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The secret behind course selection abroad

I think one of the most stressful things about studying abroad is choosing classes. On one hand, it’s a lot of fun and pretty interesting: You can choose any courses you want, in any subject, and learn about a topic from a completely different cultural perspective, which may or may not be similar to what you’ve learned at home.

On the other hand, there are multiple steps to signing up for the classes, and you have to continually check with all parties involved to make sure that you’ll be receiving credit for the courses that you need.

I remember before coming to Lyon, other students’ advice to me was simple: “It works out in the end.” I can tell you, there were periods of time where I definitely did not think it would work out and I was worried about finding enough classes. (It adds to the difficulty when some classes are too advanced to take in a foreign language.)

I went to 12 classes in the beginning, looking for something interesting and manageable. That quickly got cut down to four or five for different reasons — whether I had taken the prerequisites for the class before, whether I could understand a word the teacher was saying in French, etc.

However, having finally submitted my learning agreement with enough classes to keep my advisors happy, I will now pass on the advice that truly got me through: “It works out in the end.”


Bridget McSorley is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City double majoring in Business Administration and Languages and Literature. Bridget spent the academic year abroad with the University of Lyon 2 exchange program in France.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Top 10 Things I Miss about Spain

1. My Host Family: I lived with this family for five weeks and they were my Spanish family. They were the most caring and comforting people I have ever met.Tapas: Tapas are everything to me. In Granada, at a restaurant if you order a drink, you get a free appetizer with it.

2. Siestas: I don’t know how to function without a nap everyday.

3. The Architecture: I loved walking down the street to school and seeing the Catherdral of Granada and all of the beautiful old buildings and statues.

4. Spanish: I can feel all of the little bits of Spanish I learned slipping away since I am not using it to communicate with everyone. I miss practicing the language everyday.

5. Estrella Oriental: My FAVORITE Chinese Restaurant in Spain.

6. School: The teachers, the students, the building, the Spanish. I miss it all.

7. My Program Friends: I miss living within walking distance and even in the same building as my best friends. Going from seeing the people from my program everyday to not seeing them at all has been a big adjustment. I am waiting for a reunion party!

8. My Friends from CLM: The only bad part about making friends abroad, means that they stay abroad when you come home. At least now I have more friends to travel and see!

9. Spanish Nickelodeon: Each night, I would watch Nickelodeon with my host brother in Spanish and it truly helped me to understand conversational Spanishand it was so nice to bond with my little brother, Hugo!

10. Granada Sorbet: THE SORBET! On almost every street corner there was an amazing ice cream shop with a ton of Ice Cream and Sorbet flavors. My favorite was limon sorbet but the pomegranate.

 


Emma Cleaveland is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Communications. Emma is spending the summer term abroad on the faculty-led UMKC Spanish Program in Granada, Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

The Secret to the Pura Vida Life

Si has estado siguiendo mis últimos aportes, ya has notado probablemente que siempre firmo con “Pura Vida mis amigos”. Esta frase pegadiza es muy popular dentro y fuera de Costa Rica y durante las últimas cinco semanas, he estado tratando de descubrir el significado de Pura Vida para mí. Dentro y fuera del aula, la vida familiar y la cultura local, he empezado a abrazar y amar el estilo de vida costarricense.

Dentro y más allá del aula
Tomé dos clases de español en la Universidad Veritas: conversación avanzada y las escritoras costarricenses. Aunque tener que pensar y responder de inmediato en español fue un desafío al principio, pero realmente, disfruté de nuestra clase de conversación porque tuvimos la oportunidad de expresar nuestras opiniones sobre cualquier tema que nos interesaban. Nuestras presentaciones abordaron muchos temas sociales importantes – aunque controvertidos a veces – que oscilaron desde la legalización de drogas hasta la desigualdad en la educación femenina hasta la sociedad capitalista hasta la inmigración de refugiados y más. Mi parte favorita era cuando, inevitablemente, alguien diría algo sin relación con el tema, porque fue cuando se iniciaron las discusiones profundas. Aprendí mucha perspicacia de mis compañeros y mi profesor era una fuente de sabiduría y narrativas históricas. Esta clase fue reveladora con respecto a expandir mi perspectiva del mundo y ser desafiada a considerar las posibles soluciones que podrían combatir los problemas universales de la sociedad hoy en día.

El aprendizaje también estaba fuera del aula en forma de excursiones de clase. Visitamos una exposición de chocolate en el centro de la ciudad donde no sólo probamos dulces de chocolate, sino aprendimos sobre la historia del cacao y su papel esencial en la economía del país también. Otra salida de clase incluyó las clases de cocina que estaban en la casa de nuestra profesora donde aprendimos a hacer empanadas llenas de chiverre a mano y arroz con leche justo en la cocina – son recetas deliciosas que espero cocinarlas cuando vuelva a los Estados Unidos.

Nuestra vida familiar
Me considero afortunada porque creo que tenía la mejor familia de anfitrión. Mi compañera de piso, Katy, y yo nos referimos  a Giselle y Sergio cariñosamente como “Mamatica” y “Papatico” porque se llaman los locales en Costa Rica “ticos” y “ticas” típicamente. Nos recibieron con amabilidad genuina y amor incondicional que nos hizo sentir bastante cómodos como uno de sus hijos. Se sirven el desayuno y la cena a las 7am y 7pm cada día, así que puedes imaginar qué momentos del día que estaba emocionada. Nuestros padres iban al mercado de productores cada fin de semana para comprar productos  agrícolas y ingredientes frescos para nuestras comidas y siempre les decía que cuando cocinaban juntos, formaban el mejor equipo. Sin duda, voy a extrañar estos tiempos debido a la comida rica y las conversaciones que compartimos sobre la mesa, pero les hizo una promesa de que sería una de las primeras personas en la línea cuando abren su restaurante en el futuro y entonces, ya estoy esperando a esa reunión.

La cultura local
Como en cualquier lugar que viaje, siempre habrá diferencias culturales que necesitan tiempo para distinguirlas y adaptarse en consecuencia. Se considera Costa Rica que tiene una cultura de clima caliente, la que significa que hay un enfoque fuerte en la creación de un medio ambiente basado en las relaciones y donde “sentirse bien”, así como con la comunicación indirecta en la que las preguntas se expresan de otro modo para no ofender a nadie. Para mí, “el tiempo tico” significa tener un sentido n más relajada del tiempo, ya que la gente llega a una reunión o evento hasta 15-30 minutos. Una cosa que todavía tenía problemas para acostumbrarme a las condiciones de la calle – me parece que la filosofía es quien llegue a la calle primero la domine. En otras palabras, no exise la parada para peatones allí y hubo veces que tuve que mantener mis ojos en cualquier cosa menos la carretera durante mis viajes en Uber para evitar los ataques al corazón. Creo que la única vez que verá un lado agresivo de los locales está en la calle, pero aparte de eso, los costarricenses son personas relajados en la mayor parte.

Hay tantas facetas de la cultura aquí – es imposible señalar todos, pero para mí, el aspecto cultural que aprecio más era la iniciativa para promover la sostenibilidad ambiental en todo el país. Por ejemplo, había signos por todas partes para recordarte que debes tirar el papel higiénico en la basura y no en el inodoro. También, he oído de ciertas placas que indican un día en el que no se puede conducir – afortunadamente, el transporte público es un sistema económico y eficiente. Los botes de basura designados siempre vienen en colecciones de cuatro: desechos orgánicos, vidrio, papel y plástico. Aunque todavía hay mucho para mejorar, me siento orgullosa de que Costa Rica sea un líder global en este esfuerzo nacional. Este es el modo de vida pura vida aquí – ¿qué hay para no ser feliz?

Como siempre, muchas gracias por leer y nos vemos!

Pura Vida mis amigos,
Rebecca Yang

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If you have been following my past posts, you’ve probably already noticed that I always sign off with “Pura Vida my friends”. This catchy saying is extremely popular both within and outside of Costa Rica, and for the past five weeks, I have been trying to discover what Pura Vida means to me. Inside and beyond the classroom, through family life, and the local culture, I have come to embrace and love the Costa Rican lifestyle.

Inside and Beyond the Classroom

I took two Spanish classes at Universidad Veritas: advanced conversation and Costa Rican female writers. Although having to think and respond on the spot in Spanish was a bit daunting at first, I really enjoyed our conversation class because we had the opportunity to express our opinions on any topic that interested us. Our presentations addressed important social issues – albeit controversial, at times – ranging from drug legalization to inequality in female education to a capitalistic society to refugee immigration, and so much more. My favorite part was whenever we would, inevitably, go off-topic because that was when deep discussions were sparked. I gained so much insight from my peers, and my professor was a fountain of wisdom and historical narratives. This class was eye-opening in terms of expanding my world perspective and being challenged to consider what possible solutions could combat the pervasive problems of society today.

Learning also took place outside the classroom in the form of class field trips. We visited a chocolate exposition downtown, where we not only tasted some chocolate goodies, but also learned about the history of cacao and its vital role within the country’s economy. Another class outing turned out to be cooking classes that took place at our professor’s house, where we learned to make empanadas filled with chiverre by hand and rice pudding right in her kitchen – delicious recipes that I hope to try and make back at home in the States.

Empanadas de chiverre
Love free chocolate samples YUM

 

 

 

 

 

Our Family Life
I consider myself lucky because I believe I got placed with the best host family ever. My roommate, Katy, and I affectionately referred to Giselle and Sergio as “Mamatica” and “Papatico” because locals in Costa Rica are commonly called “ticos” and “ticas”. They received us with such genuine warmth and unconditional love that made us feel right at home like one of their own. Breakfast and dinner was served at 7am and 7pm every day, so you can imagine what times of the day I was particularly excited for. Our host parents would go down to the farmer’s market every weekend to pick up fresh produce and other ingredients our meals, and I would always tell them that, when cooking together, they made the best team. I will definitely miss meal times due to the food and the conversations we shared over the table, but I made them a promise that I would be one of the first people in the line when they open their restaurant in the future, so I am already looking forward to that reunion.

Mamatica y Papatico

The Local Culture
Like anywhere you travel, there will always be some cultural differences that may take time to distinguish and adapt to accordingly. Costa Rica is considered to have a hot climate culture, meaning there is a strong focus on creating a relationship-based, “feel-good” environment, as well with indirect communication, in which questions are rephrased in a way as to not offend whoever you are talking to. For me, running on “tico time” means having a more relaxed sense of time, as people show up 15-30 minutes late to a gathering or event. One thing I still had trouble getting used to was the road conditions – it seems like the philosophy is whoever gets to the road first gets to rule it. In other words, stopping for pedestrians is not a thing there, and there were times I had to keep my eyes on anything but the road during my Uber rides to avoid having multiple heart attacks. I think the only time you will ever see an aggressive side from the locals is out on the road, but other than that, Costa Ricans are relatively laid-back for the most part.

Every decision makes a small difference.

There are so many facets to the culture here – it’s impossible to touch on all of them, but for me, the cultural aspect I appreciated the most was the drive to promote environmental sustainability throughout the country. For example, there were signs everywhere to remind you that toilet paper was to be thrown away in the trash can, not flushed down the toilet. I also heard about certain license plates denote a day where you cannot drive – luckily, public transportation is an affordable and efficient system. Designated trash cans always come in sets of four: organic waste, glass, paper, and plastic. Although there is much room for improvement, I am proud that Costa Rica is a global leader in this national effort. This is the pura vida way of life here – what is there not to be happy about?

As always, thank you for reading and see you on the next post!

Pura Vida my friends,
Rebecca Yang


Rebecca Yang is currently a third-year undergraduate student studying Chemistry and Spanish, with an emphasis in Pre-Medicine, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, but after spending three years in Kansas City, she is proud to call this place home. She is studying abroad for one month over the summer with ISA in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Take the Plunge

Dear Readers,

You’ve followed several along their journeys. You’ve seen us try new things and you’ve seen us fail. You’ve seen us be scared to take a leap but you’ve seen us soar after the initial plunge. You’ve experienced heartbreaks and successes, homesickness and love of a new country, seasickness and adventuring. But what does this mean for you? It means you need to try it for yourself.

I get it: you don’t know what a study abroad experience will hold for you, and honestly, I can’t tell you what it will be like. That’s the thing: I’ve tried to convey how great my time has been, along with my fellow classmates. We’ve all used words and photographs to tell you that our time has been more than just traveling, but self-learning. You’ve just had to take our word for it.

So what’s my advice? Do it for yourself. There’s nothing so sweet as inhaling the salt water from the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse or driving by a Highland Cow only to ask the bus driver to pull over for a photo op. There’s nothing as mesmerising as being swayed by a lone bagpipe player on a crowded street in Edinburgh or staring in awe at the castle from a distance. There’s nothing as familiar as meeting family at the London Gatwick Airport and receiving a package in the mail upon your return home with Christmas ornaments, which serve as a reminder of the red Telephone boxes and Victorian mailboxes. There’s nothing as connecting as attending a church with your cousin, who decided to meet you in Edinburgh and take a long weekend with you to the Scottish Borders, only to be invited to lunch by a sweet couple. There is nothing like studying abroad. Take the chance and do it. It’s something you won’t regret.


Emily McIntyre is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Marketing and Entrepreneurship with a Spanish minor. Emily is involved with several student organizations, including UMKC Enactus, which uses entrepreneurship to solve needs in the community. She’s looking forward to studying abroad this summer with the UMKC Honors Program in Scotland, where she plans to explore more of her family heritage and country of origin.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

A Guide to Hiking the Highest Mountain in Costa Rica

Mi tiempo en estudiar en el extranjero estaba terminando, y solo tenía un fin de semana más aquí en Costa Rica. Caminando por la montaña más alta de este país nunca estaba en mi lista de cosas más importantes para hacer, sin embargo, mi amiga Mackenzie que había caminado el fin de semana anterior me convenció de que debería tomar la oportunidad de – lo que descubriría más tarde – un único viaje en la vida.

Consejo #1: Reserve el viaje a Cerro Chirripó como mínimo dos semanas con antelación. Las agencias de viajes recomiendan prepararse para el viaje por lo menos tres meses antes, pero en realidad no me comprometí a subir Chirripó hasta tres días antes de ir con mis dos amigos, Michael y Jackson. Te sugiero que no se encuentre en una situación similar porque entregar la documentación y los pagos necesarios en poco tiempo, además de planear un viaje del fin de semana de tres días, no fue la mejor idea. Así que minimizar el estrés innecesario de hacer una decisión de última hora y reservar su posición tan pronto como sea posible.

Consejo #2: Reserve con una agencia de viaje. Para escalar Cerro Chirripó, necesitarás comprar permisos de parque para cada día que estés allí, junto con la comida y el alojamiento en el campamento base. Las agencias de viajes harán tu vida más fácil, y el costo de la reserva con una agencia no sobrepasaría mucho lo que estarías pagando si hubieras comprado todo individualmente. Recomiendo Caminatas al Chirripó que era una agencia increíble que lograron asegurar nuestras reservas en poca antelación y siempre estaban disponsibles en el teléfono si teníamos cualquier pregunta.

Salimos a las 9am de la mañana del viernes desde la terminal del MUSOC que fue tres horas en autobús de San José a San Isidro del General. Desde allí, tuvimos que tomar otro autobús de Terminal Municipal que nos llevó de San Isidro a San Gerardo de Rivas en media hora.

Consejo #3: Compre los billetes de autobús un día antes, o llegar temprano a la estación de autobus al menos una hora antes de la salida porque se venden los billetes rápidamente.

Tuvimos que registrarnos en las oficinas del MINAE y del Consorcio  antes de las 4pm porque el parque requiere que todos se registre un día antes de sus caminatas. Luego nos registramos en la oficina de nuestra agencia de viaje para llegar a nuestra hostal de Cabaña Ojos Claros y encontrarse con su anfitrión, Laura. Una chica de Holanda que acababa de subir al Cerro Chirripó el día anterior estaba allí esa noche y nos dio consejos útiles sobre las expectativas de nuestra subida. Porque teníamos una mañana temprano al día siguiente, nos acostamos después de cenar, y recuerdo tener algunos problemas para dormirse debido a los nervios de anticipación y entusiasmo de la aventura por venir.

Consejo #4: Traiga una lámpara (un faro sería óptimo) o asegúrete de comprar una de una tienda en el pueblo antes de empezar tu caminata. Busca un bastón robusto es una buena idea, también – será tu mejor amigo durante este viaje.

El sábado por la mañana, nos despertamos a las 4:30am y Laura nos llevó a la entrada donde el signo de 0 km marcó el comienzo de nuestro ascenso oficialmente. La flora y fauna del paisaje cambia cada km drásticamente, así que no te olvides de mirar hacia arriba y alrededor porque las vistas diversas no defraudan. La caminata hasta el campamento base es de 15 km y hay una parada al punto medio del camino en el km 7 donde tienen baños, una tienda de alimento y una estación para llenar tus botellas de agua. No fue hasta el km 13, con un nombre apropiado de Los Arrepentidos, donde comencé a preguntarme qué estaba pensando en subir al Cerro Chirripó y cuestionar la vida en general. Milagrosamente, llegamos al km 15 en 11 horas y fue como encontrar un oasis en el medio del desierto – fue probablemente porque pudimos ver que el campamento base estaba en pendiente desde allí.

Consejo #5: Asegúrete de que estás en buena forma porque la caminata es de 40 km (25 millas) en total y puede ser muy duro físicamente en el cuerpo con el tiempo.

En el campamento base, nos quedamos en nuestra habitación que tenía las literas, cada una con una almohada y un saco de dormir o una cobija. Durante la cena, pasamos tiempo con otras senderistas que vinieron de todo el mundo, incluyendo un irlandés y un italiano  que decidieron acompañarnos en la caminata hasta la cima.

Consejo #6: Hazte un favor y tomar el chocolate caliente con las comidas – cada sorbo se calienta su alma.

Consejo #7: Empaca las capas de ropa porque aunque sudarás en la subida, la temperatura en la cima del Cerro Chirripó puede bajar a 0°C (32°F) con mucha sensación térmica.

Para ver el amanecer a las 5 am de la mañana del domingo, salimos a las 2:30am para empezar el viaje de 5 km a la cima de la montaña. Esto es cuando se utiliza la lámpara porque era oscuro completamente y no se desea perderse en el camino. En km 4, había una parte empinada donde las senderistas tenían que dejan sus bastones y subir la montaña con sus manos y rodillas. El signo de Cerro Chirripó y la bandera costarricense nos dieron la bienvenida en la cima y yo vi asombrada el sol que pintaba colores brillantes en el lienzo del cielo.

Gracias al sol, no pude dejar de admirar el paisaje envolvente que estaba escondido en la oscuridad antes. Regresamos el mismo día y fue una locura ver cómo escalmos estos senderos rocosos en algunas partes. No subestimes el descenso porque aunque toma mucho menos tiempo, los caminos lodoso son resbaladizos así que nos caímos mucho. Después, no podía caminar bien por dos días, pero la vista desde 3.820 metros valió la pena sin duda y nunca olvidaré esta experiencia increíble.

Como siempre, muchas gracias por leer y nos vemos!

Pura Vida mis amigos,
Rebecca Yang

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My time in studying abroad was winding down, and I only had one more free weekend left here in Costa Rica. Hiking the highest mountain in this country was never on my list of top things to do, yet my friend, Mackenzie, had hiked it the weekend before and somehow convinced me that I should just take the chance of – what I would later find out to be – a trip-of-a-lifetime.

Tip #1: Book the trip to Cerro Chirripó at least two weeks beforehand. Tour agencies recommend preparing for the trip at least three MONTHS in advance, but I did not actually commit to climbing Chirripó with two of my friends, Michael and Jackson, until three DAYS right before the weekend. I highly suggest that you do not find yourself in a similar situation because turning in all the required paperwork and payments in such a short period of time, on top of planning for a three-day weekend trip, was not the best idea. So save yourself some unnecessary stress from making a last-minute decision and reserve your spots as soon as possible.

Tip #2: Book with a tour agency. In order to hike Cerro Chirripó, you will need to purchase park permits for every day you are there, along with food and lodging at the base camp. Tour agencies will make your life a lot easier, and the cost of booking with an agency would not greatly exceed what you would be paying had you bought everything individually. I recommend Walks to Chirripó, which was an amazing agency that managed to secure our reservations at such a short notice and were always a phone call away if we had any questions.

We left around 9am on Friday morning from MUSOC terminal, which was a three-hour bus ride from San José to San Isidro del General. From there, we had to catch another bus from Terminal Municipal that took us from San Isidro to San Gerardo de Rivas in half an hour.

Tip #3: Buy bus tickets a day ahead, or arrive early at the bus station at least an hour before departure, because bus tickets do sell out quickly.

We had to check into the Park and the Crestones Basecamp lodging offices before 4pm, because the park requires that you register there a day before your hike. We then stopped by the office of our tour agency to get situated at our hostel Cabaña Ojos Claros, run by our lovely host, Laura. A girl from the Netherlands, who had just hiked Cerro Chirripó the day before, was also staying there that night and gave us helpful tips on what to expect our climb. Since we had an early morning the next day, we headed to bed right after dinner, and I remember having some trouble falling asleep due to nerves of anticipation and excitement of what was to come.

View from our hostel’s back porch
The base camp office next to the soccer field

Tip #4: Bring a flashlight (a headlamp would be optimal), or make sure you buy one from a shop in town before starting your hike. Finding a sturdy walking stick is also a good idea – trust me, it’ll be your best friend on this trip.

 

 

 

On Saturday morning, we woke up at 4:30am and Laura dropped us off at the entrance, where the 0 km sign officially marked the beginning of our ascent. The flora and fauna of the landscape drastically changes at every km, so do not forget to look up and around you because the diverse views do not disappoint. The hike up to base camp is 15 km, and there is a rest stop at the halfway point around km 7, where they have restrooms, a snack shop and a station to refill your water bottles. It was not until km 13 (with a fitting name of The Repentants) where I started to ask myself what in the world was I thinking in climbing Cerro Chirripó, and just questioning life in general. Miraculously, we made to km 15 eleven hours later, and it was like finding an oasis in the middle of the desert – mostly because we could see that the base camp was all downhill from there.

 

Started from the bottom…
…Now we’re here.

Tip #5: Make sure you are in adequate shape because the hike is approximately 40km (25 miles) altogether and can be physically grueling on the body over time.

 

At the base camp, we got situated into our room that had a bunk-bed setup, furnished with a pillow and a sleeping bag/blanket. At dinnertime, we got to meet and hang out with other hikers who came from all over the world, including an Irishman and an Italian fellow, who decided to join our group for the hike up to the summit.

Drink of the day

Tip #6: Do yourself a favor and get the hot chocolate during meal times – every sip will warm your soul to the core.

Tip #7: Pack layers to wear because even though you will sweat on the hike up, the temperature at the top of Cerro Chirripó can drop to as low as 0°C (32°F) with heavy wind chill.

In order to catch the sunrise at 5am on Sunday morning, we departed at 2:30am to begin the 5km trip to the summit of the mountain. This is when the flashlight comes in handy because it was completely pitch-black, and you do not want to wander off the trail. At around km 4, there was a steep part where people had to ditch their hiking sticks and climb up the mountain on their hands and knees. The Cerro Chirripó sign and the Costa Rican flag welcomed us at the top, and I was just in complete awe as I watched the sunrise paint breath-taking colors across the canvas of the sky.

 

 

 

We came, we conquered.

With the sun coming up, I couldn’t help admiring the landscape, which was previously hidden in the darkness, surrounding us from all sides. We made our way back down the same day, and it was shocking to see how we even made it up some of these rocky trails that were all uphill at some points. Don’t underestimate the descent down because although it takes a lot less time, the muddy trails are slippery so we took some falls here and there. Afterwards, I literally could not walk properly for two days, but the view from 3,820 meters up was undoubtedly worth it, and I will never forget this incredible experience.

As always, thank you for reading and see you on the next post!

Pura Vida my friends,
Rebecca Yang


Rebecca Yang is currently a third-year undergraduate student studying Chemistry and Spanish, with an emphasis in Pre-Medicine, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, but after spending three years in Kansas City, she is proud to call this place home. She is studying abroad for one month over the summer with ISA in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

Dunkeld, Scotland

I find it peculiar how life resumes to its original ways, despite traveling abroad for a month. It is hard to fathom, that over two weeks ago I was in another country. Despite missing the little things—my comfortable bed, water pressure in the shower, the use of ice cubes—I find myself endlessly daydreaming about Scotland. Even filling the void by watching the Starz television series Outlander. 

It has been a rigorous four weeks. I had written over twenty pages in essays and had given two eight-minute speeches. The time restraints pushed me to strive for excellence. My experience studying abroad was an opportunity of a lifetime. Although I was abroad for academics, I learned so much more than just reading out of a textbook.

For the first time ever, I was fully independent and only reliant on myself. It was so fulfilling to see that I am able to accomplish these demands alone. For instance, before I embarked on this trip I had never flown internationally by myself. After the multiple sermons by my parents about safety and the endless horror stories, I admit that I was slightly terrified. Ironically, I could have not asked for a better travel experience. I was fully capable of arriving and departing to multiple airports, and cannot contain my excitement for the next time. In addition to my independent travels, I also lived sufficiently with my flatmates.

Group photo on top of Arthur’s Seat.

Study abroad is a unique experience. Due to the time constraints in a foreign country, a bond is quickly formed within the group. Living under an unusual academic situation makes others vulnerable, but allows an individual to form a strong relationship. Over the four weeks, I had the honor of meeting so many unique individuals with various ranges of ideas and beliefs. Each of them were incredible in their own way, and I am so lucky that I had the opportunity to make relationships with these individuals. I am hopeful that these bonds are not only tied to Scotland, but will transcend to the States.

Haggis Adventure Bus

 

It was a “wild and sexy” ride, and I would not trade it for the world. Though, the next time I travel to Scotland I intend on visiting the highlands, since our journey was mostly directed to the lowlands. Not to mention, that Outlander is about the highlands. Ha ha!

Studying abroad has only fed my appetite to travel.

 


Kayli Warner is a senior honors student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City majoring in Theatre and specializing in Costume Design. She is spending the 2017 summer term abroad with the faculty-led UMKC Honors Summer Program in Scotland. Kayli is a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa Society.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

When it’s over.

I had a life changing experience while abroad.  It was fun, stressful, exciting, exhausting, and everything in between.  Once I was finished with my 6 week program at Charles University two of my closest and oldest friends met up with me.  I took my first night train!

Sleeper cars are really cramped…

We spent three weeks traveling through Southeastern Europe and ended up in Italy.

Life at home isn’t this exciting.

The last few days of my three week adventure I spent alone in Rome and in Naples.  I definitely recommend solo travel.  I was able to go see the sights at my own pace and I was forced to speak up in situations where I’d usually let my travel buddies step in.

I found the Trevi Fountain all by myself!

Even though I went through bouts of homesickness while abroad, I’m sad to be home.  I wasn’t prepared to feel like this, but I hear it’s normal.  To fight by coming home blues I am keeping myself busy by meeting with all of the friends who missed me while I was gone.  Every so often I look at pictures from my trip and dream of returning to Italy and Croatia.  Aside from the sadness I feel a new sense of who I am and what I want out of life.  Something I want is more travel!  Next on my list is Japan 2018!  Thank you UMKC for letting me have this experience!


Lauren Higgins is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, studying Physics with emphasis in Astronomy.  Lauren is spending the summer abroad at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Tips for Solo Travel

Study Abroad is a great opportunity to travel before and/or after your program. You’ve already paid for that plane ticket so might as well take the opportunity to see more things! The Scotland program ended with July and I’ve been traveling on my own since my classmate left on August 2nd. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned!

1) ASK! It’s never bad to double check. Whether it is tickets or reservations, asking to clarify always helps. I often pretend I don’t know the answer to see if they have the same information. Sometimes asking redundant questions reveals another alternative, most often a cheaper way to do something. It’s also good to step out of your comfort zone and strike up conversations with the people around you. I’ve had lots of interesting exchanges that make the time spent here even more rich.

2) Give yourself time! I’ve only missed one train so far, but I’d love to keep that to only one, though I’ve also done my fair share of sprinting towards to train. When you are on your own it’s easier to lose track of things, no one is there to check your work. Stay up to date on your next travel plans and know if you need to get a boarding pass at the airport or you already screenshotted it on your phone (Yeah, that was me. Waiting in a line for thirty minutes to remember, oh yes, I have that on my phone).

3) Take advantage! Being only one person, it is easy to walk onto tours or find theatre seats day of! Go and seek those things because chances are they can always put one more person on. This point also comes with a caution; be big when standing in lines especially for tourist attractions. Single people are more rare and get lumped together or entirely overlooked! Make sure to speak up for yourself.

Traveling alone can be very enriching. You learn a lot about yourself and have the chance to do exactly what you please. Don’t forget to ask, take your time, and take advantage!


Claire Davis is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Liberal Arts with minors in Theatre and Environmental Sustainability. Claire is spending the summer finishing her degree with the UMKC Honors Summer Program in Scotland.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Spanish Food

As titled, this post is solely about food because who doesn’t love food?

One of the best parts about Spain is tapas. Tapas are small meals, basically equivalent to appetizers (most of the time) that are very cheap and quick. So basically, if America combined the appetizers of fancy restaurants with the speed and price of fast food restaurants, we’d have tapas. Most tapas cost around 2.20 euros, or about 2.50 dollars. I love going out for tapas because the proper way to “go out for tapas” is to just hop from place to place for a few hours or until you’re full. It’s a great experience because it’s cheap, still healthier than most food in America, and I get to try all sorts of different food in a short span.

One of my favorite places for tapas is La Buena Vida. It’s a very small place but the service is excellent and they have the closest thing to American food. When I’m hungry and homesick, La Buena Vida is the place to go.

My other favorite place is called Brasador y Tapas XXL. The XXL is for the size of the tapas… I made that up, but it seems right. The portion sizes at Brasador are that of a regular (American) entrée, for the low price of 2 euros. In addition, this place is right on the river and is made of glass allowing you to people watch, no matter where you sit.

As good as the tapas are, nothing beats a home-cooked meal, especially when your host mom is the best cook in all of Spain. Somehow my host mom has turned foods I don’t normally like into dishes I love. For example, I don’t even know what the food in the picture to the is called but it looks a little gross… however, I wolfed that down and loved it.

Here’s a few more pictures of some of our meals, and there hasn’t been one I didn’t like. Every home-cooked meal is accompanied by bread, gazpacho or salad, and fruit for dessert. Never in my life have I eaten so healthy and loved it so much.


Natalie Rediger is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Criminal Justice and Criminology. Natalie is spending six weeks of the summer studying abroad with the UMKC Spanish Program in Granada, Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

ROMA

ITALIAAAAA
La bandiera italiana

Il Colosseo / the Colosseum
La via para il Colosseo / The street to the Colosseum

Después de que el programa había terminado, me fui para Italia; yo volé de Madrid a Roma, la capital de Italia. Roma es una ciudad muy antigua y muy histórica. Había muchas vistas, mucha historia y mucha cultura para ver; vi tres vistas muy famosas – primer el Colosseo, después la fuente de Trevi, después Las escaleras españolas. Que bonito era todo por Roma, era como Nueva York pero con más historia. Italiano es bastante como Español que pude comprenderlo un poco, pero es bastante diferente que no pude comprenderlo muchas veces (jejeje). Yo pasé dos días allí, pero es tan gigante que no tuve el tiempo para explorar todo. Estudié la lengua latina en la escuela secundaria y me emocionaba mucho visitar esta ciudad de que había oído tanto por los años. Hacía mucho calor allí. La plaza de España era muy bella y había una bandera gigante allí, otra cosa que me alegraba ver. Mis dos amores europeos en un lugar. 🙂

IL COLOSSEO La fontana di Trevi

After the program had finished, I left for Italy; I flew from Madrid to Rome, the capital of Italy. Rome is a very old and very historic city. There were many sights, a lot of history and a lot of culture to see; I saw three famous sights – first the Colosseum, then the Trevi fountain, then the Spanish steps. How beautiful was everything, it was like New York but with more history. Italian is enough like Spanish that I managed to understand a little, but it’s different enough that I do not manage many times (LOL). I spent two days there, pero it’s so huge that I did not have time to explore everything. I studied Latin in high school and it was exciting me to visit this city that I had heard so much about over the years. It was really hot there. The plaza of Spain was very beautiful and there was a huge Spanish flag there, another thing that I was excited to see. My two European loves in one place. 🙂

Le Scale Spagnole / The Spanish steps
La fontana di Trevi / the Trevi fountain

 

Os veré luego, amigos. Hasta pronto. N8
I will see y’all later, friends. Until soon. Natagnél


Natagnél Frisella is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, studying Spanish Language & Literature. Natagnél is traveling through Spain this summer 2017, concluding with the UMKC Spanish Program based at the University of Granada in Southern Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.