study abroad

Nicky Fish, 23, of Oak Park, Ill., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Indonesia March 14 to begin training as a secondary English education volunteer. Fish will make a difference teaching basic to intermediate English and providing enrichment learning opportunities through extracurricular and non-formal community activities.

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In Morocco, they take it easy. As soon as my plane lands in Rabat, I can feel the change. The other passengers do not push against each other to stand in the aisle. They take their time gathering backpacks and briefcases from the overhead compartments. My flight is late, but that’s no problem. IES Abroad’s driver is just arriving to take me to the Center, where the other students are. I don’t know much Darija (the local dialect) yet, and he doesn’t know English. We smile at each other. It’s not uncomfortable.

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If you are reading this letter, you may be pondering the idea of studying abroad and trying to decide whether it is something you should do. As a senior in my last year in the College of Education, I debated the idea for many reasons, but the biggest one being the cost. See, my original goal coming out of high school and soon to be first generation college student was to go to college and excel in my academics in order to achieve greatness, but never was it in my plan to study abroad.

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Studying abroad in college was something I had always wanted to do since I was a very young age and last semester I finally got the opportunity to do so. I wanted to go to a country where I could utilize my Spanish but I did not want to go to Spain. So I spent my fall semester in Heredia, Costa Rica.

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On my third day in Spain, I learned about the expert pickpockets of Madrid. It wasn’t simply through Ibon’s sound advice to get a money belt or to sling packs in front of our bodies where we could see them. No, I had to learn the hard way. I’m blaming it on the fact that I’m from a town where we don’t even lock our bikes. I implicitly trust everybody. However, belief rarely lines up with reality and in less than a week abroad I found myself wallet-free. Still, I’m optimistic that not every lesson that day was lost on me. Before I was so swiftly and silently robbed, I absorbed some stories about Spain’s long and complicated history, which, on more than one occasion, involved miracles.

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My first experience abroad was in Spain during winter break of my freshman year. While this was an enlightening experience, it was not so different from my own culture. Traveling to India, however, I was excited to explore those cultural and social differences. Starting with the sheer amount of people on the streets of Chennai, the town I flew into, I knew the YouTube travel videos I’d watched in preparation were not exaggerating.

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A group of about 20 students arrived at the Aeropuerto Internacional José Martí in Havana close to midnight on Sunday, December 28th. That very next morning, classes started for the January, 2015 USAC Cuba program. Despite the late arrival and few hours of sleep, students were eager to climb up the marble staircase at Casa Africa in Old Havana for the first day of class. As a visiting professor, I, too, felt the rush of excitement that comes from that first meeting with students.

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University of Iowa students are participating in more summer and winter study-abroad programs in order to participate in more than just class. In the 2012-13 school year, 62 percent of UI students participated in study, work, internships, or volunteering during summer or winter sessions — as opposed to 55 percent just three years ago.

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International students at the University of Iowa are increasingly choosing yet another place to study abroad. From summer 2014 to the spring semester of 2015, 55 UI international students went abroad, either to study or to participate in work, internships, or volunteering. This number is up 22 students from the prior year.

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Hunter Sharpless, originally from Dallas, TX, graduated from the University of Iowa in 2012 with a degree in English-Literature. While at the UI, Hunter studied abroad on the USAC program in Turin, Italy, in 2011. Currently, he is a MFA candidate in nonfiction writing as well as a teaching assistant at the University of Minnesota. Read on to learn how Hunter's time abroad enhanced his calling as a writer, as well as how to make the most of your experiences in a new country.

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