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Exploring City and Country

It’s eight in the morning and we are waking up, preparing ourselves for our six hour school day. We take a quick shower and rush downstairs to grab a couple slices of toast before heading out the door for our brisk thirty minute walk to campus. We follow this interval five days per week for four weeks, sometimes skipping breakfast to grab extra sleep and other times waking up early to finish homework or a project. Each day in class is intensive, requiring me to focus and participate without a single word in English. We finish class after two in the afternoon and have just over an hour to grab a bite to eat and head to our UMKC class specifically designed for our time in Argentina. After this two hour class, we head back to our host families to start our homework before eating dinner around nine at night. Dinner lasts until eleven, and we head up to our rooms to finish our homework or meet up with friends to hang out. This is a day of my life in Argentina–every moment filled with something to do or somewhere to go.

My experience in Buenos Aires has been amazing, I have tried to take every opportunity to explore the city and make memories with study abroad friends. Since my time at the University of Belgrano, I have made friends with other students from the United States, and we are sharing the Buenos Aires experience. Naturally, a study abroad student wants to have fun, experience a new city and culture, but unfortunately there is one catch with being a study abroad student–you have to study. Thankfully, our UMKC program has incorporated a week before classes to explore the different neighborhoods and districts in Buenos Aires. Ideally one can continue to experience the city after classes, but what about the rest of the country?

During a long holiday weekend I had the opportunity to take a trip to Iguazu falls in northern Argentina with my friends from UMKC and the University of Belgrano. This trip was amazing! We were able to see one of the natural wonders of South America and experience the tropical nature firsthand. While we had lots of fun at the university, our best memories were made at Iguazu and during the eighteen hour bus ride. We want to experience more, but as deadlines approach for final exams and projects we have come to the realization that this was the only trip outside of Buenos Aires that we would be able to take. As the last week of classes come to a close, I am looking forward to heading north again to the provinces of Salta and Jujuy with my UMKC class. While I am excited for Salta and Northern Argentina, my friends from Belgrano are sad to fly back to the United States without being able to experience more of Argentina.

Study abroad has provided me with a motive to advance my Spanish proficiency and cultural competency, and explore South America. I am grateful that my experience incorporates time to explore the city and country before and after classes begin and end. As I prepare for this twenty-two hour bus ride to Salta, I am excited to explore the Andes mountains and spend time with rural Argentines in a rural province without the pressure of school!


Felix Amparano is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Chemistry, Spanish, and Biology. Felix is excited to spend six-weeks of his summer studying Spanish in Buenos Aires, Argentina with the UMKC Spanish Program. During his time abroad, Felix hopes to gain a better understanding of Argentine culture and health care with the hopes of becoming more culturally competent in his approaches to patient treatment.

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.

Coming Home: the start of something new

I’m sitting in the Atlanta airport, waiting for my connecting flight home. As I’m waiting, my mind is wandering, and I’m thinking about all the amazing things I have done while studying abroad. To name a few: I saw the beautiful waterfalls in Iguazu, lived with indigenous people in the Andes mountains, and spent many nights out in the spectacular city of Buenos Aires. As all these wonderful memories replay in my mind, I am realizing just how long I have been gone. Six weeks did not seem long at all a few hours ago, but suddenly I feel like I have been gone for an eternity. I may have put a pause on my life, but that certainly doesn’t mean everyone else did. Life kept moving while I was away, and I feel estranged to my previous way of life.

Reintegration into my own life seems like such an odd – and maybe even scary – concept. There is certainly some anxiety about the pile of work that faces me when I get home, but it’s more than that. I feel almost like a stranger, like I’m headed toward something completely new. It’s such a unique feeling, a mix of excitement, longing, and a little bit of dread. Despite its uniqueness, I can’t help but feel like I have felt this before. Where do I know this feeling from? Almost as soon as I ask myself the question, I know the answer. It feels like I am about to study abroad… only it’s different. This time it’s not the place that’s new, it’s me. I’m coming back a new person. I have a whole new world of experiences under my belt, and those experiences are coming back with me.

I may have left Argentina behind when I hopped on a plane just ten short hours ago, but I certainly didn’t just dump my experiences and all that I have learned out the window. I don’t want to! Yes, this feeling of estrangement may be causing me some dread; it’s going to take some work to integrate my experience and knowledge back into my previous life, but this is also the opportunity I have worked so hard for. I have been longing to reconnect with the world in new and fantastic ways, and now I finally have my chance. Leaving Argentina wasn’t the end of an adventure; it was only the beginning, and I couldn’t be more excited.


Sam Nelson is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City majoring in Psychology and Economics with a minor in Spanish. Sam will study abroad with the UMKC Spanish Program in Buenos Aires, Argentina during Summer of 2018 with hopes of improving his Spanish language skills. He is a member of Pride Alliance and several other student organizations. After Sam completes his degree at UMKC, he plans to attend graduate school and earn his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

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.

Helpful Tips for Studying Abroad

Now that I’ve successfully completed my study abroad, I shall share some helpful tips for studying abroad. Every study abroad program offers different experiences and challenges. However, I would like to share some general tips that I have learned from my own experience that I feel will help make any study abroad go smooth.

  • Pack the bare minimum, as light as you can go. Make it easier on yourself. Also, it’ll help you avoid excess baggage airline fees for domestic travel outside the US.
  • Arrive to the airport a few hours before your flight as you never know what might happen regarding weather, traffic, and long security lines at airports.
  • Make sure before you go, you research your destination city regarding the city’s transport system and public transportation.
  • Changing your currency at the airport is not the only option. There are many other places available to do this. Research before you go. You might get better rates and lower fees.
  • Take the proper plug converter for your destination country’s electrical outlet. Different countries use different outlets and voltages.
  • Pack your clothes according to your destination’s season.
  • Make sure you have your program adviser’s phone number, email, etc. for easy communications.

With these tips in mind, take the plunge and enjoy the adventure of a study abroad!


Aman Kukal is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Economics. Aman is spending the spring semester in Newcastle, Australia with the ISA Newcastle, Australia: Courses with Locals 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.

The Argentina FIFA World Cup

Every four years, the FIFA World Cup begins. The World Cup is a four to five week tournament in which countries from across the world compete to take home one of the most sought after titles ever. Though the entire world takes this series of fútbol matches very seriously, this tournament is especially important for Argentina. My host dad was quick to inform me that since their last World Cup victory in 1988, Argentina has been thirsty for another title, and now, they are lead by Lionel Messi who assisted them to the runner-up position in 2014.

Messi has become a figurehead for Argentina’s success, and he maintains a godly reputation in Argentina. Businesses throughout Buenos Aires take advantage of this event, and advertisements feature Lionel Messi everywhere. On the sidewalks, he is pictured on fast food and sports equipment street signs in his Argentina game jersey. On the subway he is in clothing advertisements, dressed to the dime in a fitted suit. And on billboards and in television commercials, he can be seen in his jersey, juggling a soccer ball, and drinking mate–an infamous tea-like beverage from Argentina. These advertisements have become rather complex; one particular subway advertisement is interactive and constructed in layers, each layer containing a different aspect of Messi’s face. To focus on his image, the viewer has to stand in such a way to see all the layers from a single perspective, taking time to line each layer up with the next.

Outside of the advertisements, the people of Buenos Aires have a strong passion for their game and country. My host mom was so entranced by the game that she was late to pick us up on our very first day! Argentina’s anticipation the morning before they played Nigeria was outstanding; numerous commuters on the train and subway had painted their faces, wearing jerseys, or carrying flags. Every person knew the significance of the game–middle schools, high schools and universities alike ended class early, whole business closed, and the busy streets calmed to watch the game. In bars and restaurants, waiters sat beside patrons and cooks stood, the whole building filled with the tension. But my favorite place to watch the games was in Plaza San Martin. Here, hundreds of people gathered on a hill slope to watch the game on a 50 foot screen, booming the announcer’s commentary across the city. Throughout the Nigeria game the crowd screamed, yelled, oohed and ahhed in unison with each play, strike, and call of the referee. The whole plaza was filled with raw emotion and anticipation; thirsty for the next goal to win the game. The crowed erupted, screaming, crying, jumping, and hugging each other when Messi and his teammates managed to work past the Nigeria defense to score the final goal. Never before have seen the same amount of unity. The environment and emotion of the entire day, a whole country united around a single cause with expectations of a victory placed heavily on a single player–Messi.

Imagine an entire country united behind a single subject; this is Argentina during the World Cup. For Argentina this game is a release, a moment to join the country in unity behind a single cause. As a study abroad student in Argentina, I am blessed to be in Argentina during this time. Through this experience, I was able to learn more about both the people and country, and participated in an irreplaceable cultural event. Only in Argentina can you feel the intense passion and electricity that I felt during that time!


Felix Amparano is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Chemistry, Spanish, and Biology. Felix is excited to spend six-weeks of his summer studying Spanish in Buenos Aires, Argentina with the UMKC Spanish Program. During his time abroad, Felix hopes to gain a better understanding of Argentine culture and health care with the hopes of becoming more culturally competent in his approaches to patient treatment.

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.

School Life in Argentina

 

Classes at the University of Belgrano have ended. My class at the University of Belgrano was fantastic. I was enrolled in Spanish Intermediate Level 1 at the University. I really enjoyed it because I was able to go over the basic grammar and focus on grammar that I was not confident about. My classmates and I didn’t feel like the class was too easy either. We all had different strengths and weaknesses in the grammar while we learned, and gained more knowledge of the topic. I met a lot of other exchange students from various states of the United States at the University of Belgrano. We had classmates who were staying for only the summer semester, like me, and classmates who were staying for the fall semester as well.

My professor was very helpful and encouraging. She explained everything in Spanish very well. When there were times that my class or I didn’t understand something, she would explain it in another way in Spanish by using a different word or situation to understand the topic or lesson. We would constantly hear Spanish for the entire class period. I think this was very helpful for me, and for all of my classmates as well, in improving our comprehension of Spanish. Our class had many fun discussions in Spanish. It helped everyone with beginning to be comfortable speaking Spanish. Our confidence in the language increased and we really enjoyed our time at school.

My class was from Monday through Friday from 9:30am to 2pm. But don’t worry! We also had breaks in between. The major difference between school in the US and school in Buenos Aires was that I actually walked to school. Thankfully, I lived the closest to the school and took only 5 minutes to get to school, unlike my other classmates who had to walk or take the subways to go to school.

After class, my friends and I would go to a cafe or go to a restaurant to grab some lunch. I think school life in Argentina is very similar to the United States. I have improved in my listening skills in Spanish due to my class solely being in Spanish instead of English. I would have to explain my opinions in Spanish. I was able to get out of my comfort zone and was not able to use my English as a way to keep myself comfortable. My journey doesn’t stop here with my class coming to an end. The journey to improve more of my skills is still ahead of me.


Julie Jeong is currently a freshman at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Chemistry, Entrepreneurship, and Spanish. Julie will spend the summer with theUMKC Spanish Program in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She plans to attend UMKC’s Dental School after her undergraduate study. She plans to use Spanish in her career as a future dentist who strives to help patients and eliminate miscommunications.

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.

Creating Your Own Study Abroad Experience

Maybe you’ve seen that beautiful study abroad brochure chalk full of stunning images and you’re ready to leave tomorrow; maybe you’re on the fence, not sure if study abroad is right for you; or maybe you are just reading this post because you are curious and know nothing about it. Wherever you are on this spectrum, this post is for you.

We all have our own ideas about what study abroad is. After all, a two hundred-word pamphlet certainly leaves a lot to your imagination. So in light of this, I would like to share some of my personal study abroad experiences in an effort to give you a little more information and advice about studying abroad in general.

Let me start by saying, the “study” in “study abroad” definitely shouldn’t be ignored. I was in school a lot more than I thought I would be. Monday through Friday, I went to school at the University of Belgrano from 9:30am to 2:30pm, and three days a week I had class with a UMKC faculty member for about two hours each day. That’s a lot of time! However, it was justified and time well spent. I received nine credit hours of upper level Spanish in just six short weeks, so it makes sense I was in class for so long. I also learned a ton of Spanish, which is what I set out to do in the first place.

Takeaway: Weigh the amount of credit hours you are receiving with what your goals are for studying abroad. If you’re looking for a fun time getting to know another culture, maybe a three or six credit hour program is for you. If you’re looking for a big increase in your language learning abilities, maybe a more intense, nine or twelve credit hour program is for you.

Another important aspect of a study abroad experience is the location. I’m studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina – one of Latin America’s largest and most densely populated cities. One of the fun parts of being in a big city is that there is so much to do. People who have lived here their entire life have yet to do half the things the city has to offer. One of the down sides of living in a large city is that cultural differences from one large city to another are pretty small. On the surface, it would be pretty hard to tell New York City and Buenos Aires apart.

Takeaway: There is a lot more to a location than the beautiful views it has to offer. Think about the city’s size, geographic location, and position in the global society before making a choice about where you’ll go.

What about duration? My program took place in the summer and lasted a total of six weeks. Four weeks I spent immersed in Spanish classes and the other two were spent traveling and doing my own thing. As my trip comes to an end, I am so happy I had those two extra weeks outside of class; it’s where I really got out and experienced Argentina! Personally, I felt like six weeks was a perfect amount of time away, and the traveling in the summer allowed me to take less of a serious pause on my life.

Takeaway: Think about how long you are willing to be away from home; going on this trip I realized just how important my family, friends and life in general were to me. Additionally, I would highly recommend a program that gives you some free time.

All in all, studying abroad is definitely a worthwhile experience no matter what program you choose, where you go, or how long you are away. I guarantee you will have the experience of a lifetime!


Sam Nelson is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City majoring in Psychology and Economics with a minor in Spanish. Sam will study abroad with the UMKC Spanish Program in Buenos Aires, Argentina during Summer of 2018 with hopes of improving his Spanish language skills. He is a member of Pride Alliance and several other student organizations. After Sam completes his degree at UMKC, he plans to attend graduate school and earn his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

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.

Fill Your Life With Adventures…

It is unbelievable to me that I am already done with my six-week program in Lyon.

I feel simultaneously as if I just got here, and as if I have been here for a long, long time. There are so many things that I love about this city, and yet at the same time so much that I miss about home, the duality of life is more evident to me now than ever. I am sad to leave my new friends, this beautiful country, my lovely host family, and the many things I have come to love about this country, but I am also so happy that soon I will be home, able to see my dog and my brothers again, to be able to go get food at any time of day, to be able to eat my families homemade food and also tofu again (oddly enough, there is not a lot of tofu here). But it feels right, this balance of happy and sad, it makes me believe that I have found a decent balance while here.

While I will only have been in France for six weeks, I will have been to Nice, Annecy, Avignon, and Paris, that is amazing! I think everyone should, at some point in their life if they are given the opportunity, travel to another country and learn about the way other people live. Living in another country, even for as short of a time as I have, has opened my eyes to so many things. Learning to navigate within the social norms of another culture is both amazing and scary.

A quote that I believe to be entirely true is this: “Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell not stuff to show”. This could not be more true, exploring the city and meeting new people, saying yes to things I would most likely have said no to at home, and just trying to make the most of my time here in France has been so much better than any material thing could be. I would much prefer to go to a concert somewhere or just wander the city finding new things than I would go shopping, I would much rather spend less money on stuff so I can instead spend it to go on an adventure to somewhere new or afford to have a new experience. I also believe that one of the most amazing parts of traveling, for me at least, has been the people that one meets while traveling. I have met the most amazing people from this trip, people I would never have met otherwise, people from other parts of the United States, and people from many other countries. Meeting such a variety of people has opened my mind even more than just being in another country has, other students and I compared the things we are used to from our countries and cultures with the things that are normal here in France, and in doing this I got to learn differences not just between US culture and French culture, but also US culture and the culture of many other countries. Meeting these many new people also means that there are bound to be people with many different thoughts and opinions, this was very true for this trip and that was a learning experience for me as well. I feel that I learned much, much more from just living in Lyon and living with a host family than I did from my classes because, in reality, life and language don’t work like the classroom. Learning a language in the classroom is so unbelievably different than actually using that language and learning the way it really works and the way it is used by native speakers.

I can truly say that this trip has changed my life. I have made friends that I will doubtless keep in touch with, pushed myself outside of my comfort zone time and time again, experienced a whole new country and a whole new way of life, and I know that Lyon, as well as the people in it and the people I met here,  will always have a piece of my heart.


Sydney Serrano is a freshman studying Psychology and French at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Sydney will spend the summer abroad with the UMKC French Summer Program in Lyon, France. Sydney is a member of Alternative Spring Break and Pride Alliance at the University of Missouri Kansas.

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.

What a Day!

The day before I left the US was a chaotic day like nothing I had ever experienced before. On June 29th, I was to take a flight from Newcastle to Brisbane and then stay the night in Brisbane and then take a morning flight on the 30th to Sydney. Then from Sydney, I would take my flight back to the states.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go exactly as planned. First, my flight from Newcastle to Brisbane got cancelled because of heavy fog in Brisbane. Upon learning this, I had to speak to airport staff and figure out how to get to Brisbane. I had to go to Brisbane because my flight from Brisbane to Sydney and then to US were all connected and if I missed any of the flights in that itinerary then my whole itinerary to the US would’ve been cancelled. Luckily, the airport staff were able to change my itinerary and get me on an earlier flight to Brisbane and then a same day flight from Brisbane to Sydney.

After that got sorted out and I reached Sydney, I ended up receiving only one of my two checked bags. So I had to go to baggage services and file a missing luggage report. The next day, on the day of my flight back to the US, I went back to baggage services in the morning to see if they had my bag. I had to take a flight at nine in the morning so I was short on time. The baggage official told me the bag was received but was sent to the hotel I was staying the night before near the airport. The hotel I was staying at never notified me of this so I got quite irritated. I then had to quickly take a cab back to the hotel and back to the international terminal. It turned out that when I got to the hotel they had just received my missing bag so that was why I had no word of my missing bag.

After that last debacle I checked in my missing bag, went through security, and made it just in time for my flight back home. After this experience, take it from me, its always best to be at the airport a few hours early before your flight. It’s better to be safe than sorry. You never know what might happen!


Aman Kukal is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Economics. Aman is spending the spring semester in Newcastle, Australia with the ISA Newcastle, Australia: Courses with Locals 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.

Last Days in Newcastle

My room before moving out

During my last 1 ½ days in Newcastle I packed my bags, cleaned my room, and enjoyed Newcastle for one last time before heading out. On the 27th, I began my morning by having brekkie (breakfast in Australian lingo) with my Resident Assistant (RA), Sean. We met for the last time and had a nice breakfast at a local café. I had a scrumptious traditional Australian dish of Chicken Schnitzel with Chips. Chicken Schnitzel is chicken pounded flat, breaded, and then fried. Chips is the Australian term for what we call French fries.

As we had our breakfast, me and my RA talked about various things from break plans to movies and games to career plans. My RA is a 3rd year student, equivalent to a junior in the US. I’m a last semester senior. We joked about how we weren’t ready yet to step into the “real world” and how we still wanted to enjoy student life. But alas, for him, he still has one more year to go. I’m done, so now it’s time for me to begin adult life.

Enjoying the beauty of Newcastle for one last time!

After our breakfast, we wished each other all the best and I began my packing and my RA left for his hometown. After me and my mom finished packing, I cleaned my room and checked-out of my university. We then dropped my bags at my mom’s hotel and we visited Newcastle’s beach for the last time. While walking along the beach we stopped at a café and got fish and chips and sat a table and took in the beautiful views. We had a splendid time enjoying the ocean views while munching on crispy fish and ships. We remained there for most of the rest of the day.

The next day my mom left Newcastle for Sydney on the train as her flight back home was from Sydney. I took the bus to Newcastle Airport where I was to fly to Brisbane and then to Sydney and then from Sydney back to the US. As I rode the bus to the airport, I snapped a nice view of Newcastle.

See you Newcastle, we shall meet again someday!


Aman Kukal is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Economics. Aman is spending the spring semester in Newcastle, Australia with the ISA Newcastle, Australia: Courses with Locals 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.

Trip to Cairns

On June 24, me and my mom traveled up north to Cairns. The first thing we did there was visit the Cairns ZOOM and Wildlife Dome, located on top of The Reef Hotel and Casino in downtown Cairns. This place is basically a dome with an artificial rainforest that contains many indigenous wildlife and plants for visitors to see as well as facilities to zip-line, rope climb, and walk around the dome outside. Me and my mom did the dome walk which was very fun and exhilarating. We also marveled at the beautiful wildlife inside the dome.

Here are some photos of the wildlife that were there:

Some photos of the Dome walk:

The next day we went on a boat cruise towards the Great Barrier Reef with a stop at Green Island. We saw stunning views of the hills near Cairns, as well as the ocean and Green Island, a resort island east of Cairns. At Green Island, we took a submarine and glass bottom boat tour of the reef, where we saw lots of vibrantly colored fish and coral.

View of Cairns from the sea
Panoramic view of Cairns and the hills nearby
Green Island
Coral as seen from the submarine tour
Another view of Coral
Pretty fish seen from the submarine
Fish seen on the glass bottom boat tour
This fish kept following us around from both the submarine and glass bottom boat tours!

Aman Kukal is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Economics. Aman is spending the spring semester in Newcastle, Australia with the ISA Newcastle, Australia: Courses with Locals 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.