The Benefits of Studying Abroad

There is no denying that a number of students – particularly those feeling cooped up in their college classrooms – may see the appeal of jetting off to some exotic destination through a study abroad program. While the sheer pleasure of passing a portion of their academic careers in a foreign country is reason enough for various people, the benefits associated with such experiences do not stop there. Students who study abroad can enjoy the immediate perks of these endeavors, in addition to reaping rewards further down the road in terms of their professional and graduate school pursuits.

As individuals explore uncharted territories and immerse themselves in unfamiliar cultures through their study abroad programs, they may undergo all kinds of personal changes. There is nothing quite like experiencing how other people around the globe live and view life for a period of time, as it can enrich your way of thinking and expand your cultural horizons. In fact, 82 percent of students who study abroad maintain that they have a more refined view of the world, thanks to their overseas opportunities.

In addition to developing a more nuanced perspective of the globe, people tend to learn a great deal about themselves. The chance to leave your way of life behind and reflect in an unknown environment could foster personal growth and encourage self-discovery.

Although these personal perks make study abroad initiatives well worth students’ while, the impact that these endeavors could have on their future academic and professional careers make them even smarter investments. When it comes time to apply for graduate school programs and jobs, individuals need to stand out from the crowds of other candidates – a feat easily accomplished by having study abroad on their resumes. Oftentimes, employers and educators alike are well aware of the invaluable insight and unique development that students go through during these overseas learning experiences. As a result, they may look more favorably on applicants who took initiative and spent some time studying abroad.

Within a year of completing college, 97 percent of graduates with study abroad experience under their belts land a job. When compared to the percentage of overall grads securing employment in this first year – 49 percent – the professional rewards of overseas study may be obvious. On top of this, 52 percent of study abroad alumni continue their education at the graduate level, which is significantly higher than the 9 percent of graduates in general. Given these figures, international learning may be a smart move now and in the future.

14_Forum Nexus_001_2_300-01

dreamstime_s_71525

Avoiding Air Travel Woes

Most of us will be spending a lot of time on an airplane traveling to our international destinations, which means plenty of sitting and close congestion with others. Here are some tips on how to sustain wellness in the air.

Ear Pressure

Everyone experiences the popping of their ear drums while up in the air. To minimize the discomfort of pressure building in your ears, here’s how to make them pop: Pinch your nostrils closed and inhale deeply. Then exhale through your nose, blowing out in short, firm bursts until you feel your ears pop. Yawning, drinking liquids, and chewing gum also help.

Jet Lag

Grogginess and sleep deprivation are no fun once you arrive in your new city, here are some tips to combat Jet Lag:

  • Adjust your sleeping and eating patterns to the new time zone a couple days before your flight–usually one day per time zone.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, keeping yourself as hydrated as possible. While trying to knock yourself out with a couple glasses of wine or wake yourself up with coffee may seem like good ideas while flying, think again–alcohol and caffeine dehydrate the body, making your even more tired when you arrive at your destination.
  • If it’s daytime in your destination, take a walk after you get settled. The exercise will stimulate your body and help convince it to stop producing sleep-inducing hormones.

Keeping the Juices Flowing

Travelling in such cramped conditions for several hours is terrible for your circulation, and can cause swollen ankles and muscle cramps. To avoid such extreme measures, here are some helpful hints on how to keep your blood pumping solidly throughout the flight:

  • Wear slippers or no shoes at all–not only will freeing your feet increase your comfort, but also circulation in your feet.
  • Take frequent walks up and down the aisles.
  • Try to keep your legs elevated while sitting.
  • Drink lots of water and avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Practicing some in-seat exercises several times an hour will help–flex and point your feet, do round-the-clock ankle rotations, move your legs in stair master motions, or practice seated knee lifts.
  • Doing a bit of stretching also does wonders for your circulation, as well as the nasty cricks you might develop from sitting for so long.
  • Aspirin helps to thin the blood.
Phone home for free while studying abroad

Phone home for free while studying abroad

Once you head overseas for your summer study abroad program, you could feel a tad nervous about being out of communication with those near and dear to you. While this is a perfectly normal reaction, you should recognize that going to another country doesn't mean that all methods of keeping in touch with your friends and family members are completely cut off. On the contrary, there are plenty of ways that you can still talk to loved ones – even measures that allow you to hear their voices.

Give folks back home a ring with the Web
You may be able to get by for a bulk of your journey touching base with people via online channels, but a couple of Facebook messages may not suffice for the entire duration of your experience. Luckily, there is a myriad of options that will enable you and individuals back home to talk without forcing you to rack up an astronomical cellphone bill. For instance, chances are that you haven't left the country without your smartphone, right? Well, rather than using that device to make regular calls, you can use it to the best of its innovative abilities and dial your favorite individuals through the Internet. 

The trick to this method of communication is tracking down a locale where Wi-Fi is readily available. Up until this point, Europe has been slightly slow on the uptake in terms of adopting wireless Internet. However, a number of governments across the Atlantic have been pushing to make Wi-Fi easily accessible to the public. If you roam around wherever you find yourself at any given leg of your trip, you are bound to come across a square, municipal building, pub or cafe that offers free wireless Internet.

After tapping into a Wi-Fi network, you can then go to some notable providers to use their free services. If you have an Android, then you should look into programs like Google Talk and Skype, while you can access any of these applications and FaceTime with an iPhone. Pick one of these programs and head to its website to download the complementary version so that you'll be ready to go. Whenever you start using these applications, double check to make sure that your data is shut off and that your phone is operating on the Internet. Otherwise, you run the risk of incurring a hefty amount of expenses in surcharges. 

A couple of cons to Internet calls
Although this method of calling people back home during your international learning experience is one of the most appealing due to its cost-efficiency, you should keep in mind that there are a couple of downsides. For one thing, because you are relying on a wireless network, you have to stay put in one spot during an entire call. This can be somewhat inconvenient, especially if this is a busy place that is crowded and full of noise.

At the same time, even when you remain within the reach of Wi-Fi, you may have to tolerate inconsistent service. For these applications to work properly – without calls cutting out or videos freezing – you need a strong and steady connection, which is not always the case throughout Europe. Additionally, the more people using the Internet in public places, the more bandwidth is being taken up, which leaves you less juice to work with and can cause you a boatload of frustration.

For times when you have limited Internet access and just want to quickly check in with family and friends, there are messaging applications that will do the trick. You can send text messages through Skype chat or WhatsApp, which require less of a connection and are perfect when you're looking to touch bases before getting on with the rest of your study abroad adventure.      

Visit 3 of the World’s Top Destinations with us!

This year, the world’s top destinations were not easy to guess. Fortunately, we’re visiting 3-4 cities out of the 25 through our 9 cities in one month study abroad program!

Check out which cities made it to the 2014′s Traveler’s Choice list on TripAdvisor, the most visited travel site on the Web:

  1. Istanbul, Turkey
  2. Rome, Italy…we’re going there!
    colosseum-taly-rome-landscape1
  3. London, United Kingdom
  4. Beijing, China
  5. Prague, Czech Republic
  6. Marrakech, Morroco
  7. Paris, France…and there!
    Eiffel-Tower-Paris-France
  8. Hanoi, Vietnam
  9. Siem Reap, Cambodia
  10. Shanghai, China
  11. Berlin, Germany
  12. New York City, USA
  13. Florence, Italy…that’s one of our optional weekend trips.
    duomo florence photo tour jeremy woodhouse
  14. Buenos Aires, Argentina
  15. Barcelona, Spain…and that’s our first destination!
    Barcelona
  16. St. Petersburg, Russia
  17. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  18. Chicago, Illinois
  19. Cape Town Central, South Africa
  20. Bangkok, Thailand
  21. Budapest, Hungary
  22. Sydney, Australia
  23. Lisbon, Portugal
  24. Chiang Mai, Thailand
  25. San Francisco, California

Award winners were determined using an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for destinations worldwide, gathered over a 12-month period.

“If you’re looking for trip inspiration, look no further than the Travelers’ Choice Destinations,” said Barbara Messing, Chief Marketing Officer for TripAdvisor. “Our global travelers are the tastemakers for uncovering the best places to visit around the world.”

It’s your turn now to get a flavor of 4 of those cities in just one month by applying here.

 

 

Tour the Tower of London and discover England's dark past

Tour the Tower of London and discover England’s dark past

In all likelihood, if you have decided to embark on a summer study abroad adventure, you will want to make the most of your time overseas by cramming in as many attractions into your itinerary as possible. While you may cover most of the basics – and then some – with the planned portions of your international learning experience, you will still want to take a bit of initiative and capitalize on the optional excursions offered to you over the course of your journey. For example, any seasoned traveler will tell you that London is a must-see destination, so you should definitely seize the opportunity to take off to England when it is presented to you, making the Tower of London one of your top priorities in terms of stops. 

The Tower of London's long history
If you flip through any travel guide, you are bound to come across numerous recommendations that will prompt you to visit this site, as it is an integral part of British culture and houses a number of essential attractions for you to see. Although this landmark is often referred to in the singular – the Tower of London – it is actually a complex of tens of towers. Over the centuries this massive and imposing building served a wide array of purposes for different members of England's royal line, and you will be able to see remnants of its various functions as you stop by this destination today.

William the Conqueror was the original contributor to the location's construction, as he was the one responsible for building the famed White Tower. At some point in the 1070s, the ruler decided to repurpose a castle he had built on the site of today's Tower of London, replacing it with an immense military structure. Over the next couple of hundred years, royals added on to the building, expanding its defensive mechanisms by including walls of extra towers and even a moat. Because of the high level of security that this structure boasted, monarchs used it as everything from a royal residence to a treasury and arsenal.

Henry VIII's tower of terror
With that said, perhaps the most infamous functions was when the Tower of London served as a priso
n for King Henry VIII, who would use the site as place to administer punishments to those he condemned. Today, due to these cases, in addition to other instances of violence that occurred within the confines of the Tower, this site is believed to be one of the most haunted places in all the U.K. As you tour this attraction, you may be so lucky as to see one of the many spirits who roam the Tower hundreds of years post mortem.

For instance, perhaps the most famous of ghosts said to call this place home – and that a number of visitors claim to have seen firsthand – is Queen Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII's second wife. In 1536, the royal court supposedly orchestrated a plot against Boleyn, and in May, the queen was charged with adultery, incest and conspiring to murder to the king. She was brought to the Tower of London's green and beheaded. Some tourists have reported seeing Boleyn's spirit at the site of her execution, in the chapel and around the corridors of the building.

Today's attractions
Even if ghosts aren't really your thing, then a trip to this attraction during your study abroad expedition may still offer you a slew of perks. For example, you can get a glimpse at the Crown Jewels, as well as the suits of armor belonging to a long lineage of royals, including those of King Henry VIII himself. If glimmering gems and shining metal aren't enough, you can also see the Brits' Yeoman Warders, better known as Beefeaters, in action.

See 2 sides of Paris with Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur visits

See 2 sides of Paris with Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur visits

Although Paris may have earned the fitting nickname "The City of Lights," it may also be fair to call it the "City of Two Churches." Among all the animated life filling these French streets stand the peaceful structures of Notre Dame Cathedral and Sacre Coeur Basilica. You may not be much of a mass-goer, but when you stop in Paris during your summer study abroad journey, visiting these two churches should be one of your top priorities, as each of them present completely different yet equally as breathtaking experiences for travelers.

Name Notre Dame as a top destination
Perhaps one of the most notable landmarks within the entire city of Paris is the Notre Dame Cathedral, serving as a common backdrop to movie scenes and even being the setting of Victor Hugo's classic "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." For this fact alone, it would be a sin not to visit see this world-renowned and recognized structure while in Paris – more than 14 million other travelers make it here, which means you should, too. 

Notre Dame was constructed over the course of three centuries, and if you look at the immense and intricate church, you can see why. It is a masterpiece showcasing French Gothic architecture at its finest and it is so large that it can comfortably accommodate 6,000 people at the same time. The facade is adorned with carvings and statues, including gargoyles, and on the side of the building, buttresses fly from the building and onto the Seine-side garden next to the structure. Elaborate stained glass windows are featured throughout the church, though the most impressive one is the south rose window, which is dedicated to the New Testament. 

See a whole new Paris from Sacre Coeur
After basking in the imposing beauty of Notre Dame, you can make your way from Île de la Cité to Montmartre so that you can enjoy a entirely distinct excursion. Although Sacre Coeur Basilica may not be as well known as Notre Dame, it still rivals the Cathedral in terms of aesthetics and serene atmosphere.

Parisians started to construct the Basilica following the Franco-Prussian War as a form of repentance, but it wasn't completed until 1919. Perched atop the hill of Montmartre, the white stone church is brought to even greater heights with the help of its enormous dome. If there is one thing that you notice about this building to compared to every other structure throughout the city, it would be its style. Built with Romano-Byzantine elements, the Basilica differs greatly from typical French architecture and better resembles the Hagia Sofia. Entering the church, a wave of peace is likely to wash over you as soon as you see all the light shimmering against the mosaic apse.   

If you want to make the most of your journey up to this part of Paris, then you should think about climbing the 234 steps that wind all the way up to the topmost portion of the Sacre Coeur. From this point, you will have one of the most incredible panoramas of Paris. This view alone will make your trek up to Montmartre – and your study abroad adventure as a whole – well worth the effort. 

Feed yourself wisely as you study abroad

Feed yourself wisely as you study abroad

As you tour around Europe during your study abroad experience, you may feel as if you were finally satiating your thirst for knowledge – but have you thought about how you will feed your stomach? In all likelihood, your student budget won't necessarily allow you to eat out in the ritziest of joints day and night. Fortunately, countries throughout the continent feature a hierarchy of restaurant types, at least one of which will be perfect for the amount of money you're willing to spend on your meals.

Know the restaurant lingo
While you make the rounds in Italy, you may work up an appetite. If that's the case, and you're looking for a place where you can sit down and enjoy a decent meal for a reasonable price, then you should keep your eyes peeled for certain locales. For example, any restaurant boasting to be "tavola calda," "trattoria," "osteria" or "rosticceria" are safe bets for restaurants that whose prices won't make you keel over like the Tower of Pisa. On top of that, anything proclaiming it is an "enoteca" is another great option, though you should be careful not to get your hopes up, as some of these venues sell only wine and beer, not food. A portion of these locales have also veered from tradition, branching out their offerings to include little bites.

Throughout the rest of Europe, you will come across all kinds of affordable eateries, so don't you worry. For instance, just about every nation has a whole slew of university cafeterias where you can mix and mingle with travelers from throughout the globe. If these aren't open at certain points in your journey, such as during the August vacation, then you should explore so-called "tourist menus." Restaurants will help travelers out by offering pre-set, multi-course meals at a fixed price. This is also often referred to as "prix fixe" throughout France and elsewhere. The beauty of this option is that you can not only sample various local dishes, but you also won't have any surprises when the bill arrives. 

Snag a small bite
While these choices are all well and good, it is not always ideal to hunker down and have a heavy meal. If you are feeling like  you just want to grab a quick bite on the go, then you should simply head to one of the many cafés lining the streets of Europe. Although it may seem strange to us, these eateries are called "bars" because you have to go up to a long counter to drink your espresso beverages. In addition to coffee, you can snag food items like pastries or sandwiches. 

To get your hands on little bites, you should explore options like tapas. Better yet, there is a custom in different countries where, at 5:00 PM onward, you can buy a cocktail and have access to a buffet of delicious appetizers for no additional cost. In France, this is called "aperitif" and in Italy, it's "aperitivo." Generally, tourists don't know about this amazing opportunity, so by heading to a restaurant to partake in this tradition, you will definitely immerse yourself in local culture.