Souvenirs from Abroad

By Carlie Pearson

You walk from the airplane and onto the landing, feeling both exhausted from the trip, and exhilarated for the next few hours of discovering your new home country. Once you get your luggage and move towards the exit, the first thing you are likely to see are flags, maps, books, t-shirts, hats, and key chains all displaying the name or shape of the country in which you have just landed. Although you may wait until later in your trip to pick up a less expensive t-shirt to bring home, you are likely to take something home with which to remember your experience. They key is to be smart about what you choose, and also, to remember the real reason for going abroad.

My favorite souvenir is a little golden ring. It isn’t fancy, and sure wasn’t expensive, but it was hand- made and holds a story that represents my adventure in Slovenia more than a tacky t-shirt ever could. While abroad, I frequently explored the city center of Ljubljana in search of excitement. There always seemed to be a craft show or wine tasting happening in the thriving city center.

One day, while exploring on foot, I came across a small shop facing the river. It was near the very end of the semester, and I could not believe I had missed it until that point. It contained handmade jewelry and gifts, perfect for bringing home a taste of Slovenia to my friends and family. But for me, I saw a metal ring made from a pipe, on it stamped in Slovenian, “Ti si moje sonce,” or You are my sun.

Now when I wear the ring, it is a gentle reminder of my time abroad, and of my home in Slovenia. It was light to pack, and isn’t touristy or tacky like so much of the tourist apparel. Additionally, it was handmade by a Slovenian artist in the heart of the city in which I lived. It may not clearly advertise my time abroad to others, but that’s what makes it so special. Once you return home, the experience is yours alone, and it is those memories and experiences that mean more than any souvenir.

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Country of the Month: Turkey

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By: Lucas McCamon

Turkey has a long history and culture grounded in a multi-ethnic society with heritages across continents. The diversity of the country expands beyond its population, and is exemplified in a variety of attractions to tourists and students alike. In fact, the country is the sixth most popular tourist destination in the world, as of 2013. The country offers a look into ancient civilizations, traces of Roman civilization, the Ottoman Empire, standoffs with the Soviet Union, and modern-day Muslim influence. For those interested in an urban scene, the country offers one of the most important cities in the world, Istanbul. The city itself is a microcosm of the country, influenced by civilizations stretching back in time and across borders as well as modernity. This international cultural hub offers endless entertainment, shopping, art, cuisine, and a wide range of sporting events. The country is proud of its heritage and is a non-traditional way to experience life far different than in America.

Students can explore the wonders of Turkey through affiliated programs including AIFS and IFSA-Butler.

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Benefits of Bilingualism

By Cole Campbell

“The world is huge”; “I do not understand other cultures”; “they are so much different than we are”.

These statements are all too often a reality for many monolingual speakers because they become too comfortable living and conversing in their native language and culture. One of the best ways to come to understand a culture and people different from your own is to attempt to learn their language. When someone finds out that you speak their native tongue, they light up with excitement and take notice that you made the effort to learn their language, even if it is just a “hello, how are you today?” Learning a second language makes the world smaller because you are no longer restricted to stay within your lingual borders, but you can explore, learn from, and befriend new people living in settings different from your own.

Whenever somebody asks me what was my favorite part about my study abroad experience, I say without hesitation that I can now meet and understand nearly anybody living among the Americas and Spain, due to my achievement of fluency in Spanish. Being a bilingual speaker in today’s globalized world can greatly improve your job prospects as well. Just last year, CNN Money named bilingualism as the hottest skill for job seekers because it proves a strong work ethic, due to the discipline it takes to master a second language.

Bilinguals are also reported to earn between 5-20% more money per hour than their monolingual counterparts. Additionally, a bilingual individual’s brain is more alert, quicker at resolving conflicts, and even is less likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. So start today! Take a foreign language class, step out of your monolingual comfort zone, and bridge the cultural gap between you and millions. Stop by the Study Abroad Office to learn more about specific programs to help become fully immersed in a new language and to launch your bilingual career!

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From Scotland to Stillwater

By Carlie Pearson

Students coming from other countries face lots of challenges, but for Rachel Stewart, on exchange from Heriot Watt University in Scotland, “it’s definitely one of the best experiences of my life, which is cliché, but I don’t know how else to explain.”

When Stewart and her best friend, Lauren McNally, on exchange from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland, came to OSU for the year, they had to start fresh and build a life here.

“It wasn’t easy to start with. But you learn a lot about yourself,” she explains.   McNally, an international hospitality and management major, met her best friend, Stewart, an international business major, at OSU. Together, they have above all, become true Cowboys during their year at Oklahoma State.

Early in the year, they met the captain of the lacrosse team, and joined her team. It turned out to be the best decision they could have ever made. “We are actually going to the championships this weekend,” McNally said, in May. The club sport been a great way to meet people and get involved on campus. It has also been an incredible way to see more of the United States, as the lacrosse team makes trips to surrounding states to compete.

“Here everyone is huge into OSU; it’s like a culture,” Stewart explained, “Back home we have club sports, but no one would really come see them.” They were excited to find out how interactive and social sports can really be. They recommend incoming students get the season sports pass, and to experience tailgating at a home football game.

Academically, their experience at OSU has changed their perspectives on learning. At OSU, there is always help available. It’s the first time McNally and Stewart have really gotten to know their professors. “Each class, my professor starts with trivia, and it gets everyone interested. We have also been taught practical skills we can actually use,” McNally said. In their classes, they have been inspired by OSU’s students, of whom they say are very ambitious, and make them want to try harder. Above all, they love the friendly community on campus and in Stillwater.

Lauren and Rachel are thankful to have come to Oklahoma State for the whole year. Not only did they see an entire school year, from football to finals and from the perspective of a Cowboy, but they also learned things from outside American culture through meeting other exchange students. Because they met students from Germany, France, Mexico, Australia, Spain, South Africa, and more, they now have contacts from around the world that they can visit in the future. Some of their best friends, for life, were made here.

“One of my favorite weekends was renting a lake house at Tenkiller Lake,” McNally said. It turns out they rented, unknowingly, an old girl scout camp. “It was fun to sleep upstairs with all the beds in one room – like The Parent Trap!” It was also their first time to try s’mores, a traditional camping food favorite.

The most unexpected things for Stewart and McNally were seeing real cowboy boots and hats. Sometimes cultural differences such as this made things tough, like when repeatedly ordering food. “We speak the same language, so I wasn’t expecting so much trouble.” But the slang between Scotland and Stillwater was hard to get used to, according to Stewart.

During our interview, the two were sad to think about leaving Stillwater. Stewart said she will miss the fact that there’s always something going on, and that every week, everyone is talking about it. But their American adventure isn’t over yet. Before traveling home, they will spend one month exploring San Diego, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, New Orleans, Washington D.C., Boston, and New York. Upon leaving, Stewart said she “will miss Mexican food so much. I don’t know what I’ll do without Qdoba.”

Rachel says for anyone looking to study abroad, they should consider Herriot- Watt University in Scotland. “Obviously the city is amazing,” she says about Edinburgh.

Scotland to Stillwater

Herriot-Watt is a great central location in Scotland, located just outside of Edinburgh. Though the  university is small, students become very close, especially if you join a sports team.

Robert Gordon is a great, modern university located in Aberdeen, a student city near the adventurous Scottish highlands. Though quite small, it is called the “Granite City,” and also has its own beach. McNally says that if students are looking for a business school, RGU should definitely be one of your top choices for a semester or year abroad.

OSU Study Abroad/NSE Welcomes Marissa Hernandez

OSU Study Abroad is proud to introduce Marissa Hernandez as the new Study Abroad Coordinator. She holds a Master of Science in International Studies from OSU and a B.A. in Law from Monterrey Tec (ITESM), where she was fortunate to participate in various study abroad programs that helped reinforce her love for travel and international education. She is a native of Denver, Colorado, grew up in Chihuahua, Mexico and has lived in Stillwater for the past 3 years.

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Prior to being hired in the Study Abroad/NSE office, Marissa served as the ITESM representative on campus and was in charge of leading short-term programs to Mexico and welcoming Monterrey Tec students for short and long-term programs at OSU. She enjoys spending time with friends and family and loves the friendliness and warmth Stillwater has to offer.

Peru

By: Cole Campbell

Where can you trek through the impressive Andes Mountains, experience thriving ancient cultures, canoe on the piranha-infested Amazon river, sand board down America’s highest sand dunes and surf on the beach with the biggest recorded wave in South America? Peru has every type of environmental ecosystem imaginable, making it a prime destination for any adventurist. When many people think of Peru, they immediately think of Machu Picchu, but visitors will be astonished to find out that the country has much more to offer.

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One of the things that Peruvians are most proud to share with eager visitors is their gastronomy. Peru was named the world’s leading culinary travel destination by the World Travel Awards for the second year in a row. Locals’ and tourists’ both enjoy the classic dishes of ceviche (raw fish marinated in lime juice), anticuchos (beef hearts), and cuy (guinea pig), among more “traditional” choices as well. The capital city of Lima is home to more than 9 million people of a variety of ethnicity and races. Lima was founded in 1535 by the conquistador

Francisco Pizarro and is the home to the oldest university in all of the Americas, the University of San Marcos, founded in 1551. Lima hosted the 2014 United Nations Climate Change Conference this past December.

Students can take advantage of Oklahoma State’s reciprocal exchange partner in Lima at the Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas and experience the country for themselves in a semester or year-long immersion program. Our affiliated partners offer opportunities to study at both Lima and Cusco, giving students many options to live the Peruvian dream.

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April’s Country of the Month: Costa Rica

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Costa Rica is a lush and beautiful land with extravagant scenery and rich culture. The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish. The capital city is San José, with a population of about 300,000 people, located in the geographic center of the country. Costa Rica has a tropical climate throughout the whole year, and would offer a nice break from Oklahoma’s unpredictable winter weather. Students may have heard much about Costa Rica’s advanced environmental policies and awareness, or about the country’s unique lack of official military personnel. Explore the nation, and experience Costa Rican culture and cuisine through the opportunities listed below.

Faculty Led Programs:

College of Human Sciences
While visiting various cities such as San Jose, Ciudad Cariari, Playa Hermosa, Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, and many more, you can receive academic credit in the beautiful Costa Rica. Introduction to International Experience is a one credit hour course that will advance leadership skills while experiencing the culture and landscape of Costa Rica! For more information, email Jordan.garriott@okstate.edu.

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Affiliated Approved Programs:

Visit these sites to learn more about how an affiliated program can get you to Costa Rica, or email abroad.okstate.edu to get information on how to apply.

SOL Education Abroad: http://www.soleducation.com/costa-rica

Heredia

AIFS: http://www.aifsabroad.com/costarica/

San Jose

CISabroad: http://www.cisabroad.com/study-abroad/costa-rica

San Jose (Internships available)

API: http://www.apistudyabroad.com/programs/costa-rica/

San Joaquin

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Record Breaking Year for Study Abroad

By: Cole Campbell

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It is an exciting time for the Study Abroad office at Oklahoma State University. The student applicants for reciprocal exchange just found out which country they will be making their new home next year. When students apply for a direct exchange study abroad program, they list their top three choices of universities and we are happy to announce that everybody was placed into one of their top choices. This year we have seen a record breaking number in the amount of students who are committing to studying abroad, a trend that has held true for the last several years. Oklahoma State students can take advantage of an international experience by participating in a reciprocal exchange program, an affiliated/approved program, a faculty-led course abroad, and even through National Student Exchange to another state or U.S. territory. In the 2009-10 school year, we saw a combined 563 students participate in an exchange program and in only five short years, the amount of OSU students abroad has nearly doubled, totaling at 1,056 students for the 2013-14 school year. Students are starting to realize that a study abroad experience can be so much more than an extended vacation, and that it can be a great resource for professional development, to learn a new language, and to discover a new culture while still discovering yourself.  To find out more about how to start planning your experience abroad, visit us at abroad.okstate.edu or visit us in 242 Student Union.

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Never Far from the Equator

By: Carlie Pearson

Dr. Tom Kuzmic has put 17 years into Faculty-Led Study Abroad program through the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. While the program began in Honduras, the past four years Dr. Kuzmic has taken students to Ecuador and the Galapagos islands for a two- week spring break. During the trip, students experience three unique ecosystems and begin their exploration in the rainy, humid Amazon, slowly transitioning to the dramatic high- rising Andes Mountains. For an unforgettable finish, students end with a visit to the magical Galapagos Islands. Though the landscape is vastly changing, students are never far from the equator.

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Not only will students begin to understand and appreciate a set of diverse ecosystems, they will also examine the culture of their inhabitants. “We tend to think we have all the answers, that we live right,” Dr. Kuzmic explains. But through his experiences abroad, has come to realize that there are a lot of different perspectives in the world. He believes through study abroad we can all gain a lot- and not just by looking, but by experiencing.
“I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand.” This quote is from the Chinese Philosopher Confucius, but Dr. Kuzmic uses it to explain his views about study abroad. “Side- by- side with folks, engaging in daily tasks,” he says can broaden your way of looking at the world. Learning by doing is the way to break stereotypes. Not every student has the time or ability for a semester abroad, but even two weeks is enough time to accomplish a deeper understanding of humanity.
There are many faculty- lead trips through the Colleges of OSU that are short-term opportunities to study abroad. Students do not have to be a member of the College to participate in one of their international courses. Check out the various opportunities on each colleges website.

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