UI Study Abroad Blogger

favorite black boots
Coming to Italy was a hard adjustment. You are given little video seminars on culture shock and how it feels, but honestly, I don’t think any of us took it seriously. We’re going to be living in Italy, how could it feel anything but great? We were all in for a surprise.

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The lovely Dean Village in Edinburgh
As my study abroad experience is coming to a close, I often find myself scrolling through my camera roll remembering all of the beautiful places that I have had the opportunity to visit. I use social media to post pictures and keep friends and family up to date, and also as a way for me to document the memories I made here. There have been countless experiences that have not been caught on camera, but here are 4 main things that my social media does not tell you about my study abroad.

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A group of children playing in a schoolyard in Italy.
When I first arrived in Florence, I knew that I wanted to be able to give back to the community in some way, I just wasn’t sure how. Lucky for me, my answer came quickly. My college informed us that they were offering the opportunity to volunteer at an Elementary school helping teach English.

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Marcus overlooks a city skyline of Tarragona Spain
I literally heard an American tourist borderline yelling this at a Spanish employee during my recent trip to Barcelona, as if speaking louder and slower would make someone who did not understand the language magically be able to comprehend it.

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Kelsey O'Donnell and two other girls pose in front of Killarney National Park in Kerry.
The majority of tourists heading to Ireland make the huge mistake of only going to Dublin. I have heard people say that they have “truly experienced” Ireland when they never even set foot out of the capital city.

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A drawing of Hannah running through the airport with her suitcase
I am riding in the car. The anticipation of the vacation my family is about to embark on is building inside me. We arrive at the airport and the excitement dwindles for I know what comes next. Waiting.

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A photo of a gondola in Italy
Trains have always intrigued me. Watching them speed by, I’d always wonder where their final destination was. They carry a sense of mystery. Who’s on them? Where are they going? What are they leaving from? Why are they traveling at all? All these questions would race through my mind, as I would watch the trains pass through.

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St. Paddy's Day
As I sat down to breakfast this morning, my roommate broke the news to me that only 27 more days remain until our study abroad experience comes to a close.

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CIEE Beijing Study Abroad Program
Back in Iowa City after half a year in Beijing, I am struggling with re-adjustment. The process goes like this: watch four Star Wars movies on the flight back, half-heartedly suggest family Easter dinner at the Beijing Buffet on the Coralville strip, get car towed because a certain private parking lot has strengthened enforcement protocols, swerve at the sight of newly sprouted condominiums three houses down from my home, scroll through photo albums of China adventures, obsessively check friends’ WeChat updates, try to retrieve the part of me that is still sleeping and waking in Beijing time. Perhaps retrieval will come by way of writing and reflecting.

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scenery
We spend so much time rushing.

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