2017 #RoosAbroad Photo Contest Finalists

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the photographs UMKC students brought back from studying abroad during the 2016-2017 academic year speaks volumes about their life-changing experiences. First and second place finalists were selected by a panel of judges in each of the four categories; Landscapes, Portraits, Cross-Cultural Moments, and Roo Pride. First place finalists won a $75 Amazon gift card and second place finalists won a $25 Amazon gift card. See the full contest guidelines for details.

Browse all photo contest submissions on the 2017 Roos Abroad Photo Contest Pinterest board. Thanks to everyone who participated!



First Place: Erica Prado

This photograph was taken at Eilean Donan Castle in the Scottish Highlands. My study abroad group and I, stopped here during our road trip throughout Scotland during our last week in the country. The medieval castle founded in the thirteenth century, is considered one of Scotland’s most cherished historical sites. Its original name Eilean Donan derives from Gaelic, and means “Island of Donnan”.


Second Place: Christopher Shinn

Taken in Germany while participating in the UMKC Kempten semester exchange program




First Place: Gabrielle Rucker

Photo taken in Shanghai, China while participating in the Alliance Shanghai semester program


Second Place: Alyssa Dinberg

This photo depicts a local resident walking his dog on a cloudy day in Lisbon. I really like the juxtaposition between the traditional cobblestone sidewalks and architecture and the modern yet relaxed vibe he gives off.


Cross-Cultural Moments


First Place: Jessica Sliger

Her First Dental Appointment taken in Falmouth, Trelawny, Jamaica


Second Place: Bayley Cawthon

Taken in Paris, France while participating in the Missouri-London semester Program at the University of Roehampton


Roo Pride


First Place: Kelista McGraw

Representing UMKC on an Elephant in Jaipur, India. Painting elephants is a tradition upheld by Indians for years. Decorating the elephants with bright colors during festival seasons is one of the ways to celebrate the Hindu deity Ganesha.


Second Place: Emily McIntyre

Enjoying the view at the top of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh.


Statue of Gonçalo Velho Cabral in Ponta Delgada / Estatua de Gonçalo Velho Cabral en Ponta Delgada

Hola amigos,

Hoy es el día de la bandera – el catorce de Junio. Mi tiempo en Iberia empezó temprano en Portugal. Portugal no es un país hispanohablante, claro, pero tiene sentido este viaje, os prometo!!! Ved la bandera aquí [PORTUGAL]. Yo volé hasta las islas portuguesas de los Azores (se escribe “Açores” en Portugués). Ved la bandera aquí [AÇORES]. Estaba en la isla “São Miguel” (sería San Miguel en Español) en la ciudad de Ponta Delgada. Yo sentía el calor de la isla por mitad del día, pero a las seis de la tarde, me fui de la isla y volé más tres horas hasta la ciudad de Lisboa – la ciudad capital de Portugal. Ved la bandera aquí [LISBOA]. Esta ciudad es muy vieja y era la ciudad real en una época muy antigua. Era interesante que la ciudad sea una mezcla de los edificios viejos y los estilos nuevos. Después de que visité Lisboa, yo cogí un tren por otras dos horas hasta la ciudad de Coimbra. Ved la bandera aquí [COIMBRA]. El hombre portugués de mi hostal me dijo que era la primera ciudad real hace muchos siglos.

Mucho amor desde Portugal [amor enrollado en una bandera ;)]


Hello friends,

Today is flag day – the 14th of June. My time in Iberia began early in Portugal. Portugal is not a Spanish-speaking country, clearly, but this trip makes sense, I promise!!! See the flag above! I flew to the Portuguese islands, the Azores (written “Açores” in Portuguese). See the flag above! I was on the island “São Miguel” (it would be “San Miguel” in Spanish) in the city Ponta Delgada. I was feeling the heat of the island for half a day, but at 6 in the evening, I left the island and flew 3 more hours to Lisbon – the capital city of Portugal. See the flag above! This city is very old and was the royal city at a former time. It was interesting that the city is a mix of old buildings and the new styles. After I visited Lisbon, I took a train for another 2 hours to the city Coimbra. See the flag above! The Portuguese guy from my hostel told me that it was the first royal city many centuries ago.

Much love from Portugal [love wrapped in a flag ;)]


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.

Taking Risks

Someone once told me, “the moment you learn to accept yourself for all that you are, is the moment you truly start living.”

I recently decided to give couchsurfing a try. For those of you who don’t know what couchsurfing is, it is a website that connects you with other travelers. You can use the website for various different things, such as finding language exchanges, meeting people from other countries, or simply chatting online. The main use, however, is to find free accommodation while traveling. You find someone in the city that you are going to that is willing to “host” you in their house. That usually means you will stay on their couch, though some people have extra rooms to share. The idea isn’t that you just get free accommodation, but that you will meet new people. Often times these people will show you around and give you tips on the city. It is a great thing to do, especially if you are traveling alone and don’t know what to do.

Anyhow, I decided to try couchsurfing while I was in Amsterdam. I had already booked a hostel, because I was a little hesitant on doing couchsurfing, but I ended up canceling my hostel to stay on someones couch.

I ended up staying with a guy from India. He had actually just moved to Amsterdam a few months prior, but he already had hosted several people.

The second day that I stayed with him, he told me that he had to work, and that I couldn’t stay at his place alone. He didn’t allow couchsurfers to stay there when he wasn’t there, which I totally understand. However, he did offer to let me come to work with him. Because I didn’t have anything planned, I went with him.

I ended up finding out that his work was hosting a cancer awareness event. They were basically raising money for an organization that makes wigs for children. Similar to what you may know as Locks of Love. However, unlike Locks of Love, this organization doesn’t charge for their wigs, and they do not sell their wigs to the patients. They are given to them nearly free of charge. Where as, Locks of Love has been known to charge lots of money for the donated hair. (I urge you to do your own research on the company ).

Anyhow, during this event, they were looking for people to donate their hair. The people would get their haircut but professional hair stylists for free, and in return, they would donate their hair. After watching a lot of people donate their hair, I realized how afraid I was of cutting my own. Like many girls, I am attached to my hair, and I would feel a loss of something if I cut it off. But then it dawned on me that these wigs are going to people who don’t have the choice to keep their hair. People, in particular, children who are afraid of having short/no hair.

The thing is, however, hair is only important, because society tells us it is. Society tells men that instead of accepting that they are going bald, because it is a part of life, they need to avoid it at all costs. Men will keep their hair until it is hanging on a thread (look at Trump). They will spend thousands of dollars on products that claim to re-grow their hair or on hairplugs. Instead of accepting that they are going bald, because in this society it is seen as such a horrible thing. When in reality, your hair is just hair. Attachment to hair is even stronger among women. Society has created this idea that without your hair you aren’t woman enough. You constantly hear things like “men like woman with long hair” or “you would look like a lesbian with short hair”. First off, who cares what anyone else likes, and second that is a complete stereotype.

The point is, I realized I felt that way. I realized that I was so attached to my hair that I was afraid of losing it. I didn’t like that about myself, and I wanted to be able to accept myself with or without long hair. So I agreed to donate my hair.

They stylist, at the time, didn’t tell me what he was going to do. He just asked me my limits. I told him my only limit is that ‘he makes me look good.’

Here are the results:

Before photo


After my pony tail was cut (14inches)


shaved one side


Final Results <3

In the end, regardless of whether or not people prefer my long or my short hair, I have realized it doesn’t matter. I am still me either way, and I am just as beautiful as before.

Someone once told me, “the moment you learn to accept yourself for all that you are, is the moment you truly start living.”

I am ready to start living. 


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