Tips for Application and Preparation!

It’s time to start applying for winter study abroad trips, with an application deadline of May 15th, so here’s some application tips! If you’ve already applied for Summer, Early Fall, or Autumn programs, I have preparation tips for you as well!

Application: 

  • Start your research early! Think about areas of the world you’re interested in going to, and topics that’d be relevant to your major–but keep an open mind. Studying abroad is all about stretching your mind and horizons, so don’t be hesitant to apply to a program that might not directly tie into your major!
  • Stalk the UW Study Abroad “now accepting applications” page. Not all programs get posted at once, so check back and you might see more show up that could be interesting to you!
  • Choose the programs you apply to wisely. You get to apply to up to three programs, so I’d highly recommend using all three of those applications! Yes, it means more writing, but some programs are pretty competitive, and if you’re set on studying abroad in a certain time frame (like I was, my schedule was pretty full and early fall 2018 was really the only chance I’d get!), definitely use all three.
  • Apply for scholarships! Scholarships can make a massive difference in affordability, but start looking early as some close at the beginning of the year! UW’s Study Abroad website has a list of scholarships that can be used for study abroad listed here: http://www.washington.edu/studyabroad/students/resources/finances/scholarships/. Also, there’s a box you can check during the application process that automatically makes you eligible for the UW Plan to Go scholarship that awards up to $2,500. In addition, if you are a UW Bothell student, you can apply to the UW Bothell Study Abroad Scholarship that, if you earn it, can reimburse you for airfare costs (which financial aid can’t cover!). In return, you commit to promote study abroad in various ways on campus.

Preparation:

  • The nitty gritty. So you’ve been accepted to a program! Congrats! First things first, get a passport early if you need to. It takes forever for them to process and you don’t want to get stuck paying the expediting fee.
  • Start searching for flights. You know know your destination country and arrival date, so start looking for flight deals. They fluctuate significantly, and getting a grasp on what’s a good price will help you decide when to buy. Also, watch layover times! Most international flights will have layovers in airports which is fine, but make sure you leave at least 2 hrs between flights so that you have time to get from one terminal to another! Missing a flight is no fun. When it’s a layover after entering a country, if you aren’t staying in the international terminal you’ll have to go through customs–so leave extra time for that. For example, on my way to Chile I went Seattle –> LA –> Santiago and didn’t have to go through customs until we landed in Chile. However, on my way home I went Santiago –> Lima –> LA –> Seattle. Entering Lima I didn’t go through customs since I stayed in the international terminal, BUT entering LA I DID have to go through customs since I was moving from the international terminal to the domestic terminal. Just a point I got confused about and thought I’d try to help you guys with! Hope that makes sense.
  • Shop second-hand and sales. If you need any particular clothes for your trip, start looking early so that you can try to find deals at thrift stores or hit a sale for big ticket items, including luggage if you need to buy!
  • Make a packing list. This helps you make sure you don’t miss anything and helps you plan. Some key items that I’d recommend bringing that are a bit out of the ordinary are:
    • a portable battery (to charge your phone on the go, especially if you’re planning on taking pictures!)
    • a daypack/small backpack for daily activities. You don’t want to lug anything to big, but there will be things you’ll want with you on the daily like a water bottle (soooooo important) and a notebook and pen!
    • money belt to keep things safe (especially if you have to keep your passport on you at all times). Personally, I went a little different and bought a running belt, since I found it much more comfortable. It still fit my phone, passport, and some money with no problems. I used this one, which works great since it has a zipper (there’s a version without, watch out!) and you can have the zipper on the outside for access, or “flip” it inside for more security. https://www.amazon.com/FlipBelt-Running-Fitness-Workout-Black/dp/B01CGXUQHA/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=flip+belt+zipper&qid=1556322951&s=gateway&sr=8-3
    • mini duct tape. You never know when you’ll need it.
  • Practice pack! When you get closer to the departure date, collect all your things you’re bringing and do a trial run packing. This way, you can make sure 1) everything fits and 2) you’re within the weight limit. Usually the weight limit for international flight checked bags is 50 lbs, but check for your specific airlines. And don’t push the limit on the way there–you’ll definitely buy souvenirs and you’ll want space for that!

That’s all the advice I can think of for now, but feel free to leave a comment with any questions! I’d love to help answer them 🙂

Chile North to South: Visiting Universities in Santiago

Last August and September I visited Chile as part of a UW Study Abroad Exploration Seminar. It’s taken me awhile to get my experiences written up, but here’s a bit about the beginning of my trip.

I arrived at the Seattle airport at 3am, checked my bags, and made my way through security. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so nervous and also excited for anything in my life. Not only was this my first time traveling to another country, I was about to spend a month in a country with twenty-one strangers and a population whose language I barely speak. Despite my nerves, I was also very excited. An eternity of a plane ride later, I landed in Santiago and met up with the group in the airport, and the trip began!

Hotel Diego De Velazquez

Our hotel had very comfortable accommodations, with spacious rooms housing about 3-4 of our group in each room. I shared with two other girls, and we ended up staying up late often talking about the events of the day and attempting to journal all the things we wanted to remember.

Let me give you a basic overview of how each day went:

Morning: Departed the hotel to start the day’s activities, usually starting with more scholastic activities such as visiting universities, touring hospitals, and listening to short lectures from people working in healthcare

Afternoon: Each lunch somewhere as a group and get the chance to sample the local cuisine, then proceeding with the group on more “touristy” activities like visiting museums, landmarks, and shopping areas

Evenings: Return to the hotel, usually had individual free time to hangout in smaller groups, go get dinner where we’d like, or work on laundry or journaling or sleeping!

University Andres Bello (UNAB)

One of the simulation rooms inside UNAB

8/20

On the first full day in Santiago we started the morning at a university, where we learned about the basic structure of the healthcare system in Chile and also got to tour their “simulation hospital,” where they have situational setups of various departments of health. The instructors determine the disease, and students properly treat it, practicing their skills on a high-tech mannequins

 

The very top of the hill has a beautiful viewpoint where you can get a 360º view of the city

The group at Santa Lucia!

Following our tour at Andres Bello, we visited a Catholic university in the area, where we got to hear from a young doctor who has worked in the army and extensively in rural areas of Chile. After these informative destinations, we continued into the center of Santiago to climb Santa Lucia Hill. This small hill marks the spot where Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia founded Santiago in 1541. The lookout was landscaped into a public park in the late 19th century to memorialize the historical event.

We ended the day on a delicious note with a group dinner at a delightful restaurant near Santa Lucia hill. I tried eel for the first time, which was thankfully delicious and just tasted like fish!

We found out that Chileans tend to eat dinner much later than your average American when we arrived around 6:30 and found the restaurant nearly empty! It wasn’t until about 8pm or so that traffic started picking up, and Professor Olavarria confirmed that this is pretty standard. By the end of the trip we’d all become pretty accustomed to eating dinner much later!

 

 

 

 

 

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)!