Archive for March, 2009

Writing Opportunities for Study Abroad Students

Senior writer at findingDulcinea

For study abroad students, writing can be a great way to not only enhance the sensory experience, but also to turn the semester or year abroad into something even more resume-worthy.

There are a few standout travel Web sites keen on publishing articles and travelogues by study abroad students, sites that want to read about your personal travel experience-how you ended up huddled under an umbrella with an old Italian couple, for example-and sites that prefer practical advice on navigating public transportation or finding an affordable language course in a foreign country.

journaling-dailylifeofmojo

The Matador network includes eight different blogs that are interconnected via the Matador Travel Community. There are several ways to be published on Matador: scan the Writers Guidelines for the scoop on Matador blogs, feature stories and the Bounty Board, a collection of paid assignments around the world. And definitely visit the Matador site. Their writing is strong and vibrant, so don’t be afraid to show personality in your submissions.

BootsnAll is a Portland, Oregon-based travel company with an excellent blogs section in addition to longer feature articles. Start your own free travel blog by becoming a member of the site, which strives to “cultivate an organic community that encourages independent travel,” or submit an article. Browse the BootsnAll Community section to explore the types of articles accepted, such as list-style features (The Highest Cities in the World) and how-to narratives (Do Florence like a Florentine).

Glimpse is perhaps the most accommodating site for budding travel writers and photographers. If the editors accept your story or photography project, they’ll see you through the entire process, from idea to final product. Glimpse also has blogs and an open section of Insider Tips, so you can wet your feet before sending a longer submission. Two more Glimpse bonus features: the site is supported by the National Geographic Society, and there’s a “Getting Places” contest that offers a $250 travel voucher prize.

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UK: Cell Phones in the #1 Study Abroad Destination

The UK has been the number 1 study abroad destination for years and it looks to keep its spot for years to come. Students can learn in a significantly different culture without the language barriers associated with the traditional study abroad experience. In a new type of post here on Gulliver, we’re going to give a quick overview of UK Cell Phones. Most students have cell phones while at school, but heading to a different country can leave you without a tether. Stay in touch with this info.

Historically, the UK has had four mobile phone networks: Vodafone and O2 are the oldest and largest, while Orange and T-Mobile the younger upstarts. In addition there are now several “virtual” networks that use the T-Mobile network, including Virgin Mobile, Value Telecom and Fresh.

Don't get stuck using these while abroad!

Don't get stuck using these while abroad!

As a study abroad student, you’re probably not going to be in the UK for longer than a year, so a pay-as-you-go plan is your best bet. It may be a bit more expensive each month than a contract plan, but it’s incredibly easy. You can “top off” your phone (UK slang for adding minutes) at most convenience stores, or online, and most carriers offer special packages when you purchase the phone that include free minutes, text messages, and other perks. Be sure to find out what rates a carrier charges for calls to the U.S. if you’re planning to talk to friends and families back home on your cell. Fees often differ depending on whether you’re calling a landline or another cell phone, too, so be sure to read the fine print.

So what you can expect to pay? Calling plans in the UK differ wildly between carriers; you’ll pay the equivalent of anywhere from 9 cents to 55 cents per minute for calls within the UK. Some carriers charge a high rate for the first few minutes of use per day, and then very cheap rates for all other minutes used that day. Calls to friends with the same carrier are usually the cheapest, but some plans charge a flat rate no matter who you’re calling. Calls to the United States vary just as widely. Make sure to check the text message fees as you might be texting much more than calling.

Finally, should you take your US phone with you? US carriers often charge prohibitively expensive fees for international calls and services, so probably not. If you have an unlocked GSM network phone (it has to be unlocked and GSM quad-band) you don’t need to buy a UK phone, only the SIM card and plan. This might be your easiest choice and could save you a few bucks.

NB. Read more about UK Phones and Internet in the “Prepare to Go” section on the Gulliver webpage.

Gulliver Featured on Browsershots Showcase

Gulliver has just been selected as a featured website on Browsershots, a site that showcases some of the best site designs around the web.  Check it out and vote for Gulliver!

Gulliver on Browsershots!

Gulliver on Browsershots!

Universities! Help Study Abroad Students with Credits

I consider myself lucky.  During the summers of 2004 and 2005, I lived and studied – and later worked – in China, paid by alma mater in fellowship and student aid money.  This was crucial since I wasn’t exactly in a position to pay for the trips myself.  Mom and Dad would have helped out had I asked, and as a last resort I could have run to my Grandparents, but like I said I was lucky.  Here at GulliverGo, we are always thinking about Study Abroad and how the process can be made easier, more straightforward, and more affordable.  While we started on the right foot, I now realize that we forgot something – we forgot about credits.

A few days ago, Yale University announced that it would allow more credits from study abroad programs to count towards graduation.  There’s only one word for this: Awesome!  In years past, students who attended

If you had more study abroad credit freedom, you'd be happy too!

If you had more study abroad credit freedom, you'd be happy too!

both a study abroad program during the semester and another program during the summer would have to choose which credits to apply towards graduation.  Such a system essentially forced students to forgo the summer credits and reduced the academic benefits of participating in a summer program.  The new policy allows both semester and summer credits to be applied.

Separately, Congress is currently working on the Simon Act, and though it, hopes to send 1 million US students abroad in ten years’ time.  This is great.  Scholarships will be offered through the organization, and schools will make program more accessible.  With no dearth of outside scholarships (see our scholarships post) funding a trip will be much easier.  So the front end will be taken care of, but how about the back end?  What do we do about credits?

Credit transfer is a problem that we see all the time at GulliverGo.  If students can’t receive credit for a study abroad program, they are much less likely to go.  Such a deterrent can easily be corrected by policies like the one enacted at Yale.  Universities often have convoluted and individualized systems for accepting credit, sometimes accepting regular grades and credit from their own programs while only bestowing transfer credit to a list of approved programs.  Tech and art schools are often even more stringent.  Yale’s belt loosening gives their students much more academic freedom and is a good step towards promoting study abroad.  Students at other universities should start asking similar study abroad freedoms and universities should take note.

Provence for ounce

If you’re going to study abroad in France, one popular destination is
Aix-en-Provence, a small, lively town that contains no less than 3
universities!  Aix has a great deal of medieval charm — its windy
cobblestone streets are the stage to many musicians and performers
during the weekend. One of my favorite memories is seeing a saw
player, a phenomenon which I had only before seen in the bizarre and
delightful French movie “Delicatessen.” There’s something particularly
enchanting about the sweet sound coming out of something that we only
see covered in the dust of the toolshed or in the hands of horror
movie villains.  On the weekends the Aixois turn their town into a
street fair. Traffic is closed on the Cours Mirabeau, a wide street
lined with cafes, and all kinds of French craftsmen and women set up
tents to tantalize passers-by with their wares. Among these you’ll
find cozy (and fashionable!) handmade fleece hats, wooden toys for
children, and lots of creative jewelry. There are also cotton candy
and candied apple carts and, mais bien sur! a carousel just for the
kids. And throughout the year there are many more international
festivals, of theater, dance and music.

nutmeg1

Aix is in the famous southern region of Provence, home to that special
quality of sunlight that gave the Western world some of its loveliest
work of art and gave artists such as Cezanne, Picasso, Matisse, Van
Gogh and Renoir their greatest inspiration. The countryside next to
the Mediterranean is filled with fields of lavender and sunflowers and
the sky is a particularly bright pale blue. Marseille, the second
largest city in France, is also a famous port-town and a worthwhile
neighbor to visit if you’re in the region. You’ll find transportation
around Marseille very easy– but if you stay out too late (i.e., past
12!) you might need to discover the wonders of walking through the
city. With one of the most diverse populations in France, Marseille
makes it easy to grab a sweet hot pink Algerian cookie from a bakery
on the run, or to take your pick of colorful indian cloths at the
market. If you go, don’t miss the Quartier du Panier, the old quarter
of Marseille– its narrow, steep streets are festooned high above with
Monsieur X and Madame Y’s drying underwear and the petit enfants are
running around playing soccer below. Wandering through this fun
neighborhood you’ll run into many artisan shops and finally, into the
Vielle Charite– a former almshouse that is free to enter and walk
around. You’ll be transported back in time into the 17th century and
get lost in a reverie as you look out into the sun-parched pebbles on
the courtyard through the arched doorways. Oh yeah, there’re also a
bunch of museums.

One thing you might want to skip in the Marseille attractions is the
famous and elusive “navettes.” We had heard so much about these
old-fashioned Christmas cookies that one day me and my brother
undertook the long trek to the true home of the treat, called the Four
des Navettes, tucked far down the rue Sainte. Of course, it didn’t
help that we were pretty hungry and that the trek lasted far longer
than we had planned. When we finally got there, the navettes had
become even more legendary in our minds. But we soon found out that

these were old school cookies, as in back-in-the-day-we-called- anything-with-flour-a-cookie old school. The navettes were shaped like small billy clubs and were about as hard, with not much sugar to sweeten the deal. We bought them anyway, and nibbled on them all the way home.

navettes-241

Lessons from Abroad: Returning Home

I just returned from studying abroad, now what? Is it possible to integrate adventures abroad into life back home? Are there jobs that allow you to use skills obtained abroad?  These were some of the questions brought up at the “Lessons From Abroad: Study Abroad Returnee Conference” at the University of San Francisco over the weekend. Keynote speakers included Bruce La Brack, Ph.D, creator of “What’s Up with Culture?” and professor at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, and Kate Berardo, creator of Culturosity®.

The Conference brought together students from around the Bay, as well as Universities and Study Abroad Program Providers, like CEA, the Peace Corps; AustraLearn; Intrax Intern Abroad; ISA; SIT: World Learning; Semester at Sea and a couple of us hear at GulliverGo. Students dove into issues concerning the challenges of returning home, the importance of studying abroad, and how to apply one’s study abroad experience toward future work or travel oversees.

Brack and Berardo jump started the event by discussing the top challenges facing returnees.  Some feel a sense of boredom; others, an inability to fully explain their life changing experience.  Oftentimes there are changes in relationships or some experiences just get “shoe-boxed” into a distant memory.  A full list of challenges can be found here.  What are some solutions? Creating videos or photo albums, working in study abroad offices, or continuing to study the language.  The overseas experience should not end when a person returns to their home soil.

For some, though, studying abroad is still out of reach. As one returnee expressed, studying abroad is a “dream that most people cannot afford.” With less than two percent of students studying overseas, universities are trying to make it less of a privilege and more of a universal experience. As mentioned in recent posts, the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act of 2009 is a strong push for study abroad enthusiasts. The bill aims to put one million people overseas annually by 2013.  Universities would use federal funds to send more disadvantaged and underprivileged students abroad.

You Might Not Find a Job in Parliament, But There's Plenty of Work Overseas.

You Might Not Find a Job in Parliament, But There's Plenty of Work Overseas.

The Conference also covered graduate programs for international students; working and volunteering abroad; networking; and how to apply study abroad skills to a resume.  Just how can an abroad experience strengthen that job interview? Some tips to follow: don’t just list that you studied abroad, be able to explain your skills; emphasize “experiential” learning over “classroom” learning; and if the interviewer does not bring up the fact you studied abroad…you should!

For those students interested in returning abroad, there are plenty of opportunities. Look into short-term work, during the summer or for a couple months. You can find more information here, here, and here. There’s also volunteering abroad (literary campaigns, restoration projects) or teaching abroad. As students learned at the “Lessons Abroad” Conference, there is no reason to let those study abroad skills become distant memories.


the blog of www.gullivergo.com

Gulliver helps students Study Abroad. Our blog covers: current issues in Study Abroad; featured posts by Study Abroad students; and Gulliver updates, news, and behind-the-scenes peaks. Thanks for reading!