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25 October 2016

#HogsAbroad on Instagram #TravelTuesday

“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” 
― Dorothea Lange 
There are over 2,000 photos on Instagram have been tagged with #HogsAbroad!  

How Do I Write The Date Again? #TravelTipTuesday #HogsAbroad #USAC

There are plenty of things to learn when you’re abroad, but you’ll find some cultural differences show face much sooner than others in your study abroad experience. Take filling out all the necessary paperwork to go abroad. Paperwork? I know, I know, but it’s true there’s some paperwork involved (but that’s also why we’re here to help!).

The funny thing is, too, that depending on which country you’re heading off to, you’ll have to prepare your paperwork slightly different than you’re used to here in the states.

What are we talking about exactly? This next tip is a quick rundown of the different ways — in different countries — you’re required to write dates. In the US, you would write today’s date as 8/18/2016. However, the order in which you list the day (DD), month (MM), and year (YYYY) change depending on the country you are in.

For example, the date in Europe and New Zealand is written day, month, year: i.e., 18/8/2016. In China it is written year, month, day: i.e., 2016/8/18.
“It took me forever to get it right, and by the time I could do it seamlessly it was time to come home. And then I had to learn how to write the date differently all over again!”
— Dominique, Program Advisor: China, France, & New Zealand. USAC Alumna: Melbourne & Pau
We’ve found this Wikipedia page to be fairly helpful when trying to figure out how a certain country write its dates.

The next question we usually field during advising is, why is the US different?
In the US we like to do things differently.

We don’t use the metric system because of something to do with manufacturing and high-end machine tools, or the 24hr clock, unless you are in the military — this link doesn’t answer why, but it’s an amusing thread to read about 12 hour vs 24 hour time on Reddit.

There’s some speculation as to why the US writes its dates MM-DD-YYYY, but nevertheless, “Let’s face it, it’s weird. Basic group behavior shows it’s weird.”

What we can tell you is that we in the US have our own cultural differences as much as the next country you’ll visit. So our recommendation? Do a little research about your program’s country. Learn the numbers. Familiarize yourself with how they write the date, time, weights/measures, currency, exchange rate, etc.

Hopefully this will save you a few headaches along the way, and it’s another reason our advisors are here to help you along the way!
See more tips from USAC at

Don't miss out! Find your own study abroad program at:

Come Learn about Teaching English Abroad This Week! #HogsAbroad #Fulbright

If you missed the first meeting, don't worry; there are two more! Come visit with Annie to learn more about opportunities to teach overseas at one of these meetings: 

    Friday Oct. 28th, 2016 @12pm-1pm in MAIN 322

Wednesday Nov. 9th, 2016 @12pm-1pm in GRAD 239

24 October 2016

8 Insider Tips for Your Internship Abroad #HogsAbroad #gooverseas #culturalvistas

Tips for being a successful intern abroad

Article excerpts courtesy of
By Lisa Saltagi

 International internships are on the rise, but given that they're usually a bigger investment than one back home -- what with airfare, cultural barriers, and time away from home to contend with -- you'll want to make sure you get the most out of your time abroad. Not only that, but they're different than a normal internship and it may take you awhile to get accustomed to this new lifestyle or you may face a few things you didn't expect.
Taking an additional interest in your daily tasks and going above and beyond your duties will show that you're committed to improving yourself and your company.
So, get the most out of your internship and prepare for your time abroad with insider tips on international internships from jet-setting interns who have gone before you. Interns, like future you, who've lived and learned:

1. "Be Interested and Take Initiative" - Katie Denton

Internship tips While we're on the topic of impressing your boss, if you arrive at this internship and simply do what you're told, you'll likely succeed, but you won't flourish. Taking an additional interest in your daily tasks and going above and beyond your duties will show that you're committed to improving yourself and your company.

"Especially abroad, your boss and coworkers are not going to hover over you and make sure you're constantly occupied. You must take initiative, be brave, and ask to learn more and be given increasingly difficult assignments. Nine times out of 10, your coworkers will be impressed with your desire to learn and make an impact," explains Katie Denton, who is completed an international internship in Spain.

Proving to others that you are here for more than just a resume booster will make significant waves in your reputation. Don't worry if you mess up (at least the first few times...) -- you're here to learn, and your employers likely expect you to make a few mistakes along the way. Everyone does!

2. "Explore Your New Home Beyond the Honeymoon Phase" - Amanda Rohm Daquila


Though a lot of your personal growth will take place inside the office, the connections you make outside the office and time spent exploring and getting to know your new home is also crucial to making the most out of your experience. Since your college social life won't be there, it'll probably be a bit more difficult to find friends -- but don't let that keep you from exploring your new home.
"As the honeymoon phase of being abroad begins to wane, and you find yourself watching episodes of American television on the internet, just gathering up the desire to leave the house can become difficult. Having an arranged time to meet with someone will force you to take a shower, change out of your sweatpants, and go outside," says Amanda Rohm Daquila who advocates for interns to get tandem partners while abroad.

A tandem partner is one or more people -- perhaps from work but perhaps just from your international community, who you can sit with outside of work hours and practice your language speaking skills while also just avoiding the Netflix trap of your own laziness mixed with fear of the new and unknown. Tandems are so helpful with getting you used to your new surroundings -- but more often than not, they can also become new best friends!

3. "Keep a Positive Attitude" - Noelle Posniak

Interning abroad tips If you're putting yourself out there and taking initiative, the odds are that you will mess up, you will fail, and you will feel like Anne Hathaway in the Devil Wears Prada. But don't let that stop you! This is a completely new world and you're getting used to it. Keep trying. Keep pushing to learn and discover, and you will succeed in the end. When you do, you will have an experience much more than just an internship -- you will have international experience.

"There will be ups and downs in an experience like this, but you just have to learn to roll with the punches and keep a positive attitude. If you keep this in mind, you will have an amazing experience gaining global perspective, which you wouldn't be able to gain at home," says Noelle Posniak who completed a summer internship program in Germany.

4. "Not All Internships Require Foreign Language Skills" - Cultural Vistas


One of the biggest reasons why you might forgo an international internship is because you don't feel confident enough in a foreign language, or know enough of a foreign language, to use it in a professional setting. However, not all international internships require you to have foreign language skills (though knowing a few basics is always helpful in your day to day).

And we don't just mean internships in English-speaking countries, like the UK, Ireland, or Australia, either. For example, Cultural Vista's Internships in Brazil don't require any foreign language skills and is an excellent choice if you want to live abroad, learn some (or more) Portuguese, but still understand enough of what your co-workers are saying to count it as a moment of professional growth.

5. "Say Yes and Get to Know Your Co-Workers" - Timothy Young

Interning abroad Actually, this one is as true at home than it is abroad: don't be shy about talking with your co-workers. Get to know them, make small talk, say yes to after work invites!

I know it can be tempting to only interact with other interns (but they get me!!!) or not fully view yourself as part of the company, but don't do fall into that trap. Even if there's a language barrier and talking with your co-workers seems extra scary, it'll be worth making that extra effort in the end.

"Whether it's to lunch, after-hour drinks, or some other invitation, jump on every opportunity you can and say 'YES!' explains Timothy Young, who interned in Berlin, Germany. "Sure it wasn't the best decision for my wallet, but I like to think that it was a worthwhile investment. It's hard to get to know your co-workers only in the office, and you'd be surprised how far lunches can take you. To be completely honest, it's not even worth fretting about conversation topics -- your presence is going to speak for itself."

After all, who are your co-workers more likely to remember and give an awesome recommendation to after it's all done: the awkward intern who never talked to anyone? Or the intern who saw themselves as part of the team and made an effort to befriend and interact with everyone else?

6. "Internships Can be Post-Grad" 


Speaking of research, we need to inform you that you not have been doing enough if you thought that internships are just for kids (silly Rabbit). Internships for recent grads and mid-career professionals are available if you missed the boat while in school -- and they are just as effective and educational as the ones that gave you college credit.

The biggest problem with interning after graduation? This means that you're technically not deemed as a student anymore -- and working internationally without a student visa backing you means visa issues and work permit complications. However, depending on the internship you discover, you can likely find companies to help you get through the red tape and onto your glorious international work experience. Cultural Vistas, for example, provides work authorization and visa support for interns who want to work abroad in Europe.

Worried about age? Even if you graduated later or simply took a few years to figure out what you really wanted to do with your life, it's ok! Some programs will allow people up to 35 years of age apply for an international internship and then assist in the paperwork to get a work permit. For example, the Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship allows applicants up to age 40 to apply. So don't give up just because you think you're "too old."

7. "Limit How Much You Use Your Camera" - Aaron Eisenberg

successful internship tips "One thing that I do to make sure I'm experiencing my travels, not just documenting, is maintaining a 2-day-on, 1-day-off schedule for my camera. By following this rule, I have the freedom to interact with my surroundings in different ways. It also helps maintain respect for cultures that may not welcome unsolicited photographs."

"Especially in the developing world, taking photos of locals without prior approval or requisite cultural understanding can cause cultural voyeurism: observing and photographing cultures without any truly engaging with one's surroundings," explains Aaron Eisenberg -- now a program development officer at Cultural Vistas.

If you're constantly on Snapchat, showing your friends at home your new surroundings, you'll never be available for that small talk, or lunches with coworkers, or your travels on the weekends. If you attempt to show them, while then taking a day off to put down the phone and experience life in the present, you'll benefit from it remarkably. Believe us, your Mom can wait for those pics.

"In order to truly 'be here now' while traveling, we need to ask ourselves tough questions," Aaron continues. "Are we are in this museum or temple to observe and appreciate the art and architecture? Or are we in this museum or temple to take a photo of ourselves to show other people that we are in this space? Being intentional and authentic about the photos you take will naturally limit the amount you're attached to your camera." This quote can also be put towards your internship.

8. "The Experience Doesn't End When You Get Home" - Katja Kurz


An internship, abroad or otherwise, can have a serious impact on your career and the benefits of an international internship should last you long after you return home. That is, if you work at it.
Almost as important as being able to put a new skill and experience on your resume is keeping in touch with your co-workers and manager at the company you interned at. Without maintaining this relationship, it'll be much harder to reach out for a future recommendation or to ask to be put in touch with a potential employer.

As Katja Kurz, a university relations officer, says "Keep your contacts in mind. If you come across an article that reminds you of them or a topic that you spoke about, share it with them. If there's a national holiday coming up, send them a greeting. It doesn't take much to show people that you care for them and that you appreciate their help. With these things in mind, you'll be a resourceful networker in no time!"

Often, staying in touch is as simple as connecting on LinkedIn and interacting with your network every once in awhile!

Remember Why You're Interning


Make sure you're "here now" and 100% present throughout your time abroad. Get the most out of this -- that's what all of these tips are telling you. Don't slack off. Take advantage of every opportunity within this incredible one. Language, culture, international friendships, international work experience, work experience in general. Live the life you want to live and live it well. Whatever you might think of internships, they're a pretty wonderful experience -- especially if they're international!

Check out Cultural Vistas Internship opportunities at
And use our search at to find more internship and study abroad opportunities for U of A students.

Germany: Visiting the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial and Experiencing the Famous Oktoberfest in Munich #HogsAbroad

The following images show the original buildings and artifacts from when the Dachau Concentration Camp was operating.  Viewer discretion advised.
The entrance to Dachau Concentration Camp. The sign reads “Arbeit macht frei”, which means
“Work sets you free”.
An outside view of the prisoners’ living corridors. Several years after the camp was liberated, the
original living corridors were completely destroyed. This would be an exact replica, with some of
the original sinks and toilets placed back in the bathrooms.
When the camp first began operations in the early 1930’s, this was the typical layout of the rooms.
At this time, risoners had their own bed and locker, seen in the following photo.
This was a common area where the prisoners kept their belongings. Notice how clean the floors are,
as the prisoners were expected to keep them like this at all times in order to avoid extreme punishments.
These two sinks were shared by all prisoners in their building, which rose up to 2,000 by the time
of their liberation in 1945.
This image depicts how crammed the rooms were by the 1940’s. Over 600 prisoners were expected
to live in this small area.
An original picture all of the prisoners’ living corridors, which were lined up directly behind it.
In order to deter prisoners from escaping, anyone who stepped off the gravel on to the grass
would be immediately shot.
This road leads to an excluded part of the camp that the prisoner’s knew nothing about. The road
leads to the camp’s Gas Chamber and Crematoria
Dachau’s “Old Crematorium”, which was originally built in the mid 1930’s.
This would be the last image any prisoner would see who walked into this particular “Brausebad”,
which means shower. This was actually the entrance to Dachau’s gas chamber, which is one of
the only fully functional gas chambers remaining today. This is extremely significant because it
proves the intentions of Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust.
A view from inside of the gas chamber. It is unknown if this chamber was ever actually used,
but walking through this room was extremely unpleasant.
Located just outside of the gas chamber was the newer crematory built in the early 1940’s.
A firing wall, where many political prisoners and prisoner’s of war lost their lives.
The main memorial left in the middle of Dachau. This piece of art represents the many prisoners who
took their own life by throwing themselves into the electric bob wired fence.

Changing subjects, the following day we wen to partake in one of Germany’s most famous traditions:

Although it was rainy, it didn’t stop anyone from enjoying the Oktoberfest festivities!
Inside Hacker-Pshot tent. We waited in line for over 4 hours to grab our seats!
Enjoying the traditions of Oktoberfest, Ein Prosit!
We tried just about every type of food there was to try.
Read more from Braden at
Find out more about Braden's Lorenzo de’ Medici Italian program at
Search for more study abroad opportunities like these in over 50 other countries:

3 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before Studying Abroad #ISA #HogsAbroad

Catherine Shackelford is a student at the University of Arkansas, and an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Thessaloniki, Greece.  

Enhancing the experience:

I am not complaining. I’m living in Greece, sailing the most beautiful seas for four hours every day while taking vacations to beaches and historical wonders of the world on the weekend is normal. In two weeks, I will receive an International Sailings License. In three days, I will have visited Corinth, Delphi, and Athens, just because. And in one hour, I will have probably treated myself to another Frappé.

This is not an average experience, where the amazement and awe of what I am seeing and encountering will somehow fade over time. These life-changing moments will remain treasured in my heart, and camera, forever.

I am not complaining. However, I do want to reveal some aspects of studying abroad that will benefit those of you anticipating a journey amidst the shorelines of Greece.
This is a picture of our first night sailing class, where we sailed to Neoi Epivatai to practice our longsided parking.

Food is fuel. It can also dwindle your bank account if you aren’t careful. I took a trip to the grocery store before I left, and those snacks have carried me over for almost four weeks now. Wherever you go, bring snacks. You never know when you’ll be sailing for ten hours without any sight of land, or when you’ll pass a homeless family sleeping on the boardwalk, begging you for food. Greece is also typically really hot, and requires a decent amount of walking, whether that’s anticipated or unanticipated. Traveling itself tends to inspire unpredictability, so make sure to carry something with you. One word of caution: a lot of countries won’t provide things in bulk. Therefore, transporting a couple of small food items from America isn’t a bad idea.

This is where you should be prepared to spend almost all of your money. Depending on where you live, it can be difficult to cook meals at home. Yes, we have a refrigerator and freezer. Yes, we have a stove and oven. But we also don’t have pots or pans or plates or forks or knives or bowls. There are so many variables and challenges around eating at home that most of us here avoid it altogether.
Dinner starts after 8:30 p.m. If you eat out somewhere at around 6:30 or so, it will feel like you’re in a ghost town. But by 10 p.m., the streets are crowded with people. This time frame has become something of a comfort for me, as I can watch the sun set daily over some of the most beautiful seas I’ve ever seen.

At first, restaurants here can feel frustrating. They wouldn’t split the check for us. It was always, and still is, one bill. In Greece, larger parties will share numerous appetizers and entrees, dividing the bill based off of the total rather than on what each individual person ate. It’s cheaper to do that here.
Also, almost every restaurant or store in general will not take cards. Only euros. Most restaurants have a no-smoking sign, but smoking is so engrained in culture to where no one really follows that rule. After a few weeks here, I am more surprised by a café without smoke than one with it. So far, every restaurant has had an ashtray sitting at the center of the table, replacing what could be flowers or other decorations.

Finally, it is important to understand that eating here is more about fellowship than simply eating. This means that you will spend about two to three hours eating before receiving the check. And they won’t simply hand you the check, you’ll have to ask for it. I have learned to love this. Greece as a society is more relaxed than America, and embracing this culture has led to deeper conversations over unrushed meals and incredible fregio.
This cafe was one of my first memories made in downtown Thessaloniki. I had Greek coffee, where you sip till you reach the grimy end of the cup. Someone in the cafe will read the grimy part, interpreting your future by its shape.

This is perhaps the most important thing to study before you leave. If you don’t know the history behind a place, it is harder to experience the culture at its full potential. I came to Thessaloniki with the mentality that I would learn as I go. This is somewhat true. However, we are so entangled with experiencing the city that it’s hard to find time to actually sit down and learn about it. I now see how our lack of knowledge about this city has posed some challenges about what to do, what to see, etc. Greece is rich in history. Even watching a few videos on different historical monuments and roads from Judaism and Christianity could have helped tremendously on what to see.

When you study abroad, I encourage you to do your own research and find a few places that you really want to see. Knowledge will give you more direction on how to make studying abroad the best experience possible. Thankfully, we could utilize ISA, which had preplanned trips and cultural bridges that enabled us to see things we wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
This castle is located in the Old City region of Thessaloniki. I walked seven miles to see this, only to discover that it is currently closed for renovations.

Studying abroad is worth whatever fears or doubts you may be facing. There is no better time to travel and discover yourself than now, right where you are. When you decide to take that leap of faith, I encourage you to start learning now about wherever it is you may go. Read a book, take a class, watch YouTube videos. You could in fact be living right near one of the Seven Wonders without even knowing it.

Ultimately, it is about experience. Knowledge will enhance that. But it cannot take away the wonder of actually going and experiencing a new culture. If you do not act, you cannot experience. Therefore, I hope you do realize that no matter what you read or do to prepare yourself, you have no idea how incredible it will be to study abroad. It is worth every penny and eurocent you have.
Find out more about Catherine's ISA program in Thessaloniki, Greece at

If you need help getting started with study abroad, take a look at the first steps:

For scholarships for study abroad, check out

23 October 2016

Reasons You Should Teach English Abroad if You Want to See the World #DiversityAbroad #HogsAbroad

Article by John Bentley, Courtesy of
Want to go see the world, but looking for something beyond the traditional study abroad route? There are many options for you to choose from such as volunteering, interning and even attending graduate school abroad. However, while these are all great options, one of the most amazing choices you can make is to teach abroad.

Here are 5 benefits of teaching abroad that you don’t want to miss out on!

1. Experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live abroad and truly immerse yourself in a foreign culture. As an English teacher in a foreign country, you don’t experience that country from a tour bus or a hotel, but as member of the local community. You will interact on a daily basis with common citizens, shop in local markets and likely live in a typical middle class neighborhood. You will meet and establish friendships with people from all walks of life and enable you to delve into the culture in the nation where you teach including the local language, cuisine and traditional customs.

2. Easy travel. It’s a lot easier to travel to Germany, Poland or Austria for the weekend if you’re teaching English in Prague, Czech Republic than if you are living and working 9-to-5 in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. Likewise, when you teach English in Spain, for example, you can easily hop on a train to spend the weekend in France, or perhaps Portugal, for just a couple hundred bucks. An English teacher in Korea can spend can spend as little as $500 for a week of fun and sun in Thailand or the Philippines. Or, think of teaching English in Turkey, where you are just an hour or two by flight from such great destinations as Athens, Venice and Vienna; or in the other direction, Jerusalem, Cairo, and Jordan are also within easy reach. The possibilities are endless depending on where you choose to teach.

3. Earn an income to finance your international adventures. Another factor to consider is that as a paid, professional teacher, you will be able support yourself financially while you explore the world. Many of us love to travel but don’t have the financial resources to engage in extensive foreign travel and exploration, or even study abroad programs. As an English teacher abroad, you will typically make at least a livable wage that enables you to cover your expenses and enjoy life and travel in the country where you teach. Those teaching English in many Asian nations or the Persian Gulf countries of the Middle East can often earn enough to save $500 - $1,000 a month after expenses (up to $12,000 or more per year) and may also receive benefits like reimbursed airfare, free housing and paid vacation. That type of income can fund months of travel in a variety of regions around the globe.

4. Gain international work experience for your resume. In the globalized, multi-cultural world of the 21st century, employers increasingly value international professional experience as they look to hire those with proven abilities to comfortably work with people from different backgrounds and cultures. Moving half-way around the world and teaching English also proves that you possess initiative and that you have the courage and ability to adapt to a new environment and circumstances, and that you are not afraid to move out of your comfort zone and taken on new challenges. Not only that, when you’ve taught English in Chile, Korea, or Spain, your resume will set you apart from everybody else, and you will have a great conversation-starter that will distinguish you from the crowd. From international business and diplomacy to education, a world of professional opportunities is open to those who have the background of living abroad and can provide employers with the skill and ability to live and work in a foreign country.

5. It is a great job market. It’s no secret that new college grads – and everybody else seeking employment opportunities – face one of the bleakest job markets in generations. But the field of teaching English abroad is just the opposite. As hundreds of millions of people around the globe seek to learn English, the demand for instruction from native speakers (there are also many opportunities for qualified non-native speakers) is going through the roof and hundreds of thousands of English teachers are hired each year. From corporate training and public schools to private language institutes and summer camps, thousands of educational institutions around the globe now seek to hire English teachers.

A native English speaker with a four-year degree and a TEFL certification can realistically make a livable wage teaching English abroad in upwards of 75 countries and there are dozens of countries where those without degrees or passports from native English speaking countries can also find great opportunities. Essentially, for a typical recent college graduate with a TEFL Certification, it’s not a matter of whether you will find “a” job, but which job in which country do you want?

Want to learn more about opportunities to teach overseas from a U of A participant? 
Come join our study abroad graduate assistant, Annie, talk about her experience in Spain at one of these meetings: 

Friday Oct. 28th, 2016 @12pm-1pm in MAIN 322

Wednesday Nov. 9th, 2016 @12pm-1pm in GRAD 239

22 October 2016

Horse Races and the Night Noodle Market #HogsAbroad in Australia

During this past week I was able to get all of my assignments finished for Uni so now I am able to relax and prepare for my trip to Bali before exam weeks. Over the weekend I was able to try some new things and go to Coogee Beach, the horse races at Randwick Racecourse, and also try some new types of food at Sydney Night Noodle Markets.
Coogee Beach
Find out more about the U of A Exchange with University of Technology, Sydney at

21 October 2016

Discovering the Daily Life of an Emirati #HogsAbroad in UAE #APIabroad

The United Arab Emirates is a country only 40 years old that has seen rapid economic and social change due to the discovery of oil in its capital Emirate, Abu Dhabi. A once Bedouin society that survived economically on pearl diving has become an economic and tourist powerhouse of the Middle East. The people of the UAE are made up of 20% citizens and 80% expatriates, who came into the country for the enormous job market. 

The Emirati citizens isolate themselves from the rest of society both financially and culturally. Citizens do not pay for taxes or land, they receive the best jobs, and they get a lot of support from the government. Also, they tend to keep their culture to themselves by only socializing with other locals, having large walls around their houses, and marrying amongst each other. I chose to go to the UAE so I could learn about Arab culture and was surprised to discover this isolation. Therefore, I made a goal for myself to have the opportunity to see the inside of an Emirati home.

It wasn’t the second week before I accomplished this goal. My study abroad coordinator in the UAE introduced me to a local that had just gotten out of the English program at my university. He was unlike most Emiratis and immediately included me in his social sphere. I went over to his house, met his family, and became friends with all of his friends. 

It wasn’t a few weeks before I had been in countless Emirati homes and learned so much about their culture. They taught me a lot of new Arabic words, took me to the desert many times, introduced me to lots of new foods, and showed me the life of an Emirati.

My favorite experience from my time here in the UAE was the Youth Entrepreneur Competition in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. My local friend, another American, and I built a 3D printer and created a business at this competition where we printed custom solid 3D designs as well as 3D busts of our costumers. We had high hopes for our idea placing us in the competition but were facing the obstacle of being against 800 other teams of which 80% were Emirati teams. Nevertheless, after 48 hours of manning our booth, we were awarded second place! 

We attended the awards ceremony a few days later where Sheikh Majid, Crown Prince of Dubai, handed us our trophy as well as a large monetary award. It was a proud moment for the other American and I as we were the only non-Emiratis standing on the stage. Experiences like this in the UAE has provided me with many new skills that will help me out greatly in the future.

Alex Moix is a student at the University of Arkansas and a guest contributor to the API Blog. Alex is studying abroad with API in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Find our more about Alex' program with API in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates at

Or find your own study abroad program to accomplish your personal and academic goals at: 

Touring Tuscany: San Gimignano #HogsAbroad in Italy

Some of the “new world” steel tanks used for the wines fermentation process

In the distance, you can see the towers of San Gimignano
Entering San Gimignano
Visiting the Tenuta Torciano Winery, where we got to taste several different wines and enjoyed a tradition 3 course meal
Read more from Braden at
Find out more about Braden's Lorenzo de’ Medici Italian program at
Search for more study abroad opportunities like these in over 50 other countries:

20 October 2016

Catching Happiness in Italy #HogsAbroad in Rome

MyKayla at Villa d'Este
Three months post My Roman Holiday, I’ve returned to my mundane life in the United States. Between football games and rather annoying pop quizzes in my Italian class, I’m occasionally hit with a wave of nostalgia for Italy. Rome was an experience unlike any other. The people, the food, and the city itself seemed to come alive when I stepped off the plane at Fiumicino Airport. 

Or perhaps it was motion sickness from the flight over. The world may never know.

While in Rome, I was able to have many heart-racing and memorable experiences, such as climbing the St. Peter’s Basilica and Florence Cathedral domes. I’m sort of a big deal, if I do say so myself. However, my favorite experience hands down was the trip to Villa d’Este. Villa d’Este is a 16th-century villa located in Tivoli, near Rome. It’s famous for its terraced hillside Italian Renaissance gardens and endless bounty of fountains and ponds.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.

Villa d’Este must obviously be my favorite memory because of the beautiful scenery, with its extravagant fountains, large statues, and pretty flowers.

But, that is not the case.

My favorite memory came when myself and the students with the Rome Center and other faculty-led programs were leaving Tivoli. We had stopped to look out over the horizon while eating gelato because, let’s be real - every landscape in Italy is to die for - when we heard laughter down below. We were overlooking the recess of a local elementary school. The children were laughing and playing, which naturally made me start laughing because happiness is contagious.

Suddenly, the children look up at us and start waving, saying hello in Italian. They were so excited, jumping around and twirling their basketballs as they laughed at our genuine surprise. We had only been in Italy three days, and I had yet to have any interaction with the locals because I was too busy catnapping from the jetlag and stuffing my face with delicious food when I wasn’t sleeping.

When we regained our composure, we mumbled back Ciao! in our thick, American accents with smiles reaching from ear to ear. In that five minutes, I believe I became more embedded in the culture than I ever had the remainder of the trip.

I felt welcomed, which is all any traveler craves when going abroad. Overall, my international experience was the most rewarding experience I have yet to have, and I cannot wait to do it again. What can I say? I’m a study abroad junky!
Check out for more information on the U of A Rome Center.
Or use our search to find your program in Italy or over 40 other countries:
And, if you need help getting started with study abroad, take a look at this:

My #Gilman Scholarship & The Matrix: Dodging Bullets & Achieving the Impossible #HogsAbroad #TBT

Before I get going on the core of this post where I humbly and sincerely give thanks for an amazing scholarship I’ve recently received I’d just like to point out I’ve been able to figure most of this blogging stuff out but honestly I think the most difficult thing is knowing exactly what I want to say about everything going on. But to fill you in on what I mean let me take you on a magic carpet ride about how this whole blog thing got started (cue flashback harp melody):
It was another action packed day in the Mechanical Engineering building where I found myself doing homework in the lobby, you know, explaining how to create universes and stuff, when some good friends stopped by to chit chat. Once again I found myself laughing at their invitations to join their escapade to conquer Italy. I mean I was thrilled that they were going, don’t get me wrong, but it never once had crossed my mind that I could study abroad, see other countries and have dastardly adventures that would later go on to inspire Oscar,  Golden Globe, and MTV award winning flicks. Sounds awesome, no doubt, but nah not in my immediate plans. Thanking them once again for their consideration I finished up my dissertation of a homework assignment. 
       So it should be no surprise the surprise I received about an email about a prized scholarship I would later go on to praise. The email was from none other than Laura Moix, Study Abroad Program Manager and Coordinator at the U of A. Apparently I had a great shot at getting the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship which is a pretty awesome award. That email might as well have been a dragon piercing black arrow going through my skull (source: The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug) because after reading that message all I could think was: “study abroad…..Italy….automotive engineering….sweet….maybe?” But let’s skip to the good stuff. 
       With two weeks or so left before the scholarship and program deadlines I worked my tail off to prepare my application requirements and got them submitted in the nick of time. Few weeks later, open email, “Congratulations…”, freakin out………squealed like a girl, emailed Laura. After getting my t-shirt and souvy cup from Cloud 9 I managed to read the next message from Laura asking me to blog about my Gilman award. I eagerly promised I would and immediately after sending my response I thought “Wait, what?”………Looking back I think I was filled with such gratitude for receiving the award that I woulda said yes to anything.
Do your homework? Heck yeah!  
My debit card? No problem, take it! Here’s the PIN!
A kidney?……..Take bo– OK, maybe not, but point is I kinda stumbled into this blog. Don’t worry though! I promise I’m willingly and gladly writing on this new blog I’ve crafted as I’ll soon share (cue flashback harp melody once again).
And that, Charlie Brown, is how you find yourself a newborn blogger. Now as you might imagine this is the part where I start saying how grateful I am with adjectives like “incredible” and “amazing” and “unbelievable” to describe other words like “opportunity” and “dream” or “adventure”. Mmm. Not quite. Or really what I mean is that that’s not enough because quite frankly I’m still not fully awake to what’s happening. Confused? I wouldn’t be surprised, but let me put it like this: The closer my departure date gets the more I become aware of how grand this small study abroad trip is evolving and how its impact is gripping roots into my life, all the way through to my very personality. Funnily enough I just wanted to go learn about automotive engineering, see some fast cars and kick it with local Italians. My inner nerd jumped headfirst into this so I really couldn’t ask for anything more.

Yet once I knew that this was happening, once I knew there was no going back, when the flight had been scheduled, visa received, and officially admitted as a student in Italy, I was encroached upon by a slow and relentless draft of……numbness. That’s the best word I can find in Webster’s to explain my state at that moment. I was stoked that it was happening but for some reason I wasn’t ecstatic and at the same time I wasn’t really sad about anything. But I need to wrap this up so I can let you get back to your life, and yes I promise I’m going to bring up my Gilman Scholarship and how grateful I am for it (Laura), I just need to set up why ;)

It wasn’t until this Christmas break when I was home visiting the ol’ folks and fambam and friends that I finally got a foot hold on what was swimming around in my head in a conversation with my old man. My father is descended from hawks. He has to be because that man can spot when the tiniest thing is out of place with me. When we were alone he finally asked why I was depressed. Unfortunately his keen insight is equally impaired by a tendency for extremes. I laughed shakily, and reassured him I wasn’t depressed for sure…though at the same time I wasn’t really sure what was goin on with me either.

But after answering a few of his questions it dawned on me. Sweet revelation. There more I talked the more I began to understand and see this study abroad trip for what it actually was. My own words revealed to me that my numbness wasn’t a dissatisfaction with my life or career or family or friends. It was simply a readiness for more. I wasn’t fully comfortable even being home because honestly there was, and has always been, a strongly suppressed ember of desire for something new, something drastically different than everything I’d ever known. Yeah you read that right. Strongly suppressed. You should know why though. I bet anything I own that you’ve felt this suppression before and might even be feeling now and just merely have accepted it.

I came to explain to my father and myself that I couldn’t stand to hear anybody tell someone else that their goals and dreams were too high, unreachable; to hear one person tell another to “be real about it” and keep their feet on the ground. Sure, they’re just “lookin out for you” but those words do more damage than good. Approaching my senior year of engineering, I realized I had allowed myself to be influenced into giving up my own dreams and simply follow the norm. Get a job, make good money, have some kidos, etc. But now that this Italy thing is goin down, I realize I AM NOT READY FOR THAT! Don’t misinterpret what I said though! I would consider myself blessed to reach those things in life, they’re awesome! But…….It’s not what I need right now. So there in my parent’s living room with my father playing psychologist I came to understand that I was Neo from The Matrix.

Like badboy, super cool Neo, I had become aware of a desire for more. That the world I lived in couldn’t possible be the real deal. Was that it? And yes, in case you’re wondering, just like my boy Neo I also have gymnast flexability and can dodge bullets. I say that because I’ve come to understand how rare it is to do what I’m doing. I mean how many people can say not just that they’re traveling the world, no, that’s too small, but that they’re doing exactly what they’ve always wanted to do with their life? That they’re at the threshold of achieving dreams formed when they were a child? With the heart of a child? And I had been so CONFIDENT that nothing my friends said could change my mind about going to Italy…..

Thinking about this made me feel like I had just crossed the Grand Canyon on a tightrope. That’s when I saw the countless number of times I could have fallen off and obliterated my dreams. That’s when I saw all of the dodged bullets of my life and that to reach you’re dream you really do have to bend over backwards to get them, like Neo :)  I know you might be thinking “Well…yeah cool..but Neo got shot”. ‘Course he did. Do you honestly think you won’t fall down a few times trying to reach that prize you’re after? Yeah. Neo got shot but that bullet didn’t kill him, and like he went on to show: if it don’t kill you, it’ll make you stronger. And yes, it’s only the people who are ready to do anything, to face anything, that accept struggle and pain and sacrifice, that can reach their dreams. Only then can you learn to fly……..the super kung fu stuff is optional… ;)

So to the great folks at Gilman International, I would like to say thank you. You undoubtedly have my greatest appreciation that at the moment just keeps growing to unmeasurable heights. Not for helping in funding my study abroad trip with such a generous scholarship, but for waking me up to what I had almost lost. Thank you for helping me fuel that small ember for something more into an internal combustion engine that drives me forward to the things that I need most for myself (excuse the engineering metaphor).

Of course my gratitude also extends to Laura Moix. I’ll always think of the moment I read that email as a moment where my life took a completely different direction. Thanks :)
“You got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin themselves, they wanna tell you YOU can’t do it. You want somethin, go get it. Period”

Read more from Christian at

Find out more about the University of Politecnico Exchange with the College of Engineering at 
About the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program
The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program ( offers grants for U.S. citizen undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies abroad. Such international study is intended to better prepare U.S. students to assume significant roles in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world.


Just Some Thoughts #HogsAbroad in Costa Rica

I think I’m finally getting to the point of adapting to the new country I’m in, rather than just comparing everything to my life in the US. I’m starting to see the good in things, even though this drastic change of life has been quite the adaptation for me.

Living as if the glass is half full rather than half empty really affects a way of life. Yah, they don’t have Chick Fil A here (I’ve been craving it) and yah nothing here is precise or ever on time, but they do have platanos (plantains) and gallo pinto (beans and rice) and they do live life with a much lower stress level than we Americans do.

But wait…I was confronted by a Tico to not call myself an “American” when comparing myself with the Costa Ricans. He went on to explain that they themselves are also Americans; Central Americans. We are North Americans and there are South Americans and Latin Americans too. Whoops, guess that  never really crossed my mind. We come here to their country and refer to ourselves as Americans and as if they aren’t as well. How selfish of us.

Moving on, I am noticing that things are definitely more “chill” here. Lots of stray dogs wander the streets of Costa Rica and it hurts my heart to see them looking for food but still so skinny. Today on my way to school this precious little stray approached me and began licking my leg and jumped up on me to catch my attention and pet her. She proceeded to follow me all the way into my school, and up the stairs, and into my class.

There is actually another stray at my university that the school has basically adopted as their mascot. All of the professors allow Chiwi (that’s his name) to roam freely in and out of all of the classrooms and the cafeteria in search of food and love. We see Chiwi at school almost every day, but today this was a new stray. After she followed me into class the professor said she could stay. I picked her up and she fell asleep on my lap with her head on my desk and slept through the entire class. This would never be allowed back home, but here they were more than welcoming of the sweet stray. It made my day and I wish I could have taken her home with me.

The Ticos are just used to living with less, and they’re content with it. Most don’t have hot water, they hang dry their clothes, and a volcano erupted 30 miles away about 5 days ago and spread so much ash into the air here in Heredia that you could hardly walk outside without ash attacking your eyes and your lungs. But the Ticos just continued on with their lives as usual. They still walked everywhere and school was not cancelled. Their response to everything? “Pura Vida.” The people here just don’t worry about anything like we do, and because of that, everyone almost always has a smile across their face.

I’m working on becoming more like the people here. It’s helping me adapt quicker and my Spanish has already improved drastically. I visited a beautiful graveyard just a few minutes’ walk from my house and took in all of its beauty. The graveyard was spectacular and the backdrop was the mountains. It was a very peaceful place and definitely a hidden gem of Heredia. Tomorrow morning we’re headed to Bocas del Torro, Panama and I can’t wait to add another country to the passport. Catch ya on the other side!
Read more from Rachel at
Find out more about the ISA Heredia, Costa Rica: Business, Spanish Language, Latin American Studies & Courses with Locals program at