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What to Know Abroad Studying Abroad in Madrid by Alexei Koseff
1st Place Winner in the 2010 Transitions Abroad Student Writing Contest
Student Writing Contest Winner

Breaking with every college plan I had previously imagined for myself, I decided at the end of my freshman year that, to get the most out my college experience, I really wanted to study abroad as a sophomore. At Stanford University, we have a remarkable study abroad program with 11 foreign campuses, including two in Spanish-speaking countries: one in Santiago, Chile and the other in Madrid, Spain. Wanting an opportunity to improve my Spanish, which was not getting as much use as I wanted in college, and drawn to the opportunity to live and travel in Europe, I chose to apply to the program at Madrid. Because Stanford is on the quarter system, ten weeks in Spain seemed too short of a time to fully appreciate the experience, so I ultimately chose to study abroad for both the winter and spring quarters of my sophomore year. With half of my experience now under my belt, I would like to provide some words of advice on how to approach your own time studying abroad in Madrid...

Read more......

Learning on the Throne of Enlightenment
My Fall Semester in India
by Manny Fassihi
2nd Place Winner in the 2010 Transitions Abroad Student Writing Contest
Study Buddhism in India

Over the past century, Buddhism has insinuated itself into the cultural currency of America and the West at-large. It is invoked as the guiding faith of personalities as actor Richard Gere, Los Angeles Lakers Coach Phil Jackson (dubbed the "Zen Master") and, in his recent public apology, golfer Tiger Woods. It is evoked in the glowing smile of the Dalai Lama, the images of monks protesting in Burma, and the self-help section of our bookstores. It has been described as richly philosophical, strongly ethical and scientific in its intellectual rigor; both an alternative religion and an alternative to religion. But really, what is this phenomenon known as 'Buddhism?'...


Studying Abroad Among the Elite
A Year at the London School of Economics
by Chao Huang
2nd Place Winner in the 2010 Transitions Abroad Student Writing Contest
Study Abroad London School of Economics

During the first few weeks of studying at the London School of Economics, the phrase I heard the most was: "If you don't understand this concept, you should quit the class." Though this advice may seem unnecessarily intimidating, I believe it describes the LSE experience fairly well.

As a world-class institution, the London School of Economics and Political Science features bright and well-informed students, distinguished professors, and generally tough yet interesting courses. Of course, the LSE is much more than just academics. In the nine months I spent there, I fell in love with its wonderful central location, the extremely diverse social scene, and with life in London...


Volunteering Abroad Teaching English with Worldteach: Tales of Life in Northeast Thailand by Haley Boone
3rd Place Winner in the 2010 Transitions Abroad Student Writing Contest
Volunteer in Thailand

...One of the many great things about WorldTeach is that they require a 3-week orientation when you arrive in your country of service. This time was invaluable to me and so helpful in my transition to life abroad. We discussed teaching techniques, went on field trips to learn more about the area of Thailand where we would be living, and bonded as a team of foreigners who came together to travel, teach, and enjoy life in rural Thailand. Among the issues we discussed in depth were patterns in culture shock and how we could recognize them...


Volunteer and Live in The Marshall Islands — Be Careful What You Wish For by Sam Cortina
3rd Place Winner in the 2010 Transitions Abroad Student Writing Contest
Volunteer in the Marshall Islands

...You essentially need to know that teaching abroad is no vacation or year off. It is an incredibly rewarding experience; but, nonetheless, extremely challenging. The most important point for you to remember about teaching abroad is to expect the unexpected. I cannot tell you what your experience will be like, but I can tell you to be wary of cultural norms and to do your best to thrive in a completely new environment. Let go of your anxieties and predispositions and fulfill your original plan of learning and growing by giving back to the world. The Marshall Islands is a developing nation, and like many others in the world, this means you will possibly go without water, electricity, or amenities for days or weeks at a time; always keep in mind the reason that you originally signed up to teach abroad and grow...


The Rewards of Study Abroad in Buenos Aires by Megan Jones
3rd Place Winner in the 2010 Transitions Abroad Student Writing Contest
Stusy Abroad in the Marshall Islands

...Since returning to the U.S., I have realized how valuable international experience is to a job search in any field. Foreign experience sets your resume apart. Conversely, I have realized how valuable a native English speaker is abroad. Everyone wants to learn English. I mixed Buenos Aires' culture with my own, and it has only yielded positive benefits to my worldly understanding, my job search, and my social network...


Study Abroad and Service-Learning in Malta with Luther College by Brian Liesinger
3rd Place Winner in the 2010 Transitions Abroad Student Writing Contest
Stusy Abroad in Malta

...Malta was a great choice for me as an undergraduate because I had never been abroad before. I was fascinated with their Arabic-based language, though relieved that English is also an official language and all courses at the University of Malta are taught in English. It is also an interesting place to study journalism, given its location and the influences of North Africa and Western Europe. I found my international journalism courses at the University of Malta to be incredibly challenging and rewarding. I also took culture and history courses and signed on for a service-learning experience that changed my life in ways I could not have imagined before I arrived...


Living and Studying Abroad in Australia:
Cultural Immersion is the Best Way to To Experience the Land Down Under
by Carolyn Mueller
3rd Place Winner in the 2010 Transitions Abroad Student Writing Contest
Living and Studying in Australia

...American students often chose to live on campus in order to immerse themselves in the study abroad experience. However, I found that living in the actual city of Newcastle provided a more complete immersion into Aussie culture. Most of the Americans I knew who lived at the university, quite naturally, hung out with other Americans. Yet I believe that part of the personal growth and journey of living abroad is to leave one's natural comfort zones behind. In living off-campus I was able to make friends with my neighbors, including the Aussies who were renting apartments around us and quickly became friends...


Study and Travel Abroad in Bhutan
Experiential Learning with the Hiram College Study Abroad Program
by Emma Strong
3rd Place Winner in the 2010 Transitions Abroad Student Writing Contest
Study in Bhutan

...Druk Yul, the "Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon," otherwise known to the Western world as Bhutan, is a small country the size of Switzerland with approximately 700,000 inhabitants. It is the last surviving Himalayan Buddhist country, and it sits above India and below China, with Nepal not too far off to the West. Until just a few decades ago Bhutan was a very isolated country, closed off from the rest of the world and uninterested in international politics. In 1971 Bhutan joined the United Nations, entering the world community. Hiram College offers countless study abroad opportunities for students. Three and a half years ago, I sat in my Freshman writing course listening to our teacher's assistant describe her magical, life-changing experience in Bhutan, a small country none of us had ever heard of. After seeing her photographs and listening to her stories, I knew I had to go to Bhutan. That opportunity presented itself during the fall of 2009...


Studying and Living in Cairo and Traveling in the Desert Dunes of Egypt by Rachel Tobias
3rd Place Winner in the 2010 Transitions Abroad Student Writing Contest
Study in Egypt

...One weekend we decided to take a break from the city madness and escape to Siwa Oasis, a 7-hour drive from Cairo. We spent our days sand boarding down giant sand dunes, pruning ourselves in bubbling hot springs, and absorbing the magic of Bedouin camps. Sitting on a sand dune one evening, I watched as the sun burned orange and purple into the dunes as it retired for the night. I looked out across the hundreds of miles of desert surrounding me, and knew that this was a perfect moment...


Studying Abroad and Living in Prague, Czech Republic
Land of the "Unbearable Lightness of Being"
by Tanya Xu
3rd Place Winner in the 2010 Transitions Abroad Student Writing Contest
Study in Prague
...I will be honest: many students study in Prague because the beer is world-famous and food and transportation is cheap. And yes, it’s true: their beer is good (especially the Pilsner brand), their food is cheap (groceries cost around $25 per week), and public transportation is also cheap (you can hop on a train to anywhere in the Czech Republic for less than the price of a movie ticket).

I chose to study in Prague for a slightly different reason; the Czech author Milan Kundera changed my life. And I wanted to see for myself the political, geographical, and cultural conditions that inspired Kundera’s novel—and my literary Bible—The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which is deeply set in this region. And after living in Prague for a semester, I can understand why this novel works, and could only work, here...


Study Abroad and Living in Ghana
Throw Your Expectations Out of the Window
by Isabel Dickinson
Finalist in the 2010 Transitions Abroad Student Writing Contest
Study in Ghana

...One of the most interesting aspects of the SIT program is that we had the resources of the University of Ghana at our fingertips, but we were able to travel with the program directors' guidance. We had the opportunity to stay with three different families in three areas: Accra, Kumasi, and a small village approximately two hours away from Kumasi. For one month after our three consecutive home stays, we traveled with the group from Kumasi to Tamale for a week of lectures and a weekend stay at Mole National Park. From Tamale, we traveled through Ghana to Cape Coast, the capital of Ghana prior to Accra, for just over a week. Finally we traveled to the Volta region and then back to Accra for our final 1-month independent research period. The program gave all 15 students freedom to experience Ghanaian culture independently but at the same time a structure to enable these experiences...


Learning to Teach English in Germany
A Semester of Studying, Living, and Traveling while Studying for a TEFL Degree
by Isabel Dickinson
Finalist in the 2010 Transitions Abroad Student Writing Contest
Learning TEFL in Germany

...The year before, as a sophomore in college, I somehow decided that I wanted to make study abroad a reality. When my roommate randomly sent me a link for a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate program through Kent State University, I began to research in earnest. I had just recently switched my major to sociology, but was also very interested in English teaching overseas. While there are many programs that offer TEFL certificates in record time, I wanted something that would give me college credit and be more comprehensive than what a four-week program could ever promise. As it turned out, the website my roommate sent to me proved the best option..


Study Abroad at Oxford University, England by Kelsey O'Brien
Finalist in the 2010 Transitions Abroad Student Writing Contest
Study in Oxford

...As a "Visiting Student," you are also allowed to visit the other colleges and halls free of charge (most tourists have to pay a couple of pounds to get in, if the college allows visitors at all). Because Oxford is such an old city, its buildings are beautiful and full of historical significance. They have seen the likes of Oscar Wilde, John Locke, Albert Einstein, and countless other brilliant minds. To walk through the same halls, eat at the same pubs, and even walk on the same stones as they did was an experience I never tired of, even after nine months...


Learning TEFL in Germany

After consulting countless volunteer programs all throughout South America, I chose Road2Argentina for several reasons. First, it was the flexibility of the program. While many placements listed on, for example, require a long-term commitment or have rigid program dates, Road2Argentina is entirely flexible-you choose the start, end, and duration of your program...


Ask the Expat Q&A
Living Abroad as a Student
Living Abroad Contributing Editor Volker Poelzl
Volker Poelzl

Moving abroad for a language course or university study is usually for a shorter duration than living overseas for employment, business, or retirement, but students still face many of the same issues and challenges. The main difference is that as a student, the process of settling in and adapting to a host country takes up a significantly larger portion of your time overseas than as a long-term expatriate. I have met many language and university students who had to return home just as they were getting comfortable living overseas. To ensure that you get all the support you need as a student to help you quickly adapt to your host country, it is important to prepare well and research all the program details before signing up...


How to Evaluate International Volunteer Sending Organizations
Volunteering Abroad Contributing Editor Zahara Heckscher
Zahara Heckscher
In recent years, dozens of new organizations are offering a variety of ways to volunteer internationally-from preparing food on an ecotourism ranch to teaching kids in Tanzania...

How do you tell which programs are really doing what they say they do? Which programs are worth the money they charge? Which are sustainable and which are a flimsy form of "VolunTourism"-using volunteerism to recruit people and make money, without thought to the potentially harmful impacts on the local community? Read more...

Studying Portuguese in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil
Senior Contributing Editor Lies Ouwerkerk
Lies Ouwerkerk

Getting by in foreign tongues has always served me greatly in connecting with local people and their culture during my travels.  It helps, of course, to have lived in Europe, where I was exposed to several foreign languages. Portuguese, however, was never one of them. So when I recently embarked on an extensive trip through Brazil, I decided to start with a full immersion experience for the first few weeks of my travels, taking Portuguese classes in a language school, combined with a homestay at a Brazilian family...


Nora Dunn

... When I was in high school, I figured that studying abroad was a pleasure reserved solely for the affluent and only available during university years. If only I had known about United World College: I would have had an exciting, fast-paced, intellectually stimulating, and wildly different finish to high school than I could have imagined. And what is most extraordinary is that my study abroad would have been virtually free...


The Penguins of SANCCOB (South Africa)
Where is She Going Next Columnist Jane Stanfield
Jane Stanfield

I have never considered myself a bird lover but I do have one bird goal in life-to see every species of penguin in their natural habitat. This goal was formed after I visited New Zealand and saw the Yellow Eyed Penguins. I found out there are only 17 different species of penguins. As they all reside south of the equator, I figured this was a "to-do" item that would be relatively easy to accomplish.
When researching wildlife projects in South Africa, I located the opportunity to work with the African Penguin, or "jackass penguin" at SANCCOB, the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds...


Real or Virtual Study Abroad? How to Strike a Balance
Student Columnist Isabel Eva Bohrer

Whether it's your first or hundredth time abroad, the question of immersion applies to everybody. Sure, letting go of your "old" home and immersing yourself in the local culture certainly becomes easier the more time you spend abroad. Nevertheless, the way in which you stay in touch with people will undoubtedly shape your experience. With emails, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, it is easier than ever to maintain contact. But it is just as easy to spend hours glued to a computer screen and let the local life pass unnoticed. Here are some tips on striking a healthy balance...


Matt Gibson
Bostonian Matt Kepnes, widely known as Nomadic Matt, is the quintessential blogging success story. In March 2008, equipped with an MBA and 18 months of travel experience, he started his blog, Now Kepnes is probably the second best known solo travel blogger on the Web.
A cursory examination of his work shows a great mind for business; he makes more than enough money from his blog to travel indefinitely while still saving money and, these days, he says that he only needs to spend 10-15 hours a week maintaining his blog, leaving him free to enjoy his travels and work on other projects. He even has an intern working for him. Certainly a good setup... Read more...
TAzine Editorial
TAzine is a monthly Webzine which continues the 30-year tradition started by Transitions Abroad magazine. TAzine features many of the same columnists who wrote for the magazine, a growing group of new columnists, while featuring many freelance writers who wish to share their experiences and expertise within the context of our innovative alternative coverage of work, study, travel, and living abroad.

Founded in 1977 by Dr. Clayton Allen Hubbs, Transitions Abroad magazine was the only print publication dedicated to work, study, living, volunteering, and immersion travel abroad. Its purpose — in print and now as a Webzine — is the dissemination of practical information leading to a greater understanding of other cultures through direct participation in the daily life of the host community.

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