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February 10, 2014

Lifetime Student of Traveling: Studying Abroad in Italy

Reed Buckstead
Hometown: Sioux City, IA
Major: English Education; Minor: Psychology, Coaching
Study Site: Lorenzo de Medici in Florence, Italy
I studied abroad to diversify my outlook on culture, learn more about myself and the world, and improve my résumé. I perceived Europe as the perfect opportunity to challenge my intellectual and social being and feed my adventurous personality. Prior to my flight to Italy I had never been out of the United States. By the time I boarded my flight in Rome to return to the United States I had visited 9 different countries (Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Monaco, Vatican City, Hungary, and Germany). 
Florence, Italy
Iowa tends to be less culturally diverse compared to many places in not only the United States but the world. By getting away for the semester I was able to mature immensely. Not only am I more tolerant of other cultures but I have a burning desire to learn more about unfamiliar cultures. The friends I made and places I visited have opened my eyes to the world outside of Iowa and inspired me to become a lifelong traveler. As an education major, it was a unique academic experience being immersed in another culture’s classroom instruction. This experience opened my eyes to new ways of learning and instructing.
Monte Carlo, Monaco

Studying abroad has inspired me to apply for student teaching abroad and strongly consider teaching English as a Second Language abroad. I intend to explore numerous international experiences outside of the country immediately after graduation.
Cinque Terre, Italy

Every chance I am allowed to recommend studying abroad to others I take advantage of. Traveling, diversifying, and seeking adventure has the potential to open new personal and professional opportunities in anyone's life. Studying abroad truly was the best four months of my life. Long or short, there’s a program for you. 


November 20, 2013

Canadian Food is Great

Here at the Study Abroad Center we can send you anywhere. That map you see below… (pause) …  well, we can send you anywhere on it.  We have programs literally ALL OVER THE WORLD.  How neat is that? 

That whole world you see there is at your fingertips.  We can send students to New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Spain, England, Scotland, Italy, Ecuador, Denmark, Cuba, Ethiopia, Chile, Argentina, Norway, Morocco. 

Prague, Czech Republic
Let me catch my breath. 

The Bahamas, Ghana, Belgium, Belize, Hungary, Sri Lanka, India, Jordan, Bulgaria, China, Japan, Thailand, Turkey, Greece, Russia, or even Poland. 

Solomon Islands
And that’s not all.  We have plenty more countries that are hoping you give them a visit. And why wouldn’t you?

Studying Abroad is incredibly interesting.  You’re immersed in a new country that does many everyday things differently than you.  Food is different. Mannerisms are different. Weather is different. Lifestyles are different. Money is different. Communication is different. Road conditions are different. These differences are always interesting. 

Random Village You Could Live At
 On my own study abroad adventure I had roommates from all over the world- one guy was from Canada, a girl from LA, a girl from England, and two kiwis (New Zealand).  During one family dinner I learned that there is such a thing as Canadian Food. My roommate Marco educated me on that. I made good friends from Spain, Ireland, England, France, Canada, the Solomon Islands, New Zealand, Samoa, and many more places. I got a taste of the world.  Living with people from all over the world gave me the opportunity to explore elements from all of their cultures. Canadian food is great. The English fish and chips aren’t all that bad either. E noho ra.

Poutine, Canadian Dish

Study Abroad Canada

November 13, 2013

New Zealand

Go to New Zealand!
Joseph Sevcik
Hometown: Cedar Falls, IA
Major: Kinesiology and Health
Study Sites: University of Otago, New Zealand

Why did you study abroad?
I loved the pictures.  I had never considered studying abroad. I wasn’t against the idea; I just didn’t have an opinion. I ended up going to an info session about New Zealand and fell in love with the pictures of the country.  I thought to myself, “Who wouldn’t want to study there?”  I researched the country more and more and knew New Zealand was where I wanted to go. I started the paperwork and never stopped filling it out. Then, one day I hopped on a plane and was headed to New Zealand. Over the next 5 months I had an unbelievably good time.

What did you get out of the experience?

I got more out of the experience than I ever could have hoped for or even describe.  It was the little everyday things that really made the experience. I learned about different cultures from my roommate Marco making us Canadian food or from Jo making us an English dinner.  I travelled around with friends from many other countries every weekend.  I learned a lot about their perceptions of America and my perceptions of their countries when I spent 72 hours straight with them walking the mountains of New Zealand.    


 How has study abroad changed you or impacted your future plans?

If it would work out I would definitely consider moving abroad for 3-6 years. I wouldn’t want to stay there forever, but I would love to go back for an extended amount time. It was actually when I was abroad that I changed my career plans.

I’ve gained a perspective that has challenged many things that I have taken for granted in America.  We tend to never relax in America. The pace of life was much slower in New Zealand. I enjoyed that more.  People were more focused on quality of life rather than constant achievement.  They had a better sense of balance in that regard. Recognizing cultural differences like pace of life has been beneficial to grow from.


Would you rec­om­mend study abroad to others?

Absolutely.  I lived on cloud nine those five months.  A friend summed it up to me over Facebook when he sent me a message saying, “Stop posting photos, you’re living my dream.”  Everything was fun and adventurous.  I met tons of people from all over the world and travelled constantly.  I got lots of academic credit (20 credits) while constantly doing awesome things. Many of my best stories start out, “When I was in New Zealand…” I wouldn’t trade that for much.  Words can’t describe my fondness for that place.  Looking at pictures makes me happy and depressed (a good kind of depression) at the same time.  I won’t forget my home in Aotearoa.


Fun fact- Lots of this GoPro Commercial was filmed in NZ!


July 1, 2013


I studied abroad at Tokyo International University in Kawagoe, Japan. Kawagoe is 30 minutes away from Tokyo by train, and is a satellite city of Tokyo. Kawagoe is a mix of old and new Japan, and the city's biggest event of the year is the Kawagoe Festival in October. The festival is held in the old district of Kawagoe, and its main attraction is its two-story tall floats (called "dashi"), which are pulled through the streets by people donned in traditional clothing.

The dashi are intricately designed with black and gold lacquer, and on the tops are large "dolls" which represent the different districts each dash is from. They feature revolving platforms and trap doors, and on the bottom levels there are performers wearing Noh masks. When two dashi pass each other, a musical dance battle occurs between the two. Among the dashi, there are many performances occurring throughout the festival on the side, along with festival games and food to enjoy. When I was there, there were thousands upon thousands of people attending, and I could barely squeeze through the crowds to get to my next destination. I had the opportunity to see many Noh performances and even got my picture taken with one of the performers. The experience was so unique and steeped in Japanese tradition, that it is one of my favorite memories from my entire study abroad experience.


May 14, 2013

Memorable Moments in New Zealand

By: Kelsie Miller
Study Site: University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
July – November 2011

I am fascinated with the interconnectedness of people’s lives.  Maybe that’s why I love traveling so much or why I wanted to study abroad in the first place.  I love knowing people, knowing their story, and how their story is somehow intertwined with mine.  As a traveler you have the opportunity to meet so many new, like-minded, and diverse people.  It is up to you to make meaningful connections.  As a student in an unfamiliar country, you put yourself in the perfect environment to do just that.  The more conversations you initiate and the more you explore, the smaller the world becomes.

Travelers make best friends out of perfect strangers.  We lose ourselves so we can find ourselves.  We step outside of our comfort zone and challenge ourselves so that we can grow and change in ways we never imaged.  We put ourselves in unfamiliar situations in which our true character shines through.  We live out our dreams.  We develop a fiery passion for the world and the people in it.

Studying abroad is the perfect first step into exploring the culture of travel. 

Although many travel experiences seem to be dominated by adrenaline-packed activities and landmarks, it’s the simple moments that may leave the biggest impression. 

Yes, you will remember seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time or sky-diving over the Southern Alps, but you will also remember that corner ice cream shop you went to every week or the smell of the ocean air on your daily walk to class.  For me, it was a few simple moments camping in a cave on the beach with friends from all over the world that forever has a place in my memory.

I remember that evening well.  We sat around the bonfire singing songs and reminiscing about what a great semester it had been.  The friends surrounding me were mere strangers a few months earlier and in a week’s time we would all be parting ways, leaving the beautiful country we had begun to call our second home.  I fell asleep near the fire, warm and protected from the chilly spring air, and awoke to a beautiful sunrise over the Pacific Ocean.  Regardless of the bittersweet ending to an incredible semester, this was one of the happiest moments of my life.

I have many other stories from my time in New Zealand – some a little more adrenaline packed than others – but this moment was one of my favorites.  It was so simple, yet so meaningful.  I didn't have a care in the world, I didn't think about tomorrow, and I didn't think about yesterday.  I was completely content doing virtually nothing and realized I was living exactly the life I wanted to be living.  How many people can really say that?  We are always looking forward to the next big event, counting down the days, hours until this or that, or wishing away a stressful week of tests and assignments.  Studying abroad makes you realize your time is limited and inspires you to enjoy every moment – even the initially dull ones.

Shortly before I left to study in New Zealand I was given some words of wisdom – you could almost call it a prophecy: While I was abroad I wouldn’t fully understand my experience, that it may even seem slightly incomplete, but I would realize once I retuned home that the trip was everything it needed to be. 

I think that is true for all experiences.  The “returning home” part is what solidifies the experience.  This crucial and somewhat difficult time is full of change and readjustment.  It is when you realize you miss the little moments.  It is when you uncover your new passions and shortcomings.  It when you decide how your experiences and the people you met will influence you and your future plans. It is when you decide what aspects of the “abroad you” are going to help re-define the “stateside you”.

So, go out into the world, create your own adventure, and let the little moments happen.