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Arrivederci Bologna

Piazza Maggiore, Bologna

A last-minute flight, a trip across London in the wee hours of the morning and two lost suitcases later, I have made it back to KC! It feels good to be back, but I am already missing my little home in Italy. Even though I may have been in the part of the world most famous for its food, the first thing I wanted when I got back stateside was some good ole’ Kansas City BBQ! There really is nothing like it.

Before I came back, I prepared a meal for my Italian friends. I brainstormed what the most American meal I could prepare… I settled on hamburgers, mac & cheese, vegetables with ranch dressing and s’ mores. I must admit, I don’t know why I was surprised when they hated mac & cheese. In retrospect, I think that it is all of my childhood memories that I associate these foods with that make them so special. However, they did like the Ranch dressing and BBQ sauce, so I guess I can forgive them.

Since being back Stateside, it has really made me appreciate the beautiful culture in Italy that I was able to experience. I made so many friends from all over the world and memories that I will never forget. I cannot wait to share all of my knowledge and encourage other students to make the most of their college experience!

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Milan, Italy
The Valley of Temples Agrigento, Italy
Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca, Bologna, Italy


Olivia Weaver is a junior at the University of Missouri–Kansas City pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, a minor in Psychology on a Pre-Dental track. Olivia will be studying in Bologna, Italy for her spring 2019 semester through the University of Bologna Exchange program. Olivia is excited about the opportunity to experience and appreciate different customs and traditions of those across the globe.

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.

Check out these other study abroad blogs for ideas and inspiration:

·         ISA Student Blog – https://isastudentblog.wordpress.com/

·         Gilman Global Experience – https://gilmanprogram.wordpress.com/

Hacks to Navigating Italy

 

A weekend day trip to Verona, Italy.

As a first time European traveler when I moved to Italy in January, public transportation was a whole new concept for me. I had to learn the hard way how to navigate it. When I first arrived in Bologna, I attempted to navigate the 30-minute commute into the city from my hotel. This seemingly simple journey may or may not have started with me standing by a sign that I thought was a bus stop for longer than I would like to admit until I finally built up the courage to ask someone for directions. I may be a bit more seasoned of a traveler now since I first got here in January, but that is not without the help of several great apps and the patience of many locals. Therefore, I thought it would be helpful to include a few of my favorites and why I liked them!

Related image1) Moovit was a game-changer for my intracity everyday commutes! This app was perfect for navigating the local buses. I really liked how the app would give me step by step directions during my trip and it would even remind me when my stops were approaching if I had locked my phone and zoned out to my music!

Related image

2) Omio (previously known as GoEuro) is the best app for Intercity commutes! This App searches flights, trains, and buses all at once so you can easily compare the best way to get there for you! An additional bonus is that you can adjust the currency in which you pay for things. It saved me a lot of money on those pesky conversion rates and penalties from my bank.

3) Trenitalia is specific to traveling in Italy, but this app allowed me to purchase my train tickets directly from here. I am notorious for losing things and when you buy the train ticket directly at the train station you must keep track of this little piece of paper and remember to validate it. This app took out both of those steps and was conveniently located in the app. An added bonus was that your ticket could be added to your Apple Wallet for even more convenience.

4) Last but definitely not least, this app was also useful for intercity travels! If I had a weekend trip in mind and I had planned it well in advance, booking my train tickets from Italo saved me a lot of money. These trains travel at high-velocity making trips quick and convenient. However, the catch is that the longer you wait to buy your ticket, the more expensive it is. Fun fact: this company is actually American owned!

 

I hope some of this information helps you all from learning the hard way as I did! Until then, Buon Viaggio!

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Olivia Weaver is a junior at the University of Missouri–Kansas City pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, a minor in Psychology on a Pre-Dental track. Olivia will be studying in Bologna, Italy for her spring 2019 semester through the University of Bologna Exchange program. Olivia is excited for the opportunity to experience and appreciate different customs and traditions of those across the globe.

 

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.

 

Check out these other study abroad blogs for ideas and inspiration:

·         ISA Student Blog – https://isastudentblog.wordpress.com/

·         Gilman Global Experience – https://gilmanprogram.wordpress.com/

Caving for College Credit

Imagine traveling to depths of the earth that house secrets that still can’t be explained today. Well, that was an exciting adventure that I embarked on during my time abroad, and the best part, it was all for college credit! One of the many fantastic benefits of studying abroad is the opportunity to take classes that aren’t offered by your home university. Now you might be wondering where on earth I might have traveled to explore such an exciting phenomenon. Well, the secrets are held all around us in the caves of the earth’s crust! I was so fortunate to have had the opportunity while studying at the University of Bologna to take a course over Speleology. Throughout the course, we traveled to 8 different caves in France and Italy to study the untold stories of the earth’s creation written by the sediment and formations inside the caves. I had been in caves before, but I had never really understood what I was looking at. It was so interesting to me how something that just looked like a rock to me before could now tell me that thousands of years ago there was a drastic change in the climate or that this location used to be completely underwater and filled with life.

I am so thankful I had the opportunity to study topics outside my major. I may not have needed the Speleology course for my Bachelors of Arts in Chemistry, but I got to learn about a topic that deepened my appreciation for the world around me and other’s passions for geology. I highly recommend to anyone that is thinking of studying abroad to talk to their academic advisor about planning their courses around their semester abroad. This course really pushed me to try things outside of my comfort zone and to learn about topics that I had no prior knowledge of. I would highly recommend it to anyone thinking of studying abroad in Bologna and I can’t wait to continue caving now on my own time.

Check out these other study abroad blogs for ideas and inspiration:

·         ISA Student Blog – https://isastudentblog.wordpress.com/

·         Gilman Global Experience – https://gilmanprogram.wordpress.com/


Olivia Weaver is a junior at the University of Missouri–Kansas City pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, a minor in Psychology on a Pre-Dental track. Olivia will be studying in Bologna, Italy for her spring 2019 semester through the University of Bologna Exchange program. Olivia is excited about the opportunity to experience and appreciate different customs and traditions of those across the globe.

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.

No Worries in Café Clazic

A typical day for me looked like this:

My friends and I walk, three in a line, down the sidewalk to the café I had looked up online two hours prior to our designated meeting time. We met at the CU, “convenience store 4 you!”, outside our shared campus dorm, and started the familiar stroll down the sidewalks leading away from Dongguk towards the Chungmoro subway station.

The thing about walking after driving a car for, well, forever is that it seems like a hassle at first. But then it becomes less annoying. Then it starts to turn into a slight enjoyment. And then that small joy in the act finally culminates into a full-blown appreciation. Walking is now like second nature and I wish more of the United States was walkable.

The sky is overcast and looks like it could pour down rain any minute, but none of us had thought to bring an umbrella. On our walk to the nearby café, we make small talk concerning our university course load, the other areas in Seoul we’ve been to, and the topic that had my stomach in knots: our last days in South Korea.

They were coming fast and dwindling down into hurried goodbyes, tearful promises of meeting again, and long flights back to the countries we came from.

My last two weeks in Seoul made me realize something. Nothing big or dramatic, but still relevant to the person I was growing into. That something then slowly crystalized into a myriad of feelings and emotions that eventually snowballed into a seemingly all-encompassing pressure on the person I thought I was.

Our trio passes the familiar GS 25, their signs a signature blue and red and white – inviting and welcoming to all searching for the nearest convenience store, then the Two-Two fried chicken restaurant which was always busy, and finally the ever-faithful Tteokbokki Party. The chain store acts as a marker for me, either traveling to campus or to the station, that I am on the right path and close to where I want to be. Instead of taking the left to cross the street and find the stairs that lead underground to Chungmoro station, we keep walking across the pedestrian crosswalk spanning six lanes hoping the drivers, who weren’t known for their “pedestrian first” mentality, wouldn’t do anything reckless.

After safely making it across, we continue straight on our path watching the darkening sky hoping it wouldn’t decide to rain. This part of town seems darker and gloomier than the other side of the street – the streets we knew well and came to love. It seems like a “wrong side of town” kind of feel. Much less tourist-y and full with hole-in-the-wall mom and pop type of shops. Finding the café I chose is much harder and more difficult than I anticipated. We wandered the streets crisscrossing and backtracking multiple times, all three of us too stubborn to give up.

Finally, I pull out my Naver maps, the Google maps of Korea, and type in Café Clazic. According to my maps, we were standing right in front of the coffee shop. Frantically we look around hoping the map app is trustworthy and we were closer to getting some caffeine. My friend spots the sign advertising the café and pointing to the building on our left with the letters “2F” indicating it is on the second floor.

Relieved, we make the climb to the second level and pause at the unassuming door double-checking within the group we are entering the right place. Reassured, we slide the door to the side and are greeted with the rustic interior of Café Clazic. The inside is dark, an old attic type of ambiance, with wooden chairs and desks scattered around. The ordering bar and expresso machines are located on the far right side. At least one mirror adorns every wall, giving you a glimpse of not only yourself but the other customers in the single room. Off to the side, another small room is connected but with a drastically different theme. This room is bright and light and filled with plants and flowers. In the middle, for decoration and the main point (according to the multiple Instagram posts tagging the location) is the claw-foot bathtub artfully filled to the top with leaves and petals. Small stools and crates surround the tub indicating the tub itself is usable as a table. This is further supported by the clear covering laying over half the tub on the end allowing drinks to be placed on top of that side.

Cafés like this, themed and artistically decorated, dot the landscape and seem to be deeply embedded into the culture of Seoul. From a complete pink environment, to plants and flowers bringing nature to the concrete city center, to animal-inspired themed cafes – Seoul has it all. This is the place to come and be surrounded by environments you see in magazines, movies, Instagram discover page, and what you imagine how you would decorate your future apartment when you have the money and the freedom of adulthood. These are places to meet friends, do business, study, or just enjoy what the city of Seoul has to offer.

Within the cafes of Seoul, for me, there are no worries. There are only good coffee and good company in a city I have come to love and feel comfortable in. Here in the center of one of busiest cities in the world, there’s peace and quiet in whatever café you choose or happen to chance by. Sitting in the chairs, nestled in the atmosphere that is quintessentially and unmistakably Seoul, enjoying either your own singular presence in the bustle of the country capital or that of a like-minded friend there is a quiet inner understanding and feeling of being settled for that small moment of the forever that seems to be your life.

Seoul is cafés and friends and traveling and endless opportunities to do and be whatever you want. At least as an exchange student. These past two weeks, I have learned I am stronger than I give myself credit for and I can endure much more than I think.


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.

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.

A Never Ending City

It takes a day to learn to love a new environment. And another day to learn to enjoy being in the new environment. And another to continue to love that new environment.

It takes only a few minutes to hate being the out of place piece in a foreign puzzle. It takes only a few seconds to be homesick. It takes a fraction of a second for your stomach to drop and your insides to feel as if they’re in a food processor being blended into a squeamish realization of being so far away from everything you know.

There are so many things one takes for granted – being able to communicate fully and articulately thoughts and feelings. Being able to confidently say what you mean and mean what you want to say. It’s odd how comforting being able to read words and letters subconsciously and be able to comprehend them can be. All these little things build to become an enormous weight of experience.

But here, there’s peace in being out of place. For once, I am in the majority. I am the majority. I never realized how it felt like I was holding my breath when I was in the minority. Here, I am breathing. And it’s quite liberating and reassuring.

That is, until I open my mouth to speak a less fluent version of what used to be my native language. But I’m working on that. That is a whole different feeling for a different post.

A few days ago, I rode the subway during peak rush hour, a mistake I assure you, to the Hyehwa exit on line number 4 (the blue one). A month ago, I wouldn’t have known what any of those words in the previous sentence meant. Now I understand why people lament about the state of public transportation in the United States. It’s amazing and efficient and cheap – the subway system here will forever be my baseline on how well a country implements inter-country travel for its citizens. Anyways, let me set the scene: there I am patiently waiting for the escalator to end its automatic descent and close to the bottom a view of a well-packed crowd of all types (businessmen, college students, ajumma’s, ajusshi’s, children) are all packed together like ants waiting for the next train. Here personal space is not a factor, it’s not even an option and entirely out of the equation altogether. For a moment, even if you are a foreigner or not – visibly out of place or not – you’re just another faceless, nameless person in a crowd simultaneously taking up too much space while having not enough. Once the train arrives, it’s just a sudden push of bodies against one another like a concert without the dim lights, bad smells, and annoying crowd moshing.

Once on the subway, there’s no room to move. It feels as if there’s no room to breathe. Every time the subway goes a little too fast or takes a turn a little too suddenly, you only move a fraction of what you would expect to because there’s a sea of people cushioning the impact you would have had. You just jostle against the stranger next to you. Like a self-contained bouncy ball. I recommend avoiding the subway between 6:00-7:30 in the afternoon if you don’t want to experience this.

After getting off at the Hyehwa exit, my friend and I made the trek up, way up, many, many hills to get a glimpse of this breathtaking view.

I can’t even begin to describe the pure beauty of this scene. I’ve never been to New York City, but I would confidently make the statement this view beats anything NYC could offer. The biggest difference between the two is that Seoul holds more meaning to me than NYC ever could.

The first hill isn’t bad. Climbing an incline that’s reminiscent of the acute angle we’re taught about in fourth grade is not ideal. It’s not hard, but it isn’t easy either. The second hill still isn’t awful. By that point, I was slowly adjusting to the climb, but then the third hill came and I was just annoyed at the steep incline and how frequent they were. By the fourth hill, I wanted to abandon the climb and go back down the last three hills. But my friend reassured me the view would be worth it and, fortunately, she was correct. Here, the sun sets around 6:30-6:40 so we were able to watch the sunset over the city, the sky being clear for the first time in weeks. The city skyline laid bare before me was, and still is, one of the prettiest scenes I have witnessed. In both directions, buildings of various heights sprawled across the horizon paired against the orange-pink-cerulean watercolor painted sky creating the illusion of a never ending city. To the far left laid Namsan, distant and untouchable, the mountain I use to guide me back to where I need to be. It was a breathtaking view and at that moment, the nagging feeling of being out of place faded away for a brief moment. The view was a balm, a blissful reprieve to all the negative emotions that were slowly bubbling beneath the surface slowly compounded by all the miscommunications and cultural differences that were too distinct to patch over in the few weeks I had been here. We stayed until nightfall, content to watch as the city began to reflect the stars I can no longer see and miss.

There is a picture I came across on the internet where an iceberg is depicted and serves as an analogy for the small, intangible distinctions that come with different cultures. It’s aptly labeled “The Cultural Iceberg”. The top, the tip of the iceberg, are things that are easy to see: language, fashion, food, visual arts, et cetera. And the rest of the iceberg, the part you can’t see, the one submerged under the water are the things that are difficult to view and make it hard to acclimate to a culture and country that isn’t yours or one you didn’t grow up in. Family roles, relation to authority, body language, gender roles, pride, rules of conduct, beauty standards, humor – these, among several others, are the aspects of a culture that are hard to grasp. These are some of the contributing factors that act like bricks in the foundation of a difficult adjustment period.

 

But there is beauty in learning and seeing and being able to experience first hand the type of culture I could have grown up in and had my childhood in. To play the what-if game. It is an odd feeling, undoubtedly, but to have this opportunity, to experience all these feelings, is one I feared I would not be able to have. So I welcome all the emotions – the good and the bad.


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.

Bologna Bound

Growing up in a small town in Missouri doesn’t leave much opportunity for exposure to cultural diversity. Those surrounding me held the same ideals and beliefs as I did, but as a result, I was very ignorant of just how different the rest of the world was. I was lucky to have parents that realized the importance of bringing the world to us and decided to become hosts to foreign exchange students. My experience being a host sister immediately challenged everything I thought I knew about life in other parts of the world, as well as influencing my choice of study abroad destination. Throughout my time at home, my family went on to host four more students. Since then, I have known that studying abroad was right for me!

Bon Voyage!

My name is Olivia Weaver and I am a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, a minor in Psychology, on a Pre-Dental track. I will be studying in Bologna, Italy for the Spring 2019 Semester through the University of Bologna Exchange program. Fun fact, the University of Bologna is the oldest still running university in the World! It was founded in 1088!

University of Bologna

Luckily, I planned ahead with my academic advisor so I am able to take whatever classes I want during my semester abroad! In my mind, I was planning on taking like classes like Wine Tasting and Cooking Authentic Italian Cuisine 101. Well… I hate to burst anyone’s bubble but apparently not all Italian universities offer courses like that. In the end, I still get to take some really cool classes! I am most looking forward to taking a Speleology (the study of sediment in caves) course offered by the university that travels throughout France and Italy touring different caves with the professor. This class is going to rock…(pun intended 🙂 )

I am so excited for this semester and this opportunity to learn and grow (as a person also though considering the food in Italy may be in size as well…). This will be my first time traveling to Europe and I plan to see as much of it as I can while I am there! Thank you for reading, and I look forward to sharing more stories throughout my time abroad!


Olivia Weaver is a junior at the University of Missouri–Kansas City pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, a minor in Psychology on a Pre-Dental track. Olivia will be studying in Bologna, Italy for her spring 2019 semester through the University of Bologna Exchange program. Olivia is excited for the opportunity to experience and appreciate different customs and traditions of those across the globe.

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.

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.

The Journey Back Home

My last few days in Korea were somber, I was still having a great time with my friends but we all knew that our time together was quickly coming to an end. I began to reflect on my time studying abroad and how much of an impact that it had on my life. I did and saw some amazing things and I got to experience an international university that was both challenging and rewarding.

My last few days, I did not try to do new things to squeeze in an experience that I had yet to have. There were many things that I did not get to do while I was there and that was okay. Instead, I focused on doing the things that I was greatly going to miss; I went to my favorite cafes, hung out with my friends in our favorite bars, and ate my favorite foods. The smallest things that I did while there were the things I knew I was going to miss the most, because they had become a routine. I wasn’t going to miss going to the palaces, they were a tourist trip and I didn’t visit them every day. Instead, I was going to miss seeing the mountains when I walked to class, visiting my favorite beer and chicken place with my classmates, and going to the convenience store where I bought my cheap ramen that I had come to adore.

The idea of returning home was not easy. As I made my way onto the flight to come home I was distressed at how much I had come to love Korea. It was more than just a study abroad trip at this point; I had created a life for myself there and it was sad to let that go. No one tells you before you leave that coming back is just as hard, adjusting to life back in America is almost a reverse culture shock in itself, but it’s all part of the process and you just have to keep pushing through.


Emily Noe is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying History. Emily is spending the semester abroad with Dongguk University in Seoul, South Korea. Emily is working towards achieving her Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate in history.

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.