Cultivating Green Habits: Sustainability Lessons from Around the Globe
From composting in Costa Rica to food composting in London, our study abroad community is buzzing with sustainable efforts. In this post, we’re featuring a collection of inspiring testimonials from CIS Abroad alumni and staff who are walking the talk when it comes to eco-friendly living abroad.
How did your study abroad experience influence your perspective on sustainability?
"Living the Scandinavian way opened my eyes to the practicality and effectiveness of a minimalist lifestyle." - Christina Williams, Assistant Director of Study Abroad & Away - Jacksonville University
"Living in a new country for a period of time allowed me to witness and indulge in different ways of life. Living in Edinburgh, Scotland for a semester gave me a better understanding of the importance of sustainability. They have so much green space and use practices in everyday life that help better the earth. Edinburgh prioritizes sustainability through reducing carbon emissions by reducing/reusing/recycling, prioritizing public transportation, and prioritizing the use of locally grown produce. Coming back to New Jersey I was able to actually feel a difference in the air due to their effective sustainability practices. After living in Edinburgh, my perspective on sustainability shifted. I realized it should be a top priority in our lives to keep our Earth clean and help us live a healthy life. Sustainability is often overlooked by many people, but after experiencing a country that has much stronger sustainability practices than the US, I am able to see how it makes a better difference in our everyday lives." -Amanda Chirico, Marketing major at the College of New Jersey, Semester in Edinburgh alumni
Studying abroad in a tiny village in France influenced my perspective on how we grocery shop in the US. In France, shopping was an every-other, if not every-day activity. We only purchased what we needed immediately, and our fridge wasn't overstocked with food that would eventually go to waste (the fridges were smaller, too!). I have certainly tried to keep that perspective 20 years later, if the kids already have things to snack on, we don't need MORE goldfish, for example, until they've depleted their current stash. - Jess Jones, Vice President of Partnerships
I have an interest in sustainability, so seeing different things during my study abroad like how trash is separated and how much public transportation is used was really neat. I hope that someday, we in America can learn from this and adapt how we treat the world. - Mallory Jones, University Studies major at Texas A&M University, Summer in Florence alumni
Can you share examples of sustainable practices or habits you adopted while studying abroad?
I definitely started separating my trash and recycling more once I got back from studying abroad. I also try to take the local bus to school when I can. - Margaret Schwab, Biology Major at Texas A&M, Summer in Barcelona alumni
Living in Costa Rica taught me a lot about their biodiversity and the environmental policy surrounding it. I studied it in my master's program too as a direct result of living there. I lived in a small space in Spain and had to be good about not accumulating too much and be mindful of recycling and waste practices there. Australia is also big on sustainability - one of the habits that was very common there was bringing your own mug to coffee shops. And they charge for plastic bags in most other countries and that has made me really good about bringing my own bags to the grocery store. - Amanda Murphy, Program Enrollment Coordinator - Australia, Costa Rica, Greece, and Thailand
While staying with a host family in Costa Rica I was about to empty my half-empty water bottle down the drain. My host mama took the bottle from my hand and watered her houseplants. To this day, when I have a water bottle that has "old" water, I use it to water my houseplants or outdoor plants. My kiddos do the same. - Ginny Garzon, Assistant Vice President of Partner Success
Were there any particular cultural practices that inspired you to live more sustainably?
In Japan everyone has handkerchiefs they bring with them everywhere and use that to dry their hands. No bathrooms have paper towels. This cultural practice inspired me to live more sustainably - Ava Kaveh, Human Communication major at the University of Central Florida, Semester in Tokyo alumni
Food Composting is something I have since continued doing once I came back to the States. - Alexis Nagy, Criminal Justice major at the University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa, Summer in London alumni
What were the most significant challenges you faced in your efforts to live sustainably abroad?
Adjusting to a more sustainable lifestyle was very hard. I had to adjust to not wasting food and walking to the grocery store a few times a week. I also realized that the laundry situation is much different and navigating outdoor drying was a big adjustment. - Alana Bergin, Political Science major at the University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa, Summer on the Italian Coast alumni
I think the challenge that I faced was constantly having to look at my food and see if it was still good or if I needed to go to the grocery store and buy new food. This was a challenge to me because originally I had no idea how often I would have to go to the store because of how organic the food is. - Angie Cogburn, Elementary Education major at the University of Oregon, Summer in Florence alumni
In what ways did your experience abroad change your perspective on sustainability and environmental responsibility?
It made me feel that it's much easier and more attainable than I thought. I wish there was more of a push for sustainability in my community.- Gladiz De la Rosa, International Studies major at the Unversity of North Carolina, Summer in Tokyo alumni
Americans need to become more aware of how much we consume and make efforts to reduce waste in order for our way of life to be sustainable. We need to invest in renewable energy, share transportation, and cut back on food waste. We owe it to our planet, and we can live better lives in the process of being more green.- Joe Debiec, Vice President of International Operations
There are so many small and impactful actions we can make on a daily basis. Using reusable bags, walking more when I can, and shopping locally are all habits that I still use from my time abroad. - Mary Alice Haas, University Relations Director
Hear what students, interns, and alumni have to say
BOLDLY COMMITTED to providing the best experiences abroad
Get to know your Irish classmates; you can learn about the country and culture from them. I have met people from around the world and from around America. Many of them I still stay in contact with them because we had become close friends and learned a lot from one another. These friendships would not be possible without CIS Abroad.
One aspect I enjoyed the most was the freedom that I had to be a student and visitor. My site director was the best at guiding me and always being there in any circumstance, yet I still felt like an adult.
This program changed my life in many ways, but most importantly it taught me how to be adaptable. I thoroughly enjoyed the intern mixers that allowed us to meet others in our program.
Come in with an open mind, make friends, and don't pass up an opportunity to explore. I now want to go on more adventures and feel more cultured.
Edinboro University of PA
I will forever have a respect for all cultures and people. My favorite aspect of the program was the weekend trips and weekly activities planned for the students.
University of Arkansas
The excursions included in the CIS Abroad program were amazing. The site directors chose awesome tour guides for our excursions and made it a great experience. Both the site directors and the tour guides were extremely caring and knowledgeable about their job. I felt safe at all times.
I stepped outside of my comfort zone and met so many friends while studying on the Gold Coast, which has allowed me to stay in contact with people on almost every continent. Being a marketing student, this diverse network will also benefit me on a professional level.
CIS Abroad created a comfortable and eventful atmosphere. This program opened my eyes to the world and allowed me to grow comfortable in my own skin when placed in new surroundings.
Colby Sawyer College
This experience opened my eyes to the beauty of the world and showed me how small my problems really are. It showed me that I can be whoever I want and do whatever I want and that money isn't everything. Lastly, it introduced me to my CISabroad family.
Keene State University
Going abroad with CISabroad was one of my best decisions. I really loved how CIS created a family through orientation, excursions, Facebook posts, rooming assignments, etc. There was never a moment where I felt alone or helpless. I've made friends that I'll have for the rest of my life.
University of South Carolina
This program made me realize how much I want travel, culture and adventure to be a part of my life forever.
One of the best aspects of the program was my site director, who is one of the most wonderful people I've ever met. The difference between my experience and my fellow students' experiences in other programs was very noticeable.
Loyola University Chicago
Studying abroad enhanced my Spanish-speaking skills, gave me deep friendships, and positively challenged the ways I viewed my own family, culture, and country. I’ve become a better student, sister, daughter, and friend. I can never see the world through the same lenses again. To that I am forever grateful.
Point Loma Nazarene University
This program gave me so many opportunities to learn about the Irish culture and took us on trips with locals to get the full experience. I was extremely prepared through CISabroad and was never nervous about any plans. I mostly miss the amazing people and culture of Ireland.
Boise State University
The best aspect of the program was the amazing people I met, the different culture, living in the city, and experiencing new and exciting things everyday.