UI Study Abroad Blogger

Here’s some eggs for your gallo pinto - ¡Buen provecho!” I glance at the time on my phone… 6:15AM. Time to start my day. 

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If you think about it, every single action you know how to do…you used to have no idea how to do it. Getting gas in your car, registering for classes, writing an essay, all these things used to make you squirm with discomfort. But too bad - sometimes you just need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

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My week begins with class in the afternoon after lunch. Unlike Iowa we have blocks of time for class every day: 8-11am for the morning block and 1-4pm for the afternoon. What more could a science major from the University of Iowa ask for than a late Monday class and no classes on Friday? It is one of the many gifts of this abroad experience. When I’m not in school my free time is completely filled with other activities.

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Life’s most special moments often imprint in our memories like Chinese calligraphy ink on rice paper. The past few days, much ink flowed as I re-discovered memories of the past at Tianjin University of Technology (TUT), the place I spent the summer of my twentieth birthday. In 2015, I was one of seven University of Iowa (UI) students who were hosted in TUT for two months as part of a ten-year language exchange program.

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My free time looks a bit different than that of a student studying abroad. For my student teaching semester, I teach English as a Second Language (ESL) in an elementary school Monday - Thursday from 7:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. and Friday from 7:30 a.m. - noon. Moreover, my social circle includes my host family and the teachers with whom I work. Thankfully, I have been blessed enough to make some great friends with various other teachers my first two weeks of teaching and have already had many adventures as a result.

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My name is Henry Hartzler and I decided to study abroad in Costa Rica in order to complete my student teaching because my certification is in Elementary Education (K-6) with an added endorsement in English as a Second Language (K-12).

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Things won’t always go according to plan. In fact, they almost never do when you’re traveling. So, it’s better to remind yourself off the bat.

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It’s no big secret that study abroad experiences put relationships to a test. Especially when you’re in college. You’re one tribal tattoo and a cute accent away from giving up your life to carry salt across the Sahara on a camel and live your life sipping mint tea and enlightening yourself with the herbs of the gods. Tempting.

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The name of Iceland is really confusing. Before I left, my mom and all my friends had asked me to bring winter clothes as much as I can. However, guys who have experienced Iowa winter, you don't need to worry about the winter temperature in Iceland.

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Many people travel abroad with expectations of experiencing a way of life that is incredibly different from what they consider “normal”. While in Rwanda, every day presents a new reminder that I am not in America. And this is what I want, this is why I travel- to learn about and accept differences across the globe. However, I have also discovered when it comes down to the wire, people are people and we have much more in common than I’d realized.

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