Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Pre-Departure Advice… For Myself

Time January 10th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Wales | No Comments by

Hello, and welcome to my little blog of adventures. My name is Alex and I’m a sophomore from Drake University studying abroad in Cardiff, Wales. I leave in two days but that hasn’t really sunk in. I’ve started to say goodbyes, I’ve begun packing, and I’ve also managed to come down with a horrible cold (great timing, too). And although this week feels like every other week, I am about to embark on a journey that will change my life in a profound way that I won’t be able to understand until it has already happened. I think that’s pretty neat.

The past days, weeks, and months have been filled with preparation. But one thing that every student about to go abroad gets lots of is advice. Those who have studied abroad before you will tell you about how incredible their experience was, what you should do when you’re abroad, and of course where you MUST visit. I love hearing what everyone has to say about traveling—I’m a sponge when it comes to taking in travelling tips and knowledge. But I also want to go into this experience with my own goals and some pieces of advice for myself. So here is what I have to say to the future me that’s about to board a plane into five months of uncertainty and excitement:

It’s okay to cry at the airport when you leave your family, just for the love of God make sure you’re wearing waterproof mascara.

Be frugal and wise with budgeting but don’t freak out about money the whole time. It’ll work out just fine.

Take that trip to Greece that you keep saying you will. You packed that swimsuit for something and it’s not just to take up space in your suitcase.

Drink good wine. Eat good cheese. And bread. And pasta.

Try weird local foods that you probably won’t love but it’s all about the experience amiright?

Do something crazy like bungee jumping or cliff jumping, just don’t tell your parents until after you’ve done it and survived (sorry mom and dad).

Speaking of mom and dad, give them a call every once in a while to make sure they know you’re alive.

Buy little souvenirs for yourself and loved ones.

Visit friends who are abroad in different countries, even if you only get the chance to meet up for lunch.

Take pictures. You suck at this. You brought a camera for a reason. USE IT.

Write down things in a journal because no matter how memorable an experience feels, details will become blurry once you’ve been traveling for five months.

Make friends with people from other countries!

And finally, have a blast because you’re only 20 years old in Europe once ya crazy kid.

This post marks the very beginning of a life changing, comfort-zone pushing, and challenging experience. I have no idea what my life is going to look like in a few days–your guess is probably just as good as mine. I hope you stick around to see how it all plays out, it should be an interesting few months!


Leaving Long Island

Time July 11th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

Leaving Long Island1

Leaving for college each year has never been easy, but usually it just means a three and a half hour train ride to good ol’ Lancaster, PA. This time it’s a bit different. Choosing to study abroad was something I always knew I wanted to do. It was just a question of where and when. However, I don’t think the impact of that decision will truly hit me until I get off the plane in Sydney, or maybe even when I land back in New York months from now. Over the past few days through the frantic shopping for last minute items, the packing, and the last goodbyes to friends and family, people have been asking me if I’m scared to go. Of course I’m scared, in fact I’m terrified, but I’ve also never been more excited.

Choosing to study abroad was something I always knew I wanted to do. I think what’s become the most difficult reality to face is that it’s actually happening. It’s fun to fantasize about the places you’ll go or the kind of program you’ll choose. It’s thrilling to see other people’s pictures of Facebook or Instagram of their own adventures, but only today it’s truly hit me that soon I’ll be the one doing that. Soon enough it won’t be a fantasy any longer and I can only take the sudden queasiness in my stomach when I say those words as a good sign. It’s good to be nervous. Anyone who wouldn’t be afraid to travel across the world for the first time would be insane as much as I would like to believe that I’ll keep my cool. I’ll have moments of doubt, moments of homesickness, and moments of loneliness, but I’ll also have moments of wonder, moments of joy, and moments that will last me a lifetime. I think accepting that all these emotions are valid and inevitable are an important step in seeing that fantasy I’ve pictured in my head become a reality in front of my eyes.

Leaving Long Island3

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’ll miss you Long Island. Probably more so than when I leave for Franklin and Marshall each semester. I won’t be leaving my home and family to see my close friends or the campus I’ve come to love. Instead I’ll be leaving you in all your summertime glory to go somewhere entirely new. Perhaps this place won’t have your great bagels or the convenience of having a Whole Foods every 5 miles, but it will have adventure and things I’ve never seen before. It will have people to meet and places to see, and believe me I will see it all just so when I come back I can tell you all about it. I was scared to go to F&M at first. Part of me wished more than anything that I decided to go to a college closer to home, but now I couldn’t imagine my life without the people I’ve met there (truly the greatest people in the world) or the home I found in its buildings. I leave you Long Island with the hope that I’ll find the part of you, that I found in F&M, a home. See you in Sydney!

Leaving Long Island2


Leavin’ on a Jet Plane…

Time February 21st, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Don’t know when I’ll come back again.  Hi all, and thanks again for tuning in.  I’m writing this post today because the time for my departure is almost upon me, and I wanted to update y’all on my travel plans, and talk a little bit about my host family.  Tomorrow, I’m going to board a plane from Denver that takes me to Atlanta, and then from Atlanta I have my 12 hour flight (8 AM to 8 PM) with the majority of my IFSA-Butler Study Abroad group to Buenos Aires.  From there, we are whisked off into the 2nd largest city in the Southern Hemisphere for a few days of a orientation, introductions to our host families, and registration for our classes (as well as much more, I’m sure).

And speaking of host families, my new folks seem absolutely wonderful.  I will be living with a family of four in a lovely house in a nice suburb of Buenos Aires called Almagro.  My host father, Javier Carroll, works for the Department of Justice, and my host mother works for the hospital as a hematology technician.  I also have TWO younger brothers named Julian and Martín, who are both high-schoolers and look like super fun guys.  After growing up with a younger brother my whole life, I can’t wait for more of that experience.  Bottom line; I can’t wait to meet my new family, and I’ll post pictures of all of them as soon as I am able.

My life is about to change in so many ways, and while I’m a little apprehensive, I’m mostly stoked.  After spending my whole life living in some variety of a small town, I can’t wait for some big city life.  Wish me luck, and I’ll for sure send out an update once I land in beautiful Buenos Aires.  Until then, enjoy some quality old school rap.