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Trip to Switzerland

From the start of my study abroad, I had a list of top places I wanted to visit while here in Europe. Switzerland was close to the top of my list. Everyone here warned me about how expensive Switzerland is and I quickly became discouraged, thinking I wouldn’t be able to make it to the cute little towns my friends back home told me all about. Luckily, I was able to find a cheap flight and inexpensive accommodation, making Switzerland a reality! So I hopped on my tiny plane to Zurich and stepped into the unknown of Switzerland. Zurich was pretty far away from where I was planning to stay in Interlaken so I had to figure out a way to get from here to there without it costing me an arm and a leg. Coming across a train ticket window, I ended up asking a man what the heck I should do to get where I needed to be. Luckily, he was amazingly helpful, he helped me buy a train ticket to Interlaken, converted some of my euros to Swiss francs, and gave me a free bar of Swiss chocolate. Off to find my train platform, I headed down the escalator and realized I had already gone the wrong direction, awesome. Back up the escalator I went, hoping the train ticket guy didn’t catch my moment of immediate disorientation. Finally finding the correct platform, I must have looked like I belonged or had some sense of what I was doing even though I surely didn’t, because a pair of old English gentlemen came up to me, showed me their tickets and asked if they were in the right place. This was a blind leading the blind moment when I told them “yes, you’re in the right place”… “If I’m in the right place”, I’m thinking to myself. On the 2 hour train ride to Interlaken, I realized my phone wasn’t working. Normally I use my Slovenian sim card on all the trips I go on, but the catch is it only works in EU countries, of which Switzerland is not a part of. So here I am, arrived in Interlaken with no clue how to get to my hostel, no matter, it’s just a minor roadblock. Bought a Swiss sim card after a small struggle to find an English speaker and now I was ready to still get lost on my way to my hostel. Eventually, I made it to my hostel, checked in, and walked up three flights to my shared room. So far, I’ve never stayed in a hostel, but the accommodation in Switzerland was much more expensive and it was all I could afford. The hostel didn’t seem so bad the first night because my six bunk room was empty and I had it all to myself, that would soon change.

Today, I had plans to go to Jungfraujoch or “The Top of Europe”. The ticket for the several trains to the top of the mountain were quite expensive, but I was already on the train so there was no turning back now. Getting to the top of Jungfraujoch was worth the trip. DSC_4798ReMiles and miles of mountains and clouds to the point where the two were indistinguishable. Next, I made my way down to the ice palace. Elsa would have been impressed. There were ice sculptures and ice tunnels, it was pretty cool(pun intended). Desperately trying to keep my fingers from falling off, I kept rubbing my hands together. IMG_1756Re Perfectly enough, one of the stops on my way back was a town called Lauterbrunnen in which my best friends back home informed me it was their absolute favorite place they had visited on a trip in high school. Lauterbrunnen was a charming little town situated in a valley between two mountains with a stunning waterfall in the center, streaming down from great heights. Living here must be a dream everyday. With the setting sun, I had to take the train back to Interlaken. Walking up the three flights of stairs, I mentally prepared myself to actually have roommates tonight even though I prayed for continued vacancy. Slowly, I opened the door and found four guys who had made their homes in the bunk beds of my room, well our room now I guess. Two of the guys were my age, from Louisiana, and studying in Madrid. They were nice enough but left late to go party and made a terrible drunken ruckus when they came back at 2:30 in the morning when the rest of us were snoozing. After they had left to do whatever it is they did, a girl came in and took the very last bunk right above me. I was relieved there was another girl in the room, but I’m not sure it was worth her annoying phone buzzing against the wood irregularly, keeping me awake. Turns out it was also bothering one of the men at the other end of the room as he audibly sighed in exasperation after every annoying buzz. Obviously much more confrontational than I, he got up, came over and woke up the girl to tell her to turn off her phone. She seemed pretty upset, but the buzzing ceased. Sometimes it’s nice to let someone else fight your battle. Once the confrontational guy fell asleep after the lack of phone buzzing, he was own problem with his resounding snores. Yay, staying in a hostel!

Started my day by dropping my favorite earring in the sink. Frustrated with myself, I went downstairs to eat my free breakfast of toast and yogurt then spilled my coffee all over the place. Off to a great start. Choosing an empty seat, I sat down next to a girl who I found out was in Switzerland to go skydiving. So cool, I definitely have skydiving on my bucket list, maybe not this weekend though. Interlaken is situated between two beautiful lakes and surrounded by mountains and I wanted to explore both while I was here. After breakfast, I got on a bus to the train station to spend a day at Lake Brienz and explore some waterfalls. DSC_5062ReGiessbach waterfall ended up being really beautiful and there were barely any people there which made it so much better. Looking out from behind the waterfall, I could see the lake, mountains, and hotel Giessbach which was probably crazy expensive, but beautiful. Feeling like I didn’t get the full waterfall experience, I headed down to the bottom of the waterfall and ended up climbing over a few rocks and walking around.Turns out I had too much fun at the waterfall because I missed the bus back to the main train station and had an impromptu hour hike around the lake. It was a long walk, but it kind of turned out great because it was the most beautiful walk through hills and right by the the bright blue lake. I can’t describe how beautiful it is so I’ll just upload photos instead.

 


My next day in Switzerland was my favorite of all my days abroad because I went paragliding! I met with my paragliding instructor/partner then we hopped in a van with other paragliders and made our way up the mountain. They asked if I wanted the lower or higher jumping point and I chose higher so we kept on driving further up the mountain. Everything happened so quickly, there was no time to build up anxiety or fear. I stepped into my harness, he set out the parachute, and we were all set to go. Defying all logic, we began running toward the edge of the mountain, took two final large steps, felt the wind catch the parachute, and then I was paragliding! It was an incredible feeling, there was no fear whatsoever. I was expecting to feel some sense of panic or uneasiness but there was nothing but pure joy and excitement. Now I know what it feels like to be a bird! Glorious feelings of freedom and wonder as I looked down and out across the stunning Swiss alps and beautiful Interlaken. Honestly there was some point when I felt as though I must be dreaming. There was no way I could be paragliding in Switzerland, it was beyond belief. I’m so grateful for my study abroad experiences, they are once in a lifetime!


Katrena Smith is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying psychology. Katrena, a Gilman Scholarship recipient, will spend her spring semester in Ljubljana, Slovenia as part of the UMKC exchange with the University of Ljubljana. There, she will be complete her Sociology minor, adding to her education in pursuit of becoming a Child Life Specialist.

Disclaimer:  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.

STUDY ABROAD TIPS

Who ME?

As a first-generation college student, I never thought college was possible. I did not think I could afford to study abroad. However, I have a few tips that have helped me get to this point.

Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri

Start EARLY!

As soon as I transferred to UMKC I emailed Study Abroad and Global Engagement. Within my first meetings with SAGE, they helped me create a list of deadlines to complete and resources on campus that can help me along the way.

Choose a Program That Works for YOU

As a Health Science Major, it was hard for me to find an appropriate program that worked with my degree and would not push back my graduation. The staff at SAGE mentioned to me a Summer Faculty-Led Program would work great for me since it is in the summer and it will provide 9 college credit hours towards a Spanish Language minor and/or major.

Apply to SCHOLARSHIPS

When I saw the total cost of how much it was to study abroad, I almost gave up and said: “there is no way I can afford that”. However, there are various ways to pay for study abroad programs with scholarships. One great scholarship called The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program is open to U.S. Citizen undergraduate students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant. This scholarship has two scholarship cycles for the summer term. The summer “early” application is due in October and the summer “regular” application in March. I am grateful to have received a significant Gilman Scholarship. Study Abroad and Global Engagement provides scholarships to students as well.

Use Campus RESOURCES

There are resources on campus that can help you with the scholarship process. At the beginning of my career at UMKC, I did not know we had the Writing Studio who can proofread your paper for organization, content, and grammar. This is a great resource to use if you are applying to the Gilman Scholarship or a SAGE scholarship. Another set of eyes is always good to make sure your paper is well written.

Start Saving MONEY

Setting a small reasonable amount can be helpful when things you didn’t even think of can come up. For example, an outlet converter/adaptor, travel size hygiene products and even a checked bag fee. Things can come up and having some spare money to be able to make purchases like this can really come in handy.

As the days count down, it just goes to show how fast time goes by. My first year at UMKC went by so quickly! There were many obstacles along the way. I stuck through them and everything worked out. In just a few weeks I will be leaving my hometown, Kansas City to immerse myself into a different environment for 6 weeks in Malaga, Spain to continue finding my passion and learning more about myself.


Brian Ramirez is a junior at the University of Missouri- Kansas City and a Kansas City native. He is studying health science and Spanish. Brian is spending the summer abroad as a Gilman Scholar with the Faculty-Led UMKC Spanish Language Summer in Malaga, Spain.

Disclaimer:  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.

5 Tips for Midwesterners in Prague

As I’m writing this, I’m closing in on my first week in Prague, Czech Republic. So far, I’ve hiked the Bohemian Paradise trail, explored Prague Castle and the St. Vitus Cathedral, and wandered the streets of Old Town. I’m blown away by how gorgeous this city and country is, and I can’t wait to explore more of it.

View of Hrubá Skála from the Bohemian Paradise trails.
The Astronomical Clock in Prague’s Old Town.

Although I’ve already seen some beautiful sights and learned a lot in my class (titled “Imperial Nations and Subject Peoples: Czechs in the Austrian Empire”), the most interesting thing to me has been how different the Czech culture is as opposed to American culture — specifically American Midwestern culture.

I’ve lived in the middle of America for my entire life. As it turns out, the things that I thought were common are not common at all here! The Czechs are very reserved in a way that Midwesterners in the United States are not. So, from what I’ve learned about Czech culture in my first week here, I thought I’d make a very brief Midwestern Guide to Czech Culture.

  • Smiling at strangers is a common Midwestern phenomenon, but it is not so common in the Czech Republic. People will think you are strange!
  • You shouldn’t just make small talk with strangers in lines, on trams or trains, etc. They will wonder why you are talking to them.
  • You shouldn’t expect that your cashier or server will engage in friendly conversation with you. Most often, they will simply do their intended job and cut out all the unnecessary bits. They’re not being rude – the culture here is just that people don’t feel a need to be overly interactive with strangers.
  • If you’re a ranch lover, you’ll need to find a way to wean out your ranch addiction before you get to Prague.
  • You don’t need to be so excessively polite. You of course should not be rude – but you don’t need to keep the “Midwestern nice” label on you for your entire trip.

So, there you have it! There’s 5 tips for the Midwesterner who wants to travel to Prague. The culture change has been a shock, but I’m learning more about how to fit in with each day that goes by. I can’t wait to find out more about this beautiful country and its reserved culture.

 

The sun setting over the Czech countryside as I rode on the train from the Bohemian Paradise back to Prague. The view reminded me of the Midwest. 

Helene Slinker is a rising senior at the University of Missouri- Kansas City. Helene is spending her summer studying in Prague, Czech Republic through the Charles University Intercultural Studies program, taking classes that contribute to her political science major and women’s and gender studies minor. Helene is eager to learn more about Central and Eastern European politics through this program and explore the Czech Republic.

Disclaimer:  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.

Copenhagen, Here I Come

I can’t believe it! The time is finally here. In just 24 short hours I will be embarking on a journey that I couldn’t have imagined just a few short years ago. To say that I’m excited to be living in Copenhagen, Denmark for the next six weeks would be a gross understatement. As I type this post, however, I’m feeling nervous and anxious in more ways than I can count. I’ve only flown domestically a handful of times, so I’m not sure what to expect when it comes to an international flight. What if something is wrong with my booking? Did I bring all the right documents? What if there’s traffic on the way to the airport? Will I miss my flight!? Did I even remember my passport!?!

(That last potential crisis was, fortunately, averted…thanks mom)

While many of these are admittedly unnecessary concerns, that just seems to be the way my brain operates. To combat this I simply try to remind myself that no matter how overwhelmed I may feel right now, I know that it will all be worth it the second I touch down in Copenhagen. I just can’t wait to try foods I didn’t existed, to learn things I didn’t know I needed to learn, and to take a million and a half pictures. I may be anxious, but it’s a good anxious. I have no doubt that this study abroad experience will change my life in ways I can’t even begin to think about. To conclude this opening post, I’ve included my favorite picture of Copenhagen that my study abroad provider, DIS, concludes all their emails with.

 

 

Pictures like this make me giddy with anticipation, and I can hardly believe that I’ll be standing there in just a day and a half.

 

-Jacob


Jacob Furry is a sophomore Trustee’s Scholar at the University of Missouri- Kansas City majoring in music education along with a psychology minor. Jacob will spend the summer abroad as a Gilman Scholar in Copenhagen, Denmark with the DIS Copenhagen program studying multicultural and special education.

Disclaimer:  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.

Leaving to Learn in Ljubljana!

Only two days until I leave for my study abroad trip in Ljubljana, Slovenia! My name is Katrena Smith, I am a junior at UMKC, majoring in psychology. I will be finishing my sociology minor at the University of Ljubljana, continuing my education toward becoming a Child Life Specialist. For those of you who have no idea where Slovenia is(I wouldn’t know if I weren’t about to live there for 6 months), it is a very small country to the right of Italy. What language do they speak, you ask? Slovene. Do I know how to speak Slovenian? No, no I do not. I have researched a few key phrases, but luckily most everyone will be able to communicate in English. There is so much to learn about and ways to grow as a person on my trip, I am so incredibly excited and nervous for my adventure of leaving my home of KCMO to study abroad in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

      Let’s talk about Ljubljana. First of all, I know I did not pronounce this city correctly the first many times I read it which is a pity because it is a gorgeous sounding name. In the Slovenian language, J’s are pronounced as Y’s. Ljubljana is actually pronounced [lyoo-BLYAH-nuh]. Amazing, right? Well, I know I am not even there yet, but all the photos I have seen have been breathtaking. I’ll update with pictures I take later, I promise. The population of Ljubljana is 270,000, which is tiny for the capital of a European country. In comparison, the population of Kansas City is 488,000 and Ljubljana is roughly the same size as the state of Massachusetts! One of the reasons I chose Ljubljana was due to the small town feel. Everything in Ljubljana is accessible by foot or by bicycle which I am extremely thrilled about. I can rent a bike for €3 for an entire year, and you better believe I already have that budgeted. Ljubljana is adorable and I can not wait for it to become my home away from home.

I have always had a thirst for travel, yet I have never been outside the United States. I look forward to stepping outside my comfort zone and being challenged. Turns out I am actually flying into Slovenia on a national holiday. First challenge of the trip has already happened! Since it’s a holiday, all the offices are closed and I won’t be able to get my dorm, so…. I had to get an AirBnb for the weekend unexpectedly. Honestly though, the host seems super nice and accommodating and maybe as a local, she will have some great advice for me regarding the city. It’s difficult not knowing what dorm I will be in or where exactly I will be, who I’ll be rooming with, or what it looks like, but it’s alright, I am ready for anything! As long as I have a bed and my roommate doesn’t steal from me, I’ll be just fine. See? I’m already going with the flow and I haven’t even gotten to Slovenia yet. Weirdly enough, I can’t wait to face all the challenges that await me.

Thank you so much for reading, I am excited to update you once I have been in Ljubljana for a while. Wish me luck on my flight!


Katrena Smith is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying psychology. Katrena, a Gilman Scholarship recipient, will spend her spring semester in Ljubljana, Slovenia as part of the UMKC exchange with the University of Ljubljana. There, she will be complete her Sociology minor, adding to her education in pursuit of becoming a Child Life Specialist.

Disclaimer:  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.

Crafting Your Gilman Essay

Crafting a Competitive Gilman Essay: Tips

Image result for writing clip art

 

Okay, so, I see that you have decided to apply for Gilman! GREAT! Let’s get started on crafting an essay that will give you a better chance of winning a scholarship to study abroad. As a Gilman recipient I remember being stressed! I had other assignments to do, exams etc you name it, and to make matters worse, my classes clashed with the work shops provided by the Study Abroad Office.  So, I thought all hope was lost. I didn’t have anyone to help truly guide me in this part of applying. So, here are a few tips to help if you run into the same circumstances I faced!

Step One: Don’t fall into pessimistic thinking! Speak it into existence! Claim it and it will be yours.

If you cant attend the workshops which I highly recommend, pull up good ol Dr. Google and begin searchin’ and readin’. There are SO MANY resources available online to help you craft a competitive essay. Even the Gilman website gives tips. Youtube is also a great place to go if you do not have time to read through various articles explaining how to write this essay. I will post a link for the example essay I used to craft my essay.

        https://scholarshipsojourn.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/sample-gilman-essay-3-england/

Step 2: Set aside enough time so that you can REVISE, REVISE and REVISE some more.

This is really something that can’t be written in one night! I would advise to not revise so much that your personal voice is gone and it sounds like a robot wrote your essay. It is okay to use “I” unlike in the academic writing we are used to. Make sure that there aren’t any grammatical errors or if you choose to provide intimate details about your life don’t cut it short, DETAIL IS GOOD. Use all of the characters and words they give you! They want to know who you are and why they should give you money. TAKE THIS VERY SERIOUSLY! Here are a few tips I would give you when it comes to the actual content.

  • Be yourself and I mean really yourself, The people reviewing your essay will read a thousand other ones, STAND OUT  
  • Tell them how studying abroad will help you life/career  goals and or your community 
  • STRESS the need for financial assistance, everyone applying receives a Pell Grant, so they know money is the issue
  • DETAIL, the paper is the only representation they have of you, this is a time when you can tell your whole life story and someone will actually want to hear it 
  • Get Personal
  • Let them know why you choose a specific study abroad program
  • Make your opening sentence intriguing and your opening paragraph concise like a thesis statement.
  • Give a timeline! It’s okay to talk about past experiences, but make sure you make them relevant to you present and future.
  • Talk about the city you will be in

Step 3:  Email me and I’ll give you feedback [gabbiehull@gmail.com]       

If you ever get stuck, as a Gilman recipient/Alumni and a UMKC graduate, I am here to help anyone who wants to study abroad. It was one of the best experiences of my life and if I can help someone get abroad it would be my honor.


Gabrielle Hull is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Sociology, Psychology and French.  Gabrielle is a Gilman Scholar who studied abroad with the UMKC French Summer Program in Lyon, France. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Gabrielle is active on campus, participating in the multi-cultural sorority Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc. Gabrielle hopes to use her French language ability to advocate for those who can’t speak for themselves after graduation.

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 Few Reasons Why You Should Apply for the Gilman 🤔

 

**ATTENTION**

Before reading this post make sure that you meet all the requirements on this checklist. If not, you may not be eligible to apply for the Gilman Scholarship, but there are most definitely other options, grants, and scholarships out there.  Do not give up on studying abroad because of financial concerns. Trust me, I didn’t have a dime to spend, and my entire trip was paid for. It was the best thing that ever happened to me and it could very much be you.

  • Are you a U.S citizen?
  • Do you receive the Pell Grant through Federal financial aid?
  • Are you attending a two or four-year university?
  • Have you been accepted into a study abroad program or internship eligible for credit by the student’s accredited institution?
  • Are you studying or interning abroad for at least 21 days in one country?
  • Are studying or interning abroad in any country except Cuba or a country on the US Department of State’s current Travel Warning list?  
  • Are you ready to embark on one of the most eye-opening experiences of your life?

If you answered yes to all of the above, buckle up and let’s dive into why you should apply for the Gilman Scholarship.

What is the Benjamin A Gilman International Scholarship?

The Benjamin A Gilman International Scholarship is a grant program that enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad, thereby gaining skills critical to our national security and economic competitiveness. It is open to college students that are U.S citizens, attend a two or four-year university that receives the Federal Pell Grant. The Gilman scholarship is competitive, so you will have to put in effort and time, but it is very much worth it. The Pell grant and to be in the running to receive the scholarship, you must craft an essay. You will also be required to propose a follow-on service project or a way to help others become aware of the scholarship so that it can benefit other people in the way it’s helped you, giving back to those who helped you get to the place you are today.

Why I applied

Although my study abroad program allowed me to use loans from financial aid, I was not looking to take out any more loans. Loans equal money I’ll have to pay back later. Gilman equals money I will pay back in serving my community. Let’s be real, paying for college is daunting. Studying abroad may appear to be out of the question, but fret not, there are ways to get around financial restrictions. Studying abroad offers experiences that cannot be captured on a college campus sitting in a classroom. Through studying abroad, you will learn perspective, life skills and grow as an individual. This can all be realized by applying for the Benjamin A. Gilman International scholarship. It’ll just a take a little hard work and dedication. Honestly, coming from a single parent household with four other siblings, our financial situation was, to say the least, rough. I didn’t think I’d be able to go to college, let alone touch down in France, Spain, Ireland and The Netherlands. But the Gilman Scholarship made this possible and I am ever so grateful.

Okay, I know you’re probably like, “Okay girl, we get it. Get to the point! Enough with the cheesy words to motivate me to study abroad. I’m in.” Okay, well then, let’s really talk. I’m going to give you the tea and nothing but the tea on why you should apply for the Gilman Scholarship.  Three, two, one, let’s go!

Why should you apply for the Gilman?

Overseas was LIT! I met people and had experiences I could not have had in the United States. If you have an opportunity to make this possible for yourself, why not use all the resources available to you. Gilman is a GREAT resource considering that recipients receive between 3,000 and 5,000 dollars. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE! Gilman Scholars join a network of people from different walks of life that could help in your professional development. I’m not finished yet, Gilman gives you career opportunities as well! Therefore if you love traveling you can continue this lifestyle. Applying to Gilman will only help you, so what are you waiting for APPLY! YOU CAN DO IT! VOUS POUVEZ LE FAIRE!


Gabrielle Hull is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Sociology, Psychology and French.  Gabrielle is a Gilman Scholar who studied abroad with the UMKC French Summer Program in Lyon, France. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Gabrielle is active on campus, participating in the multi-cultural sorority Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc. Gabrielle hopes to use her French language ability to advocate for those who can’t speak for themselves after graduation.

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 Retransition: Coming Home

My mom and I when she picked me up from the airport

Some people have asked me what I miss most from Argentina, expecting an answer about a food, the weather, or a daily ritual. In truth, I miss the struggle of trying to communicate with less-than-fluent Spanish abilities, the discomfort of not knowing how to behave in an unfamiliar situation, and the unpredictability of wandering through six weeks with a loose schedule. After throwing myself completely into experiencing and enjoying the difficulties of studying abroad, the ease, comfort, and predictability of life back home seems foreign.

I was warned about “reverse culture shock” (the culture shock one experiences when returning home from study abroad) even before I had left for Argentina. At the time, I didn’t take it that seriously. Home is familiar, I thought, how could coming home be shocking? Towards the end of my stay in Argentina, as our class discussions turned more frequently to the prospect of returning to the United States, I began to consider it more seriously. Our professor, who has had lots of study abroad experience, advised us that the “shock” would come from the abrupt, begrudging return to reality, to real responsibilities and obligations, to due dates and work schedules and to-do lists. So this is what I expected upon my return to the U.S.. After all, though study abroad is definitely not just a vacation, it did often feel like a break, or at least like a separation, from “reality.”

What I have struggled with most, however, is not the abrupt return to reality but the feeling that a part of me is stuck in South America. It’s messaging in Spanish with friends I met in Santiago who are now skiing in Patagonia while trying to appear interested in my aunt’s small town gossip. It’s reading contemporary Argentine novels then watching the American Netflix shows I missed while abroad. It’s sharing memes about capitalism in the group chat with my classmates from Argentina while trying to catch up on the missed inside jokes in the group chat with my Conservatory friends. It’s trying to finish up coursework for my Argentine culture class while trying to prepare to return to a intense semester of music education classes. It’s having left my mind and heart in Buenos Aires while my reality and responsibilities are here in Kansas City. This would be my definition of reverse culture shock: feeling shockingly not ‘at home’ in your own home.

A lot of people say that one of the best parts of traveling is the feeling of coming home. I would argue that the beauty of traveling is gaining more homes in places and people scattered around the world. Even if I never feel totally “at home” here again, I think the experience of building new “home”s abroad is more than worth the cost.


Amber Litteken is a freshman at the University of Missouri-Kansas City majoring in Instrumental Music Education and minoring in Spanish Language and Literature. Amber will spend six weeks of the summer abroad with the UMKC Faculty-Led Spanish Language Summer in Buenos Aires, Argentina as a Gilman Scholar. Amber is from Breese, Illinois and plays bassoon.

Disclaimer: 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.

How Gilman Has Changed My Life & Career Goals

Receiving the Gilman Scholarship gave me an experience I will never forget. I studied abroad in Lyon, France for six weeks. I traveled to Spain, Amsterdam, and four cities in France while in Europe. There is no doubt in my mind that if I didn’t receive the scholarship I would have stayed home and worked over the summer. My summer in France gave me more than just fun times, but insights into to my career goals. As a graduating senior, I am applying for a program by the name of TAPIF. As a freshman I came to UMKC as a French major, the French language has always been a passion of mine. After hearing some of the negative comments about job opportunities after graduating I decided to add Sociology as a backup plan. While I enjoyed sociology it just wasn’t my steak and potatoes. When I studied abroad in the summer of 2017 thanks to the Gilman I realized France felt like a home away and I knew it was exactly where I wanted to be and that I was still passionate about French. I was now sure that I wanted to use French in my career. If I had never applied to Gilman and received this scholarship, I believe I would still be confused about what I want to do in my career and worried about what other thought of my major. Receiving the Gilman helped me to not worry about what others say. If it’s meant for you it will be!

In addition to this realization,  I was offered a position with Teach for America. As a Gilman recipient, you can put this achievement on your resume and that is exactly what I did. It was fascinating that during my interview process the interviewer seemed extremely interested in learning about the Gilman. I believe that this achievement helped my resume to stand out among the crowd. On my resume, I have my sorority and the various clubs of which I am apart, but there were no questions asked about them. If I do not make it into the TAPIF program, I will have a career anyway and this is because that achievement helped me to stand out.

Being a Gilman Recipient has completely changed my goals in other ways when it comes to giving back to the community. I believe that everyone should have an experience abroad. It truly changes your perspective and outlook on life. On a personal note being a black woman, it goes unsaid but there is so much racial tension in the United States. For once while walking around in other nations, I felt as if I was American enough, not just African American. In the future, I hope to open a non-profit that helps students in low-income neighborhoods  experience studying abroad. As someone who comes from poverty I know that it is easy to feel defeated and that your situation will never get better. I know how much it changed my mindset and reality. Programs to study abroad exist at private schools or schools in high-income areas like the one I was lucky enough to be bused into and I think its time we give all students this opportunity and not just the one’s with money.

Tout les personnes méritent une chance égale


Gabrielle Hull is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Sociology, Psychology and French.  Gabrielle is a Gilman Scholar who studied abroad with the UMKC French Summer Program in Lyon, France. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Gabrielle is active on campus, participating in the multi-cultural sorority Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc. Gabrielle hopes to use her French language ability to advocate for those who can’t speak for themselves after graduation.

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.

Three Days Without Internet? Yes, Please!

After finishing our final exams concluding weeks of intensive language courses in the bustling city of Buenos Aires, all of us “Kansas people,” as our dear ISA staff liked to call us, were ready for a leisurely escape to the rural northernmost provinces of Salta and Jujuy. The highlight of our trip to the north was our 3 day/2 night stay with el Rey de Campesina, an indigenous farming extended-family living in the foothills of the Andes mountains. After spending 4 days traveling around on buses, we were all thrilled to be staying in one spot for a few days and I, for one, was particularly excited about the complete lack of Internet connection.

Upon our arrival, we hiked up through the brush with our luggage to be divided up into the different homes of the family members. After settling in and enjoying an evening snack with our hosts, we all reunited at one house to enjoy a huge welcome dinner; the 13 members of our group and the 8 or so family members sharing one long table outside in the dark and freezing cold.

The next morning, after breakfast in our respective homes, we enjoyed a tour of the family vineyard and bodega (artisanal winery). Then we learned how to make empanadas for lunch.

This meal was one of my favorite memories from our trip to the north – all of us sitting around the same table eating, laughing, and drinking homemade wine, soaking up the warm sunlight, surrounded by beautiful mountains. After lunch, the patriarch Enrique and his nephews led us on an intense half-day trekking, which proved to be more rock climbing than walking, and pushed all of us to our physical limits.

Dinner that night was quicker and more subdued as we were all exhausted from the day’s adventures and eager to fall into our beds. The next morning we had talleres (workshops) in basket weaving or tapestry loom weaving from indigenous artisan women.

After a bittersweet farewell lunch, we packed up our things, said goodbye to our gracious hosts, and headed back down to load the bus and begin the journey back to Salta, then Buenos Aires, then back home to the United States.

This experience was my favorite part of my study abroad program in Argentina. I wish I had taken more pictures with which to remember the people I met and the places I saw. At the time, however, I was surrounded by so much natural beauty it was impossible to decide what to take pictures of. Besides, I was too busy experiencing everything and living in the moment to think about pausing to take photos that could never capture what I hold in memory.


Amber Litteken is a freshman at the University of Missouri-Kansas City majoring in Instrumental Music Education and minoring in Spanish Language and Literature. Amber will spend six weeks of the summer abroad with the UMKC Faculty-Led Spanish Language Summer in Buenos Aires, Argentina as a Gilman Scholar. Amber is from Breese, Illinois and plays bassoon.

Disclaimer: 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.