100_4142

How to Deal with Homesickness

imageedit_1_7163385983

Hannah Baughman is a CISabroad student studying in London this semester and hails from Emporia State University in Kansas. Read on as she gives you her top tips to avoid homesickness while abroad.


According to dictionary.com, the definition of homesickness is experiencing a longing for one’s home during a period of absence from it. When you study abroad, it is really easy to feel homesick, because you are away from your home and you really have no way of getting back to it. To deal with this, I have come up with a few tips that I believe will really help anyone deal with homesickness.

  1. Don’t wallow.

I am the queen of wallowing. I am the type of person who will stay in her room all day with the lights off and feel sorry for herself. However, this is not going to help you get over your homesickness. If all you do is sit in your room and think about how homesick you are then you are never going to get better. You need to get outside and get some fresh air! Hang out with your friends and enjoy your new culture, because that is why you are studying abroad in the first place! So stop wallowing and get out there!

  1. Find something in your new culture that reminds you of home.

This could be anything from food, a clothing store, or even a park that reminds you of home. For me, this is McDonald’s. I find it quite humorous, because I don’t really enjoy eating McDonald’s at home but I have eaten it so many times in London. Chicken nuggets really make me feel at home.

  1. Call/video chat/write your family. 

I try to keep in touch with my family every single day, and while I understand this might not help others with homesickness it really does help me. My family is currently 6 hours behind me. This means it can be difficult to keep in touch with them at certain time, but we make it work. I also try to talk to my best friends as much as I possibly can. However, this doesn’t mean that I am on my phone every single second of every single day. I am enjoying my experiences while also keeping my family up to date with what I am doing.

  1. Explore.

This goes along with number one, but you really need to get out there and explore. I have really enjoyed going places by myself and trying to understand my city with a new perspective. I have found so many nooks and crannies in London and this makes me feel like I am actually a part of the city itself. It also makes me feel like a local because I am not afraid about going places by myself.

  1. Talk about it.

Chances are your friends are feeling exactly what you are feeling, so talk to them about it. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and homesick, because everybody gets this way sometimes. Find an outlet for your feelings, whether this be talking with friends or writing about it. I can guarantee that there will always be someone there to listen to you and that will help you feel secure about what you are going through.

I hope these few tips can help somebody else, because they are really helping me. I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog post and I will see you next week!

Until next time -H

 

reading-week-12

Reading Week Adventures

imageedit_3_6679398987

Jenna Holeman is a CISabroad student studying in Dublin, Ireland this semester, originally hailing from Ohio University. Follow her journey through a few different excursions she went on throughout the country.


Reading week officially marks the halfway point in my semester.  However, rather than mourn, I decided a perfectly timed trip to distract myself from thinking about it excessively. So what’s the agenda for this trip you may ask? London and Edinburgh. Trust me, it was absolutely amazing.

We landed in Edinburgh Nov.1 bright, early and determined to explore the city. Starting with breakfast, we ventured to the Elephant House – the birthplace of Harry Potter! This is the cafe J.K. Rowling would sit in and write the first Harry Potter novels. It was cozy and had a beautiful view of Edinburgh Castle.

reading-week-1     reading-week-2

I ordered the Elephant Breakfast and a cappuccino – 10/10 recommend.

The great thing about Edinburgh was that everything was central. We stayed in an AirBnb ,which was amazing and affordable, that was only a 15-minute walk from Royal Mile. Walking around Edinburgh I was constantly in awe of the beautiful architecture and serene landscapes.

reading-week-3   reading-week-4

I wish I could have extended my trip and explored various parts of Scotland. It’s not hard to fall in love with such a beautiful place. In the evening we did a sunset hike up to Arthur’s Seat. I am not going to lie, reading-week-6I had read reviews to see if it would be a strenuous hike and many reviewers said that it wasn’t. Well boy were they wrong. All I’m gonna say is pack the right shoes and be prepared for 15 minutes of straight uphill hiking.

I’d do that hike again any day though, so worth it for those amazing views.
We finished our trip with a tour of Edinburgh Castle and explored the National Museum of Scotland.  Edinburgh really is an amazing city and if you’re studying abroad in Europe I’d highly suggest it. Its perfect for those on a tight budget because many attractions are free and you’ll save tons of money in transportation because nearly everything is within walking distance.

reading-week-7 reading-week-8

Goodbye, Scotland. You will be missed.

Following that last day, we left once again bright and early for London. We were staying in a hostel in Edmonton which was a bit away from the city center. On this – I would advise spending a little extra and just stay in London. I found public transportation in London to be exorbitant on top of the fact that it took awhile to actually get there. Nevertheless, London was a great experience. Our itinerary for the first day was amazing. I toured the set where they filmed the Harry Potter movies.

reading-week-10    reading-week-9

I am unashamed to admit I am a huge Harry Potter nerd. This tour was incredible. It’s largely self-guided so you can wander around the set as you please. There are thousands of real props and sets on display that any Harry Potter fan would be excited to see. It’s a bit away from Central London but worth every penny to see.

The next day we took a trip to Stonehenge and Bath. So honestly, what’s the deal with Stonehenge? How did those people move those massive rocks all those years ago? So many questions. It truly is amazing. In true England fashion it was pouring when we went but that didn’t stop the fun. It was a great day despite the rain and another highlight of my trip to England.

reading-week-11

After spending a few hours exploring Stonehenge we went on to visit Bath. I didn’t really know what to expect from Bath ,but was blown away. I will admit I liked it more than London. It had a really cozy feel to it and the architecture was uniform, unlike London. We didn’t pay to enter the Roman Baths but had a grand time exploring the city itself.

reading-week-13 reading-week-14

The last day in London was spent exploring the city. I purchased the London Pass, which is an amazing deal for people looking to do all the touristy things in London. However, I will say great planning comes with this pass. Before you go remember to look at when certain attractions close and plan your day out . I ran into a few bumps along the way due to poor planning. I wouldn’t take that experience back, it’s all about learning to ride the waves.

reading-week-15 reading-week-16

I truly cannot believe my time in Dublin is almost up.  My next few weeks are going to be jam packed with adventures so stay tuned.

Until next time,

Jenna

cr-7

10 Tips for Studying Abroad in Costa Rica

If you’re going to study abroad in Costa Rica, congratulations! This is a great step for you, both academically and personally. You’ll see some amazing and beautiful places, meet wonderful people (Ticos/Ticas, fellow students, and more) and make lifelong connections discovering one of the most incredible countries in the world.

cr-4

cr-2
cr-1

 

cr-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To help you get the most out of your trip and have the very best experience possible, here are my 10 tips for studying abroad in Costa Rica, some of which I knew before I went, and others which I learned while there.

1) Pack as few outfits as possible. Then take out a few articles of clothing, because you won’t need them. Seriously.

Everyone’s probably already telling you to pack light, but it’s true (and difficult). My checked bag was 38 lbs, which was well below the 50 lb limit, but it was still too heavy for me to easily carry. I noticed this especially after I picked up my checked bag in San Jose and had to carry it around the airport through customs. I brought clothes I didn’t wear, and books I didn’t read. It’s hard to pare down and bring just the necessities, but if I’d done that it would have been easier for me to carry my luggage across the airports and would’ve left me more room for souvenirs. (And I wanted more souvenirs.)

2)  Make sure to bring your prescriptions and some over-the-counter medications with you, and pack them in your carry-on.

Get your prescriptions refilled before you leave so there’s no danger of running out while you’re abroad. It’s also important to bring everyday OTCs too–ibuprofen, tylenol, and an antihistamine (ex. benadryl)–in case you get a headache, fever, or have a mild allergic reaction. There aren’t any Rite Aids in Costa Rica! Keeping these items in your carryon will prevent you from losing them should you be separated from your luggage during flights. This happened to my parents one time on the way to a conference: they went to Florida, but their luggage accidentally went to Chicago. My Dad had to buy an all-new, business-appropriate wardrobe to attend his meetings, but his prescriptions, which would have been harder to replace, were not lost.

3) Embrace your homestay experience!

This is one of the very best parts of the CISabroad study abroad experience! I absolutely adored my host mother and the housekeeper. Being in a homestay allowed me to practice my Spanish with my host family and engage with them. Some of my favorite times were when Mama Tica’s extended family would visit and I could chat (or more accurately, listen to them chat) and participate in their cultural traditions. Ask your host family about cool places to visit, what restaurants to eat at, and what to pack on excursions, and how much money to bring. Ask them to help with your homework. Ask them about themselves, and tell them about you. You’re missing out if you don’t take advantage of your homestay.

cr-5

4) Bring something from home with you for your host family.

It’s a nice gesture of goodwill and a great way to say “thank you” to your host family for the kindness and consideration they’re going to show you for the duration of your stay. I brought my host mom a dish and a towel with “Maine” things on them: loons, moose, pine trees, etc., to show her about where I was from. I also brought some pictures of my family to show her and wrote a short letter to help her get to know me. She really appreciated this and it helped us to connect: I showed her my brothers, sister, and parents, and she showed me her son, grandson, and nephews. It helped us get to know each other, right from the start.

5) If there’s something you want to do but you’re scared, do it anyway.

My CISabroad group went to Monteverde and ziplined through the rainforest my final weekend in Costa Rica. Itcr-7 was an incredible experience–the 100% Aventura staff were so good at what they did, I barely had to do any work at all. All I had to do was relax and glide over the rainforest. It was amazing to see the Costa Rican landscape from that height, flying across a wire above the rainforest canopy to get a true bird’s-eye view. I was so nervous before we started that I was shaking. I remember it pretty vividly because the guy strapping me into the gear asked me if I was ok, and all I could manage to say was, “Estoy nerviosa.” But once we got on the lines I felt completely safe and I loved every minute of it. I even did the Tarzan Swing at the end! I’d go back and do it again in a cr-6heartbeat. Take advantage of EVERY opportunity Costa Rica offers you. Looking back, I wish I’d been more adventurous, less timid, and done more. Don’t let fear hold you back.

6) Always carry your homestay address on you.

Some friends and I were in an Uber trying to get back to our homestays, but didn’t know the exact addresses. (Foolish, right?) In my experience, the cab/Uber drivers will know where you live if you tell them the name of your homestay, but this driver did not. We drove around in circles for a little bit trying to direct the poor guy left and right, and eventually found our way home, but it would’ve been MUCH easier had we just been able to give him our addresses. Ask your host family to write your address down on a piece of paper for you, program it into your phone, whatever–just make sure you have it with you!

7) Visit the artisan market in downtown San Jose.

One of the most fun places to try and practice your Spanish is at the artisan market in downtown San Jose, and odds are at least a little part of the reason you’re in Costa Rica is to learn some Spanish. Don’t be afraid to practice it! Locals, especially around San Jose, are used to English-speakers trying to speak Spanish to them, and the vendors at the artisan market are especially accustomed to this. At least some of them speak English themselves, and the best part is that even if your Spanish is absolutely terrible, they’ll still tell you “hablas muy bien!” because they want you to buy their wares and know that flattery works. I didn’t care–a compliment is a compliment, even if it does stretch the truth a bit– and I thought it was so much fun to ask things like “how much is this” and “where did this come from.” Additionally, the artisan market has some beautiful souvenirs and they’re more reasonably priced than the souvenirs in the more tourist-y destinations, like Tamarindo or Puerto Viejo.

8) Costa Rican time is different.  

And no, I’m not talking about time zones. If you’re coming from the US (like I was) you’re used to things running at break-neck pace, and classes starting at exactly the time listed on your schedule. At my home university, I had a history professor who would lock the door when class started at 1:30 PM, and if you weren’t in your seat when he did, well, that was just too bad for you. In Costa Rica my Spanish professor would routinely arrive five-ten minutes late, no big deal. Costa Rican time is more laid back. Everyone isn’t always rushing everywhere like they often are in the States. If you give it a chance, you might enjoy the change!

9) Pedestrians, beware!

Costa Rican drivers are crazy. I’m not making this up–my host mother told me this, the CISabroad on-site director told me this, and my professor at Universidad Veritas told me this. They drive very fast; they do not “yield to pedestrians in crosswalk.” The CISabroad on-site director also told me this; if you have to cross the highway to get from your homestay to school, it’ll be a lot like playing frogger. Watch how the locals do it, and learn from them. Don’t step out into the street like you might at your home university or your hometown, assuming the drivers will stop for you, because there’s a good chance they won’t. Remember what you probably learned when you were a little kid: look both ways before you cross the street and once you’re in the road, don’t dawdle!

10) Become a CISabroad Alumni Ambassador when you get back!

It looks great on a resume and it’s good experience. Plus, you’ll want to share your great experiences with others and encourage them to take the leap like you did! As an added bonus, you’ll even get paid. Visit this link when you get back to apply to start your Alumni Ambassador experience.

cr-9             cr-8

 

holiday-in-dublin-1

Christmas Time in Dublin

imageedit_3_6679398987

 Jenna Holeman is a CISabroad student studying in Dublin, Ireland this semester, originally hailing from Ohio University. Follow her journey through a few different excursions she went on throughout the country


My time is officially coming to an end! It’s crazy to think I have been here for three months. Although I will be sad to leave, I am incredibly thankful for the experiences I’ve had and people I have met here. Dublin is beautiful during the Christmas season and although the traditions are different it still feels like home.

holiday-in-dublin-1

The final Christmas lighting was on November 27th and by then the streets of Dublin were decked in Christmas lights and festive decorations. So, with Starbucks in hand, we moseyed down to the Christmas tree lighting. Families were dressed in their Christmas sweaters and a live band was playing Christmas music on a loop. It was a grand time. In Portland, they have a Christmas Tree lighting but I have never been so it was an exciting experience. Also, it makes up for the Christmas tree lighting I am missing at home.

Another tradition – that’s aimed more at college students is the 12 pubs of Christmas.

A society on Campus was hosting this event and back in the States, I have never heard of anything like it. It’s a grand time though with friends and the best part? The cheesy Christmas sweaters we were all in. It’s great to take a break from all the final essays and spend it with friends. The pub culture in Ireland is so different from the States and I will miss it.

holiday-in-dublin-2

The last tradition that I got to be a part of in Dublin was The Late Late Toy Show. Its a hilariously adorable Christmas program that people of all ages watch. It’s basically a show for parents to watch with their kids to help determine what Christmas presents to buy for them.  It’s a live show and the stage contains hundreds of toys and children that get to test run these toys. The best part of the show are the unpredictable things the tots say. You can’t help but smile when watching the show, as well as the innuendos the host makes for adults. 

holiday-in-dublin-3

 

The Christmas Spirit is undeniable in Dublin and I am so incredibly lucky that I get to experience it.

Until next time,

Jenna 

Barcelona, Spain

How Going Abroad Changed My View

147441071352484

May Hamid is a CISabroad alumna who interned in Barcelona, Spain. May studied at Virginia Commonwealth University. Read on as she tells us how interning abroad changed her life forever and for the better.


I’ve left my comfort zone and my soul to see the world. That probably sounds confusing. You see, it is said that when you see the world you free your soul, but the truth is the price to see the world is losing your soul. Because once you see it, you can never feel like you felt before. The person you are transforms, and everything you were, all the values you had, the morals you thought, and your perspective change.

In fact, they expand and multiply. And it’s confounding at first, because you find yourself battling another part of yourself over the simplest of subjects. Every puzzle piece found in the world will be confusing; some will be amusing. Until you start adapting, comprehending, and accepting that every culture in the world is the same, even though very different.mayhamid1

Eventually you return to your previous life, or home, and you realize you are not the person you were; that they are not the people they were. Something changes and you notice that the place you’re revisiting becomes unfamiliar; that you’ve lost some of the connections you’ve had with it.

So you get on the road, thirsting to start another journey, craving the feeling of belonging that you once had, always wanting it, needing it, and searching for it.

Ultimately you grasp the beauty that the world offers you, and accept that you can never be the same. That there is calm in the chaos, and you relish the belief that you can be anywhere and do anything because you’ve been there before.

If you’re lucky enough, you’ll have people spread around the world that love you, and countless places to long for. But if you’re really, really lucky, you’ll have some that are willing to meet you half-way across the world, and a few that are eager to recreate all the images you paint in your head and live all your dreams with you.

One thing is for certain though, whatever kind of life you choose to have, love it. Because if you love the life you live, you will live a life you love.

-Special thanks to Ruru for always allowing me to live life through her and vice versa

jenna5

Ireland’s Majestic Beauty

imageedit_3_6679398987

Jenna Holeman is a CISabroad student studying in Ireland this semester, originally hailing from Ohio University. Follow her journey through a few different excursions she went on throughout the country.


CISabroad has excursions set in our programs that help us explore the country we are studying abroad in. Early October our group went on a weekend trip along the east side of Ireland to visit the Cliffs of Moher, Galway, and the Aran islands. I have been in Ireland for a month and am constantly blown away by its beauty, but this trip was a life-defining moment. It was absolutely gorgeous.jenna6

We started with a rainy bus ride to Galway. For a point of reference, Ireland is about the size of Indiana, so traveling from one end of the country to the next doesn’t take terribly long. From Dublin to Galway it was about 3 hours.

I have never stayed in a hostel before and was excited to see what this would look like. Was it going to be a huge room with a bunch of beds? Was it going to be clean?  Was it like a hotel? Upon arrival, I was assigned a room and given a room key. The room had three bunk beds and an adjoining bathroom. My first experience in a hostel was grand. This location even provided a light breakfast for its travelers.

The following morning we took off from Galway to Doolin. The ride to Doolin was about 2 hours of gorgeous scenery.jenna1

From Doolin, we took a ferry to the Aran Islands. It was a mild day on the waters, so the ferry ride wasn’t bad, but I heard horror stories from previous groups of how sea sick people got from the rocking of the boat.

jenna2We went to the Inisheer . It is the smallest of the Aran islands with a population of approximately 250 people! It is incredibly small at 3.1 square miles! We went on a tour that explained the rich  history of the island and made stops at key locations such as The Plassy, a shipwreck site featured in the opening credits of a popular Irish show Father Ted.

We also walked through Tiemphall chaomha (church of St. Keevauns), a church surrounded by a graveyard. The church looked as if it had sunken into the ground giving it an eerie, lost society look to it.jenna3

Embarking on this journey to Ireland, I knew I wanted to try new food items since back at home I tend to be a picky eater. On this particular trip, I tried goat and fish! Embracing different foods that make up the culture is so important, so I am really glad I stepped out of my comfort zone.  Innisheer had a small pub with amazing fish and chips!

After arriving back to Doolin, we immediately headed to the Cliffs of Moher.

jenna5This moment has to be one of my top life moments. I was blown away by the sheer beauty. Moments like this really make me grateful for this opportunity. I would highly suggest anyone in Ireland take time out of their trips to visit.

I mean come on, how can you not be amazed at the cliffs?! My favorite moment being in Ireland so far.

Until next time,

Jenna

hannah1

“Freshers” Week

imageedit_1_7163385983

Hannah Baughman is a CISabroad student studying in London this semester and hails from Emporia State University in Kansas. Read on as she describes one of the most exciting weeks she had at her host university.


It is now November here at the University of Roehampton. I couldn’t be more overjoyed with my decision to study abroad as well as my decision to choose the university that I have chosen. I thought I would spend this time informing my friends and family about a week that I was able to participate in with my university and the experiences I had during this time.

hannah2I love many things about the University of Roehampton, but one thing that I especially enjoy is the fact that they have so much school spirit. This is a collegiate campus, and it is one of the few of their kind in London, so that means all of the departments are broken up in to different colleges. Because I am a study abroad student, I was able to choose modules from multiple courses instead of just one. I live in Southlands College (Go Sharks!), which is the school for language and business. I have felt extremely welcomed by the other members of this college, and I have made a lot of friends from my building. It is one of the reasons I am so happy here at the University of Roehampton.

Now on to the real reason for this post: “Freshers Week.” Over the summer I was sent an email about Freshers Week, and I thought to myself, “No. This isn’t something I would enjoy or want to do. I would feel really uncomfortable.” However, I heard from multiple people that I should buy a Freshers pass, so I decided to do it. This was one of the best decisions I made, and I will tell you that I was kept busy almost all of the time. My favorite day of Freshers Week was when we were bussed to Thorpe Park. Thorpe Park is an amusement park, and it was closed down for the evening so the students from my university could enjoy everything the park had to offer. I got to ride on a bunch of different rollercoasters with barely any line! It was great.hannah1

I think the other part of Freshers Week that I enjoyed so much was how many people I met. Most of the people there were new or international, so pretty much everyone was on their own at the beginning of the week. This week gave me a chance to bond with my flat mates and bond with the other students from my university. If anybody is thinking about studying abroad in the fall semester, please GO TO FRESHERS WEEK!

Till next time,

H

14359147_10207715918963743_7082449504678574888_n

Mai Pen Rai in the Land of Smiles

imageedit_1_6429827600

Ava Fergerson is a CISabroad student studying in Thailand this semester. She comes from Western Kentucky University where she is majoring in Clinical Psychology and Women’s Studies. Follow her as she talks about her Thai journey thus far.


Sawatdii kha readers!

Choosing to study in Thailand was a bit of a whim, originally. One day in the spring semester, I browsed through my study abroad options at my home university and laughed to myself at the thought of living in such an unfamiliar environment for so long. Shortly thereafter, it occurred to me that that was exactly the challenge I needed! Fast forward to September: it’s game on.

14242291_10207670898118250_5893543142622526665_o

Knowing nothing of the place I was to live for the next three months, I had little expectation for the lifestyle and values of Thailand. As they say, blessed is she who expects nothing, for she will never be disappointed; and disappointed, I was not! To say that I have not experienced culture shock would not be entirely truthful, although the simple lifestyle here is not a difficult adjustment.

The standard of living in Bangkok is somewhat different from my home in Kentucky, as it is a much larger city with little greenery, the tap water here is not drinkable, etc., but none of this proved to be too difficult an adjustment. The true challenge has been altering my philosophy of life. While I am no expert on the Thai way of life, what I have observed here has been vastly different from my Western mindset. These differences can be noted in the subtle things, which reflect profound philosophies. For example, it is nearly impossible to find a decent weekly planner that covers a full calendar year, an essential to many US college students. 14264146_10207642674412675_2154455248390484897_nAlthough this may seem trivial, it is reflective of a core value: life is unpredictable, and we cannot plan for it. This shows a stark difference in uncertainty avoidance between the US and Thailand. I have found this philosophy to be a comforting one! To worry about we cannot control is useless, but to welcome change as it comes allows for much greater inner peace. Whose 5-year-plan actually works out anyway?

There is a saying here that I am learning to love: “mai pen rai”. In literal translation, it means “it’s no problem”, but it is often referred to as a way of life. Again, the implicit value in this statement is one of acceptance. This means acceptance of other people, acceptance of things we can’t change, acceptance of serious things, acceptance of silly things. I myself can get high-strung over things that don’t matter in the big picture, so “mai pen rai” has been a comfort and a challenge. Thailand is called The Land of Smiles for good reason! When we learn to stop complicating our lives, it is much easier to enjoy life. For those with an extra 15 minutes and an open mind, I highly recommend watching this Ted Talk.14359147_10207715918963743_7082449504678574888_n

kim-2

Farewell Barcelona

imageedit_3_7568707637

Kimberly Rabeiro is a CISabroad Alumni Ambassador who interned in Barcelona, Spain for nine weeks. Kimberly is a student at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania. Follow her as she says goodbye to one of her favorite places in the world…for now.


13327348_10209637085743557_7778266734057140942_n-1Interning abroad for nine weeks was probably one of the best decisions of my life thus far. Spending time away in an entirely new culture, a language barrier, and different people really gave me the time to reflect on myself. I had the time to see what I truly want in the future and how to be happy with the simplest of things. I have met so many incredible people, each with a different background, a different story — people that I can relate to on all different levels. Some people made me see life in a better way, and others were fun to hangout with and create new memories. I made relationships that I know I will continue to have for the future. I also think I grew as an individual. I always prided myself on getting good grades, but I learned so much more the classroom couldn’t teach me. I learned to step back and just observe. For the first week I simply watched other locals and figured out for myself how to use the metro, how to dress for work, how to greet others, and so many simply basic things that people of different cultures easily overlook. I was welcomed into a home stay with open arms. They have become my second family, and I could not have asked for a more sincere, caring and loving family to accept me as one of their own. My job welcomed me with open arms, never hesitating to help me with the simple tasks of working the coffee maker or helping me better understand a task due to the language barrier. The entire nine weeks I was completely surrounded by people who genuinely cared about how I was feeling, how I have been spending my weekends, and who just wanted to know all about me. I also learned so much about others and how many people had family in other countries from all over the world with entirely different backgrounds.

13344697_10209668144320002_500075107512135682_n-1

It was so fun to spend my internship abroad instead of working at a local company for the summer. I learned so much more than I initially thought I would. If I could do it all over again, I would spend even more time in Barcelona. Nine weeks went by way too fast, and I loved meeting all the new faces that quickly became acquaintances and even friends.

Fulling emerging myself into something so new was definitely a struggle for me at first. But from being abroad I believe I genuinely have become a better person. Take into consideration the smaller things in life, and how building relationships with genuine people can honestly change your life for the better…I know it did mine.

Here I’ll leave a list of advice for anyone wanting/hesitating to study or intern abroad:

  1. GO BY YOURSELF 

This to me is so important. At first I really wanted someone to go with me — anyone, whether it be a friend or another student. The best thing I ever did was go by myself. This pushes you to meet so many people you would not normally meet and try so many new things. Imagine studying abroad with your best friend…you will quickly find yourself doing everything together and fail to do the most important thing of all…build new relationships with other people.

  1. Learn about the local culture

I personally am not the type of person to look up local museums and tour them all day. I am more of a tropical girl…I’d rather ride on a boat or do some fun sports. BUT I must say learning everything about Spain, especially Barcelona, was actually really cool. Even learning the politics there was so interesting to me, and I hate politics. My favorite part was just sitting down with my host mom after dinner and just talking. She taught me so much about the history, politics, religion…everything you need to know. (It was all in Spanish so my understanding is probably at an 80%, but I understood the general idea). It was fun to compare the cultures and just get a better understanding of a place SO different from where you have grown up your entire life.

  1. TRY NEW THINGS

I am the type of person to go to all different restaurants and order the same exact thing…whether it be steak of chicken parmesan. Being in another country really taught me to always try new things. Every single day I was trying new foods, drinks and desserts. I was so surprised to realize I basically LOVED EVERYTHING. Every dish was cooked with such fresh ingredients and was delicious….a much bigger difference than everything processed in the USA. You can pay 1-2 euros…which is basically $2 and get a small tapas dish of delicious healthy food. My body sure did enjoy these two months of happy eating (I am surely not complaining).

  1. Always be friendly

You never know whom you are going to meet, whom you are going to click with, and who are going to become your close friends. Being abroad really showed me to not be judgmental or picky with people you want to hangout with. Being open and friendly from the beginning really made me truly enjoy everyone’s company, no matter who they were.

  1. KEEP A BLOG

My initial reasoning for having a blog was for two reasons: to post an excess amounts of pictures and not get judged for blowing up Instagram, and having one place where everyone can see what I am doing so I don’t have to tell everyone over and over again throughout my trip. But I have to say I am so happy I kept a blog. The feedback I received from everyone on my blog was honestly inspiring. I never realized how much I enjoyed writing and how funny of a writer I can be (okay, well I at least think I am funny, so that does count). I am also happy to share my blogs with others who may have questions or want advice when studying abroad. I can’t wait to look back a year from now and look at memories from being abroad.

kim-2

Well anyway, this was so much fun to do and I hope you guys enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

I am going to keep the blog up and post more blog posts as I continue to travel.

The travel bug has definitely bit me, and I can wait to start planning my next trip overseas!

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

147441071352484

May Hamid is a CISabroad alumna who interned in Barcelona, Spain. May studied at Virginia Commonwealth University. Join her journey through life as she learns to further appreciate the world and strives to reach her goals.


There is magic in the world. Mermaids exist, somewhere beyond where our eyes have seen. Everywhere flowers bloom as the sun rays touch their petals. The leaves drink droplets of rain when clouds grace us with gloom. Every sight of life is a song of visions, every sound of it an ocean. It’s almost effortless to marvel in.

Yet at times we forget to notice its beauty, and it is such a shame that we allow ourselves to close our eyes to all the perfect details that gather to form such an imperfect place. We consign to oblivion, and find ourselves missing all the things that are not in our vicinities. It’s true, the grass is greener on the other side, but truth be told that is not just the case, because as colossal as home is to define, most of the time it is defined depending on where the heart is, and so we miss where we love the most.

But the thing about the world is that in every place there is something most beautiful, and in every case a best scenario, in order to articulate that rationale we start by allowing ourselves to keep an open-mind about the world and see everything the world has to offer. Because the world is a gift, and it is our duty to live it as fully and as possibly as we can.may-hamid-1

I have never noticed how crucially necessary it is to understand the power that lies not only in the world but also inside of us; to know that it is in our hands to decide on whether or not we want to choose to write our own fates. See, we are told more than a hundred times through our short years that in life there are always those that do, and those that don’t do, and it’s a fact that we all like to think that we are the “doers” and that we are better than others.

Yet when the moment arrives, and you truly realize you are better than others — that you are doing something, going somewhere, writing your own fate — it feels as though it’s an epiphany or a dream that has come to you as you lay awake. It’s like you’re watching your own life happen right in front of your eyes, knowing all the events that are happening and what they will lead to, slowly but so quickly.

Being alone has allowed me to dive into my inner strength, and I cannot describe how fulfilling and powerful it feels to have a glimpse of this sort of power. But as powering as it feels, it is also terrifying, because the knowledge of it means that I understand and completely acknowledge the fact that I am also my own greatest enemy and that the most difficult challenge I face is continuously overcoming that fear.

The journey is not the destination. Because life is a journey, and our goals are our destinations, to get there, there is a road. All I know is I just got on the road, and I’m not planning on stopping until I get to my destination.