Introduction and Preparation

 

 

Greetings, striving international travelers!

Let me get the introductions out of the way by telling you a little bit about myself.

I’m a current Army reservist with 3 years active duty time. Since leaving the active side, I’ve been going to school at UW Bothell and work home remodeling as a part time job. I’m an instrument rated Private Pilot studying for my Commercial Certificate, and I’m a senior at UWB’s Mechanical Engineering program. My long-term career goal is to become an Airline Transport Pilot.

I was born and raised in Bothell, WA by my American father and Taiwanese mother. I come from a large family of 6 siblings. As my older siblings moved out of the house, my parents began hosting foreign exchange students. We’ve taken in students from China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Japan, Taiwan, and many others over the years.

Being grown up around a large family and cultures from around the world, I’ve always been a traveler; most of the time solo. I’m driven all across the United States, from the Florida Keys to New York City, and have visited Thailand, Vietnam, Iraq, Kuwait, Canada, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands. Some of my other hobbies include snowboarding, rock climbing, mountain biking, and exploring the Northwest!

The program I will be attending in Early Fall is called Renewable Energy in Japan and US. The focus of this program will be on sustainable and reliable energy systems and how international dramatics can influence the choice for a certain type of system. When I heard this program was taking place in Japan, I knew I wanted to be apart of it. Being from Taiwanese descent, Japan and Taiwan have great relations and I have always been deeply interested in Japanese culture.

For me, the most important aspect of this program is experiencing engineering from an international standpoint. If I were to only study American engineering, I would be doing myself a great disservice. For example, the US relies heavily upon fossil fuels to support its energy requirements. Japan on the other hand, put a lot of money into nuclear energy. After the 2011 Fukushima catastrophe, in which a nuclear reactor melted down and leaked radiation wastes into the surrounding area, the Japanese government shutdown all nuclear reactors, creating a void in energy production, from which Japan still suffers today. Through cooperation in programs such as this, both the US and Japan will be able to take away different aspects from each other in order to better themselves in the crisis that each hold.

Although I do not speak Japanese, I have taken it upon myself to learn a few phrases to be respectful to others, but also find my way around If I get lost. Being an American, there are plenty of stereotypes which can be of concern. The only thing I can do, is act accordingly and bring the best that I have to offer in order to represent my country in positive light. The language barrier will be difficult, however there are plenty of aids available nowadays that I can use to assist me. Google translate is accurate enough to get a message across.

I have prepared myself to the fullest, but there are always unknowns when traveling internationally and it is up to me to ensure that I’ve minimized the risks that come with traveling abroad. Planning accordingly and getting things organized well ahead of time will greatly reduce stress and the likeliness for you to miss important information.

For now, the departure date is still a month away, but stay tuned for more updates on my adventures on Japan Study Abroad!

 

Predeparture

June 24, 2018, Blog by Meghan Gill, Community Psychology, Psychology Chile: A Changing Public & Mental Health Care System.

Onward to Chile: Predeparture, 2 months prior

Psychology Chile: A Changing Public & Mental Health Care System (Exploration Seminar)

 

I’m pretty sure the travel bug is genetically heritable. My grandparents were fortunate enough to be able to travel extensively, especially after my grandfather’s retirement. As a result, I grew up hearing stories of their travels and gazing in awe at the photographs and souvenirs they would return home with. My parents both traveled some in their 20s, but once they started having kids apparently traveling became more difficult. Go figure. While my family took my sisters and I on multiple vacations around the United States, we never had the opportunity to go abroad. However, I knew I was (somehow) going to globe-trot at some point.

 

As a transfer student from Cascadia College, the options and financing for their study abroad partnerships were limited. While I can confidently say that I didn’t choose to attend UW because of the excellent study abroad programs they offer, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t immediately start browsing the program search page as soon as my acceptance letter from UW Bothell came in the mail. I didn’t really know what I was looking for, but I knew my available elective credits would be significantly limited because of my major and minor requirements. These restrictions narrowed my options pretty quickly to an early fall exploration seminar, which falls conveniently between summer quarter and fall quarter and uses only 5 of my limited elective credits. The options for early fall exploration seminars are impressively diverse, and I struggled to narrow down to only three programs I was interested in applying to. After finally narrowing my options, I began gathering letters of recommendation, writing my application essays, and attending information and interview sessions conducted by the program professors.

 

My interest in the Chile program was three-fold. Firstly, the topic aligned with my community psychology major perfectly, which made this program my first choice. Secondly, I’ve wanted for a long time to travel to South America for multiple reasons–mostly because the landscape and culture seems so stunningly beautiful and vibrant, and I also speak a bit of Spanish so I felt more prepared for being immersed in another language for a month. Thirdly, Lonely Planet named Chile the country to travel to in 2018, and seeing their overview of the country made up my mind as this being a place I needed to visit. I may or may not have cried once I got the email that I was accepted to the program. Once I knew where I was going, both excitement and anxiety ensued. So much planning to do—flights to purchase, supplies to gather, and decisions to be made about traveling independently after the program. The study abroad will take us to three cities: Santiago, Iquique, and Arica. Iquique and Arica are both located in Northern Chile, and Santiago is roughly in the center of the long, narrow country. While we will cover a lot of ground, I was disappointed that I would be in Chile and miss a major bucket-list item for me—Patagonia. Located in the southernmost tip of Chile and stretching into Argentina, Patagonia is a nature-lover’s paradise. So, after some brief research on the realistic cost of this venture, I reached out to my fellow program members and recruited one of them as my travel buddy. Now in addition to planning for the study abroad, we both are planning and organizing our post-program trip to Torres Del Paine Parque Nacional (Towers of Blue National Park—“Paine” means blue in the language of the indigenous people group, the Tehuelche).

 

There are so many facets to this study abroad experience, and so many things I want to get out of it. Academically as an aspiring psychologist, I hope to better understand how culture influences perception and treatment of mental health, as well as help me understand diversity better. I could list a multitude of psychological studies that have shown how global travel helps dispel stereotypes, broaden perspectives, and help with understanding and empathy—all things a good psychologist should be strong in—but you as the reader are probably relieved I’m not writing a research paper on here, so I’ll keep the technicalities of the studies to a minimum. Personally, I yearn for adventure, I love experiences that challenge my thinking and push me to get out of my comfort zone. I think this trip will accomplish these goals on multiple levels, since I’ll be adjusting to and interacting with a new culture, immersed in a language I’m definitely not fluent in, interacting with a group of other students I’ve only met a few times, and experiencing new places and challenges I can’t even anticipate yet. I fully expect to return home a changed person, and from what I’ve heard from previous travelers, it’s pretty unanimous that it’s a change for the better.

 

While abroad, I hope to hone my interpersonal skills; improve my Spanish; really get to know the Chileans I have the opportunity to interact with; learn more about this amazing country’s culture, history, and landscape; be able compare and analyze the health care system of the United States and Chile; and come back with a billion things to write about and some incredible memories and life lessons.

 

¡Hasta la próxima vez (until next time)!

 

Week 4 // Japan // Carbon Nanotubes & Soft Matter

July 10 – 15, 2017

My name Camille and I am a participant of the “Engineering Japan: Exploring in the Heart of High-Tech” at Tohoku University in Sendai. This is my forth, and last video/blog in the 4-part series and if you haven’t watch my first video go ahead and do so! Enjoy!

First video/blog -> http://blogs.uw.edu/uwbworld/2018/05/02/week-1-japan-quantum-theory-aircraft-design/

Week 3 // Japan // Robotics, Spintronics, & Germanium Radio

July 3 – 9, 2017

My name Camille and I am a participant of the “Engineering Japan: Exploring in the Heart of High-Tech” at Tohoku University in Sendai. This is my third video/blog in the 4-part series and if you haven’t watch my first video go ahead and do so! Enjoy!

First video/blog -> http://blogs.uw.edu/uwbworld/2018/05/02/week-1-japan-quantum-theory-aircraft-design/

Week 2 // Japan // Biomolecular Design & Motors

June 26 – July 2, 2017

 

My name Camille and I am a participant of the “Engineering Japan: Exploring in the Heart of High-Tech” at Tohoku University in Sendai. This is my second video/blog in the 4-part series and if you haven’t watch my first video go ahead and do so! Enjoy!

First video/blog -> http://blogs.uw.edu/uwbworld/2018/05/02/week-1-japan-quantum-theory-aircraft-design/

Week 1 // Japan // Quantum Theory & Aircraft Design

June 19 – 25, 2017

Hello, aspiring international traveler!

My name is Camille and this is my Japan travel abroad story.

I am an intending Electrical Engineering student at the University of Washington Bothell and I got accepted to a study abroad program for pre-engineers!

The program is called “Engineering Japan: Exploring in the Heart of High-Tech” where we got to study at Tohoku University in Sendai. There I learned a range of engineering disciplines and topics from basic waves to spintronics!

I’m am essentially putting a face to the program description and the following classes/topics that were addressed in the curriculum through a 4-part video montage!

Just click the link, sit back, and enjoy!!!

Turning Dreams into Reality

April 16, 2018,  Blog by Mahleah Grant, Environmental studies- Conservation Science & Management, From Andes to Amazon Peru: Biodiversity, Conservation & Sustainability.

From the first time I learned about the study abroad program as a high school graduate in 2010, I have wildly dreamed about participating in such an amazing educational experience. As much as I yearned for an opportunity to study abroad, the idea seemed so far from reality for me. The financial obstacles between myself and studying abroad felt like the steepest, most treacherous mountain to climb. Though I constantly kept the idea in the back of my mind, it seemed like just that–an idea.

When I was first accepted into UWB, one of the first things I did was apply to an environmental study abroad program in Costa Rica for the early fall. I had no professors to write a letter of recommendation for me because I had not established any relationships with them yet–it was my first quarter. Excitedly I waited for the trip leaders to accept me into the program–it felt so right I was sure I would be accepted!! After a couple weeks went by, I randomly received an email that my study abroad application status had changed. My heart started beating and I happily logged into the study abroad website. Five beats went by as my computer slowly loaded..When my application appeared, I read it over and my heart sank. A staff member had withdrawn my application. I had received no letter as to why or any information. I was simply out. And that was that. I felt so discouraged and disheartened. Why was my application withdrawn? Would I ever have the chance to study abroad?

Truth be told, I could not afford to study abroad anyways. I just wanted it to happen so I went with it and thought that if I applied, money would magically appear and all would fall into place. Though I never found out exactly why I was withdrawn from the application pool for the environmental program in Costa Rica, my guess was that because I had taken no classes at UWB yet and had no letters of recommendation I was automatically removed from the selection pool.

Despite feelings of remorse and apathy, I knew that if I truly wanted the study abroad experience while in college, I would have to plan. And plan in advance. I have always been the type to do things on a whim or last moment. But I have come to learn over the years that planning is the key for success in making a big trip come together. Over the summer, I constantly checked the study abroad website and read up on upcoming programs. During one of my sustainability courses, the professor mentioned a program of interest to me, Biodiversity, conservation and sustainability in Peru with Dr. Valdez. As an environmental studies major, the sound of this program immediately sparked my interest and seemed intriguing. I knew that this program would provide me with an experience that I would never be able to recreate. When would I ever have the opportunity to visit the Amazon river or hear monkeys swinging through their native habitat? I knew that this was something I needed to experience; not only to benefit my education but to grow as an individual.

I kept this vision of myself backpacking through Peru, tired yet excitedly making my way through the tropical forests, feeling more alive than ever before. I never let this vision escape and when I began fall quarter, one of my classes happened to be taught by Dr. Ursula Valdez. On the first day of Ecology and the Environment, I waited for students to shuffle out then I made my move. I asked Dr. Valdez about the program she taught in Peru. She had just returned from her early fall excursion weeks before and excitedly told me about the program and the amazing opportunity it was. I proclaimed my interest in the program and told her I planned on applying for the next round! Every time I saw Dr. Valdez, I shared my excitement and interest I had in the program. When it came time to apply for the program, I submitted the necessary documents as soon as possible and made sure to have two letters of recommendation from professors that I had at least one or two courses with. Though I heard the program was competitive and was offered across all three campuses, I passionately pursued my dream without any doubts or second guesses. When there was an info session, I eagerly attended to gather a more transparent picture of the program in my mind. Attending this info session completely strengthened my will to join this program and provided me with much daydream material because we discussed the itinerary and learning objectives. Going to Peru was just the challenge I need and have been prepared for in the last year. Once I finished submitting my study abroad application, I would obsessively check the status every single day, several times a day. One rainy afternoon, I logged on drearily to my study abroad account and discovered I was accepted into the program!! My daydreams became my reality!

If there is something you feel strongly about, especially when it comes to your education, it’s amazing how far a conversation will take you. If you ask questions and show your interest, doors open and stay open. Do not become discouraged or compare your progress to the progress of others. We all have a journey to take and asking questions can take you so far!! And asking for help will help to carry you further than you can imagine. I have never been able to afford to study abroad, but planning ahead and preparing, asking questions and being persistent will pay off in your educational journey.

India Study Abroad

April 04 2018, Blog by Marjan Atashkhayer Didra, India: Gender, Culture and Human Rights

Pre-departure

I chose this program for two reasons first, it’s relation to my major which is Gender Women and Sexuality Studies. We will be studying women, gender, and human rights in India. Second, my passion to learn about Indian people, culture, and society as a whole. India has always been so close to my heart because we shared so much history. I grew up in Iran so it would be interesting to see the similarities and differences. I am hoping to see India holistically in it’s political, national and cultural affair. Since India is a vast country and is very diverse, I am interested to learn about how they implement certain laws around rights for women and gender.

What specific skills do I hope to develop abroad?

I would like to dive deeper into my communication, tolerance and transparency skills to not only implement them actively also to improve them through this two weeks journey.

How can I make friends in the host culture?

I believe in the power of vulnerability so through sharing my own experiences and by being open I am hoping to form a deep connection and ultimately friendship with my fellow group mates.

Am I concerned about missing friends, family?  How will I stay in touch with them?

Since I have spent most of my adult life traveling and living abroad I believe it wouldn’t be an issue for me to be away, however, this definitely could be a concern for some students. Fortunately, through the use and availability of technology, we can close the gap and stay in touch with our loved ones.

What are some of my anxieties or fears? My study abroad is right after our final exams so my main concerns are making sure all my assignments are done and submitted since our access to the internet may be limited. I am very excited about being in India.

 

While in abroad

 

India is a beautiful country. We have visited Delhi and Jaipur and small cities in between. There are many historical places and buildings. The country is rich in culture, tradition, and symbols. Lots of colors to be seen everywhere throughout the city. Beautiful sights and architecture. Women and Men wear beautiful colors and traditional clothing. It is very common to see women wear jewelry and colorful saris.

We have been meeting different lecturers with a focus on gender and human rights. As students, we all have a specific topic that we are working to develop an understanding around. During the lectures, we can ask questions and talk about what our personal beliefs or experiences are back in the USA. Some of our lectures take place on the field such as visiting the specific communities and colleges in order to interact with people and students personally.

Since our trip is somewhat short we have only been focusing on the lectures and not much of a sightseeing but it will happen towards the end of our trip. We did visit Taj Mahal in Agra and it was mesmerizing. The beauty of this monument is beyond words.

I have always wanted to visit India and now I am so glad to say that this place is not only magical but also historical. People are very kind, respectful and hospitable. I am so grateful to have the privilege to be here. I am also thankful to my professors and the University of Washington for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this amazing journey.

This trip has changed my perspective and impacted the way I see other cultures and the world. Realizing that as people we may embody different feature, color or lifestyle but we are all the same in ways we connect with each other. Being offered tea at every bus stop we have had or a new place we have been invited gave me the understanding of how being hospitable is part of every culture. After this trip, I intend to apply for more study abroad programs as it has helped me to further develop my understanding of race, class, and gender in different settings.

 

 

Study Abroad Blog Post

March 30, 2018 Blog by: Allison Pace, Honors Rome: Staging the City

The most common questions I hear about study abroad all have to do with funding. Before applying to my program, I was one of those students questioning the high price of going abroad. Along with the expense, I was also terrified of leaving home for the first time. Like myself, I suspect there are many students in the situation that studying abroad is their first time ever going abroad. I never intended on studying abroad during my time at UW Bothell, but I am so grateful I did.

My study abroad journey started with a mentor of mine pulling up a list of programs on her phone, handing it to me, and saying “pick one.” She knew about my apprehension with studying abroad, but also knew these were obstacles that could easily be overcome. I ended up choosing a program in Italy because my heritage. My last name is Italian, and my grandfather has always talked about our Italian genes. Another reason I chose my program is because it was an early fall start, which means it lasts four weeks verses an entire quarter. This was perfect for me because I wouldn’t be gone from home for three months, and the cost was significantly smaller than most of the quarter long programs. I did not waste anytime once I made the decision to study abroad before applying to the UWB study abroad scholarship. It was important to find extra funding, which is why I applied for many study abroad scholarships. I won the UWB scholarship, which alleviated a lot of stress, and helped offset the cost of my flight.

A couple things that surprised me during the application process were:

  1. Most study abroad programs do not purchase group flights for you. It is up to you to choose a travel partner/group and buy tickets together if you do not want to fly alone.
  2. There is an interview process, conducted by the faculty who will be leading the program. They really take into consideration why you want to study abroad.

Before leaving, there were so many parts to consider. I needed to apply for a passport, order outlet adapters, transfer American dollars to euros, etc. I recommend that students take the time to look through the check-list UW study abroad has created to hit all the important preparation pieces that are essential for successful travels. The list really helped my lay out exactly what needed to be done, and by when. For example, if you do not already have a passport, it takes a while to receive it after applying for it. Thinking and planning ahead, along with making a to-do list, can eliminate the stress of feeling unprepared and anxious.

Be prepared for a long flight! Pack snacks, entertainment, and where comfortable clothing. If you have never traveled by plane before, make sure to check what carry-on items are TSA approved. After checking these regulations, I bought snacks for the flight such as nuts, beef jerky, dried fruit, candy, and gum. I brought headphones and a portable battery charger, however I did not end up using them because there was a USB outlet on the flight (per seat) and airlines typically hand out headphones.

When in Rome

Landing in Rome was refreshing after a long flight. Maneuvering through the airport was not as intimidating as I suspected for two main reasons: (1) in airports there are always multiple languages available, so English was posted on all of the signs, (2) almost all the people on the flight were headed to customs so it was easy to follow the big group.

For the first night in Rome my travel partner and I stayed in a hotel room because we could not check into the Rome center until the first day of class. We decided to stay at a hotel attached to the airport because we knew we would need to rest after the flight. Also, we wanted some time to get situated before embarking to the city.

Luckily the hotel we stayed at (the Hilton) had a shuttle to the city center. We were able to use this for transportation to Rome on move-in day. Prior to move-in day we scoped a path to the UW Rome center, so we knew exactly what way to go because we pulled our suitcases through the city. We wanted to save money on a taxi; it wasn’t too bad, but the cobblestones were a little rough on my suitcase wheels. Checking into the UW Rome center is easy, but make sure you follow all their instructions! Have exact cash for the deposit and be ready to follow their rules; both the UW Rome center’s rules and the landlord’s rules of which ever apartment you stay in.

From this point on, every day was an adventure! For each class we would tour different sites around the city and talk about the ancient history. Weekends were free time, so my group and I planned mini trips either inside Rome or surrounding cities to see as many places as we could.

Everyone has their opinion of the “must see” places in Italy, and mine is the coast. I would not leave Italy until you have traveled to a coastal city and enjoyed the beach! My favorite is costal town is Sperlonga; I only went to three beaches though. It is beautiful and not as tourist filled as the city of Rome. Be prepared for your language skills to be stretched, because not many people speak English there.

The Trip

              As I do not plan on taking my laptop with me to India, nor do I know if I will have the time or internet capabilities to type, I have decided to keep a notebook throughout the entire experience. At the end, I will type up thoughts/experiences that I think will be most helpful; please keep in mind we will depart the U.S. on March 9th, landing in India on March 11th and depart India on March 25th, landing in the U.S. on the 25th.

  • (03/11/2018) At approximately 4 a.m. today, we finally made it to our first hotel. The flight here was way more comfortable than I had anticipated as I had never been on a plane for more than 6 hours and had never flown with Emirates. We are currently at a retreat called Zorba the Buddha and I am too excited to sleep before our meeting at 9 a.m. My initial thoughts from the airport to here are as follows: How can the air be of such a different quality here? I had heard about the amount of stray dogs in India and been given the advice not to pet them, but I did not imagine it being this difficult! They are everywhere, malnourished, often limping, and craving attention. While I grew up in the South of the United States and have been exposed, probably, to most Washingtonians to a plethora of firearms, the sheer volume of men I have seen walking around with shotguns and assault rifles is eery. I have had more than the normal amount of urges to drink water now that I am in a place where you have to be cautious of your water source. How do I already have 5 mosquito bites?

  • (03/13/2018) Today we went to Jamia Millia Islamia University, were put into small groups, and given campus tours by current students. While this activity may seem pretty surface level, it created a safe space for me to ask someone my age direct questions about the current political climate and the implications to female students. My guide, while at first a bit reserved, really opened up and provided some honest, insightful commentary to my questions. A few occurrences during our time on campus really opened my eyes to the regression on women’s freedoms and I am looking forward to staying connected to my guide.

  • (03/15/2018) I do not know where to begin in regards to debriefing my experience today. We were taken to a park to meet with a group of domestic workers that belonged to a union. Listening to these women’s’ stories, the violence and oppressors they face within their everyday lives, and how the unionization has helped them was inspiring, to say the least. A common occurrence I have seen throughout my time so far in India is the hospitality. We have met with individuals and groups who have very little, who would be considered extremely poor by U.S. standards, but always ensure that we, as guests, our greeted with tea, cookies, and crackers, or tea, naan, and a side. While these gestures warm my heart and help to make me feel like they really want to talk to us, not that our visits are being forced upon them, it also makes me sad in a way. They are willing to give their extra bits or go without in order to provide these, but I do not think this is a common practice for the majority of Americans. There have really only been a handful of times that I have experienced a similar greeting within the United States, even if those being met with are affluent. Why is this? Meanwhile, these women have so little, are enduring so much, and did not even think twice about sneaking away from work to meet with us, act as great hosts, and start a dance party with smiles, music, and their children before we parted ways today.

  • (03/17/2018) After being here for almost a week, I am coming to the point where I am exhausted. They warn you about this, you know, the fatigue, the change in your body’s normal cycles, being in constant communication and a close knit proximity to the group, the heat, etc., but you are almost too busy to let any of it affect you, until it all hits you at once. I have seen some people completely crash or let it bottle up until they take it out on an innocent victim. This trip is also emotionally training in different ways. We have met with a ton of brave women and young girls; ones with unbelievable stories, journeys, and inspiring dreams. We have seen children who have had to fight for their rights to education, houses made out of hay, and many without shoes or clothing. It is not easy to see so many things, things that you want to help, but are unable to do much about. To help prevent all of these things from piling up and really stopping you from getting the most out of your trip, I recommend the following: communicate clearly with your roommate, make sure you are eating and staying hydrated, carve out alone time, keep a written journal, and remember why you are here.

  • (03/19/2018) I have now seen “wild” or the following animals just waltzing around town without regards to people or vehicles: dogs, cats, goats, pigs, cows, horses, monkeys, camels, elephants, and peacocks. I also passed some snake charmers today; that was something I never thought I would see.

  • (03/22/2018) When you are constantly on the move, it is easy to overlook just how truly awesome some of the things you are seeing are. Regardless of the length of your study abroad, remember, this is truly a once in a lifetime experience. When again will you be able to be where you are, meeting with the people you are, studying your topic? Take everything in for its worth and beauty!