It has been wonderful getting to know the members our Linfield program, other international students, and Irish students while at NUIG. However, sometimes, it is also nice to see a familiar face, and I was lucky enough to connect with several friends who are studying abroad in other countries in the last few weeks.
My first trip out of Ireland took me to Alicante, Spain, where my close friend and sorority sister, Kristen Huth, is studying.
It was so much fun getting to hear about Kristen’s experiences and see first hand where she has been spending her semester. Between catching up and her acting as my translator, we enjoyed the sights of the beautiful city, and I got to meet several of her new friends.
Not to mention, after several weeks of rain (think Oregon in the fall) the sunny Spanish beach was a welcome break. Although it was a little too chilly to swim, it was nice enough to spend the day on the sand, watching the sailboats and playing guitar.
During the trip, we also explored The Castle of Santa Bárbara, perched over the city. The castle has a long history and boasts a museum, restaurant, and most importantly, stellar views. Photos can’t do justice to the watching the sun set over the city.
Sadly, we had to part all too soon, but I’m looking forward to showing her around Ireland in April! One of the great things about studying abroad at the same time as my friends is that making travel arrangements with them is both simpler and has the added benefit of great company. Just ask Phoebe Whittington and Micaela Levesque, high school friends of mine studying abroad in England, who came to visit me in Ireland the following weekend.
Day to day life in Galway is great on its own. It’s a new city, my classes are great, and there is always something going on. But having visitors encourages me to try out the journeys I might not always think to take on my own. For example, Phoebe, Micaela, and I decided to venture out to the Aran Islands for the day.
We selected Inis Mór for our destination and decided to take a bike tour around the island. Now, I won’t say how long it’s been since I’ve ridden a bike, but let’s just say I was a little intimidated. I quickly got the hang of it though, and I’m so glad I decided to try it out! This trip provided the perfect blend of scenic views and outdoor exercise. I don’t hesitate to say it was my favorite adventure yet, a testament to what can happen when you try something new!
Our target landmark for the day was Dún Aonghasa, the oldest stone fort in Western Europe. Dún Aonghasa sits at the top of a cliff and is a comfortable bike ride away from the docks. On the way, we enjoyed the beautiful coastal views, paused for some dramatic photos, and left a small mark on the island.
When we finally arrived at Dún Aonghasa, it was incredible. It was a clear day, so we could see the cliffs extend for miles around the island. The wind whipped at our clothes and whistled over the water, and in the distance we could just make out a bit of Galway.
The sun hid beneath and broke through the clouds in cycles, gracing the sea with light. It was truly a spectacular experience, and well worth the trip.
Once again, the weekend came to a close, and I had to say goodbye to my friends. But even last year, I never would have thought I would get the chance to travel around Europe with them or share these experiences together. The memories we have created are what I came here for: fun, educational, lasting.
My name is Isis and I’m studying abroad in South Korea. I’ve been here for three days but honestly it feels like forever. The plane flight was extremely long but I didn’t, and still don’t, think that I’m in a foreign country. I thought there was going to be a massive amount of culture shock, but everyone here just keeps to themselves, and are super friendly and helpful if you need anything. On the first day I moved in and met my roommate. I was most concerned with not knowing anything about my roommate, but I got really lucky and my roommate is one of the coolest people I know — and we have the same birthday!
Since classes haven’t started my days are filled with just exploring the country as best as I can before I have to focus on school, and I have a really great group of friends that are from all over the world to help navigate where we are.
There’s a really cool place about ten minutes from campus where you can get shaved ice and shop. I’m not a big shopper — and this place is definitely a giant shopping mall — but my roommate is (that’s her in the picture above) and it’s fun just exploring with her.
These are my friends! They are from Mexico, the USA, Spain, the Netherlands, and Switzerland! It’s really cool because I’ve known them for two days but they are already life-long friends 🙂
Yesterday we went to Myeong-dong to shop to get food and figure out the subway system which, as an American, was really complicated, but luckily we have a lot of friends from Europe and they showed me how to navigate it. One thing to know about Korea is that they have shopping malls inside the Metro so you could walk for hours and not even go near the subway unless you know specifically which floor you’re going to.
Thanks for reading this far! I’ll make sure to keep updating everyone, and I just want to say that I think this semester is going to be hard class-wise, but I know I have a really supportive group of people here to make sure I’m successful.
Linfield’s study abroad opportunity to Aix is unique because they pay for pre-orientation (called early start), which means you arrive a week prior to the first day of class. Over that week you can take a cooking class, go wine tasting, visit nearby monuments, get a tour of town, and get extra French practice. I highly enjoyed my time at early start and met most of my friends here during that time. I especially appreciated the information we received regarding French and American cultural differences.
During pre-orientation, IAU Dean Leigh Smith said his advice for us was to get a perspective on American politics and to form that opinion now. Everyone from your French friends and host families to your professors want to know exactly what is going on in the United States. One professor, and head of the school of Business and International Relations, then reminded us of the prevalence of American politics and the power of our elections on other nations. He is an Arab Muslim and a journalist. He described how recent policies and statements from the United States government had impacted his and his family’s life. He reiterated the statement made by the dean: have an educated opinion. Understand how interconnected we all are.
During the study abroad orientation put on by IPO last year, we role played what it would be like to be asked about American politics so we had a semi-prepared response. I was reminded of this at early start. People are going to expect you to be an expert on American politics even if you aren’t.
Last weekend I was in Nice for the Carnival de Nice. The carnival is a 160 year old tradition that celebrates the city. It involves a massive parade with floats and entertainers. This year the theme was cinema. The culmination of the parade, the curtain closer, was a massive float of Donald Trump styled after Pennywise the clown from “It.” In his hand he held a figurine of French president Emmanuel Macron. Running underneath the float were entertainers wearing costumes of paper boats. The boats were made out of executive orders and international agreements Trump has either made or bowed out of. Marching alongside the Trump clown, were various dictators also dressed as Pennywise but not as large. Directly preceding this was a float of Russian president Vladimir Putin carrying what appeared to be Trump (dressed in drag) in his arms over the Kremlin.
It’s humbling to watch the president of your country act as the punchline of a joke while crowds of French people around you laugh. And he will be. American students studying abroad should anticipate this and know how they to appropriately react.
It has been exceptionally cold for the typical winter in southern France. Or so I’m told. I’ve found it rather mild without too much rain. To poorly paraphrase a French saying “it can’t be a Saturday without sun,” so most days have some sun. The wind here is notorious. They call it the mistral and it blows down the river from the alps. There is a plethora of urban legends about the mistral. Some say that in the 1600’s people who had committed a crime while it was windy would blame the wind saying it made them do it. It was like an insanity plea. They also say that the wind only blows for an odd number of days. I have not necessarily found that to be true. The decent weather has made me want to spend all day in one of the lovely parks, but alas school is an essential component of this process.
At Linfield I study journalism and international relations. While I am in Aix, I am primarily focusing on the international relations component. IAU, the program here in Aix, has a school specifically for business and international relations. This means that there are many other students who are IR majors here, and the IR classes are strong. I am taking classes on monotheistic religions, the history of French colonialism in North Africa, the European Union, and refugees and immigrants into the EU. I am also taking a French class which is required for every IAU student. I am excited to learn more about France’s role in the European Union and about their policies on refugees and immigration. I think that a lot of students believe that the classes you take abroad are easier than the ones at your home university. This is not necessarily true. Classes are just as intense when you’re abroad. Some consider it more challenging, because while taking classes in a different setting than you’re used to, you’re also growing accustomed to a new culture and a new country. My advice would still be to challenge yourself with classes. The course offerings at your location are as unique as the location, and offer a new perspective on things you’re learning about.
Hola from Galápagos! Here is a look into the first couple weeks of my study abroad experience!
After a adventure-packed and quick month on the Mainland in Quito, I have finally made it to the Galápagos! I am staying on the island of San Cristóbal, and attending the University of San Francisco’s extension program here. I am on the Marine Ecology track, so I get to spend the next 3 months learning all about the marine wildlife here on the islands and doing research to know more about them. Traditional class schedules aren’t offered here, instead we take 5 classes in intensive, 3-week intervals (kind of like mini Jan Terms!). I am currently taking a Marine Life class, which includes lectures in the classroom about identification, anatomy, conservation status, and other facts regarding endemic species of the islands, and then time spent out on the island and in the surrounding ocean studying the species. Earlier this week our class took boats out to scuba dive and snorkel with hammerhead sharks and manta rays (let me add that there were no cages present, we were free diving with sharks and I was terrified)!
Aside from school, life in San Cristóbal has been a blast. It is obviously very different from the United States, and even mainland Ecuador. With only 6,000 people, it is a very small, tight-knight community where everyone knows everyone. So much so that you can get into a cab, tell the driver the last name of the family who’s house your going to, and they will know exactly where to go! I live with a host family here, which has been another adjustment, but also one of my favorite parts! I have had kind of a unique experience, and only had host moms both in Quito and here in San Cristóbal, with no host siblings. However, spending time with my host moms has been the best way for me to get immersed in the Ecuadorian and Galápagos cultures, and has presented me with so many learning opportunities. You become so close in such a short time! It is also summer here right now, which means heat and humidity. Much different than the polar vortex that is the United States right now, but it’s not too big of a problem when campus is right across from the beach!
Here’s a couple photos from my time here:
I am enjoying island life more and more every day, and am so excited for all the other adventures that await me in the coming months!
When I first came to college I knew I wanted to do something continuously during my time at Linfield that would challenge me. I decided that that challenge would be learning French. I believe that learning a new language is one of the most beneficial things you can do no matter your major or career. It allows you to connect with new people and places on a deeper level.
Studying abroad factored strongly into my plan to learn another language, and I’m appreciative of how easy Linfield made this process. The importance placed on international study was one of the reasons I was drawn to this school. After speaking with my French professors and other students, I decided that Aix en Provence was where I wanted to study. It’s location in the sunny south of France was appealing, as well as the numerous courses on international relations offered at the university. I also liked the appeal of the home stay because I felt like this was a great way to improve my French outside of the classroom.
The hardest part about studying abroad so far has been the visa application process. I was not prepared for how long it would be or how many steps there were. There were multiple application processes that all seemed to ask me the same questions. Getting my visa involved me going to San Francisco to officially submit my application and be finger-printed. The location of the office that you go to depends on where you live. For most west coast residents San Francisco is where you will be going. My advice for anyone about to go through the visa process is to do everything immediately and quickly. Have extra copies of everything and make check lists for each step you need to do. Also have about $300 saved up for the fees affiliated with the process. This is much more than I ended up actually spending, but it accounts for any issues or mistakes arising. I hope this information helps future students navigate this process.
For this part of my trip I bought a Eurail Global Pass, which allowed me to travel to the majority of the countries in Europe. Unfortunately, we didn’t know that a lot of train companies require you to also buy a reservation for a specific train, meaning that we had to plan a lot more than we’d originally expected.
After my mom left, my best friend Simone flew to London from Denver. We spent 2 days in London, and I saw all the major sites yet again. From the Christmas market by the London Eye to Tower Bridge and back to Buckingham Palace we saw it all.
After London, we flew to Lisbon, Portugal. We only had the afternoon in Portugal before taking a night train to Barcelona. To make the most of our time we did a city bus tour, taking in as much of the city as we could before it got dark. We got dinner and wandered the city before heading to the train station.
The next 13 hours were spent on trains getting from Lisbon to Madrid and then Madrid to Barcelona. It was New Year’s Eve and once we got settled into our Airbnb we headed out to Park Güell, a park made by famous architect and artist Antoni Gaudí. This was the one thing I wanted to do in Barcelona and it was well worth the trip. We spent hours walking around the park. Unfortunately, the tickets to get on the terrace and see all of the tile work were sold out.
Later that night we went to the “Magic Fountain” where the city had its big NYE festivities. The celebration was amazing from a local band to a water show and a massive finale with fireworks.
The next morning we caught a train to Paris. The six hours on the train were nice after being out so late and then getting locked out of our Airbnb room. We got a hotel close to the Eiffel Tower and that first night took some time to catch up on sleep. We ordered pizza and prepared for our full day in Paris.
We got up early the next morning, making it to the Eiffel Tower by 8:30, an hour before it opened, so that we made sure we were close to the front of the line. Once we got up to the top we got Champagne and took in the views of the city. We got breakfast and wandered around all of the shops in the tower.
Our next stop was the Arc de Triomphe. We didn’t go up to the terrace, we just made a pit stop before heading to Louvre. The line to get in was crazy long and we opted to skip it and head to Notre Dame instead. The cathedral was impressive and walking along the Seine and was breathtaking. We stopped for lunch- French onion soup of course before finding a macaroon shop and heading back to the hotel for a nap.
That night we headed back to the Eiffel Tower to see it all lite up and go to the Christmas market across the street. We had crepes for dinner and mulled wine for walking around the market.
The next day we headed to Brussels. One of our first stops was for Belgian waffles. We did some shopping and wandering around just taking in the architecture. We went to the Grand Place and saw the Manneken Pis statue that’s famous. We spent most of the day just wandering until our phones were gonna die and then headed back to the hostel to recharge before dinner. After a couple hours we headed back to the Grand Place for the light show and then ate at the Hard Rock.
The next morning we went to the Atomium. It was not at all what we were expecting. We thought it was just a cool sculpture but it is a building with rooms in each of the little bubbles. It was an interesting experience and a weird way to spend our last few hours in Brussels.
We headed to Amsterdam next. We spent the evening wandering around, going from canal to canal. We stopped in the Chinese district for dinner, and then headed back to our hostel.
The next morning we went on a canal tour of the city and then did some more wandering until our time slot at the Van Gogh Museum that afternoon.
The next morning I said goodbye to Simone and she headed back to the States while I caught a train to Basel, Switzerland. I spent the night there as a layover on my way to Venice. As I just had the afternoon and night in Basel I headed to the Kunstmuseum, an art museum . After walking around the museum for a few hours I decided to see more of the city and wandered for another hour before heading to my hostel to get some sleep.
I had to be at the train station by 6 the next morning to catch my train to Italy. Once in Venice I met up with Carmen, Rose, Sarah and Haylee. We made dinner and then went out for gelato. They showed me some of the sights they’d found in the last few days.
The next day we went to Florence. Florence was beautiful and we spent our first day figuring out what was around us, and walking the city.
The next day we went to the Dome and did some shopping. All exhausted from our weeks of traveling we spent our days in Florence relaxing and just taking in Italy.
Our next stop was Rome. Our first day in Rome we walked to the Coliseum. We explored around the area and found an old cathedral which was open to the public. We went in and admired the amazing art work and stained glass. On our way back to our hostel we found a cute little restaurant that had the best pasta I’ve ever had.
The next day we headed to Vatican City early so we could see the museum and Sistine Chapel (which happened to be closing early).
After making our way through both of these we went to St. Peter’s Basilica.
From Vatican City we made our way to the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. Our last stop was the Pantheon before we got dinner and made our way back to the hostel.
Our last stop in Italy was Naples. The first afternoon in Naples we made our way to the water hoping for a good view of Mt Vesuvius. We wandered around and just took in the nice weather that we knew we wouldn’t see once we are back in England.
We spent the next day in Pompeii. We spent hours there and still missed so much. It was amazing to walk around and see the statues and ruins of houses and other buildings. We didn’t bring food with us, which was a big mistake so we had to leave for lunch after about only two hours.
We spent the next two days making our way back to Rome and from there back to Nottingham.
My biggest takeaways from these 2 weeks of traveling are to prepare and plan in advance. If there is something you really want to do or see then look for tickets online at least two weeks before you’ll be there. Most importantly, I think it is important to pick people that you will thrive with if you are going to be spending days on end with them. I was really happy that I got to travel with so many different people and got to have such diverse experiences with them.
The last few weeks we have been busy figuring out class schedules and activities. If I’m being honest, registration can be a bit of a mess, but as of today, I’m officially registered for all my modules. Yay! A few of us did manage to work in a reading session at Cafe Nero to combine fun with productivity and stay on top of our classes. They have a great atmosphere and the coffee is amazing!
What was even more fun though was visiting the Cliffs of Moher. There was plenty of wind, mud, and fog, but if you ask me, that just adds to the Ireland aesthetic. It also meant there weren’t that many tourists, so we could explore the cliffs at our leisure.
The trails make it easy to get a closer look at the cliffs and wildlife. There are some beautiful viewing points where it feels like being at the edge of the world! Seagulls perched on the rock face and would float up to say hello. One flew right up to Kristen, but sadly, this humble blogger wasn’t able to capture the moment on camera.
Aside from our big adventure to the cliffs, we’ve also taken mini adventures across Galway. We visited the Galway City Museum and it was really interesting to learn about the city. Despite being a young independent nation, Ireland has a long, rich history. After all, NUIG opened its doors before Oregon was a state!
We’ve continued to check off the many, many places to go in the city by trying out an assortment of restaurants and shops. We even went to the Saturday market where I purchased two bags of produce for €4.50! Mind blown.
Night life is also a big part of the culture in Galway. Luckily, there are loads of pubs to choose from, and many have live music and dancing. We stayed at one pub for over two hours because the band was so good! It’s a great place to strike up a conversation, but even taking a nighttime walk down Shop Street can be memorable.
The next few weeks are bound to include more traveling adventures, but since Club and Society day were just this week, we also have many new social activities on the horizon. Just today, I auditioned for the drama department’s one act series, so wish me luck on the results! Lexi Kerr is getting involved with the soccer team, and everyone is looking to try something new. I have no doubt that as the semester continues, our little Linfield crowd will continue to branch out into new spheres. Stay tuned!
After a saying goodbye to Oregon and a few too many hours of travel, we arrived exhausted and elated in Ireland. During the drive from Shannon to Galway, we were immediately captivated by the beautiful Irish countryside. I’ll admit that as a native Oregonian, being surrounded by all of that green was like taking a bit of home with me abroad.
Once we arrived in Galway, we checked into our apartments at Cuirt na Coiribe and met our new roommates! We are all living with other international students, most of whom are also from the U.S.
Over the course of the next few days we had orientation and began to explore NUIG and Galway. A few of us decided to wander through campus to get the lay of the land and of course, take pictures of the iconic Quadrangle. Much like Pioneer at Linfield, the Quad began as the original college campus which has since expanded from 68 students to 18,000.
I still get lost downtown, but that was the goal of our initial trip exploring the city of Galway itself. We first found ourselves in the stunning Galway Cathedral, a historic landmark and great point of reference when exploring the city.
Galway has a youthful vibe from the plentiful cafes and shops to the many street performers that enliven the environment. It is impossible to venture downtown without running into other students, and everyone we met seemed friendly and welcoming.
Our quest to get lost in the city took us across the River Corrib (home to a singular swan) and off the beaten path. I don’t know where exactly we were in the city, but the colorful wall art spoke for itself.
Having taken our first adventure around town, we felt ready to take on an exciting new semester! I can’t wait to find out what’s coming next.
It’s been a few weeks folks, happy belated new year! I caught a cold while writing so it took me a bit longer to finish. So without further adieu, here’s my last post:
10 Lessons Learned in Cape Town (in no particular order)
Learn to laugh off traveling challenges so many times while traveling I found myself exhausted, confused, and downright irritable. Like when I was in the Amsterdam train station wanting to yell at the ticket machine for repeatedly denying my card and making it impossible to go anywhere. In a last ditch effort I tried to use apple pay and to my great surprise, it worked! Now more than ever I know that traveling can be challenging, but all you can do is find the humor and enjoy the process.
Silence is helpful – and often needed In a culture of productivity and go, go, go, I often neglected to take a day and read a book or slow down. One of the beautiful parts of this trip was the time I took to sit on my couch, let go of my fear of missing out, put my phone down and just read. I made some of my biggest personal discoveries during the times I stayed in, or took a half hour to journal my thoughts while waiting for a plane or a train. Moving forward, I’m working on being intentional with creating more space for quiet in my life here.
Be willing to be wrong Living in Cape Town taught me there are other ways to do life and nothing is gained by assuming my way is the best way just because its mine. I’ve come back with different perspectives on work, health, and myself and I know there’s a lot more to learn if I just keep an open mind
Small amounts of money add up quickly This I heard so many times and still found myself shocked at how quickly $2 here and $4 there adds up. Happy to say I feel like I’ve found the balance between trying new things and not spending too much. I know now that I’d way rather spend on food and fun than clothes or Ubers.
friends are everywhere, if you look. I’ve always considered myself outgoing but being abroad for so long really showed me the value of putting down my phone and seeking connection. In Amsterdam I got a bit lost with a Canadian ex-pat who ended up going the same way I was. That same week, I was alone going to the Eiffel Tower and ended up making two great friends in line. They took my pictures at the top and we still chat on Instagram! In Cape Town, a barista ended up being one of my favorite people; we had the best waffles of my life together.
Don’t be afraid to adventure alone I knew going in I’d be spending a bunch of time on my own and wasn’t worried but this trip gave me an ability to be content finding my own adventures and enjoying what I wanted to. I spent a lot of time with my fellow interns and it was awesome; at the same time, I am happy I had the chance to be on my own for a good bit as well.
Ask for what you want-the worst that can happen is someone says no This lesson popped up everywhere for me on my trip; from the girls who shared their portable charger at a restaurant when my phone was at 8% and I needed to order an Uber, to the UPS guy who searched through the closed warehouse for an ID card I needed to get back to the US. Always ask!
You never know what’ll happen if you step outside your comfort zone Something I never thought I’d fall in love with: hot yoga. I was never a big fan of sweating but on a whim decided to just buy the intro to a new studio and wow, was I a fan. I always say that trying things out is important; my time in Cape Town made me all the more sure of it.
Relationships need conscious effort and open communication Obviously I knew this logically, but I saw it in more clearly than ever because of this trip. Simply put, this trip forced me to be aware of the relationships I was trying in and those that I honestly wasn’t. I came back from Cape Town to a tear-filled conversation with my best friend who I had stopped talking to about halfway through. It was tough but in the end reminded me people don’t stay in your life just because.
Less is more I came back from Cape Town, took one look at my closet, and instantly started taking things out. I don’t think I really understood how much excess was in my life until now. Not only did I reorganize my closet and get rid of somewhere around 10-15 bags of donations and trash, but I have grown more aware of other things. I’m currently analyzing if I’m spending on useful things or just being lazy to grocery shop.
In the end, this trip was, as they all say, life-changing. I’m so grateful to have gone on this experience and look forward to using these lessons both in my life in the States and in all my future travels.
Thanks for following along on the journey, don’t forget to add a visit to Cape Town to your life!