Archive for August, 2009

Want to Study Abroad? Start Now!

With the new school year almost in full swing, it’s time to start investigating study abroad programs at your college or university. This can be daunting. You’ll need to consider where you want to go; what you want to study; how long you want to go abroad; how you’ll fund your trip; and whether you’ll be able to transfer credit. It might seem overwhelming at first, but there are plenty of resources to make the process go smoothly.


Talk to your campus advisors. If you’re serious about going abroad, learn how your travel will impact your major. See if you can transfer credit back to your home institution. If there are problems with going abroad during the school year, consider a summer abroad or short term program during the fall or winter. Short term programs often consist of a month abroad in September, January, or May.

Study Abroad and Experience a New Life

Study Abroad and Expand Your Horizon

Study Abroad Fair

Attend your campus study abroad fairs. Obviously you’re not going abroad this fall, but check out winter, spring, and summer programs. Get an idea of what programs are offered. Check out the brochures and put together a list of questions- if you can’t ask them on the spot then visit your campus study abroad center.

Study Abroad Center

Every campus has some type of Center for International Studies or Study Abroad Office. It might consist of one person or a myriad of consultants. It’s worth checking out. You’ll find pamphlets on prospective programs, receive information on housing, funding options, and programs offered by your major or school.


If you haven’t already figured out, Gulliver is a one-stop site for everything related to study abroad. Want to study film in Prague? Check out these programs. Want to go to Australia? Ireland? China? We cover programs in more than 70 countries. Search programs offered by providers like CIEE (Center for International Educational Exchange), CEA (Center for Education Abroad), or IFSA- Butler. You can also search by your own university, area of study, language, and time of year. Find out information on any program by selecting the “get info” tab and filling out a free registration card. Search as much as you want. Don’t commit until you find the right program for you! When you do select your program, check out our Prepare to Go section for all the information you need about funding, housing, travel, and money for the country of your choice.

Choosing to study abroad is the hard part… planning the trip should be fun and easy!

Breath of Fresh Air

By Sarah Chamberlain

“Goo-goo-good mo-mor-morning. My name is C-Cary, and you are listening to Fr-Fr-Fr…”

I pressed “Pause” on the recorder, rested my head on the mixing desk, and let out an exhaled expletive. I couldn’t understand how it was possible for me to be this nervous. I had spoken fluent English for almost two decades, but when I sat behind this microphone, I turned into a stuttering idiot.

It's a bit scary behind the mic

It's a bit scary behind the mic

But how did I end up here, stammering foolishly in front of a mic? Well, one of my great passions was (and still is) music, and I wanted a way to share my enthusiasm with other people. And what better way to do that than through radio? So I went to the first meeting of Edinburgh’s student radio station, I was a little shy at first, but I quickly realized that the Fresh Airites were as passionate about music as I was. Although their tastes varied significantly, from Craig’s penchant for heavy metal to the Vicar’s enjoyment of world music to Nate’s omnivorous love for a good melody (genre be damned), they all cared deeply about music and wanted to share it. This was incredibly inspiring to me (to say the least!), and despite having essentially no experience with broadcasting, I decided to apply for my own show. To apply, I needed to make a demo recording.

And so I was here, paralyzed with frustration, with my forehead still pressed into the desk. But staying in this position wasn’t going to get the demo recorded, so after a few more seconds I sat up and took a long, deep breath. I whispered, “It’s OK. You can do it. You only have to talk about music you love. How hard can that be?”

I pressed “Play” and tried again. I still stuttered, but not as badly. Luckily for me, I did well enough that the powers-that-be decided to give me my own show, at 12:30 on Tuesdays.

The studio was only a five-minute walk from my flat, so after sleeping late and doing homework, I wander ed up the hill with my CDs and a notebook with my playlist and notes for links (the spoken bits between songs). I set up shop behind the mixing desk and put on big black headphones that made me feel both nerdy and professional at the same time.  Checking the sound levels on my my voice, I declaimed “Testing, 1, 2, I ate cereal for breakfast this morning” and tried out my first link. The seconds ticked away, and the last notes of the previous show faded out. One long breath, and I pushed up the volume on my microphone. I was on air.

“Good morning, it’s 12:30 in the afternoon here in Edinburgh, and you are listening to Fresh Air. I’m Cary, and this is Sugar in Your Coffee, a highly-caffeinated blend of indie, rock, and punk with a bit of country and blues thrown in when I feel like it. It’s a beautiful day in the capital, and I have some lovely music for you today…”

Of course, I wasn’t that smooth at first. I had my fair share of embarrassing moments. There were times when I forgot my mic was on and ended up talking all over the beginning of a song, and other times where I forgot it was off and left listeners with nothing but dead air. But my biggest struggle was with swearing. As you might have guessed from the opening sentences, I swear a bit too much for my own good. But swearing on air was verboten, so I had to work to control my excitement and frustration.

At the end of the year, I had my stuttering more or less under control, and I could speak fluidly on air. It was a great learning experience, and public speaking no longer holds any terrors for me; I can speak for minutes at a time, even if I don’t have a physical audience! But my radio work gave me more than just better speaking skills; I am much more confident in social situations because of it, and also more outgoing than before I left. In a way, studying abroad gave me a new voice, one that I don’t think I could have found staying at home.

Living History

By Sarah Chamberlain

The major reason that I decided to study abroad in the UK three years ago was that I study British history. I figured that I would be able to learn much more about my concentration if I examined its history in the place where it happened. It turned out that I had no idea how right I would be. Edinburgh is a city full of amazing history spanning centuries, and bits and pieces of that history are woven into the fabric of this place and its people.

cowgate - by jaakko.hakulinenA great example of this is the Cowgate, a street in the Old Town which used to be the road down which cattle were driven down to the port at Leith. These days, the Cowgate is lined with clubs, and Saturdays on the street are full of drunken revelers and echoing with the crashes and screams of broken bottles and broken hearts. A meat market in more ways than one.

flodden-wallA short walk from the Cowgate, and you come to a high wall, one built from a mix of older and newer stones. A brass plaque along its top edge marks it as the Flodden Wall. In my Scottish History lecture, I learned about the Battle of Flodden, one of the milestones of the long rivalry between the English and the Scots. Scottish casualties included the king, James IV, and the scions of dozens of noble families from across Scotland. The Flodden Wall delineated part of the outer barrier of Edinburgh just after this calamitous battle, which will have its 500th anniversary in 2013. This was, and still is, amazing to me on so many levels. One of the reasons for that is the sheer age of the stones; the wall was built only a few decades after Columbus arrived in the New World. Another awe-inspiring fact was the change that has occurred since then; what was then the southern border of a tiny city on a ridge has become part of the heart of a medium-sized metropolis, and now stands across the street from modern apartment blocks, including the author’s old student flat. There is something endlessly fascinating about this combination of the new and old co-existing together, despite the many centuries lying between them.

Or maybe it’s just because I’m a history major!

Summer Adventures: International Sports Culture

One thing you’ll discover while studying abroad or traveling: sports is a way of life.  This weekend I joined thousands of people in San Francisco, California to watch the AVP beach volleyball championships. Although it does not attract the following of say baseball or football, it does get the adrenaline flowing. As you travel through different countries you’ll discover a wide range of sports that excite locals. Here are a few to keep in mind.


We all know football/soccer is the biggest sport in England, along with rugby, golf, and tennis (ever heard of Wimbledon?).  If you really want to know the British culture, however, learn the ethics of Cricket. The sport is played on village greens and in towns/cities most Sundays from April to August. In Britain, sports are not only a popular leisure activity, but also an important part of life.

Judo Attracts Adults and Youth Alike

Judo Attracts Adults and Youth Alike

Japan/Martial Arts

An increasing number of Major League Baseball players today come from Japan. One of the countries most cherished sports, however, is Martial arts. Traditional practices include judo, kendo, karate-do, and aikido, which thrive in modern Japan. Judo, which literally means “the gentle way,” officially established itself as an Olympic event in the 1964 Games. Kendo (Japanese fencing) also attracts a loyal following.


Australians love rugby, cricket, and Martial arts. Secondary sports include soccer, swimming, and cycling. Surrounded by a beautiful coast, water sports, like rowing have risen in popularity. Rowers use carbon boats of all styles and sizes. Rowing has grown both recreationally and competitively on the Gold Coast and in other Australian cities. The Australian Rowing Team is currently in Poland, preparing for the 2009 World Rowing Championships from August 23rd-30th.

Hurling Attracts Most Irish Faithful

Hurling is Not a Dainty Sport


Although Gaelic football and polo have gained notoriety around the world, hurling remains one of Ireland’s most traditional sports. Hurling started as a rivalry between neighbouring clans and villages over 2,000 years ago. The object of the game: players use a wooden stick called a “hurley” (pronounced “camán” in Gaelic) to hit a small ball (“sliotar“) between the opponents’ goalposts.  The game is mentioned in ancient folklore about Irish giants and heroes and is today considered the world’s fastest field team sport in terms of game play.

What are some other ‘can’t miss’ sporting events?

Check Out Gulliver on Facebook!

Studying Abroad this Fall? Maybe you just returned from an amazing summer abroad? We want to hear your stories! Now you can find us on Facebook! Well, Gulliver already has a fan page, and right now you can win $500 toward studying abroad! Check it out!

Italy Facebook Group Page

Find us on Facebook!

In addition to the excitement on Gulliver’s facebook homepage, you can also join individual group pages catering to your study abroad country or city! Maybe you spent your summer in Italy. Did you visit the Coliseum in Rome? Peruse the artwork at the Uffizi Museum in Florence? Or scale the 5 towns of Cinque Terre? Join our Italy group and share your adventures!

Here’s a taste of some of the other Gulliver study abroad groups on Facebook: Ireland, Australia, Mexico, Copenhagen, New Delhi, India, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Athens, and Paris. There are plenty more on Facebook. Check them out! Join! Share your insights!

Pure Dumb Luck, or, A Girl Walks Into a Bar

By Sarah Chamberlain

A Girl Walks Into a Bar . . . And says “Ouch!”

No, actually, she doesn’t. It’s a cheap joke, anyway. What she really says is an R-rated version of “Oh no.” You see, I (being the girl in question) have walked into the student union bar alone during my first week in Edinburgh, and realized that I know absolutely no one here. I had come to the bar to join in the first pub quiz of the school year (pub quizzes being like trivia nights at bars in the States), and only when I stood looking out at a sea of tables full of laughing, carousing Scots did I understand what had just happened. I’m ashamed to say that I was utterly terrified in that moment. All I wanted to do was turn tail and run back to my mostly-empty student flat. But then I paused. My choices were A) go home, and spend the rest of the night surfing the net and talking to the friends I had left in California, or B) push my fear aside and actually meet some 800px-edinburgh_haymarket_pub_dsc06376actual British people. After a second or two more, I managed to pull my courage out from under a suffocating blanket of self-doubt, and started scanning the crowd for a quiz team to join. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted three people sitting at a table, with some tantalizingly empty chairs next to them. Newly brave me walked over, introduced myself, and asked if I could join them. They looked me up and down, looked at each other, and said “Sure, why not.” Heaving a deep inner sigh of relief, I plunked down into one of the chairs and started chatting to them. As more people filtered in, I was introduced to various members of the group: Leah, John, and Mark had been the ones to let me join them, even though it turned out I’d stolen Cameron’s seat. Late arrival Doug completed the team. I chatted with everyone, learning that they were recent Edinburgh graduates who had known each other for years. As the quiz continued, I realized that my store of utterly random trivia knowledge was coming in handy for once in my life, as I came up with a steady stream of answers to questions on topics ranging from the populations of French cities to baseball teams. And lo and behold, our team won! After dividing up the cash prize, John turned to me and asked if I wanted to come quizzing with them the next night. I was not stupid, and saw that this was a huge opportunity. I said an immediate, possibly-slightly-overenthusiastic “Yes!” I met up with the group the next night, and victory was ours once again. Things snowballed from there, and the group ended up being among my closest friends in Edinburgh.

superrobotmonkeyAnd so I’m proud to call myself a member of Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!

Gulliver’s Giving Away $500 for Study Abroad!

Are you heading abroad this fall?  Are you applying to study abroad this spring?  Gulliver wants to help you pay for your trip.  Head over to the Gulliver’s Facebook Page and enter to win $500!  All you have to do is write a short (300 word) essay on why you’d like to study abroad and what you think you’d get from the experience.   All entries need to be in before October 5th.  Check it out!

Head to the Gulliver Fan Page on Facebook and Enter Today!

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Study Abroad meets Jaws

Da Dum!

Da Dum!

For those who watch a decent amount of TV, this week is Shark Week, an annual ode to human fear and fascination.  I tune in every year.  Thanks to the immortal writings of Peter Benchley, I am both inimitably interested in and uncharacteristically unafraid of sharks.  Particularly big ones.  Particularly ones that look like Jaws.  And so, a few years back I decided that my next major vacation (outside of visiting family overseas) would be a trip to either Australia or South Africa for a shark diving bonanza.  All of my friends are interested in Australia or South Africa, but in the sharks . . . not so much.  As our study abroad readership may already realize, three major shark diving destinations – Mexico, South Africa, and Australia – are all major study abroad destinations as well.  So if there are other shark-lovers out there, this post is for you.


Isla Guadalupe, 150 miles off the west coast of the Baja Peninsula, is a Great White haven.  Many tours will pick you up from the mainland, even as far up as San Diego.  Check out Cage Diver, Great White Adventures, and Shark Diver.  If you are looking for something less intense, you can swim with Whale Sharks on the eastern coast of Mexico, near Cancun.  Every year, hundreds of people head to the Whale Shark Festival on Isla Mujeres to swim the gentle giants.

Yes, I want to go in the water with that.

Yes, I want to go in the water with that.

South Africa:

I’m very interested in South Africa, because this is where the Great Whites famously leap out of the water pursuing seals.  Some tours will take you cage diving, show you shark breaching, or both!  Boats leave from Gansbaai and head to Dyer Island and Shark Alley.  Check out the White Shark Diving Company, White Shark Ecoventures, Shark Cage Diving, and Africa Shark Dive Safaris.


The Neptune Islands off the coast of southern Australia continue to be one of the best places in the world to see Great Whites.  If you are a certified SCUBA diver, with Rodney Fox Expeditions you can avoid the surface cage and go down to the ocean floor in a fully submersible cage.  Calypso Star Charters has a one day expedition that sounds perfect for shorter trips.  Whale Sharks also pass by Australia via the Ningaloo Reef in western Australia.  The Whale Sharks are a huge draw, but the reef is so close to the shore that there are tons of other things to see.

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What? I Mean, Pardon?

By Sarah Chamberlain

The great Irish playwright and wit George Bernard Shaw once said that America and Britain were “two countries, separated by a common language.” It may seem like a throwaway line, but the more time I spend in Scotland, the more I realize that aphorisms like this exist because they’re painfully true.

Be cautious when it comes to slang

Be cautious when it comes to slang

When I returned from my year abroad in Edinburgh last year, one question friends and acquaintances frequently asked was if I had had any trouble understanding the Scottish accent. Fortunately, 99% of Scots do not sound like Groundskeeper Willie, and I could understand everyone I met in Edinburgh almost all the time. Where my gaps in comprehension emerged were in my understanding of Scottish slang. Sometimes I wouldn’t recognize at all a word my Edinburgher friends used, like when they referred to a bunch of “neds” (best defined as the Scottish version of white trash, instantly recognizable by their uniform tracksuits, very shiny white sneakers, and bling).  But more frequently, I would hear a word being used in a way that I’d never heard before. The best example of this is the word “pants”. Americans use it to refer to jeans, or slacks, or the two-legged things you wear on your lower half. But in Britain, “pants” is short for “underpants”. This resulted in some embarrassed amusement on the part of my mates when I was telling them about the new wool pants I’d bought. Now even when I’m back in the States, I will always refer to the things I wear on my legs as “jeans” or “trousers” as a protective mechanism. And to make matters worse, in Scotland, saying that something is “pants” means that it’s lousy. The first time I heard one of my friends say this, my response was something along the lines of a stunned “I beg your pardon?” Complete slang overload.

Unfortunately, the confusion is more on the side of the Americans than on the Brits. The U.S. has been exporting their cultural products to Britain for decades, making American English something commonly heard on concert stages, on TV shows, and in movie theaters. Since we haven’t imported nearly the same amount of British culture to our shores, much of it is mysterious to visiting Americans. So if you are going to study in the UK and want to be ahead of the curve, start watching some British TV! It is very educational, as well as being hysterically funny. Blackadder is especially good.

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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!