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The final flight home

After hopping on flight after flight, both domestic and international, I could have sworn that I had this airport thing down to a science.

Unfortunately, I have discovered that TSA agents and a bag search can distract even the experienced traveler. It was quick and painless, with only a second look at the dozens of euro coins in a little bag.

It was, however, enough to make me completely forget what I’d been doing and therefore cheerfully walk away from security — and my laptop.

If reading that makes you cringe, don’t worry. This story gets better. I patiently waited outside the gate for my flight, which I had arrived two hours early. I made friends with a young couple and their adorable child, and eventually was chatting with a whole line of people boarding the plane about the age at which children become unreasonably sassy.

Halfway through the walkway towards my plane, I had a sudden epiphany about why my backpack felt oddly lighter. I quickly bid farewell to my line buddies, and headed towards the desk attendant in hopes of a miracle.

As I’m sure you can guess, I was not, in fact, important enough to hold the plane for as I raced to security to get my laptop.

The bright side is that they immediately re-booked me for a later flight without charge.

The dark side is that I had to wait seven more hours for said flight.

Never again will I leave security without double-checking that I grabbed all of my belongings, no matter how intensely the TSA agents scrutinize my bag.


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.

A whole new world

Something that strikes me every time I go abroad is how similar everything is to home. There are small differences everywhere, but it’s like if thirty people in a class were all painting a picture of the same forest: The small branches and tree limbs would be unique, but the overall painting would be pretty similar throughout.

That’s the feeling I’ve experienced in every country I’ve been to so far — little irregularities, but broadly the same picture.

Part of me is let down by that, because don’t we all go abroad to see something completely new and different? But a part of me also finds it very reassuring to see that we’re not so far apart, despite the miles between the States and Europe.

But I think what I find most intriguing is that so far, I’ve only been to Western European countries.

It’s completely possible that if I just go farther east, I’ll discover a whole new series of a different painting, and I find the idea really exciting.

I like the familiarity of European and Western culture, but part of exploring is broadening your horizons and finding new things to enjoy.

So while this past year has been mostly familiar, I’m looking forward to the near future when I can go just that little bit farther.


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.

One way to be a tourist

I’d like to take this moment to come out to the world as a proponent of bus tours.

Now, I’ve heard three main takes on how you’re supposed to explore a new city: There is the ultra-tourist, who is signed up for a guided tour of the entire city, with fast pass tickets and a fancy walky-talky headphone set-looking thing to keep in constant contact with the tour guide.

Then there’s the tired tourist, who follows all the big crowds of people and stands in every three-hour line he or she can find.

Finally, there’s the free spirit, who hoofs it around the city in a day and will tell you that they’ve connected with it on a personal level.

I’m not here to say that any of these is right or wrong; I’ve done a bit of each and enjoyed them all.

But I would like to say that if anyone tells you that bus tours are a waste of time, they might be doing the bus tour wrong.

Let me walk you through it. Step one, you find a bus stop with a bunch of brightly colored double decker vehicles zooming in and out, with a couple people passing out pamphlets and selling tickets.

You buy your little ticket, hop on the bus, and either pick up a set of headphones to listen to the recording, or go to the upper deck to listen to the live speaker.

Now, your tour guide is almost always going to be a sassy middle-aged man who has very loose respect for the things he’s not actually supposed to mention on the tour, so you’re going to learn a lot of interesting tidbits about the city that you’d have to comb the internet to find.

For the most part, the tour will be two to three hours, if not less. By the end, you’ll have seen most of the main tourist attractions, heard some interesting stories, and gotten a look at where all the good shopping is.

Now, depending on which kind of ticket you’ve bought, you can either hop off the bus and explore each place before catching your next ride, or you can go back to your lodging and map out a plan for which places you’d like to see in more detail, and which ones were not as interesting as you had hoped.

Bus tours may not be for everyone, but so far they have served as a nice introduction to a new city for me, and I recommend that any new traveler give it a chance.


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.

The Great French Bake Off

Recently, I took one for the team and tried a variety of French pastries from a bakery near my apartment. It was difficult, but I persevered so that I could give everyone at home a detailed account.

First up were the sacred French macaroons (which I had shamefully not eaten before, after 7 months living in France). I started simple with a chocolate and a wild berry macaroon. In an effort to make this tasting as legitimate as possible, I browsed websites that informed me how I should judge the quality of my macaroon.

I can vouch for both the texture and the ratio between the crusty-bit and the filling, which were both correct according to the guidelines I read. The taste was interesting, but I definitely preferred the chocolate; the sweetness of the wild berry filling was a little overpowering. However, I will have to eat several more to test this.

After the macaroons, I split three other pastries with a friend of mine: a pear tart, a strawberry tart, and a biscuit-type thing with raspberry filling. The raspberry was definitely my favorite, but the other two were good as well.

At the end of this rigorous testing, I have come to two conclusions.

First, there is a discernible difference between sugary things in France and in the States. I’m not sure exactly what it is: maybe we use more artificial flavoring, or different ingredients. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, but I definitely note a difference.

The second thing is the difference in texture of baked things like tartes and cakes, which I can’t even hope to describe in words. Just know that it exists.


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.

A new love for public transportation

Public transportation is awesome. Before coming to Lyon, my only experience with public transit was a brief week in London with the infamous Tube. It was a lot more convenient than I had expected, but it didn’t prepare me for how much I would enjoy using trams and metros in Europe.

I recognize that this is an odd thing to nerd out over, but hear me out.

I can walk 10 minutes down the street to reach a tram station, where I can take a tram to a metro stop or — if I’m very ambitious that day — I can, in 20 minutes, walk directly to the metro station.

From those two stations, I can get anywhere in the city and all I have to do is ride along. I can do last minute homework in the half hour ride to classes — not that I would ever do such a thing. I can listen to music and relax after a long day at school. I see many people reading books and newspapers and talking on the phone. It’s positively brilliant!

But there is a dark side to everything. I think most people are aware of the fact that they turn into robots on public transit. There is absolute minimum eye contact; the tram could be absolutely packed and you could be squashed next to three fellow tram-goers, and yet you would never meet another person’s eyes.

It’s all very strange and fascinating, and I think I will miss it very much.

I never realized how tedious driving every day could be until I no longer had to do it.


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.

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!

Landscapes

 

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

 

Portraits

 

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.

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.

Post-Abroad

Early last week I was looking at my calendar and in disbelief I realized that my last fall semester was starting in less than a month. In even more shock, I began to think about how I left almost a year ago for my semester abroad in Madrid, Spain. I could not, and still cannot, believe that a year has passed by since I embarked on, one of the most life changing, unexpected, (definitely unprepared), journeys of my life.

There is SO much that people are going to tell someone before studying abroad: packing, culture shock, language barriers, homesickness, how to handle school, the best places to travel, whether to live in a homestay or live an apartment, who to live with, how long to go, and so, so much more. And honestly, all of those things can and will be figured out on one’s own while their time abroad. But the thing about studying abroad, that I think is so special, is figuring all of that out on your own is part of the journey and part of appreciating the journey. People can give advice as much as they want, but in the end someone has to figure it out on their own, and it is so much more rewarding that way.

Now that I have rambled about that, the main reason I wanted to write a blog so long after I returned is so that people who are studying abroad, thinking about studying abroad, or just now returning from abroad can have a better understanding of what it is like coming home and how still, not a day goes by that I do not think about my four months in another country and not get chills and get nostalgic. The hardest part: no one understands other than yourself, and the people you go abroad with what you just experienced for such a large chunk of time. I was lucky enough to travel and live with my best friend from high school (but went to a different college) in Madrid. I am so blessed I had the opportunity to travel with someone I still talk to almost everyday, and a lot of time about how much we miss being abroad, because it helps coping with being home, around people who do not understand or have the same appreciation that you have for going through everything you just went through and experiencing everything you just experienced; the amount of different cultures, languages, food, living situations (basically everything I listed in the beginning).

When first arriving to your new country and going through orientation, they mention “reverse culture shock” but, for me, that was the only time I really ever heard that expression and wiped it away because the thought of going home when I had just arrived was not relevant in the slightest. Reverse culture shock, in its simplest definition, is returning home after a long period of time in a different country. Let me tell you, first hand, reverse culture shock is real. And, again, something no one can really prepare you for, and hits some people harder than others. It hit me hard and still hits me hard even today.

I get anxiety about never being able to experience something like I did for those four months. The good, the bad, the scary, and the unknown. I think about how I will never live in my small apartment with my Spanish family on the 7th floor in downtown Madrid. I will never be able to travel the way I did to 8 different countries while being in school like I did. I will never be exposed to so many different, new, people in such a short period of time. I will never live in the unknown like I did for those four months. But, that being said I have learned that that is okay.

My experience would not be as beneficial and such a learning experience if I did get to do those things again. I would not appreciate it in the same way as I do. I would not get the chills everytime I think about those months abroad – not knowing what I was doing until it was time to leave. I take the life skills I learned abroad everywhere I go and in everything I do. I know I will be a better employee, daughter, student etc. because of my time abroad. I learned life lessons that one cannot teach you in the comfort of your own culture and home. I made friends I still keep in touch with almost everyday and that I value so much. And though a year has almost past, I still think about it everyday and how changed I am for the better, and I am sure 10 or even 20 years down the road, my feelings will only have grown for the appreciation of my time abroad.


Madison Ropp is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Communications. Madison spent the fall semester abroad at the University of  Antonio de Nebrejia with the ISA Madrid, Spain program. 

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.