Posts Tagged ‘studying abroad’

Chapter 5- An Unexpected Time in London

Tuesday, August 24th, 2021

I had no idea what was in store for me when I initially landed in London. I had done a little research through Google Maps and acquainted myself vaguely with the area that would be my home. I was registered for two English courses and two History courses, the latter of which  really intrigued me because one course included a class trip to Belgium. Besides these details, I had no idea what to expect. 

During orientation, where I was struggling with jet lag and trying to cling on to consciousness, I recall one of the speakers encouraging the students to venture outside of England’s capital. Aside from that one aforementioned class trip, I didn’t think I would be that adventurous.

However, gradually, my travel plans began to grow.

At the beginning of the semester, I signed up for BU sponsored trips. One of them was a day trip to Stonehenge and Bath and the other was a weekend trip to Edinburgh. Then, I learned that one of my English courses included a weekend excursion to the English countryside. When my aunt and uncle from New Jersey and my cousin from Guatemala came to visit me in October, we decided to take the Eurostar to see Paris for two days. Afterwards, I made plans with classmates to travel to a few European cities during the weekends.

View from Edinburgh Castle

I hadn’t expected to travel, but I’m glad I did so because I made so many great memories: taking a boat tour and gliding through the canals of Amsterdam, sitting in the Sistine Chapel and marveling at the ceiling, going to Edinburgh Castle and admiring the view of the city.

You don’t need to travel extensively when studying abroad, but seeing different parts of your host country or visiting nearby regions is something you should keep in mind. It’ll help you understand more about the country you are staying in and allow you the chance to experience new cultures. 

If you are traveling while studying abroad, you don’t need every moment of your trips planned out, but you should have a general idea of what you want to do. Some activities require getting tickets or making reservations, so if you have your heart set on doing something, make sure to do research beforehand. This also applies to food. For example, when I first went to Belgium, I realized that I didn’t know what foods to try, aside from waffles (which I did end up eating a lot of…). If you want to try out food local to the region you’re traveling to, do some research in that area as well! 

Carbonara in Rome

During my weekdays spent in London, I did my best not to stay cooped up in my dorm. I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity of being in a new environment. On days when I planned to work on essays and other homework, I would either go to the London Library or the British Library– my BU program advantageously helped everyone get library cards for both places. I preferred going to the London Library, sitting by a window with the view of a park and working there for a few hours. I fondly remember my walks back to the tube station as the winter season began to approach because it would get dark at around 5 p.m., but holiday lights beautifully illuminated the streets of the city to mark the impending festive season. Therefore, do your best not to stay cooped inside when studying abroad. Spend some time exploring and getting to know more of the place you’re staying in.

Impromptu photoshoot in the atmospheric London Library

I made sure to stay connected with my family in New Jersey as well. It was challenging at first, considering the time difference. When I was free, everyone was busy with work. When they would be free to call, I would either be getting ready for bed or already in bed. So, I ended up speaking to my family a lot less than when I was in Boston. Still, we found time to speak once a week, at the very least, and I called my mom before I went on any trips outside of London, just to let her know that I would be away for the weekend. I texted my family a lot and sent them a ton of pictures, so they knew I was having fun. Though I definitely missed them, it was undoubtedly a relief that I wasn’t as homesick as I feared. I was happily occupied with classes, mundane tasks (like grocery shopping) and making the most of my time in London. The months seemed to fly by. December quickly arrived and I was a little sad to say goodbye to London.

Looking back at my semester abroad, I really have no regrets. Okay, maybe I wish I practiced cooking for myself prior to going to England because, before then, I had never had to make meals for myself every single day, so I was a bit lost in that regard. And perhaps I should have studied the currency a little more, since it got confusing to distinguish all the coins. But aside from those minor things (due to my admitted lack of preparedness), I enjoyed my time in London, ranging from minor activities like eating at Nando’s to doing really touristy things, such as seeing As You Like It at the Globe Theater. 

So, to summarize my study abroad tips:

  • Do research, whether it is about the currency, the language, the food, things to do, etc. 
  • Try not to confine yourself to the comfort of the place/area you are staying in. Explore! Make a bucket list! Try new foods! Don’t be afraid of doing some touristy things! There are museums and such that offer free admission or student discounts!
  • Make time to stay connected with friends and family from back home. And if you are abroad and feeling homesick, here are some helpful tips to help you out: https://www.gooverseas.com/blog/ways-reduce-homesickness-abroad

By: Monica Manzo

Monica Manzo recently completed her undergraduate studies at Boston University where she majored in English and minored in History. Currently, she is planning on applying for some masters programs in publishing. In her free time, she can be found either reading or adding to her pile of unread books.


For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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Chapter 4- Applying to Study Abroad and the Nerves that Came With It

Wednesday, August 18th, 2021

I’ve previously mentioned that studying abroad was something that interested me when I initially applied to Boston University, particularly the opportunity to do so in London. Fortunately for me, BU actually had programs in London specifically for students studying English. For some reason, even before I started my freshman year at college, I had this whole plan laid out: I would get to know Boston during my first year, then I would study abroad the following year, and afterwards, I would dedicate myself to finding internships and figuring out what I really wanted to do after I graduated. 

However, I also experienced a lot of homesickness when I moved to Boston, as I discussed in previous chapters. It took me a while to adjust and I felt like I finally started to find my footing during the spring semester of my freshman year. Therefore, when the application deadline to study abroad in the fall of my sophomore year began to creep upon me, I knew that I should postpone my plans to study abroad.

I am not one to typically deviate from plans I have set in my mind, but I was confident in my decision not to study abroad my sophomore year. I felt like I was truly getting to know Boston that spring and I didn’t want to suddenly leave in order to study abroad. Also, I wanted to have more experience being independent and self-sufficient before going to a different country. I ended up spending my sophomore year getting more acclimated to BU and Boston, and I consequently also got to know the joy of trudging through thigh-high mountains of snow in order to get to my 9:30 a.m. class.

Photo taken during a Nor'Easter in 2018; the sidewalk is covered with snow as figure in jacket walks down. Snow falling blurs the image.
Image credit: https://www.bu.edu/articles/2021/anticipating-major-snowfall-charles-river-campus-to-close-monday-remote-classes/ 

When spring of 2019 rolled around, I started working on my London application: I contacted BU’s study abroad office to ask questions, got my advisor to fill out a form, reached out to a former professor for a letter of recommendation, answered the application’s questionnaire, etc. I, at long last, submitted my application in March, and was then left to wait.

I clearly remember the day I was accepted into the London program. It was a Friday and I had returned to my dorm, ready to collapse and take a nap after a long week of classes. Just before doing so, I checked my email and saw the email congratulating me on my acceptance into the program. Then, I immediately called my mom. When she answered, I blurted out the news and started crying, partially because I was sleep deprived, but mostly because I was so happy. 

Even as the novelty of my imminent travels wore off a bit, I was mostly ecstatic. I had some nerves about studying abroad, though they weren’t as prominent as the nerves I had towards initially moving to Boston. There were three things I was most anxious about regarding going to London:

  1. I had never gone somewhere foreign to me on my own. In the past, I had voyaged outside the United States, but only to Guatemala and always with a family member to see other relatives.
  2. I wasn’t completely sure if I would like London, despite always having wanted to go there. When it came to Boston, I at least had the luxury of visiting the city both before and after being accepted into BU, meaning I had seen the area prior to deciding to undertake my undergraduate studies there. Conversely, with London, I would be seeing the city for the first time when I arrived in September to start my classes. Essentially, I had no way of knowing whether I would like London until I was actually there.
  3. I would be very far away from my family. I’ve stated before that I am close with my family and they are an important support system for me. Even though Boston is certainly a distance from my hometown, I was able to return home for holidays and long weekends throughout the semester. I did have some relatives who said they wanted to visit me when I was in London, but I still had to reckon with the thought of not seeing my mom or other close family members for an entire semester. 

When I started overthinking and overanalyzing these small details, I reflected back on my time at BU up to that point. All those worries I initially had about BU had slowly evaporated and I couldn’t picture myself anywhere else. I understood that I had to go into traveling with a positive mindset. Besides, visiting London had been a dream of mine and three months wouldn’t be too long. If I kept worrying about everything, I wouldn’t enjoy my study abroad experience.

Still, on August 31st, 2019, thousands of questions about the future rushed through my mind as I arrived at JFK and boarded my flight to Heathrow. I couldn’t even sleep as the plane cut across the night sky and flew over the Atlantic Ocean. As I watched episodes of Friends and Parks and Recreation in hopes of dozing off, I wondered what the next few months would look like.

Hours later, the plane landed on the surprisingly sunny morning of September 1st.

My London adventure had commenced! 

Picture of the London Eye and River Thames from my first full day in London.

Ultimately, if you are interested in studying abroad, do so when you feel ready (going to a new country for the first time and living there for several months is certainly a change!) and make sure to research various different programs. Contact your school’s study abroad office to ask any questions you may have, ranging from classes to living arrangements and try to learn more about the country you might potentially be studying abroad in. 

By: Monica Manzo

Monica Manzo recently completed her undergraduate studies at Boston University where she majored in English and minored in History. Currently, she is planning on applying for some masters programs in publishing. In her free time, she can be found either reading or adding to her pile of unread books.


For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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My Second Internship: The Highs and Lows of Interning Abroad

Tuesday, April 20th, 2021

In October of my sophomore year, I applied for a semester abroad at NYU Madrid. At the same time, I submitted an application for the for-credit internship program there. In November, I had a Skype interview with the director of EUSA, a separate company NYU hires to run many of its abroad internship programs. During this meeting, we discussed the fields of work I was interested in, and she evaluated my level of Spanish fluency.

When I arrived in Madrid, I received an email notifying me that I had an interview in two days with the European Foundation of Society and Education, an education policy think tank. The interview process was a whirlwind. A few days before, I was pickpocketed at a nightclub, and my phone was stolen. To make it to my interview without a cell phone, I had to purchase an alarm clock and memorize the route to the office. Luckily, the foundation was in the city center and not the outskirts of Madrid, but I still had to transfer trains and ask for directions on the street. 

My neighborhood in Madrid

I was nervous because the placement information made the office sound like a strict and formal environment. However, I was greeted by a charming old man. He reminded me of a kindly grandpa as he offered me a cup of coffee and complimented me on my success at NYU. His name was Miguel Ángel, the President of the foundation. It wasn’t even a real interview; we just worked out my schedule and got to know each other. 

Contrary to my preconceived assumptions, the foundation was casual and friendly. I ended up wearing jeans every day. It was also customary to say “hola” and “adiós” to every person individually when you arrived and left each day. I even remember a coworker apologizing profusely one afternoon because she hadn’t said hello to me when she came in. 

The work was a mix of administrative tasks, translating, social media management, and research analysis. I also went to a required weekly class at NYU Madrid for the students in the internship program, which involved various projects including a capstone research paper at the end of the semester. The most challenging part was reading quantitative research papers that the foundation published in Spanish, then writing my analysis (in Spanish) in a blog post. It seems I did okay, though, as Miguel Ángel submitted two of my articles to a Spanish newspaper.

My article on civic education, published in the Spanish newspaper Magisterio.

Every morning, Miguel Ángel would ask me about my classes, exams, and weekend trips. These conversations were almost always interesting, as Spanish people tend to speak about personal topics more openly in the office than we do in the U.S. For example, I mentioned once that I had been baptized as a Catholic, and Miguel Ángel was so excited to tell me all about the importance of that sacrament.

At the end of the semester, the foundation invited me back for a goodbye party with coffee and snacks. They even bought me a Zara bag as a thank-you gift. I was sad to leave. I had genuinely enjoyed my time in the office, with its floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, terrace for drinking coffee, and genial coworkers. However, when people ask if I recommend doing an internship during your semester abroad, the answer isn’t so simple.

Even now, after all of this reflecting, I still don’t know the answer. I am sure it looked impressive on my resume—job experience in a foreign country and in a foreign language. I could now prove my Spanish proficiency to future employers. I wrote about my work at the foundation in numerous cover letters and personal statements. For years, it has served as a unique experience that I can draw upon when promoting myself for a new job or academic program. More so, being a “working professional” in Madrid made me feel like I actually lived there, that I wasn’t just a typical study abroad student. 

At the same time, I don’t believe I was fully ready for the transition to life in Spain. I left my closest friends and family in New York to study in a program where I barely knew anyone. Then, I filled my schedule with classes and my for-credit, unpaid internship hours, so I didn’t often have time to connect with other students. For them, their time abroad was an “easy semester” where they slept in, went to clubs on weeknights, and traveled every weekend. Meanwhile, I was shut in my room during the week, trying to finish my homework in the little free time I had after work. I rarely succeeded—I constantly felt that I was behind in my classes. I still got to travel extensively, and I had the most lovely time jet-setting across Europe. But I was so tired, so anxious, and my support system was across the ocean. I wonder what would have happened if I had spent those 16 hours a week (plus transportation time) taking care of myself rather than working in an office without getting paid.

Interning as a student is a learning process. In Madrid, I learned that it is okay to take a step back from work when you need to. Being a student and being a human are jobs too. Despite my struggles, I do not regret my time at the foundation. I challenged myself, and growth always comes from facing challenges.


By Marisa Bianco

Marisa graduated from NYU in May 2020, summa cum laude, with degrees in International Relations and Spanish. She grew up in Nebraska, but she is currently living in Córdoba, Spain, where she works as an English teacher. You can find her eating tapas in the Spanish sun while likely stressing about finding her life’s purpose.


For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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College Savings: How to Haggle Your Way to the Best Souvenirs

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

I have a confession to make. . . . Are you listening? Good. Well, here goes…

I’m a packrat.

I can’t help it. Wherever I go I like to take mementoes with me. My best friend calls me the Souvenir Kleptomaniac. If there’s a free gift or college discounts to be had, I’m there. At restaurants I save the little business cards and menus and circle what I ate. I keep receipts from purchases in other countries just because there’s a different language on them.  I’m a sucker for nostalgia and remembering my trip in every detail possible is important to me. Although people aren’t generally this extreme, the act of bringing home a keepsake is usually one that people follow. The most important thing about souvenir shopping is getting the most for your money without going bankrupt.

As discussed earlier, sometimes it’s hard to pack everything you need in one suitcase. However, make sure you leave some extra space in it so you have room to bring things back.  You don’t want to have to buy an extra piece of luggage to fit everything you want to bring home. Extra luggage means more plane space, means more money out of your pocket.

Be wary of scams.
If you’re going to a country that makes a lot of money off of tourism chances are the people there are waiting for you: and they’re prepared. They want your business and they want you to spend your money on keychains and postcards and bottle openers with funny sayings on them. Don’t feel the need to do your entire souvenir shopping in one day at the same place.

My friend bought a hat from a vendor in China for 25¥ ($5!) that ripped only seconds after purchasing it.

My friend bought a hat from a vendor in China for 25¥ ($5!) that ripped only seconds after purchasing it.

Do not buy souvenirs at the airport.
Those T-shirts that say I HEART [insert country’s name here] aren’t going anywhere. You will see them wherever you go throughout the country, and will probably get a better deal on them in other stores than in the first one you see.

Learn to haggle.
And don’t be ashamed of doing it! The locals want your money, and chances are the initial price they are asking for that miniature sculpture of that famous landmark is a lot higher than they expect you to pay. Haggle with vendors for a better deal. If you are uncomfortable with the asking price—walk away! You’re not obligated to buy anything, and many times walking away will encourage vendors to immediately drop their asking price.

We bought cute panda hats in China that we found a week later for half the price.

We bought cute panda hats in China that we found a week later for half the price.

Save your money for one priceless gift for yourself.
That’s not to say don’t buy yourself anything else the whole trip. However, study abroad trips leave lasting impressions. Having one precious item to take home from your adventure will mean a lot to you in years to come.

 

My favorite purchase of the trip: a Jade necklace. It's very special and something I will treasure forever.

My favorite purchase of the trip: a Jade necklace. It’s very special and something I will treasure forever.

________________________________________________________

Sam Levitz is a graduate of Brooklyn College and went on the CUNY Study Abroad trip to China the summer of 2013. Follow her on Instagram: slevitz

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College Savings and Saving Space in Your Suitcase: What to Pack When Studying Abroad

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

When I fantasize about traveling it’s always the same: one neatly packed backpack with just the essentials. Unfortunately, I am not a light packer and so this is never the case. When it comes to studying abroad you want to make sure you’re properly prepared for whatever you may encounter on your trip. It’s never a good idea to assume that a foreign country has exactly what you’re looking for. Try to find college discounts for certain items before your trip and you can save yourself a lot of trouble once you’re there. So what if you’re labeled the “mom” of your trip? Being prepared is never a bad thing—and chances are your new friends will thank you.

Before your trip it’s important to at least attempt to learn the language of the country, or at least learn some key phrases. Rosetta Stone is a great option, but for those of us on a budget there are free smartphone apps readily available. Mindsnacks is a really helpful app I found before my trip to China that allowed me to start learning the language through a series of fun interactive games. If you upgrade to the full version for $5, you’ll get access to 1000 words and phrases, 9 unique games, and 50 lessons to master. This app is available in many different languages and the upgrade is definitely worth the money!

Mindsnacks is a free app that can be used to learn new languages.

Mindsnacks is a free app that can be used to learn new languages.

Do some research about the weather you’ll experience during the months you’ll be there and pack your clothes accordingly. You don’t want to be the one wearing sweaters in the heat or shorts in the snow. Make sure you have a solid stock of any medicines or vitamins you may take every day. Regular toiletries are an essential and it’s always handy to buy Tide-To-Go, packets of Downy or any other fabric soap just in case you need to do a wash at a moment’s notice.

downy.1load.packet.travel

tidetogopen

Sometimes laundry gets expensive in a foreign country.

 

Check to see what banks are available in the country you’re going to. Many countries often have branches that are linked with Bank of America so if you don’t have an account, open one up. It’s free and you won’t have to pay fees every time you grab some cash from the ATMs. The China Construction Bank, found all over China, doesn’t charge any fees as long as you have a BoA card. You can easily close your BoA account once returning to America.

Other important items are charger adapters for your specific country of origin. The outlets in America are not the same in every country and you do not want to be that person with the hair straightener exploding in your hair!

Also, to stay in touch with family and friends during your trip, set up a Gmail, Skype, Viber, and Whatsapp accounts. These are free ways to connect with your loved ones through email, phone calls, video and text messaging all through WiFi. You don’t want mom to get a $356 dollar phone bill because you accidentally used your data while roaming, do you?

My group connects to the WiFi in our hotel in Hong Kong and immediately engross themselves in social media.

My group connects to the WiFi in our hotel in Hong Kong and immediately engross themselves in social media.

Sam Levitz is a graduate of Brooklyn College and went on the CUNY Study Abroad trip to China the summer of 2013. Follow her on Instagram: slevitz

Follow the Campus Clipper on Twitter and Like us on Facebook!

Interested in more deals for students? Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter to get the latest in student discounts and promotions  and follow our Tumblr and Pinterest. For savings on-the-go, download our printable coupon e-book!

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