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Tag: study abroad (page 1 of 3)

Guest Post: A World Scholar in Madrid

Hailey Zirkle, Honors Program ’20

Four continents, eleven countries, seventeen states. I am eighteen years old, and I have covered 4.5 percent of planet Earth in my travels. Just over two months ago I left my home state of Delaware to embark on one of the biggest moments of not only my travel career, but also of my life.

My name is Hailey Zirkle. I was born in South Carolina but moved north to Delaware during my childhood. At the age of fourteen I began working my first job at Amore Pizza, followed soon after with another job at Limestone Vet Hospital. Graduating from Conrad High School in June 2016, I made the brave decision to begin my college experience at the University of Delaware in another country: Spain.

Here are some cultural differences I noted within the first few hours of being in Spain. Continue reading

Going Abroad: Exploring a New Place or a Journey Within Myself?

When I first applied to study abroad for winter session 2016, I didn’t really think too hard about it. Going abroad was something everyone seemed to recommend and I figured, ‘why not? – It would be a neat resume builder.’ Throughout the whole process, from applying, to the final pre-trip meeting, it never actually felt like I was going to Fiji. We talked about it all the time, but the reality didn’t sink in until it was the day of departure. Even then, once it was real, I did not expect to come back feeling completely different about the world around me.

I give the power of words a lot of credit, but my trip to Fiji is something I struggle to detail. Secondhand explanations just can’t do it justice. I fell in love with a culture that was just what I needed. I fell in love with the traditional song and dance, with “Fiji Time”, with the complete openness and welcoming nature of the Fijians. Of course it was beautiful, it’s Fiji, but I got so much out of being there besides pretty pictures (especially since my phone was stolen and I lost a good amount of them). Being fully immersed in a way of life so different from my own with a new group of people all unlike me, I learned a lot about who exactly “Maddy Williams” really is.

Fiji in all its natural beauty

Fiji in all its natural beauty

The best way to explain this is with an anecdote: The day I went to swim with sharks. No one else in my group wanted to come with me, but I decided to go forward and do it anyway. I woke up early the morning of to catch a bus traveling a city away. These buses were open to the air with no window panes and full of Fijians staring at me, not used to seeing white tourists take the local transportation. From the next city I took another bus to another city and from there a boat to another island completely. I did my thing, swam with some sharks, and took the return trip all over again. All in the entire trip took all day. I was nervous to take this journey by myself, especially since I don’t even regularly take the buses here on campus. But after it was over? I was so proud of myself for doing something I really wanted to do. I didn’t compromise and miss this once in a lifetime opportunity simply because no one wanted to come. I really came out of my shell, both talking to people on the bus and making friends on the island. I do not regret one second of the excursion.

Now that I am back here on good ole ‘Merican soil, I find myself thinking differently. I miss Fiji and the friends I made there. I think about how my actions and the actions of my country affect the world at large. I feel more mature and sure of myself. Trust me when I say this; studying abroad was one of the best things I have ever done. My experiences will stay with me the rest of my life and it comes highly recommended.

~Madeline Williams

Throwback Tuesday: Rome Edition

I am well aware that Throwback Thursday is already a “thing,” but I decided to make it come a little early this week. I am throwing it back to five months ago, specifically the first weekend in December, when I took a four-day trip to Rome.


Admittedly, at first, I was daunted by the thought of being alone in a foreign city. To make matters worse, everyone who I spoke to about being alone in Rome told me the same thing after giving me a disconcerting look: “Be careful; watch out for thieves; don’t go anywhere sketchy.” The looks threw me off more than the advice, because these people were concerned about my safety, which only made me more nervous. I survived the 24 hours of being by myself by playing it smart, sticking to touristy areas and getting back to my room before dark. Besides being worried about my safety, Rome was an amazing city to visit.


For all of you history buffs out there, Rome is teeming with historical sites to visit. I am not kidding when I say that you could walk straight into the middle of the city and see ruins of historical buildings surrounded by a booming metropolis area. So, as a history nerd, I was in love. One morning, I was not only the first inside the Colosseum, but I spent a combined 5 hours wandering around it and the Roman Forum right next door. The sites are so enlightening and informative about such an important era of the past.


Of course, I visited the Vatican as well. I did not get to meet the Pope, but getting to explore St. Peter’s Basilica and the Museums was well worth it.


And, the food. I have never been to a place where all the food is so delicious. I had pizza for dinner one night that was so thin-crusted it had to be eaten with a fork and knife. I went on a pasta tour of a patio one night and didn’t stop eating until my stomach was bursting. Gelato was for dessert. There was a fantastic gelato place outside of the Vatican and I am not ashamed to admit that I considered that to be my lunch for the day. I have no regrets. My mouth is watering just writing about it.


Despite fearing my impending death for a short period of time, my trip to Rome was one of my favorite weekend excursions. And, in weeks like these, with seemingly never-ending work, it is nice to think back to that warm Saturday afternoon when I was eating gelato and people watching in Rome.

A "refreshing" memory can improve a less-than-refreshing week.

A “refreshing” memory can improve a less-than-refreshing week.

~Rebecca Jaeger


What You Need to Know for this Summer’s World Cup

I cannot wait for summer.

Yes, I know that pretty much every other human being shares this feeling, but let me elaborate.  This particular summer excites me even more so than usual because the world will unite for an epic event that only occurs once every four years.  Of course I’m talking about the FIFA WORLD CUP!

June 12th-July13th: Experience the world's game at its greatest splendor.

June 12th-July13th: Experience the world’s game at its greatest splendor.

Ask anybody, and they’ll tell you that I am a huge soccer nut (yes, I know that the rest of the world calls it “football”, but I live in ‘Murica).  I love watching it on TV, and even moreso playing it in my dorm room (the trick is to not hit my roommate’s lamp).  Naturally, my loyalty lies with the U.S. national team, and I am beyond stoked for this year’s tournament.  Jürgen Klinsmann, the team’s coach, has put together an exceptional squad, and they are poised to take on the rest of the world.  Despite the talent of players such as Jozy Altidore, Landon Donovan, and Clint Dempsey, the U.S. will need its other players to step up and deliver.  The U.S. drew an especially difficult group draw for this year’s tournament.  Along with the U.S., the group known as the “Group of Death” contains Germany, Ghana, and Portugal.  While many in the international community have already written the U.S. off, I can confidently proclaim that we will prevail!

The location of this year’s World Cup, Brazil, currently struggles to deal with controversy.  Last year the country experienced nationwide protests by demonstrators who accused the Brazilian government of spending more money on the World Cup than on helping the poor and needy.  To make matters worse, at the time of this article’s publication, the Brazilian government hadn’t even completed all of the stadiums to host the matches!  This has caused FIFA, or le Fédération Internationale de Football Association, to consider other venues for this year’s tournament.

Regardless of where the games will take place, I know that when the U.S. game comes onto play, I will plant myself in front of the TV screen, cheering my heart out for the Red White and Blue squad.  My one hope for the U.S. team (besides ultimate supremacy) will be to win another close game on a crazy goal.  This dream of mine came to reality during the 2010 World Cup match between the U.S. and Algeria.  Landon Donovan’s come-from-behind game winner solidified itself as the greatest sports moment I have ever witnessed, and has been coined the most dramatic moment in U.S. soccer history.  In addition, sports commentator Ian Darke’s famous call of “You could not write a script like this!” sends shivers down my spine to this day.

So, this summer, while you’re hopefully lounging about and relaxing, make certain to follow the action down in Brazil and cheer on our boys to bring home the gold!

Mi Casa es Su Casa: Living with a Host Family

For those of you who don’t know, I’m currently studying abroad at the Universidad Mayor in Santiago, Chile. I can’t even put into words how amazing my trip has been so far, from the cute cafés on every street corner, to the hustle and bustle of city life, to the picture-perfect view of the Andes from just about anywhere. All breathtaking scenery aside, one of my favorite aspects of studying abroad is the opportunity to live with a Chilean host family.

My host mother’s name is Enriqueta and she is hands-down the sweetest little lady I have ever met. Each morning she calls us to the breakfast table where she’s set out cereal, assorted fruit, crackers with homemade strawberry jam, and tea. She always explains situations or events to us in terms that we can understand, but if we ever have a problem she readily whips out a dictionary to make sure that we are never at a loss for words.

A glimpse inside my Chilean home.

A glimpse inside my Chilean home.

While I have very little to complain about regarding my living situation in Chile, there are a few things that took some getting used to. The way Chileans live in general is very different than Americans for a variety of reasons, especially concerning the amount of people in one house. Right now there are eight people sharing one bathroom, so I think it’s safe to say that the quarters are pretty close. Also, you can’t just turn on hot water here. There is a big white box above the kitchen sink that we have to insert a match into in order to light an unidentified object on fire. Then we turn a knob for precisely fifteen seconds and this somehow brings about hot water. When in a foreign country, sometimes it’s better to just do things rather than to ask why.

I personally prefer living with a host family rather than in a hotel for a variety of reasons, but the most important of all is the fact that I have to use Spanish to communicate whether I like it or not. I’m very shy when it comes to speaking Spanish, so I think it’s beneficial to be forced into speaking the language in order to talk to my host family. Other than a few random English words here and there, my family speaks only Spanish, therefore I have no choice but to improve; that is why I am in Chile, after all.

For anyone who is on the fence about applying to study abroad, my advice to you is to go for it! Hey, it doesn’t hurt to be sitting outside in 85 degree weather while Newark is bracing itself against a massive snowstorm! Living in a foreign country for a month (or more) is an opportunity that you will probably never have again after college, so take advantage of it while it’s at your fingertips.

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