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

The Argentine Classroom

Time April 27th, 2017 in 2017 Spring, Argentina | No Comments by

Despite classes starting relatively late in my time here, I have undoubtedly learned plenty both in and outside the classroom. Class registration was last Monday and I finally decided on my schedule; the mandatory IFSA Spanish class, Advanced Spanish and Argentine Culture, another IFSA class, Regional Development (which I love), History of International Relations and Introduction to Sociology (something I’ve always wanted to take in the US) with an environmental focus. Together, I feel like these classes are not only providing me an exciting interdisciplinary semester, but are introducing me to new ideas about Argentina, human rights, international relations, interpersonal relations, a less Westernized view of world history and basically a new perspective on a lot of things I have learned or read about before. Without a doubt, Argentines have a very different worldview (which is pretty varied in itself) than what I have confronted in the US as well as in my home university. With a focus on international studies in college, I find these differences fascinating and it’s really opened the door to perspectives from a country often considered between “developed” and “developing.” In fact one of my History of International Relations classes ended up focusing on the United States’ involvement in global affairs and it was NOTHING like I ever hear in the US. While I agreed with a lot of it, there was also a lot I didn’t agree with or that made me question what I had been thinking my entire life. This led to some fruitful conversation between my Argentine and American classmates (in both Spanish and a little English they were practicing) after class since the Argentine students sought out our opinion. It’s moments like that that really excite me about being able to learn in a culture so different from my own. It’s also perspectives that I am thankful to hear as I continue my studies in international relations where intercultural dialogue and understanding are imperative to efficacy.

Since a lot of you may be wondering what it’s like going to class in Argentine universities, I think I finally have enough experience to share some of my observations. If you choose the Mendoza program, you can choose classes between Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, a giant, beautiful , public renowned college campus located in El Parque General San Martin and Universidad de Congreso, a much smaller private college located in the center of the city. In Argentina, public universities are usually more acclaimed and tuition is free. Most of the IFSA students here take classes in both and there are definitely classes to fit everyone’s interests and needs here. There are even dancing and music classes offered by a smaller offshoot of Universidad de Congreso. I recommend looking at their websites to get a genera idea of what classes are offered. Read More »

Share

How to Choose Your Oxford College

Time November 15th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, England | No Comments by

When I was considering to study abroad at Oxford University, I was surprised to learn that I had to choose and apply to a single college within the university. Although Oxford consists of over forty different colleges, applying through IFSA-Butler does help narrow down the options to seven colleges: Hertford, Lady Margaret Hall, Mansfield, St. Anne’s, St. Catherine’s, St. Edmund, and Worcester. A large portion of my decision was influenced by the information on the IFSA-Butler page describing each college. As a student who double majors in public health and philosophy with a minor in entrepreneurship & management, I recognized that I was not the typical Oxford student. A typical student studies one subject or two closely related subjects, and they have been studying these topics for years even prior to attending Oxford. A key defining feature of St. Catherine’s is that it is a very new Oxford college and also one of the most flexible with regards to tutorials and available subjects. As a student who wanted to take tutorials in philosophy and management (and despite my convincing argument that the two are in fact very related), I figured that such an accommodating atmosphere would be a good fit for me.

 

Now that I have been at Catz for about five weeks, I am completely happy with my decision and I have no regrets. However, once I arrived I realized there are some factors to consider that I completely did not think of during the application process.

  1. Location: I had no idea where Catz was located within Oxford until I arrived. During the application process, I completely did not consider how the location of a college could affect my study abroad experience. St. Catz is located in the very eastern part of Oxford, so my walks to my tutorial, the grocery store, food, city center, pubs, and other colleges are all decently far. On the minimum my walks are about 10-15 minutes while going across the city can near 30 minutes. St. Catz, St. Annes, and especially Lady Margaret Hall are all farther from the central Oxford hub, whereas St. Edmund Hall, Worcester, and Hertford are all much more central. A college’s location is largely influential of the time you need to allot to transportation, the potential need for a bike, your diet, and the accessibility of certain resources. For example, I utilize books in the library much more than I do back in the U.S. (where I usually buy my books for the term), so being closer to the library is actually very important. I know some St. Catz students actually chose Catz because we are very close to the Social Sciences Library and as someone who is studying a social science, it was extremely valuable to be near this resource. I am not saying location should be the most important factor; however, I do recommend looking up the college you’re considering on a map. Doing so will help you conceptualize where you will be located within the Oxford community and establish realistic expectations for how much walking you will be doing over the term.
  2. Physical Buildings: Oxford is a large tourist attraction and people love the beautiful architecture. It is no secret that many scenes of Harry Potter were filmed in Oxford. With that being said, some study abroad students want the “Hogwarts” experience and if that is a priority, then it is important to google the college your considering to see what it looks like. St. Catz was built in 1962 and it has a very modern appearance. It is not important for me to live in a Hogwarts castle; however, I do know that some students were slightly disappointed. It seems like such a simple, intuitive thing to do, but it is important to be honest and reflective about what you want to see when you look out your dorm window.
  3. Size: Colleges vary in size and it really influences the culture and environment of the college. Although the range of undergraduate students at the college does not vary as much as they do in the U.S., it is still something to consider. There is not really any college that is massive; the largest college is Catz with almost 500 undergrad students. The smallest college in terms of undergraduate population (that you can apply to via IFSA-Butler) is Mansfield with just over 200 undergraduates. One of my friends comes from a very large university back in the U.S. and she specifically wanted to experience the small college feel. On the reverse, I liked the fact that Catz is the largest college because I figured that I could continue to meet new people up until my time was up.

Choosing which college to apply to can seem daunting; however, I do not think there is a bad choice. Do your research, try to find people who have studied there and ask them about their experiences, and then make the most of your time once you arrive! On that note, if any of you are considering St. Catz and want to ask me questions about my experience, don’t hesitate to e-mail me: zaya.amgaa@gmail.com

 

Cheers,

Zaya

Share

Casey in Class

Time October 3rd, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Wales | No Comments by

Now that I’ve accomplished what seemed impossible last weekend–enrolling in classes–and have completed my first week of classes, I feel like I’ve had a decent amount of time to compile the list below:

​10 Things to Know About Uni When Studying Abroad in the U.K.:

  1. Courses are called modules. Classes are called lectures. Schedules are called timetables. Semesters are called terms. If the accent doesn’t give away the fact that you’re from the US, using any of these “American English” terms will.
  2. Professors are not called “Professor” until they’ve earned the title, much like how you wouldn’t call a professor who hasn’t gotten their doctorate “Dr. So-and-so.” Lecturers is a more appropriate term.
  3. My lectures have between 30 and 230 students in them, as opposed to back home, where I’ve never been in a class with more than 20 students. I definitely just feel like a number here (except for in the class in which I was called out for “being the American who emailed a lot of questions ahead of time.” I felt more than just a number in that class for sure…).
  4. University (Uni, for short) and college are not the same thing here like they are at home. When people ask what school I go to back home, I feel like I have to explain myself every time I say “Emory & Henry College.”
  5. Students attend Uni for 3 years, not 4. They don’t use freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors as descriptors, but say they are in Year 1, Year 2, or Year 3.
  6. Every lecture is set up the same way. The lecturer stands up in front of the class, opens up a PowerPoint presentation, and begins the lecture, not a second too early and not a second too late.
  7. Lectures are once a week. Not Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Not Tuesdays and Thursdays. Just one day a week.
  8. Lecturers will send/upload the slides for their lectures before the actual lecture, sometimes as far as two weeks in advance apparently. Students are expected to look at the slides beforehand, take notes on the slides, read out of 20 different books, take notes on those, and then show up to lecture just to take more notes, which they should review and rewrite later, combining them with the notes they took before the lecture. When looking at the amount of prep work students do here compared to the amount I do at home, I feel like I’ve been “college-ing” wrong this whole time.
  9. There is no such thing as a liberal arts education. It is completely unheard of to take classes in different schools. Students pick a school (or major) they want to be in and will only take classes in that school. For all of my E&H readers, this means no Transitions, no Foundations, no GWIC, no Connections, no Modes, etc.
  10. There are no pop-quizzes, no quizzes in general, no tests, no mid-terms, no reflection papers, and hardly any coursework. You can wave participation grades goodbye because there aren’t any of those either. Most of the time, each module will have one or two grades total. Whatever those grades are amount to your final grade. In a couple of my classes, I will have one graded written exam–a 2000 word essay–and in others I will have two written exams that will be averaged together. Yikes!

Side-note: I don’t mean to generalize with this list. It is just what I found to be true with my experience. Although some of these things will probably be a little difficult to get used to, I still feel like I am a normal college student, boarding the struggle-bus and fighting the battles of non-essential spending and procrastination.

In the end, my lectures seem like they’re going to be pretty interesting! I’m already super excited about this semester, and it’s only been a week! 10 more weeks to go! Wish me luck!

Want to know more about me? More about my adventure? More in general? Check out my travel blog “Casey in Cardiff” by clicking here or typing the following into your browser: www.caseyincardiff.weebly.com

Share

College and Uni: Going from Liberal Arts to Abroad

Time August 9th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Australia | No Comments by

There’s been a lot of new slang I’ve had to learn since coming to Australia. Usually, everything is shortened and that was the case with the word university. The word college is basically non-existent here and even saying university can be a bit of a stretch. No, the word Aussies prefer is short and sweet when it comes to their schooling: Uni. That’s only the beginning of the differences between small liberal arts colleges in the U.S. and giant universities across Australia. Being in classes for two weeks now, I’ve slowly adapted to the giant lecture style classes and more independent teaching method found here at the University of Adelaide, and hope I can provide some insight for future liberal arts students looking to study abroad.

First off, it has just been plain bizarre even being back in classes when I see my friends posting photos on Facebook hanging out on the beach, going to concerts, and enjoying their summer when I’m off to my 10:00 AM lecture in 50 degree weather. Getting back into the school work grind is a process in itself, but throw in an entirely new university and teaching system and it becomes a whole new journey. The biggest course I was ever in at F&M had about 35 people in it while the biggest lecture I have here in Adelaide has about 150 students. So besides the obvious size difference, what are the big differences in course work, teaching method, and overall university life in Australia versus that in the U.S.? Read More »

Share

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Time April 13th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, Ireland | No Comments by

It’s crazy to think I that it’s already week 11 here at the University of Limerick, I have less than five weeks in Ireland :( . The last few weeks have been filled with fun and excitement, though.  Recently I’ve done a lot of touring throughout Ireland, took a trip to Amsterdam, Netherlands and made some other great memories in and around Limerick. Read More »

Share

Home Again

Time January 29th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

“We are torn between a nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.” – Carson McCullers

So I’ve been back in the US for a while now.

Being back is possibly the strangest feeling in the world. When I first got back I was exhausted. I was so happy to be home to see my family and my friends and celebrate my 21st birthday the American way, celebrate Christmas and New Years with people I love and hadn’t seen in months. And it was especially bittersweet as I had only recently found out that my family would be moving in a few months, so I was trying to soak in every moment in Memphis that I could. It was normal being back, or as normal as going home for the holidays is when you’ve been away at school.

But now that I’ve been back at college for a couple of weeks, I’m realizing just how strange being back is. I don’t exactly know how to explain my experience abroad. I loved traveling, seeing new things, meeting new people, forcing myself to be more confident in my abilities, creating deep friendships in short periods of time. When people ask me, “How was it?” all I can say is, “Amazing, life changing.” I don’t know how else to describe it in a short, conversational way. I don’t want to dominate the conversation with all my tales, which I could easily do with the amount of things I experienced.

A lot of people go abroad at my school and most of us live in a building together, so it’s nice to be able to compare experiences or commiserate, whichever we feel like. But I miss the group I went abroad with. I miss feeling like every moment was a treasure and you couldn’t waste it because you never knew when you’d be in that place, in that moment, again. I miss the feeling of adventure and mystery. And I know that I can travel here, meet new people here, see new places, try new things. But I guess it just doesn’t feel the same. It has inspired me to want to be more involved at my home university in an effort to get that feeling back. And I’m hoping that I won’t miss Ireland, and Europe, and all my friends so much as time goes on.254857_4374867528855_1012273642_n 246497_10152144752640089_301287136_n 281458_10151221655944417_124949117_n 335162_10152144749030089_453677619_o 374028_10151221654114417_1931392003_n 534582_525007824179103_1293993088_n 536548_10151271779475879_46586729_n 32383_10151221676354417_632995287_n.

But for now I just flip through all of the pictures and videos I took of all the beautiful places I visited and all the amazing people I met and hope I can travel again soon, even if it’s just across the country.

Share

just a casual day at UNCuyo….

Time May 7th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Two weeks ago, my friend and I were up at the university, lounging on the grass and admiring the view. Although most of the students here are pretty much used to the Andes in the background, I can’t get enough of the sunset I see while I’m walking to class, the magnificent display of clouds, the peaks of the mountains. Sigh.

Anyways, below are some casual shots of the university.

map of the campus

just some buildings in the distance

the pathway to filosofia y letras

sculpture in front of filosofia y letras

entrance

arts buildings

more stairs!

ciencias politicas




Share

more surprises

Time March 21st, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Today roughly marks the date when I set off for Argentina a month ago. WOW. I remember days before leaving, how extremely nervous I was, and in my anxiety, I was questioning whether I should actually leave home since I wasn’t very confident about my Spanish. I was also worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle homesickness; after all, I’d lived in the Boston area for 10+ years AND Brandeis is only minutes away from my hometown. And yes, I’ve traveled before, but this would be the longest and farthest I’d be away from my family and friends. I kept wondering how I would make it five months. BUT looking back now, I can’t emphasize how extremely relieved I am that I’m here. And while I’m at it, I’ll stress again how Mendoza is the place to be :) It’s essentially the outdoor lover’s dream. The weather is beautiful, palm trees line up the sidewalks, gorgeous parks, inviting flower gardens, and best of all, everything is walking distance! (So far I’m refusing to take the micro/buses until it gets cold. And I’m proud of myself for not needing my map anymore!) With all these things, it’s impossible to feel homesick or stressed out. And that’s another point I want to make (although I think I’ve emphasized it before): I haven’t felt this relaxed in so long. The culture is to live and enjoy life; and so, I’ve been able to shed the stress I’ve always accumulated during the past semesters.

This past weekend was my 21st birthday and St. Patrick’s day, so needless to say, there were celebrations :) The streets were so packed it was hard to find a place to sit down!

On a different note, I went to my first class at UNCuyo yesterday. My friend and I each wrote down the times and names of five classes we wanted to check out before committing to a set schedule. Once we got to the building of the first class, we had to locate the wall that contained information regarding professor names, class hours and locations, and office hours. We were slightly frustrated that the times of all five classes had drastically changed. Furthermore, the classrooms were hard to find (we wondered if there were multiple classrooms with the same number), and I felt more unsure about what my schedule would look like….for example, I wanted to take an art class but every art class is around 16 hours a week. Since I only want to take it for fun and not as an art major, I’m not quite sure I’ll follow through. Anyways, we entered a class about 10 minutes late (oops), and I could immediately sense EVERYONE watching. Which was weird to us, since there was a continuous stream of students coming in the room (AND leaving, darting right past the professor!)! Someone even came an hour and a half late to the class (I wondered why she would bother coming). We tried to blend in with the class and take notes, but it was hard because the professor proceeded to ask us where we were from, and any time US was mentioned in conversation, he pointed toward us. As if we needed more attention….-_-  I thought I imagined the stares, and the curious glances, but my friend confirmed that we actually weren’t. Maybe it’s because we were wearing bright colors. No se.

But I can honestly say that I was relieved. First off, the professor told us he had experience with international students and spoke pretty slowly, so we were able to understand roughly 80% of the lecture. Second, the material was interesting and the other students seemed pretty nice/interested in the class and in us. So I guess it was okay…..but after class, we were told to buy photocopies of the syllabus (programa). Seeing as we had 2 hours until our next class, we went to the photocopier, but the cashier told us there weren’t any syllabi. Confused, we then went to find the professor, and when we couldn’t, we decided to just recover from the class outside, but just as we were about to leave, a Johnny Depp look-a-like professor quickly approached us and INSISTED (VERY STRONGLY) on helping us and wouldn’t leave us alone until he located our professor. So basically, our professor walked us down to the photocopier, reassured us (at least, that’s what it sounded like, at this point I was so exhausted that my brain was refusing to operate at 60mph translating and spitting out Spanish), and directed us to a (very cute) classmate who spoke English and helped us out. It was a long day. 

To be honest, the experience made us miss the school system in the US. Yes, they don’t take attendance here and in a lot of ways it’s easier to get away with things and not to be studious, but in the US, powerpoints would be posted online, all registration and academic information would be easily provided, and everything is very organized. I think I wasn’t expecting myself to have to exert so much energy in finding classes, figuring out my schedule, and operating on my own…..since everything in the US is a lot easier. Don’t get me wrong; I am very capable of acting independently, but it was hard to be independent with no information available, if that makes sense. But complaints aside, I’ve only been to class once, and it can only get better, right?

*Fall is coming to Mendoza! The air is definitely getting slightly chilly, but I’m still loving the weather! I had to keep telling myself it’s FALL, not SPRING, since I’m in the southern hemisphere.

from top to bottom: San Martin Park/acequias, aka “gringo traps”/lake/beautiful sky

Share

My first week in Scotland!!

Time February 7th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

My first week in Scotland has been absolutely amazing!! :) I arrived at Glasgow airport on Thursday afternoon!  :)  I am staying with my grandparents for a week before I start at the University!  First things first though: The plane ride from Seattle, WA to Heathrow, London was about 9 hours (About 3 hours more than I found comfortable lol)!  I flew on British Airways and their food was DELICIOUS!!  😀  At the airport in Heathrow, I ate at a place called “The Giraffe” :)!!  I had a Farmer’s Vegetable Burrito, and a mango strawberry smoothie.  It was amazing food!!  So far, my stay with my grandparents has been amazing :)  I met my half-sisters for the first time and that was very exciting; lovely girls!!  :)  Cannot wait to see them again!  My family took me to see the Robert Burns museum in Ayr….to be honest it was not nearly as exciting as I thought it would be, my grandparents (who live in Ayr), weren’t impressed either lol; at least it was free that day!  :)  Today I went shopping with my Granny for groceries and I was stunned at some of the prices.  I was aware that it was more expensive here, but some items are absolutely ridiculously priced lol.  There were definitely great deals at Asda though; Asda is like a Wal-Mart just not as large.  I bought candies, fruit, and tea :)  YUM!  Lol I also picked out some juices that we do not have in the states!!!  😀  (I am a bit of a juice-fanatic) lol. Yesterday my Granny and I went for a look about town and I love all the little shops!!  Friday(February 3rd), my grandparents drove me to Stirling so I could visit the campus!! The campus is absolutley gorgeous and very easy to navigate! There are swans in the water, you can see the wallace monument from my floor’s kitchen, and you can see Stirling Castle from the campus!  Orientation starts tomorrow (February 8th), in Edinburgh! I can’t wait to meet everyone and to start school!!

Cheers!

Share