This week has been a really hard week but also a lot of fun! Let’s start by saying I miss my family terribly and i probably cried 6 or 7 times since I’ve been here and I have only been here for 6 days. Thankfully I am finally getting to settle in, and the croissants definitely help!! I spent most of the first few days just getting the basic things I needed for my tiny dorm room. I needed hangers and groceries as well as pots and pans. My room is extremely small but also cozy and thankfully I have my own shower, which kind of looks like an airplane bathroom that they just threw a shower into. I also was lucky to find two girls similar to me, who aren’t big partiers and who are excited about traveling and learning French. Montpellier is a gorgeous city with wonderful people and I am so glad I chose to do my study abroad experience here. The Tam in Montpellier is their tram system and is a huge help getting around. I love knowing I have a way to get to wherever I want in this city. This week has been hard but I am looking forward to seeing what else UPV has to offer.
Blog by Heidi Hannah, Global Studies Major, Exchange with Universite Paul Valery
When I was 21 I chose to move to Nova Scotia by myself for two years. I thought this experience was the hardest thing I would ever go through. I had to start over and make new friends and figure out who I was, without any influences. I learned so much about myself while in Nova Scotia which makes me even more excited for spending 5 months in Montpellier, France. As time gets closer and closer to the day I leave, January 15th, 2015, I find I’m getting more and more nervous. I know it is going to be extremely hard for me to leave my fiance for 5 months and start over making new friends in a new country and a new language. With this in mind I am making sure my skype account is ready to go, but my focus is on soaking in every moment of this last week I can. This experience is something I might never have the chance to do again and I want to make this count. I am really looking forward to watching my french get better as the time goes as well.
The visa process was exhausting and confusing, but now that that’s done all that is left is to pack!
Wish me luck
Blog by Vanessa Teeter, Media and Communications Major, NW Cádiz Program
Here is some information that I found very useful over the past month of preparing for my study abroad adventures!
Financial Aid/Private Loan
I have not had much luck with financial aid but I do know for a fact that it is great to continue filling out FAFSA. You never know what you could become eligible for!
If receiving any federal funding do fill out a Revision Request form, which can be found online (www.uwb.edu) of the financial aid office. This form will basically be asking for your funds to be revised due to the study abroad expenses. This could lead to a possible increase in tuition
I have a student loan with BECU. Make sure to check in with them before studying abroad, especially if you will be using the private loan to pay for tuition.
It was extremely helpful for me to understand my MyUw account, web check and how to make a payment-using web check, and many other things.
Speaking of money….
- I am going to be in Spain for six months and will need to have access to money! My chase card’s ATM fees are 3% of the amount withdrawn plus $5, because of this I researched options that had no ATM fees or international fees.
- What I found with my other classmates was a Charles Swab account and card that can work as a debit and credit card. This was a blessing because they have no minimum balance, interest doesn’t start until after the first year, and if any fees are charged to the account Schwabs will reimburse!
- Overall it is a better deal even though I will be using the card for making ATM cash withdrawals about once a month.
- If you are staying a while and will need to withdrawal money, do not forget to budget and plan out how much money you will be spending.
I will be using Euros while I am abroad and also will be staying in Madrid for two days, before the program begins.
- Chase will order Euros for you, free of charge! This will take about three business days and the exchange rate is about 1.3. What you do is pull the money you want to exchange from your chase account.
- I have heard fervently not to exchange USD once I get to Europe because of sneaky fees! So stay prepared and think ahead!
Carrying Money while Traveling
- Invest in a neck wallet (TJ Maxx about $7) and/or a wait wallet (looks like a flat fanny pack) these are amazing to have your cash, insurance card, passport and cards.
- They are easy to conceal under your clothes and easily accessible to you! Not only will you be less likely to leave something important behind but you are less likely to become a target. I know most people think that there is no chance of having anything stolen but you never want it to happen, so be prepared!
- I do love my purses and backpacks but it is best to keep the most important things safe and on your person while traveling in unknown areas.
Packing– It’s not always fun but here is how I planned it out
- Check airline restricts, weight and size
- Check ryan air restrictions (within Europe) / cheap flights that have restricted bag sizes
- 3–4 weeks before departure
- Set apart basics
- This gave me the time to buy anything that I really needed and wouldn’t have realized otherwise
- Being a notorious over packer, this helped me to sort through necessary things to bring and leave behind
- Helpful tip: Keep the weather in mind, where else will you travel to, will you be there for a seasonal change?
- Set apart basics
1–2 weeks before departure
- Once you have all your basics, pack!
- See how everything fits, you might have to take some things out, or be able to add more.
1 week before departure
- Double check! Make sure you have everything you need, that the suitcase you’re checking is not over the airlines weight limit (this will save you some money)
Your friends and loved ones at home will of course want to be hearing about all your adventures!
Here are some apps: (all use wifi or data)
- Whats app
- Don’t forget: Apple products have free iMessaging and Facetime
If staying abroad for more than a month you may need a phone/plan
- Use your smartphone
- Get it unlocked by contacting your service carrier
- Some carriers (I have heard T-mobile) offer good International plans
- Get a plan once you get to your destination
- For Spain I have heard of Movistar and Yoigo
- Option Recommended: Get a plan with unlimited data and certain number of call and texts
- Get a plan and cheap phone once you get there!
- So far this is what I will be doing, bringing my iPhone 4 unlocked as backup
- I have heard of great plans from companies like movistar and Yoigo. Some only being 5Euros — 8Euros! A very good deal!
- What I am doing is buying the plan and using a phone left at the university by previous student.
- Great way to stay connected with people you meet
Back home Organization
When you get home you’ll want everything organized and spotless, leaving your only worry to be unpacking! Best thing that I dis was to clean up and organize the areas where I am most because I know that when I get home, those are the first places that will get dirty.
Another helpful tip is to leave a trusted person with a folder of important information, photocopies, etc. that way they can help you from home if anything comes up.
- Travel in groups
- Not only for safety but can help eachother out, and also there are also some travel group discounts!
- Renfe train discount on tickets if sign up as a group!
- Not only for safety but can help eachother out, and also there are also some travel group discounts!
Things to follow!
- Connects people who need to travel with drivers who have empty seats anywhere in the UK
- Also available as an app for download!
- International Exchange Erasmus Student Network
- Helps calculate how much sleep you need in order to prevent being jet lagged
- Also includes helpful hints and tips!
For more post check out my personal blog
“Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go.”
With my time in Norway coming to a swift end I’m realizing that everything anyone ever told me about studying abroad is completely true. I want to dedicate this post to trying to portray feelings that are almost impossible to get down on paper.
When I first got to Norway I was terrified. The idea of plopping down in the middle of a country, let alone continent that I have never been before was nerve racking. However, the energy from other students at my university here was incredible. We all had this connection to each other even though we had never even met yet. Meeting people was easy but finding the right people was a little harder. You know what I’m talking about, the people that are suppose to make you cry saying goodbye, and laugh at every joke, or understand what it’s like to figure out who you are. Its those who your family and friends talk about before you leave pushing thoughts in your head that you’re going to find a group of people that you’ll never forget and always plan to see. When you live in this situation its almost hard to see that you’re becoming so close to people, yet when you look back it just seems like a slap in the face how obvious it was.
Arriving to Norway I felt like I had my life really sorted out. I knew what my major was, what my dream job was, who I was as a person, and even where I wanted to plant my roots. However, you meet people that love to learn and love to travel and you sit down and explain what your major is and how it will help you get your job and then one simple question makes you rethink everything. “why?” Then my life becomes spirals. However, I’m not doing a very good job at describing this moment because its not a downward spiral, or some sad realization how my life is meaningless, it gave me a time and place that allowed me to actually analyze what I’m doing with my life. It’s amazing what a little time out from reality will do to you. I have decided that I am going to pursue a double major and I’m extremely happy with that decision. Studying abroad allows you to be every aspect of yourself that you love without the worries of everyday stress and responsibility. I have never been in a group of girls where I can be my complete raw self and have them respond with love and “ya, that’s just Kelsey!” It makes you question why your life back home isn’t this sweet and amazing and lets you look into reality with a telescope and figure out what you can do to make this happiness stretch over seas.
The truth about studying abroad, even if it is a little cheesy, is that it takes who you are on a roller coaster ride and lets you ride through every low and high. The only way to put it into words is that studying abroad lets you explore a world that you may not have seen and lets you meet people from all over the world. People that will forever be in your heart and only a plane ticket away. It lets you express yourself in a non stress environment in order to develop a way in life that makes you a better person. I know that from now on my paychecks are going to plane tickets. The Kelsey that started this blog is now improved.
These inspirational quotes have helped me put words to the feelings that are invoked during studying abroad and I hope they help others too
“Traveling– It leaves you speechless then turns you into a storyteller”
*These inspirational quotes were found online.
Day Eight: Field Research Methods
This morning started with yet another trip onto the lake. At 5:30AM, we took off to the other side of the lake to continue our practice with bird identification. We identified a red-capped cardinal, large-billed tern, hoatzin, blue and yellow macaw, cormorant, muscovy ducks, jacana, and black-tailed hawk, which was particularly exciting (I love birds of prey).
When we returned to shore, it was time to switch groups. My group went with Ursula to check the mist nets for birds. We had caught one white-capped flycatcher. Ursula showed us what to look for on the birds and how to take the data. This included leg diameter, fat content, wing length, gender, and molting. I was lucky enough to get to let the bird go. I took him in my right hand and could immediately feel the poor thing’s heart racing. What must that be like for the bird? I was relieved to see it fly off unharmed.
Everyone came in around 11:30AM, so we all just waited for lunch. Once we had our fill of the delicious stuffed squash with rice, we got ready for our insect identification class. My group was able to bring back a shed cicada exoskeleton, some termites, a large ant (with a severed dragonfly head in its jaws), a butterfly, and a damsel fly. During class, we learned how to examine insects and how to determine their order.
After the entomology class, we had our first group presentation. Before we left for the trip, we had all been assigned to groups to present in Peru on different subjects surrounding biodiversity. This day was the Functions of Biodiversity group. They held their discussion/activities out on the lawn. The presentation covered fundamental ecosystem functions and services, such as succession, pollination, disturbances and reactions, nutrient recycling, and top-down control. The rest of the evening was spent talking about our research projects. Overall, this was a long, hard day. Just one of many. But so worth it.
Day Nine: Project Refinement
Today was primarily spent refining our research projects. Nick, Sara, and myself have decided to do a behavioral study on Hoatzins, a particularly awkward and hilarious bird. I completely fell in love with these blundering fools when I first saw them balancing poorly in the trees. I found them oddly beautiful, and comically evolved. I wanted to learn as much as I could about them, mostly because I thought they were mysterious. They look totally unique, and their behavior intrigued me. My group spent quite some time talking with each other as well as a bird researcher there, who offered some excellent advice. We were told that we’d start our projects the next day with a two hour survey of the lake, where we would plot all observed groups and count individual birds. Next steps would include defining behaviors and randomly selecting groups to study.
At this point, I was really excited to start the project. I thought the Hoatzin was the most oddly fascinating thing out on the lake, and they aren’t very heavily researched. I liked (and still do!) my group members, and I loved being out on the lake.
Laker that day, we had a photography workshop from Dano, who was there on a video assignment from the San Francisco Zoo. We messed around with our cameras for a while and I was able to find some really neat setting on the camera I’d brought. I was able to get some great shots of butterflies after that.
We also heard from Lisa, who was doing research on the giant river otters and the Orinoco Geese. I thought it was particularly interesting when she said that a goose traveling alone would take a straight shot route to Bolivia for the migratory season, whereas geese with families will wind along the river.
It was another long, hard day. Not Not quite as physically intense as other days, but it was bloody hot and everyone was exhausted. I think the constant schedule and rough sleep was catching up with us. not to mention a lot of frustration with the project proposals — I was so glad to hear that our was going to work out.
Kosrae, FSM is a dream location for field work in the natural sciences. It is hot, muggy, tropical, beautiful, and there are not a lot of things living on the land that can kill you (I don’t think that I can say the same for the water, though). With the population remaining small over the past several thousand years, the islands ecosystems are rich and pristine.
While there, I got to participate in several ecological surveys, my favorite of which being the coral reef surveys. We got the opportunity to hold our classroom out in the water near a place called the ‘blue hole’, where we snorkeled around with clip-boards taking notes on coral identification. It was fairly difficult not to get distracted by all of the fish and the occasional sting ray, but I learned tons nonetheless.
We also got to learn about mangrove ecosystems, which involved hiking through mud (at some points waist deep) from inland to the coast. The trees were gorgeous as many were very old, and their importance to the islander’s traditional and current way of life were never understated.
In our official ‘off time’ we got the chance to explore the island a little bit more. I was excited to get to scuba dive on three occasions, and I even got to call (friendly) sharks to me on my last day there while snorkeling. I got to enjoy kayaking up one of the island’s rivers while watching the giant fruit bats (flying foxes) swoop around at dusk. The island was so dark at night, something I am not used to anymore, that I even got to see some stars (but watch out for the crabs after sunfall!). Overall, this little island inspired me both to continue to pursue my chosen career path and to keep finding ways to explore the world and to meet unforgettable people along the way.
*Disclosure: The information regarding obtaining a study permit for studying in Norway can vary from university to university in Norway. It will vary from where the applicant was born and the applicant should look up further guidelines for the permit. I am no way an expert on the matter and this is likely to change from country to country.
I am writing this blog entry today to put together a chart on the best way to go about obtaining a study permit for studying in Norway for more then a three month period. I will be going over key advice and bullet points of important information you may not find on the official websites. My experience with obtaining a study permit for studying at the University of Bergen was a messy one. It took me many months to put together correct information, and many wrong turns. Studying abroad is such hard work due to the amount of things you need to complete by certain deadlines.
- Create a checklist of necessary steps in order of the deadline they need to be completed by. This will come in handy not only for the study permit but all of the requirements for studying abroad.
- Know the difference between a study permit and a visa (I didn’t!)
- More information on the difference is located on the UDI website.
If you are from the USA you do not need a visa to visit and go to school in Norway
- Know your embassy. There are four Norwegian Embassy’s and Consulates located in the US. Each one is assigned a group of states. If you are living in Washington state you are assigned the The Consulate General in San Francisco.
575 Market Street, Suite 3950
San Francisco, CA 94105 USA
Phone: (415) 882‑2000.
Fax: (415) 882‑2001.
General Office Hours:
Monday – Friday: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The passport office is open from 1 p.m. – 3.30 p.m. all weekdays.
We are closed between 12 noon and 1 p.m.
Online it states that you must be present in person in order to obtain your study permit. As of today, this is false. When I went through this process I had done all of the research and looked on all of the official websites only to fly down to California and find out that I did not need to physically hand in my paperwork. It was one of the most wonderful trips with a couple of my aunts, but one that was completely unnecessary and caught me completely off guard. Everyone I had spoken to had gone to San Francisco to hand in paper work, and when I got there the woman working was shocked! The important information that I got from her was this:
- After you apply email the consulate and let them know that you will be sending your information to them as well as ask any important questions you may have. Always double check to make sure the flight to California is required.
- Make sure you have all of your important documents (I will be putting up a list)
- Do not buy your plane ticket to Norway until you have gotten some sort of response.
- Know how much everything costs and make sure you have a budget planned. The price for applying for a study permit is 2,500 NOK. (roughly 415 USD)
- Go to your local police station upon arriving in Norway and obtain a resident card for non EU/EEA/EFTA
- In order to obtain your residence card you will need to make an appointment which requires you to go into the station for most places.
Items to bring with you: important documents (acceptance letter, proof of finance, etc )passport, and current address in Norway!
*You are required to do this no later then 2 weeks after arrival. However, if they give you an appointment after this time do not freak! You’re aloud to be in another country for three months without a permit.
Here is a screenshot from the UDI website of the documents that need to be submitted when applying for a study permit:
If you have any questions or feel as though I need to elaborate on anything feel free to comment.
Before my trip to Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia, I would never have been able to comprehend the beautiful experiences that I would gain from meeting the people who live on the island. As it is very small and remains relatively geographically isolated in the equatorial pacific, there is not a lot of tourism or traffic to and from the island from people other than the Kosraens. Because of this, our visit went hardly unnoticed by the locals.
As we left the airport for our first ride around the island, it seemed like every one of the island’s 6000 citizens was waving to us from the road which spans a partial perimeter of the island. The kids would run after our truck, and everyone would should a greeting (which I would become very fond of) Lwen Wo (Good afternoon)! I was initially overwhelmed with the immediate enthusiasm of the islander’s on behalf of our visit, but I soon became very used to this as I realized that they are really just that friendly all the time.
As religion is widespread among the islanders, it is very important that Sunday’s remain a day solely of rest, and no activities are permitted which may cause a person ‘to sweat’. We were warmly (no pun intended) welcomed the day after our arrival to attend a large church on the south side of the island in the village of Utwe. Group after group of men and women went to the front of the church to sing, with voices clear and melodic (they are very modest about their singing, but it is known that the islanders have a particular talent). After the service there were snacks of fresh fruit such as green tangerines and bananas set up outside for us, which was an initial taste of the generosity which we were to experience throughout our month there.
One of the goals of our class is to help promote sustainable practices and education about the mangrove forests on Kosrae. To do this, we planned a teacher workshop where we could assist the teachers in developing lesson ideas as well as providing additional knowledge about why mangroves are important to the health of the island. Although I (sadly) missed the actual workshop because I was sick, I got the opportunity to teach a couple of Kosraen women the same material, and the exchange of information that took place was very enlightening for all of us.
Throughout our scientific endeavors we began to become more acquainted with people who helped to guide us or work with us through our studies. One man in particular, named Erik, is the head forester of the island and proved to be particularly special to every one of us students. As we spent quite a bit of time visiting with him we got to know him and his family. As we were preparing to say goodbye on our last week he invited us to his house for a ‘party’. As I arrived I saw four tables full of traditional Kosraen food which he and his family had prepared for us. He had hand caught lobster, reef fish, and mangrove crabs for us, as well as catching a tuna for some fresh sashimi. The amount of effort on their part to provide us with this uniquely generous experience was one that I will remember forever.
I also got the opportunity to meet a number of people on the island through my 24 hour homestay with a family in the village of Malem. I was excited to learn that the father of my homestay family was an environmental scientist, and so it was very easy for us to become acquainted and build good conversation. However, the majority of my time was spent with his children and their cousins, who were so excited to have us stay. They showed us all of their favorite spots to play, as well as games that they enjoy and they even attempted to teach us how to speak Kosraen (I now think it was so that they could giggle at our poor pronunciation). They were absolutely adorable, and we were all sad to part ways.
During our trip the islander’s celebrated one of their biggest holidays, Liberation Day. They invited us to join in with their parades and games, and they sat us with their elders as guest of honor while we spectated. Everybody was lighthearted and having so much fun, and it was pleasant to see such a large group of people interacting with each other in such a carefree (yet at times slightly mischievous) way. As women and men participated in games, there was some playful sabotage (I am fairly sure I got hit in the back by a flying flip-flop after I passed a laughing Kosraen woman in the race)… The second Liberation Day ceremony was particularly special to us because we were joined by the Governor of Kosrae, who later made it a point to attend our final banquet.
This trip has taught me that some of the best experiences that you have in life are the ones that you don’t anticipate. I knew that I was going to ‘experience a new culture’, but I had no idea how much it would warm my heart and how important and enriching it would be for all of us collectively.
Kulo Malulap (thank you) for reading!
Link for more pictures:
10/7/2014 Blog by Damian Kashfia, UW Bothell IAS: Global Studies, Bogazici University Exchange
One month has passed since I left Seattle for Istanbul, population 14 million. For so long, I have wanted to get away from Washington and really immerse myself in a new environment and oh man, I definitely think I accomplished that.
Ankara may be the capital of Turkey, but Istanbul is truly where the action takes place. The economic and cultural center of the country, Istanbul is always evolving, the city itself is the definition of change. Everywhere I go, I constantly see the new and old in an embrace; centuries old buildings lined up next to beautifully designed high-rises holding offices to multi-national companies and banks, people shopping in brand new shopping centers mushrooming around the city then going to a cafés that have been around for over 100 years, etc. It may be a cliché, but Istanbul is truly an East meets West city. To gain an idea of the atmosphere of the city, just imagine Europe and the Middle East having a baby. It’s really a cool sight to see such contrasts as women dressed conservatively abiding by modest dress prescribed by Islam stand next to advertisements with scantily class, or hearing the call to prayer from mosques as people sip fine Turkish wines from local eateries. Needless to say, Turkey is quite a different place from the U.S., at least from Seattle.
A Brief Overview of my First Month
When I landed at Ataturk International, my first thought was how was I supposed to leave the airport because for the first time in my life, there was no one by my side to help me out and no one waiting to pick me up when I landed. Once I exchanged some dollars into Turkish liras, I went out and somehow managed to communicate with a very friendly taxi driver who spoke next to no English and simply gave him the address of my apartment. 2 and a half hours and God knows how many traffic jams later, I reached what was to become my new home. There to greet me was my Turkish roommate, Eyup, who has since become one of my friends, in fact I could safely say he was my first friend here.
For the first few days after I landed, I went out just around the area of the apartment located in a nice, middle class area close to the tallest building in Turkey, Sapphire. The neighborhood, located in the area known as Kagithane, is in my opinion a nice area filled with a plethora of shops, cafes, grocery stores, bakeries, and small restaurants, all within walking distance of the apartment and only a 12 minute walk from the metro system. What I’m really looking forward to is the opening of the metro line for Bogazici University, so then I can just take the metro instead of the bus, but then again I’m not complaining about a 30 minute bus ride either compared t over an hour back in Washington.
Thankfully after about a week, my slump felt to be coming to an end. As the days progressed, my roommate began taking me out (he’s 29 and told to me that he is seeing me more as his little brother than his roommate) and showing me around, even introducing me to some of his friends. Then my German roommate, Tobi, came from Cologne. When he arrived, things really began to pick up as we began going out more and meeting more exchange students, a majority of which seemed to be coming from Germany. I don’t know why, it may have to do with the large Turkish population in Germany, but it seems that German students are really attracted to Turkey. After some days had passed, I had already developed my circle of friends and without me even thinking such a thing was possible here, they had organized a surprise party for me for my 20th birthday which I originally thought would be the first birthday I spend alone! I really could not believe what had just happened. It was really one of the coolest things I couldn’t even have thought of.
As the days, I began going out more and socializing and meeting up with new friends. I was really starting to explore the city and develop a life of my own in Istanbul. And before the semester was about to begin, a large group of exchange students, including some of my friends and myself, took a trip to the Cappadocia region in eastern Turkey.
The trip started out a little disappointing, but quickly took a turn for the better and it was a beautiful area filled with amazing designs and landscapes designed by Mother Nature herself. One of the best things about this trip was not only seeing a new face to Turkey, but also developing stronger connections I had already established with others, and in some cases, creating new ones as well.
Once we came back, the semester immediately began and I can honestly say it wasn’t a drag at all. Bogazici University is an incredibly beautiful university, and great part of this is due to location, location, location. The university is located on a cliff overlooking the Bosphorus Strait from the university derives its name (Bogazici literally means Bosphorus in Turkish, hence Bosphorus University). The area the university is in is also great, surrounded by countless cafes, shops, and restaurants, so when you finish your classes there is really no rush in going back home when you can soak in the laid back atmosphere of the area. My professors all seem to be personable
people as well, very fun and engaging which makes the classes enjoyable and makes all of us in the class actually want to participate.
All in all, my introductory time to Turkey is definitely going to be something I will never forget through the trials that I was put through and the new life I developed on my own. I can confidently say that if this first month has been a sign of anything, it’s that there will be countless surprises, both good and not so good, that await me in my one year here.
Until next time!
Blog written by Valerie Cortes, Class of 2015, Media and Communication Studies. Study abroad–South Korea
My study abroad trip to South Korea mainly focuses on Seoul and how its people and technology intertwine. There is this special relationship between the city itself, its inhabitants, and the technology that merges the two together. Both are part of the important cultural dynamics found not only in Seoul but all of South Korean culture. The mix of old and new can be seen in this dynamic and innovative country that also maintains important parts of its cultural past.
Read more on Tumblr at: http://of-soul-and-seoul.tumblr.com/