Our Top Study Abroad Blog Posts of 2017

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This past year IES Abroad students have broken down language barriers, climbed up mountains, discovered new passions, and lost track of time making lifelong friends. We’ve loved getting to hear some of these stories through the IES Abroad Blog.

Our IES Abroad Correspondents flexed their artistic muscles all year long sharing their writing, photography, videos, and other creative posts. From January through December, check out 17 of our favorite blog posts from 2017.

Abigail Grinberg
Blogger of the Year Abigail Grinberg
IES Abroad Milan, Academic Year 2016-17
Brandeis University

 

Day Trip Getaways from Milan

Abigail’s day trip travel guide had us itching to study abroad in Milan, too:

“One-day excursions have many advantages, one of the biggest being they're a huge cost-saver because there's no need to find accommodation. Not to mention train and bus tickets within Italy can often be less than €20, depending how close your destination is. Seeing the rest of Europe is a great option, but don't forget to explore all the places your host country has to offer!”

Alissamariah Gutierrez
Alissamariah Gutierrez
IES Abroad Cape Town, Spring 2017
Catholic University of America

 

Rose-Colored Lenses

We appreciated reading Alissamariah’s honest experience falling in love with South Africa:

“Yes, it is true that it is easy to fall in love with South Africa without understanding the underlying struggle that propels this country. But it is also possible to fall in love with this country, while taking both beauty and struggle in, success and defeat, and watching as a country that has gone through so much hurt, can shine through with so much light.”

Rosemary Newsome
Rosemary Newsome
IES Abroad Nice, Spring 2017
Texas Christian University

 

I've Peaked!

On a hike in Cagnes-sur-mer, Rosemary discovered how different and yet so similar she was to other travelers from around the world:

“Although speaking with people from other countries has highlighted unique cultural discrepancies, it continues to amaze me how much I have in common, specifically at an emotional level, with people from completely different backgrounds. We seemed to share this yearning for something more. This desire to know others and to know the world. That in knowing comes understanding, and in understanding, comes kindness.”

Max Harrison-Caldwell
Max Harrison-Caldwell
IES Abroad Madrid, Spring 2017
Occidental College

 

Spanish Sun

Sometimes being along without plans is the perfect weekend, as Max discovered:

“I watched the last bit of daylight disappear from the top of a nearby pine. Suddenly I was glad that everyone was gone and that I had spent two days without social interaction, wandering in the park and soaking up the famed Spanish sun. After two months, I finally felt like I could catch my breath.”

Beatriz Cavalcante
Beatriz Cavalcante
IES Abroad Barcelona, Spring 2017
Hofstra University

 

Learning How to Walk…

While studying abroad in Spain, Beatriz learned that adjusting to a new culture is a gradual, yet fulfilling, process, kind of like learning how to walk:

“Making the decision of leaving everything you know behind is hard, once you arrive into the unknown of a new culture and country, you will find yourself dancing to the rhythm of the melodies of excitement, fear, and doubt.”

Samantha Mayhew
Samantha Mayhew
IES Abroad Madrid, Spring 2017
Penn State University

 

First Impressions

We loved reading about Samantha’s adventures studying abroad in Madrid, and the lessons she learning in her first weeks:

“Welcome to Madrid, where tapas are ridiculously, fantastically cheap and somehow pork finds its way into almost every dish…My time here has been filled with a vast amount of experiences - most good, a few iffy, and all formative. However, there are three that stand out as strong first impressions. In a way, I think these anecdotes represent my experience with the city as a whole, thus far. They also are the start of a few new mottos I hope to carry with me for the rest of my time here.”


Angela Pupino
IES Abroad London, Spring 2017
American University

 

Putting It in Reverse (Culture Shock)

As she returned home, Angela thoughtfully reflected on how studying abroad in London changed her:

“But after returning from London, I’ve realized that the problem with reverse culture shock is not that you’re returning home. It’s that you’re bringing new things back with you. You’re not simply throwing a car into reverse and returning to life exactly the way it was before you left. You are different, and so are your family, friends, campus, and community.”


Patrick Houston
IES Internships Santiago, Summer 2017
Swarthmore College

 

Like a Toddler Again

While interning in Chile, Patrick found himself soaking in all the new experiences with child-like awe and excitement:

“This is the beautiful thing about traveling; that even the simplest structures, the everyday behaviors of the people, and typically mundane errands become an adventure of intrigue and unfamiliarity.”


Jessica Ramirez
IES Abroad Barcelona, Fall 2017
Santa Clara University

 

Grappling with Distance

Jessica shared in her predeparture post what her semester studying abroad in Barcelona would mean for her as well as her family:

“As my dream trip becomes reality, it is difficult to accept the sacrifice of separation from those I hold dearest, but it is that same sacrifice that drives me to move forward. Throughout my time in Barcelona, I will carry their precious memories with me wherever I go, knowing that I have their love and support each step of the way.”


Jessica Duska
IES Abroad Buenos Aires, Fall 2017
University of Virginia

 

Rainy Day Playbook

A little rain wasn’t going to keep Jessica inside while studying abroad in Buenos Aires:

“When you have a ton of weekend plans and the weather calls for rain, you have two choices: you can stay in bed and watch it from the window or you can go out and dance in it...this is the story of a great weekend in the pouring rain.”


Tessa Vande Creek
IES Abroad Christchurch, Fall 2017
University of Rochester

 

The IES Abroad Student: An Unexpected Journey

Tessa’s beautiful video of her trip to Rarotonga made us want to study abroad in New Zealand, too:

“During our week on the island, IES Abroad completely immersed us in the culture. We went to a traditional church service, visited a primary school, and had lessons ranging from politics to infrastructure to whales. My favorite part, however, was definitely seeing the beautiful, crystal clear water.”


Sydney Braat
IES Abroad Dublin, Fall 2017
Gettysburg College

 

The Worst Travel Experience & What I Learned

A whirlwind return flight gave Sydney a great story to share and learn from:

“Though I'm nearly a thousand dollars short from this experience, I have stepped away feeling much stronger. I have certainly been tested in an entirely new way. I'm learning to love and live in the experiences that bring me both joy and hardship. Nothing is ever as bad as it seems and looking back, I know I will be somehow appreciative of this learning moment.”


Noah Heil
IES Abroad Granada, Fall 2017
Macalester College

 

La Alhambra y Otras Cosas: Where Do I Fit Within a City of Tourists & Students

When it comes to study abroad, you can be both a student and a tourist. Noah shared some of his favorite course-related trips while studying abroad in Granada:

“I do think it has been important for me to understand that two important characteristics of Granada are LAS TURISTAS and LOS ESTUDIANTES. While it is important for me to take the time to appreciate a culture different than my own, that doesn’t mean I have to prevent myself from doing ‘tourist’ things.”


Morgan Mccullough
IES Abroad Rabat, Fall 2017
Western Michigan University

 

Real Talk About Culture Shock

Morgan reflects on how a trip to Europe reminded her how much she loves her Moroccan host city:

“This trip has presented me with so many unexpected decisions and challenges. It is amazing how I am able to react by second nature to various Moroccan situations that used to make me feel uncomfortable. I spent this weekend in Rabat visiting the hamam with my host mom and sister, and going to a truly historic soccer game that has put Morocco in the World Cup for the first time in 20 years. I’m spending more time with local friends, who, despite our differences in lifestyle and values, still want to get coffee and answer all of my rookie questions. Morocco has become a part of me now.”


Jessica Robyns
IES Abroad Auckland, Fall 2017
Lawrence University

 

College vs. Uni

Jessica’s guide to uni in Auckland is a must-read for anyone headed to study abroad in New Zealand:

“For me, the biggest difference between uni and college was that at uni, I had to take charge of my own learning. No one was checking up on my progress at the UoA, unlike my home university where professors would notice if I started missing classes. It was challenging, and I don’t think I ever fully got used to it, but a challenging experience is what I wanted.”


Alli Jones
IES Abroad Vienna, Fall 2017
Texas Christian University

 

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

While studying abroad in Vienna, Allison encouraged readers to balance travel with exploring their host city:

“…every day presents the opportunity to discover something new in my home city, whether that’s a cool museum, a tucked-away café, or, for these final weeks, another shimmering Christmas market. Even on weekdays, I can catch an opera in the evening or wander previously unexplored streets in the 1st district by the IES Abroad Center between classes. As the end of the semester looms near, my heart has only filled with more love and longing for this city.”


Allen Chen
IES Abroad Tokyo, Fall 2017
Occidental College

 

Field Placement: Self-Access Learning Center

With his great photos and clear descriptions of the field placement program, Allen’s post is a great resource for future IES Abroad Tokyo students:

“When I was looking into study abroad programs, I knew I wanted to be in Japan, and I knew I wanted to have some (cultural) structure beyond classes and beyond travel. Ultimately, I chose IES Abroad Tokyo because of its distinctive Field Placement program.”

Trust us, it was hard to pick only 17 posts! Read more inspiring and informative content from our Correspondents on the IES Abroad Blog.

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