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Small City Dreams

Ye gods but Oxford is beautiful. I’ve been here for one whole hour and I am already in love. I’m staying in the dorms in Magdalen College; it’s the one with its own deer park. Can you imagine UMKC having a deer park in the middle of Kansas City? That would be wild. Don’t get me wrong, I love our quad, but there’s a distinct lack of deer. 

London’s West End has some great shows!

It is SO much quieter here than in central London. I had to stay at a hotel near Tottenham Court Road for the first couple days, just to get situated with my IFSA program. London is BUSY BUSY BUSY GO GO GO!!! There’s a constant flow and irregular heartbeat to the city that was very new to me. I can completely understand why people choose to make it their home. The tall buildings and narrow winding streets hid treasures around every corner. We took a VERY long walking tour and I got to see things I’d only read about in Dumas books. But, as I’ve lived in Kansas City for most of my life, it was a bit too much close quarters for me. I’m VERY glad to have learned that about myself before I committed to living in London or a similar big city. 

The deer get right up close to my window!

Oxford, on the other hand, is so far exactly what I wanted it to be. The buildings are shorter, the birds are louder, and there is grass to lay in. Also, some castles and the Hogwarts dining hall. But, I’m really ready to just settle into school here. The tutorial system of education is new to me and I am greatly looking forward to experiencing it. I have also brought a half empty suitcase that I’m looking forward to filling with books!

 

 


Ashley Silver is a senior at the University of Missouri — Kansas City studying English Literature. Ashley will spend the summer semester abroad with the IFSA-Butler program in Oxford, England.

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 Even is Time?

I have no idea how long a month is. I mean, I know how long a month is. But I don’t know how long a month is. Time is weird and it doesn’t make sense to me. There are only three times: right now, the far off future, and never. Hence why I’m sitting in the airport writing this blog post like I should’ve done a week ago. My friends keep telling me a month is a really long time, that I’ll have SO much time to see EVERYTHING in England. I just keep telling them I have homework. Because, again, time is hard and I do not have a good grasp on how long a month is. Also, I’m taking 11 credits in one month, which genuinely seems like a lot. 

I know we are supposed to talk about our plane trips, but… ok so from MCI to Georgia was like, an hour and a half? And that’s how far my cousin’s house in Iowa is. So Georgia is a close as Iowa. The flight to England is 8hrs and that’s how far Colorado was, so England is like going to Estes Park for me. 

I guess what I’m getting at is: if you have a study abroad trip, don’t worry about how long you’ll be there or how far away from home it is. Time and distance are completely meaningless and incomprehensible. 


Ashley Silver is a senior at the University of Missouri — Kansas City studying English Literature. Ashley will spend the summer semester abroad with the IFSA-Butler program in Oxford, England.

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.

The Joys of Hiking

Tomorrow it will have been 2 months since I left the United States and landed in Spain! 2 MONTHS! I can hardly believe how fast this semester is going. Midterms are just around the corner and then after that it’s a mere 5 weeks until finals! When studying abroad for a semester, you think you have so much time, but in reality it really does zip by.

Anywhere you are – traveling, moving to a new city, at school, at home, it is important to find something that fills your heart and that makes you feel connected with your environment. For me this semester that something has been hiking. It never fails to make me feel at peace and rejuvenated. Granada’s population is more than 230,000 inhabitants, whereas my hometown, Liberty MO, has roughly 31,000. Not only is the population greater in Granada but also the city is much more condensed. You can easily see from the city by walking in 1-2 hours, but Liberty is much more spread out than that. Additionally, I live in an apartment, with my host mom and roommate, that is about the size of my main floor at home in Missouri. It gets to feeling a little crowded at times, in the streets and at my host home.

When I need some space to myself, hiking is a lifesaver. I don’t dislike the city or my apartment, but there is nothing quite like the silence, solitude, fresh air, and the openness and freedom found in the mountains. No traces of cigarette smoke or exhaust are smelled. The air is crisp and inviting. The view of the large mountains on the horizon and the tiny cars of the city in comparison remind you just how small you are, how small your problems are, and how much more there is in the world beyond your minuscule and often clouded perspective.

I can’t express how much I love the mountains and the joy that they bring me! There are no mountains in Missouri, which may be why I love them so much: it’s extra special when I am near them. I take every opportunity I can here to explore the vast trails of the mountains while I have them in my backyard. From my apartment to the start of the trails is about a 45 minute walk; at home it’s a 9 hour drive to Colorado to find the best mountains. I am so grateful to be studying where I am.

What I have particularly enjoyed is the two times my friend and I went hiking at 6:30 in the morning to watch the sunrise over the mountains. It is truly magical. For starters, the walk through the city to the mountains is quite tranquil: the only people in the street are those returning home after a night out at the club (it’s very common to stay out all night here… I can’t keep up!) When we get to the mountains, I love how the sun first lights up the surrounding peaks before fully revealing itself to you. After hiking for an hour or two, my friend and I are of course very sweaty. As we sit and wait for the light to break over the peaks, our sweat is drying and it is quite chilly. Through this experience I realized how often I take the sun for granted. As my friend and I were shivering from the brisk wind and cool air, we jokingly contemplated would happen if the sun just decided not to rise that day: we would miss out on the beauty that it brings with it and we would also still be very cold. When the sun finally shines over the crests, I instantly feel its warmth and began to thaw. Mmm, I could just bask in the sun all day. With the sunrise, the world rises around us. What a treasure is the new day that the sun brings. And in the mountains it is even more magical.

I didn’t expect to be able to write so much about hiking, mountains and nature, and I could definitely go on. However, I will conclude with a thought I had on one of my hikes. This activity lends itself well to somewhat cheesy (yet profound) metaphors for life, and I love that. Here is my most recent one:

When hiking, it’s okay, and even encouraged, to look back at how far you’ve come and all that you’ve passed through. But if you turn around and walk back the way you came, focusing too much on that path (your past), you will never know what views and experiences lie ahead, where life will take you moving forward. Occasionally when hiking, through the mountains and through life, you will get lost and you’ll be forced to go back and retrace your steps (to spend a short time in the past), but this is only so that you can find a better path forward the next time around.

Go out and experience the nature around you! Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you.


Camille Meeks is a junior 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.

Fill Your Life With Adventures…

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

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

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

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

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


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

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Let’s Go To Lyon!

14 Hours, 42 Minutes, 35 Seconds

As of my writing this post, that is the amount of time until I get on the first plane to start my Journey to Lyon France!

This trip will be a trip of a lot of firsts for me, first time flying alone, first time leaving the country, first being away from Kansas/Missouri for more than a week, and I am beyond excited for that, and yet none of it feels quite real yet. I think that it doesn’t really feel like I’m leaving yet because I don’t know what to expect.

So far to prepare for this trip I have made multiple packing lists, packed and repacked my bags at least twice, triple checked that I have everything I need,  and met up with friends and family in my hometown before coming back to Kansas City. Despite all of this preparation, and the amount of time I have spent thinking about this trip, I still can’t believe that it is actually happening. I have wanted to study abroad for as long as I can remember, and I never thought I would actually get the opportunity, and I am beyond grateful that I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to study in another country, especially a country as beautiful as France.

Two quotes that I have been thinking about a lot lately are:

To have another language is to possess a second soul.
‒Charlemagne

and

❝Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.❞‒Neale Donald Walsch

Having just finished my first year in college, I know that I have changed a lot in the last year, I have been trying my best to ensure that that is a positive change, working to make myself better in anyway I can, and a part of doing that has been challenging myself to go outside of my comfort zone. I think that Growth as well as Life begins at the end of one’s comfort zone. It is hard, maybe impossible, to grow as a person, to create better habits, to learn, and to be the best person you can be if you always stay with in your comfort zone, I know that this trip will push me out of my comfort zone, I will be flying alone to another country to stay with a host family in a country where English is not the primary language, I know I will not be able to prepare for and expect everything that I will experience, thats about as far outside of my comfort zone as I can  think to get! Not only will I be traveling to a foreign country alone for the first time, I will also be working to improve my language skills. I will be learning and practicing French in the best way possible; Immersion. This trip will give me a chance to grow my “second soul”, to improve my French, and to learn to connect with new people in a way I never have before; In another language.


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

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

My First Week in Spain

During the first week of my study abroad trip in Spain we traveled! This was an amazing way to get to see so much of the country that I wouldn´t have been able to see otherwise.

On the first day, we flew into Madrid and landed in the morning. This was such an overwhelming feeling, getting off the plane into a giant airport where everything is in Spanish. Once we got to the hotel, we met our new friends and visited an art museum called El Prado. For dinner we ate at a restaurant that was in a supermarket. In the first two floors it was a supermarket with different shops for each type of food. As you got higher up there became actual restuarants. The food was AMAZING!

The next day, Tuesday, we traveled to Segovia. Segovia was my favorite city because it is very old and has a lot of history. In Segovia, we saw the Roman aqueduct where the Romans brought water from the mountains to the city. Also in Segovia, we saw the Real Alcazar, which was a castle by the royal families. The Real Alcazar had a moat for protection.

Also on Tuesday, we traveled to La Granja for lunch and see the gardens at the Royal Palace. The gardens were absolutely breathtaking and the fountains were gigantic!

On Thursday, the group can on a tour of Seville and we saw all the consulates of other countries like the United States, Mexico and Argentina. In the end, the guide showed us the Spanish consulate. The consolidate of Spain was very beautiful and there  were benches decorated by each province in Spain.


Emma Cleaveland is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Communications. Emma is spending the summer term abroad on the faculty-led UMKC Spanish Program in Granada, Spain.

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 Adventure Begins…

‘Twas the night before adventure, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; the Osprey was packed with minimal clothing, in hopes of adventure that would soon be here. The boy, however, was not nestled all snug in his bed. Instead he had visions of a laptop and his very first blog.

At 07:00 CT today (6/30) the adventure begins! I will be off to New York, then leaving for Scotland in the evening! My osprey is indeed packed (my osprey porter 46) with what I deem as minimal, however, considering we will be in Scotland for quite awhile I made sure to pack a little extra than what most travel experts may typically consider as minimal, but only to avoid a copious number of laundry days.

I have always been a self-proclaimed wander-luster. Having been a Boy Scout and Eagle Scout I have gone on many adventures to many different places, however, I have never been to Europe and certainly not on my own. This upcoming trip brings a lot of emotions, but for me, it primarily excitement, as I am finally achieving one of my biggest dreams of traveling to Europe, an area that I have always kept a special eye out for on the world map in my room. The world is so vast and beautiful I cannot ever imagine spending it all in one place. The world was made to be seen and I fully intend to do so.

In preparation for this trip I have been reading many travel blogs, websites, and books. For me personally though I found Savvy Backpackers guide to traveling to be the most useful thus far. I will have to reflect on this point when I return to see if all of the advice given was actually good. If you are gearing up to travel though I would definitely recommend it.

At the end of the day, I am ecstatic to be able to travel and learn in Scotland. I am also excited to get the opportunity to do some side traveling after my Study Abroad in Scotland is completed and I intend to visit Southern Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. I will be sure to update you all not only on my study abroad in Scotland, but also whatever mischief I find in my side travels!

As my eyes begin to drift shut I know I have an incredibly busy day tomorrow and should have gone to sleep hours ago, but there is much ado when adventure is in the air, and not even the visions of sugar plums dancing in my head could lull my excitement tonight.

Until next time,

Fitz


Brandan Fitzgerald is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Business with an emphasis in Finance. Brandan is spending the summer term abroad with the UMKC Honors Summer Program in Scotland.

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.

Adventure Awaits

Hello all! My name is Megan Schwindler and I’ll be studying abroad in Granada, Spain this summer.  I leave tomorrow morning and have been spending the past two days doing some last minute shopping and packing for the trip.

My (kind of) organized suitcase

My suitcase is pretty organized for someone as messy as myself, but I’m still worried I forgot something! I just got back from a week-long vacation in Florida two days ago so this weekend has been quite chaotic. Essentially, I just dumped all the clothes I took to Florida into the washing machine and threw carefully packed them into my suitcase. All in all, it wasn’t too terrible but two days didn’t feel like enough time.

This was taken on my last day in Florida

My toughest decision was what books I wanted to bring (I’m a nerd, I know). I decided that four books would be the limit. I’m currently reading the last book of Game of Thrones so of course I’ll be bringing that. And then I decided I ought to bring milk and honey by Rupi Kaur because well, it’s amazing. I’m also bringing the first Lord of the Rings because I’ve never read it or watched the movie (I know, I’m so weird) but I heard it’s somewhat adventurous and I’m hoping it will motivate me to explore.  And finally, I’m bringing Women Who Run with the Wolves. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend doing so. It was the book that motivated me to study abroad in the first place!

An excerpt from “Women Who Run with the Wolves”

As far as packing tips go, I would say to pack what you’ll wear. I constantly go on trips and pack cute dresses or wedges that I think I’ll wear but usually don’t even make it out of the suitcase. Birks are an essential item in my suitcase, I wear them with leggings, cute dresses, and even to the beach. I’m also bringing a pair of tennis shoes and a cheap pair of sandals just in case! A lot of my friends and family have asked if I’m nervous or freaking out yet. Surprisingly, I’m not. For me, this is the easy part. I enjoy the packing, planning, organizing, and shopping that a trip as long as this one entails. But once I step off that 14-hour flight in Madrid, I’m probably going to freak out. But who knows?

That’s all I have for now, follow my adventure on wordpress and instagram. And to everyone who is studying abroad this summer, good luck!


Megan Schwindler is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying English Literature and Spanish. Megan is spending the summer abroad with the UMKC Spanish Program in Granada, Spain.

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.

Garden Teacher

No, I am not taking a horticulture class as I study abroad. The title of this post comes from my art history professor. She introduced herself by having us repeat her name back to her and then asking if anyone knew what her name meant. Only one student in this class is fluent in Italian, so he was the lone soul who answered for us. As it turns out, her last name means “garden.” She told us if we ever forget her name or how to pronounce it, we can simply call her Ms. Garden. Something as basic as this introduction shows me that I will enjoy my time in her class. All three of my art history classes are taught by her and I can honestly say I am eager to be in the lectures.

Every art history professor I’ve had the fortune of taking a course with is passionate about what he or she studies. Each is obviously an expert in the period that he or she has chosen, but all of them desire for this expertise to be worn off on his or her students. My professors teach me to look critically at a work of art, to go past the aesthetics and examine the work from a social, political, etc. context. She has this passion, but it means even more abroad because she is from and continues to reside in the city housing the art she is passionate about.

In my second class with her last week, she told us that she has learned so much more about the world through the lenses of art history. She told us she is not a wonderful historian, but has understood history by reading the images, the art. She has understood science and politics through the context of art history. She told us that this subject is a vehicle to understand the past.

Yesterday, in my first class of the week with her, we took a field trip to the church we were just discussing in the classroom. Our classes are two and a half hours, so we have the time to take excursions into the city. What other experience is like this? My professors at home lecture over images of works of art or architecture projected over a screen, but here, my professor highlights the frescoes by Giotto as we walk through the church, points out the wooden beams as we wander underneath them, and has us pay attention to the stones used in the columns as we touch them when we pass. I feel so fortunate to be here.

In the second class of the week with her yesterday, we continued to discuss Giotto. She told us that her professor gave her a 29 out of 30 for some project, and when she asked the professor why she was marked down, she was told it was because she was too passionate. She then told us that she does not like to say she deserves anything, but she felt that she deserved the 30 out of 30 because to be passionate about what you do and learn is good. She said she was angry and believes her professor is wrong. She said that we, as art historians, do not need to be passionate about what she is passionate about, or cool with what she is cool about, but to be passionate about something. That, she said, is what marks a good art historian.

And then she proceeded to tell us about one of her favorite frescoes and explain what makes her passionate about it, jokingly, with hopes of making us passionate about it, too.

Ciao!