Making the Most of Your Short Time Abroad

By: Katie

I’ve had the opportunity to participate in two of UMD’s short term study abroad programs during my time here: one for a month in Salamanca, Spain, and the other for 2 weeks in various cities in Italy. Both of these experiences were the most incredible of my life, but there was one major downside to both: I didn’t have nearly enough time.

Short term programs are great for many reasons, but they don’t leave you with much time to participate in all the things that add richness to the experience. However, there are ways to fully immerse yourself in the culture and get the most you possibly can out of your study abroad experience, even in such a short period of time.

Venice
Venice

Use Local Transportation

Walk. Walk everywhere. Many cities outside of the U.S. (in Europe, at least) are made to be much more walkable than they are here, and people certainly take advantage of that. Walking around allows you to experience the city the way locals do, and you get to see things you wouldn’t see if you traveled by car or other means of transportation.
While I do think walking is the best way to get around, checking out the public transportation system the city offers can also be fun. Just make sure to watch out for pickpockets…and don’t put anything valuable in your back pockets or a bag that rests behind you!

Explore & Get Lost

There really is no substitute for experiencing foreign cities as they light up after the sun sets. You can walk around and see where people are hanging out or find something to eat. While you’re wandering during the day, check out the different shops around the city. And I don’t mean just the tacky tourist-y shops – go into the stores the people who live there visit, and see what interesting things you can find. For example, the way they weigh and buy fruit is different in Spain than it is here. Even something as small as that adds to your experience.

Florence
Florence

Talk to Locals

While this may seem intimidating, particularly when in a country with a different native language, it’s totally worth it. I have so many great memories of conversations (and pictures taken) with the people I met in Italy and Spain. Talk to them about their culture, and tell them about yours. Ask them for recommendations on where to eat, what to do, and what the must-do experiences to have before you leave are. Ask for directions, and do your best to follow them…but always carry a map with you, for when you inevitably get lost. And on that note, make sure you know how to read a map before you leave the States!

Try all the things!

Or at least do as many as you can in two, three, or four weeks. Find out what foods that area of the world/country is known for (Salamanca loves its cured meats, and Italy loves, well, pasta and pizza), and try as many of them as possible. If there are any events or celebrations going on while you’re there, check them out. On our first day in Salamanca, we witnessed the annual Procesión del Corpus Christi. Later, we listened to musicians performing in the plazas. If you have the opportunity to take advantage of similar extra opportunities, definitely do so!

La_Plaza_de_Espana
La Plaza de Espana

 

Journal, take pictures, and make all the memories you can.

One thing I didn’t do much of my first go around but chose to do my second was to journal. I already took a ridiculous amount of pictures, but pictures can’t give you as much detail as a verbal description of what you did and how you felt. I look back on my journal from Italy and it instantly brings back all the memories the pictures are unable to. While it might feel like a bit of a chore at the time, you’ll appreciate it later as the memories begin to fade.

Most importantly…

The main piece of advice I can give you is if you’re thinking of studying abroad, do it, and if you’re not thinking of studying abroad, think about it. No one ever regrets studying abroad, but they do regret not doing it. It’s scary to venture outside of your comfort zone, but if you do, studying abroad will certainly be one of the most incredible experiences of your life.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Katie’s other posts

All photos taken by Katie on her travels.

Having Abroad Experience Work for You

Studying, volunteering, working, and traveling abroad can be great experiences to add to your resume and talk about in interviews. Today’s round up of resources focus on just that topic! International experience can help you build skills that employers value. Skills such as problem solving, cross-cultural competency, and interpersonal skills, just to name a few.

Sydney Harbor

If you’ve studied abroad, we highly recommend stopping by our office to talk about how you can incorporate your abroad experiences into your job search materials. Here are a few resources just to get you started.

General Resources

Photo Source

Study Abroad: Common Misconceptions

By: Zach

When it comes to even the thought of studying abroad, there seem to be some students who get deterred from the idea because of a variety of different factors. Getting the opportunity to go global is not only highly beneficial to your career and personal self, but there is only a limited window in your life where you will have the opportunity to spend a long period of time in a different country. For this short post, I want to break away a bit from our normal career focused material, and share more about the believed barriers to studying abroad. My goal is that the information I pass along about study abroad comes full circle. This is an opportunity that platforms you for success after graduation and creates a invaluable connection to personal career aspirations. So let’s get to it then. The real question is, “why are more students not taking advantage of study abroad during their time at UMD?” It is the University of Minnesota’s goal to have at least 50% of students take a global experience before they graduate and only 3% of UMD student do! So why is that? I want to address and explore the three main concerns I have heard from students about why they decide not to study abroad.

Abroad Misconceptions

I can’t afford to study abroad…

Indeed, the cost of one study abroad program may vary from another, yet you may surprisingly find that there are some programs that are less of a cost than a semester at UMD! No matter where you choose to go, the biggest financial factor to take into account is cost of living. Places in Europe may prove to be a bit more expensive when buying your loaf of bread at the store verses places in South America. The main thing to remember when planning your study abroad experience is that if you currently have financial aid, it is possible to have this aid rollover to the program tuition fee. Not only that, but UMD alone awards around $90,000 each year in scholarships to students studying abroad! There are many penny saving plans that will help you reach your study abroad destination, but the key to success is to do your research and develop a budget.

Classes I need won’t transfer…

While students with history, political science, language, and arts majors may find it easier to transfer classes taken overseas, that does not mean you won’t find classes for your criminology, health education, or even anthropology major. When it comes to planning your study abroad experience, it is important for you to do a bit of digging and research on what universities or programs will have classes you could take to stay on course for graduation. Remember that universities overseas also have majors and fields of study, and they also have classes to focus their studies around. After you have narrowed down a few locations, take a look at which universities offer classes you may need. At the end of the day, remember that the point of studying abroad is to think outside of the box and explore other interests that you may have never thought of before. Fill those upper division liberal education classes you still need in the history or arts. I took an Architecture of London course and took field trips to buildings across the city throughout the semester in England. I can say with certainty that this is not offered at UMD. Take a look at what UMD students have already taken while studying abroad and have gotten credit for. Just like before, it will take a bit of searching to find the best programs to fit your major, but ultimately, I promise there is a program that fits for you.

It’s too late for me to study abroad

Anytime between sophomore and junior year is the time to take advantage of a global program, however, don’t write yourself off even as a senior. There are plenty of opportunities as an upper division student not only to study abroad, but even international internships, volunteer work, and UROPs as well. When it comes to the application deadline, normally you will apply mid-way through the semester in advance of the one you want to be away. And if you procrastinate every once and awhile, like me, this still gives you a good amount of time to get all your ducks in a row before you leave. If a full semester over seas is just not for you, or you truly can’t find any options that allow for a clean transfer of classes, look into the UMD short-term programs that can take you around the world over a winter break or summer break, as there are plenty to choose from. Now there should be no excuse for you too say its too late. It’s as easy as landing your finger on the globe and packing!

All-in-all, I hope my short blurbs on studying abroad continue to interest you and provide great insights, as I truly want every student to have the same experience I had. The goal is to travel, learn, and grow. Push yourself out of your comfort zone every once and awhile, and I guarantee you will be happy you did so. Taking advantage of an opportunity like such is not only beneficial to skill development and career advancement, but it is an experience of a lifetime that provides priceless personal growth. During your time at UMD, take advantage of a resource you may never be able to use after graduation and study abroad!

Of Possible Interest:

Until next time,  Zach

Read Zach’s other posts

Don’t Get Stuck: A College Student’s Guide, Part 2

By: Glen

A fear that many people have is being stuck with a “dead-end” job. This is why more and more people are attending college. The expectations of today are that people need a college degree (or more) to get the job they want. Unfortunately, running off to college and getting a degree is not the cure-all to avoid being stuck. If this is true, what is the answer? This is the second in a series of posts to help give some ideas for what to do while at college to give you an advantage in the world.

Don't get stuck

Explore The Unknown

My first post in this series discussed joining student organizations. Besides building resumes, joining an organization also aids in the networking aspect of advancement. When trying to brainstorm organizations to join, try to think outside the box. It is nice to be involved in at least one organization that is something you know you enjoy; however, college is a great time to try and expand your horizons, and learn some new skills. For some people, trying new things is easy. Whether it comes easy or not, continuing to grow as a human being is important to not getting stuck. I brought up student organizations again, because there are definitely chances to reach out and learn new skills in different student groups. If you see something that might interest you, but you are unsure about, try it out!

There are many more things to try in college; you never know when you will find something meaningful.

Here is a short list of things to try:

  • Study Abroad
  • Take a class for fun
  • Run for a leadership position in a club
  • Make friends with people from different cultures
  • Join those friends’ cultural organizations!
  • Become involved in a professor’s work (research or performance)
  • Apply for work just because it sounds fun

“Some of those ideas do not seem like things that can get me a job…” That statement is correct, in a small sense. A lot of these experiences will not lead directly to a full-time job out of college; however, they will help you develop your transferable skill set. Study abroad can help you gain the confidence to try new things, and be open minded. Taking a class for fun will aid you in your knowledge base, which never hurts. Holding a club leadership position puts responsibility on your shoulders, strengthening your leadership skills. Making friends with people from different cultures will open your world, in a similar way Study Abroad does, especially if you become active in their cultural activities. Becoming involved in a professor’s work can give you real-world experience, and a professional colleague. Applying for jobs that sound interesting can aid you in finding what in the world you want to do with your life!

I will end this post in the same manner I ended my first one: if you don’t want to get stuck, don’t sit still. Be proactive. Expand your horizons. All of those clichés are applicable. Whatever you do: don’t do nothing.

Read Glen’s other posts

Choosing a Study Abroad Program that is Right for You

By: Zach

So you are thinking of studying abroad? Well, you are in the right place! Is this true, or did I just catch you off guard? Well it’s too late now, and you have successfully been sucked into reading my blog post for today! (Attention-getters work just amazingly, don’t they?) Anyway, today I am going to talk a bit about studying abroad and finding the right place and program to best fit you.

First and foremost, it is always important to mention what a significant impact studying abroad has on a resume! It shows your passion for learning and development, illustrates that you are personable and welcoming of new people and cultures, and above all, demonstrates your independence and personal confidence. After being selected as the hiring candidate for a marketing internship this past summer, I can tell you first hand that the experience I had overseas put me above and beyond the competition.

Choosing Study Abroad

If studying abroad is on your agenda during your time at UMD, what things do you need to think about in order to find the program that best fits you? Let’s take a look…

Meeting Your Needs

It seems pretty simple, but you would be surprised how often this can get overlooked. When I talk about “meeting your needs” I mean making sure that you are taking courses or doing internships that keep you on track to graduate on time or help to develop professional skills. If you are thinking about going for the semester or even year, it will be important to map out the classes you need to complete before graduation. Take note, however, studying abroad provides an amazing opportunity to fulfill liberal education classes that you would otherwise not be able to at UMD! Perhaps you want to take Marine Biology in Australia, Art History in Italy, or Architecture in London. Ultimately, there is no better way to learn, than to do! Most importantly, remember that UMD’s International Education Office has a Course Equivalencies list of all classes that have ever been taken abroad by UMD students. It’s best to cross reference this list when looking for classes abroad.

Italy
Italy

Location, Location, Location

I know what you are thinking… “duh, Zach! The whole point of studying abroad is to travel.” Location is key when planning your study abroad adventure! It’s crazy to think, but I could guarantee that you could put your finger on the globe give it a couple spins and find a study abroad program where you are pointing. I have heard from some UMD students that they decided not to study abroad because UMD does not offer programs they are interested in. Well I am happy to tell you that you do not have to only select from the programs UMD offers! You can select from programs across the nation from the UMTC campus, third party sponsors, other universities, or you could even open enroll in the school or program you are interested in abroad. If you are interested in studying abroad, my suggestion would be to think about the location first. If you have your heart set on a specific location, but UMD does not offer a program there, you may just have to do bit of research and digging to find one that fits you.

That “Just Right” Feeling

I know it’s not right to give open-ended and redundant advice, but this statement is so true! When you have found a program that meets your academic or internship requirements, and you have decided on the location of your dreams, the rest just seems to fall in place. Of course there is some paperwork with applying to programs, but don’t let that deter you! For me personally, I was always excited to fill out paperwork for my study abroad program because it meant I was getting that much closer to going! Overall, once you make that connection between the program and location, there is not much else to determine. Hop on that plane, and get a move on!

When planning you study abroad endeavors, remember to stop by our office at Solon Campus Center 22, as we can help show you ways in which to develop professional skills during your travels. UMD’s International Education Office can help you find programs and classes that will work within your major, as well help you with the application process.

Related articles of interest:

If you ever have any questions about study abroad, feel free to stop by and chat! I look forward to seeing you soon!

Cheers,

– Zach

Read Zach’s other posts

Photo by: eGuide Travel

Learn, Grow, & Achieve: Developing Skills While Abroad

By: Zach

I could easily talk for hours about the semester I spent abroad, and seriously come find me if you want to chat, but ultimately there were key skills that I developed during this experience. Some of these skills will assist me as I seek jobs after college, and others will stay with me for a lifetime. In today’s edition of Peer into you Career, I am going to share with you the skills that I had gained from my experience abroad, and hopefully instill in you the motivation and courage to make an abroad adventure of your own.

Dev Abroad Skills

Personal Growth & Independence

When I had decided to study abroad, my first hope was to have a friend or classmate I knew join me on my study abroad program. I assumed this would make the cultural shock and overall transition much easier when getting to my new home for five months. It ended up being that I did not know anyone that was attending the same program as myself, and this was something that had worried me. Who was I going to connect with, talk about the transition stages with, or even be comfortable sharing my struggles with? Ultimately, what I had quickly learned and realized was that this was an experience that I had done for myself. At the end of the day, I was the one who made the decision to study abroad, and though it was nice to have the support of friends and family, I know that I would be on my own for a while. I soon discovered that this independence can be a scary feeling. All alone, and half-way across the world from your home does not always put the best feeling in your gut. However, this feeling of anxiousness and unexpectedness was also half of the excitement! I had time to focus on myself, reflect on goals, and develop some unique personal skills. Out of all the skills I had developed while abroad, I believe the new found independence I gained was the most valuable and rewarding.

Educational & Career Development

Studying abroad is an amazing resume and cover letter builder, and it also gives you an awesome outlet to talk to employers about the professional skills and experience you gained during your time abroad. Remember that even though class structure may be different than the U.S., it is still very applicable to talk about the team projects and personal assignments you work on in classes. Being able to adjust to this different style and display your success shows that you are adaptable and driven to complete projects to the best of your ability. There are many skills and qualities gained from studying abroad that employers are already seeking out, it is just a matter of how you present that information, and the message you want to convey about it during your interview. This can be a topic that truly sets you apart from the rest of the group, so remember to always highlight your adventures abroad!

Making Lifelong Connections

Now I know this may not sound like much of a skill, but I believe there is some benefit to this. Making connections while spending time abroad is truly what makes the experience a valuable one. Going along with building independence skills, you are also forced to make new connections with individuals from the country you are traveling too, as well as other students that may be studying abroad. Even if you consider yourself to be a bit on the shy side, think about the other students that are studying abroad, just as you are. They are in the same boat, they are going through the same worries, and may have some of the same questions you have. When I landed in England, and I waited for the bus shuttle to my school, I introduced myself to three new students that were also in the same program. To this day, we still talk about the fun times we had, and we are currently working on finding time to meet up, though we are hours apart. For me, relationship building while abroad was important. I knew I would be able to not only meet some of the locals, but also other students that may or may not share some of the same interests as I do. At the end of the day, it is the amazing friendships and connections you make, that make studying abroad a blast!

Hopefully some of this information has persuaded you to at least think about studying abroad at some point during your college career! If you would like to find more information on the benefits of studying abroad, take a look at the International Education Office here on campus, as well as our office, Career & Internship Services in order to learn more! Thank you, and until next time!

Cheers,

– Zach

Read Zach’s other posts

Photo by: Zach

Put Your Travel Bug to Work

I don’t know about anyone else, but I love to travel. It’s an opportunity to explore somewhere different and to learn something new. Today’s round up of articles and resources focus on working and interning abroad as well as how to incorporate your study abroad experience on your resume.

New Zealand
New Zealand

After Study Abroad

Peru
Peru

Work/Intern Abroad

Paris
Paris

Abroad Resources

Photo Sources: New Zealand, Peru, & Paris