Posts Tagged ‘Study Abroad’

From New York to…Stockholm

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

It’s hard not to feel fed up in a city. Your apartment has roaches the size of rats, you step in a mysterious liquid almost every day, and the F train is late again. Worst of all, people seem to be everywhere when you don’t want to be near them, but nowhere when you need them. The isolation is a lot to handle.

New York’s not the only city in the world that can make you feel isolated. Stockholm, in its cold, distant beauty is also like this in that it can be a fairly lonely city, even after you’ve lived there for a while.

But maybe isolation isn’t such a bad thing—think of it as solitude instead. For one, you have friends, but you just don’t want to be around them at the moment and that’s okay. Everyone feels this way at one point or another in New York and in Stockholm and here are a few ways to spend your time in solitude to get you loving your city again:

https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/

https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/

https://c1.staticflickr.com/

https://c1.staticflickr.com/

 

Be Productive.

I’m not joking. Without the need to be around friends to distract you, you can get a lot of work done. Though the sight of people isn’t great when you want to be alone, a quiet coffee shop might help you stay focused. In Stockholm, a good place to do this might be in Gamla Stan’s Chokladkoppen, or if you’re not in the mood to deal with the tourists of Gamla Stan, maybe just go to your local Espresso House instead. In New York, finding a quiet coffee shop is can require quite the hike. If you’re up for it, the Little Chair in Two Bridges is worth the journey. Or maybe just stick to a Think Coffee in the Village. Either way, a coffee shop is a great way to be productive and get away from most people you know.

 

Treat Yourself.

Not in the mood to see anyone? Great! This is the perfect time to take a page out of Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle’s book: Treat yourself. New York and Stockholm are both great cities to do so. Need a new work outfit? Treat yourself. Want to dye your hair? Treat yourself. Want that thousand calorie dessert? No one’s there to judge you. Treat. Your. Self. Even so, sometimes you want to treat yourself without breaking the bank and the Campus Clipper has great deals for gelato places like Unico or relaxing spas like the Lilac Spa on 1st Ave. In NYC, when you want to go shopping, you go to 5th Ave. In Stockholm, you go to Södermalm where you can find anything from desserts at Casja Warg to unique clothes at Beyond Retro.

 

Scenic Self-Reflection.

So every time you want to go see something cool outside of Gamla Stan or Soho, your friends are always there to bog you down. Well, now’s the time for your vision journey. It’s time to leave your neighborhood and go see the sights of your beautiful city. In Stockholm, why not take an archipelago tour and see the breathtaking islands that surround Stockholm (bring a jacket) or go to the Moderna Museet and see that exhibition you’ve been wanting to check out? In New York, go up to Inwood and to view the Hudson from the Cloister’s Museum or head to the Brooklyn or Bronx Botanical Gardens. These places are great to take a step back and think while you’re alone.

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View from the Cloisters https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/

View from the Cloisters
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/

 

The archipelago. Taken by Jainita Patel.

The archipelago.
Taken by Jainita Patel.

Do that One Thing You’ve Been Putting Off.

What’s the one thing you’ve wanted to do or have been meaning to do and just never got around to it? Is it nerding out at Science Fiction Bokhandlen in Gamla Stan or wandering the Strand for hours? Is it going to a certain museum or to see a certain site? Is it taking an MMA Bootcamp class at Nimble Fitness (coupon in the Campus Clipper)? Well now’s your shot. Do it.

The Strand. https://i1.wp.com/

The Strand.
https://i1.wp.com/

 

Gamla Stan. Taken by Jainita Patel.

Gamla Stan.
Taken by Jainita Patel.

Cities can be a pain when you’re feeling a little alone, but there’s always a way to embrace it and make the most of the amazing place you live in. Whether it’s Stockholm or New York, being alone sometimes can be beneficial to your mental health and give you a moment to reflect. And who knows? If you like the idea of exploring NYC or Stockholm alone, maybe you’ll get to explore the other city some day as well.

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By Jainita Patel

Jainita is a Campus Clipper publishing intern who is double majoring in English and Environmental Studies at NYU. Though writing fiction and painting are her two main passions, she also has a love of travel and adventure that has taken her across the globe.  Jainita writes under the pseudonym Jordan C. Rider. If you like her posts, you can find more of her work here or follow her on Twitter. For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015. 

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Study Abroad, Get Hired: Virginia Yu, Copenhagen, Denmark

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

It’s hard to argue that there are many benefits to studying abroad, and for MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) graduate, Virginia Yu, it gave her a unique job opportunity as well.

“I’ve always loved traveling and learning about new cultures,” the 22-year-old says.

Yu attended the Danish Institute for Study abroad (DIS) in her spring semester of 2013. The school is located in Copenhagen, Denmark — “The land of LEGOs and awesome architecture!” she quips.

The tuition to study abroad was actually cheaper in Denmark than in Baltimore because Yu didn’t have to pay for extra on-campus fees. Her trip included classes, housing, two study tour trips, transportation in Copenhagen, and food expenses in the form of a prepaid grocery card. Yu also had grants and financial aid from MICA that carried on for her spring semester abroad, including a presidential scholarship and a MICA talent grant.

Virginia Yu smiles for the camera overlooking a typical Denmark scene.

Virginia Yu smiles for the camera overlooking a typical Denmark scene.

“[One way] I saved money was by not eating out and always asking for student discounts when I did eat out,” she says. “Copenhagen offered plenty of them because the majority of people were students.” Education is free in Denmark, so many people there are obtaining their masters. Because of this, many stores and cafes offer student discounts.

Yu ended up staying in Denmark for a total of eight months after she secured an internship with Seidenfaden Design Copenhagen for the summer.

“I felt really fortunate to have that opportunity because it allowed me to have more time in Denmark and to see the country more,” she says. “The best part, of course, was being able to work internationally and to compare the work environment to how things were like back home.”

She said that in Denmark there were better wages, more time off and less pressure — a very different working environment than one would find in Baltimore or New York City.

Brainstorming at work.

Brainstorming at work.

For college students, resume building is everything and having work experience abroad can really help someone stand out from other applicants.

“I gained a worldly knowledge, a chance to see the world, an opportunity to study overseas, which lead to working overseas, and lastly a once in a lifetime experience that I’ll never forget,” Yu says. “It has helped me become the person I am today.

“You learn to redefine what home is and you learn to infuse another culture to call your own.”

And really, isn’t that what studying abroad is all about?

Copenhagen landscape.

Copenhagen landscape.

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You can check out Virginia Yu‘s work at http://missyudesigns.com/

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-Sam Levitz is a graduate of Brooklyn College and went on the CUNY Study Abroad trip to China the summer of 2013. Follow her on Instagram:slevitz

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Why You Should Study Abroad: Leah Zarra, London, UK

Monday, October 27th, 2014

 

Leah Zarra posing in front of a sign for the famous Abbey Road.

Leah Zarra posing in front of a sign for the famous Abbey Road.

 

“I just loved being so independent and being totally immersed in another city,” says Leah Zarra, 22, a Texas native and Drew University graduate.

Zarra participated in a semester-long study abroad program to London through her New Jersey college back in the fall of 2012. “I couldn’t wait to experience another culture,” she says, “even though London isn’t the first to jump to mind when you think ‘foreign’.”

According to Zarra, the full semester trip to London cost the same amount as a regular, on-campus semester. The trip included: tuition, housing in a flat with other people from her college, and a 2-zone Oyster card—similar to a Metrocard, allowing Zarra unlimited access to the Tube (subway) within specified zones.

When it came to financial resources to help fund her trip, Zarra had it covered.

“I had an annual Dean’s award scholarship all through college, so this carried over to my semester abroad,” she explains.

Zarra was able to take classes such as London Literature, British Political Drama, Modern British History and a required colloquium course. She earned 16 credits studying abroad—more credits than she would have earned in one semester staying on campus in the States.

Zarra and her friends riding the Tube.

Zarra and her friends riding the Tube. (Zarra is second from the right.)

When it came to saving money while abroad, Zarra made sure to budget wisely.

“As college students, we all try to be frugal, so we kept our eyes out for free food and events,” she says referring to her study abroad group. “If you’re looking, they’re easy to find. One professor told us about a group of Hare Krishna monks that served free curry every day. Food is a big one to save on.”

When asked if she would recommend her study abroad program to someone else, Zarra responded with a resounding “yes!”

“I learned so much, and not just in the classroom,” she says. “We didn’t just read famous British authors; our professors took us on walking tours around the city to see where Great Expectations took place, [or] where Virginia Woolf walked every day. As cliché as it sounds, I truly found a piece of myself there.”

Sometimes students take out some loans to study abroad and Zarra believes it’s absolutely worth it.

“Go into it with a positive attitude, and appreciate everything you see,” she says. “Make an effort to appreciate the privileges you didn’t realize you had. You will never have another chance like this.”

The famous Big Ben and Westminster Abbey: one of the many pictures Zarra took on her trip.

The famous Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. One of the many photos Zarra took while on her trip.

 

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-Sam Levitz is a graduate of Brooklyn College and went on the CUNY Study Abroad trip to China the summer of 2013. Follow her on Instagram:slevitz

Follow the Campus Clipper on Twitter and Like us on Facebook!

Interested in more deals for students? Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter to get the latest in student discounts and promotions  and follow our Tumblr and Pinterest. For savings on-the-go, download our printable coupon e-book!

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#MakingMemories: How to Document a Study Abroad Trip

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

#tbt (noun) – A hashtag frequently used to brag on social media about past travel adventures.

However, Instagram-ing your “Throwback Thursday” pictures isn’t the only way you can document your study abroad adventures—though it is a popular one.

Journaling is another inexpensive way to preserve your trip memories without breaking the bank. It can be difficult to have the discipline to write in a journal every day, but in doing so you’ll have something to look back on for years to come.

 

The journal that I kept during my study abroad program in China. The cover is decorated with stickers and ticket stubs that I collected during my month-long adventure.

The journal that I kept during my study abroad program in China. The cover is decorated with stickers and ticket stubs that I collected during my month-long adventure.

 

Journaling can be an intimate experience, but for those looking for a more public outlet, social media is the way to go. Many travelers hoping to update friends and family overseas may want to consider creating an Instagram account. It’s free, works through WiFi and is a quick and easy way to document the highlights of your travels.

Some travelers do not understand the need to take frequent photographs, however past study abroad students, like Kimberly Rogers, 21, disagree.

“I am definitely the type of person to take a lot of pictures when I go on a trip,” she says. “People tell me to stop and take in the beauty of wherever I am, [but] I’m gonna want to look back and reminisce.” Rogers recently traveled to China with CUNY Brooklyn College in the summer of 2013. “I can be one of those old grandmas who tell my grandkids to come look at how cool I was [through pictures]!”

Kimberly Rogers holding the scrapbook she made after her study abroad trip to China.

Kimberly Rogers holding the scrapbook she made after her study abroad trip to China.

With more and more advances in technology every year, the amount of photos we can take and store is growing. Many of these photos get mindlessly uploaded to websites like Facebook and Flicker without a second glance, but the more creative you are with your photos the more memorable your trip will be.

Scrapbooking, a widely practiced pastime in the United States, is a useful tool for preserving study abroad memories. Rogers, who frequently used Instagram during her trip to China, also created a scrapbook upon her return home.

“I think it’s really important to document my travels,” she says, displaying her China scrapbook.

Four pages from Rogers' China scrapbook.

Four pages from Rogers’ China scrapbook.

 

The scrapbook that she created contains photographs of her friends, landmarks and other memories of her trip. She bought stickers that went along with the China theme and decorative paper to make the pictures pop.

Some places to go for cheap deals on scrapbooking supplies are stores like Target, Amazing Savings and Michaels.

“I could have just printed out pictures,” Rogers says, “but I wanted to put effort into what I collected and make something I could cherish forever.”

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-Sam Levitz is a graduate of Brooklyn College and went on the CUNY Study Abroad trip to China the summer of 2013. Follow her on Instagram: slevitz

Follow the Campus Clipper on Twitter and Like us on Facebook!

Interested in more deals for students? Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter to get the latest in student discounts and promotions  and follow our Tumblr and Pinterest. For savings on-the-go, download our printable coupon e-book!

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College Savings: How to Haggle Your Way to the Best Souvenirs

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

I have a confession to make. . . . Are you listening? Good. Well, here goes…

I’m a packrat.

I can’t help it. Wherever I go I like to take mementoes with me. My best friend calls me the Souvenir Kleptomaniac. If there’s a free gift or college discounts to be had, I’m there. At restaurants I save the little business cards and menus and circle what I ate. I keep receipts from purchases in other countries just because there’s a different language on them.  I’m a sucker for nostalgia and remembering my trip in every detail possible is important to me. Although people aren’t generally this extreme, the act of bringing home a keepsake is usually one that people follow. The most important thing about souvenir shopping is getting the most for your money without going bankrupt.

As discussed earlier, sometimes it’s hard to pack everything you need in one suitcase. However, make sure you leave some extra space in it so you have room to bring things back.  You don’t want to have to buy an extra piece of luggage to fit everything you want to bring home. Extra luggage means more plane space, means more money out of your pocket.

Be wary of scams.
If you’re going to a country that makes a lot of money off of tourism chances are the people there are waiting for you: and they’re prepared. They want your business and they want you to spend your money on keychains and postcards and bottle openers with funny sayings on them. Don’t feel the need to do your entire souvenir shopping in one day at the same place.

My friend bought a hat from a vendor in China for 25¥ ($5!) that ripped only seconds after purchasing it.

My friend bought a hat from a vendor in China for 25¥ ($5!) that ripped only seconds after purchasing it.

Do not buy souvenirs at the airport.
Those T-shirts that say I HEART [insert country’s name here] aren’t going anywhere. You will see them wherever you go throughout the country, and will probably get a better deal on them in other stores than in the first one you see.

Learn to haggle.
And don’t be ashamed of doing it! The locals want your money, and chances are the initial price they are asking for that miniature sculpture of that famous landmark is a lot higher than they expect you to pay. Haggle with vendors for a better deal. If you are uncomfortable with the asking price—walk away! You’re not obligated to buy anything, and many times walking away will encourage vendors to immediately drop their asking price.

We bought cute panda hats in China that we found a week later for half the price.

We bought cute panda hats in China that we found a week later for half the price.

Save your money for one priceless gift for yourself.
That’s not to say don’t buy yourself anything else the whole trip. However, study abroad trips leave lasting impressions. Having one precious item to take home from your adventure will mean a lot to you in years to come.

 

My favorite purchase of the trip: a Jade necklace. It's very special and something I will treasure forever.

My favorite purchase of the trip: a Jade necklace. It’s very special and something I will treasure forever.

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-Sam Levitz is a graduate of Brooklyn College and went on the CUNY Study Abroad trip to China the summer of 2013. Follow her on Instagram: slevitz

Follow the Campus Clipper on Twitter and Like us on Facebook!

Interested in more deals for students? Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter to get the latest in student discounts and promotions  and follow our Tumblr and Pinterest. For savings on-the-go, download our printable coupon e-book!

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Cultural Cuisine: Eating Your Way Around the World

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Writer and traveler Deborah Cater once said, “You have to taste culture to understand it”—and she wasn’t wrong. When you go to a foreign country and choose to eat only foods you are familiar with then you’re doing yourself a disservice. Traveling is all about trying new things—and food is one of the most important ones. In China, there are so many unique local dishes to try so you shouldn’t let fear of the unknown get in the way of experiencing the country like the locals do.

Sure we’ve all gone to our local Chinese takeout place and have ordered the pork Lo Mein or General Tso Chicken, but if you take the time to explore the country you’ll find non-Americanized Chinese food that’s definitely worth a try.

One of the most popular dishes to try if you find yourself in Beijing is the Peking Duck. This famous dish has been prepared since the imperial era and is served with steamed pancakes and eaten with scallion, cucumber and sweet bean sauce. Traditionally the meat is sliced thin by the cook right in front of you, which is definitely fun to watch. Two of the most notable restaurants are Quanjude and Bianyifang in Beijing, China.

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A chef prepares to carve a Peking Duck.

Peking Duck is traditionally served on a duck shaped plate.

Peking Duck is traditionally served on a duck shaped plate.

 

We all know that Italy is famous for their pasta; but did you know that the world’s oldest known noodles were actually discovered along the Yellow River in China? Dating back to roughly 4000 years BP, noodles have been a staple food in China—and watching hand pulled noodles being made is definitely something to go see if you visit. Hand pulled noodles, or Lamian, is made by stretching and folding the dough into strands. This unique method of making noodles originated in China and dates back to 1504. Lamian literally means pull or stretch, lā, (拉), noodle, miàn (麵) and watching a professional noodle chef pull noodles is a tourist attraction in itself!

The process of preparing hand pulled noodles is so quick that it happens in a blur!

The process of preparing hand pulled noodles is so quick that it happens in a blur!

Whether you’re traveling to China, or any other country, make sure that if you have food allergies you are well prepared. The chefs know what ingredients they use to prepare their food with and a language barrier shouldn’t stop you from being safe. Having a restaurant card is a great way to stay safe, and still be able to enjoy many of the delicious unique foods available. The card clearly states in another language the types of food you are not allowed to eat and your servers and chefs can take it from there.

Gluten-Free restaurant card picture taken from www.chinahighlights.com/

Gluten-Free restaurant card picture taken from www.chinahighlights.com/

Also, take the time to find out if the water is safe to drink in your country of origin. Often times it’s just easier to choose to drink only bottled water for the duration of your stay. You know it’s clean and safe, and you definitely don’t want to get sick while studying abroad!

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-Sam Levitz is a graduate of Brooklyn College and went on the CUNY Study Abroad trip to China the summer of 2013. Follow her on Instagram: slevitz

Follow the Campus Clipper on Twitter and Like us on Facebook!

Interested in more deals for students? Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter to get the latest in student discounts and promotions  and follow our Tumblr and Pinterest. For savings on-the-go, download our printable coupon e-book!

 

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College Savings and Saving Space in Your Suitcase: What to Pack When Studying Abroad

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

When I fantasize about traveling it’s always the same: one neatly packed backpack with just the essentials. Unfortunately, I am not a light packer and so this is never the case. When it comes to studying abroad you want to make sure you’re properly prepared for whatever you may encounter on your trip. It’s never a good idea to assume that a foreign country has exactly what you’re looking for. Try to find college discounts for certain items before your trip and you can save yourself a lot of trouble once you’re there. So what if you’re labeled the “mom” of your trip? Being prepared is never a bad thing—and chances are your new friends will thank you.

Before your trip it’s important to at least attempt to learn the language of the country, or at least learn some key phrases. Rosetta Stone is a great option, but for those of us on a budget there are free smartphone apps readily available. Mindsnacks is a really helpful app I found before my trip to China that allowed me to start learning the language through a series of fun interactive games. If you upgrade to the full version for $5, you’ll get access to 1000 words and phrases, 9 unique games, and 50 lessons to master. This app is available in many different languages and the upgrade is definitely worth the money!

Mindsnacks is a free app that can be used to learn new languages.

Mindsnacks is a free app that can be used to learn new languages.

Do some research about the weather you’ll experience during the months you’ll be there and pack your clothes accordingly. You don’t want to be the one wearing sweaters in the heat or shorts in the snow. Make sure you have a solid stock of any medicines or vitamins you may take every day. Regular toiletries are an essential and it’s always handy to buy Tide-To-Go, packets of Downy or any other fabric soap just in case you need to do a wash at a moment’s notice.

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Sometimes laundry gets expensive in a foreign country.

 

Check to see what banks are available in the country you’re going to. Many countries often have branches that are linked with Bank of America so if you don’t have an account, open one up. It’s free and you won’t have to pay fees every time you grab some cash from the ATMs. The China Construction Bank, found all over China, doesn’t charge any fees as long as you have a BoA card. You can easily close your BoA account once returning to America.

Other important items are charger adapters for your specific country of origin. The outlets in America are not the same in every country and you do not want to be that person with the hair straightener exploding in your hair!

Also, to stay in touch with family and friends during your trip, set up a Gmail, Skype, Viber, and Whatsapp accounts. These are free ways to connect with your loved ones through email, phone calls, video and text messaging all through WiFi. You don’t want mom to get a $356 dollar phone bill because you accidentally used your data while roaming, do you?

My group connects to the WiFi in our hotel in Hong Kong and immediately engross themselves in social media.

My group connects to the WiFi in our hotel in Hong Kong and immediately engross themselves in social media.

-Sam Levitz is a graduate of Brooklyn College and went on the CUNY Study Abroad trip to China the summer of 2013. Follow her on Instagram: slevitz

Follow the Campus Clipper on Twitter and Like us on Facebook!

Interested in more deals for students? Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter to get the latest in student discounts and promotions  and follow our Tumblr and Pinterest. For savings on-the-go, download our printable coupon e-book!

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College Savings: How to Afford a Study Abroad Trip as a Broke College Student

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Whether my friends ask me if I want to go to the movies or out for an expensive meal, my answer is always the same: “I’m a college student.” This is the universally known phrase meaning, “I’d love to, but I can’t. I’m broke.” College expenses can really weigh down on my desire to have a social life. Between tuition, books, Metrocard fare, and food, there’s really no wiggle room for anything extra and I’m always trying to find college discounts wherever I go. When I learned about study abroad options through CUNY, my friends asked me where I wanted to go. “China,” I replied smiling. “But I’m a college student.”

Eating a bowl of noodles in Nanjing, China that cost 7¥ (yuan): less than $1.50!

Eating a bowl of noodles in Nanjing, China that cost 7¥ (yuan): less than $1.50!

Studying abroad, although costly, is not necessarily as impossible as one might think for the ‘poor’ college student—and it certainly has its perks. One way to help pay for your study abroad trip is to get scholarship money. Just like when you were applying for college, scholarships are diverse, obscure and available to a multitude of people. You just need to be willing to look for them. One great place to start is CEA Scholarships, which are scholarships specifically for students who want to study abroad. There are multiple merit based scholarships available and also financial need based scholarships.

Often times when applying for these scholarships you are required to write a personal essay. In order to get the money you need to make yourself stand out. Write several different essays, share them with your writing major friends, revise, and edit. The more work you put into your essay, the better chance you’ll have at getting that money. Other scholarships to look into for studying abroad are the SIROCS scholarship and the SASA Travel Abroad Scholarship.

You never know when you're going to stumble upon some interesting souvenir like a Communist Obama Tshirt!

You never know when you’re going to stumble upon some interesting souvenir like a Communist Obama Tshirt!

Don’t be afraid to go and contact the financial aid office at your college. Even if you don’t think you qualify for financial aid, go anyway. Sometimes the financial aid rules and regulations differ for certain study abroad programs and it never hurts to ask! Taking out student loans might also be a viable option to look into. Loans are a really great way to give yourself some time to save up your money after you take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Start saving up now! Even if you get fully covered by scholarships or financial aid, there’s still the matter of having spending money in a foreign country. Whether you want to buy a cheap bowl of noodles, or a memorable souvenir, you’re going to end up wanting to spend some cash on your trip. In Shenzhen, China I came across an amusement park called Windows of the World. I was definitely glad that I had some cash to pay for the admission. Get a part time job while you wait for the start of your program and put that cash aside. You’ll be happy you did once you get to your new temporary home. You want to be able to take care of yourself while you’re away and have some fun too!

 

 

My friends on the train ride at Windows of the World in Shenzhen, China.

My friends on the train ride at Windows of the World in Shenzhen, China.

-Sam Levitz is a graduate of Brooklyn College and went on the CUNY Study Abroad trip to China the summer of 2013. Follow her on Instagram: slevitz

Follow the Campus Clipper on Twitter and Like us on Facebook!

Interested in more deals for students? Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter to get the latest in student discounts and promotions  and follow our Tumblr and Pinterest. For savings on-the-go, download our printable coupon e-book!

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College Savings Experience by Studying Abroad

Saturday, September 13th, 2014
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Photo op with some monks my friends and I met on the Great Wall of China.

I like chicken soup. Wǒ xǐhuān jītāng.

It’s probably one of the only phrases I learned to say correctly in Mandarin while studying abroad in China and it still makes me laugh one year later.

No matter what college you go to, even if it’s only a few psychology courses online, everyone should go on a study abroad program at least once in their lifetime. Study abroad is a rite of passage and the college discounts you get is worth the experience. It’s the ability to say that during your young adult life you did something different and learned about a new place. It doesn’t matter what you do or where you go. What’s important is that you get out, see the world, and learn about a country that isn’t America.

One of the best benefits of studying abroad is that your early 20s is the best time to travel. Besides school, and maybe a part-time job, you don’t have that many obligations. Once you’re working the 9-5 grind you’ll find it’s extremely difficult to snag any vacation days right away. Studying abroad provides you with a way to get college credits without sitting in a classroom for an entire semester. Study abroad programs usually offer a variety of courses that range from common core classes to specific credits that can be used towards your major.

Studying abroad through your school is a great way to make friends that will be there after the trip. Most of the people that go on study abroad trips go to the same school. It’s very easy to form close friendships in a short amount of time on these trips. Walking across campus and seeing a familiar face is always a nice surprise in the middle of a hectic day.

 

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New friendships only grow stronger after hours of hiking the Yellow Mountain (Mt. Huangshan) in the southern Anhui province in eastern China.

People don’t just travel because of the boredom from living in the same place. People travel because they thirst to see something new. It’s one thing to see a picture of a famous landmark; it’s quite another to actually see that landmark with your own eyes. Ask anyone that’s ever traveled anywhere, or ask anyone with a smartphone camera; no photo or Instagram filter can truly ever beat the real thing. When you go home and change your profile picture on Facebook to a picture of yourself standing on the Great Wall of China—that’s something to brag about.

To learn about a culture that is foreign from your own is a truly important experience. There are so many different cultures in the world that it is impossible to count. To go through life ignorant of the world around you is a foolish mistake. Hear a different language slide past your lips. Eat a food that you can’t identify. Engross yourself in a way of living that you’ve never experienced.

A study abroad trip is more than just a trip. It’s a chance to take an adventure, fill a scrapbook with memories, and tell stories to your loved ones that will last a lifetime.

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Group picture of the 2013 Summer CUNY China trip in front of the Monk Xuanzang statue in Xi’an, China.

-Sam Levitz is a graduate of Brooklyn College and went on the CUNY Study Abroad trip to China the summer of 2013. Follow her on Instagram: slevitz

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Pushing Boundaries: How Traveling and Studying Abroad Have Changed My Life and Shaped My Career Path, and Why You Should Do It Too

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

At only 21 years old, I am no Confucius. I cannot give you sound and scientific advice that, if followed, will give you guaranteed success and happiness and all the things you’ve ever dreamed possible. I do not know everything; I don’t have all the answers. What I DO have is my own experience. One of my favorite lines from a book came from Arthur Japin’s In Lucia’s Eyes that reads, “The world is full of people who spend their entire lives seeking the miracle of love without ever seeing it. It’s actually very simple and self-evident, except to those who seek it. One need only have a different way of seeing things. That is not something you can teach people. All you can do is tell your story.”

Whether or not you’re looking for love, let that last sentence resonate with you. All you can do is tell your story. This is my story.

Me:

My mother was born and raised in Brazil and moved to the U.S. when she found her future husband who worked in San Francisco at the time. This man, my father, lived in the U.S. for several years already, but actually grew up in San Jose, Costa Rica.  Call them star-crossed lovers or whatever you wish, these two foreigners set out to make a new future in a new country for their new daughter, me!

 

Growing up, it was just my parents and me. No siblings, no relatives nearby, no pets other than the occasional goldfish won at a carnival with a lifespan average of two days.  I spent most of my breaks from school traveling, either to Costa Rica or Brazil, to see family and connect with cousins and friends my age, keeping up with both Portuguese and Spanish.

The language was never a barrier to me when I was in another country, but became an issue when I returned to the U.S. and had already started school. I would meet with friends and sometimes be unable to realize that I wasn’t speaking English with them because I was so used to being understood in another language.

In addition to traveling to see relatives, I was fortunate enough to have such hard-working parents who always wanted me to see the world, as was their goal for themselves.  We travelled to many places in Europe before I finished the 8th grade, even at which point it was very clear to me that studying abroad would be in my future, no question.

Before starting high school I KNEW I would be gone for sophomore year – I researched study abroad programs and took advantage of them.  Initially I wanted to go to countries like Italy or Spain, but I wound up finding a full-ride scholarship opportunity (sponsored by U.S. Congress and German Parliament) to study in Germany, so I applied. As I moved further through the selection process, it became surreal how competitive this was: out of 2500 applicants, only 50 would receive scholarships.

In April 2006, I learned I had received the scholarship. I turned 15 the next month and three months later was off to live in Germany for a year: no family, no friends, and didn’t  know a word of German. I was the youngest of all the recipients, and after 11 months I was fluent in German.

Before beginning my time at a University, it was clear to me I would study abroad again. I would have applied for the program right away if it weren’t for the window allowed for it by the study abroad office. I was the first to submit an application for that as well, and in the fall of 2010, I had one of the BEST semesters of my life in Bern, Switzerland. If I hadn’t graduated early, I would have studied abroad again.

I’ve now relocated from Arizona to New York and am pursuing a career here while considering my options for a Master’s abroad – perhaps Switzerland again.  I’ve even recently been asked to work with a European magazine for some press releases. My passion is traveling and connecting with people who have experienced this and exchanging cultures.  All the traveling and studying abroad I’ve done have brought me here and told me where I’m going.  You CAN and SHOULD do it too, and even if traveling isn’t something you want for your career, experiencing it now while you’re young is priceless and will teach you so much about yourself and the world.

 

Where to look for study abroad programs:

  1. Consult with your school’s study abroad offices: I realize these offices are becoming smaller and smaller in the U.S., but these guys know what they’re talking about. Ask which kinds of programs are available to you – some may have year standing or GPA requirements. Maybe there’s a specific kind of program you’re searching for – my school offered programs in which you travel with a group of students from the University while learning abroad. My school also offered a program where you didn’t pay a study abroad fee, just the same tuition you were paying while attending the school, which is how I was able to study abroad. Many study abroad offices even have information on scholarships. There are plenty of options; inform yourself!
  2. Check other programs: This gets tricky and is where fees come into play, sky-rocketing the price of your study abroad experience. My scholarship study abroad program was limited to high school students, but there are other groups out there! Check out: ciee.org or studyabroad.com.
  3. Maybe you’re interested in the experience of it but don’t want to be studying: Check out things like aupair-world.net where you can be a live-in nanny, earn some money, have a host family that could help teach you more about the culture, and be immersed in your new surroundings. You could take a semester off to do it, do it in the summer, or make time for it after you graduate. Another post-graduate option could be The Peace Corps.
  4. Degrees and Internships Abroad: These are other ways you can be productive in a new place. You can research schools in the areas you’re most interested in and see their guidelines for international students. My advice for those looking to study in Europe would be to check out bachelorsportal.eu OR mastersportal.eu where you can define your search based on degree subject, country, or tuition and GET THIS: tuition prices elsewhere could be as little as 4% what you’re paying now. What about textbook fees? That’s all an American scam so you can say “bye-bye” to that! As for internships, try goabroad.com/intern-abroad or ask at your school’s study abroad office.  HEADS UP: this internship opportunity in China was just tweeted via @InternQueen that may be worthwhile: http://www.crccasia.com/?utm_source=InternQueen&utm_medium=Eblast&utm_campaign=October

5. If all else fails and you just want to travel abroad but want to do it sooner rather than later (excellent choice), check out statravel.com for good deals on flights and hotel information – those prices keep going up these days so it’s good to know of a place that’s dedicated to finding competitive rates. I’d also recommend kayak.com, which is where I found an affordable flight to NYC.

Why:

Even if traveling doesn’t give you insatiable wanderlust as it has to me, at the very least you’ll         broaden your horizons, learn something new and take these experiences with you in your next job interview, which could make all the difference. I encourage you to try something new, to not be afraid, and to learn a new language – there’s no better way than immersion! At the risk of sounding cliché, the world is truly your oyster so go out and open it!

 

 

 

 

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Posted by Lauren A Ramires. Follow her blog, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (username: laurenaramires) for more lifestyle and inspiration posts.

If you’re interested in learning more of the experiences of a Peace Corps Volunteer, check out this blog for stories on the daily happenings of a PCV and things you could expect.

 

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