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.
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.
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!