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“You´re 25 and you´ve never seen the ocean???”

I’m 25 years old, and I have only just now experienced the ocean, which luckily was during my study abroad trip in Costa Rica. Guys, this place is absolutely gorgeous.

I am elated to say that I have now seen 9 beaches here, three which are on the list of Costa Rica’s most beautiful beaches. I also got to see a beach in Panama.

I’m referencing this article if you´re interested! (P.S., I´ve been to numbers 1, 2, and 4!)

I’m going to make this blog post about my absolute favorite beaches, and the remarkable experiences I had there.

The first area we went to was Playa Manuel Antonio, listed as the 2nd most beautiful beach. In that area, I saw 4 separate beach areas. My first experience was marvelous, there were monkeys playing on the beach (and on the lookout for things to steal from the beach goers). Here´s a link to UMKC study abroad´s insta if you´re interested in seeing a bit of that cuteness.

Playa Manuel Antonio

The next weekend, we headed to the Guanacaste province to check out Playa Tamarindo, listed as the 4th most beautiful beach. This place was gorgeous.

Playa Tamarindo

There were even howler monkeys outside of our Airbnb, while we were in the pool!

Howler monkey

Sunday, before we left Tamarindo, two of my friends and I got up really early in the morning. Our mission was to see the number one most beautiful beach in Costa Rica: Playa Conchal. Notice how the word Conchal looks like conch? As in the shells? Perfect, because that´s what this beach is all about. Playa Conchal has a large part of it’s beach area where instead of sand, you see itty bitty broken pieces of polished shell. This place is honestly the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen in my life, my little Kansas mind absolutely could not handle it!!!

Playa Conchal: Bonita!

How could I tell you it is the most beautiful place I have ever seen if I didn’t provide proof? Well, that would almost be……shellfish of me!!!

Clear waters of Play Conchal

Can you believe how clear this water is??? Even the waves are clear and completely gorgeous.

Even the waves were crystal clear!

When I tell you I’m ready to go back…that’s no joke! The last weekend I stayed in Cahuita. I took a short drive south to see Playa Negra in Pureto Viejo.

I can’t decide if Playa Conchal or Playa Negra in Puerto Viejo, where we went on my last weekend were my favorite.

I could not get enough of how cool this was!!!  I’m not quite sure why there was a random barge there…but it was super cool!

Playa Negra.

I love this picture because of the contrast between the white waves and black sand.

White waves on Playa Negra.

I don´t think I could have picked a better study abroad program. This program was awesome because it has so many places to visit, so much wildlife, and so many amazing beaches. Not only that, my Spanish improved dramatically! Now that all of my degree requirements have been met, I’ll take that Spanish degree now.

You better believe that my mind was blown during the entire program, and that I absolutely will be returning one day.

Sarah Schleicher is a senior at the University of Missouri – Kansas City majoring in Spanish and minoring in Latinx Studies. She will be taking the last two required classes for her B.A. this summer in Heredia, Costa Rica. She is currently a Pre-K teacher and Enrichment Coordinator, and she would eventually like to work supporting Spanish speaking children.

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.

Overcoming the Language Barrier

One major part of the study abroad program is that each student stays with a host family for the entirety of the trip. In an effort to fully emerge us into French culture, the family kind of adopts us into their daily life and most importantly, they only talk to us in French. In theory, this seems like a very good idea as it provides us with the best possible way of improving our French, as we are constantly around the language and are forced to use it to communicate. However, it also has an unintended side effect by the way that it clearly delineates the presence of a language barrier, an obstacle I had never considered until I arrived here. Now, it is true that I do speak some French, but it’s more like what I like to refer to as “baby French”. And trust me, I had no misguided beliefs that I was going to arrive here and just start spurting perfect French. It takes a lot of effort for me to speak French conversationally, especially in the beginning. I had to think about everything I wanted to say very carefully. Then there is the added struggle of comprehending what is being said to me. It’s not too bad in a one-on-one conversation, but I’ve been staying with a family of seven. So every dinner or breakfast is kind of like a marathon for me as I try to keep up with everything that is being said, as both the parents and the children talk at full speed over each other.

I think this was such a big shift for me because I’ve always been able to articulate exactly what I want to say so that it is perceived and understood in the way that I want it to come across (at least to a certain extent). But, in French, I can’t do that. Furthermore, the way I communicate is a direct illustration of my personality. I’m a little sarcastic and silly all at the same time, all of which I communicate through my choice of words and tone. But again, in French, I can’t communicate that with my words. Realizing this made me feel as though my host family would never really get to know me and that inversely, I would never fully understand them. I had never fully understood the concept of a language barrier until that moment. Language can serve as a bridge that connects people or it can serve as a wall that isolates you. However, it wasn’t the source of the isolation, but only the tool used by it to enhance something that was already present. As with most emotions, the sense of isolation I felt came from the inside, created and cultivated by me.

Looking back on the first two weeks that I was in Lyon, when I felt this sense of isolation the most intensely, I can easily see how my host family continually tried to connect with me and include me in their family. They were kind as well as attentive and during group discussions, like the ones that would occur at dinner, they would slow down to make sure that I could understand, ask me questions so that I could join the conversation, and patiently wait as I tried to articulate my idea. My obstacle wasn’t the language or even being intimidated by the rapid French of my host family, it was me. I needed to be patient with myself, allow myself to make mistakes, and most importantly, to keep trying. In the end, when I look back on my trip, my host family was probably one of the best parts. I will be forever happy that they decided to adopt me into their home and that I put out the effort to make a connection with them, instead of allowing the language barrier to form a wall in between us.


Hannah-Kaye Carter is a junior at the University of Missouri- Kansas City double majoring in chemistry and psychology with minors in French and biology. She is spending her summer abroad with the Faculty-Led UMKC French Language Summer in Lyon, France. Hannah-Kaye was born in Kingston, Jamaica, where she lived until she immigrated to the United States at 9 years old. Currently, Hannah-Kaye is a member of the UMKC Pre-Med Society and a member of the Educate Organize and Advocate Committee. Additionally, she volunteers at the W.E.B. Dubois Learning Center as an assistant teacher in their subtraction classroom every Saturday morning. Her hope is to someday go to medical school, become a doctor, and eventually become a member of Doctors without Borders.


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.

Transitioning from Newbie to Native (More or Less)

A pic of me on a side trip to Morocco and the Sahara Desert!

Let’s be real: there’s a honeymoon phase to almost any new thing we do. Whether that’s starting a new job, new school, new hobby, or making new friends, there comes a point when you see the activities or the people for what/who they really are. You may still enjoy it, but you begin to know the true depth, see the flaws, and generally have a deeper understanding of reality as you become more accustomed and comfortable in that environment or with those people. I have definitely noticed a similar trend with studying abroad.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and for me, I even welcome it by embracing the sometimes uncomfortableness of the situation. When you reach this point, it is when you really begin to learn the culture and experience something new and beautiful.

For me, this process took over a month. I can’t pinpoint an exact day since it’s so gradual. But I do know that today, compared to when I first arrived in Spain, I am much more comfortable and feel like I blend in (most of the time) to the natives around me. Here is a simple example of when I first noticed this change:

In the busier, more crowded areas of Granada there are typically people stopping others to take a survey, sell a service or product, etc. They usually only target Spaniards, so it’s safe to say I wasn’t called out during my first month here as I probably looked so lost. However, one day a man stopped me in the street, and said (in Spanish), “Is your family missing?” There was definitely something lost in translation (because what I thought I heard could not have been correct…I still have a lot of Spanish to learn) and I repeated back to him with surprise what I thought he asked and he quickly said in English, “Oh, you’re not from Spain?” I replied that I was from the United States and he apologized for stopping me and moved on without a second thought. I, however, was so honored! It was so simple and kind of silly, but I was so proud that someone thought I was a local. Usually being stopped like that by people of the street would bother me, but in Spain it means that I come off as one of their own. I feel that in myself, as well. I am so much more comfortable here than I was at the beginning: I walk more relaxed and continually feel more at home.

Hiking in Alpujarra, Spain. If you look very closely you can see the Mediterranean Sea between the mountains.

As I have mentioned in past posts, I love traveling. But this is more than traveling- it is a learning experience. I learn more about the culture, the people, the history, and myself every day. It’s not all pretty, but it is the reality and that’s what I want to know. I don’t want a sugar-coated semester: I want raw and real. I want to understand the economic crisis of Spain and how that is making it difficult for Spaniards, especially young people, to find secure jobs, forcing them to live with their parents until they are 25-30 years old, for example.

But at the same time, I have loved learning about the good things that this country has to offer. Like the fact that most students pay less than $1,000 for college per YEAR as opposed to universities in the United States costing anywhere from $10,000-$60,000 per year, causing most students to be in extreme debt. The government of Spain understands the importance of education and it shows in the prices of attending university. Spain’s education system and general economy may have its own flaws (for example, the reason that college is so “inexpensive” is because taxes are much higher), but at least it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg outright to attend college. It’s all much more complicated than I know, but that’s pretty incredible.

There is so much more I could discuss regarding the culture and the people. It’s an intricate and complex country with a lot of history and depth. And I haven’t even mentioned what I have learned about myself and my own beliefs by being immersed in this culture. There are still things that I have discovered but haven’t fully grasped and can’t articulate quite yet. I don’t think it will be until I return home and have time to process the semester in its entirety that I will understand how this semester has impacted me. I am looking forward to those realizations, because I’m sure this time has affected me in more ways than I know.

Thank you, Spain (and all other countries I have been fortunate to travel to this semester), for welcoming me, teaching me, and showing me all that you have to offer.

The mosque of Cordoba (now a Catholic church).
La Plaza de España (The Plaza of Spain). A few scenes from Star Wars were filmed here!

Camille Meeks is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Psychology and Languages & Literature with an emphasis in Spanish. Camille will spend the Fall semester studying in Granada, Spain through International Studies Abroad as a Truman Good Neighbor Scholar.

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 Countdown Dwindles & Adventure Begins

As I write this post, I am a mere 6 days away from departing on my flight for a semester-long journey in Granada, Spain. The excitement and anticipation are growing with each passing day, but so are the nerves, questions, and expectations. However, the emotion that best encompasses how I am feeling is alegría (joy)! I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to spend four months overseas in a country I have always dreamed of visiting. Now, not only do I get to visit, but I get to live in Spain and truly immerse myself in what I know will be a beautiful culture and all-around amazing country. Here are just three of the many aspects of this adventure that I am most anticipating.

1. Improving Spanish

I have been learning and studying Spanish since the second grade, but you wouldn’t believe that if you heard me speak. I am probably better at the language than I consider myself to be, but living in Spain will be the true test. I have always had a desire to become fluent in Spanish, but classroom learning simply doesn’t do it for me. I believe that immersion is the best teacher and I am looking forward to the improvements that will come, especially increasing confidence in myself and my speaking, writing, reading and listening abilities. One way that I will improve is through the housing that I’ve selected for the semester: I opted to live in a homestay with a Spanish family. I thought that this would be the best way to not only learn more about the culture and lifestyle of Spain, but also to essentially be forced to speak Spanish around the clock. It would be too easy for me to use my housing situation as an escape from speaking Spanish, so I chose the homestay as a catalyst for me to continue practicing, even when I am at the home, a place where I usually would let my guard down and relax into English speaking habits. That is why I chose to challenge myself in this way. I’m sure my expectations will be met!

2. Self-discovery and independent travel

I love traveling! If I could, I would make it my full-time job. I’m pumped for this semester in Europe where I will have the freedom to travel in addition to completing my coursework. This is the first time that I will be traveling outside of the United States alone. It’s intimidating, a little scary, but also exhilarating. I’ve heard from other solo travelers that this is an amazing way to really learn more about who you are. I don’t doubt that for a second! I have always been pretty sure of myself, but I am looking forward to learning more about who I am. There are things I haven’t yet discovered simply because I’ve never been in this situation before: I’ve never been away from my family for more than a few weeks at a time, never traveled abroad alone, and certainly have never lived my life using another language in every-day circumstances. All of these scenarios, and more, are sure to highlight many of my strengths (and weaknesses, also important to understand about oneself) that I had never realized I had. I fully expect to be stretched beyond my comfort zone, but I am embracing it. I know this semester will be a challenge, but I am up to the task, whatever Spain has for me!

3. The city, culture, and people

Okay, okay, I know that is three aspects in one post, but I can’t help it. How could I only choose three to discuss? I first fell in love with Granada when I read three simple words describing the city: eclectic, mountainous, historic. I read these descriptors in the International Studies Abroad (ISA) packet that contained all of the study abroad locations available to students. Surprisingly, I had never heard of Granada before researching where to study, but when I read those words I actually became misty-eyed. I felt so drawn to the city. For one, I love mountains. They are so majestic and they make me feel so small but in the best way. They seem to speak to me saying, “There is more in the world beyond yourself,” if mountains could speak, of course. My affinity for mountainous regions makes living in Missouri kind of a bummer, but that’s what traveling is for. Anyway, all that to say, I know this city, like most cities in Europe, will be lovely. I hear (and have seen through pictures) that the city of Granada is beautiful. Likewise, I hear that it is as beautiful as the people who inhabit it. Everyone I have talked with who has been to Spain raves about the kind and welcoming nature of Spaniards. Additionally, I love other cultures that are different from my own and I strive to experience them from the perspective of the locals. I am looking forward to experiencing the diversity that Granada has to offer by living in such an eclectic city with quite a rich history. I enjoy how traveling allows one to meet so many different people from all backgrounds, each with their own unique stories. I am excited to have the people of Spain as a resource to make my experience the best it can be. As a generally introverted and reserved person, I am not typically one to initiate conversations, especially with strangers. However, I want to use this experience to break that cycle since I desire to have an authentic Spanish semester.

Pictured is me wearing the only luggage I plan to bring: a 60 liter Osprey backpack (it’s much roomier than it looks)! I’m embracing simplicity this semester!

There is no telling whom I will meet,what I will discover, the experiences I will have, or the things I will see. The mystery and uncertainty going into this semester is what makes me so excited. All I know is that I will have breathtaking adventures, eat amazing food, meet incredible people, and walk A LOT (I really enjoy a good walk) all while gaining confidence in myself and my Spanish-speaking abilities. This is going to be a semester of learning and discovery. I may not know the details of all that I will encounter, but that is all part of the process. I have an open-mind, an open heart, and the flexibility I need to have a truly maravillosa (wonderful) adventure in Granada, Spain.


Camille Meeks is a senior at the University of Missouri- Kansas City studying Psychology and Languages & Literatures with an emphasis in Spanish. Camille will spend the fall semester studying in Granada, Spain through International Studies Abroad as a Truman Good Neighbor Scholar.

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.

From Soldier To Student

Being used to traveling all over the world, experiencing new cultures and ways of life hasn’t been too much of a challenge for me. From the barracks in the desert of Kuwait, to living in South Korea, and even experiencing life in Japan I would say the hardest culture shock was coming from active duty Army, most of my adult life thus far, to a full-time student who will be utilizing her knowledge and language skills abroad.

As a student who is learning the language of Arabic, I have chosen this path for personal, and professional reasonings. Along with my minor in Arabic I will be studying International Relations in the country of Morocco. This is a place I never thought I would be going to in-order to start utilizing my skills. There are magical places in the country I never thought I would have the opportunity to touch ground on. I have ISA and UMKC to thank for opening this door for me. With every new culture experience; I have been brought down to the earth further and more so recognized her people in all aspects of their lives and as I walk through the threshold and into the magical journey of my semester in Morocco, I will no longer land in combat boots, but in my everyday shoes. Ready to explore, and ready to learn.

The knowledge I will acquire will only be the beginning of what will be setting the rest of my life. From soldier to student, I will represent UMKC, ISA, and my country of USA with honor. Follow me on my journey, through my blog posts! As I love to share my experiences.

And so, until I return.

So long!

سنشتاق إليك

(sanashtaq ‘iilyka!)

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Kaylee Tindle is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is studying International Relations with a minor in Arabic. Kaylee will spend the semester abroad with the ISA Meknes, Morocco: Language, Culture and Society program. Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, Kaylee is a United Sates Army veteran having served as a Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist. Although her service in the military has ended, Kaylee still plans to serve the United States of America through the world of politics.

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.

Reflection Before Departure

Last January I visited my family in south Texas, we had a chance to visit the local flea market, or more familiarly, la pulga. Here, one can find imported medicine from Mexico, children’s clothing. handmade jewelry, bootleg DVDs, and even exotic birds. La pulga always has a mixed bag of goods. It goes without mentioning that the food there is plentiful. Whether it’s a menudo kind of day, or the temptation for a fried spiral potato drenched in lime and chile is stronger, (okay, both) la pulga is the spot to be humble and buy some cheap stuff.

While the winter sun beamed on my neck, my sister, Jennifer, took her time looking at jewelry at one of the vendor tables. Personally, I have never been interested in jewelry beyond the studs on my ears. But as I let my gaze move along the necklaces, I wondered if I could get something with La Virgen de Guadalupe. Eyeing a black threaded necklace, Jennifer asked the woman behind the table, “¿Pueda cambiar el talismán de esta collar?” The woman handed us a bag full of charms representing various figures in Catholicism. After picking through the many crosses and portraits of Jesus, I found La Virgen. With a red threaded necklace in hand and La Virgen in the other, I asked the woman, “¿…y esta tambien?” My sister paid her and I put mine on immediately.

Beyond the religious sentiment La Virgen represents, I see her as a connection to my family and culture. To me, she represents feminine strength. Most of my life has been around women, and I have learned to embrace my own femininity. Being without family near for so long, I find myself slipping away, disengaged with that part of my life. She serves as reminder of who I am, and where I came from, keeping me grounded. And, sometimes, I feel like she protects me.  So, I keep her with me everyday since that afternoon at la pulga. 

Identity is something I have been actively exploring as an adult. As I become more self-aware and mindful, more and more facets of my identity are unraveled and revealed. Growing up white and gay in a predominately Catholic, Mexican-American community, I found it difficult to claim my own latinx identity. While Spanish was heard all around me, be it at school or the homes of my family, I did not engage in anything other than English. Sure, I had an ear for Spanish, but I carried so much embarrassment for not confidently owning my Spanish tongue. My family would always tease me as a child. “Mijito doesn’t like speaking Spanish, I don’t know why.” It would infuriate me even more as a teenager. By then, I had moved states away to Kansas City, a clean slate. As I got older, I realized I can still manage to stay connected to my past. Throughout high school, university, and the numerous service jobs I had, Spanish became a medium for exploration of my own linguistic identity.

Like La Virgen, Spanish has become another way to keep me connected to my roots.

So, what does any of this have to do with studying abroad in Argentina? Well, as I frantically get all of my objectives checked off before leaving the country for six weeks (hughhhhh), say my see-you -laters to my friends and coworkers, and prepare to be broke upon arrival back home (hhhnnuughhh), I am ready to explore my Spanish-speaking self. Away from the reality of work-sleep-work-sleep-work-sleep, I feel at ease. Through Argentina and her culture, I am ready to learn, make connections, and take in everything she has to offer.

Until then –


Robert Grigsby is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Spanish and Film Production. Robert will spend the summer term abroad at the Universidad de Belgrano with UMKC Spanish Program in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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.

Swinging en el Sur

My stomach dropped as I felt myself settle into the wooden tree swing, gliding out over the Andes Mountains outside of Baños, Ecuador. “Wow, I wonder how much more I could see if the earth were flat,” I thought to myself as the crisp wind whistled past my ears.

For the past four weeks I have been a mochilero, a backpacker, making my way through Colombia and Ecuador with my friend, wearing and rewearing the same sets of clothes and hiking shoes and learning about travel and native culture in each town and city we visit.

In Colombia, we began on the busy streets of Bogotá, touring the city and hiking Monserrate before taking an overnight bus to Medellín. From Medellín to the small coffee town of Salento, we hiked national parks in the Andes Mountains with elevations so high we oftentimes looked down on the clouds. From Salento to Cali, we experienced the national atmosphere during the tense, stalemate election before crossing the border into Ecuador. Through Quito to Baños, we hiked around one of the country’s active volcanos and the deafening waterfall deemed Pailon del Diablo (Devil’s Caldron). From the authentic, laid-back native culture of Cuenca, to the fast-paced, modern culture of Guayaquil, we traveled north along Ecuador’s small beach towns, hiking, whale watching, and snorkeling as we went. Now, as we finish this eye-opening experience zip-lining in the quiet, pueblito of Mindo, I am excited for my new experiences in Buenos Aires and Argentina.

Almost every day over the past two weeks, I have found myself thinking of and anticipating Buenos Aires; receiving feelings similar to those I had on that swing in Baños. As I anxiously search the internet for flight advice for solo international travelers, I feel that same uneasiness in taking that first step to fly out over the Andes. Though the change in pace will be different, I look forward to Buenos Aires. I am excited to set feet on stationary ground, establishing a relationship with my host family and classmates, while becoming more comfortable with the people, culture, language, diet, and transportation.

Through stressful, unplanned circumstances abroad, I have tested my capabilities, learning the most applicable knowledge in the past four weeks than I have ever learned before. I am excited to push myself in Buenos Aires, continuing to jump out over the edge of the mountains and swing into my next journey in Argentina.


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.

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.

 

K-Pop for the Win

One thing about South Korea that I will never get over is their absolute adoration for their idols. In case you don’t know, any musician or band member is called an “idol” it’s just their special term for a celebrity. Anyway, I completely understand the craze because I, myself, am a huge K-pop fan. I think the difference between love for celebrities in Korea versus the United States is the actual size of the countries, Korea is a lot smaller than the United States and in Korea, the celebrities are pretty much confined to one district for work and living so it’s pretty easy to find out where they are all the time which makes them a lot closer to normal people rather than in the United States which is a huge country and makes them seem like they don’t really exist outside of the screen. But, I did get to witness the love that Koreans have for their idols first hand when I went to a K-pop concert.

First, the K-pop concert that I went to was in Pyeongchang which is the site of the 2018 Winter Olympics. The concert I attended is called the Dream Concert which is a collaboration of many K-pop groups that perform at the site to celebrate the 100 days before the olympics begin. I actually got a really good deal on the tickets because I found a group that caters specifically to foreigners that provides transportation and gave us seats practically in the front row.

The concert was amazing, there was some smaller K-pop groups that performed first while some of the bigger groups headlined the concert at the very end. But, while the performers were extremely entertaining, it was hilarious to watch the crowd because the fans are so devoted and funny when showing their love for their favorite group. They bought blankets, pictures, light up wands, and whistles to wave in the air when their favorite group was performing. I even saw a group of girls rush the stage to get pictures of their favorite boy-band. Honestly, the relationship between the groups and their fans are so cute because rather than trying to run away, the groups will dance, wave, and shake hands with their fans which makes the experience that much better. I am glad I got to have this experience because it was something that was most definitely Korean in nature and could not be found back in America.


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.