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Write as if you are speaking to the next group of participants in the program. Tell them what you wish you had known before-hand, what to expect, how to prepare, what to pack, how much money to bring, etc. Use this last blog post as a time to really reflect on the experience you have had and how it has changed you.

Please take note – I’ve made this post quite emotional/personal, so don’t mind my all-over-the-place thoughts! If I had to speak to the next group of participants, I would tell them to plan ahead, especially while going on excursions. You’ll

Describe both the high point and low point of your time abroad. How has your cultural identity as an American changed, if at all, during your time abroad? Do you have a better sense of what it means to be an American? What have you learned about your own home culture as a result of studying abroad?

I already described my low point while studying abroad – the first week of classes. The high had worn off and it was very, very difficult to manage the constant Spanish stimulation of my brain around me. The newness was

Letter to Next

It’s interesting thinking about what to tell the next students. The first thing I would say is if you’re on the fence, you should definitely take the plunge and go for it! There are some things that would help to

High Point – Low Point and My Cultural Identity

High Point There were so many high points of my trip to Germany. I really enjoyed every day of the trip and it seemed like things were only getting better as the days passed. After my week of study I

Letter To Next

I am so glad I had this opportunity to study abroad in Italy, and I would highly recommend that anyone thinking about studying abroad should go for it! Seeing as this was my first time going anywhere abroad, I had

High and Low Points

  I think the most amazing thing about my trip to Spain was La Feria. Basically, La Feria is a gigantic state fair that happens in many of the cities in Andalucia and all over Spain. It kicks off on

Passing the Torch

Now that my trip is over and I am back in the U.S I can really look back and reflect on my service-learning experience in Oaxaca, Mexico. I have grown tremendously because of this study abroad trip, discovering aspects of

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I knew that going to Mexico was going to expose me to a culture that I knew nothing about and I was excited to be able to broaden my horizons in such a way. However, spending time in Mexico unexpectedly

Day 13 and 14: Bye to Panama

Day 13- San Blas (Big Dog Island) Couldn’t sleep much, we all kept kicking each other in the tent and the wind was so loud, because guess what? There are no wind breakers on an island. -.- But we got

Initial Impressions

Welcome to Qatar! It’s always a wonder to enter into a new place. There are a lot of firsts to come for me and some were already gathered by the time my plane touched down on August 13th. I have

Letter to the Next

If you are thinking about studying abroad, don’t let the opportunity slip away before you graduate. I always knew that I wanted to study abroad, but I had doubts that I could afford it and fit it into my complicated

High Point – Low Point and Cultural Identity

I had so many extraordinary experiences in Costa Rica, so it’s hard to choose just one high point of my time abroad. Although the majority of my time was spent in San José, I’d have to say that all of

Day 12: The Beauty of the Mountain Hike to Basking in San Blas

Day 12- 1/8/14 Yesterday’s hikes around the mountain made me more confident in heading back down today. Everyone’s descriptions of the cloud forest hike marked it as beautiful and amazing but also very difficult and intense. Several people told me

Letter to the Next

My study abroad trip to Guatemala was a fantastic experience, and even the best advice could not fully prepare me for the changes in culture and customs. That being said, there are a few things I wish I had known

Letter to Next

To those fortunate enough to go on this study abroad program, If you are going into this experience blindly, have no fear! I had never left the country before, and I had no clue what to expect! Embrace this feeling

High Point & Low Point

The high point of this trip was our safari in Kruger National Park.  Safari in Kruger was unparalleled by any other experience that I have had in my entire life, and I plan to return to Kruger again in the

Academic Experience

I took six credits while studying abroad.  My first course was an Anthropology class studying human evolution and legacy in South Africa.  My second class was a Biology class entitled  ”African Natural and Evolutionary History”.  I found both of these

Academic Experience

Technically, I am enrolled in two courses – “The Atlantic Slave Trade” and “Caribbean Perspectives on the African Diaspora.” When we registered for the program we were required to pick two of three options, the third being “Caribbean History and

Letter to the Next

The International Consulting Program was the most rewarding experience of my college career thus far. It was a difficult, yet enjoyable two weeks in Spain. When the program began back at VCU, I was not expecting the project to be

Academic Experience

I took two classes during my study abroad program which were Cultural Heritage in Latin America and Environmental Impact and Social Development. My classes were Monday through Friday 8am to 12 and 6pm to 8. It was a bit of

The Highs and Lows and Cultural Identity

I didn’t have any low points in my time abroad – except maybe realizing how I wished a few things back home would change – and almost everything seemed to be a high point. I was so happy to be

Letter to Next Students Going Global: An Unusual Packing List

As I’ve mentioned before, I have travelled (a wee little bit) internationally previously. This past experience helped me immensely for this trip. In the spirit of what I’ve learned from my two times abroad, here is an unusual packing list

High Point, Low Point, Cultural Identity

Out of the three week period I spent in Spain, both my high point and low point occurred in the city Málaga. We took a train from Córdoba to Málaga the second weekend of the program, which we treated as

Culture Shock

A few other bloggers I’ve read on this site have already started a discussion about the phrase “culture shock.” I would only add that that it seems to have a negative connotation and therefore seems to be phishing for a

Academic Experience

I am taking two classes through my study abroad program. One is a WRLD 391 course run by the VCU professor leading our trip and the other is an advanced grammar course at the language school we’re attending in Vienna

Culture Shock

As far as culture shock goes, I didn’t really experience any noticeable phases of it during my time abroad. This could partly be because I was constantly occupied with classes, weekend excursions, hanging out with friends, and spending time with my

High and Low Points; Cultural Identity — I am waiting to go on my big trip and I get blown up in New Jersey…

High Point There were so many high points to the trip. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is all good. I enjoyed a lingering two days in Strasbourg on my own time that were quite enjoyable. These

Day 11: Cloud Forest of Chucanti

Day 11- 1/7/14 Not going on the cloud forest hike. Disappointing, seeing as that hike was one of the reasons I came on this journey, but just now I am simply physically exhausted and unable to take an arduous 8

Initial Impressions

Immediately, I did not notice vast differences between where I flew out of on September 10 of last year and where I flew into the next morning; but that, however, is because I chose to study abroad in England from

Catching up with pictures!

  Figure 1: The fountain in the central plaza in Antigua Figure 2: Cathedral destroyed in the earthquake of 1773 (the capital moved from Antigua to the new Guatemala City) Figure 3: Figures used to preform a dance, the dancer

Cultural Identity

Hello again! I’m writing this blog post from back home. I landed in the US on Aug 1st, and after 11 days to process my time in Guatemala, I do have a slightly different take on my cultural identity. I’ve

Initial Impressions

I landed in San Jose during Costa Rica’s World Cup quarterfinals game which made it that much more of a memorable experience. People in the airport were going crazy when Costa Rica scored their first penalty kick against the Netherlands.

Academic Experience: A Co-Learning Team

This course was the Transatlantic Development Seminar — an intensive 3-week seminar of joint graduate study between VCU and University of Kaiserslautern urban planning, public administration, and homeland security students. Mostly planner folk. We were studying the topic of regional

Academic Experience

In Barbados I took two classes- history of the Atlantic slave trade and the history of Caribbean culture. They were simply fascinating to say the utmost least. Being in a foreign country and learning about subjects firsthand is an experience

Culture Shock

In all seriousness, the was little to no culture shock of any kind during my time here. I’ve lived in Panama for a good part of my life, which made accommodating to the Bajan lifestyle fairly easy. I’m used to

Culture Shock

I feel like I’m a pretty calm, flexible person. Because of this, I really haven’t experienced much culture shock. Also, I feel like it’s difficult to experience culture shock after only one month. However, while not shocking, there were a

Initial Impressions

Vienna is visually, linguistically, and socially very different from anything I’ve experienced in America. The city is filled with intricate, baroque buildings. The people have a very close idea of personal space and will not hesitate to bump into you.

Prompt #5: Letter to Next

Dear future study abroaders, If you could know just three things before studying abroad, you’ll probably stay alive for at least 4 weeks: 1. Budget money, especially for travel. Never expect your flights to always go as scheduled, especially if

Prompt #4: High Point, Low Point, and My Cultural Identity

Can my trip abroad start with my flights to Spain? Because that’s honestly when the low point of my trip happened. Long story kinda short (I posted about this earlier in the blog site, but here’s a recap): Since (if

Culture Shock: I Almost Have a Chat With the French Police

Our course consisted of a Germany segment, studying with students from the University of Kaiserslautern, a one-week break for travel, etc. and a week hosting the German students here in Richmond, VA. The design of the course was fairly rigorous

Day 10: Relaxation in Chucanti

“Day 10- 1/6/14 Good morning! I slept for what seems like forever and still managed to wake up at 4AM due to habit. I rolled over and tried to go back to la-la land, but it seems I was already

Initial Impressions

The exchange trip to Kaiserslautern was a bit of surprise to me. I am a older graduate student (I call myself a “gradual student”), and have a lot of barriers to taking this type of trip. It was nothing short

High Point-Low Point and Cultural Identity

I would have to say that most of my time spent abroad was a high point. I enjoyed learning all about the culture I was in and having the opportunity to experience new things, whether that was the language, the

Academic Experience

The classes I took for this Study Abroad program were Educational Psychology and Reading Diagnostics and Remediation. Since this was a Faculty-Led, two week study abroad program, our time spent in Italy was an addition to our regular class time

Day 9: Terrors on the Trail

Day 9- 1/5/14 “Today was, in a word, terrifying. The hike and ride up were so intense and crazy, I thought I wasn’t going to make it several times. I’m not religious, but I found myself praying on occasion. It

A Letter to Future Participants

This post is meant to inform potential future participants about the program I studied on and why they should too. Going to another country can be a risk, but that’s ok. You’re not a child anymore. You’re an adult, and

New, Different (better?) Academic Style

I took comparative public health systems courses while studying abroad. In the Netherlands I studied their healthcare system and when I was in the UK I studied the National Health Service (NHS), which is their public healthcare system. I liked

New Friends Help Cushion the Blow of Being Away From Home

I didn’t really experience culture shock in either Amsterdam or London. They were both similar enough to where I live in the United States that I didn’t feel too thrown off. There are definitely major differences between the two places,

Letter to Next

My advice to any student who is thinking about studying abroad in London is to go for it! It has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. Although I was only able to take one summer class

High Point-Low Point and Cultural Identity

There were many high points during my time abroad. Almost everyday, I would visit a new place or have a new experience. Even though there were so many wonderful  “high points” of the trip, I would have to say my

Culture Shocking

Culture shock is different for each person. Overall, Germany is pretty similar to the US in many ways so the cultural differences were not overt. When arriving, I quickly got used to not knowing what people were saying around me

Fresh Off the Train: First Impressions

When arriving in Germany, I was just happy to be back in Europe. From public transportation to more compact development, most of the continent grasps how to make more livable towns and cities. Germany, like other countries make sense to

First 10 days of Amsterdam

My initial impressions of Amsterdam are that it is a quiet, safe, and slow-paced city. When I walk through the city, the people are much more quiet here than back home. They speak at much softer levels to one another

Academic Experience

I have been having a great academic experience in Germany. Although I’m only here for a week, my schedule is packed with lectures which allow me to make the most of my time here. I’m traveling with urban planning students

Culture Shock

Culture shock is something you come to expect when you study abroad. However, it’s difficult to predict how that culture shock will manifest itself. Therefore, it’s difficult to prepare for it. Overall, I would say I didn’t experience any extreme

Initial Impressions

Traveling overseas for the first time can be a little daunting, especially if you’re traveling alone. You can never completely prepare for the journey. At least, that’s been my experience. It’s an interesting experience visiting a country that speaks a

Letter to Next

To conclude my experience abroad, I would just like to give a few tips and words of advice for whoever plans to travel abroad in the future. Going into my trip, it was a bit easier for me because I

The End of a Wonderful Era

Hey everyone! The last few days have been filled with cramming for our exam and mentally preparing ourselves to leave this beautiful country. Yesterday we took our exam and had an awesome dance party,which consisted of teaching the wobble to

Too Cool for School?: Academic Affairs

Too cool for school? Of course Not! While in Oaxaca I took a beginner Spanish class at one of the local schools called Instituto Cultural Oaxaca. It wasn’t for VCU course credit but rather for my own personal benefit (benefit

The Girl who Cried Homesick: Culture Shock

I don’t know if you could call what I experienced culture shock. Let’s just say that if culture shock was a girl, then I endured a moody pregnant culture shock on a rainy Monday when she was having a bad

I Spy With My Little Eye….A Whole New World: Initial Thoughts

The fact that I didn’t even know how to pronounce Oaxaca a few months ago should give a small inclination of how new this experience was be for me. Before coming to Mexico I’d never been on a plane, to

Day 8: Last Day in the Mangroves, a Trip to the Old City, and Nerves about Climbing a Mountain

“Day 8                                                                                                                     1/4/14 List of Species Seen Greater Kiskadee PROW NOWA YWAR Spot-breasted Woodpecker Summary Time: 6:30AM- 12:00PM Temp: 79.1-76 degrees F (less hot than previous days) Humidity: 93.6%-89% Soil: Saturated, water everywhere nearly up to the knee Site: JDY

The highlight of my heart – Serengeti

This trip This trip has been absolutely amazing! This country can never cease to amaze me. So where to begin… Well Sunday (7/27) we set off at 6:30 am to start the very long drive to Serengeti National Park. After almost

Culture Shock

My first experience with culture shock occurred before our plane had even left the airport in Virginia. As I took my seat and bunkered down for my first long flight, I looked up to see a smiling flight attendant walking

The Highs and Lows

I wish I could say my high was something cool like seeing Africa from the coast of Spain, visiting one of the wonders of the world like the Alhambra or the Mezquita, or I actually held a Spanish conversation with

High Point/Low Point and My Cultural Identity

Just a disclaimer, this post might be a bit controversial. I’m going to talk about the Israel-Palestine conflict a little bit, but will keep my personal opinions as absent as possible, instead focusing simply on how my experience with the

Letter to the Next

I don’t think it’s possible to put into words how much this program has changed my life.  Everyone told me travelling abroad would be a life changing experience, and they couldn’t have been more correct.  I can’t thank Javier and

Academic Endeavours Abroad

In my study abroad program we took 2 classes in a hybrid which included both anthropology and biology. To be more specific the classes were named Human Evolution and Legacy in South Africa and Cultural History of South Africa. In

Highs and Lows and My Cultural Identity

The entire trip was my high.  I was in a beautiful country doing what I love with the most amazing people— things really couldn’t have been any better.   Every place we stayed provided a view even more spectacular than the

Academic Experience

I am enrolled in two courses: art history and drawing.  I really don’t think I could have taken any courses that would enhance my experience of Peru more than they have.   Most of my mornings have been devoted to drawing. 

Day 7: Juan Diaz Young and Danger in the Mangroves

“Day 7: 1/3/14 List of Species PROW NOWA YWAR (Mangrove Warbler) Tennessee Warbler Straight-billed Woodcreeper Oliveaceous Woodcreeper   I extracted my first Prothonotary Warbler today and it was actually quite simple (surprisingly). I’m glad I’m getting the hang of it.

Academic Experience

I am taking one class during my short time in London, It is a sociology class called “The Cult of Celebrity: Idolatry in the Media Age.” I didn’t really know what to expect going into the class, but so far

Culture Shock

Although I was warned about culture shock prior to heading off to Peru, I don’t feel as though I experience much of it. I think that this had a lot to do with he fact that for the majority of

Initial Impression

Peru is a country filled with culture.  This was one of the most prominent differences I noticed in my first weeks abroad.   America is a melting pot—a mix of many different cultures—with a cultural experience to match.  Peru’s cultural experience

Letter to the next

Future ICP student let me tell you a little bit about Athens Greece. It is okay not to know anyone else doing this program. You will meet a lot of great people in this trip. This experience will opened any

High Point and your cultural identity

During my time abroad I learned that being an American was about being open minded and adventurous. When working with our designated company abroad, I realized how innovative our ideas were. We always found new ways to make their ideas


The capital of Spain, Madrid, has a perfect blend of attractions for people with all kinds of interests. It was only a 30 minute train ride from my house in Alcala de Henares so many times after school we would

Highs and Lows and My New Cultural Identity

It’s hard to determine a definite “high” of my time studying abroad. The entire trip was such a great experience for me, and I would say I experienced my “high” when I was in a beautiful city or on the

Community Service

Hey there everyone! So today was pretty interesting. We went to the school down the street and worked with some of the kids on various things. When we first arrived all of the kids were super happy to see us.

Fashademic Experience

When people hear “study abroad” they often underestimate the real learning experience that happens away from home. I was one of those people! I knew that I was going to Italy to study fashion, but I figured the classes would

Day 6: Last Day in Juan Diaz Mature and Mira Flores on the Panama Canal

“Day 6                                                                                                                         1/2/14 Summary of the Day: Temp: 79.3-88.8 degrees F Humidity: 87.5%-72.5% Time: 6:15AM- 12:40PM Site: Juan Diaz Mature Weather: Humid, hot, sunny (cooler than yesterday) Soil: Muddy, not terribly wet; still no standing water (odd for

Cultural Immersion

    Hey there everyone! So the last few days have mainly been spent doing more social research and being involved in the local community. Yesterday, (7/24) we went into the Kimb ya Simba community and did some surveys on

Academic Experience – Field School, Lectures, and Religious Sites

It’s really hard to fathom just how much I’ve learned over the past month. We had some readings and assignments prior to the start of the physical program, lectures 4 nights a week, and the dig is a field school,

Initial Impressions

White sandy beaches, different shades of blue fanning out all the way to the edge of the sea’s horizon- they got it all if your coming here as a fat tourist looking to sip your Puerto Rican rum margirita while you enjoy

Initial Impressions

Greetings from Barbados! My name is Tyler and I’m a senior at VCU doing a double major in History and International Studies with minors in Religious Studies and Gender, Sexuality, and Women Studies. This is my first trip abroad and

Academic Experience | Work Hard Play Hard

    Through the International Consulting Program, I was able to get real world experiences in a work environment. The ICP Program teaches us how to be business consultants and the processes of a consulting project. The courses we took

Culture Shock: an unwelcoming welcome

I had dragged my suitcase up the stairs to my third floor apartment and was delighted to find a welcoming open door.  That meant I did not have to wait for a Santa Reparata International School of Art (SRISA) representative

Classy Classes

Buenos tardes otro vez de Xela Any experience outside of one´s culture and comfort zone is a learning experience, but it´s now time to talk about the much more structured class time. Since my graduation from the Spanish school Juan

Letter to Next

If anyone is looking to study abroad in college, they should really consider their options…. And realize that every single option is pointing them in the direction of yes! There are really no concrete reasons you should not study abroad,

Culture Shock

Coming to London, I was expecting to feel much more of a culture shock than what I have been experiencing. I see the differences, but I don’t really feel them. Even the five hour time change has not had much

Culture Shock

Having been abroad before, I had already been through the whole homesick phase. I am used to being away from family, and even friends for a long period of time. I am also quite good at making new friends, so

Initial Impressions

  Ciao! My name is April and I am a first year Grad Student working towards my Master’s of Teaching in Early and Elementary Education. I had the wonderful opportunity to travel abroad to Florence, Italy during Spring Break to

High Point/Low Point & Cultural Identity

On Wednesday the 18th I had to say my goodbyes to Florence. The night before, our last Tuesday night, was spent how we spent all of our Tuesdays in June: watching the Beatles tribute band at the music venue Bebop,

Lazy Days and Ngorongoro Crater

So it has been a little while since I posted last! Sorry about that! I know some of you all at home are having withdraws from my awesome posts. So lets see Monday (7/21) was less then eventful, we spent

Letter to Next

Studying abroad in Spain for a month was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I was able to completely immerse myself into a different culture and make life-long friends. However, there are some things I wish I

Initial Impressions

My roommate Brittany and I have finally arrived in London! After a two hour delay and ten hours of being on our the flight from Dulles, we made it Heathrow International Airport. We do feel like we lost a bit

Day 5: Juan Diaz Mature Full Field Day and Academic Experiences

I’ve been stocking up these posts, so I’ll be putting them up in quick succession this week. My computer has been “in the shop” so to say, and I’ve been accessing things through my phone, which is not very good

Benvenuto a Italia!

So, considering my exhaustion and prolonged jet lag, this blog post will be a brief one. The following are just a few snapshots of my favorite moments within my first 48 hours in Italy. I captured the best drinks: a

Una Carta al Próximo Estudiante

This is it: the last post! I’m going to tell you here some things I wish I had known before going. First off, bring a towel. My family had no problem supplying me with a towel, but it honestly seemed

Back in the States, Baby!

I’m finally back home and, yes, it is as awesome as you would think. I’ve flushed the toilet paper, drunk from the sink, and even slept in two days in a row. Life is gooooood. Right here I’m supposed to

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