Indiana University Overseas Study

Author Archive

Lots of Time and Lessons

Rebecca Haley - Freiburg, Germany

There has been a long break in between when I was accepted into the Freiburg-IU program for the spring in November and when I will actually leave in February. Since I was blessed with a particularly long winter break free from the rigors of academia (or other forms of mental stimulation) I have had plenty of time to think about, dwell on, and begin to stress about my upcoming program. But during this time, I have already started learning a few things and setting some goals. Each different step on this first leg of my journey, before even setting off to anywhere other than my couch at home, has taught me something new.

First, saying goodbye to friends is difficult.  I am an out-of-state student, so when I left school after the fall semester, I wasn’t going to be able to see my friends over winter break. Luckily, my application was due in early August so I knew all semester that there was a possibility of me having to say goodbye. But I would encourage anyone looking at studying abroad to appreciate this foresight. It allowed me to really cherish the time I got to spend with my friends and encouraged me to remember that while school is very important, friends can be a priority as well. In the midst of planning everything for my trip, I was learning to be present and enjoy the moment and enjoy where I am. This lesson is one that I want to stay with me once I am abroad and making friends there, and when I come back and see my friends again.

Second, although I just mentioned being present in the moment, there are practical things that do need to be planned and even the smallest details need to be considered. When I applied for study abroad, I thought about planning things like flights, housing, and other legal information, but I never thought that the things I would worry the most about were from which website I needed to buy train tickets, or about what suitcase to use (still an unanswered question). I never thought that I would be thinking so much about all the little details, but when I get these sorted out, I free up some mental space to dream about the fun that I am going to have.

Lastly, I set a goal for myself to keep an open mind about this trip. I can plan all I want but life is life and I hope that while my spontaneous traveling and globe-trotting will be new, fun and exciting, this is an amazing opportunity to live life in a foreign country rather than just be a tourist and that means discovering things like how to do laundry there and new restaurant etiquette. My goal is to remember that those things are just as exciting.

Rebecca Haley

Keeping an Open Mind

Emily Blankenhorn - Berlin, Germany

Before I left for Berlin, many people told me to make sure I kept my money and purse secure once I arrived. They told me to get a purse with metal in the strap so that nobody could cut it or rip it off my body. They told me to make sure I wear my purse underneath my shirt so it wouldn’t be noticed. They told me to wear all black as to not stand out as a tourist in order to avoid being stolen from. They told me to speak quietly so as not to draw attention to me being a foreigner. There are many ways people told me to take care of myself in order to prevent pick-pocketing.

Listening to all this advice, I was fairly certain I would be totally fine, but I was still a bit nervous that I would stand out as a tourist to anyone who targets foreigners. Even just walking through the airport before reaching Germany, I would make sure my hand was on my purse at all times to make sure it was still there. There are many things you can do in life to prevent unfortunate things from happening to you. Sometimes, life happens anyway. On my way to Berlin, I landed in New York first for a layover. As we reached the ground and I turned my phone off airplane mode, I received a text from my bank. They were asking me if I had just spent $226 at a Super Wal-Mart on my debit card, to which I promptly responded no.

My bank locked my card right away, but I thought that it was incredibly ironic that my debit card information had been stolen in the U.S. right as I was headed to a country in which I was nervous about getting my money and cards stolen. Furthermore, after living in Berlin for a month, none of my or my classmates’ belongings have been stolen. The people in charge of my study abroad program say it is rare to have something stolen, but obviously to look after your belongings in a smart way.

Overall, it’s easy to be afraid of what we don’t know. Sometimes we can focus too much on preventing the bad and then end up overlooking other important things. Maybe I left my debit card out somewhere and someone somehow got the information or maybe someone rigged an ATM or a gas station pay machine, I’ll never know. Bad things can happen to anyone anywhere and at any point in time. There’s no use living your life in fear of the unknown. A lot of the time the unknown is good.

Many people in Berlin are very friendly and helpful to new people, as Berlin is a city composed of people from all over the world. More than 30% of Berlin’s population are immigrants. Many languages are spoken and many religions are practiced. Although I may not recognize a language or an activity customary to someone else’s culture, I feel just as safe in this city as I did at home in a place of familiarity. I have found the most joy in life when keeping an open mind about people and cultures unfamiliar to my own.

Emily Blankenhorn

Taking the Plunge

Susanna Sorrells - Seville, Spain

Although I am still in the United States, I feel like studying abroad has already been a huge part of my life. Everywhere I go, friends and family congratulate me and say how much they will miss me, but most importantly, everyone is excited for me. While I will miss friends and family from home and school, I know I will be in many people’s thoughts over the coming months because they are all so proud of me. It’s easy to have doubts and concerns about studying abroad and leaving a familiar place for a few months. But, it’s also a whole lot easier to think about why you should go. For me, the initial decision to study abroad in Spain was clear, as I am minoring in Spanish. I knew that in order to be able to able to consider myself fluent in Spanish, I would need to immerse myself into the language. My first goal for myself—to strengthen my Spanish.

I have been fortunate enough to travel all over the United States and see many of my own country’s glories. I have also been lucky to travel outside of the United States with family and get a taste of life in other countries. However, I have never been to Europe. I have never stayed in another country for more than two weeks… let alone four months. A lot of “firsts” will be happening to me within the coming months. First time on a plane for more than five hours. First time in Europe. First time in Sevilla. First time living in a foreign country with people I do not know but have opened their home and agreed to host me. There are so many opportunities I will have while studying abroad and I plan on taking advantage of as many as possible. My second goal for myself—check as many “firsts” off my list as I can.

Four months is a long time. But four months can go by fast. At home, I am saying that I will see everyone in four months, that it will go by fast, that I will be home before you know it. Which in some way, is true. But once in Sevilla, I only have four months. Four months to take classes, meet new people, become familiar with my home city, travel everywhere I can, strengthen my Spanish skills, and have the experience of a lifetime. Studying abroad is such a unique part of a college career, and I am so grateful I am about to have this experience. This last week of being home is full of packing and goodbyes—two things that are stressful, overwhelming, happy, and sad all at once. I have been preparing for this for months and I have a strong support team behind me. Which leads me to my last main goal for myself while studying abroad—live in the moment but remember what you came for.

Susanna Sorrells

Lost Luggage and Life Lessons

Philip Jiao - Canterbury, England

“There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

I had always been very lucky with traveling and never losing any luggage, but I still imagine the scenario of losing luggage whenever I travel and pack an extra set of clothes with my carry-on. I flew with Aeroflot from Beijing to Moscow, then from Moscow to London. Because of the two-hour-long delay in Beijing, I only had half an hour to transfer. I tried my best to catch my flight to London; however, my luggage didn’t run as fast as me and it stayed in Moscow.

Canterbury Cathedral

The Canterbury Cathedral, built in the 11th century and is the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion and seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

My first week was tough. Two sets of changing clothes were everything I had and I had to do laundry every day in order to make sure that I had fresh clothes to wear for the next day. My mental health was also affected by my lost luggage; during orientation events, I thought and worried about my luggage, prayed that it would be delivered to me as soon as possible.

Canterbury cathedral interior

Interior of the Canterbury Cathedral

After all the difficulties, the phone calls and anxious waiting, my suitcase was finally returned to me six days after my arrival. During the time of waiting, I learned many life experiences, which made me understand that losing luggage wasn’t entirely terrible. First, I know what to do next time in the situations of flight delay and missing luggage, and I won’t be as panicked or nervous as this time. Second, a suitcase is not the only thing I have; there are friends and family who are always there to help me. There’s always a solution for things, and I should not lose the enthusiasm to live and eat even when a suitcase is completely lost. And finally, I tried my best to make new friends and they provided lots of help and encouragement.

Dover Castle

On the last day of Orientation, the University organized a trip to Dover Castle. It is the biggest castle in England and is located on an extremely strategic spot to protect the English Channel. Some American friends and I chose a wonderful angle to take a picture with the whole castle.

If you confront similar situations in the future, don’t be depressed, don’t be afraid to ask people for help, and always be optimistic that things will just be fine!

Dover Castle roof

Selfie on the roof of Dover Castle

Philip Jiao

The Ticking of the Clock

Emily Blankenhorn - Berlin, Germany

The ticking of the clock fills my mind. Today’s date posted in the bottom right hand corner of my computer weighs on me. I feel anxious. I am anxious to leave my family, pack the right things, and fly alone to a city where I don’t even know the language. But most of all, I feel eager. I am eager to be more independent, make life-long friends, travel to and explore amazing cities, take interesting classes, and try new foods.

There are four days until I leave Cincinnati, OH and fly to Berlin, Germany. As a pre-departure protocol, I am eating at my favorite Cincinnati places: LaRosas pizza, Skyline Chili, and Graeter’s ice cream. I am also spending a lot of much-needed time with my family and friends. The fact that I will be away from them for over five months hasn’t yet sunk in, and I am not sure when it will. Maybe when I’m waving goodbye at the airport, or maybe when I arrive at TXL and hear more foreign languages than familiar ones.

I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to prepare for what life will be like in Berlin. There are a multitude of sights and attractions that I can’t wait to see. From the Brandenburg Gate to the Berlin Wall Memorial, I will not be ashamed of how touristy I will be during the beginning of my time living in the city. On the other hand, I am looking forward to getting to know the city as a civilian. Over the 5 months and 19 days that I will be spending overseas, I hope to better understand what life in Berlin is like beyond the point of a visitor. I want to know what the local Germans do for fun on the weekends and after classes and what the best diamond-in-the-rough restaurants are. Overall, I look forward to calling Berlin home.

Even though I am anxious, my eagerness for adventure overshadows all the other thoughts I have. I will miss IU and my friends dearly, but I can’t wait to make some amazing memories while I’m away.

Emily Blankenhorn

Meet the Spring 2016 Bloggers!

Landon Davison Landon Davison is fulfilling his lifelong goal of studying abroad the spring of his junior year in beautiful Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he is taking classes in Portuguese and pursuing research on the effects of mega events (such as the Olympics) on disenfranchised populations in host communities. He is an International Studies major with a focus on Latin America and speaks Spanish and Portuguese, and is a part of SPEA’s honors certificate program in Applied Research and Inquiry. Outside of school, Landon is an award-winning delegate for IU’s Model United Nations team, a part of the Alumni Relations committee for IU Dance Marathon, and a proud brother of the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity, for whom he competes in Little 500.
Nadine Herman Nadine Herman is a junior studying Journalism with a specialization in public relations.  Nadine is excited to fill her time abroad in Italy with amazing pizza, gelato, and art.  She is looking forward to studying in the city where the Renaissance was born and absorbing as much Italian culture as possible.  Nadine’s posts will feature her sense of adventure and desire to learn.
Abbey Hudetz Abbey Hudetz is entering her spring semester as a Junior at Indiana University majoring in Communications and minoring in Marketing. She chose to study in London in order to immerse herself in the metropolitan hub of the world in terms of study, work, and culture. Abbey looks forward to blogging about English culture, her internship experience, and her European travels.
 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.
Adam Kiefer Adam Kiefer is a Junior pursuing a degree in Journalism, with a minor in French, at Indiana University. His passion lies in photography and more specifically photojournalism, and he aspires to someday work for a major world publication. This semester he will be studying journalism in Berlin, Germany at a brand new Global Campus through CIEE. He hopes his experiences will shape his world view, and serve to make him into a better photographer and visual journalist.
Holly Paddack Holly Paddack is a Junior spending her spring semester at the University of Wollongong in Wollongong, Australia. Majoring in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Psychology, Holly is looking forward to gaining insight on the ecological diversity that Australia has to offer. She hopes to portray, among other things, life as an exchange student and the cultural differences that she will encounter along the way.
Alexa Stegemoller
Alexa Stegemoller Alexa Stegemoller is a Human Biology major minoring in Psychology and pursuing a career in medicine. She will be studying at the University of Adelaide in Southern Australia with hopes of completely immersing herself in a new and exciting culture. Through her blogging, she hopes to educate students on what it’s truly like to study abroad as well as what experiences they may come across along the way.

Meet the Fall 2015 Bloggers!

 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.
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