Amanda Bartlett

E.g., Wednesday, June 1, 2016
E.g., Wednesday, June 1, 2016

UI senior Caitlyn Kavan is a go-getter. Since the beginning of her time at the University of Iowa, she’s been an advocate for refugees, a student athlete, a member of seven multicultural student organizations, and an on-campus facilitator for discussions about breaking racial stereotypes. She can be found here at the International Programs office where she works as an outreach assistant, helping students find the study abroad destination of their dreams.

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For most students at the University of Iowa, winter break is a time to unwind, visit with family and indulge in a well-deserved Netflix binge while curled up with a cup of hot cocoa. But for others like Victor Diaz, it was an opportunity to make a difference – to embark on a journey to Pondicherry, India for a three-week study abroad course, “Serving Children with Disabilities, Empowering Local Women, Assisting Older Adults.” As part of the course, he observed the physical therapy and special education initiatives many non-profit organizations have implemented in order for these otherwise unwelcome individuals to develop academically or vocationally so that they can integrate into society more able-bodied and prepared. Through these interactions and observations, he learned more about the importance of communication - especially cross-culturally and cross linguistically.

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When UI student Heather Barney studied abroad in Havana, Cuba, this January, she expected to expand on her Spanish-speaking abilities, learn more about the country’s history and culture, and investigate the types of medical schools and careers Cuba has to offer to foreigners. What she didn’t anticipate, however, was that she would be one of several students featured in a news story by Telesur, a Venezuelan broadcasting company

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We're excited to announce our Study Abroad Bloggers for the spring 2016 semester! These nine unique individuals were selected from a competitive pool of writers to tell the story of their destination and represent the voice of University of Iowa students while abroad.

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“Tell me about a time when you were faced with a difficult situation and how you resolved it,” an interviewer might ask you. Or perhaps, “Give me an example of a moment when you were thrown out of your comfort zone and how you dealt with it.” These questions can be daunting for even the most qualified job applicant. But the truth is, your interviewer is probably expecting some pretty stereotypical answers: You took a difficult class outside of your major and, by some force of will, ended up getting a decent grade. You took part in a group project that you essentially had to complete on your own because your partners were lazy. Yawn. This isn’t going to help you stand out. But, studies show that a study abroad experience might. Not only will a story about tackling the language barrier during your time in Spain have your interviewer going from apathetic to absorbed – it can also showcase all the skills that make a study abroad experience truly valuable.

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The International and African Studies Programs will host yet another baraza, or discussion - this time, with Marie Kruger, an associate professor in the Department of English. Trauma on Display: Commemorating Apartheid on Constitution Hill will explore how physical sites across South Africa are devoted to the commemoration of apartheid atrocities, from Robben Island to the Apartheid Museum.

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Known by some as the "Dumpling Darling," Lesley Triplett began her own Korean-style dumpling stand at the Iowa City Farmer's Market in July 2014 and has been expanding the business ever since. The UI communications graduate says her unique business venture was inspired by her love of travel, which began with a study abroad experience during her time at the University of Iowa.

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Beatrice Smigasiewicz has received a 2015-16 Fulbright U.S. Student Award to write a book of essays titled Recovered Futures, which will investigate the representation of post-Soviet Polish identity in the cultural capital of Krakow. Smigasiewicz graduated with an M.F.A. in literary translation from the University of Iowa in May 2014 and will earn a second M.F.A. in nonfiction writing from the UI this May. As a Polish-American who lived in the country until the age of eleven, Beatrice seeks to understand modern-day Poland through interviews, museum research, and study of Polish literature and architecture.

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Douglas Baker, a senior majoring in piano and Japanese at the University of Iowa, has received a 2015-16 Fulbright U.S. Student Award to further pursue his research abroad in a project titled, “The Japanese Style in Taijiro Goh’s Piano Music.” In this project, Douglas will gain access to unpublished compositions in archives held in Japan, where he plans to explore the methods Taijiro Goh used in order to express a Japanese style in his compositions. Goh was notably recognized as the composer of Japan’s first violin concerto in 1935.

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Drew Soloski graduated from the University of Iowa in 2007 with a dual degree in Chinese language and literature and psychology. During his time at the UI, Drew studied abroad on the CIEE program in Nanjing and Beijing, China, which he credits as the “foundation of his major” and the reason for discovering his true passion: international business. He is currently an MBA/MA student at the Wharton School and the Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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Luis Germán Vargas, originally from Bucaramangaro, Colombia, graduated from the University of Iowa in 1972 with a degree in mechanical engineering. Today he lives in Cali, Colombia where he works as a Projects Engineer for Colgate Palmolive.

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Originally from Hong Kong, Agnes graduated from the University of Iowa International Writing Program in 2008 as an Honorary Fellow in Writing. Since then, she has accomplished a wide range of achievements. She was awarded the Nosside International Poetry Prize (Special Mention) in 2008 and some of her poems have been translated into German, Italian and other languages.

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A group of 14 Russian educators from various U.S. states traveled abroad to Moscow for an intensive four-week teaching workshop this June. The program, titled ‘Russian Teachers for the 21st Century: Maximizing Teaching Effectiveness by Immersing into Language, Culture and Standard-Based Teaching,’ was directed by two University of Iowa faculty members – Irina Kostina, Ph.D., lecturer in Russian and Anna Kolesnikova, Ph.D., adjunct assistant professor of Russian language.

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Though I certainly do feel little pangs of sadness when reminiscing on my favorite UK memories, I can definitely say I have gained a stronger appreciation for my life here in the states as well. For my final entry, I’ve decided to compile a “top 10” list of tips and things I’ve learned, so that whoever’s reading might have some fresh advice on how to have a successful study abroad experience...

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According to many paranormal investigations, the Edinburgh Vaults are reportedly one of the most haunted locations in the world. Mustering up all of our courage, our group went on a ghost tour of the vaults, learning of the spirits that still roamed its corridors from the 17th and 18th centuries. One of the famed ghosts is known as “Mr. Boots,” an evil entity who is believed to have murdered a woman and kept the body in his “house” inside.

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I have seen Big Ben, the London Eye, and ridden a double decker bus. I can (sort of) navigate the underground tube system. I’ve even gotten to know a couple of the locals on a first-name basis. All in all, it’s safe to say that I’ve fallen in love with the bustling city of London. Despite this, it was nice to get out of the urban atmosphere for a day and visit the beautiful city of York, England.

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Our trip has been filled to the brim with breathtaking tours offering us a take on London’s most popular attractions. However, things shifted a bit when we gathered on a cobbled stone road, just as the sun began to set for the evening. Rather than giggles and an overall uplifting vibe, the nervous tension and quickening heartbeats rose from our group.

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Although he was a fictional character dreamt up by Scottish author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the late 1800s, many of Holmes’ techniques are effectively used today – over 130 years later. Indeed, the magnifying glass is an effective tool popularized by the detective, as are his methods of logical reasoning, disguise, and forensic science, which were simply unheard of at the time.

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As I write, I am sitting in bed, all of my clothes are packed in vacuum-sealed bags, copies of my passport are scanned, and my alarm is set. Yet here I am, wide awake, eagerly anticipating the big trip.

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Ever since I first picked up the novel American Psycho a couple of years ago, I’ve had a sort of infatuation with famous serial killers. I became intrigued at the thought of gaining insight into America’s criminal justice system by studying its British roots – criminology is something that has always captivated me. In just a few days, I will be studying abroad in the United Kingdom in a program called Crime and Justice and Britain.

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