Implications of tourism in Tanzania

My study abroad experience was wonderful.There is no way I will be able to fully express it through writing.The full extent of my experience and feelings will remain with me in memory. During my journey I kept a detailed personal journal where I documented my experience. I may not include all the details in this particular essay. However, I will try to express somethings.

I first visited Kenya before going to Tanzania for my study abroad. I boarded the plane headed to Kenya my home country about a week before my study abroad. Kenya was absolutely wonderful. I reconnect with family that I had not seen in eight to ten years. I visited my grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. Although it was many years since I have been to Kenya, I instantly reconnected with family. Talking and interacting with family was as if resuming a conversation that had just been put on pause for a while, as if no time had passed between then and the time we last met. They were all ecstatic to see me. I travelled from Nairobi to Nyandarua to Mombasa, to Kapsabet. Kenya has changed and grown a lot, it’s wonderful! I truly cannot express the joy and experience I had in Kenya. These memories and feelings will remain with me.

After my week in Kenya, I boarded a bus headed to Arusha, Tanzania. The traveling time was about four hours. The view was wonderful, hills,plains and wild animals spread out. A student who was part of the study abroad group had also decided to visit Kenya. So we took the bus to Tanzania together. Four hours later we arrived and got picked up and driven to where we were to stay.

During the first four days, we were hosted by a small college. During this time, we explored the environment to get a feel of Tanzania. The rest of the students got a small crash course in Swahili, since I already knew Swahili, I helped them out a bit.
After that week, we started to travel to different parts of Tanzania. Most of our time in Tanzania was spent exploring and discussing the discourse surround ecotourism. We were not in a formal classroom. We learned about the positive and the negative aspects of ecotourism. We started in Maji ya Chai we traveled to Arusha National park to Lake Natron Conservation to Serengeti National Park to Ngorongoro Conservation Area and to Loliondo.

The positives aspects of ecotourism is that wild animals are conserved and not invaded upon by humans and people get an opportunity to visit and view the wild life. However, there is a down side to ecotourism. First, animals are glorified more that people. When tourists go to Africa, the majority only go on Safari to see animals, yet they never take the time to actually interact and know the people of Africa. When tourists visit Europe, they go and see human creation, human architecture, when tourist visit Africa, they only go to see wild life. Negative stereotypes concerning African people emerge due a lack of interaction and understanding on part of the tourist. Second, tourism lodges are so expensive that only rich people, mostly from Europe and America, can afford. Third, the conservation areas were designated and made by European nations, it’s not the Tanzanian government who made the conservation areas. This shown the colonialist connotation that the conservation areas have. Who said that European nations are the only ones who know how to conserve and take care of animals? Animals are designated such as huge area of land by the guidelines of European counties, while the Maasai people’s land is getting snatched away from them by conservation workers and investors. That is ridiculous. No one tells Europe and America what to do with their land. As we were speaking with the Maasai people of Tanzania, we leaned that the Maasai have their own mechanics on how they protect and conserve the animals. Each clan looks out to conserve a particular animal, this is their way to be stewards of the land that they acknowledge was given to them by God. I strongly agree with them.

My favorite part of my study abroad experience was meeting the people of Tanzania. I truly do miss the people. I miss the people I met when I went to church. They were so welcoming. Church service was wonderful, just like in Kenya, just like in the U.S. I ate lunch with them, joined their choir practice in the afternoon and was invited to visit by two ladies. I had a wonderful time, I miss them. The members of the Pastoral Woman’s Council (PWC) were great. They are a strong organization that empowers their community. There is so much I can say about them, but I need to summarize. The experience I had with them I will never forget. They educate the community regarding money, they educate the community by running a high school, they also fight against injustice regarding land by education the community about their rights.

The students that we met were also wonderful. They reminded me of my experience when I went to school in Kenya. They were very friendly, I made friends with them. We played, laughed and talked together. The people that hosted us were also so wonderful. I had a great time with them. They directed me on how to get African Style clothing tailored. We spoke about the differences between Tanzania and Kenya. We laughed and made jokes. I really connected with them well. It was great to be with my fellow Africans. There is just something wonderful about being with people like you, people who really understand you.

One of my goals is to travel to as many African counties as possible and interact with the wonderful people and see the wonderful treasure that lay in my home continent. After the study abroad ended, my adventure continued. I went back to Kenya to visit more family members. Before the study abroad, I had visited family in Nairobi and Nyandarua, after the study abroad, I visited family in Mombasa and Kapsabet. The experience was wonderful. I was there for about a week. Time flew by so fast and soon I boarded the plane heading back to the USA. It was great to come back to my mom, dad and sister although I missed my relatives. I will never forget this wonderful experiences. I thank God for giving me this opportunity. Although I am no longer there, the memories will remain.

Reflecting on my experience in Brazil

Reflecting is very important so that I can process and remember my experience. There are many things that I learned concerning Brazilian culture. Some activities that are memorable to me are such as the Capoeira workshop/kids’ performance, the workshop of leaning to play African instruments such as the drums and shakers, our visit to the Remanso community Quilombo, our visit to Steve Biko and our visit to the Afro-Brazilian clothing studio.

It was interesting to learn about Capoeira’s history. Capoeira is a combination of dance and fight. It was used as a form of self-defense for enslaved Africans during the time on slavery. This knowledge of the history and background and significance of the moves made our encounter with Capoeira more valuable as we learned some moves during the workshop and as we watched the kids play it. Because Capoeira is now used only as an art form and not a self-defense mechanism, it would be interesting in the future to see if Capoeira ever changes significantly throughout time. It was interesting to play the African instruments. I have never played them before. I particularly liked the shakers. They are so simple, yet can make complex sounds. African things are impressive, even the “simplest” things are so beautifully complex if you look long enough. The visit to the Remanso community Quilombo, was also very valuable. It was great to learn about the strong communities that runway slaves created. I love hearing stories of resistance against oppression, we do not hear resistance stories often enough. It was great to hear from the brother and sister that spoke to us about their personal life-stories. I love listening to peoples’ life-journeys.

I will compare one of these activities to my culture, I am Kenyan. I will comment concerning the visit when we met Goya Lopes who talked to us about Afro-Brazilian fashion. It was very interesting to see the whole process of cloth-making, but one of the most enjoyable aspects of this event was seeing the final product after everything was put together. I have many African clothing but until then I had not had the chance to see how the process of putting the African prints onto the fabric works. This was a good opportunity for me. The process begins with an artist dreaming up an Africa-inspired print design. Then the artist draws the print design on paper. Then that drawing is transferred to digital form on a computer making it possible for the design to be reproduced multiple times and in desired sizes. Then another machine (I am not sure of the name) is used to copy the digitized image onto a nylon-saturated-screen which is then sprayed with water to clean off part that are not part of the design. The next step is for two individuals to put paint over the screen which is placed over the fabric copying the design onto the fabric. Then the paint is dried and stays on the fabric. The designs we saw made were typical African style. The different prints really give character to the clothing. Then the style of the outfit itself is the finishing touch of the art work. African clothing is so distinct and beautiful.

Like I said before, this was a good opportunity for me because I got the see the process of putting the African prints onto fabric. This experience complemented an experience I had in my study abroad in Tanzania last year. This experience I had in Tanzania is similar to what would have happened if I was in Kenya, let me explain. While I was in Tanzania, I got African-style cloths made by a seamstress. These cloths were not ready-made cloths that one buys at the store. These cloths were made specifically for me. I went to a store that sold African-style-prints fabric (like the fabrics we saw made in Brazil), and I chose and bought the fabric that had the designs and colors that I liked. Then I took the fabric to the seamstress. She measured my size, I gave here the style I had searched and liked, she took note and she together with her assistants made me the cloths. The cloths were beautiful and very well done. Like I said, when it comes to clothing, Kenyan and Tanzanian style and process of making are similar, that is why I said that this experience I had in Tanzania is similar to what would have happened if I was in Kenya. When people want African-styled clothing, many people prefer to choose the prints and fabrics they like then they personally go and get fitted and their cloths are made by the seamstress instead of buying ready-made clothing like in a mall. In Tanzanian (which is similar to Kenya) I got to choose and buy the print design and fabric I wanted, I chose the particular style of the outfit itself that I wanted (unlike ready-made cloths such as in malls). My experience in Tanzania (which is similar to Kenya) complements my experience in Brazil because while Brazil, I got to see how artists design the prints to the point where the print designs are put on fabric. While in Tanzania I saw how the customer chooses the print design they like to the point where they have the cloths made. These two experiences got me to understand the full process from the point the design is born in the artists mind to the point where the customer is wearing the designed clothing.

One of the difficult aspects of this event was the fact that the country’s economy had negatively affected the business making it impossible to have more artists working together. But one thing that was good to hear was the fact that the artist has workshops that expose people, especially kids, to her work to inspire them. At least that’s a positive thing despite the economic hardships.

African and African-inspired clothing (made in Brazil) is truly beautiful, unique and distinct. I am proud to own and wear my African-styled clothing. The clothing represents the beautiful imagination, creativity and artistic talents of my people. Although Brazil is not Africa, Brazil really reflected that for me. I felt at home in Brazil.

Here are some photos of my experience in Brazil:

Uplifting/heartbreaking aspects of Brazil

My aim is to explore Black people’s history and culture by visiting as many places with Black people around the world as possible. Coming to Brazil and specifically Salvador which has the biggest population of Black people outside of Africa has been very eye opening for me. This place is reminiscent of my country Kenya. As in Kenya, people in Brazil are outside interacting with one another. Marketplaces are loud and busy. Kids play outside, people buy food by the roadside, the streets are buzzing with activity. This is very different from Seattle. It is so beautiful and sweet to come and be so hugged and kissed by the host mom and by other people. Personal space in Brazil is minimal, people like to be close and personal. This friendliness and warmth is the same as in Kenya, except people do not kiss as part of greetings in Kenya. Although I was not able to interact with people of Brazil as much as I would have liked to due to the language barrier (unlike in my Tanzanian study abroad), I none the less learned much through observation and experience. I saw how lively and friendly the people are. From the taxi drivers to the cashiers to the street vendors to the people at the beaches. I experienced the genuine hospitality that my host family provided for me. My host mom was great. We were been able to communicate mostly via Google translator. Although communication was of a different nature (gestures and google translator) due to the language barrier, I still enjoyed my interactions with her. She really took care of me while I was sick. She went above and beyond.

Some parts of my experience in Brazil were heartbreaking and some parts uplifting. It was heartbreaking to hear concerning the cruel history of slavery and of the racism that is currently present. However, it was uplifting when we went to the Steve Biko NGO. It was great to hear of the hard work that people are doing to combat racism.

One of the things that Steve Biko NGO does that stood out to me was the class they teach that is focused on Black awareness. It is important that they are combating eurocentric education by educating the students about Black ideas, history and cultures. Eurocentric education is very damaging because it presents a skewed view that looks down on and minimizes other people such as Black and Indigenous people, giving undue emphasis on European points of view.

The difficult part of this event was listening to the experiences that people had concerning racism. The story about the black lady that was unduly asked by the boss to make coffee simply because she was black while that was not part of the job description. The other story was of the black professor who was barely recognized as a professor simply because of his color. I have had many conversation concerning race in the U.S. I knew what expect, however I will never be used to the heartbreak of these stories. Talking about race issues will never be easy. When it comes to my country Kenya, race is not an issue because most people are black (there are many Asian and Indian immigrants there now, but Kenya is majority Black people). The issues with Kenya have to do with ethnicity. People can be discriminated upon based on their tribe. I cannot elaborate much on tribalism in Kenya because I immigrated to the U.S when I was young, however, I do know that it is a big issue in Kenya. Just as in Brazil, there are organizations in Kenya as there are also in U.S that are trying to help communities overcome discrimination and help better the society.

In the future, I would like to learn if and how Brazilian history books will be corrected to present the correct unbiased non-eurocentric history. As long as people are misinformed, attempts to better the society will not work. Apart from lessons concerning slavery and colonization, Black people need to be taught about their great history and about their great contributions to society. This kind of education is necessary to act as a mirror example to show that Black people can be successful because they were successful in the past. This education is necessary in order for Black people to get a better and fuller understanding of who we are so we can be inspired to succeed more and reach to greater heights.

GETTING READY FOR YOUR TRIP!!!!

ADVICE try to pack clothes that you do not want to use anymore, so you can leave there and have more space in your luggage (I wish I would’d done this).

You are going to get a packing list, and I going to tell you what I use and what I did not.

  • Definitely you need more than $200. There are amazing things you want to bring back home, and sometimes it gets really difficult to get money out + you want to save the extra charges that some banks have for using your card in a different country.
  • Knowing the India currency or the currency of any other country it is very important and interesting!
  • Money belt (never used it). I have a small security purse that REI sells, and you can safely keep your more and other stuff in there. $65
  • ALWAYS BRING BACKUP DOCUMENTS; copy of your passport, insurance, the card you are taking, and your airline itinerary.
  • Mosquito net (never used it).
  • 1 pair of comfortable shoes or sandals. I used sandals of the time because of the heat. We did not walk too much, so they were perfect.
  • 1 pair of flip flops for showering. I did not bring them and did not need them. The showers at the places we stayed were very decent.
  • CLOTHES like I said bring the clothes you do not want. Bring something that you are comfortable and fresh, the heat makes you really tired. Bring something nice for a night out. Extra t-shirts!!
  • The first week was a little cold, so bring something light but warm (most of us were not ready for the cold).
  • Socks (never used it) 1 pair is enough.
  • UNDERWEAR, I brought underwear for every single day because I do not feel comfortable somebody washing my underwear, and because I did not know who I would be sharing the room with. Days were really long and sometimes you did not have time for small things like this, and I had to share the room with the boys. I am so happy I had underwear for every single day! My girl roommate regret not doing it.
  • Pijamas
  • I brought my own, but each place had clean towels. You can save some space here.
  • Camera OF COURSE!!
  • Ziploc bags, I never used them, but it is important to have some just in case.
  • Tissues, disposable wet wipes YES!!! I brought 1 roll of toilet paper which was really important. I bought small wipes to carry with me all the time and a big package that I left at the hotel (Used them all).
  • A thin collapsible duffer if you plan to purchase souvenirs. If I was you I would just leave all the clothes I do not want and put everything in your luggage, that way you are more comfortable on your way back. Many of us did not have the space, and it was very uncomfortable to travel with so many things.
  • Facial care (sunscreen)
  • Personal care (dental, hair,eye body) HAND SANITIZER, DEODORANT, RAZOR, INSENT REPELENT
  • Over the counter drugs. PLEASE bring something for a cold or cough, I got some kind of cold and had nothing for it.

       TAKE THEM ALL, YOU NEED TO BE READY!

Under the counter medicine

  • Vitamin C
  • Dramamine $7.89
  • Melatonin $6.57 (jet-lag) (if you have never taken this before buy the 3mg).
  • Alka-seltzer $6.29
  • Pepto-Bismol $6.29
  • Imodium $9.49
  • Ibuprofen
  • Earplugs and eye cover (optional). I did not bring any, plus the airline (EMIRATES) gave us earplugs and eye covers.
  • DO NOT BUY THE ONE IN MARSHALLS IT DOES NOT WORK EVERYWHERE!
  • Map of India (YOU DO NOT NEED IT!). $15
  • Sense of humor and flexibility (bring extra of those).
  • Bring your own snacks!! The time between meals it’s a little long

    This is the one you should get!!

This should be part of your kit. I took the picture because when I went I had a hard time, so if you do too you can just look at the picture and i will be easier to find them.

Before Your Trip

This is my first time writing a blog in English, so I am so sorry if I make any mistake. However, at the same time it is a representation of me as an immigrant whose first language is not English. So here is the process that I wanted to have before and during my time in India.

Process before your trip…

 This is a process that we should all enjoy, although it is stressful, once you get the congratulation letter everything will have a different face :).

Interview…

For this I do not have much to say more than be yourself. If you do not know something it is okay to say it, you do not need to have a perfect answer. From this, you will learn (like I did) to be okay with who you are with your answers even if they sound silly sometimes. For a while I was worried that I was not going to be selected for the program because of some of my answers, but I got the good news and that opinion about myself changed….and if you are wondering about the picture in my congratulation letter, yes we took it while in India!

Visa

If you are like me and do not read the instructions, you are going to be very frustrated. For this, you will need:

  • A picture of yourself with a white background. What I did… I took a picture of my passport picture and change the size of the picture to what it was required and it work!
  • A clear picture of your passport

I thought it was going to be easier, so please take your time to do at once. However, if for some reason you can not finish it when you started it DO NOT FORGET to write down your application ID number which is on the middle top of the page. It happened to me, and I had to start over again and learn the hard way.

These were the mistakes I did while filling out the application:

  • DO NOT write your social security or your driver license enter NA.
  • DO NOT use punctuation marks. If your name is hyphenated then use a black space instead. Do not use a period if your name has a sux such as “Jr.”
  • AND write the address as they show it even though the space is not long enough. Copy and paste what they give you, and if it does not fit IT IS OKAY!

…and here goes your first investment on your trip $61.50 for you visa!

IMMUNIZATIONS

DO NOT WAIT TILL LAST MINUTE…

Go to the doctor as soon as possible so you will know what your insurance is able to cover. If you do not have insurance Bartell Drugs store and Walgreens offer the service of the immunizations that are required to enter to India. Bartell Drugs have an international nurse that will help you with the research and the decision with some the ones that are optional (malaria).

Hepatitis A $139

Typhoid $102

For me, my insurance covered the Hepatitis A, and with my doctor we decided that I was not going to take anything for Malaria. However, I paid for the Typhoid at the community clinic in North Gate and I paid $76.78, so it was more convenient.

DO NOT FORGET to ask your doctor for CIPROFLOXACIN for traveler’s diarrhea. Most insurances cover this. WHAT I DID TO NOT USE IT… I was really worried about getting sick during India, so my cousin who traveled to Nepal recommended to take probiotics as much as possible BEFORE and DURING the trip. I was eating two yogurts everyday, kombucha, and I bought some probiotic pills called “Pearls Complete” that he recommended. I got them through Amazon for $15.49…. and I never got sick of my stomach!

First day in Morocco!

Blog by Helen Kapitonenko, Society, Ethics and Human Behavior, CIEE Summer Moroccan Studies

June 14 
I’m not sure how to describe my first day being in Morocco. Before the trip I still couldn’t believe that I was coming here, but now this realization is quickly setting in. My first day here has been overwhelming to say the least. As I was driven to the hotel, I noticed that lanes aren’t really used by drivers, they exist mostly as a guide for the general direction of traffic. The cars move in and out of each other’s lanes, and use their turn signals half the time and pedestrians cross heavy traffic without using crosswalks. This made me feel worried because it seemed so easy to get in a car accident, either with another car, or with a pedestrian. After I settled into my hotel room and was immediately escorted to the learning center a few blocks away, I faced a fear that I have had for a long time, which was getting lost in a completely different country. Sure enough, within about 2 hours of arriving to Rabat, I decided to explore the Medina (old square of the city) with another group member as the other students were taking their Arabic placement tests. Along the journey, we met 2 guys who arrived today and there were also from Seattle!  Anyway, I wasn’t alone, thankfully, but being lost for 2 hours and navigating through the crowded maze of streets of the outdoor market where motorcycles drive through pretty fast, expecting you to get out the of way definitely wore me out. That’s why I slept through an evening hangout with the group to go to a café. I have to wake up at 6:30 tomorrow morning, so I will continue to post updates and pictures of the trip, and here’s some pictures from today.

helens 1 Helens photo helens phto helens

My Journey through India

Blog by Angela Wirig, Society, Ethics and Human Behavior, Gender, Media and Human Rights in India

Angela Pic

Namaste! Meera nam Angela hei, and welcome to my blog! A little background about myself, I’m a Society, Ethics and Human Behavior major in my last quarter here at UWB, and I love everything about traveling! Packing, boarding the plane, arriving to a new and foreign destination…it’s all so nerve-wracking but exciting at the same time. I still cannot believe I was selected to participate in this life changing program through this beautiful country, AND become a Study Abroad Ambassador! I will use this space to talk about some of the key moments I experienced before, during and after the program. Stay tuned for more!

4 Things That are Completely Different in Spain

  1. Drinking Gas – Yes, people drink gas in Spain… but not the kind of gas that you are probably thinking of. Gas is what people call sparkling water and it seems to be a big deal. In some restaurants, they will automatically give you sparkling water if you ask for water, unless you say agua del grefo (free water/tap water).
  2. Clubs – If you plan on going ‘clubbing’ as in dancing and bopping around with friends, don’t go to a club in  Spain. You may be surprised to find yourself in a brothel instead. If you’re looking for the dancing kind of club, use the term discoteca (or disco for short).
  3. Coca (Cola) – In America, we ask for Coca-Cola and think nothing of it. Ask for Coca-Cola in Spain and you may get some strange looks. People normally just say “Coke” or “Cola” because coca is slang for cocaine in Spanish (which makes sense given the notorious history of Coca-Cola).
  4. Preservativo – Many Spanish and English words sound similar to each other so I now have a tendency to think that if there is a Spanish word that sounds like an English word, they are likely to mean the same thing. Therefore, preservativo must be the same thing as preservative, right? Not right. Preservativo actually means condom, not those things that keep your mayonnaise and ketchup from going bad.

The Study Abroad Application Process From Start to Finish

I was asked to write this guide outlining the study abroad application process, but I got a little sidetracked and it ended up taking a lot longer than I expected. Sorry for the delay! All of this information is from my experience applying for the Osaka University Exchange, so it might not be applicable to all UW study abroad programs, but hopefully you still find it helpful.

Why Study Abroad?

Before talking about how to apply for a study abroad program, the first thing we have to talk about is why you should apply. If you’re someone who is interested in learning a language or visiting another country, you probably don’t need much convincing when it comes to this, but there are plenty of other great reasons to study abroad even if you don’t fall into this category.

One of the biggest reasons study abroad was a valuable experience for me was that it placed me in an environment where I was able to reflect upon and evaluate myself. When you’re in a foreign country with brand new people and a brand new day to day life, you’re able to contrast this new life with the one you’re used to. This gives you a certain appreciation for what you had, but it also helps you rethink yourself and your life. I would highly recommend study abroad to anyone who feels like they’re lacking direction, either in their education or in their life in general. In my case study abroad, definitely helped me in this regard.

For more convincing, there are about a thousand “Top 10 Reasons to Study Abroad” lists out there. Even if you’re not quite convinced, if you have the slightest interest in studying abroad, spend some time reading about some of the programs here. I was on the fence about study abroad for years before it occurred to me that I should read up on what programs were out there. When I finally did do some research, just reading about a few programs was all it took to convince me to apply.

Before Applying

Before applying, it’s important to think about how study abroad will fit into your academic calendar. In general I would say the more time you have left until graduation, the easier it is to study abroad without having to delay your graduation. Then again, if you feel the experience is important enough, you might want to consider delaying your graduation in favor of study abroad. In my case, I could have graduated about 2 quarters earlier if I didn’t study abroad, but the experience was well worth the delay in my graduation. It’s also worth mentioning that many programs require you to be at least a Junior, so the earlier you start planning for study abroad the better.

You also need to think about what sort of credits you can get from studying abroad. Typically, general electives are very easy to fulfill abroad, while core requirements are difficult or near impossible to take through a study abroad program. This is also the reason why planning ahead and applying early is important. If you apply after you have already taken care of all of your general electives, you might have a tougher time making the most out of your program; however, don’t feel discouraged if all you have left are core requirements. Many programs have open ended courses which satisfy core requirements and can be very easy to fulfill through a study abroad program. The worst case scenario is that the credits you take while abroad don’t help you at all towards completing your major, and while this isn’t ideal, I would still highly recommend study abroad even if this is the case.

After doing some research on these topics on your own, you will want to meet with advisors both in the study abroad department and in your major. To make an appointment with a UW Bothell advisor go here. It can also be useful to take a trip over to the Seattle study abroad office if you have any questions about specific programs. Definitely keep in touch with these advisors because you will be emailing them constantly throughout the application process!

The Application

The study abroad application can be daunting, but make sure to start it as early as possible. Each application is a little different, but most (all?) applications include a of statement of purpose. The prompt is usually something like this:

“Please write a statement (750-1,000 words) indicating your background and qualifications for studying and living abroad, your reasons for choosing this program or exchange, and the projected benefits of this experience to your course of study and long-term plans. Include any other information that you feel is relevant to your application.”

The statement of purpose is the most important part of your application and it is where you introduce yourself and your motivations. It is also where you convince the study abroad office that you really want to, and deserve to study abroad. The best advice I can give for writing a great statement of purpose is to emphasize your future goals and sell the fact that the study abroad program you have chosen will further these goals. Beyond that, you have all written several essays by this point so I won’t bother explaining how to write a good essay.

Some programs also require two letters of recommendation from professors or faculty members who know you well. Requesting a letter of recommendation is done directly through the application website, but make sure to contact the two professors beforehand so they aren’t caught off guard by an automated request from the study abroad application. This is also the most time consuming part of the application and you should allow at least two weeks from the time you start contacting professors to the time your second recommendation is submitted.

There are also a few other documents you need to fill out and submit before your application is considered complete. Once you have completed everything, all of the boxes on your application should be checked as “Received” and you should be all set.

Some programs also include a second application stage involving a group interview which takes place after the application deadline. The interview sounds serious, but it’s nothing to get nervous about. For my interview, about five or six other applicants and I sat around a table with a study abroad program advisor. We then took turns answering questions about our motivations, as well as parts of our application that needed clarification. It was interesting to talk to other applicants and hear about their motivations, and overall it was a pretty fun experience. It’s also worth mentioning that most of the time the other applicants are applying to completely different programs, so don’t worry about trying to compete with other people at the interview.

Pre-Departure Preparations

If all goes well you receive an email informing you that you have been accepted into the program. At this point, the first thing to do is to either accept or decline participation in the program. If I recall this is first done digitally through the application but even after accepting you can back out without penalty. Later on, you are required to sign a payment contract which initiates a financial commitment to the program. If you decide to leave the program after signing the financial agreement you have to pay a certain fee depending on how much time is left before the start of the program, so it’s important to make sure you are committed before you sign anything.

After committing to participate, there are a few more documents that you need to fill out and submit on the application website. Some exchanges also require a secondary application to the host university. This application is similar to the initial study abroad application and can require another statement of purpose and more letters of recommendation, though I found this application to be a little bit shorter.

You also now need to take care of applying for a passport if you haven’t already done so, applying for a visa in some cases, and purchasing your airline tickets, though I’m sure some of these things vary from program to program. You have a lot of time to get these things done but they are definitely not something to procrastinate on.

Funding Your Study Abroad

Study abroad is often viewed as an expensive endeavour, and many people are discouraged from participating at all due to the cost; however, there are a ton of ways to acquire funds for your trip.

If you already receive financial aid for normal tuition costs, often this financial aid can be applied to your study abroad trip. This depends on the program, but typically if you participate in an exchange you should receive financial aid as usual. There is also the Study Abroad Financial Aid Revision Request Form, which you can fill out in order to inform the school of your additional need for finances, and sometimes receive additional financial aid.

The real focus of this section is to talk about Study Abroad Scholarships which can be an extremely good source of funding if you choose to apply to them. The scholarships available to you depend on your financial aid status as well as your program, but every student should have at least one or two scholarships which they are eligible for. Applying for scholarships can be a lot of work, but if you are participating in study abroad do yourself a favor and apply to EVERYTHING! If you put the work in and apply to enough scholarships, even if you don’t receive all of them, there is the potential to fully fund your study abroad with scholarships.

Applying for scholarships is a lot like applying for study abroad programs in that most of them require a personal statement and a few letters of recommendation. For the personal statement I will reiterate the advice I gave above: sell the fact that your study abroad experience will further your future goals. Each scholarship is looking for something slightly different in a student so try to tailor your essays to each specific application. Lastly, sometimes you have to really convince yourself of your ambitions before you can write a convincing personal statement about your ambitions.

Here is a good place to start when applying for scholarships. SERIOUSLY THOUGH, APPLY TO EVERYTHING.

If all else fails, working part time to save up for your trip, or even working part time while abroad can be an extremely rewarding experience and is definitely worth the effort. Also, depending on your situation and which program you apply for, study abroad can actually be cheaper or the same price as living in the US and taking classes as normal. This is especially the case if you’re living by yourself and paying rent while here at the UW. In Osaka for example, the average rent in the dorms was something like $250 a month, and food was much cheaper than it is here in the US.

The Trip!

The study abroad application process is a massive endeavor, especially if you apply to scholarships, but I can’t even even describe how valuable the payoff is. I titled this section “The Trip” but I don’t think it’s accurate to just think of study abroad as travel. Study abroad to me was like a whole new life. While I was there, I wasn’t traveling, I was at home, and the US was some foreign country across the ocean.

As far as advice for going abroad, it depends on what you’re looking to achieve. If you want to learn a new language or improve one that you have been learning, the best advice I can give is to make friends native to the country you’re visiting. I made the mistake of hanging out with too many study abroad students and I rarely got the chance to practice my Japanese while in Japan. If you want to see as much of the country you visit as possible, I would recommend buying a bike and just going for random rides. I went on plenty of trips while in Japan to famous landmarks and other cities, but the most fun I had exploring the country was when I was just biking around. If you want to expand your experiences academically I would highly recommend joining some clubs or seeing if you can participate in any research while abroad.

Obviously these things are specific to my experience abroad, but I feel like they’re definitely applicable to many of the other study abroad programs. Also, don’t just take my word for it, read some of the other blogs!

If you have any information you would like me to add to this guide, or notice anything I wrote that is incorrect please let me know. Thanks for reading!

September 7th, 2015

Japan 2 Japan 4

 

Japan 3So it’s been about two days since I last blogged and I have successfully arrived in Tokyo! My two friends and I decided that we wanted to see Tokyo before we go to Ehime on our study abroad trip. We rented out a homestay from AirBnB for our trip in Tokyo which I highly recommend using, it offers cheap housing in comfortable homes that are somewhat safer than getting a hostel. Upon arriving at the Narita Airport we were able to easily navigate through Immigration and the baggage claim but as soon as we had to leave the airport using the shuttle we become highly confused. Although all three of us knew about the rail system we were still unable to navigate it properly, we got pretty lost getting to our homestay but after about three hours we finally made it there.

Skipping ahead to our full day in Tokyo, we actually were able to receive an English map of the rail ways and it became clear that using the rail system is actually quite easy. The Yamanote is the main line and goes in a circle around Tokyo taking you to all of the main parts. I would recommend getting a homestay or staying in a hostel that is close to the Yamanote line as it will just make traveling around the city more convenient. From there using the English map we were able to figure our the cost of fares for going to each city, after using the rail a few times you begin to see that the rail system in Tokyo is highly organized and efficient. From here we visited the main hubs of Shinjuku, Harujuku, Akihabara, Shibuya, and the Edo Palace outside of Tokyo Station. Out of all these places if you want cheap shopping Harujuku is the best place, Shibuya and Shinjuku had goods at a much higher price than. But the crossing right outside Shibuya Terminal is a must see, its enthralling being apart of this huge crown people. Akihabara is also a must see if you enjoy Anime, but even for people who aren’t into anime it’s still fun to see the streets at night time that are lite up brightly with colorful signs. The Edo Palace is a great cultural experience and a beautiful park, although from the park you can’t really see the palace if you stand on the bridge nearby you will get a frontal view of it.

I will say Tokyo is a must see, the rail system is really easy to navigate and I would just recommend doing some research on how it works prior to going. For shopping stick to Harujuku which offers more reasonably priced goods than most other areas, Akihabara can also have some great deals but it takes some looking around. Shibuya terminal is a must see but try not to buy anything there as it can be pricey. JapanJapan 1