or a walk around the city. I’m looking forward to a month of holidays before returning home.

Kaurna smoking ceremony

A Kaurna smoking ceremony wrapped up a semester of Indigenous studies courses.

Hard Lesson #3: Your problems remain your problems 10,000 air miles away.

Before I left the U.S., one of my best friends told me he envied me. I was going to be able to leave my problems on ice for half a year while he dealt continuously with his at home. I reassured him he’d be alright, but I believed him that I was escaping. That turned out not to be the case.

The thing about your problems is that they’re yours and they’re bound to follow you wherever you go. I’ve dealt with many of the same emotional struggles I’ve had at home here. I’ve also dealt with new ones, like homesickness and being frustratingly far away from the people you trust the most to be there for you when your day doesn’t go the way you planned. And now that I’m facing going home in a month, I’m feeling torn in a similar way I felt torn before leaving home for here.

Soft Landing #3: Old problems have new solutions 10,000 air miles away.

Though your problems remain much the same when you travel, traveling provides a new perspective on them than the one you’ve been trapped in back home. You also are surrounded by new friends with new stories, new advice and new solutions. Instead of going for a therapeutic run, you can go for a therapeutic surf. And with the understanding that you’re going home in a month, you can take the days that don’t go as planned less seriously.

Though these three lessons and others I’ve dealt with here in Australia have been hard, the landings have all been soft. After all, it’s difficult to feel down for long when you’re a short drive from an ocean sunset and in a country whose national motto may as well be “No worries, mate.”

ocean sunset

A breathtaking ocean sunset just when I needed it most.

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Carla Sraders

It’s been roughly a month since I’ve been back in the United States and half the time it feels like I never even left. Hanging out with my friends back in Bloomington, my four months abroad almost seems like a dream. None of my friends here were abroad to experience it with me, and the people who I spent every day in Spain with are now scattered across the globe. Not having anyone to identify with, it’s hard to process being back in the United States.

Immediately upon my return I was ecstatic to come home to Buffalo Wild Wings and a comfy bed. Now all of my complaints and desires for American things abroad seem trivial. Sure I didn’t have fast food or cellphone service 24/7, but every day was a new adventure or opportunity to do something different. In Europe I felt like I had the world at my fingertips and opportunity was just a cheap plane ride away. I wasn’t stuck in the “Bloomington bubble,” only thinking about Greek life, the never-ending wait to finally enter Kilroy’s, Little 500, or Pizza X cheesy bread. Over 4,000 miles away from all of this, I was able to be who I wanted to be and learn more about myself. Coming home, I felt enclosed, caged, and hindered by everything in the United States. For the first couple weeks, it’s been hard adjusting.

collection of postcards

Traveling to 7 different countries, I accumulated quite a few postcards.

About a week ago, three weeks after my return, I received a postcard in the mail. The letter, postmarked January 19, 2015, was from me, Carla Sraders, during my first week in Seville. During orientation, some of our professors had us write a letter to our future selves, detailing our hopes for the semester and time abroad. Then, they would mail them to us in May after we returned to the United States. Honestly, I had completely forgotten about the postcard the next day, not thinking about it at all during my time abroad or even when I returned. Going to the mailbox the other day and finding the forgotten postcard, I couldn’t help but feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

On the postcard I had written (in Spanish of course), “Always maintain this way of viewing the world; with great opportunity for happiness, adventure, and perspective.” I definitely think that living in Europe and experiencing all of these cool things, to coming back to Bloomington, there is bound to be a lot of change. However, I hope I always remember what I wrote on this postcard – although I may be stuck in Bloomington or Indiana or even the United States for now, the world is always going to be out there waiting for me.

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Erica Ewen

Many emotions are coursing through me as I await my first flight, with my final destination in Berlin, Germany for the next 4 weeks; excited for the experiences ahead, sad to say goodbye to my family for a while, and anxious for the traveling process to get underway.

If you are anything like me, you have over-prepared (and probably over-packed) for the next few weeks ahead. There are many things that are essential to overseas travel like your passport, phone, money, etc., but there are also several things that are necessary that might not be as apparent to you unless you ask or are a seasoned world-traveler yourself!

Converters: European electric outlets are different from those in the United States and without your converters (I purchased mine at Bed, Bath & Beyond) you are sure to melt your cords and ruin your possessions. I also purchased a converter specifically for my phone from my cellphone provider.

Camera: This is a more of a personal preference item, but I have considered it a necessity for my trip. My iPhone camera would probably suffice, but I convinced my sister to let me borrow her Nikon D3100 with a 18-70mm lens. I can candidly say that I have no idea what those numbers mean, but I wanted to be able to capture all the things I will see with the best equipment!


Some of the necessities: passport, camera, backpack, jacket!

An Open Mind: This should be a day-to-day necessity, in my opinion, but it is especially needed when traveling to a new place with 10 other people that I have never met. I’m (somewhat) prepared for the culture shock and possible homesickness that I might face after a few days in Germany, but I can also say that I plan to combat that by remembering why I chose to come to Berlin in the first place. I really wanted to be immersed in the city that I have previously learned so much about in my courses at IU and learn about how the city and the culture has changed and how the people have adapted to that change.

I am thoroughly excited to be in Berlin and start this adventure!

Erica Ewen - exploring German History through experience

Erik Trautman

I’ve been thinking about home. It’s a bit of a fuzzy idea for me, something I can’t quite pin down on a map. I remember three houses I lived in with my family. I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah but what I remember of it is skewed since I moved when I was seven (still nearly a third of my life). We went back as a family for spring break last year, the last year before my brother went to Colorado and I set off for Bologna.

I’ve lived in Indiana for fifteen years, those years that really determine who you are. Marvelous and ugly memories surface when I think of Indiana, but that’s true most everywhere you’ve called home. When I returned to Utah I felt at home amongst the snow-topped mountains and red desert rocks. It’s environmentally where I want to be, however, there are things that draw me back to Indiana: friends, family, and comfortable living. Most recently, Bologna has been my home, but I adopted different home this week, Cassano delle Murge, Puglia.


Nearby Matera has been named the European Capital of Culture for 2019. Numerous films have been filmed here, including Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ”

Cassano is a small town in the periphery of Bari. I didn’t ever plan on seeing it but I was visiting a close friend. Small towns are the root to Italy’s charm. Aunts, uncles, grandmothers, and cousins all lived close together, many on the same hillside, some in the same apartment building. Their Italian was freckled with a dialect that sounded more Russian than Italian. The strawberries were wild and picked that morning from the countryside. Those miniature berries packed more flavor than any strawberry I’ve ever had. Every relative had a cherry tree growing in their yard. I ate focaccia made by my friend’s grandmother, the recipe for which has been passed down through generations. What made this place home for her were family and tradition, a different way of eating, and a different way of speaking.

My friend’s mother teaches dance to a class of seniors called “danze del popolo,” dances of the people. They performed three dances from around the world: Greece, Brittany, and Armenia. Before the first dance she explained that Greeks who have immigrated throughout the world may no longer know how to speak Greek but many still know this antique dance. They brought a piece of home along with them as they searched for better lives.

danze del popolo

Danze del Popolo

danze del popolo

Danze del Popolo

What is home then? Is it the location of your family or a traditional way of doing things like cooking or dancing? These are manifestations of home but during my stay I’ve come to realize home is a state of mind. Home is comfort and familiarity and you can create that state in any part of the world, home is in your head. I’m not sure where my home will be three months from now, but wherever I end up I hope to take home with me.

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