study abroad

There is really no right or wrong way for going about the study abroad experience. Everyone here has come on different circumstances, with different likes, dislikes, goals, and dreams. It is important that each person’s journey reflect these differences, differences that make us who we are. This has been one of the most significant lessons I have learned here, and one that not only applies to being abroad, but also life in general.

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According to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s most recent report on the Top Producers of U.S. Fulbright Scholars and Students, the UI has risen from 128th to 45th in the number of Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards for 2014–15 among its peer institutions.

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One of the most interesting, and eye-opening, parts of the study abroad experience is being able to view the United States from the lens of a different country. Just two short months before I left for Australia, the Sydney hostage crisis bombarded all of the news. Shortly after, I received a frightening email from the United States government, advising all U.S. citizens traveling there to take extra precautions. This was the very first moment I was able to wrap my head around the fact that I was about to be living in a different country, one very far from my security blanket I had here.

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I remember the first time I decided to do something solo abroad… I wanted to see the Lion King Musical when I was in London. No one else in my program was interested, so I went alone. My mom was so proud of how independent I was that she told everyone for weeks after about how I went to The Lion King alone, which actually makes me sound much more lame than independent, but from then on I’ve gotten a thrill out of solo travel and experiences. Now, before you assume I’m anti-social, I love traveling with others. I spent 12 straight days with a group of awesome girls from my program in Thessaloniki, but there’s something solo travel gives you that you can’t get with anyone else.

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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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Zwina is one of the most beautiful (ha) words in the Arabic language, in part because it can describe literally everything – the food is zwina, the weather’s zwina, this class is zwina. The idea of food being beautiful or tasting beautiful is a strange expression in English, but is common and complimentary in Darija. In Rabat, Morocco, the world is zwina – the people, the ancient city, the cafés on the corners and morning call to prayer. The weather is a sunny 75 degrees, and coastal breeze blows in each evening from the sea. The Kingdom of Morocco is zwina.

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Gloria Wenman, of Iowa City, IA, has been awarded a 2015-16 Fulbright U.S. Student Award for an English Teaching Assistantship to Mongolia.

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Sarah Mayer, of Johnston, IA, has received a 2015-16 Fulbright U.S. Student Award to Colombia where she will work as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA). Mayer will graduate this spring with a B.A./B.S. in Spanish and biochemistry from the University of Iowa.

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When I was applying to IES Rabat study abroad program, I struggled with the question of whether or not to stay with a host family so much that I submitted my housing application two weeks late. I had heard good things about homestays from friends who had studied abroad, but was worried about the awkward interactions that the language barrier would create, worried that I might lose all the independence I had gained when I moved to college after high school. Others warned me that I was moving to a dangerous country in which the culture was too different from my own for me to function within the confines of a foreign family unit. It would be more comfortable for me to live with other Americans in a condo in the city.

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As a result of spring break, or “Easter holiday” as it is called here in the UK, I was given the chance to travel for three weeks without interruption throughout the end of March and into early April. I used this opportunity to plan a trip to the continent with my fellow University of Iowa student/UEA student and best friend Juliette Sigmond.

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