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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.

Taking The Leap

I could not even begin to imagine the trouble I would encounter trying to pursue a semester studying abroad.

As a disclaimer, not everyone will experience the same problems, or even any problems, as I did. But with so many obstacles and hurdles I have had to jump over and through and around, I’m honestly surprised I stuck with it. No one can list all the troubles you may come up against because there are so many types and because no two people are alike every situation will be different. It was unfortunate that the mixture that comprises my background and history just happened to work against me. In order to detail my entire story from start to finish, and to do it justice, I would need a completely new post dedicated solely to that one topic. That post may come in the later months, but having just finished dealing with the entire ordeal I want to anything other than to think about it.

The one thing I did learn from this experience is that if you really want to pursue something, you’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen. And this is that something I wanted. Studying abroad is not something you just want to do and then you do it. It requires a lot of work and preparation and time. I was caught unaware multiple times these past few months. Even before starting college, I had a vague idea of wanting to study abroad before I graduated. But it was just that – a vague desire that I hadn’t done much with besides occasionally thinking about it and talking about it in passing with friends. It’s one of those conversational bits you have with other college-aged friends and acquaintances. Something to give substance to your conversations. Not many people pursue it to fruition, at least not the people I know. My advice is, if you do decide to study abroad, start as early as possible so you can give yourself time to solve any problems that may arise during the process.

Straying away from the topic of the unexpected level of difficulty encountered, trying to get into the mindset of actually being able to participate in this semester abroad was filled with excitement, anxiety and suspense.

One minute, I’m excited and happy and bursting to the brim with an undirected need and desire to do something, everything, anything. I don’t know what I need to do or want to do, I just had this feeling of wanting to do it. But then there is a switch, seemingly apropos of nothing, to a dread that knots my stomach that leads me to examine and dissect how new and strange and unknown everything can be. Soon the people around me, the clothes, the smell, the driving, the walking, the way people live and breathe and go about just existing will be foreign to me. And I don’t want it to. Right now, I know how to get to all my favorite places. I know which road to take and where to go if I need to turn left and traffic is heavy so I don’t have to make that turn. I know how to act in different settings – what is expected of me and how I can modify my actions in response to that.

But when I’m in South Korea (where I’m doing my semester abroad), I won’t know how to get around. I won’t know where my favorite coffee shops are. I won’t know what the fastest route from point A to point B is depending on the time of day and traffic level. I won’t know how I fit within the larger picture of society. And that terrifies me.

Sometimes, thinking about these things brings a sense of uneasiness because I know when you are new to a place there is this initial sense that feeling of newness will never end – it will never go away and you will always feel slightly out of place. As if you are a puzzle piece crammed into a space you weren’t meant for; only there in order to complete the picture. This is a tough barrier to overcome and being in a city overflowing with other people and feeling isolated will only make it more difficult. But this is expected, is it not? In search of the new and exciting, you give up comfort and safety.

And the only way to know if you can truly do something is to do it. You have to take the leap.

You’ll either land on both feet or you won’t.

And that’s what I’m doing.


Emily Stahl is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Marketing at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Emily will spend the semester abroad in South Korea participating in the Dongguk University exchange program. She is a member of the Delta Zeta sorority, Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity, and Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership honor society. Being from a small town north of KC, Emily is excited to live and study in the city of Seoul for 4 months. She looks forward to gaining a better perspective and understanding of the culture and society within South Korea. Emily is also eagerly anticipating expanding her knowledge of business interactions on an international scale and to meet people and make new connections while abroad.

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.

Berlin Bound

Berlin, Germany

Since the moment I learned what studying abroad was, I think maybe in 6th grade, I immediately knew it was something I wanted. For 9 years, I waited and I dreamt and waited some more. I narrowed my choices down and set my heart and eyes on Berlin. This has definitely been a long time coming, filled with anticipation and excitement. And now it’s here.

With a major in journalism and a long time love of writing, it only makes sense to blog my travels, daily life, and experiences while in Berlin.

When I decided to study abroad, I wasn’t immediately sure where I wanted to go. There wasn’t one place that had always called to me, I didn’t have some strong familial connection to a country besides the knowledge that my great great (great?) grandpa was buried somewhere in Ireland. And besides two unbeneficial years of high school Spanish, from which I took away only the knowledge of a Soy that wasn’t a sauce, I didn’t speak a language. So, in making my decision on which country I wanted to live in, I made a list of what I wanted from my experience. Then I narrowed down from there.

When I tell people I’m spending 4 months in Berlin, many ask why I chose it. So I figured giving my long-winded answer of “Why” is the first step to this whole blog abroad thing.

  1.      I wanted to go to Europe. When studying abroad, most people know which region of the world they want to explore. For me, Europe was an obvious choice. I love European history, I love how so many diverse cultures are existing in such a small area of the world, I love how I can knock off like 20 cities in 4 months. For me, there was nowhere but Europe to study abroad.
  2.      I wanted to be immersed in a culture different from mine. England and Ireland are both amazing countries, but I wanted something further from my American experience.
  3.      I wanted to learn a new language, I was never dedicated enough in high school to learn Spanish, but I do love words, and learning languages has always been a dream of mine.   
  4.      I wanted to live in a country with a rich history. Of course, when we think of Germany our minds jump to World War II and Nazis, and when it comes to Berlin one can’t help but mention the Berlin Wall. And these were definitely contributing factors to my decision, being a bit of a history nerd. But beyond that, Germany has such a long and fascinating history of being one of the greatest nations in the world. And considering our European History classes in America tend to focus on Great Britain and Rome, there is so much I have yet to learn.
  5.      I wanted a big, trendy city. Not only is Berlin the 6th largest city in Europe (by population), it is up and coming, relatively inexpensive, boasts an amazing art scene and of course renowned for being just a fun place to live. The culture, the community, and of course the clubs all contribute to Berlin being a great place for young people.

So there you have it. My reasons why. Of course, this doesn’t even delve into the whole “Why I want to travel” discussion, which has a lot to do with reading and little to do with a natural curiosity. But I have 16 weeks and 16 blogs to touch on that.

So welcome, now let’s have some fun.


Emily Reid is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City double majoring in Journalism and Political Science. She is spending the semester in Berlin, Germany through the ISA Berlin Program.

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.

Reflections on my Aussie Study Abroad Experience

Now that I’m back up top from the down under, I shall reflect on my experience studying abroad in Newcastle, Australia. If I had to sum up my whole trip in one word, it would be “fulfilling”. Fulfilling because this study abroad program satisfied all my cravings for adventure, relaxation, challenge, and fun. Going to a different country across the world, studying there, and exploring all it has to offer independently is something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve basically visited almost all the major places of eastern Australia. Exploring all the places I’ve visited and studying in a different college environment have all been a great adventure for me. This trip has also been very relaxing. Newcastle is a very laid back, relaxed coastal town. This, combined with easy access to the town’s beaches, gave me many opportunities to sit back and wind down. This was especially nice since this was my last semester. Doing a study abroad trip has also exposed me to challenges that I have learned to overcome independently. Whether it’s getting used to stricter grading or dealing with flight cancellations, this journey has helped make me more self-confident and responsible. Lastly, this experience has also been very fun. I did many exciting things I never thought I would ever do from hiking up mountains to riding a camel to learning to surf. I am very content with my Newcastle study abroad experience and am happy with ISA for organizing such awesome activities and having such great, supportive staff. I also very much enjoyed my time at the University of Newcastle (UoN). UoN is a great campus with friendly, cool students, professors and staff, excellent facilities, and plenty choices for socializing, clubs, and entertainment. If you’re hungry for a study abroad that offers adventure, relaxation, challenge, and fun all in one program, then I would strongly recommend the ISA Newcastle Program. I loved it and so will you!

Home Sweet Home

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.

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.

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.

Anzac Day 2018

Military vehicles at the beginning of the march

On the 25th of April, I went to Downtown Newcastle to attend the Anzac Day march and commemoration service. Anzac Day, which is observed every 25th of April in Australia and New Zealand, is a national day of remembrance that commemorates all the Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping missions. Anzac is an acronym that stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Anzac Day is held on this date because it marks the anniversary of the first major military engagement fought by Australian and New Zealand forces in World War One. On this date in 1915, Australian and New Zealand forces landed in Gallipoli peninsula with the objective of capturing it from Ottoman forces. This would allow the allied forces to pass through the Dardanelles and capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), the Ottoman capital. This would knock Ottoman Turkey, an ally of Germany, out of the war. The Anzac forces met heavy resistance from the Ottoman forces and the campaign to take Gallipoli turned into a stalemate that lasted for eight months. At the end of 1915, the allied forces, of which the Anzac forces were a part of, evacuated the peninsula. Both the Anzac and Ottoman forces suffered heavy casualties. Although the Gallipoli campaign was unsuccessful, the brave and heroic actions of Anzac forces during the campaign became forever crystallized in the memories of both Australians and New Zealanders, becoming part of both nation’s identities. Anzac Day honors this legacy.

The Australian troops who led the commemoration ceremony

To honor Anzac Day in Australia, commemoration services are held at dawn (which is the time the Anzac forces landed at Gallipoli) and then later in the day veterans and current servicemen and servicewomen meet to take part in marches throughout Australia. In Newcastle, I attended the march as well as a second commemoration ceremony that took place after the march. The events made me reflect on the contributions Australian and New Zealand servicemen and servicewomen made towards ensuring peace and freedom in our world and the struggles they went through to achieve it. The whole experience was a very humbling one.

Under the tent are public officials, veterans, and current servicemen and servicewomen and their families. Some of them laid wreaths during the commemoration ceremony.
Australian fighter jets flew over to signal the beginning of the commemoration ceremony
The cenotaph at Civic Park in Downtown Newcastle

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.

Port Stephens Excursion

Leaving Port Stephens for Dolphin Watching Boat Trip

Last Saturday on the 21st of April, me and my Newcastle ISA group went on a day trip to Port Stephens, a seaside town that’s a 40-minute drive north from Newcastle. For our first activity, we went on a dolphin watching boat ride. The experience was a very magical one. The landscape of and around Port Stephens that I saw as our boat headed out to the nearby harbor was truly one of paradise. From the boat, I could see various cozy, harbor-side communities and distant mountains and hills (one of which I would later traverse) covered in lush forests. Half-way through our ride, we began to see the fins of dolphins streaking through the clear blue waters. Everyone on our boat broke into cheers as we spotted our first few dolphins. As the ride went on, we began to see dolphins more and more frequently and much closer to our boat. It was quite the sight to see sometimes two to three dolphins swimming and playing together. The experience was a very memorable one since I’d never seen dolphins so close before or views so magnificent from a boat.

Me and some nice views in the background

On our second activity, we climbed the Tomaree Mountain, one of the mountains that I saw during the dolphin watching boat ride. Getting up the mountain was physically exhausting and sometimes treacherous as the stairs going up were very narrow and the walk itself was very steep. However, in the end it was well worth it. I had thought the views from the boat were quite scenic, but the view from the mountain was much more stunning. The summit of the mountain once housed a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) radar station that operated during World War Two. The base of the satellite was still there as well as the septic tank that served the troops that were once stationed there. This experience was a fulfilling one as this was the first time I had ever walked up a mountain and the views were well worth the exercise.

For our last excursion, we went sand-boarding. Yes, sand-boarding in Australia! After the mountain trek, we traveled to some nearby sand dunes which look like something you would see in the Sahara or the Middle East. It was a unique and unusual site to behold as just a few minutes earlier we were trekking up a mountain through green forests and now we were amidst sand dunes. To get to the sand-boarding site we traveled on special trucks that could traverse through the dunes. The ride there was quite bouncy, but definitely an experience in and of itself. Once we got to the site, we immediately picked up our boards and began sledding down the dunes. Sand-boarding is basically sledding down a sand dune, just as you would sled down a snowy hill. It was a very fun experience to sled down the dunes. The wind rushing down my face and occasionally coming off my board, rolling my way down added to the enjoyment. I never thought I would experience something like this in Australia of all places, but alas I did, and it was awesome!

View from Mount Tomaree
Another view from Mount Tomaree
This view from Mount Tomaree was really breathtaking!
The sand dunes of Port Stephens
The truck that took us to the sand-boarding site
Me amidst the dunes!

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.

A Taste of Aussie Cuisine!

At the University of Newcastle, one of my go-to places to have lunch is the Uni Bakehouse. They serve up fresh baked goods at very affordable prices. One of the deals I always get is their 7.50 A$ combo deal which gets you a savory item, a sweet item, and a drink. Many of the foods they serve are traditional Australian favorites like sausage rolls, meat pies, and lamingtons. What are these foods exactly? Sausage rolls are basically puff pastry with a minced sausage filling. Meat pies are hand-sized pies that have a meat and gravy filling. At the University Bakehouse, you can get all kinds of these miniature pies with different kinds of filling from curry to mashed potato to the traditional minced beef and gravy. Lamingtons are sponge cakes coated in chocolate and rolled in coconut shavings. How do they all taste? Absolutely delicious! The meat pies and sausage rolls are very savory and mouth-watering. The lamingtons are excellent as well. They are sweet, but not too much, and in fact, taste quite refreshing. It sounds weird that a cake can taste refreshing, but trust me, when you have a lamington you will know what I mean. You can’t fully experience Australia without trying these scrumptious local treats!

Lamington on left. Steak, Cheese, and Bacon Pie on right.

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.