If you have participated in a Study Abroad experience or are currently abroad, we want to hear all about it! Please join us in the promotion of international education by contributing to our new LMU Study Abroad blog. Review the Student Experience Rules & Regulations and then email your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org. We eagerly look forward to reviewing your submissions and thank you in advance for your participation!
First to Go: Dominican Republic
-- Melissa Martinez
First to Go Abroad Program: Dominican Republic
As a first to go student who lived a sheltered life, traveling, especially internationally, had always been a dream of mine. I finally got a chance to live that dream with the First to Go: Dominican Republic trip in the summer of 2015.
I decided to go to the First to Go: Dominican Republic trip because I knew it would be with people I had something in common with, it was short enough that I didn’t think I’d get homesick, and I really liked the fact it was homestay because it meant I would really be able to immerse into the Dominican Republic culture.
The program itself was composed of really great activities and adventures that were really fun as well as educational. Learning about the Haitians being deported from Dominican Republic back to Haiti reminded me of the Latino immigrants being deported back in the U.S. and made me realize just how clueless I was about the world outside the U.S. This trip definitely made my world a lot bigger.
The independence I felt as a first generation college student in a foreign country was very liberating and exciting. I remember walking past the Monument to the Heroes of the Restoration and just appreciating the entire experience of being away from home to learn about a culture so similar and different from my own. It was more than just learning from a book, it was an experience.
These dance majors got together one last time before they leaped across the world to begin their international adventures! From Madrid to London to France and even all the way to Japan, they are beginning their adventure of a lifetime! They cannot wait to come back and share their international adventures with LMU and the dance community and they want to encourage other dance majors to do the same! With careful planning and determination studying abroad as a dance major is a realistic goal. We wish them all the best here from the study abroad office!
Pictured from the left, Rachel Head, Khayla Golucke, Leslie Irwin, Tegan Hayek, Kelsey Glidewell, Sean Chong-Umeda, and Genna BloomBecker.
-- Samantha Larson
LMU Summer in Spetses
(From the LMU Admission Blog)
Before I even committed to attending LMU, I knew I wanted to study abroad; it was just a matter of time. My junior year began, and I began researching LMU’s wealth of study abroad opportunities, eager to be immersed in another culture, travel, and make a change from my usual routine (not to mention that a significant number of my friends boasted about the wonders of their time abroad). Roughly 27% of LMU Lions choose to study abroad, from a choice of 25 different programs all around the world!
I briefly considered a semester-long program in London, ultimately deciding I did not want to be away from friends and loved ones for what I deemed as a long period of time. But to my delight, LMU has summer study abroad programs – short and sweet, precisely what I was looking for. After much consideration, I settled on a program that would take me to Athens and Spetses, Greece, the perfect hybrid of classical antiquity and modern-day metropolitan cities.
So far, all I can do is sing Greece’s praises, despite the economic crisis being a minor blip. My trip began after a fourteen-hour travel day, leading me to a beautiful hotel in Athens a mere three-minute walk to the Acropolis, an ancient citadel rich in historical significance. The days spent in Athens proved incredibly fruitful as I saw the Parthenon, the Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeological Museum, Pláka, and began my diet of purely Grecian food. Three days later, the next leg of my journey began as I embarked for the island of Spetses for three and a half weeks, where I am currently penning this blog.
Spetses, Greece has all the island charm one could imagine, and is quite arduous to delineate: crystal clear waters, dazzling architecture, a quaint downtown area, and some of the most welcoming people I have had the pleasure of encountering. Simply put, Spetses is where you should spend your next vacation.
But as this is not merely a vacation but also an educational immersion, the accompanying courses of Greek Literature and Mythology have significantly added depth to the trip, enabling my peers and I to garner a better understanding and appreciation of Greece not only as a historical goldmine, but a modern landscape. Even more, the current economic crisis has been fascinating to follow in both my personal time and time in classroom discussions, as I am in the midst of it, and experiencing it firsthand.
Everyday in HK
Chinese University Hong Kong
Having been back from my semester exchange for almost a year now, I’ve still be trying to reflect on it all and put into words how life changing this experience was for me. One way I wanted to share my experience is by sharing the first blog post I made before leaving for my 4 month adventure to Hong Kong Fall 2012…
“I appreciate all my family and great friends that asked me to keep a blog because I want a way to remember this exciting experience as I am sure it WILL change my life and me as a person. Some of you may think you are getting the opportunity to live vicariously through me ;) but honestly I am the one gaining the most out of having my friends and family on this journey with me. I know that this experience would be a lot less fun if I didn't have anyone to share it with, so thank you guys!
As for why I chose Hong Kong.... hmmm... for so many reasons, the first being that I wanted an opportunity to truly understand a completely different culture. I want to eat like Chinese do, speak like them, live like them and hopefully retain knowledge like they do :) hehe. When I look back on the way I've grown up and the things I have been faced with in life, I don't even know how I have been able to dream so big. Going to Hong Kong for me is taking my future into my own hands, and not allowing my shortcomings to overcome me. I can't begin to describe how truly blessed I am and thankful that I've been given this opportunity. When I was 13 and living in a motel, the idea of me being a junior in college and on my way to study in Hong Kong for 4 months would have been unimaginable. Not everyone who comes from a past like mine makes it out with so many accomplishments. I have something to be proud of. I am someone to be proud of. I don't acknowledge often enough how far I've come. I promise all of you I will get all I can get from this experience. I promise I will enjoy this journey not as the girl from a bad background or the girl who's lucky to have made it out, but as the woman who isn't afraid to go after what I believe in.”
I haven’t read this post since coming back from HK, so reading it brought back so many of my early memories of my exchange. I was so afraid. Now, I have a deep love for Hong Kong and have seriously considered living there for a year or few. One of the greatest experiences I had was a dinner, towards the end of my exchange, hosted by the warden of my hostel for all the students living on my floor. There were noodles, chicken, duck, eggplant, rice, and even apple pie all laid out on one table. I felt like I belonged in that moment and that these local Hong Kong girls had become my family. I sought after a cultural immersion experience and in this moment, standing and laughing around this long rectangle table trying to get the last of the pie, that I had found it.
To read more about Courtney's experience in Hong Kong check out her blog EveryDay in HK!
LMU Semester in Bonn: New Europe Track
Most memorable experience: Roaming the streets of Amsterdam with my friend Ben and getting completely lost but not being worried about it at all. We talked to a bunch of strangers and talked about culture and inherent good and evil. It was a really fun and adventurous day.
What did you like most: The feeling of constantly finding new things and places to enjoy and experience. Being able to experience culture at an incredibly rapid pace and push myself out of my comfort zone.
What did you learn most from being immersed in a different culture? I learned that i am an adapter in the truest sense of the word and that I have no problem trying new things. I learned that I can quickly connect with and feel a bond with other people whether we share a common culture or not.
Would you recommend it to other students? Absolutely, I loved every minute of it and it made me think not just as a US citizen but also as a global citizen and made me more aware of my own culture as well as question my values and reaffirm my beliefs in them
How did you prepare? I saved money all summer long so that I could take as much trips as possible while abroad and I stocked up on clothes for cold weather. I also asked other students for suggestions on how to travel cheap, where to go, and any other advice
Did you have any financial worries? Yeah I was worried about going over my budget at some points but I spent my money wisely and planned my trips around the cost so that I could make my dollar stretch as much as it could.
Hannah attended Saint Louis University in Madrid during the Fall 2012 semester. Below she has shared some of her experiences while abroad!
My friend Heather & I went on a weekend trip from Madrid to Marrakech and our Moroccan friends from school had recommended that the best place for camel rides was La Palmeraie. After hailing down a cab in the dirt streets of the old city, we drove out of the Kasbah and ventured into an area filled with palm trees and camels. The owners gave us traditional dress and headscarves to wear & we were off on our first camel riding experience! (Marrakech, Morocco; November 2012)
This photo was taken in Segovia, Spain on a day trip from Madrid in early September 2012. Alcázar de Segovia is the castle in that can be seen in the background and our tour guide had led us down what felt like hundreds of stairs to get down to this spot for the picture-perfect view.
Pictured left to right: Woody Liu, Megan Unger, Kailey Strachan, Hannah McDermott, Abby Smith, Kendall Andronico, Kevin Cacabelos, & Marissa Lombrano.
(Segovia, Spain; September 2012)
Dear Study Abroad,
We have had a great time in Australia so far! We both live on campus in Hawthorn, which is one of the suburbs of Melbourne. The city is only a short train ride away and there's so much to do and see there. We've gone on tons of adventures including zip lining in the forest, a sunset harbor cruise, seen the Sydney Opera House, swam with the fish in the reef, and plenty of shopping. We've both had a chance to see some of Australia's native animals and get up close and personal with kangaroos and koalas. For our semester break we went to New Zealand with 3 of the friends we've made here and drove a camper around the whole South Island. We saw tons of sheep, mountains, and glaciers. This past weekend we spent the day in the sun at the Caulfield Cup Horse Races, which is part of the local spring carnival. We've met and made friends with people from Australia, the US, and all over the world. We've experienced Australian culture and share some of our culture with them as well. It's been heaps of fun!
Amy Regnier & Hayley Sheridan
Swinburne University of Technology
"After taking Spanish for four years, and still not fluent, I was eager to go abroad and fully immerse myself in a Spanish speaking country. After visiting the study abroad office and learning about the San Sebastián exchange program, I realized it was the ideal program for a full immersion experience. Situated on the coast of Northern Spain, in the Basque region near the border of France, San Sebastián is a lively city with beautiful beaches. This program arranges for students to live in apartments with other students just walking distance from the university. Hoping to improve my Spanish, I inquired about possible home stay opportunities and the school referred me to an amazing family who has often housed foreign exchange students. Although I was nervous in the days leading up to my departure, upon my arrival I was immediately comforted by the friendly nature of the Basque people in this small beach town. My host family picked me up from the airport and drove me to their house that would soon become a second home for me. They were incredibly loving and kind; staying with a host family offered all the comforts of living at home paired with the freedom to enjoy my sojourn to the fullest. At the Universidad de Deusto, three of my four courses were taught in Spanish which contributed significantly to my improved comprehension of the language. Additionally, the university coordinated a variety of social events within the city that fostered new and lasting friendships for me. To this day, I am still so close with the friends I made at the Universidad de Deusto because of our shared experiences and love for Donostia. Known for its awesome surf spots, authentic cuisine and exciting nightlife, San Sebastián is an incredibly fun and beautiful city to spend a semester, or even better a year, studying. After my five month sojourn I am so happy to have gained this monumental experience and to have successfully achieved my goal of becoming fluent in Spanish."
San Sebastian, Spain
Universidad de Deusto