Week 4 and Week 5 in Dubai

Submitted by Ryan Kahn on the 2024 Winter CIEG program in Australia and Dubai

Week 4

This was another incredible week here in Dubai. We went on some amazing excursions this week so I wanted to highlight a few that really stood out to me. The first one is something I was really not expecting, the Dubai desert classic golf tournament. A big group of people on my trip got tickets to watch the last day of the tournament. The course was beautiful and got to be up close and personal with some incredible golfers. 

Another excursion I want to highlight is our day trip to Abu Dhabi. It’s about an hour from Dubai and we spent an entire day there. We started the day by going to Louver, the only other one outside of Paris. The building itself was magnificent and the art inside was all so stunning. Pictured is a Leonardo da Vinci original which was super cool to see. Afterwards we went to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. An absolutely beautiful mosque and the biggest one in the UAE. Overall, a really awesome day in Abu Dhabi. 

All in all, I’m having a great time here in Dubai but I’m also having an unbelievable time with all of my peers on my trip. We have gotten so close over these past 4 weeks and even though we are leaving Dubai soon, these friendships will last a lifetime. (Submitted on January 26, 2024)

Week 5

I can not believe the trip has come to an end, I am writing this final blog the night before my flight back home. I can not express in words how much this trip means to me. Between the experiences that I was able to have, the people I have met, and the life long friends I have made on my program, I feel as though I am a different person and for the better. The fifth week of being here in Dubai was again just as incredible as the first 4 weeks. During the last week we took a day trip to Atlantis. Atlantis sits on the very end of the “Palm” which is the enormous man made peninsula that looks like a palm tree. This was my first time going to the palm. It was truly breathtaking. Once we arrived at Atlantis, I felt as though I was a little kid again. The waterpark was so big and had incredible views of the skyline of Dubai. My favorite slide is called the leap of faith, this is a drop slide that goes through a shark tank, an absolute thrill! 

We also went back to Old Dubai this week where we did a lot of shopping for gifts to bring home to our friends and family. While wandering around the city, we came across a shop that custom makes colognes. We handpicked the scents that we liked and got to make our own personalized cologne which was really cool. In addition we went to Expo 2020 which is an area of Dubai where 192 countries each built a different sculpture or building. It was really cool to walk around and see all the different unique buildings from all over the world. 

Overall, this trip has been absolutely amazing, I am sad to leave, but satisfied in a sense. I feel as though I saw everything I wanted to see and I experienced all Dubai had to offer. I will definitely return to Dubai at some point in my life and hopefully I can return with all the amazing friends I made on this trip. (Submitted on January 31, 2024)

Chon Buri, The City of Water

Submitted by Maggie McAfee on the 2024 Winter DIST program in Australia and Thailand

The third city we visited on this trip throughout Thailand was Chon Buri. Since this trip started, my schedule has been packed with academic and cultural excursions and I finally was able to have a free day and hang out by the beach with all of the girls on this trip. Not only was this a great day to relax in the sun, but I was also able to see how locals go about their everyday lives and how this beach area is different from what I experience on the east coast. One interesting difference was how I was so excited to sit out in the sun, but all of the locals were seen searching for shade and wearing longer clothing to avoid the sun. The idea of having tan skin in the US is different than in Thailand. 

One very exciting and fun activity that was offered on the beach was the opportunity to go on what’s called a Banana Boat. It was a torpedo shaped raft attached to a jet ski that went up and down the beach and when switching directions we would get thrown off. I did this activity with five other girls and it was a small experience on this trip, but it was so fun! During the point where we were trying to get back on the raft after being tipped, a group of local girls started asking us where we were from and when we said we were from the US they got so excited and said they were from Thailand. It was such a wholesome interaction with local girls around our age. 

During our time in Chon Buri, they had a little music festival occurring right across the street from our hotel right on the beach. They played both western music and Thai music which was so interesting and fun to listen to. They also had a market set up right on the beach with such cute stands of clothes and objects. They also had a mix of items that are popular in the US and items that are popular in Thailand. It was a sight to see when the sun was setting. It was gorgeous and great music was playing in the background. It was such a good time exploring all of what Chon Buri has to offer! (Submitted on January 26, 2024)

Last Night in Thailand

Submitted by Sydney Gaffin on the 2024 Winter DIST program in Australia and Thailand…

Last Night River Cruise in Bangkok 

On our last night in Thailand, we wrapped up our trip with an amazing river cruise in Bangkok that showed the fabulous city at night. It was a great way to end our trip and take in the last moments of this amazing country. On the river cruise we were filled with a delightful cuisine buffet of so many Thai authentics such as pad thai, papaya salad, so much seafood, some great spicy soups, and to top it off mango sticky rice for dessert; which was definitely one of my favorite things I have tried here. We were also greeted with a Thai traditional dance that showed beautiful and graceful body movements with lavish costumes and music. Also, a performer dressed in a lavish Sak Yant monkey attire was there dancing too. In Thai tradition, the Sak Yant monkey means good luck and fortune. So for our last night, he was bringing us all good luck for our travels back home. Though the highlight of my night was how everyone all came together danced and sung the night away. We had a mix of Thai music and American music but we all were able to come together and have one more amazing night in Thailand! I am so sad to go but I will cherish all the memories I made in Thailand forever. (Submitted on January 26, 2024)

On The Road Again: Sydney, Australia and Final Days Down Under

Submitted by Lauren Stagnitti on the 2024 Winter BUAD program in Australia and New Zealand…

On The Road Again: Sydney, Australia

On the third week of my trip, my group and I traveled to our third and final program location, Sydney, Australia. This is our longest amount of time in a single location and there are so many sights to see. Sydney feels much more urban than New Zeland, and it gives me a sense of being home. 

On our first full day, we did a walking tour of the Opera House and learned about the history of it being built and the story behind its shell design. We saw and learned about the different theater styles and how they are built differently depending on what kind of show it is. For example, the opera theaters are built to have good acoustics and carry sound with an area in the floor for the band. I was lucky enough to see a show during my time here. We saw Gatsby and it was phenomenal and unlike any show I’d ever seen before.

We also were lucky enough to be able to do the Sydney Harbor bridge climb as a group. We learned a lot about how it was built including that it was built from both sides and met in the middle. We did the climb at sunset so we watched the sunset over the Opera House from the top of the bridge. We then got to see the whole city skyline lit up. This was such a great experience and I felt such an adrenaline rush from being so high up.

We visited Walkabout Park and were able to see all different kinds of animals. We got to see (and pet) koalas and kangaroos. The kangaroos are free range on the property and it was very interesting to see how they just wander about and are not really bothered by humans. We also got to see Tasmanian devils, ducks, snakes, and more. Some kids from my group even tried eating termites (I passed on that). This was such a cool experience and we got to experience Australian wildlife. 

Lastly, we’ve spoken to many business speakers as well as visited many different company sites. To highlight a few, we spoke to Merlin Luck from Salesforce and he gave us lots of insight on career advice, management advice, and overall life advice. We also got to experience on site visits with 3M and Cochlear. It was very interesting to see the labs and the behind the scenes of the day to day process of making their products. 

Overall, Sydney has been such a great experience so far, and I can’t wait to see what the last week here holds for me. (Submitted on January 25, 2024)

Final Days Down Under

In our final week in Sydney, our group heard from lots of important business speakers and soaked up our last moments in the sun! We were lucky enough to be able to visit 3M and meet with multiple prominent workers there to learn about their business process and to explore their wide variety of products. We got to tour the lab and try out different products to see how they work and how/why they were developed. Similarly, we visited Cochlear with the finance ud abroad group and we got to tour their facilities and speak to managers there. We learned a lot about how their implants work and the vigorous process that goes into creating an implant. 

As one of our final group excursions, we went lawn bowling on the coast. We got to learn about what the game was and how to play it, and we spent the afternoon in the sun playing against one another. It was really fun and a great experience to bond more with the group and spend time together, outside of the classroom.

We also got to celebrate Australia day in Sydney on January 26th! It is a holiday similar to the fourth of July, and it was really interesting to see how it is celebrated, and to be immersed in the culture. We went to the harbor by the opera house for a firework show on the water. It was so beautiful and it was so cool to be a part of a celebration like this one. 

For our free weekend, a couple of my classmates and I had booked a trip to the Great Barrier Reef to snorkel, but due to weather, we had to cancel it and instead we traveled to Melbourne for the Australian Open. When we got to the airport for our trip to Melbourne, our flight was canceled, and we had to quickly scramble to get on another one. Overall, this weekend taught us a lot about traveling and how to adapt and be a good sport when things go wrong. Despite all of the ups and downs of the weekend, we still had a great trip and it was so cool to be able to go to the Australian Open for the final. I’d never seen a live tennis match before so it was really interesting to experience tennis culture and to see such important matches in such a huge tournament. 

The rest of our free moments in Sydney were spent at the beach, together as a group. We all were very sad to leave Sydney, but we knew we now had 30 new friends coming back to Newark for the spring. I am so grateful for this trip and all that it taught me and I can’t wait to travel more in the future. (Submitted on February 5, 2024)

Week 3 in Dubai and Week 4 in Dubai

Submitted by Jacqueline Kumbatovic on the 2024 Winter CIEG program in Dubai …

Week 3 in Dubai 

As we have just closed out our third week in Dubai, I cannot believe we are three-quarters through this trip. This week’s excursions included visits to the Global Village, Abu Dhabi, and Atlantis. 

Global Village is a shopping, dining, and entertainment attraction where over 90 cultures are represented as themed pavilions where you will find beautiful handicrafts and delicious food representative of each country. Cultural performances and international music acts take place each night. There are also carnival and boat rides available. We eagerly explored all the cultures and sampled the foods of each region. It was interesting to see all the different areas of the world showcased in one park. 

Our day trip to Abu Dhabi began with a visit to the Louvre, which is an art museum that explores the connections between civilizations and cultures. After lunch, we visited the Turner Construction Guggenheim Museum site, which was jaw-dropping. After learning about the project, we were given a tour of the construction site. It was incredible to connect what we have learned in class about international construction to what we saw on site. We then visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which is the UAE’s largest mosque. It was so beautiful and peaceful, inside and out. 

To close out week three, we took a day trip to Atlantis, which is located on the Palm Islands. We enjoyed the Aquaventure water park, exploring every tower, and trying every water slide. We loved BlackOut, which is the tallest vertical drop in the Middle East. This was another great week in Dubai, and we are looking forward to week four! (Submitted on January 25, 2024)

Week 4 in Dubai 

As our program concludes, the last week was filled with memorable experiences as we savored our final days in Dubai. We ventured to Kite Beach, a new and vibrant coastal area with numerous shops and delightful food. Additionally, we received our Certified Associate in Project Management (CAMP) certificates, which makes us eligible to take the PMI PMP Exam – Project Management Institute (PMI) Project Management Professional (PMP) exam. We had the opportunity to visit the site of the 2020 World Expo in Dubai, which was truly fascinating. Another highlight was our visit to the Turner International offices, where we met the CEO and Vice President, who presented Turner’s completed and proposed projects in the Middle East. We took a trip to the Souks, which are the traditional shopping markets in Dubai. Our farewell dinner was held at a high-end Iraqui restaurant with delicious food and great service. It is hard to believe this trip has concluded so quickly. This has been an extraordinary experience, and I am so grateful for the incredible memories and moments shared. (Submitted on January 30, 2024)

Implicit and Explicit Learning Abroad

Submitted by Samantha La Scala on the 2024 Winter ENGL Micro program in Italy…

Inspired by a discussion during our last class of our program, I wanted to take time to reflect on all the learning I have done during my past two weeks abroad. Explicit learning was easy to reflect on, everything we talked about in class, things we had learned from our tours, and from our CEA CAPA advisors. Implicit learning required a bit more thought. What have I discovered on my own since being in Italy?

On the explicit front, I have learned so much about the rich history of Florence, how it was built over a Roman empire, how the Medici family took power, and how it became the city we know and love today. I learned about how the David statue by Michelangelo was supposed to be on top of the Duomo, and how people paid to be buried in the Santa Croce, ultimately funding its construction. It was also interesting to adapt to the daily life of Florentines, going to the markets to purchase food for the day, and not eating in front of my computer. 

The learning on the implicit front was less noticeable, happening naturally as I explored and had fun. I learned about my favorite cafe, La Citė, from a recommendation of a previous study abroad student, my favorite panini place, La Nicchietta in Calimaruzza, from being pointed out offhand in a tour, or my favorite gelato place, Sbrino, from a friend of my roommates. I learned my way to class and my favorite spots without a map from making the trip over and over, and have become comfortable wandering about, and discovering new things along the way.  (Submitted on January 25, 2024)

City of Symphonies! and Saying Goodbye!

Submitted by Heather Scott on the 2024 Winter MUSC program in London…

City of Symphonies!

I had never realized what a wonderland London is for music lovers of all kinds. As a classical music nerd myself, this place has quickly become my favorite. There are 5 major orchestras in London alone. On my trip, I have the privilege of seeing 4 of them through the program. So far, I have seen the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the British Broadcasting Company Symphony Orchestra, and tonight I will see the Philharmonia Orchestra perform. Not only have I seen symphony orchestras, but I have also been to 3 operas, 2 musicals, and 1 ballet. The operas were Les Miserables, Elektra, and La Boheme. The musicals were Six and The Phantom of the Opera. The ballet was called Giselle. As a bassoonist, I was also able to go to an event called “Double Reed Day” at the Royal College of Music, where I was able to observe 3 masterclasses from principal bassoonists of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra. This has been such an incredible experience and I am so sad that I have only got a week left, but I will be making the most of it! (Submitted on January 25, 2024)

Saying Goodbye!

Sadly, it is time to say goodbye to this wonderful city. London has been so good to me and my new friends and I am so thankful for this opportunity. I have learned so much about the culture and the history of London’s music industry. This has been the experience of a lifetime. (Submitted on January 30, 2024)

My Weekend in Amsterdam and My Last Week in London

Submitted by Brooke Attix on the 2024 Winter ENG/THEA program in London…

My Weekend in Amsterdam

Let me tell you about my recent weekend getaway to Amsterdam – a city that’s famous for its picturesque canals, iconic Heineken beer, and vibrant nightlife.

Day 1: Exploring Amsterdam’s Canals

As we landed in Amsterdam, the sight of the beautiful canals greeted us with open arms. We couldn’t resist the urge to start our trip with a canal tour. We hopped onto a charming boat, and within minutes, we were gliding through the intricate waterways of this enchanting city. 

The guide shared fascinating stories about the city’s history and pointed out famous landmarks like Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum, and the iconic Dancing Houses. It was a perfect way to get to know Amsterdam’s unique charm.


Day 2: The Heineken Experience

On our second day in Amsterdam, we kicked things off with a visit to the famous Heineken Experience. The Heineken Experience is not your typical brewery tour. It’s an interactive journey through the history and making of one of the world’s most iconic beers.

We learned about the ingredients, brewing process, and even had the chance to pour our own perfect pint of Heineken. The highlight was a 4D ride that took us on a journey through the beer’s production.

Of course, the best part was the tasting room, where we sampled Heineken straight from the source.

Day 3: Farewell Amsterdam

On our final day in Amsterdam, we savored the last few moments of this incredible city. We had brunch at a canal-side café, indulging in Dutch pancakes and freshly brewed coffee.

With heavy hearts, we bid farewell to Amsterdam, knowing that this weekend trip was just a taste of what this amazing city has to offer. (Submitted on January 25, 2024)

My Last Week in London

Exploring Hidden Gems 

On Tuesday, I decided to explore London’s lesser-known attractions. I visited the Leighton House Museum, a hidden gem in Kensington. The stunning Arab Hall left me mesmerized. It was a peaceful contrast to the bustling streets of London, a reminder of the city’s diverse cultural tapestry. 

A Walk Down Memory Lane 

Midweek, I took a nostalgic walk through some of my favorite neighborhoods – Shoreditch, Camden, and Covent Garden. Each area, with its unique vibe and character, had played a part in shaping my London experience. In Shoreditch, I revisited the vibrant street art that had first captured my imagination. Camden’s eclectic market was a feast for the senses, and Covent Garden’s charming streets were as enchanting as ever. 

A Day with British Art 

Thursday was dedicated to the arts. I spent hours at the Tate Modern, immersing myself in the works of British and international artists. The highlight was seeing Hockney’s mesmerizing paintings up close. Art in London is not just confined to galleries; it’s in the architecture, the street corners, and in the people themselves. (Submitted on January 29, 2024)

Finding Hope in a Hug

Submitted by Sarah D’Antonio on the 2024 Winter service-learning study abroad program in Barbados…

After two weeks into the Barbados service-learning abroad trip, I feel that I have really begun to immerse myself into the Bajan culture. I have learned and am still in the process of learning valuable traditions and cultural attitudes that I can take home with me and share with my own community. With only two weeks left, our professor Dr. Norma Gaines-Hanks recently asked us to reflect on what makes us hopeful about our experience working with the students in our assigned placements. I felt it would be perfect to answer this profound question in a blog post. 

What makes me hopeful about my involvement in this program is the motivation and excitement I feel every morning when I arrive at placement, get off the bus, and become immediately swarmed with hugs from students before I can even make it up their school’s driveway. There is also this sense of sadness that comes over me when the school day is over and I am again swarmed with hugs while I try to make my way out the door. However this sadness also makes me hopeful because it allows me to recognize how lucky I am to feel so appreciated but also be so grateful myself – and how lucky I am to have something that is so hard to say goodbye to. 

I told myself that if I can make just one child smile throughout my time here, then I have made a difference. Their hugs and appreciation remind me of why I am here and what drew me to do this service-learning trip in the first place– to make children feel cared for, seen, and loved. (Submitted on January 24, 2024)

Un cappuccino per favore and Taking life a little slower

Submitted by Alyssa Wronski on the 2024 Winter ITAL/LLCU program in Siena …

Un cappuccino per favore

As an avid coffee drinker I was very excited to experience coffee in Italy. Coffee culture here in Italy is truly like no other. Coffee is not simply a caffeinated drink, it is a way of life. I have noticed so many differences between the coffee culture in Italy and in the United States. 

To start, ordering a ‘coffee’ (caffè) in Italy will get you a shot of espresso. There is no such thing as the typical hot coffee we have in the United States, all coffee drinks are based from espresso. You will not walk into a coffee shop (or in Italy known as a bar) and order a large cup of coffee. Another popular drink is a cappuccino, but beware, there are rules to drinking the cappuccino. This coffee drink is considered to be a breakfast drink and is expected to only be enjoyed in the morning. If you order a cappuccino after 11 am you will likely be judged and be clearly giving away that you are American. Italians believe that having that much milk any time of the day other than breakfast is too heavy. So, for the rest of the day, they solely drink espresso. Something that is probably shocking for most people is the discrepancy between ‘Italian’ coffee drinks in America and what Italian coffee drinks really are. Everyone knows and loves a latte in the United States; it is something you can find pretty much anywhere. While you may expect the same when coming to Italy, do not order a latte unless you want a glass of milk! In Italian, the word ‘latte’ translates to ‘milk’, so here it is actually not a coffee drink at all. It is also not customary to get iced coffee here; definitely not in the winter at least but even year-round it is not as common as it is at home. 

Aside from the differences in what the coffee drinks entail, they are also consumed and enjoyed in a different way. Life in the United States is always very fast paced and so a to-go coffee is the most popular way to order one’s caffeinated beverage. But in Italy, no one really orders coffee to-go, they drink their coffee standing right at the bar. This also fosters the building of community here as people often strike up conversations with the baristas or others around them, and enjoy this small part of their day. 

Every coffee I have had here has been astronomically better than in the United States. I am usually one to add some syrups to my coffee at home, but here, I usually don’t even add any sugar. The espresso is absolutely incredible. I also really love how coffee is enjoyed here with others and not just another step in the daily rushed routine. About a three minute walk from our school, we have a lovely little coffee bar with the most kind barista in the world. Seeing him every morning just brightens my day and he always makes such a beautiful design on my cappuccino. My daily cappuccino from barista Mattia will be missed. (Submitted on January 24, 2024)

Italy is definitely the place to enjoy your next coffee.

Taking life a little slower

It is now my last full day in Italy. As I neared the end of this program, I reflected a lot on my experience here in Italy. I have learned so much about myself and how I want to live my life. It may sound crazy, but this has genuinely been life changing for me and the best decision I could have ever made for myself.

It would be a lot to talk about everything I’ve learned so I’m just going to focus on one value in Italian culture that I really want to practice in my daily life at home; and that is just taking life slowly. Everything in the United States is constantly go-go-go and everyone is always onto the next thing. But here in Italy, everyone really takes the time to enjoy the moment that they are in. I really loved that about being here. People take the time to have meaningful conversations with others at the coffee bar or at the store, they really enjoy just sitting out and living in the moment. At home I often get quickly overwhelmed with all of my responsibilities and my to-do list. This makes me worry more about the next thing to do or tasks in the future in general, rather than enjoying the present moment. 

By taking things slower in Italy, I have been the most calm that I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve really been appreciating all the little, wonderful things that life has to offer. And while I did appreciate all of this in the past, this experience in Italy has really amplified that feeling. 

In this short life we have I think it’s really important to say yes to every opportunity and enjoy absolutely every second of it. It flies by in a second and there shouldn’t be time wasted worrying about things that haven’t happened yet. Just enjoy the moment you’re in before it’s gone. While I am extremely sad to be leaving Italy (I seriously could just stay and live here and I would be completely content), it would be a shame to dwell in the sadness. Instead, I will be extremely grateful to have been able to experience something so beautiful and I will hold all of the memories from this past month dearly in my heart. This was a monumental period of time in my life that I will reminisce fondly on forever. (Submitted on January 30, 2024)