5 Ways to Pay for Study Abroad

5 Ways to Pay for Study Abroad

by Jenn Weisgerber, CISabroad Scholarship Team

Saving money can be the worst! Especially when it’s a big-ticket item, because it just takes so dang long to reach that large milestone. Figuring out how to pay for study abroad can definitely feel overwhelming, but don’t worry! We’re here with 5 ways to pay for your study abroad experience that will get you saving in no time.

1. Make the most of your financial aid and scholarships.

The earlier you start planning in this area, the better. In most cases, your financial aid can be used to pay for your program costs. We believe that study and intern abroad opportunities are for EVERYONE, so we work hard to stay one of the most affordable providers out there – without sacrificing the experiences abroad we know you want. CISabroad offers six different scholarships multiple times a year. To make the most of scholarships, though, cast a wider net – earn a Gilman, Golden Key, or Diversity Abroad award, and CISabroad will add a bonus grant!

2. Get high-tech with your saving tactics.

Pay for Study Abroad GIF_Professor Frink

Find it really challenging to save cold, hard cash to pay for study abroad? Save a few pennies at a time with an app that rounds up routine bank transactions to a threshold you set and holds the money in a separate account until you’re ready for it. There are quite a few new apps out there that can help you save – check out Qapital, Unsplurge, or Digit. Also check out this list of powerful money-saving apps from NerdWallet.

3. Hold the biggest tag sale ever.

Pay for Study Abroad_GIF_Tag Sale

Roll up your sleeves over the summer and ask your family and friends if they’d be willing to donate their finest vintage finds and in-demand collectibles — or whatever is taking up space in their basement! You’d be surprised at how much cash a well-publicized tag sale (or rummage sale, depending on where you live) can bring in to help you pay for study abroad, especially if you schedule it during a weekend with popular events in your community. List it online, in the newspaper (yes, that old thing!), and flier around town responsibly.

4. Look to your networks for support.

Pay for Study Abroad GIF_To Cash Flow

Yes, we’re talking about crowdfunding, but you can do it in a way that doesn’t come off entitled or makes you go on Shark Tank. How? Don’t blast it all over social media (well, maybe around your birthday), but instead email links individually to friends and family, asking them to contribute to your time abroad in lieu of birthday or other presents throughout the year. Show the return on their investment – send them links to the CISabroad program you’re interested in and let them know how this opportunity fits into your life goals. Although you’ll definitely make memories to last a lifetime, it’s more than just a fun summer – you’ll now be a part of the 10% of U.S. college students who study abroad.

5. Roll up those sleeves – and tighten that wallet.

Pay for Study Abroad GIF_Big Wallet

These two may not be the answers at the top of your list, but it’s important to be invested in your own life – literally. Look for a part-time job (or second one) during holiday break, spring break, or the summer that will allow you to stash away even more money. And the hardest part? Changing your behavior in order to save – but it feels good to look out for your future self. Bypassing that venti latte every day or that weekly night out with friends can translate into an extended stay abroad, experiential add-ons like our Explore Europe weekends, and if you’re anything like us, even more delicious food while you’re abroad!

Finally, remember that every penny counts – literally. Combine a few different fundraising tactics, and before you know it, you’ll see that savings account rise. Not only will your time abroad be a transformative experience, you’ll feel proud that you contributed so much to getting yourself there.

Pay for Study Abroad Gif_Worked so hard for this

Still worried about if you can pay for study abroad or an internship abroad? Trust us, it’s totally within your reach. Any of our CISabroad advisors (Chris, Brittany G, Pat, or Brittany D) would love to talk to you about affordable options that work for your major, as well as share more pro tips. Reach them via email, chat, or go old-school with the phone at 1-877-617-9090.

Not ready to talk yet? Watch these tips on Traveling on a Budget from CISabroad alumni Debra Castro, who interned abroad in Barcelona, Spain.

DID YOU KNOW? Use the code EARLYSUMMER on your program application by Feb. 1 and save $100 on ANY CISabroad Summer 2018 program. #smartsaver

Top 10 Reasons to Intern Abroad header

Top 10 Reasons to Intern Abroad

Every year, more than 25,000 U.S. students intern abroad.

Why should you join them? Because nothing beats real-world experience! Not to mention these Top 10 Reasons to Intern Abroad…

1. Impress employers with a resume filled with real-world experience.
Firstly, not only will you stand apart from other job-seekers on paper, you’ll also be memorable in an interview. Make sure to explain through storytelling how your internship abroad prepared you for challenging work situations.

2. Build a lasting network of international colleagues and friends.
Interning abroad for a semester or summer is a great start to an international professional network. Plus, who doesn’t love having friends across the globe?

3. Stack up academic credits, all while saving money.
It’s true – for many programs, selecting an intern abroad option for credit can often COST LESS than the semester sticker price for the same location! Living abroad, stacking up work experience, AND earning credits at the same time? Mind blown. (Check out CISabroad.com/interncredit for more information. Our partner, Plymouth State University, offers credits in most majors.)

Lauren Kelly, a Marketing Major at USC Columbia, participated in CISabroad’s Intern in Barcelona program in Summer 2016.

4. Try your career before you dive into it.
Choosing to intern abroad in your field of interest allows you to really see what the day-to-day is like for the career you have in mind. And who knows? You might find the (different) career of your dreams while abroad! Many students tell us that living abroad helped them sort out what they truly wanted to do with their lives.

5. Leap outside your comfort zone.
It may sound cliché, but this is another time-tested truth bomb! Pushing yourself to experience new cultures, different ways of living, and environments different from what you’re used to is a positive way to break out of your (too?) comfortable routine.

6. Boost your professional chops in the workplace.
You’ll start that first job after college leaps and bounds ahead of your peers – already having navigated the ins and outs of the professional workplace setting.

Intern in New Zealand - Summer 2016

Ali Mowers, a Communications Major at Shippensburg University, completed CISabroad’s Intern in New Zealand program during Summer 2016.

7. Learn a new language – including workplace lingo.
Challenging yourself to intern abroad offers something you’ll don’t often get in the U.S. – an opportunity to learn and practice a foreign language. But don’t worry! Most of our internship placements are in English-speaking workplaces, so you’ll have a lot of opportunities to learn from your new colleagues.

8. Get the real scoop from locals on the best places to visit.
Not only do you get to live abroad while you intern, but with CISabroad, you’ll also live like a local. Our well-loved site directors make sure to show you where the locals shop, eat, and play. By the time you come home, you’ll be the one giving recommendations!

9. Become a more confident, self-aware, and independent YOU.
Returning students tell us some of the most lasting effects of their intern abroad experience are in the realm of self-growth. From the surge of confidence that comes from independence to the reflection that meeting people from all over the globe spurs, one thing’s for sure – you won’t be the same.

Intern in Argentina - Summer 2017

Colin Murphy, a Telecommunications Major at Youngstown State University, spent Summer 2017 in CISabroad’s Intern in Argentina program.

10. Lastly – make unforgettable memories and have the time of your life!
Forget the hundreds of photos you’ll take, the blog you’ll try to remember to update, the mementos you tuck away for home. After interning abroad, you will have the endless gift of closing your eyes and being transported. Back to a place that taught you about yourself in ways you never thought possible, helped you become a more engaged global citizen, and opened many professional doors!

Did any of these 10 reasons inspire you to intern abroad? Our helpful CISabroad advisors are ready when you are to talk more about your goals and how an internship abroad can prepare you for them. Reach them by chat or email anytime.

Ready to learn more about CISabroad’s internships, including example placements and our application process? Check out our Internships Abroad digital resource or browse programs at CISabroad.com.

You (yes, you!) can save $250 on an internship abroad program with CISabroad! Simply use the promo codes listed below on your application. Talk to an advisor for more info.

QUIZ! What kind of Global Traveler are you?

Find out what kind of global traveler you are!

Although you’ll be faced with many big decisions in life, making the choice to study or intern abroad is definitely one you should say YES to!

Because we’ve helped so many students study and intern abroad, we know it can be an overwhelming process. There are academic considerations, financial aid to line up, as well as making sure the program offers the experiences and inclusions you’re looking for. Having access to an advisor (either through CISabroad or on your university campus) can be a big help as you narrow down your choices.

But let’s get to the real reason why you’re here: to find out just which kind of global traveler you are.

Which of the statements below sounds most like you? Don’t be surprised if the study or intern abroad program of your dreams is somewhere you never thought of going. A huge part of exploration is being open to where the journey takes you. Prepare to find the program of your dreams, future wanderer!

CISabroad Best Value ProgramsYou want the best bang for your buck.

And why wouldn’t you? Studying or interning abroad is a huge investment — in your future. That said, you still want to make sure you’re making the most of your experience.

CISabroad’s Best Value programs offer an incredible value and are packed with everything you could want to have an action-packed, transformative experience abroad and more, including a great cost of living, the most potential for credits, the most cultural immersion activities, the most travel, and the best excursions!

 CISabroad Hot Destinations programsYou have your pulse on the next big thing.

Forget being in the loop – you ARE the loop. Maybe people ask you where you found out about that cool new app or where you got those shoes.

CISabroad’s Hot Destinations programs offer some of the most exciting destinations around the globe. Programs make this list because they are among our most popular student favorites. In fact, if you’re looking for programs that offer more opportunities for interaction with CISabroad students, look no further!

CISabroad Hot Destination ProgramsYou want to take the “road less traveled.”

Not one to follow the crowd, you don’t want the “typical” study abroad experience – you feel the push of wanderlust and want to explore parts of the globe most unlike our own.

Maybe you want to study or intern abroad in a country you may not have considered at first. If you’re looking for tried and true programs that fly under the radar, CISabroad’s Off the Beaten Path programs are for you.

CISabroad.com Staff Picks programsYou like suggestions!

Open to just about anything, you’re curious what others would recommend and are looking for some ideas to get started.

Check out some of CISabroad’s Staff Picks programs — from our leadership to our University Relations team, we’re happy to give personal recommendations!

Now that you know what kind of global traveler you are, you have some ideas of where you can have a transformative study or intern abroad experience. So what’s stopping you? We want to hear your questions!

Take the next step – reach out to our helpful advisors over email, chat, or phone – 877.617.9090. Browse our newest catalog online. If you know which program you’re interested in, get ahead of the game and start your application at CISabroad.com.

BLOG BONUS: Take a ghoulish $250 off ANY 2018 study or intern abroad program through Oct. 31 with the promo code TRIPORTREAT on your application! Check out our unforgettably spoopy video and share with your friends.   

Top 10 Ways to OWN Your Study Abroad Experience

Tasha Ward, Semester in Australia - University of Sydney, Spring 2017

CISabroad blogger Tasha Ward participated in CISabroad’s Semester in Australia – University of Sydney study abroad program during Spring 2017. An Economics major at Clemson University, Tasha shares 10 strategies to help you take charge of your study or intern abroad experience.

So I’m sitting here, midterms officially behind me, and have realized that I am, unfortunately, halfway through my semester abroad. I’ve booked my flight home, made plans for a bit of a summer job, and am starting to think about my senior year of college back in the states. But hold on – halfway finished means I still have as much time ahead of me as I do behind me and that is EXCITING. What isn’t exciting is how long it took me to figure out the whole study abroad adventure thing! Long as it took to realize, here’s what I’ve learned, somehow compacted into a short “top 10” list, and what will definitely be the guidelines I live by for the rest of my time here!

1. Don’t underestimate your food budget.

I came here so prepared with ideas of how I would budget and “save” money during my time abroad. One of which was saying, aside from enjoying the local cuisine every once in a while, that I would cook at home for myself a majority of the time. Smart…right? Wrong! First of all, going out to eat was the most common activity to do with all the new people I was meeting in the first couple months of being abroad. It was the most convenient way to get to know people AND eat some bomb food at the same time. Which leads me to my next point: THERE IS SO MUCH GOOD FOOD TO TRY. It’s hard to grill yourself a chicken breast with Brussels sprouts at home when you just know there’s some funky Thai restaurant with a live jazz band waiting for you to explore. So, if anything, give yourself a food budget and then double it…you’ll thank me later. 🙂

2. Travel the world mindfully.

Here’s an easy one that won’t take much convincing! You have to take advantage of where you are and go to places you might not have the chance to see again. These will be your fondest memories, favorite pictures, and best stories. Pro tip: Planning for travel is way more difficult than anticipated without the parents figuring out all of the logistics. Don’t be afraid to be the responsible one who makes the plans and, conversely, don’t be the one who doesn’t thank the person who does all the trip planning because it is hard work!

Tasha Ward, Semester in Australia - University of Sydney, Spring 2017

3. Remember: there is S-T-U-D-Y in “study abroad.”

It was (no exaggeration) the worst realization when I had to skip going to the beach with friends to study for an exam. I’m in Australia and have to study? It’s definitely not ideal, but extremely necessary. Academics are serious here, requiring serious study time and plenty of preparation for exams and assignments. I only have to “pass,” grade-wise, but it is way more difficult than I imagined. It’s very important to remember this is STUDY abroad and you will actually have to study. I think I heard this one several times before I left, but it didn’t hit me until I had 6 weeks of material to learn the night before an exam…so learn from my mistakes and just stay on top of the material right from the start.

4. Don’t get nervous about finding your “group.”

Everybody is in the same situation as you and wants to make friends who make this experience one to remember. Give everybody a chance, never exclude someone, and always keep the invitations to a day or night out open. You can meet your best friend through the most random connection!

5. Keep in touch with family and friends back home.

While abroad, I realized that my mom and best friends back home were even more amazing than I realized before I left. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of being abroad, but don’t forget about the people who were there when you left and will be there when you get back. Send them a postcard letting them know you’re thinking of them – they’ll love it!

Sydney, Australia

6. Get lost on purpose.

Hop on a train, bus, or even an airplane if you’re feeling extra adventurous – with no destination in mind! There’s so much to see that falls outside of your “Top things to do in Sydney” Google search results. These days can turn into the most memorable and are so worth the brief moments of panic when you realize you have no idea where you are. Disclaimer: Charge your phones entirely and maybe even bring an extra set of clothes.

7. Remember self care while you’re abroad.

Here’s an extra important one. So many people (myself included) expected study abroad to be one giant vacation. True, while it’s basically an endless opportunity for adventure, people need to realize that because you’re spending 6 months abroad, it’s actually living in a new place, not just vacationing there. And when you’re living somewhere, you have to take care of yourself. This means: don’t feel bad about taking a day or two to do your laundry, go to the grocery store, tidy up your room, and wash your sheets. These things keep you grounded, keep you human, keep you realizing that you’re an adult with responsibilities. It’s important to keep track of these things – don’t neglect them!

8. Forget your expectations.

My goodness, this one is vital. Seriously. Sure, go into your study abroad ready for the time of your life. It definitely will be, but probably not in the way you expected. I can, without hesitation, say that I didn’t expect to explore New Zealand completely by myself (seeing as I came on study abroad with a friend from home), or have a moment where I thought I needed to go home…but I did. If you go into this experience with expectations, there is room to be let down if they don’t go exactly as planned. And with so many variables in the mix, there will be times where things go the exact opposite way of what was planned. Don’t let this throw you off or make you uncomfortable. Learn to roll with the unexpected and you’ll enjoy yourself much more.

Tasha Ward, Semester in Australia - University of Sydney, Spring 2017

9. Take time to know yourself.

Here it is guys, the most corny (but most relevant) piece of advice I can give. During your time abroad, you’ll find yourself in an innumerable amount of unfamiliar situations: friendships will be tested, situations will be uncomfortable, and difficult decisions will have to be made. During all of this, you’ll get to do something so exciting and genuine, you may not even realize it’s happening. You will get the chance to truly know yourself – who you are, the type of people you like (and don’t like), the situations that make you uncomfortable, overwhelmed, and stressed, but also the situations that invoke genuine joy and self-satisfaction.

10. Continue your learning when you get home.

Studying abroad is a remarkable thing. We all go to unique places, meet tons of different people, learn a vast array of life lessons, but we all end up having a similar experience. I think we all become a more pure version of ourselves with a deeper understanding of what it means to be an individual, and a more complete appreciation of all the opportunities that have been made available to us in our lives.

It’s important to continue on with wherever our lives take us, putting into practice what we’ve learned during our time abroad. I don’t want to go back to living the sheltered life I’ve lived, so I hope to continue learning, reflecting, and growing as I go through life, applying what I’ve learned on this amazing study abroad journey. Challenge yourself to take what you’ve learned and develop it, rather than returning to your normal routine back home.

Curious about what a semester in Australia with CISabroad is like? Check out our Australia programs (like the one Tasha experienced) at cisabroad.com/australia.

5 Ways to Prepare for an Internship Abroad

CISabroad blogger Katherine Wolfe participated in CISabroad’s Intern in New Zealand program during Summer 2017. A Marketing major at Ohio State University, Katherine offers five great ways to prepare for an amazing internship abroad experience – both mentally and logistically!  

1. First of all.. GET EXCITED!

This is going to be one of the most incredible experiences you’ve ever embarked on. You’ll meet amazing people who will change your thinking and your life in ways that you could never have imagined. No matter what type of internship you are going for, you will learn so much about the workforce and about how different places in the world treat the workplace. I was an Oklahoma girl doing a marketing internship in New Zealand, and the workplaces are quite different. In Oklahoma, I was used to a much more formal atmosphere, whereas New Zealand’s work style is laid back — most workplaces have an open layout and encourage camaraderie among employees.

2. Don’t forget to check the weather!

Depending on where you go, the weather may be the opposite of what you’re used to at home. I did my internship during New Zealand’s winter, which is my summer back home, so obviously it’s a little (a lot) chillier here than what I am normally used to in June and July. Make sure you research the weather where you are going and prepare accordingly. I underestimated the cold weather so I ended up having to buy a warmer coat once I got here!

3. Make sure you check with your workplace and ask about their everyday work attire.

There’s nothing worse than being extremely nervous on your first day and then showing up and being way under or overdressed. You’ill feel much more confident and prepared if you figure that out beforehand.

4. Even though most people don’t like to admit it or talk about it, homesickness is a real thing.

My advice for combating the inevitable homesickness is to prepare in advance. I knew that being gone for eight weeks was going to be difficult for me and I also knew that the first week or two was going to be the hardest. Instead of trying to avoid it, I mentally prepared myself beforehand that yes, I was probably going to struggle and maybe shed a few tears, but that it was going to be so worth it.

This ended up holding true. The first two weeks were hard and I did cry a few times, but because I had my awesome roommate and my family back home encouraging and supporting me, I was able to stay positive. I know that if I hadn’t committed to this experience, I would have been so upset with myself and would have truly regretted not taking this opportunity. When you are in the midst of a homesick spell, reach out to those around you because they’ll be so helpful and understanding. Also, don’t be afraid to call home — sometimes that’s what ends up being the most comforting. And lastly…don’t be embarrassed! Everyone gets homesick and sad even if they don’t admit it, so embrace the fact that you are so blessed to have a home that you miss so much.

5. Enjoy every moment!

For most, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so don’t let a second pass you by without stepping back and realizing where you are and what you’re doing. Your time abroad is going to fly by and you’ll be back home before you know it, so take every chance you have to dive into the culture and travel around whatever country you’re in. Get out of your comfort zone and eat at places you wouldn’t normally, take spontaneous weekend trips, and take advantage of the fact that you are living in a new country and the world is at your fingertips!

One last thing… you are SO brave for putting yourself out there and going on this adventure, so never doubt yourself or your abilities. Most people want to study or intern abroad, but just don’t have the courage to commit. So be proud of yourself!

Curious about what an internship with CISabroad (like the one Katherine experienced) is like? Check out our Intern in New Zealand program (and other great New Zealand programs). SAVE $250 on any New Zealand program when you use the promo code KIWI250 and apply before Feb. 1. Email or chat with an advisor to see how we can customize a program for you!

10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Study Abroad Experience

Sarah Fuller is a student at Elizabethtown College, who will soon be pursuing a master’s in International Educational Development at Columbia University. Sarah spent two separate semesters in Perugia, Italy, as part of CISabroad’s semester and study internship programs. Read about her tips for your upcoming study or intern abroad travels (and check out some AMAZING photos from Italy!).  

1. PACKING: Don’t forget those important items.

I always make a packing list (and save it for my many trips) based on my daily activities. It’s really easy to overlook an item that you use each morning when you pack in the afternoon or evening. A few days before I begin packing, I keep a notepad and pen handy and write down anything that comes to mind or that I use during the day that I will need during my trip.

2. PASSPORT & VISA: Start early. Trust me.

Don’t procrastinate! I know I’m not the only one recommending this, but it’s really important to make a visa appointment well in advance. Anything can happen, from not being able to get an appointment to your visa getting lost in the mail. Starting this process a few months in advance will help ensure that things will go smoothly.

 3. FAMILIARITY: Do your research!

Know the culture as best as you can before you travel to a certain place. Their style of dress or eating may be different. Certain ways of behaving, talking, and interacting may be accepted while others are not, and they may be very different than what you are used to. Take some time to “brush up” on the culture before you go so that you can spend time immersing yourself rather than feeling uncertain.

 4. UNCERTAINTY: Deal with it proactively.

However, no matter how much preparation you do, uncertainty is almost guaranteed. Reach out! Ask a study abroad advisor or your CISabroad site director if you have questions, because it’s much better to have your questions answered than to spend months wondering why a certain norm exists or if something you’re doing is acceptable.

5. MAKING FRIENDS: It’s easier than you think, but different than you may think.

I spent a few weeks smiling at strangers in hopes of making friends the way that we in the U.S. normally initiate conversation and friendly contact. I was met with frowns and confused looks, because smiling to strangers the way that I was meant that I had something to hide or was untrustworthy, according to my host culture. It was really important to learn this and I was able to talk about these differences with other college students from the town at local gatherings. Speaking up about my confusion by asking local students actually helped me to form some friendships!

 6. WALKING: Dress for comfort, not style.

I walked so much more than I do when I am at home! I was glad, as I love walking, but if you’re not accustomed to or prepared for it, then you should get used to the idea before leaving. If you don’t own comfortable shoes and are going to a European country (I can’t personally speak for other countries than those in Europe), you should get a pair. Bonus points if they’re waterproof!

 7. TOURIST SEASON: Living La Vida Local

Yes, it’s okay to be a tourist. As you spend more time in your city, you will become more acclimated, but at first you WILL be a tourist. There are certainly things you can do to reduce this effect if you want (like not wearing American flag-logoed clothing, for example, or not wearing sweatpants to class), but embrace the fact that sometimes the freshest look on a place can be the most exciting. Take all the pictures you want, because those and the memories you make will remain when you go home! But do your best to also get to know the local culture — besides just the main streets and American hangouts.

 8. PHONE HOME: Keep in touch how you can, as often as you can.

Your family will most likely miss you terribly and may have played an important role in your being able to study abroad. Stay in touch with them and update them on your adventures, but be sure to find a schedule that works for both them and you! If you talk about this before leaving for your program, it may help to reduce pressure on you later. But remember to be flexible. You may plan to talk every Sunday, but then discover that there is a local concert or theater performance you’d like to attend. Sending pictures or writing blog posts could end up being your favorite means of staying in touch, and then Aunt Pat and Uncle Tom, the cousins, your siblings, and your mom’s friend all can read about your adventures!

9. BRANCH OUT: Make time for your own experience.

If you’re studying in a town with a friend from home, consider yourself lucky to have a familiar face to help you adjust, but don’t become too attached to that one person. Meeting new people, even fellow Americans, can add to the new experience of being in a foreign culture. You may make lifelong friends who will share your similar experiences abroad. Having a friend from home is great, but don’t be afraid to branch out and get to know an entirely new side of yourself!

 10.KEEP A RECORD: You’ll appreciate it later.

Document your experience somehow: blog posts, pictures, videos, a diary… Years from now, you’ll want to recall your time abroad, and no matter how vivid the memories are now, they will fade and details will blur as you tell the stories again and again. Documenting your experiences also allows you to recall them when you apply to graduate school or future jobs.

Curious about what CISabroad’s programs (like the ones Sarah experienced) are like? Check out our Study Internship in Perugia and our Semester in Perugia programs.

How Not to Starve in Spain (And Other Food Abroad Stories)

Keely Meyers is a student at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor and is an intern in Barcelona this spring. Read about her adventures with food in Spain and how it has unexpectedly impacted her intern abroad experience!

One of the things I was most excited about while traveling abroad was the food. I couldn’t wait to try new things, cook traditional meals, and learn more about the Spanish culture through something I already loved. Food has played an integral part in my experience abroad. All of my experiences surrounding food – the good, the bad, and the ugly – have taught me more about myself and my host culture. 

Chocolate con churros from Cafe de l’Opera
Chocolate con churros from Cafe de l’Opera

Cooking and Eating in Spain

Learning to cook Catalan food has been one of the best parts of enjoying food in Spain. I took a Catalan cooking class as part of the cultural activities through CISabroad and learned how to make traditional foods such as calçots and romesco sauce, artichokes, pan con tomate, paella, crema catalana, and tortilla española. I also got to keep the recipes to take home and impress my family and friends with my new skills and broadened palate.

The culture around food here is much different than it is at home. For example, meal times in Spain are not what I am used to. Here, locals eat a large lunch around two o’clock in the afternoon and take their time, similar to how many Americans eat dinner. The dinners here, on the other hand, are very small and eaten late at night – usually around 10 or 11 o’clock! It took a while to get used to the different eating schedule, but embracing the different mealtimes has made me feel more immersed in the local culture.

Also different from the U.S. is the amount of time devoted to cooking and enjoying food. Spaniards take a lot of pride in preparing their food from the freshest ingredients and enjoying the eating experience with family and friends. There are various mercats around the city – markets where you can find the freshest fruits, vegetables, meats, and seafoods – where locals buy ingredients to cook with. Cooking and eating meals are also much longer processes than they are back home, often lasting multiple hours.

Fresh fruits from Mercat de La Boqueria in Barcelona

Fresh fruits from Mercat de La Boqueria in Barcelona

Trying New Foods

Trying new foods is something that I definitely wanted to do while abroad. One of my rules while traveling has been to never say no to something I was offered – no matter how weird or scary it seemed. Because of my self-enforced rule, I have enjoyed culinary “delights” such as blood sausage, cow intestine, octopus, squid, and anchovies. Even if I hated them, I knew it was important to try new things and embrace local flavors. I have also gone out to new restaurants or been invited over to eat meals with new friends and tried foods I never would have back home, including pho from a traditional restaurant in Paris, authentic Chinese food from a local restaurant in Barcelona, and home-cooked Argentinian asado. I have found some surprising new favorite foods and learned that things I was too scared to eat weren’t actually so bad! (Except anchovies, those were about as bad as they sound.)

Some of my favorite local foods that I have tried have been the tapas. I have tried ham croquetas, pan con tomate, patatas bravas, and many more. I have also enjoyed cava, the Spanish version of champagne, and went on a cava tour with my site director to learn about the history and production process of this regional drink.

Another local eating experience I had here was taking part in a calçotada – a large feast centered around sweet onions called calçots. The process of eating calçots is both messy and fun, and is an important local tradition that I absolutely loved experiencing.

Tapas feast from my welcome lunch with CISabroad
Tapas feast from my welcome lunch with CISabroad

Grocery Shopping

Trying new foods has also come naturally because of the different selection in supermarkets in Barcelona. Brands and even types of food from home are not found here, which has forced me to push myself outside of my comfort zone, craft new recipes, and pick up local habits. When one of those habits includes picking up a fresh-baked baguette daily, I’m not one to complain!

Grocery shopping in Spain was definitely an experience the first time I went. For one thing, the grocery stores are all closed on Sundays and often close much earlier than American supermarkets on weeknights. As a result, my first Sunday in Barcelona also happened to be a very hungry day for me! When I did find an open grocery store the next day, it took a little getting used to. I vividly remember shopping with my roommate, who was searching for milk. Eventually, she had to ask a woman in the store where it was. The woman gave her a confused look and proceeded to point right next to the shelf where the two were standing, not understanding how we didn’t know to look for the milk on the shelf and not in the refrigerated section. Embarrassed, we thanked her and proceeded to the checkout. However, another thing we did not know about grocery shopping in Spain was that grocery bags were not free. We tried to save some money by carrying our groceries home in our arms, struggling and laughing the whole way home. We did not know at the time, but the bags were only 10 cents – definitely worth getting to avoid dropping your eggs on the city streets.

Food has been a huge part of my experience here in Barcelona and has been a way for me to challenge myself to try new things, learn about local customs and cuisine, and immerse myself in the daily life of a local. I have learned to be open to new things, try my hand at cooking once in a while (I’m not quite as terrible as I thought), and use food as a way to connect with people and cultures from around the world.

Want to learn more about how you can have an amazing experience in Spain? It’s easy with CISabroad! 

Top 10 Things I’ve Learned from Living in London for a Week

Hi everyone, I’m Lexa!  I’m studying in London this semester and can’t wait to share my journey with you!

Yes, I decided to make a list of the things I’ve learned since coming to London. Granted, it’s only been a week since I touched down in Heathrow Airport, but a person can learn a lot about a city in a week. In fact, I’m quite surprised at how quickly I learn just by wandering around the city, whether with friends or on my own. From estimating costs to keeping eggs out of the refrigerator (!!! yes, the eggs stay out!), here are ten things I’ve learned:

  1. Oyster cards need to be topped up more than you expect. An Oyster card is a commonly used method of payment in using London’s Tube system. It’s the same size as a credit card, usually blue and navy blue in color. Though I did take the Tube often enough this first week (London’s underground transit system-for those who do not know), 20 GBP go quickly. It costs roughly 2 pounds 40 pence one way, approximately $3.00. If I were to go to, say, Oxford Street and back, it could be roughly $6.50 just for the Tube ride alone. Therefore, Oyster cards need to be “topped up”, basically putting more money on the card. Depending on how often one plans to take the Tube, plan accordingly!
  2. Which leads me to point #2, you will need more money than you think. In my experience so far, it has been better to have a little more money in the event I need it. For example, in coming to London I needed to buy a curling iron and hairdryer–combined probably costing me around $35.00. It’s also important to factor in the price of food, laundry, clothes one may have forgotten at home, even toilet paper and hand soap! Just this week, I also bought forks, plates, bowls, and cups from an appliance store here in London. Granted, this will vary in however long one stays in London, but since I’ll be here for four and a half months, the start-up costs came as a bit of a shock to me.
  3. There is no “correct” way to walk on the sidewalk. Honestly, it’s been a bit of a maze, so far. People generally walk on whatever side of the sidewalk they want to; I’ve seen people in a hurry usually walk on the right side, while most people walk on the left but this is not a rule of thumb in London. People will zigzag around the slow-moving all the time, and it’s been a bit of an adjustment for me! I think the best part has been trying to pass people on the sidewalk, but in the process someone passes me and therefore having to pass me as well as the people in front of me. It’s been fun.
  4. They don’t believe in flat sheets. Many of my friends I’ve made here have brought sheets from home, and if there’s room in the suitcase to bring them, I would definitely do that. Upon arriving to London, I was given a duvet, a pillowcase, and a blanket. Personal preferences led me to buy a fuzzy throw blanket from Primark (the U.S. equivalent of Target) and I’ve been content, since. If sheets aren’t necessary for other people, then leave them at home because they do take up a bit of room in the suitcase.
  5. People here don’t refrigerate their eggs. In Tesco’s (a chain grocery store), I couldn’t believe the eggs were out on the shelf in a non-refrigerated environment! It probably has something to do with how the eggs are treated prior to sitting on the shelf in the supermarket, but this was probably something that shocked me the most while grocery shopping. If this comes as a shock, remember the eggs are perfectly safe to buy; it’s just a bit of a change.
  6. Download apps like Citymapper and Tube Map. They are both free on the Apple and Google Play stores. Both apps are great in navigating the city, just because it’s very likely that one will accidentally wander down the wrong street and be completely lost. Citymapper provides several routes for users depending on what mode of transportation they desire to use, as well as how much money it may cost if public transportation is involved. It also has a sort of Google Maps feature where it can tap in to a location and direct a user to where they need to go. Tube Map is just what it sounds like–a map of London’s Tube at the touch of your finger! Both have been quintessential for figuring out which line I need to take, or how to find my way when I get lost.
  7. Silverware is probably the most difficult thing to find upon initial shopping. Honestly, it took me until yesterday to find a store that sold cheap silverware (one week and two days). Usually, silverware can’t be found in department stores; I ended up Google searching “silverware near me” and it came up with a store I could walk to, but it was a good twenty minute walk there. This isn’t something most people think to pack when traveling abroad, so I would recommend packing it just because it’s not the easiest thing to find in this city.
  8. Plastic bags cost money. I realize there are some cities in the United States that charge money for plastic bags at major retail stores, but plastic bags cost money everywhere in London. From what I’ve seen, they cost around 40-50 pence, or $0.55. This may not seem like a lot, but it adds up after shopping at five stores in one day! It may be difficult, but it’s actually easier to combine items purchased so paying for plastic bags can be avoided. If it’s possible, please do so as you will be saving money big time!
  9. Get used to carrying everything. When I go out shopping, it’s generally a 15-20 minute walk to the stores I need to go to. After buying two things at this store, three things at that store, and one thing at the last store, there’s quite a bit of weight from all those bags, and it’s not always easy to take that twenty minute walk back to the residence hall. This also will probably apply to my book bag when I start class, this week.
  10. It’s okay if you’re lost, it’s pretty easy to find the way back. Part of the fun that comes with living in London is finding neat stores or shops that aren’t necessarily on the main roads, anyway. I found this nice coffee shop on my way to a meeting this past week, and I wouldn’t have found it if I hadn’t gotten lost on one of the surrounding side streets. If one is lost in the city, there is a very good chance a storeowner knows the general area and how to get onto the main road. Even if the storeowner doesn’t know, someone else will, and Londoners have been incredibly helpful for me in finding my way around. If any of the above methods fail, there are always signs around the area to guide people, and if one recognizes a street name or landmark, there’s a good chance they’ll find their way back.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back next week with comparisons between the British and American education systems. – Lexa Krug

How to Deal with Homesickness


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 Adventures


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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.

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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.

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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,